Thursday, January 22, 2009 103 Comments

A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 3)

Okay, so you're a Loyalist now. So what?

The story of the American Rebellion, as told by Hutchinson, Oliver, and Stedman, is hardly without lessons for today. Most are subtle, and we'll save them for later. But one is obvious: bogus, self-serving, fraudulent antihistory is being installed, as we speak, at taxpayer expense, in the tender forebrains of America's youth. An outrage!

Indeed, by many reasonable standards, an outrage. To the Pupulupi, of Zargon Four, who have such a great respect for truth that they never say "good morning" unless they mean it - an unthinkable crime of epic proportions. To us, of Planet Earth - jaywalking. If a little official antihistory, especially surrounding the origin myth of the state, is our only problem, we don't have a problem.

As we'll see today, we do have a problem. But let's get back to the Loyalism.

You don't really need to be a convinced Loyalist to continue processing the red pill. It's not trivial to carve a lifetime of revolutionary propaganda out of your head in one operation. Not everyone has a natural knack for self-directed neurosurgery. Realistically - there are probably a few antennae, tentacles or hyphae left in the cavity. But this is okay: we just need a hole to dig in. Now we have one, and we're on the offensive.

What's essential is that, after your beer with Peter Oliver, you understand Loyalism. You may not be completely sold, you may not see how simple and obviously right the Loyalist story of the American Rebellion is, but you can see how a reasonable person might see things that way.

But the Loyalist perspective remains an isolated outlier. Everything else you believe about reality is consistent with the American Revolution. With the American Rebellion - maybe not so much. Our goal today is to slide a hemostat jaw into this little tear between your parasite and the endogenous neural tissue, grab the former by its dorsal fin, and pull. There may be bleeding.

In other words: Loyalism gives us an extremely foreign perspective of the present world. There are no other Loyalists in 2009. So, when we think as Loyalists, we have no choice but to think for ourselves.

What should a Loyalist make of X, or Y, or Z, in 2009? Let's say, for example, that Peter Oliver had spent the last 200 years asleep in Rip van Winkle's cave, and woke up for the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. Can we imagine his reaction? We can try.

If we want to get really imaginative, we can imagine what I call a "reverse counterfactual." First, imagine that the military dice had fallen otherwise and the American Rebellion was suppressed. Second, perform the standard counterfactual exercise of imagining what an intact British Empire would look like in 2009. Third, imagine the counterfactual universe invents some device that can send invisible observers into our 2009, and make a documentary for the edification of the Imperial audience - showing this awful alternate 2009, in which the Massachusetts disturbances of the 1770s were not quashed with firm, manly vigour.

What's neat is that such a documentary could be made, with existing technology, in the real 2009. If you don't find this a frightening exercise - try replacing the British Empire with the Confederacy or Nazi Germany. (These variants are only for battle-hardened space admirals.)

Today, we'll expand this fresh alternate reality to three more points - each of which, unlike 18th-century history, is of considerable relevance in the real world today. To preserve some suspense, we'll give them secret acronyms: AGW, KFM, and HNU.

Each of these acronyms represents, so far as I can tell, a democratic feedback loop between public misperception and official malpractice. In other words: between lies and evil. Lies persuade well-intentioned voters to support policies which are in fact evil. Evil, being evil, has both the power and the incentive to maintain the lies. As we'll see, these loops are quite stable, and they can be almost arbitrarily pernicious.

For each case, we'll describe the misperception and the resulting malpractice, and suggest a new policy regime which breaks the loop. These new policies are every bit as far off the institutional map of your present government as Loyalism is off its political map, and they are not likely to happen. If you find yourself liking them - tough. That's democracy for ya.
AGW: anthropogenic global warming
There is no surprise behind this acronym. You probably already have an opinion about AGW. If it's the right opinion, please feel free to skip this section.

Adopting the pejorative tone we are shortly to encounter, and reflecting it in the opposite direction, we can call a believer in the organized scientific consensus behind AGW an AGW credulist. An unbeliever, of course, is an AGW denialist.

You'll notice - this is a property of each of today's cases - that there is a vast intellectual gap between the credulists and the denialists. There is no moderate position on AGW. You believe, or you don't believe. One of the two sides is extremely right, and the other is extremely wrong. I like using pejorative terms for both, because one will turn out to be hip and ironic, and the other will turn out to be richly deserved.

As the page behind that link so helpfully explains:
Almost every denialist argument will eventually devolve into a conspiracy. This is because denialist theories that oppose well-established science eventually need to assert deception on the part of their opponents to explain things like why every reputable scientist, journal, and opponent seems to be able to operate from the same page. In the crank mind, it isn't because their opponents are operating from the same set of facts, it's that all their opponents are liars (or fools) who are using the same false set of information.

But how could it be possible, for instance, for nearly every scientist in a field be working together to promote a falsehood? People who believe this is possible simply have no practical understanding of how science works as a discipline.
A fabulous question. We'll answer it in a moment. But for now, keep the suspense. Dear reader, if you are comfortable with this tone, I suggest you read the entire post linked above. It has lots of good information about denialists, cranks, and other enemies of science.

If something strikes you as not quite right about the Hoofnagels' tone, good. That means your head is screwed on right. However, as part of the procedure, we'll need to expose you to an even more extreme example of it.

Warning: this may increase your heart rate. Warning two: please don't click through this link to the blog Climate Progress, provided solely for reference purposes. Warning three: yes, the author of the words below is (as we'll see) an influential man of real public authority.
Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)

In this post I’m going to present the general diagnosis for “anti-science syndrome” (ASS). Like most syndromes, ASS is a collection of symptoms that individually may not be serious, but taken together can be quite dangerous — at least it can be dangerous to the health and well-being of humanity if enough people actually believe the victims.

One tell-tale symptom of ASS is that a website or a writer focuses their climate attacks on non-scientists. If that non-scientist is Al Gore, this symptom alone may be definitive.

The other key symptoms involve the repetition of long-debunked denier talking points, commonly without links to supporting material. Such repetition, which can border on the pathological, is a clear warning sign.

Scientists who kept restating and republishing things that had been widely debunked in the scientific literature for many, many years would quickly be diagnosed with ASS. Such people on the web are apparently heroes — at least to the right wing and/or easily duped (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP“).

If you suspect someone of ASS, look for the repeated use of the following phrases: [...]

Individually, some of these words and phrases are quite useful and indeed are commonly used by both scientists and non-scientists who are not anti-science. But the use of more than half of these in a single speech or article is pretty much a definitive diagnosis of ASS.

When someone repeats virtually all of those phrases, along with multiple references to Al Gore, they are wholly a victim of ASS — in scientific circles they are referred to as ASS-wholes.

A newly prominent ASS-whole is Harold Ambler, who managed to get this article past a HuffingtonPost intern over the weekend: “Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted.” I was not originally planning to post on this (unsourced) collection of long debunked denier talking points since, as regular readers know, my policy is not to waste time on the umpteenth debunking. Anyone who might be persuaded by Ambler’s tripe can do a simple search for each myth on RealClimate or on this blog. [...]

As deniers or ASS-wholes go, Ambler is quite lame. Separate from his long list of long-debunked denier talking points, who could possibly take seriously somebody who wrote the following:

Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that “the science is in.” Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind.
Such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of deliberate fraud – and not just the community of climate scientists, but the leading National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and the American Geophysical Union, an organization of geophysicists that consists of more than 45,000 members and the American Meteorological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see “Yet more scientists call for deep GHG cuts“).

Such a statement accuses all of the member governments of the IPCC, including ours, of participating in that fraud, since they all sign off on the Assessment Reports word for word (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“). And, of course, Ambler’s statement accuses all of the leading scientific journals of being in on this fraud, since the IPCC reports are primarily a review and synthesis of the published scientific literature.
Now, as Loyalists, what do you hear when you hear this tone? I know what I hear. What I hear is Samuel Adams, James Otis, Jr., and Joseph Hawley. The distinctive whining scream of the Puritan, speaking power to truth as is his usual fashion. Recognizable in any century.

Follow those last two links above, if you dare. Or don't bother. What we see quickly is that, at least as regards AGW, we live in what might be called a scientific theocracy. You cannot slip a sheet of paper between Science and State. They are one and the same. Especially with our new, improved, pro-science administration, the only legitimate source of public policy on AGW happens to be... the very scientists who research it. (Professor Hansen is a fine example.)

Note that, if we substitute Science for Scripture, this is exactly the political structure of your Puritan theocracy, or your Persian theocracy for that matter. The same experts perform the intellectual analysis and dictate the resulting policies. Simple, clean, no muss, no fuss.

Of course, there is a considerable difference between Science and Scripture. And what, exactly, is that difference? We shall see in a moment. More suspense.

As always for the historian and general student of reality, the first question becomes: do we trust these people? It is possible that Science is such powerful juju that untrustworthy people, so long as they are Scientists, can be trusted. On the other hand, we would certainly want some support for this claim. And it can't hurt to start with an assessment of individual credibility.

Normally, when we're deciding whether to trust (say) Peter Oliver versus John Adams, we have only their words to go on. Dear reader, I invite you to test your critical faculties on the effusion above. Does it strike you as trustworthy? But fortunately, we are operating not in the past but in the present, and not in the domain of history but that of geophysics. We have more to go on.

The author of Climate Progress is one Joseph Romm. Who is Joseph Romm? His about box explains:
Joseph Romm is the editor of Climate Progress. Joe is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and was acting assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy during the Clinton Administration. In December 2008, Romm was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “distinguished service toward a sustainable energy future and for persuasive discourse on why citizens, corporations, and governments should adopt sustainable technologies.” Read what Wikipedia has to say about Joe.
(Do read what Wikipedia has to say about Joe. It has a distinctly, um, self-edited flavor.)

Here's the problem, AGW credulists. The problem is: I know Joe Romm. And I know, without a doubt, that he is a foul creature of the night. Sadly, I cannot share this deep truth through direct osmosis, but we will arrive at it by and by.

Okay, I don't know Joe Romm. But my mother knows Joe Romm - to be more exact, she worked for him at DoE - and I trust my mother. Here is her recollection:
Oh, yes. Romm was one of three who loaded me with work for my first few months with Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary, and ran the show with Christine Ervin (Assistant Secretary) and Brian Castelli. Christine finally got two inches from my face and announced that I was supposed to be working for her alone. Romm promulgated the idea that he was the smartest person to ever enter Forrestal. He used to regularly win the Washington Post contests for creating the best caption for captionless cartoons. Maybe that was it. At any rate, he got annoyed with me the time three of us went up to the Hill to one of the staffers on an authorization committee trying to gain turf. I was supposed to be carrying budget analysis to help, but there had been little time to prepare. The meeting was a disaster (the staffer being a lot smarter than Romm), and in the taxi back I had to listen to him blaming me for getting the numbers wrong (I can't even remember whether they were). Shortly afterwards I was assigned a windowless office during a general office move and had plenty of time on my hands. By the way, he once borrowed from me your copy of Easterbrook's A Moment on the Earth, apparently in order to disparage the "opposition."
What does this tell you? Not a lot. It is just a snapshot of the world Joe Romm lives in. Notice, however, that my mother's snapshot of Joe Romm's world does not, in any way, resemble the image of Joe Romm's world that you get from Joe Romm's blog.

Basically, my mother got involved with this world by accident. More or less everyone else in EERE was there because they were true believers. My mother was there because her kids had gone to college, and she needed a job. So she wound up as a budget and policy analyst, working for the true believers.

This drove my mother up the wall. She is basically an honest person. She does not have the skill sets to work effectively as a member of a criminal organization, and she certainly did not expect the United States Department of Energy to be anything of the sort.

Yes: that's exactly what I said. Joe Romm should be in prison. James Hansen should be in prison. Michael Mann should be in prison (and not for making Heat). These people are criminals. Sadly, no one will be arresting any of them any time soon.

What my mother found at EERE was a sort of giant, Potomac-shaped hog-trough, dispensing a billion or two a year to grunting Beltway bandits packed shoulder-to-shoulder around a vast open sewer of hot, juicy, delicious cash. This is, of course, the iron triangle of Washington fame. (I think the triangle should include at the very least the press, making it a square, which would let us add Andrew Revkin to our fantasy arrest list. All you coup plotters out there, listen up. These guys are all buddies - you can probably nab all four at the same Super Bowl party.)

In order to keep said open sewer open, EERE planners (such as my mother) had to go through the following process: they had to analyze a constant flow of scientific and engineering information from the renewable-energy researchers they supported (typically experienced recipients of such grants, which is why they call them "Beltway bandits"), decide which technologies seemed promising and which did not, support the former and cut the latter.

Now: my mother was at DOE in the mid-90s. How many successful renewable-energy technologies can you name that came out of DOE in the mid-90s? Or came out of anywhere in the mid-90s? Or came out of anywhere at all? What are the successes of renewable energy?

For that matter, even today, how many press releases have you seen reprinted in your newspaper of choice, promising that renewable-energy technology X - algae biofuel, perhaps, or Stirling engines, or thin-film solar-panels; the list is endless - would hit the market a year from now, two years from now, five years from now? For how many years have you been seeing these types of announcements? How many renewable-energy technologies have hit said market?

The reason, of course, is that most of these technologies simply don't work. At least, not in the sense of being even remotely cost-effective. Of course, one can still tinker with them, and one never knows how tinkering will turn out. But what would happen at EERE, over and over again, is that some research program would promise result X by year Y, fail, add 1 to Y, and get more money for next year.

My mother's job was not to evaluate renewable-energy technologies. It was to pretend to evaluate renewable-energy technologies - creating the essential illusion of science-driven public policy. Since everyone involved in this process understood that it was a farce, you can imagine the quality of the data. Meanwhile, as usual in Washington, how much money you got depended on how many friends in the right places you had. This tends not to change from year to year, resulting in remarkably consistent budget allocations.

In other words, my mother's work was bullshit in the best Frankfurtian sense. Some might get a kick out of this, but she is just not the type. And at the time, AGW was not the big thing it is now. So the open sewer seemed picayune. A billion here, a billion there. It sounds big to the hoi-polloi, but of course it isn't. What was not obvious in the late '90s is that, if you can steal billions, you can steal trillions. And that is a big deal.

But I am just describing the perspective from which I, personally, arrived at AGW. You don't know me, my mother, or Joe Romm. So we'll need to actually consider the science - or Science, as the case may be.

But first, I want to praise Joe Romm. Because, unlike the paladins of light in this department (foremost, of course, the great Steve McIntyre - note the difference in tone), Joe Romm knows what's at stake. Read this again:
Such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of deliberate fraud – and not just the community of climate scientists, but the leading National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and the American Geophysical Union, an organization of geophysicists that consists of more than 45,000 members and the American Meteorological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Such a statement accuses all of the member governments of the IPCC, including ours, of participating in that fraud...
Exactly.

And it's very interesting that we hear this from the AGW credulists, rather than the denialists. Your average AGW denialist does not want to go there. He wants the problem to be isolated. The last thing he wants is for the scientific community broadly defined, or even worse all the member governments of the IPCC, to appear in his crosshairs. (For example, McIntyre, probably quite wisely, snips all political discussion in his comments.)

For UR, the matter is just the opposite. We already suspect that these governments are Orwellian and corrupt. After all, once you're a Loyalist, the question is settled by definition. So we are happy to hear Joe Romm's description of the stakes. For once, he is exactly right.

Again, the problem is boolean. There is no continuum, only two perspectives.

From the viewpoint of the AGW credulist, AGW is a critically serious problem, perhaps even an emergency; AGW research is essential spending; public concern about AGW is a sign of prudent, educated citizenship; and the public-policy measures recommended by AGW researchers, such as carbon controls, are a matter of national importance.

Let's consider, for a moment, the amazing position of the AGW credulist - not the researchers and the bureaucrats, just the ordinary schmoe who is asked to believe in this stuff. The credulist is seriously, deeply, personally concerned at a political level about the concentration of gases in Earth's atmosphere.

My favorite introduction to American history is this 1901 essay by Charles Francis Adams, Jr., in which our historian examines the controversial issues in every Presidential election from 1856 to 1900, lamenting somewhat over their general detachment from reality. I suspect that Adams, despite his obvious sang-froid, would be truly amazed by the appearance of atmospheric chemistry in the American political mind.

But this proves nothing. As promised, we need to consider the matter from scratch. What is the Loyalist position on AGW? What we've established is that it walks like Puritan hysteria, it talks like Puritan hysteria, and it smells like the Devil himself. But we are better than that. We'd like to actually evaluate the matter.

What, exactly, is AGW? What is science? And what is the relationship between the two?

AGW is the result of an effect described by Arrhenius in the late 19th century, in which CO2 in the atmosphere reflects outgoing infrared radiation back at the earth. There is no dispute as to the existence of this effect, or the increasing levels of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere, or the fact that this trend is produced by people burning fossil fuels.

Important facts to remember are (a) that the temperature increase is proportional not to the CO2 level but to its logarithm (this is undisputed, but I have never, ever seen an AGW credulist mention it directly), meaning that each doubling of CO2 produces a constant increase in total radiation; (b) that at present rates of fossil fuel use, CO2 will be double its present value by 2255 (of course, fossil fuel use could increase, which would bring this number in - let's pull a round figure out of our asses, and call it 2100); and (c) that doubling CO2 increases total radiation by roughly 3.8 W/m^2 over the present value of 1366 W/m^2, or about 0.3%.

And how much temperature increase will this cause? The answer to this question is called the climate sensitivity - the function that maps an increase in incoming radiation to an increase in atmospheric temperature. (The link is to a denialist site, but there is no argument over the concept.) What is the best scientific estimate of Earth's climate sensitivity?

Let's postpone this question for a moment. It requires us to define science. Or Science.

Here, sadly, we must part from Joe Romm. His definition of Science is clear. Science is that which is done by scientists. Scientists are people employed, with the title of professor, by the universities. The universities are accredited by Washington. Therefore, Science, in Joe Romm's mind, can be defined as official truth. Let's stick with the capital letter for this one.

Note that if we replace Science with Scripture and scientists with ministers, we are back in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We've reduced the scientific method to the following statement: Washington is always right. But surely not even the sage who gave us "ASS-whole" is crass enough to endorse this principle.

The conventional explanation of why science, with miniscule s, works so well, is due to Karl Popper and his concept of falsifiability. Whole forests have been cut down over this issue, but here at UR we have a very simple interpretation of falsifiability, which we'll now share.

The unusual trustworthiness of science, despite the fact that scientists are humans and humans are not generally trustworthy, exists when (a) hypotheses are falsifiable, and (b) the professional institutions within which scientists operate promote, broadcast, and reward any falsification. We can trust a consensus of scientists on a problem for which (a) and (b) are true, because we are basing our trust on the fact that, if the hypothesis is false, a large number of very smart people has tried and failed to discover its error. This is not, of course, impossible. But it is at least unlikely.

So we have two definitions, and our $64,000 question: is Science science? That is: is the official truth of AGW, which claims the high credibility produced by Popperian falsifiability in a functioning system of critical feedback, in fact justified in claiming this credibility?

The answer is easy: no.

To understand the impact of increased CO2, we need to know the climate sensitivity. Q: how can scientists, at least Popperian scientists, evaluate the climate sensitivity? A: they can't. There is no falsifiable procedure which can estimate climate sensitivity.

To estimate climate sensitivity, all you need is an accurate model of Earth's atmosphere. Likewise, to get to Alpha Centauri, all you have to do is jump very high. The difference between the computing power we have, and the computing power we would need in order to accurately model Earth's atmosphere, is comparable to the difference between my vertical leap and the distance to Alpha Centauri. For all practical purposes, climate modeling is the equivalent of earthquake prediction: an unsolvable problem.

If you want to see this argument laid out in detail, read Pat Frank's article in Skeptic. To my mind, all this detail about error bars simply obfuscates the fact of an unsolvable problem. The GCMs that purport to simulate climate are interesting experiments, and it's not unimpressive that they can be made to produce results that look at least reasonable. But they model the atmosphere with grid cells 100 miles on a side, and attempt to use this to predict the state of the atmosphere - a chaotic system - for the next century. This does not pass the laugh test.

There is simply no scientific way to verify or falsify the accuracy of any such piece of software. It is not practical to perturb Earth's climate, perturb your model's climate, and test that they both respond in the same way. And there is no other way to test a model. In the end, all you have is a curve that records past temperature, and a piece of software that generates future temperature. Perhaps if we could watch the predicted and actual curves match up for a century or so, we could generate something like statistical significance. But we can't. And hindcasting - fitting the models to data from the past - overfits, and is completely worthless.

There are two fields of Science which contribute to the AGW conclusion: climate modeling and paleoclimatology. Michael Mann pioneered the construction of "hockey stick" graphs which appear to show "unprecedented" increases in temperature in the late 20th century. Even supposing that Mann was not a charlatan (see below), these curves would have no scientific meaning whatsoever.

It is fairly clear that Earth's temperature has been increasing over the last few centuries, and that in the 20th century it rose from 1900 through the '30s, fell from the '30s through the '70s, rose from the '70s through the '90s, and has been flat since the '90s. What would it have done in the absence of increasing CO2? Again, we have no way to know. We have no model. We cannot separate the curves. (This paper [large PDF] by Syun-Ichi Akasofu makes the point quite elegantly.)

Besides the fraud, what's creepy about the hockey stick is that it implicitly argues causality by mere visual analogy. We see increasing temperature and increasing CO2, so the two must be related. WTF? This is not the kind of argument that appeals to a scientist. It is the kind of argument that appeals to a voter.

What we are looking at here, I think, is what Feynman called cargo-cult science. GCMs and paleoclimatology look - to your average voter - like science with a small s. They perform huge numbers of intricate calculations, they collect vast quantities of data, and of course they are Science with a big S. It's just that their efforts have no falsifiable predictive value. And what is much worse, they claim predictive value and are driving policy off it.

The justified arrogance of falsifiable science is such that, when science goes bad, it goes extremely bad. Langmuir's description of pathological science is worth reading. Note that GCMs fit this profile quite well - they produce results where there should be only noise. However, it is not at all necessary to resort to erudite mathematical abstractions to catch these people in a lie. The mens rea is easy to find.

If you have any remaining doubt in the matter, here is one of Joe Romm's posts in which, as usual, he accuses his opponents of being lying Trotskyist wreckers. In this post we see the following statement:
But I find it hilarious that the deniers and delayers still quote Christy/Spencer/UAH analysis lovingly, but to this day dismiss the “hockey stick” and anything Michael Mann writes, when his analysis was in fact vindicated by the august National Academy of Sciences in 2006.
What is Romm talking about? To understand the issue, read this [PDF], then this. You'll see that the word "vindicated" is - um - extremely unjustified. For those tempted to defend Romm on the grounds that he is a mere bureaucrat and doesn't know better, note that he has a Ph.D in physics from MIT. As I said: prison.

So: not only is the research behind AGW not falsifiable science, and thus not entitled to deference regardless of the personal trustworthiness of its promoters, its promoters are - in fact - snakes. It never rains but it pours. In fact, if you read Climate Audit on a regular basis, you see examples of gross scientific misconduct that would be career-ending in any legitimate field, perhaps once or twice a month. Mann's (repeated) statistical manipulation is especially egregious, but not at all unusual.

We also have (one) answer to the first question of the AGW credulists: how a scientific consensus can produce a fraudulent result. The answer is simple: the entire field is fraudulent. In a fraudulent pseudoscience, there is no incentive at all for uncovering error, because the only result of a successful dissent is to destroy your job and those of your peers.

We can see this effect in the experience of climate modeler Judith Curry, who to her great credit dealt with McIntyre the way a real scientist would: inviting him to give a talk. She wrote:
I am taking some heat for all this from my peers outside Georgia Tech. The climate blog police were very upset by my congratulations to Steve upon winning the best science blog award. A recent seminar speaker was appalled to be included in the same seminar series as steve and pat, and told me i was misleading my students. I got some support for what I am doing from a program manager at NSF who I spoke with recently, who appreciated my "missionary work" over at climate audit. Another NSF program manager is apparently not at all happy about this. Some people think that my participation over here in someway "legitimizes" CA; my participation over here is not all that relevant in the overall scheme of CA. I am fully aware that many of my peers think i am crazy for doing this.
Cargo-cult scientists have to circle the wagons like this. If they piss off the NSF program managers, their life expectancy as successful grantwinners is not impressive. Real scientists have no such need to be defensive, because their program managers actually want them to expose any errors in their field.

Thus we answer the initial Hoofnagel question: the source of coordinated error is not, at all, a conspiracy. It is simply the funding source. Nearly every scientist in a field can be working together to promote a falsehood because they all get their money from Joe Romm and company. And if the falsehood is exposed rather than promoted, there is no field left. It is no more surprising that all USG-funded scientists are unanimous in promoting AGW as a global emergency, than that all Philip Morris-funded scientists are unanimous in promoting tobacco as a vitamin.

What we're looking at here is mainstream pathological science. This is a basic and unfixable flaw in the entire Vannevar Bush design for federally-funded science. Once cranks, quacks, or charlatans get a foothold in the NSF and/or the universities, and establish their quack field as a legitimate department of Science, they are there to stay.

The mainstream cranks will not expel themselves, and there is no mechanism by which another department can attack them. In theory they are vulnerable to the democratic political system (or, at least, the Republican political system), and as we've seen they play up this fear quite a bit. In practice, of course, they did quite a bit more damage to Bush than he did to him.

The incentive of all federally-funded science is the same: keep your funding, and try to get more. It is not that most scientists are "in it for the money." It is that you cannot be a successful scientist, in this era, without being a successful bureaucrat. As such you respond to bureaucratic incentives, such as the feelings of your NSF program manager.

And we start to see how this entire disaster developed. First: out of genuine curiosity, people started trying to build climate models, measure CO2, and the like. Second: since USG is not a charity, they had to apply for grants and describe the importance of their work. Third: they noticed, consciously or subconsciously, that an easy way to make their work seem more important was to predict disastrous consequences. Fourth: the same evolutionary feedback process that, in a falsifiable science, eradicates error, operated to promote it. Researchers and fields which produced more alarming results received more funding - because, by definition, their work was more important. Iterate to the point of sheer insanity, and you have the AGW research community we have today.

There remains one loophole by which AGW credulists may defend their position. They can say (although they don't) that, even though there is no scientific way to estimate climate sensitivity, the fact that we are poking Earth's climate with a stick and we have no knowledge of its effect is itself egregious. This is the famous precautionary principle.

Note that now we have completely abandoned the pretense of scientific public policy. This is excellent, because it allows us to think phronetically - using the ordinary tools of common sense - about whether CO2-triggered warming is, or is not, a genuine problem.

Here is a thought-experiment that will resolve this easily for you. In a world with no fossil fuels and a stable CO2 level, scientists studying the sun announce that they have (never mind how) scientifically determined that its intensity will increase by 0.3% between now and 2100. You are Dictator of Earth. How do you react to this information?

Do you (a) do nothing at all; (b) keep an eye on the problem, treating it as of roughly the same significance of, say, the possibility of a Sri Lankan tea blight; or (c) immediately embark on a geoengineering scheme to counterbalance the brightening sun and keep Earth cool?

Recall from Shaviv's math that, if we ignore feedbacks and treat Earth as a black body, the expected climate sensitivity is about 1 degree Celsius. Perhaps this is in the rough neighborhood of the actual result, and perhaps it isn't. We also need to consider the most obvious effect of global warming, sea-level rise. The sea is rising at about two millimeters per year.

First, realize how thoroughly un-terrifying these figures are. Even if you triple them. If, as Dictator of Earth, your worst problem is oceans that will rise a foot in a century, or air that will become three degrees warmer, you simply don't have much of a problem. What ever happened to the Nazis? Perhaps aliens could invade? Being Dictator of Earth has to be more challenging than this. If your subjects can't handle oceans that rise by a half-centimeter a year, perhaps you need to focus on breeding more intelligent subjects.

Our trick here was to replace the "artificial" increase of CO2 with a "natural" brightening of the sun. These have identical effects on the Earth, and identical consequences for its residents. But only one has a narrative of guilt and redemption. What we see is that the results, stripped of their Puritan moral baggage, are just not all that terrifying. Environmentalists often play this game; in the classic Jesuitical fashion of the good old black regiment, they will talk guilt and redemption to those who want to hear guilt and redemption, and practical consequences to those more receptive to reality. The guilt and redemption are drivel; the practical consequences, as we see when we look at them on their own, are just not that serious.

Worse, we can even question the proposition that the human consequences of a mild warming are negative. For most of the 20th century, students of global climate made a simple assumption: warmer was better. We can see this in the names that previous generations of scientists applied to past warm periods, such as the Holocene Optimum and the Medieval Optimum. "Optimum" does not mean "worse." To the researchers who invented these names, it was just obvious that a warmer climate meant warmer temperate regions, a more fertile Earth, and more human prosperity. This perception, reached without thought of controversy by serious researchers in the 20th century, is a genuine consensus that deserves our respect.

But in the age of AGW, there is no professional incentive for researchers to study the positive effects of warming climate, and a tremendous incentive for them to study the negative effects. Of course, if you only look at the research rather than the incentives which produce it, you will come away with the conclusion that warming's negative effects vastly outnumber its positive ones. (Indeed, in the age of Puritan environmentalism, we can barely even express the thought that a human alteration to the environment might be in some sense benign.)

Again, we see both scientific and public opinion changing not to follow the truth, but to follow the funding. The entire AGW industry is thus best explained as an intellectual pathology of the 20th century's disastrous decision to convert disorganized, decentralized, and unofficial science into organized, centralized and official science.

This gives us our policy prescription: end all official funding of science, especially in cases in which the output of the science drives public policy. If a government to rely on the advice of scientists, it must make sure that it is relying on actual, falsifiable science, and that the institutions producing that science have no incentive to produce anything other than the truth. The obvious way to do this is to separate science and state, for the health of both.

In a healthy society, people would still study the Earth's climate. They might even try to model it. But they would do so for the original motivation of science: curiosity. Today, bright young people go into the environmental sciences because they offer quite a different attraction: power. The sense of status and importance held by a James Hansen, or even a Joe Romm, is hard for such as you or me to even imagine.

A key aspect of this is not merely that the AGW researchers, their proteges, and their little academic empires survive and grow, but that their advice is taken by the State - and, as a result, has what many people in the trade call impact. Of course this is just a name for power, and those who have it find it so pleasant that they are seldom inclined to consider whether they are using it for good or for evil.

If you surf from Climate Progress to Climate Audit, the change from the world of funding and impact to the world of skepticism and curiosity is unmistakable and infinitely refreshing. The former is an NGO, supported by nameless and sinister fat cats. The latter has a tip jar. 'Nuff said. Someday, all of science will return to the attitude and methodology of a Steve McIntyre, and its Washingtonian captivity will seem like no more than a bad dream.

KFM: Keynes-Fisher macroeconomics
It is almost embarrassingly easy to debunk 20th-century macroeconomics. Indeed, by failing to predict yet another vast cataclysm, one might think the field had met its end.

And indeed when we see mainstream articles with names like "How the Entire Economics Profession Failed", we might seduce ourselves into the pleasant, Candidean belief that the "entire economics profession" was ready to resign its sinecures, and seek new employment in the lawn-care industry. Ah, if only. Yves Smith has links to a couple more pieces in this vein. Alas, they are all equally clueless.

For example, it is remarkably easy for Professor Madrick (above) to escape from the titanic disaster he seems to describe. Not counting Marxists, there are three significant schools of economic thought today: one founded by Lord Keynes and revitalized by Paul Samuelson (also known as "economics"), one founded by Irving Fisher and revitalized by Milton Friedman (also known as the Chicago School), and one founded by Ludwig von Mises and revitalized by Murray Rothbard (also known as the Austrian School).

As a rough guess, there are ten Keynesian professors for every Fisherite, and twenty Fisherites for every Misesian. Only Keynesians and Fisherites have an influence on public policy today. And, if you read Professor Madrick's article, he is a Keynesian and not interested in quitting his job at all. Oh, no. What he turns out to mean is that monetarist (ie, Fisherite) economics has failed. What appears to be a mea culpa is simply a dishonest attack on the competition, rendered in the same sneering, Stalinist tone we have just seen in our AGW section, by a bureaucrat whose resume makes him sound exactly like the Joe Romm of economics. (If nothing else, dear reader, you now know what it sounds like when power is spoken to truth.)

You may ask: why is it that Misesian economics has no influence on government policy? There are many ways to divide the profession (and I'm sure some would quibble with the classification above), but there is one simple division: we can divide economics into orthodox economics and new economics. Keynes and Fisher are new economics. Mises is orthodox economics.

These terms may seem a little strange. Why is new economics, which dates to the '20s, mainstream, and orthodox economics - which also dates to the '20s - shunned? And from the tone that the Keynesians and monetarists use to describe Austrians - when they deign to describe them at all, which isn't often, you'd think orthodoxy was the other way around.

But in fact, I am using the term orthodox in much the same way as Keynes himself. As anyone who has read Hazlitt's essential Failure of the New Economics [book-length PDF] knows, the Baron was anything but a precise thinker, but he generally uses the term orthodox to describe 19th-century or at least pre-WWI economics. This certainly would include Mises, whose school is the only real 20th-century survival of anything like what Victorians called economics.

I have a very simple, precise definition of orthodox and new, which matches Keynes' usage and seems reasonably serviceable to me. Let's say an orthodox economist is an economist who believes that any supply of money is adequate, and the money supply should be either fixed or bound to a commodity whose supply is very difficult to expand, such as gold. A new economist is a believer in an "elastic currency": he believes that the amount of money in a country should expand as the country "grows." Typically this involves a belief in paper money.

By this definition, it is indeed the new economics (of Keynes and Fisher) which has failed. It has failed totally and completely, it is morally and intellectually bankrupt, it has inflicted vast suffering on humanity, and if there was any justice its acolytes would be packing their bags one jump ahead of the law. They're not, of course.

When we remember that the world did, in fact, exist before 1914, we find it quite easy to justify the term new economics. Returning to our favorite Charles Francis Adams essay, for instance, we find the following trenchant passage:
The currency debate presented three distinct phases: first, the proposition, broached in 1867, known as the greenback theory, under which the interest-bearing bonds of the United States, issued during the Rebellion, were to be paid at maturity in United States legal tender notes, bearing no interest at all. This somewhat amazing proposition was speedily disposed of; for, early in 1869, an act was passed declaring the bonds payable "in coin." But, as was sure to be the case, the so-called "Fiat Money" delusion had obtained a firm lodgment in the minds of a large part of the community, and to drive it out was the work of time. It assumed, too, all sorts of aspects. Dispelled in one form, it appeared in another. When, for instance, the act of 1860 settled the question as respects the redemption of the bonds, the financial crisis of 1873 re-opened it by creating an almost irresistible popular demand for a government paper currency as a permanent substitute for specie.
This passage was written in 1901. Note Adams' perception of the paper-money advocates: they are insane, demagogic monetary cranks. Curiously enough, this is exactly how the responsible mainstream intellectual of today regards a Misesian, or any other gold-standard advocate.

Isn't this an interesting reversal? Doesn't it remind you slightly of our last case? Remember how the AGW promoters, shepherding a pseudoscience which has become mainstream, are so eager to dismiss their critics as pseudoscientists. These reversals happen for a reason: if you are a quack, quackery is what you know, so the obvious way to dismiss your critics is to label them as quacks. The approach is especially attractive for the mainstream quack, who knows that faced with a pair of arguing experts, each of whom claims the other to be a quack, most spectators will pick the one who has wormed his way into the most prestigious position.

Thus we have our hypothesis already: the "Fiat Money delusion" somehow worked its way into the mainstream, displacing the old, orthodox "hard money" economics. Since it is clear that, 75 years or so later, some school of economics has failed, and since hard-money economics has been long displaced from the temples of power, the simple answer seems clear. Now, let's try to understand it.

First, both the Keynes and Fisher schools are what a Misesian would call inflationist. (Adams would probably use the same word, too.) That is: they believe that expanding or otherwise debasing the currency is on some or all occasions beneficial to the health of the State. Again, we note the accuracy of our terms: before the 20th century, in both European and Greco-Roman times, monetary debasement was considered the pathetic act of a sick, decaying polity.

We can separate the Keynes and Fisher schools based on their preferred vehicles for inflation. Keynesians think governments should inflate the money supply through deficit spending - the "stimulus" we have grown to love so dearly. Fisherites think the best way to inflate the money supply is by fixing interest rates, a policy sometimes known as "easy" or "cheap" money. I'm afraid that, with AmeriZIRP in full swing, the Keynesians have rather the best of it. Perhaps we can give Professor Madrick credit for being right about that.

So the "new economics" does, after all, live up to its name. It is a product of the 1920s and '30s, when Britain discovered that her World War I debts would not allow her to stay on the classical gold standard that she once had established - at least, not at the now-overvalued prewar parity. There was too much paper and not enough gold. The failure cascaded, the world switched to paper money, and a new economics was needed. Under which "going off gold" was not a failure at all, but in fact a step into a brighter new world.

Who was right? Was the end of the classical gold standard a disaster? Or were the old orthodox economists just a bunch of no-fun fuddy-duddies, who didn't get it at all? And if so, how did they metamorphose from fuddy-duddies into nutball cranks?

First, it's easy for us to dismiss the inflationists on logical grounds. Inflationism simply cannot be right. It violates logic. Nothing can violate logic.

Second, an orthodox economist need not be a goldbug. The difference between paper and gold, as monetary goods, is immaterial. People hold money to defer consumption into the future, not for the industrial qualities of the money itself. Gold makes a good monetary system not because gold is "intrinsically" valuable in some sense, but because the supply is strictly limited. Ideally, there would be no new gold mining at all. And we can duplicate this effect with paper money, by issuing a certain number of notes and double-promising not to issue any more. (The advantage of gold is that the promise is a lot more credible.)

Rather, the difference is between a hard or inelastic currency, and a soft or "elastic" one. The former cannot be inflated; the latter can. An ideal hard currency has no new supply.

The key fact about money is that what matters to you is not how much money you have, but what fraction of the total money supply you have. It is the latter than determines your power to exchange money for other goods, in competition with present moneyholders. Eg: if, following Hume's Archangel Gabriel, we turn every dollar into two dollars (being careful to adjust debts as well), we have changed nothing.

Even simple inflation - printing money and spending it, Keynesian style - can be emulated with an ideal hard currency. To "print" new money in this currency, simply confiscate it pro rata from all present holders of the currency. Eg, if you want to print 1/100th the present money supply, find every dollar in the world, pay its owner 99 cents, and use the leftover pennies to fund your plan.

The effect of this policy is precisely the same as that of inflating an elastic currency, although the elastic implementation is much more straightforward. Perhaps this is the advantage of elasticity. But it avoids the critical question, which is why we'd want to do this in the first place. Oddly enough, although we know they are semantically identical, the inflation option seems much more fair and reasonable. Oddly, too, even Adams seems to acknowledge that, although an elastic currency may be pernicious, it is desired by many.

Keynes and Fisher did not propose inflation as an all-purpose stimulant for general fun. They proposed it as a cure for economic recessions and depressions, which were certainly in no short supply at the time. We are entering a recession or depression now, so it seems wise to revisit the issue. Is cocaine a good remedy for depression? Why do so many people want to inflate?

Again, the answer is easy. What we see in a recession or depression is a drop in consumer spending. Since spending is the flip side of production, we can think of the GDP (the sum of the prices of all goods and services sold by businesses to consumers) for any country as the amount of money spent on that country's goods and services. If that number falls by, say, 5%, the average business in the country has produced 5% too many goods and services.

Obviously, this is quite painful. And it also gives rise to calls for inflation - or, to use a more precise term, monetary dilution. There is an easy way to correct the situation to our business's satisfaction: print 5% more money, and spend it on goods and services. Hence the "stimulus."

If we switch back to hard-currency mode and look at what we're doing, it is even weirder. In order to prop up consumer demand, we steal one nickel from every holder of a dollar, add it all up, and spend it on goods which we throw away. Is this healthy? Keynes thought it was.

Basically, the way to perceive the "new economics" is in exactly the same way that Adams perceived it: not a sane government policy, but a response to pressure groups. Fortunately or unfortunately, those pressures were a lot stronger after WWI than before it, and sound money went the way of the dodo. So, for example, our pressure group here is the business owner. Farmers in debt also tend to do quite well with inflation. But, again: any monetary debasement can be modeled as a monetary transfer.

As in the case of AGW, we ended up with "new economics" because that was what Washington wanted to hear. The case is the same today: Barack Obama's "stimulus" proposal involves doubling Federal discretionary spending, ie everyone's budget. Obviously, this makes quite a few people very happy. And it probably spreads the loot around a little better than if we were just to give it all, up front, to Tony Rezko.

Hence the death of orthodox economics. The orthodox economists of the 19th century, the believers in sound money, were not in general policymakers. They viewed their task as one of describing the economy, not controlling it. But in the '20s and '30s, when university men started to move into government, politically palatable solutions were needed. The Austrians and other orthodox historians had nothing of the sort. So they were left out of the pie when all the power got distributed, and today they have no government jobs and only a few marginal academic ones.

What at least the Austrians had, however, was an accurate understanding of the disease that the Keynesians and Fisherites were trying to treat - the pattern of repeated booms and busts. The "new economists" called it the "business cycle," a term implying some endogenous origin in the commercial community - which, coincidentally or not, tended to align with Harding and Coolidge rather than Hoover and FDR. Bankers and economists tend to be more left-wing.

"Business cycle" is an extremely misleading phrase. A better phrase would be banking cycle. As I discussed here, the cause of the recurrent panics and collapses is a bad accounting practice in the Anglo-American banking system, generally known as maturity mismatching.

A maturity-mismatched bank, which is any bank today, writes promises of money it doesn't have - yet. It "borrows short and lends long," balancing short-term liabilities (such as checking deposits, whose term is zero, as they can be withdrawn at any time) with long-term assets (such as mortgages paid over 30 years). Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes something that sounds like a bad idea is actually just a bad idea.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say: while a maturity-mismatch structure is not quite the same thing as a Ponzi scheme, they both have a tendency to collapse catastrophically in a cloud of dust, leaving investors with a lot less money than they thought they had. Effectively, maturity mismatching lets banks teleport money from the future into the present. What's bad is that this is inflationary, and what's worse is that - when the scheme collapses - the inflation reverses. This creates your recessions, depressions, etc.

So we now have a perfect understanding of the origins of Fisher-Keynes inflationism. It exists not because it makes sense but because politicians desire it. Politicians desire it as a palliative for the deflationary conditions of a maturity crisis (or any other crash). In the 19th century, such crashes were often described as "shortages of money" (meaning shortages of present money). And printing will certainly solve that.

It's important to note that while maturity-mismatch inflation has a reverse gear, and so do the open-market operations used for Fisherite monetary policy (these can either create money or retire money), Keynesian spending does not. This is a pattern that leads to long-term monetary decay: first, maturity mismatching inflates the economy and creates a huge amount of debt; second, a maturity crisis triggers a panic, the debt goes bad, and the country enters depression; and third, massive doses of Keynesian heroin are injected into its aorta, waking it up. Sadly, it will need more heroin tomorrow - and so on.

What a sane and healthy government tries to avoid is inflation dependency. This addiction is a state in which a substantial percentage of consumer spending originates in newly printed or lent money. For example, before the real-estate crash, about 5% of US GDP was home-equity withdrawals - money teleported out of the future, and into thin air. Most banks have stopped providing this service, leaving a mortgage-equity-withdrawal-shaped hole in US GDP. But President Obama will fix it, of course, with his wonderful stimulus.

We start to see how appalling the Keynesian stimulus is. First, it replaces one addiction - the vanished "home ATM" - with a new one, Federal money. Second, budgets in Washington do not get cut, at least not routinely. The stimulus will be permanent, which means we've replaced one addiction with another.

And third, when we do this, we shift a substantial percentage of private economic activity into the hands of Washington's finest, who never turn down either money or power. It is probably a coincidence that the inauguration of The One coincides with the Congressional murder of America's handmade toy industry (thanks, Ralph Nader - no, really). But it is a bit symbolic. We are heading for Brezhnev faster than most of us think.

At a higher level, both monetary policy and Keynesian stimulus pretend to be cures for the banking cycle. Neither claims to understand it at all, but both have been promising to eliminate it for the last 75 years. This has not happened, of course. The remedies are palliatives for the destructive effects of the collapses, but this is like taking cocaine for your strep throat. What it really needs is a specific cure, ie, antibiotics.

To end the banking cycle permanently, our existing structures of long-term debt which back short-term liabilities need to be restructured. One way to do this is the classic Austrian approach: let everything collapse. If we were actually on the gold standard, this might well be our only option - but we're not. It is much easier to transition to a fixed-supply fiat currency, which is in fact harder than gold (because there is no new production at all).

Basically, the only painless, specific, and lasting way out of the banking cycle is to purchase all financial assets with freshly-issued dollars, then sell the assets and destroy the dollars paid for them, and start lending back up with new banks and maturity-matched accounting. This is a full reboot of the financial system. Accept no substitutes. Yes, it involves some inflation, but the inflation is (a) one-time, and (b) pointed at the actual problem.

Once again, this is not going to happen - despite the fact that it should be obvious. There is simply no power in the world, not even obviousness, that can displace our present economics faculty, or dislodge them from their lock on policy.

They have tenure, after all. They're scientists, which means that if you oppose them you're an ASS. And they will remain in power until someone drives a tank or two into Harvard Yard - which, come to think of it, doesn't sound like such a bad idea at all.

HNU: human neurological uniformity
And last but not least: our third case study in adaptive mendacity under the democratic system, HNU or human neurological uniformity.

An HNU credulist believes that modern human subpopulations are neurologically uniform. In other words, genetic differences between races (if the term is even acknowledged) are of no behavioral significance. Especially committed credulists may believe that genetic differences between individuals are of no behavioral significance, or even that human behavior has not been shaped at all by evolutionary history - both forms of the "Blank Slate" hypothesis. (If you are new to the issue, you could do a lot worse than starting with Pinker's book.)

You may, for instance, hear phrases like "we are all the same under the skin." Are we? (And consider the behavioral correlates.) I suppose one could step back to a less-falsified point: "we are all the same under the skull." Evolution, in this theory, is somehow attenuated by tissue depth. Do you want to go there?

As the authors of this new book put it: given the genetic history of the human species, global equality in any quantitative trait - physical or behavioral - is about as likely as dropping a handful of quarters and having them all land on edge. Of course, as reasonable thinkers, we are prepared to consider improbable propositions. If presented with extraordinary evidence.

What, sir, is your evidence for HNU? Oh, you don't have any. I see. Once again, we find our new friend - the mainstream crank.

You'll note the familiar chutzpah of quackery. Lacking any positive factual argument for their hypothesis, how do the spinmeisters of HNU credulism - from Stephen Jay Gould down - operate? The answer is a one-paragraph textbook in charlatanship. This maneuver takes a gallbladder the size of a basketball, but it works perfectly.

First: shift the burden of proof to the converse of your unsupported hypothesis, defining it as the null hypothesis - true until proven false. Second: raise the standards for proving it false to an absurd and unsatisfiable level. (See this for a typical attempt to clear the ever-rising bar.) Third: declare victory.

Thus: the moon is made of green cheese. You say the moon is made of moon rock and moondust, but you have no real evidence for this claim. Astronauts landed on the moon and brought home moon rock and moondust, but this is just a superficial layer of asteroid debris around the cheese. If they go again and actually drill this time, they'll hit cheese. If they don't, they didn't drill deep enough. Regardless, the moon-rock theory remains highly speculative and unproven - it is probably "junk science" funded by lunar mining interests.

And it's just another day in your worm-eaten medulla. Hey, don't worry - we've all been there.

Here is a thought I distinctly remember thinking as a teenager, quite possibly after reading one of Stephen Jay Gould's better essays on the early hominidae: "boy, it's a good thing Homo erectus went extinct. Because fortunately, racism is a lie, we are all the same under the skin, and once America educates the world all God's chilluns will go to Harvard. But we're obviously descended from less-intelligent hominids - and if those guys were still around, we'd have a real race problem." A testament to the art of modern crimestop, which always finds a way to disable wrongthink by removing some tiny but essential component from one's picture of reality.

I'll assume you've succumbed to the wrongthink. If not, think about it for a while. Spend some time on the Internet. Draw your own conclusions. Then continue below - or, of course, don't.

Since you're no longer an HNU credulist, you must be an HNU denialist - ie, one prepared to consider patterns of genotype-phenotype correlation in behavioral traits of modern human subpopulations. Terrible! But don't worry - if you don't mind keeping company with the dead, you'll find yourself in the best of company.

For instance, David Hume - founder of modern rational thought - was an HNU denialist:
I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences. On the other hand, the most rude and barbarous of the Whites, such as the ancient Germans, the present Tartars, have still something eminent about them, in their valour, form of government, or some other particular. Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men. Not to mention our colonies, there are Negro slaves dispersed all over Europe, of whom none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity; though low people, without education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession. In Jamaica, indeed, they talk of one Negro as a man of parts and learning; but it is likely he is admired for slender accomplishments, like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly.
Now, if a man was to stand up and say this today, that man would be a racist. But let's not forget, Hume wrote this in, like, 1500 BC or something. (He also wrote it when there were a lot fewer Negroes around.) As Hunter S. Thompson once put it, we've learned a lot about race relations since then. Don't worry, SPLC - we welcome our new Mustiphino overlords.

Seriously: should the HNU denialist accept this invidious word, racist? Better yet, should he flaunt it like a homo? Obviously, a matter of personal taste. It depends how much you want to offend people. But there is one thing to note: the common meaning of racism implies the belief that ancestry is significant information in the context of common decisions about individuals.

It should be obvious that it is not. If you want to test a job applicant's IQ, for example, give her an IQ test. Patterns of ancestry become useful only in decisions that affect large groups of humans in the aggregate. Governments, however, must often make such decisions.

Therefore, if you are an HNU denialist and someone asks you whether you're a racist, you can ask him if he implies the above belief, which we can call racial essentialism. (The Nazis, of course, were big essentialists.) If he says yes, tell him no. If he says no, you can tell him yes.

One also must be quite a bit more careful than Hume with the words superior and inferior. This implies some quantitative ordering of overall personal worth, an idea one would expect Hume to be the last to accept. For example, consider the proposition that Jews tend to be better chess players than Negroes, whereas Negroes tend to be better dancers than Jews. Both halves of this statement may (or may not) be true, but neither can justify us in ranking the two races overall - unless our sole criterion of personal worth is either chess or dance. Which mine isn't.

I will take the liberty of suggesting that Hume, had he known how touchy his descendants would become on this subject, would have said that Europeans tend to have higher labor productivity than Negroes. As measured in wages, this is an easily verifiable fact of no moral significance whatsoever. (In a society which permitted both European and Negro slavery, we could compare the cost of the capital rather than the price of the rental.)

For an intelligent person in the 21st century, it is unnecessary to be even slightly neurotic about the obvious statistical differences in the average talents of human races. It so happens that, in the world of 2009, a talent for solving differential equations commands a higher salary and a larger job market than a talent for playing musical instruments. But there are exceptions: Prince is much better compensated than you. Does that make him a better person? Who could possibly care? We each are who we are, we each make the best of it. Duh.

My ideal future is one in which governments pay at most minimal attention to race. If that makes me a racist, so be it. But Orwell just came in his pants.

Obviously, once you stop believing in democracy, it is easy to stop seeing the failure of this political design in societies with a high percentage of non-Eurasian genetic ancestry as a moral reflection on persons of non-Eurasian ancestry, and start seeing it as an mere engineering failure. Ie: if Negroes are unsuited for representative government, the fault lies entirely with the latter. Europeans are unsuited for representative government, too - just slightly less unsuited.

It's true that our planet, at present, hosts quite a few healthy humans whose present economic productivity is negative. But this is probably best explained as a case of mere misgovernment. Civilized societies in the past have found that the demand for menial labor is, at the right price, almost inexhaustible, and have flourished with a very high ratio of laborers to elites. If present political structures fail under these demographic conditions, the fault is - once again - with the political structures. (For example, colonial Spanish America thrived peacefully under royal government, and became violent and corrupt under republican institutions.)

Should governments, for example, consider race in their immigration policies? I can't imagine why they would want to. Surely an effective immigration policy, by definition, is one that lets in desirable subjects and keeps out undesirable ones. Whatever your definition of desirability, there are surely far more effective ways to evaluate an applicant for immigration than examining his or her ancestry, or even a full genotype. Even if we had a genotype-to-IQ function, which of course we don't (yet), by definition an IQ test is the most effective way to test IQ.

But enough defensiveness. Let's see what the world looks like to an HNU denialist.

As usual, we all have a complete picture of reality as consistent with HNU credulism. As usual, we have no picture whatsoever of reality as consistent with HNU denialism - except, of course, for some sketchy and invidious stereotypes of what a "racist" should think. We have no interest in nibbling at these poisoned baits.

(But we will continue to use the word Negro, which has - or had - been the most standard and precise signifier for its signified since (according to my OED) 1555. Geeze, man, talk about freakin' Orwell. It reminds me of an old Primitive Radio Gods track, which goes: "I got a god-given right to smoke whatever I like; / Tell me how it got given to you?" Of course, the verse refers to tha chronic, not the English language. Yet the principle is the same.)

In other words: you know the complete story of race relations in America - in the reality in which Negroes are best understood as Europeans with black skin. But now we have another reality. In that other reality, what is the story of race relations in America? Whatever it is, it can't be the same story.

Perhaps you've seen this issue discussed before, and it tires you. The Negro problem has vast ritual importance in the modern American mind. A fresh perspective is essential. So:

Let's say you were a person who didn't care at all about the Constitution, and you wanted to take America back to the past and establish a new order of hereditary nobility. What could be more deliciously reactionary than that? Real, live nobles, walking around on the street. So let's see what it would take to make it happen.

First, we need to define noble status. Our rule is simple: if either of your parents was a noble, you're a noble. While this is unusually inclusive for a hereditary order, it is the 21st century, after all. We can step out a little. And nobility remains a biological quality - a noble baby adopted by common parents is noble, a common baby adopted by noble parents is common.

Fine. What are the official duties and privileges of our new nobility? Obviously, we can't really call it a noble order unless it has duties and privileges.

Well, privileges, anyway. Who needs duties? What's the point of being a noble, if you're going to have all these duties? Screw it, it's the 21st century. We've transcended duties. On to the privileges.

The basic quality of a noble is that he or she is presumed to be better than commoners. Of course, both nobles and commoners are people. And people do vary. Individual circumstances must always be considered. However, the official presumption is that, in any conflict between a noble and a commoner, the noble is right and the commoner is wrong. Therefore, by default, the noble should win. This infallible logic is the root of our system of noble privilege.

For example, if a noble attacks a commoner, we can presume that the latter has in some way provoked or offended the former. The noble may of course be guilty of an offense, but the law must be extremely careful about establishing this. If there is a pattern of noble attacks on commoners, there is almost certainly a problem with the commoners, whose behavior should be examined and who may need supplemental education.

If a commoner attacks a noble, however, it is an extremely serious matter. And a pattern of commoner attacks on nobles is unthinkable - it is tantamount to the total breakdown of civilization. In fact, one way to measure the progress that modern society has made is that, in the lifetime of those now living, it was not at all unusual for mobs of commoners to attack and kill nobles! Needless to say, this doesn't happen anymore.

This intentional disparity in the treatment of unofficial violence creates the familiar effect of asymmetric territorial dominance. A noble can stroll anywhere he wants, at any time of day or night, anywhere in the country. Commoners are advised not to let the sun set on them in noble neighborhoods, and if they go there during the day they should have a good reason for doing so.

One of the main safeguards for our system of noble authority is a systematic effort to prevent the emergence of commoner organizations which might exercise military or political power. Commoners may of course have friends who are other commoners, but they may not network on this basis. Nobles may and of course do form exclusive social networks on the basis of nobility.

Most interactions between commoners and nobles, of course, do not involve violence or politics. Still, by living in the same society, commoners and nobles will inevitably come into conflict. Our goal is to settle these conflicts, by default, in favor of the noble.

For example, if a business must choose whether to hire one of two equally qualified applicants, and one is a noble while the other is a commoner, it should of course choose the noble. The same is true for educational admissions and any other contest of merit. Our presumption is that while nobles are intrinsically, inherently and immeasurably superior to commoners, any mundane process for evaluating individuals will fail to detect these ethereal qualities - for which the outcome must therefore be adjusted.

Speaking of the workplace, it is especially important not to let professional circles of commoner resistance develop. Therefore, we impose heavy fines on corporations whose internal or external policies or practices do not reflect a solid pro-noble position. For example, a corporation which permits its commoner employees to express insolence or disrespect toward its noble employees, regardless of their relationship in the corporate hierarchy, is clearly liable. Any such commoner must be fired at once if the matter is brought to the management's attention.

This is an especially valuable tool for promoting the nobility: it literally achieves that result. In practice it makes the noble in any meeting at the very least primus inter pares. Because it is imprudent for commoners to quarrel with him, he tends to get what he wants. Because he tends to get what he wants, he tends to advance in the corporate hierarchy. The result, which should be visible in any large business without dangerous commonerist tendencies, will be a predominance of nobles in top executive positions.

And, of course, this should be especially the case in government... but enough. We've made the point.

And what exactly is that point? Well, three points.

One: this system is profoundly unhinged and bizarre, and completely inappropriate in anything like a sane, civilized society.

Two: it is - save for the change in terminology - a fairly close description of the present legal status of non-Asian minorities (NAMs) in present-day America. (Which is by no means the only modern government to adopt such a system.)

And three: applied to the cream of America's actual WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy, genuine genetic elites with average IQs of 120, long histories of civic responsibility and productivity, and strong innate predilections for delayed gratification and hard work, I'm confident that this bizarre version of what we can call ignoble privilege would take no more than two generations to produce a culture of worthless, unredeemable scoundrels. Applied to populations with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry and no great reputation for sturdy moral fiber, noblesse sans oblige is a recipe for the production of absolute human garbage.

Thus, the analogy of hereditary ignobility has given us HNU denialists a desperately-needed fresh perspective on the bezonian underclasses of the hardcore, female-welfare and male-criminal variety, whatever their race, color, creed or ethnic origin. (Amazingly, Boston still has Irish bezonians.) The underclass are infinitely depraved aristocrats, with the aristocrat's economic role of extracting profit without productivity through the use or threat of violence. The women are concubines or queens, the men are warriors or barons. In terms of sheer, industrial-strength vice, the denizens of Professor Venkatesh's world surrender nothing to the louchest rake of the Hellfire Club, and their capacity for random mayhem might even shock the Borgias.

That this Orcish parody of aristocracy was created, in the lives of those now living, out of the certainly imperfect but generally functional pre-WWII American Negro subculture, through policies designed by "social scientists" who were in fact religious moralists in disguise, is one of the larger ironies of modern history.

But perhaps I overanticipate. Strangely (or not), most Americans are not familiar with the actual history of the modern American Negro. It shows a precipitous cultural decline in the second half of the 20th century - just as our system of ignoble privilege was established. This might be a coincidence, but then again it might not.

Before 1960, most Negroes had jobs, most Negro children were born to married parents, and most cities in America had thriving Negro business districts (such as Bronzeville in Chicago). All this is gone. But for a white-assimilated minority, often more mulatto than Negro, the community has simply been shattered. A time traveller from 1960 might be excused for thinking the country had spent the last fifty years in the savage grip of the Klan. Even the great Negro contribution to American music has sunk from the genius of jazz to the barbarism of rap.

Whereas to the HNU credulist, the second half of the 20th century was the golden age of the "African-American," with historical achievements unseen since Periclean Athens. We have developed a remarkably wide parallax here. Let's go back and see the world through the eyes of our old, discarded, worm-installed beliefs.

If we assume HNU, the standard story makes sense - to the extent that any perspective founded on nonsense can make sense. Without the obvious answer of genetic neurological disparities, the HNU credulist applies the proper Sherlock Holmes algorithm and assumes that, absent the impossible, the only alternative is the improbable.

Thus, he ascribes the depressing sociological statistics of American Negroes to mistreatment, past and present, by whites. Ie: racism. In the era of slavery or the era of the lynch mob, this did not seem like much of a stretch. Surely it is at least the #2 suspect.

The HNU credulist of the Gunnar Myrdal era discovered two principal aspects of this problem. One: Negroes in America had no effective political power and were often discriminated against by the government, mainly state governments in the South. Two: Europeans in America generally disliked Negroes, and preferred not to associate with them (ie, they were racists). Therefore, the Negro problem could be solved by (a) giving Negroes money and power, and (b) educating Europeans to like and respect their Negro brothers, who (respectable scientists assured them) were exactly the same as them, under the skin.

Fifty years ago, this prescription was not absurd. America took it. It didn't seem to be working, so we doubled the dose. And so began the usual pattern of iatrogenic escalation. Far from curing the relatively mild social pathologies of the Negro community in the early 20th century, the Myrdal therapy aggravated them, converting small precancerous lesions into vast metastatic melanomas. Of course, this called for even more medicine. And so on.

As in AGW and KFM, the feedback loop has created a business of its own. America is now inconceivable without the race industry. It has added a Hispanic underclass to its Negro problem, and its disciples in Europe have created a remarkably similar Muslim problem.

Antiracism gained power in the United States through what we call the civil-rights movement. Perhaps a more precise name would be the black-rage industry, but we can compromise and settle for black-power movement. When you hear these words, you probably think of the "carnivorous" side of the whole circus, with Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown and Field Marshal Cinque, and not the "vegetarian" side, with Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, etc.

But from the perspective of European-Americans, the two acted as a perfect Mutt and Jeff act. Mutt said: I'll kill you. Jeff said: that Mutt is a really bad apple, and if you don't give me money and power he might well kill you.

To a Loyalist, this all sounds dreadfully familiar. Remember the pattern of the American Rebellion: the likes of Otis and Sam Adams raised hell, and the likes of Burke and Pitt explained that they were raising hell because they weren't given enough money and power. Of course, the conciliations of the latter did precisely nothing to reconcile the former to British government.

Americans failed to grasp the fundamentally predatory nature of the black-power movement. Rather than suppressing it forcefully and restoring the rule of law, the worse it behaved the more they fed it. The result was, and is, a Negro population which has essentially seceded from mainstream American culture, to the tremendous disadvantage of both parties. The resulting ghetto culture remains marinated with black-power ideology, although it is now so distant from the lives of you or I that we only notice it when a Jeremiah Wright somehow swims into view.

And meanwhile, the official story is that this entire disaster is the result of racism - ie, Europeans who dislike Negroes, deny HNU, or both. Consider the enormous guilt complex that so many Americans have laid on themselves for answering no to the question: "do you regularly enjoy the company of African-Americans?" It is not enough for the State to force you to believe - it must also force you to like. Emotional tyranny is old hat for any good Puritan.

Lynchmobs and segregated lunch counters are a thing of the past, but the consequences once attributed to them have only gotten worse. Therefore, the campaign against racism must only strengthen. Consider the discovery of unconscious racism. The involuntary, concealed, guilt-inducing activation of the European amygdala somehow seems to do just as good a job, if not better, as any Klan mob of keeping the black man down. We must get rid of the amygdala! Coincidentally - or not - this racist organ is also the part of the brain activated when you or I feel fear. I can't imagine why that would be.

Step back a moment and picture your fellow Americans, who are so confident that by electing a mulatto President (more money, more power) they have brought this astounding circus to an end. Quite the contrary. They have just fed it another lollipop.

But this is nothing new, so the consequences should not be especially devastating. The circus is awful, but it is an old dog and capable of few new tricks. Contra Jared Taylor, I expect no American Zuma to follow our new Mandela. Though some other hell no doubt awaits us.

The policy solution here is obvious: eliminate the race industry, abolish all racial privileges including laws against "harassment" and "discrimination," and restore unconditional freedom of speech and freedom of association. Someday, sooner or later, probably later, all this nonsense will end up in whatever dusty closet we sent the segregated water coolers too. Our government will finally forget about race and treat individuals as individuals. And the entire country will party for a week - except those who need to be arrested.


Yes. This is what happens when you think for yourself. Suddenly, your mind is full of all sorts of completely unacceptable - but strangely logical - ideas. These three cases are probably the most spectacular, but the list could easily be extended. (The good news, however, is that you've swallowed the sodium-metal core, and your stomach seems to still be intact.)

The thing to note about these democratic feedback loops between public miseducation and official malpractice is their tremendous stability. As a believer in democracy, you expect the system to stabilize itself, the people to magically wake up, return to sanity, and seize control of their government. It is this dream from which you need to wake. It will never happen.

But what will? Perhaps we need another week of therapy, after all.

103 Comments:

Anonymous Randy said...

Mencius is discussing AGW and I'm thinking Krugman... and sure enough, next up is KFM... Hilarious.

January 22, 2009 at 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Pseudo-Racist said...

Of course, the great irony is that only whites who have never been part of the liberal orthodoxy can ever be truly comfortable around blacks. I'd be willing to bet that I, raised firmly Republican, a dedicated Limbaugh listener from age twelve (though about twenty-two, when I stopped having free time around noon), and perfectly happy friend of a very nice black girl in high school, would have an easier time associating with blacks even than our host, who has a childhood of liberal assumptions to struggle against--or at least I would if there were any in my social circles.

January 22, 2009 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous Pseudo-Racist said...

On a lighter note, why am I not surprised to find out that the OS X spell-checker lacks an entry for "Limbaugh"?

January 22, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy"

Good one, Mencius.

Is this your attempt to assure the Kevin MacDonald types like n/a that their group is still a dominant part of the ruling class?

The idea that the WASPs are a coherent and powerful group, let alone composing a part of the aristocracy, is ludicrous. They were eclipsed decades ago and are dying out, and their fortunes have been dwindling for quite some time now.

January 22, 2009 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Enoch said...

Your average AGW denialist does not want to go there. He wants the problem to be isolated. The last thing he wants is for the scientific community broadly defined, or even worse all the member governments of the IPCC, to appear in his crosshairs. (For example, McIntyre, probably quite wisely, snips all political discussion in his comments.)

Trying to isolate the problem was the basic mistake McCarthy made. He tried to isolate the problem to a few bad apples in various departments, and the last thing he wanted was the entire US political establishment to appear in the crosshairs. So naturally he was blindsided when the establishment turned on him and ate him alive.

Why do so many people want to inflate?

Inflation is the government's silent partner. Inflation makes government debt more manageable, it allows government to bribe large numbers of indebted voters and the industries that cater to them, it finances social programs without raising taxes, and it creates the illusion of wealth that leads happy citizens to vote for those who produced the (false) prosperity. The government has clear incentives to inflate and to keep the actual extent of the inflation camouflaged.

Again, the answer is easy. What we see in a recession or depression is a drop in consumer spending. Since spending is the flip side of production, we can think of the GDP (the sum of the prices of all goods and services sold by businesses to consumers) for any country as the amount of money spent on that country's goods and services. If that number falls by, say, 5%, the average business in the country has produced 5% too many goods and services.

This of course disregards the important fact that much of the spending is occurring here while the producing is occurring elsewhere. You might say, "If US consumer spending falls 5%, then the average business in China has produced 5% too many goods."

"Business cycle" is an extremely misleading phrase. A better phrase would be banking cycle. As I discussed here, the cause of the recurrent panics and collapses is a bad accounting practice in the Anglo-American banking system, generally known as maturity mismatching.

Yes - "business cycles" are the result of flawed government policy (inflation), and yet, ironically, this flawed policy is represented as the cure for the disease of "business cycles" that the bad policy actually creates!

We are heading for Brezhnev faster than most of us think.

Dick Morris thinks we'll get there by 2013!

The Obama presidency: Here comes socialism
By Dick Morris

2009-2010 will rank with 1913-14, 1933-36, 1964-65 and 1981-82 as years that will permanently change our government, politics and lives. Just as the stars were aligned for Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson and Reagan, they are aligned for Obama. Simply put, we enter his administration as free-enterprise, market-dominated, laissez-faire America. We will shortly become like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, or Sweden — a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes.


Should governments, for example, consider race in their immigration policies? I can't imagine why they would want to. Surely an effective immigration policy, by definition, is one that lets in desirable subjects and keeps out undesirable ones. Whatever your definition of desirability, there are surely far more effective ways to evaluate an applicant for immigration than examining his or her ancestry, or even a full genotype.

You just said "Patterns of ancestry become useful only in decisions that affect large groups of humans in the aggregate. Governments, however, must often make such decisions." Immigration is clearly a policy that affects large groups of humans in the aggregate, and thus it would be appropriate for a sane government to consider patterns of ancestry when making decisions about immigration.

January 22, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Stirner said...

Dave Rutledge at Caltech is another (s)cientist who explored the climate change issue from a different direction. Using the "peak oil" style methodology for forecasting future production for oil and coal, he came up with a revised figure for total carbon emissions we can expect in the future.

The only problem? His estimate of future CO2 came out to be much lower than the figures that the IPCC used in their climate change scenarios. Lower than ALL, the IPCC scenarios, in fact.

He took his figures for future carbon emissions and plugged them into a mainstream AGW computer model, and the result is that even if we do nothing to constrain carbon emissions, the global temperature rise would be just below 2 degrees. Ironically, this level of warming is the what all the draconian carbon constraints are attempting to achieve.

So basically, even if you take all of the AGW arguments at face value (a big if!), with a reasonable accounting of global coal and oil reserves, there just isn't enough available fossil fuel/carbon to send the climate into a death spiral.

Doh!

Rutledge lays out his argument in a Powerpoint deck at his website:
http://rutledge.caltech.edu/

January 22, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Surely an effective immigration policy, by definition, is one that lets in desirable subjects and keeps out undesirable ones. Whatever your definition of desirability, there are surely far more effective ways to evaluate an applicant for immigration than examining his or her ancestry, or even a full genotype.

This rather begs the question.

Frank Salter and Robert Putnam (and Stephen J. Gould, Joe Romm, and Mencius Moldbug) tend to argue otherwise, from where I'm standing.

January 22, 2009 at 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

On the point of MM's phrase "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy," and Anon.'s comment about it - the term WASP, invented by E. Digby Baltzell to describe people of old American stock, was never completely accurate. I suspect Baltzell liked way the acronym sounded. What he meant by it were descendants of the original colonial settlers of British North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That included not only Englishmen (who were a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman ancestry), but Scots (Celts, Normans, and Flemings), Irish and Welsh (Celts with some English admixture), and Dutch, with a soupçon of Huguenot refugees and a handful of Swedes.

Rumors of their 'dying out' are much exaggerated. It is true that people of these ethnic stocks no longer hold the complete dominance in social and economic life that they did fifty years ago. However, it is worth pointing out that until the present incumbent, every President of the United States with one exception bore a name of British, Irish, or Dutch extraction (the exception being Eisenhower, whose ancestors came in the 1740s to Pennsylvania from the Saarland, a part of Germany adjacent to the Low Countries). Furthermore, with one exception (John F. Kennedy), every President of the United States, including the present incumbent, has adhered to some Protestant denomination.

Persons of old colonial ancestry are still disproportionately represented in the United States Senate. Episcopalians are now said to be outnumbered in the general American population by Muslims - but Episcopalianism is represented in vast disproportion amongst U.S. Senators.

It is fitting to speak of a "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy" if only because Ashkenazic Jews are about the only ethnic group even more disproportionately represented in the present socioeconomic élite than are so-called WASPs. Furthermore, there have been many intermarriages between the two groups, especially as old social barriers that excluded Jews from the metropolitan haute-bourgeoisie have fallen. John Kerry is a perfect example: on his father's side the Catholic descendant of Austrian Jews, on his mother's, he is a Forbes.

January 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Glinski said...

Very interesting post. I've read the three parts of the introduction and must say I'm really enjoying the red pill.

I have a question regarding money. Suppose we want a stable money supply. Do you think it would be appropriate to issue new money upon the birth of new people? I mean, maintain a stable money supply per capita. Absent such an increase (or decrease with declining population) I think you might end up with problems in loan markets as an interest rate will translate to a different real profit based on unpredictably changing circumstances after the contract is set in stone. Obviously I'm assuming here that population decline is inflationary and that increase is deflationary.

Second, I think you're analysis of genetics needs more precision. From a biological perspective, a "subgroup" is defined by the genetic similarity used to clasify the group. We could define "Black" as genes leading to a certain concentration of melanin in the skin. But that's the only extent of the genetic link. Biology can identify a lot of genes that correlate to behavior, genes for sociopathic tendancies, genes for homosexuality, but those genes, as far as I know, never correlate to the genes that control melanin concentration when you pick a big enough sample size. So you could find a family of dumbasses, and they might all be black or white, but make your sample size big enough and you can't say blacks are more likely to be dumbasses than whites or vice versa. The kids at the best private school in Kenya will score about the same on an IQ test as the kids at the best private school in Texas. The other part of the equation is cultural. Many people in Japan and China have genes associated with sociopathic behavior. Yet it's only in America, mostly, that we see serial killers. But as Japan's culture becomes more like America's, you start to see Japanese serial killers. There still aren't many if any Chinese serial killers.

I don't know if that point about genetics really clashes with your point about modern the modern Science of race and how it's different from a science of race. I would only say that the biology community is not quite so up to its neck in quacks as the meteorology community has become with all the AGW hoopla.

January 22, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

It is fitting to speak of a "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy"

No, it's not. No conceivable meaningful system of classification would place "WASPs" and Jews together in some unified and exclusive category.

I find your attempt at defending Moldbug here pretty sad.

John Kerry is a perfect example

I suppose George P. Bush and Bill Richardson are perfect examples of the "WASP-Mestizo aristocracy".

"Many intermarriages" relative to what? My impression has always been that exogamous Jews disproportionately marry Catholics. As it turns out, I'm absolutely right:

The Jewish-Catholic Connection

by Julie Wiener
Special To The Jewish Week
A few months ago, Pope Benedict XVI, decked out in trademark white robes and white skullcap, became the first pontiff to enter an American synagogue.

The visit to Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue — where the pontiff apparently opened his speech with a “shalom” — was an indicator of how, despite some stumbling blocks, Catholic-Jewish relations have never been better.

The same might be said for Catholic-Jewish relationships.
Since my husband, Joe, is a lapsed Catholic, my radar is always up for Jewish-Catholic marriages. However, in two years of writing this column, I have not had to look far for examples of such couplings: whether the topic is gentiles at the seder table or women who convert to Judaism after many years of marriage, virtually every interfaith family I encounter is Jewish-Catholic. And the same is true in my social circle and extended family, despite the occasional Jewish-Protestant or Jewish-Hindu pairing.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed this Catholic-Jewish attraction. Suzette Cohen, a longtime facilitator in Atlanta of the Mothers Circle, a program for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children, estimates that at least 60 percent of her participants are Catholic or formerly Catholic even though she’s “in Georgia, a Baptist part of the world.”

In his recent book, “The New American Judaism: The Way Forward on Challenging Issues From Intermarriage to Jewish Identity” (Palgrave Macmillan), Rabbi Arthur Blecher notes that in the approximately 1,000 Washington, D.C.-area interfaith couples he has interviewed in the past two decades, slightly more than half of the gentile spouses were Catholic. “It made no difference whether a man or woman was the Jewish partner,” he writes, adding later that Jews and Catholics share a “social affinity.”

The U.S. Religion Landscape Survey released this spring by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life also confirmed the trend, finding that 12 percent of married Jews have Catholic spouses, while only 7 percent have Protestant spouses (the rest are married to Jews, atheists or people of other faiths). That’s in spite of the fact that American Protestants outnumber American Catholics nearly 2 to 1.

January 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

All you have to know about Joseph Romm is that he claims that nuclear fission is unaffordable because we spent nearly $100 billion on it whereas "renewable" energy is cheap because it has a predicted price tag of only pennies per day per household.

When you do the arithmetic, it turns out that the cost of nukes is also only pennies per day per household and that's a fact, not a prediction.

I think it's illegal to use Romm's kind of comparison to sell something financial, but energy policy has different standards.

January 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

n/a, the category is not unified or exclusive, but that does not make it undefinable as a category.

To speak of an American 'aristocracy' is somewhat misleading in any event. Debrett or the Almanach de Gotha list persons who belong to a class legally defined or at least one that was formerly legally defined as possessing nobility by grant or descent. The Social Register is merely a listing of what I've identified in my previous post as the metropolitan haute bourgeoisie. Yet it is as close as this country comes to Debrett or the Gotha.

Have you ever examined a copy of the Social Register? Looked at the names listed in it, and the maiden names of the married women? It would seem to me that this is an essential step in trying to form a picture of the American upper class.

January 22, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger racketmensch said...

Note that his reference to " the cream of America's actual WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy." came after the fleshing out of his hypothetical aristocracy. I had penciled in this very group, as his intended target so the surprise worked on me, especially since my own guess fit the criteria so well. It's called the Council of Foreign Relations.

Out here in rural Fairfax, one poor old widow lady, frustrated in her attempts to be allowed an exception to an otherwise iron-clad zoning ordinance was able to skip right through when she showed up in court with her neighbor, Squire Elliott Richardson. Another old gent was repeatedly sent to the US Senate, based on his patrician good looks and having briefly married and Englishwoman. Don't forget the Viscounts Clifford and Altman (not the movie guy, the one that married Wonder Woman) skating away from the gaol cell that would've awaited any mere commoner. Our shadow aristocracy, I suppose, awaiting the Restoration.

January 22, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Further to n/a: I'll give you a point of departure for your research. I've confined it to four names associated with the once-prominent Wall Street firm Kuhn, Loeb & Co., which for most of the twentieth century was on a par with the immaculately WASP J. P. Morgan & Co. The names are Kuhn, Loeb, Schiff, and Warburg.

In the Winter 2009 Social Register there are five Kuhns. One whose listing discreetly reveals she is a divorcée, had the maiden name Browne (an English name). Two have no listing of spouses, and the other two are married to women whose maiden names were respectively Jones (Welsh) and Witherspoon (Scots). Two Loebs are listed. One does not list a spouse, but shows membership in the Pilgrim Society, the St. Nicholas Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Sons of the Revolution, Military Order of Foreign Wars, Society of Colonial Wars, and the St. George's Society. He assuredly did not get the genealogy to belong to those groups from his Ashkenazic paternal ancestors! The other is married to a woman named Pettersson, apparently a Swede. Four Schiffs are listed. One is married to a Gore, another to a Caruso, another to a Lawler, and the last to a Peters. The Gores, as Gore Vidal never tires of reminding us, are an ancient family of American WASP patricians. They gave us Al Sr., the Senate bagman for Armand Hammer, and Al Jr., the barefoot boy from the Hay-Adams Hotel. Caruso is Italian and most likely Catholic; Lawler is a WASP name and so, probably, is Peters. Warburg is represented by one name. His spouse's maiden name was Wenner and the listing also gives her mother's maiden nane as Hilberg. It's reasonable to believe these are Ashkenazic names. Thus out of twelve currently-listed members of this prominent family group, only one can with any certainty be known to have married a Jewess.

Of course this is anecdotal, but it is maybe more to the point than n/a's data on Jewish-Catholic intermarriage. That information may be quite correct for the generality of Jewish/Gentile intermarriages, but does not really tell us much abour such intermarriage _within the American upper class_, which at most amounts to the "top one per cent" with recent tax treatment of which Democrats seem to be so unhappy.

It may be objected that the Social Register is unrepresentative of that group, and this may well be so. One has to agree to be listed in it, and some people who might be, do not. On the other hand we may refer to published histories, such as Ron Chernow's meticulously researched book on the Warburgs, to see that a great many descendants of that still prominent and wealthy family married outside the Jewish faith, whether in Germany, Britain, or the United States. I suspect the same will be found to be the case with other upper-class Jewish families.

January 22, 2009 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

No conceivable meaningful system of classification would place "WASPs" and Jews together in some unified and exclusive category.

Such a system is quite conceivable, and the category is quite meaningful. Its members do in fact rule us. The category that "WASPs" and Jews occupy together is that of religious belief, in what MM calls cryptocalvinism or universalism, which is itself a highly evolved protestant denomination.

Assuming you know any modern secular Jews (I know many having lived near DC), ask one sometime if he really believes in God and the Torah, i.e. that God literally parted the Red Sea for his ancestors. Then ask him if he thinks that blacks might have a lower average IQ than whites, or even whether women are as strong as men. Where do you think you will find heated offense? People get offended when you question their religion; thus will you know what it is.

The Jews I know are universalist to the core.

The political expression of that religion is our pervasive modern ideology: progressivism, with its multiculturalism, insistence on human equality, "social justice", feminism, anti-racism, etc. Its adherents, be they nominally Jewish, Christian, or atheist, form the cadres that administer our modern system of government, the Cathedral as MM calls it here.

January 22, 2009 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Suppose we want a stable money supply. Do you think it would be appropriate to issue new money upon the birth of new people? I mean, maintain a stable money supply per capita.

No. There's no reason why money needs to be stable per capita. And in fact, the best money we can realistically use right now -- gold -- does not magically grow and shrink when people are born and die.


Absent such an increase (or decrease with declining population) I think you might end up with problems in loan markets as an interest rate will translate to a different real profit based on unpredictably changing circumstances after the contract is set in stone.

The increase or decrease in population is hardly unpredictable. Not only that, it is glacially slow by comparison to the current rates of monetary dilution. In a year, a human population may change by 1%. Whereas the money supply has been inflated by 6-8% per year routinely for as long as we've been alive, but this is far less predictable. (See the wiki on Money Supply for some graphs.)

Obviously I'm assuming here that population decline is inflationary and that increase is deflationary.

You are still thinking in KFM terms. To moderns, "inflation" is rising prices, measured by government bureaucrats. But to Austrians, "inflation" retains its old meaning, that of diluting a money supply by creating more money. To us, a new person is neither inflationary nor deflationary.

January 22, 2009 at 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

MM:
ancestry is [not] significant information in the context of common decisions about individuals.

and yet, later on:

Commoners are advised not to let the sun set on them in noble neighborhoods

Gosh, why not? Here's my method for white-man ghetto-walking, without any "racism": walk wherever you want in the ghetto. Whenever anyone -- of any race! -- approaches you, judge them individually and quickly to determine their criminal tendencies. Then run if they are too inclined that way.

Not obvious?

It should be obvious that ancestry is significant information for some genetically-influenced properties, but not others. To be specific, for ancestry to become uninformative, there must be a test for the property in question, and it must be difficult or impossible to cheat the test. IQ is useful, and does have the property of testableness. But many other desirable properties do not.

Examples of properties an individual might care about, that you cannot test for without honest testees, or at all:
* criminality
* extroversion
* conscientiousness
* honesty
* unexpressed genes

If you want to test a job applicant's IQ, for example, give her an IQ test.

What if you want to test her criminal tendencies? Question 1: do you ever think about taking things that are not yours?

January 22, 2009 at 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Leonard:
"Question 1: do you ever think about taking things that are not yours?"

Hah! I once applied for a job at a national chain big-box store and the application had several questions just like that one. The may as well have asked, "Do you want this job? Yes/No."

January 22, 2009 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Glinski said...

Darn good point about population change being minute compared to significant rates of inflation or price change.

If there is a constant supply of money and no fractional reserve banking allowed, any economist or marxist will say that unsavory individuals will horde money, monopolize lending and more or less impoverish the society. What is your opinion about that argument?

January 22, 2009 at 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The underclass are infinitely depraved aristocrats, with the aristocrat's economic role of extracting profit without productivity through the use or threat of violence. The women are concubines or queens, the men are warriors or barons."

Sounds like the commentators on Roissy in DCs blog.

January 22, 2009 at 11:21 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Nathaniel Weyl's calculations show Jews rather dramatically underrepresented in the Social Register as of 1984.

Peformance Coefficient - National Name Group
763 Puritan + Old Dutch
328 English Clerical
210 Welsh
165 English
144 Scottish
[100 national average]
95 Dutch
93 Irish
71 German
71 French
64 Swedish
49 Scandinavian
45 Danish
14 Jews
6 Spanish
[Adapted from The Geography of American Achievement, p. 35]

Weyl: 'These coefficients reveal the perhaps not surprising fact that the social elite represents the ethnic and nationals stocks with "old money" and suggests that the Social Register remains a rampart against the winds of change.'

Especially considering Jews were dramatically overrepresented in most indexes of achievement by this time, it's clear no heightened affinity exists between Jews and the old upper class -- just the opposite. One of Baltzell's primary purposes in writing The Protestant Establishment is to flog "WASPs" for their "anti-Semitism".

While La Guardia's sense of social inferiority was primarily a product of his Italian-American origins, it is important to note that he was partly Jewish. And as far as Jews are concerned, once again we find the 1880's a dividing line. While sporadic and idiosyncratic anti-Semitism had been characteristic of the gentile gentleman's code since Colonial times, it was only in the 1880's, when the flood tides of immigration began to rise, that upper-class anti-Semitism gradually became rigid and institutionalized.

[p. 32]

[Bernard Baruch (Sephardic + German Jew, New York Dutch wife)] was never accepted either on The Street or uptown in the society to which his affluence and ability as well as his handsomeness and engaging manner might have led him. Though he has always been listed in the Social Register and many of his and his wife's friends were of the upper-class world, the Baruchs were faced with such humiliations as their daughter's being refused admission into a dancing class which her mother had once attended.

[p. 33]

Except for the captains of industry, whose money-centered minds continued to welcome and encourage immigration because they believed it kept wages down and retarded unionization, most old-stock Americans were frankly appalled at the growing evils of industrialization, immigration and urbanization. As we have seen, the closing decades of the nineteenth century were marked by labor unrest and violence; many men, like Henry Adams, developed a violent nativism and anti-Semitism; others, following the lead of Jane Addams, discovered the slums and went to work to alleviate the evils of prostitution, disease, crime, political bossism and grinding poverty; both Midwestern Populism and the Eastern, patrician-led Progressive movement were part of the general protest and were, in turn, infused with varying degrees of nativism; [. . .]

Nativism was also a part of a status revolution at the elite level of leadership on the Eastern Seaboard. "The newly rich, the grandiosely or corruptly rich, the masters of the great corporations," wrote Richard Hofstadter, "were bypassing the men of the Mugwump type--the old gentry, the merchants of long standing, the small manufacturers, the established professional men, the civic leaders of an earlier era. In scores of cities and hundreds of towns, particularly in the East but also in the nation at large, the old-family, college-educated class that had deep ancestral roots in local communities and often owned family businesses, that had traditions of political leadership, belonged to the patriotic societies and the best clubs, staffed the government boards of philanthropic and cultural institutions, and led the movements for civic betterment, were being overshadowed and edged aside in making basic political and economic decisions. . . . They were less important and they knew it."

Many members of this class, of old-stock prestige and waning power, eventually allied themselves with the Progressive movement. Many also, like Henry Adams, withdrew almost entirely from the world of power. The "decent people," as Edith Wharton once put it, increasingly "fell back on sport and culture." And this sport and culture was now to be reinforced by a series of fashionable and patrician protective associations which, in turn, systematically and subtly institutionalized the exclusion of Jews.

The turning point came in the 1880's, when a number of symbolic events forecast the nature of the American upper class in the twentieth century. Thus, when President Eliot of Harvard built his summer cottage at Northeast Harbor, Maine, in 1881, the exclusive summer resort trend was well under way; the founding of The Country Club at Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1882, marked the beginning of the country-club trend; the founding of the Sons of the Revolution, in 1883, symbolized the birth of the genealogical fad and the patrician scramble for old-stock roots; Endicott Peabody's founding of Groton School, in 1884, in order to rear young gentlemen in the tradition of British public schools (and incidentally to protect them from the increasing heterogeneity of the public school system) was an important symbol of both upper-class exclusiveness and patrician Anglophilia; and finally, the Social Register, a convenient index of this new associational aristocracy, was first issued toward the end of this transitional decade in 1887 (the publisher also handled much of the literature of the American Protective Associationl which was active in the nativist movement at that time).

The Right Reverend Phillips Brooks--the favorite clergyman among Philadelphia's Victorian gentry, who was called to Boston's Trinity Church in 1869 [. . .] was one of the most sensitive barometers of the brahmin mind. Thus, although he himself had graduated from the Boston Latin School along with other patricians and plebeian gentlemen of his generation, he first suggested the idea of Groton to young Peabody in the eighties and joined the Sons of the Revolution in 1891, because, as he said at the time, "it is well to go in for the assertion that our dear land at least used to be American."

[E. Digby Baltzell. The Protestant Establishment. pp. 111-113]


"I've confined it to four names [. . .] Kuhn, Loeb, Schiff, and Warburg"

Not, I'm sure, because you would be hard-pressed to find four less representative American Jewish names. It's not news that a handful of German Jews made bank during the Gilded Age and bought proximity to (though never complete acceptance from -- see Baltzell on Baruch above) upper class New Yorkers (before the walls went up in the 1880s). Some of these Jews and their descendants wielded considerable influence in the late 19th- and early 20th-century, but their descendants today are overshadowed by the much more numerous and influential spawn of later-arriving Eastern European Jews. They are not the make-believe "aristocracy" Moldbug was trying to invent.

January 22, 2009 at 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The underclass as depraved aristocrats is an excellent point. For anyone who wants groundtruth on the matter go read this series from a progressive left-wing, public school teacher in a bad Philadelphia neighborhood.

My favorite quote is from this part of the series:

"The students are aware of the implications of their current situation; they know that the school district’s primary objective at this point is to simply contain them until they leave the system for good. Maybe they’ll leave school by dropping out when they become age-eligible to do so, maybe they’ll catch a criminal charge somewhere along the way and get shipped off to CEP, or maybe they’ll stay in the educational limbo of Room 315 until they eventually graduate despite their low learning levels. Corey and Eric sarcastically allude to the group’s conundrum in a mean-spirited clowning pantomime directed at Mr. McMonigle. Eric adopts a teacher’s pet tone and warns Corey that if he doesn’t follow directions and write his journal entry he might fail the class. It’s an ironic mock-threat that causes Corey to laugh.

“They can’t fail us, nigga,” Corey sneers, “You know, no child left behind and shit.”"

January 23, 2009 at 3:16 AM  
Blogger nagydani said...

Discuss this article over at Thiblo!

Sorry for being tardy this time.

January 23, 2009 at 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

I may be missing Mencius' point on the money supply, but I don't see any inherent problem with a money supply that contract or expands in relation to the amount of wealth. If I have a herd of 10 cows, and 10 rocks with pictures of cows to represent the 10 cows, and I add another cow, I see no problem with adding another rock. The problem is the political incentive to add another rock without adding another cow.

January 23, 2009 at 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

If there is a constant supply of money and no fractional reserve banking allowed

You're being redundant. Fractional reserve absolutely precludes the possibility of a constant money supply.

any economist or marxist will say that unsavory individuals will hoard money, monopolize lending and more or less impoverish the society. What is your opinion about that argument?

Specious BS. It's precisely the kind of made-for-government tripe that is our problem. Note, btw, that old-line economists (aka Austrians) do not, generally, argue as above.

Let's talk about the horror of "hoarding" money. What is money? Money has a number of properties, but chief among them is its use as a medium of saving. People hold money because they want to delay consumption into the future; and money, by its nature, preserves value. If it didn't, it would not be money for long -- a better money would be found.

So this awful thing, this "hoarding", is a standard Orwellian renaming of what used to be called "saving". In a free market, saving is the means by which money is allocated to capital production. And capital production is necessary to increase total productivity -- a desirable end.

Of course, to a modern economist, with his need to rationalize constant government intervention into the economy, no private actors should be investing. Why should mere people decide on when to save and invest, when government experts can do it so much better? They should not. Therefore, saving should anathemized as antisocial. The government can pick winners and losers, as it has been over the past year. The function of the little people is purely consumption, not investment.

As for your "unsavory" characters (more speaking power to truth here), monopolizing the money supply -- mwahahaha, now I can force you to pay me one million dollars! -- again, this is purely silly. Note that a monopolist who will lend money, is a better case for us than a monopolist that will not lend it at all. So we can consider instead, the worse problem, of the loss of most of the money supply. If it turns out to be crippling, then we don't know anything about the alleged evil-banker situation. But if we can handle a large loss of money, then evil bankers, being a less demanding scenario, are also handleable.

Let's picture a situation where gold has returned to its normal place as money. And, a sinister alien, perhaps named Fnargl, has come to Earth and stolen, via his transporter technology, all the gold in all the banks. So 99% of all money is just gone -- poof -- off to Alderaan! What happens to us? Is the it the case that the "lack of money" now cripples us forever?

No, of course not. Another property which is always sought in money, is divisibility. Currently we do have a minimum value unit, the cent, for citizens. But you can keep track of arbitrary digits in a computer without any problem. Gold is physically limited, in that you cannot subdivide its atoms. But that still leaves us plenty of room to make almost any quantity of gold be enough. (And by using modern means, there no reason we cannot allow fractional atom ownership; obviously you cannot get such a thing delivered, but most money-users don't need physical possession.)

So back to our Fnargl scenario: what happens is, all prices drop to 1/100 of what they were. The adjustment period might be very painful, because of contracts written which assume the old money supply level. But those will eventually end, and after that, there's no effect.

This is a particular instance of a general property of money, which is one way of defining who is a quack economist and who is not: any supply of money is good enough.

January 23, 2009 at 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

If I have a herd of 10 cows, and 10 rocks with pictures of cows to represent the 10 cows, and I add another cow, I see no problem with adding another rock.

Well thank you for the new rock! As your government, the new rock is, of course, mine. (Remember that I control the money supply in your best interest!) So, I'll take delivery of the cow it represents tomorrow. (I need to slaughter it to feed a bunch of my indolent supporters.)

Now do you see a problem?

January 23, 2009 at 6:56 AM  
Anonymous randy said...

Leonard,

The government doesn't have to make a rock to take the cow when they have the power to just take the cow. The problem is still the political activity.

The person who can actually create the rock is the person who brought about the new cow. He can then trade the rock for the promise of a cow and destroy the rock when the cow is delivered. In other words, credit. No problem yet. But when the government extends credit on the basis of... nothing, or prints paper rocks on the basis of... nothing, it is simply stealing cows.

January 23, 2009 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

You can think of much of history of the U.S. in the 2nd half of the 20th century as a series of fights between Harvard and the University of Chicago.

In one of those fights (over whether Jews would be permitted to be part of the Establishment), the U of C won a resounding victory.

In another fight (over Keynesian economics), the U of C didn't win a victory, but it did achieve the status of "loyal opposition," at least for a while. (It remains to be seen whether Harvard's attempt at creating an economic crisis will stick.)

On the other hand, the recent election might represent the installation of a compromise candidate representing both sides.

January 23, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

The government doesn't have to make a rock to take the cow when they have the power to just take the cow

True, but in democracy they prefer to do things the complicated way. It helps to obscure what they are doing.

What proportion of the people will vote against tax increases? As opposed to how many of them will flat out deny that the government should attempt to maintain a constant price level via monetary manipulation?

If you can fool even 10% of the people half the time, you've got a wider margin than most elections are won by.

The person who can actually create the rock is the person who brought about the new cow.

You were using rocks as an analog to money. I pointed out the reason why it is a bad idea to have the government attempt to create money based on, well, anything: that they own newly created money. So no, you cannot create new money. That power is jointly controlled by the Fed, and by the Treasury.

But beyond this, I can't understand why you think it would be a good idea for anyone to be creating new money. You have a new cow; is it not enough? In addition you want to devalue a dollar in my pocket? Why should you deserve to do that?

January 23, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say, regardless of whether you agree or disagree, that whole analogic-construction of the "modern day nobility" was one of the greatest fakeouts I have ever seen. When the light dawned - perhaps not as early as it should, but far before the official reveal - my first reaction was to laugh out loud and say, "You sneaky bastard."

January 23, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

"In another fight (over Keynesian economics), the U of C didn't win a victory, but it did achieve the status of "loyal opposition," at least for a while."

Nonsense.

I don't see why reactionaries claim the right never beats the left. On economics, the American left has been soundly defeated by the Reagan right.

Chicago has won the economic argument.

Aside from raising taxes moderately in his first term, Clinton did not do anything in terms of economics that Reagan would not have approved of.

After 1994, Clinton kept the budget under control better than Reagan was able to, cut capital gains taxes, pushed free trade, reformed welfare, and did not create any new entitlements.

Clinton was more conservative on fiscal policy than either Bush was because Clinton could get away with more rightist initiatives than a Republican president would have been allowed.

In retrospect, Clinton's legacy is that Clinton solidified the Reagan revolution economic consensus the same way Eisenhower solidified the New Deal economic consensus; ie, by agreeing with the U of C he gave bipartisan legitimacy to his opponent's economic agenda.

The Keynesians are using the bailouts to as one last desperate "surge" against the Friedmanites. The Keynesians cannot afford to lose this argument anymore than the Germans could afford to lose their last roll of the dice at Kursk. But even Krugman is worried the "surge" will not turn the economy around. If the bailouts fail the Keynesians will be done for and so might Obama in 2012.

January 23, 2009 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Leonard,

Feel free to quit if this bores you. I find it intriguing.

"I can't understand why you think it would be a good idea for anyone to be creating new money."

So they can trade with people who don't happen to need a cow. At which point it is probably handy to have a commonly accepted "rock", and a trusted intermediary to monitor the creation and control of the rocks. My point is that it isn't the creation of rocks that is the problem. The creation of rocks in proportion to the creation of wealth simply makes the interchange of wealth easier. So if Mencius' point is that allowing the government to create and control the rocks is a problem, I completely agree. The combination of rock control and a monoply on the use of force is an open gateway to theft. But if his point is that the creation of rocks in and of itself is a problem, I disagree. And I'm thinking that a solution is to allow anybody who wants to create rocks to do so at will. May the most trusted sources prevail.

January 23, 2009 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

n/a - citing an analysis of the Social Register in 1984 tells us nothing about what its contents show in 2009.

The dominance of the socioeconomic elite by WASPs to the exclusion of all others (e.g., Catholics and Jews) broke down in the post WWII years and had fallen apart by the end of the 1960s. A good example of this was the replacement of the last family CEO at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Lammot du Pont Copeland, in 1967, by a man named Charles McCoy, who was succeded in 1974 by Irving Shapiro. This in one of the most venerable of American businesses, which was long the preserve of the WASP haute-bourgeoisie!

There may have been only 14 Jews listed in the Social Register in 1984, but I found twelve in the 2009 edition with hardly any effort at all. I don't have the patience to go through the whole book, which is an inch and a half thick - you can do that. I suspect you'll find a lot more. Certainly, such listings are a 'lagging indicator' of Jewish entry into the elite. Racketmensch's suggestion of the CFR may be more meaningful. Why not take a look at their roster - again, for 2009, not for 1984. You'll find just the mix of old WASP names and Ashkenazic Jewish ones that MM identifies as composing the present American socioeconomic elite.

January 23, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

On MM's points about AGW, KFM, and HNU: a good way to tell real science from quackery is that in real science, conclusions follow hypotheses, whereas in quackery, the conclusions precede them.

As examples of science, consider how without Clerk Maxwell's theoretical foundation, radio and television would not have been developed. The parlour novelties of Crookes and Geissler had to precede the practical applications of thermionics by Röntgen and DeForest. Einstein's theory of relativity and Bohr's concept of atomic structure made possible the construction of nuclear reactors and bombs.

On the other hand, the academic/bureaucratic/journalistic complex hated suburbanization and "America's love affair with the automobile" long before they dreamt up AGW as a pretext for social engineering to discourage these phenomena. "Keynesian" measures involving government spending to create "economic stimulus" and central planning of economic affairs were advanced first by Hoover in the form of the Swope plan, and then by FDR in the New Deal, while British politicians pressed for similar actions in the UK, well before Keynes published his "General Theory" in 1936. KFM was devised after-the-fact to provide theoretical respectability for what politicians wanted to do or did long before. HNU was made to fit the egalitarian preferences of the left, which had been long-standing even before HNU's theoreticians were born.

The resemblance of these made-to-measure theories is not to those of real science, but to something like the enforcement of Lysenkoism in the old Soviet Union. Lysenkoism was an elaboration of Lamarck's belief that acquired characteristics could be inherited. If acquired characteristics could not be inherited, then how could New Socialist Man be brought into existence, and the inevitable utopian triumph of communism prophesied by Marx come about? Since, in the Soviet Union, such questioning of Marxian orthodoxy could not be permitted, Lysenkoism had to be developed.

AGW, KFM, and HNU all have similarly "theological" origins - and are proclaimed ex cathedra by the secular-puritan establishment as possessing the same sort of infallibility that the Vatican I asserted was possessed by the Pope.

January 23, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

So they can trade with people who don't happen to need a cow.

They can without money creation, as follows:
(1) Sell the cow for money.
(2) Using that money, trade with people who don't happen to need a cow.

This is why money is often characterized as a "medium of exchange". You can use it as a medium to (indirectly) exchange a cow with people that don't need a cow!

This is not rocket science. It also has the cardinal virtue that the sale price is a true market price. Your scheme requires there to be some objective, known value for cattle. Well, there isn't. No price is ever objective; all prices are always subjective. The price of a cow is ever-changing, according to the market.

The creation of rocks in proportion to the creation of wealth simply makes the interchange of wealth easier.

No, it doesn't. In fact I can hardly even parse that sentence, but you seem to be saying that somehow I can sell something "easier" if I have a bit more money in my pocket. No, there's simply no relationship between my ability to sell wealth and my level of wealth.

Further, any scheme like yours, which rewards (or for matter, penalizes) people for creating wealth will, in fact, retard economic growth. The correct reward for growing a new cow should be, exactly, the value of that new cow. Neither more, nor less.

We can see this via simple thought experiment. Say that a cow sells for, on average, $100. And say that the government miscalculates how much free money to award per cow, to $1 million per cow.

Think that might skew production a little bit? Suddenly cattlemen are billionaires, beef is dirt cheap, and every other price on earth skyrockets as money is diluted to nothing.

So the government see that, and realizes that growing cows is reward enough... then decides, maybe it's too much! Selfish cattlemen! So they assign negative money for each cow, taxing a cattleman $99 (then carefully destroying that money), for each cow.

Think that might skew production a little bit? Why would anyone grow a cow, which costs much more than $1, if the effective price for selling it is just $1?

The "right" reward, from the POV of society, for creating wealth is exactly the wealth created.

January 23, 2009 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Randy said...

Leonard,

They can without money creation, as follows:
(1) Sell the cow for money.


Okay... so the money came from... where exactly? Somebody had to create it. And whoever did had a reason for creating it. So are you saying that whoever created the first dollar coin had just created all the money necessary to facilitate all transactions now and forever? I guess that's one way to do it, just keep dividing up that dollar into smaller and smaller fractions. That would work. But I don't see any difference between dividing up or adding to. In either case the idea is to have a supply that is proportional to the amount of wealth and therefore sufficient to facilitate transactions.

January 23, 2009 at 2:07 PM  
OpenID hodja said...

Leonard,

I think you are missing the point here. The point is that one may want to get stuff first and sell the cow later. In any exchange, someone gets to give first. If the delay between the two is more than a few seconds, we tend to use money to bridge the gap and keep count of value exchanged.

That is why he issues a note (or a rock with a picture of a cow) that is redeemable for one cow at some later time. Of course, it won't be worth one present cow, but might still be worth something. And as such, it may circulate in the market as money, if there are enough people convinced that the cow will eventually be delivered and that it is of value to someone (not necessarily them). That is how credit money works. Or should work.

Of course, the person in question can also borrow gold collateralizing the future cow, but that requires that someone who has the gold extends credit to him, while in fact he needs credit from an entirely different person (the one from whom he wants to buy stuff before delivering the cow). Why not cut the middleman with gold? Historically and evolutionarily there were some very valid reasons not to (having to do with illiteracy and insufficient data processing and bookeeping capacity), but they are swiftly vanishing.

Printing one's own money backed by one's own promises is a basic freedom that there is no good reason to deny. Of course, the different monies must be distinguishable in order to avoid tragedies of commons, but otherwise I see no point in not letting people and businesses issue their own currency.

How is an IKEA gift certificate devaluing the dollars in your pocket (assuming that IKEA can make good for it in food and furniture)?

January 23, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Okay... so the money came from... where exactly?

It preexisted the cow, is all that matters for our purposes. Although it may have been possible to grow cows at a point in the past where there was literally no money, it is no longer possible.

Somebody had to create it.

Yes, money has been invented many times. As for creating it... well, that's one reason why gold makes such good money. Humans don't create it, although we can move it around into more useful forms.

You can be sure, though, that none of the money which we actually use was "created" by people growing cows. It was all created by the US government.

In either case the idea is to have a supply that is proportional to the amount of wealth and therefore sufficient to facilitate transactions.

Any supply of decently good money is "proportional to the amount of wealth". Because the value of money is entirely flexible. Yes. You seem to get that. That's good.

But you still want to believe that ongoing money creation is just as good as hard money. Well, that depends on who you are. You can be certain that it is not for cowboys; and that it is for the governments that can print money. For most people, it is a negative -- it is their money being devalued. As MM explains, your inflation is exactly the same as confiscating money holdings for redistribution. For those that actually get new money it's a win.

January 23, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Glinski said...

Another interesting reply. I especially liked using a thieving alien as a thought project. I don't normally make analogies like that but it's a neat way of arguing.

I wonder your opinion about a few issues:

1. If there is no fractional reserve banking, what, if anything, would banks be doing?

2. You seem confident that even without fractional reserve banking or massive government intervention that large scale infrastructure investment, and other long time frame projects could occur. Yet on another page you made a compelling argument that the fractional reserve banking system creates an artificial supply of long term money and joked, more or less, about how little demand there would be for a 30 year CD.

3. After the alien steals most of the money, might there be a unique problem regarding debt contracts? The standard condemnation of banking is the bastards conspire to first loan out a bunch of money, then dramatically contract their lending, and collect the property at foreclosure. Is there a method other than punishing it as felony racketeering to stop that from happening?

January 23, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous sj071 said...

Mr. Leonard, you statements 'ring' true but... there are some ...problems.
a) 'It preexisted the cow.'
In the case of the USA, esp.during the 1776 -1786 period, many cows were freely milked but given the current explosion of 'money', we have definitely 'moved on'.

b) 'Although it may have been possible to grow cows at a point in the past where there was literally no money, it is no longer possible.'
Ahem, bollocks. You don't seem to be too familiar with ..different strata of modern society.
It is only thanks to Goverment intervention that proverbial 'Cows' are forced to use paper money as a medium of exchange for mandatory probing by various officious officials.

c)'You can be sure, though, that none of the money which we actually use was "created" by people growing cows. It was all created by the US government.'

There is world of difference between the Coinage Act of 1792, and Bernanke in 2009.

January 23, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

Iron/Nickel Asteroids probably have real high concentrations of Platinum (like 2-3%, not oxidized and not at the center of a ball of molten lava like most Pt on Earth), along with the Iron and Nickel. The mass scales are ridiculous. The amount of Iron in a medium sized asteroid is about equivalent to one year's global production of steal. A professor told me about a year back that one asteroid he's always dreamed of mining has (at the old price) around $10 trillion worth of Pt in it.

So everybody, might a platinum standard w/o F/R/banking be a good money system? One flaw I don't know quite how to handle is that once the space economy develops the cost per asteroid will drop a whole lot.

January 23, 2009 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

Ryan,

1) banks would be aggregating savings (real savings, that is), via bonds, and trying to lend them to make money. That is, more or less, what they do now, but absent the term conversion.

They might also have demand deposits, meaning keeping the cash on hand. IMO, most of that function would be served by coins and other money.

2) It was more MM than me arguing that 30 year money is artificially huge in our system. IMO, bonds would take the place of all long-term CDs, with very little difference in actual real-world effect most of the time. (Dramatic difference in that depressions would not happen.) I agree with MM only that there would be no demand for 30-year CDs. The difference is CDs are not negotiable; bonds are. MM never responded to me on that; too bad. (See this comment and the reply from MM further down, and my response just below that.)

3) There is a problem if aliens steal money, yes, unless they also revise all contracts. Neither is very likely. As for your odd scenario involving evil bankers, I don't even understand it. If banks stop lending, they stop making money. It's unlikely. Furthermore, they actually lose money unless they also stop accepting deposits; and if they do that, they are going to piss off their customers and open the field for new competitors. And even if they do all conspire and stop lending, there's also no way I see that it will cause foreclosures. Foreclosure happens to a debtor who cannot pay his debt. It's not under the control of the bank at all.

January 23, 2009 at 7:32 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Michael S. wrote "One whose listing discreetly reveals she is a divorcée, had the maiden name Browne (an English name)".

No, it's not. With that spelling it's Irish, from the southern protestants of English stock.

Leonard, it is good practice to quote people precisely or to indicate editing, even if your only purpose in editing is to correct the spelling (there, from "horde" to "hoard"). He who is faithful in little is also faithful in much; do you see how easily that could lead to "correcting" more important things? Even apparently faulty spelling is sometimes used deliberately for ironic effect, and correcting it can be misrepresentation.

By the way, it is not true that "In a free market, saving is the means by which money is allocated to capital production", particularly if you include retaining a stock of it rather than renaming that hoarding; it is a prior step that ultimately leads to that. Even doing that affects capital allocation in constructive ways, just as putting savings in a properly operating bank would, only less directly - but it is not the means as such, the mechanisms it triggers are.

Ryan Glinski asked "If there is no fractional reserve banking, what, if anything, would banks be doing?"

The traditional core business of banks was extending trade credit to provide firms with working capital. That allowed firms the flexibility to increase production rapidly if market conditions warranted, within the limits of current capacity, without facing the same lags of getting funding together that increasing their capacity did. Since capacity could only be increased slowly anyway because of physical constraints on fixed capital, delays raising long term funding weren't a serious bottleneck for that. Banks couldn't supply that sort of funding anyway without the time scale mismatch Mencius Moldbug mentioned.

January 23, 2009 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous brigum said...

To the people promoting a fixed money supply,

How do propose solving the problem of the zero bound on interest rates? Because, if you have a fixed money supply, the price level is going to be falling. And if it's falling fast enough, you're gonna need negative nominal interest rates. And since negative nominal interest rates are impossible, it seems like you'd have some pretty major problems on your hands.

January 23, 2009 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

A few AGW comments. Mencius:

"There is no dispute as to the existence of this effect, or the increasing levels of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere, or the fact that this trend is produced by people burning fossil fuels."

In fact there is. One may find credentialed skeptics who deny that there is a greenhouse effect, or who doubt that preindustrial CO2 was lower or that industrial-era CO2 increases are coming from fossil fuels. (Some responses here, here, and here.)

"Important facts to remember are (a) that the temperature increase is proportional not to the CO2 level but to its logarithm [...] meaning that each doubling of CO2 produces a constant increase in total radiation; (b) that at present rates of fossil fuel use, CO2 will be double its present value by 2255 [and, say, by 2100 if those rates increase - my paraphrase]; and (c) that doubling CO2 increases total radiation by roughly 3.8 W/m^2 over the present value of 1366 W/m^2, or about 0.3%."

Just to give some meaning to those final numbers: the sun warms Earth by about 300 degrees Kelvin. A third of a percent of 300 degrees is 1 degree, which is the standard value for the magnitude of warming which would be directly induced by doubled CO2. But this directly-induced warming is held to indirectly produce further increments of warming via its effects, such as an increase in water vapor. If one believes in the standard value for overall climate sensitivity - 3 degrees, rather than 1 degrees - then the net increase in radiation will be more like 1%.

"There are two fields of Science which contribute to the AGW conclusion: climate modeling and paleoclimatology."

Mencius implicitly regards the paleo contribution as rebutted by the debunking of Mann's hockey-stick graph, leaving AGW orthodoxy resting upon complex computer models. Now I have never gone near the minutiae of the arguments over the hockey stick, just as I have never seen Al Gore's movie. I suppose I will have to remedy both gaps in my knowledge if I am to be a professional AGW blog-disputant. But it seems to me that in fact the main paleo argument for a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees comes from the ice-age cycle.

The basic facts here are (a) the rhythms of the ice ages are somewhat synchronized with astronomically induced changes in the Earth's axial tilt, axial precession, and orbital eccentricity; (b) the change in mean global temperature from a warm interglacial period to the depths of an ice age is about 5 degrees; (c) the change in annual mean temperature induced by these astronomical changes is not sufficient to directly induce a 5-degree cooling or warming (their most pronounced effect is to redistribute the same quantity of radiation, according to season and latitude). It is therefore inferred that there is an amplifying feedback, arising from changes in planetary albedo and from greenhouse gases entering or exiting natural sinks such as the ocean.

"For all practical purposes, climate modeling is the equivalent of earthquake prediction: an unsolvable problem. If you want to see this argument laid out in detail, read Pat Frank's article in Skeptic."

I've read this article (including its technical supplement) and my conclusion was that the most graphic proposition - the amplifying error - is quite bogus. Frank has replaced one type of model, in which many century-long semi-random walks are simulated and their mean behavior calculated, with a different type of model, in which a deterministic trend is extrapolated forward. The second model is Frank's own construction, and he treats it as equivalent to the first, but in fact its error behavior is quite different.

"Here is a thought-experiment that will resolve this easily for you. In a world with no fossil fuels and a stable CO2 level, scientists studying the sun announce that they have (never mind how) scientifically determined that its intensity will increase by 0.3% between now and 2100. You are Dictator of Earth. How do you react to this information?"

... followed by the argument that since the effects are negligible (small sea-level rises, for example), one will not make this problem a priority - and thus the AGW panic is exposed as irrational.

Now in this thought-experiment we are presumably changing only the cause of global warming, and holding all other things constant. So there is still an IPCC producing reports on the projected effects of this intensified solar warming, whose content is the same as the reports we have. I think that makes it rather more plausible that our gedankendictator will make some form of geoengineering a priority. We could aim to draw down CO2 (e.g. through biosequestration) in order to offset the increased radiation, for example.

"Let's consider, for a moment, the amazing position of the AGW credulist - not the researchers and the bureaucrats, just the ordinary schmoe who is asked to believe in this stuff. The credulist is seriously, deeply, personally concerned at a political level about the concentration of gases in Earth's atmosphere."

This is just silly. It's like Palin attacking research on fruit flies. The natural world is full of intricate and hidden causal relationships, we are not born knowing them, and we are not born automatically attributing to them the importance they may actually have. One may as well express incredulity that the concept of a "finite-state machine" is of any economic importance. After all, how totally boring does that sound?

January 24, 2009 at 1:08 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

What problem, Brigum? There wouldn't be a "need" for negative nominal interest rates, under that sort of system. In fact, there wouldn't be a role for any sort of intervention, let alone that one. First off, it would be very unlikely that that sort of freezing up of economic activity and collapse of prices would happen anyway. Second, if it ever did, people's stocks of sound money would remain the same in nominal terms but increase in real buying power, so Pigou's Real Balance Effect would cut in - an automatic stabiliser.

January 24, 2009 at 1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like you talk too damn much. You're not so smart that sifting through the endless piles of boring crap is worth the interesting sections. Be concise, dammit! You think anyone besides oversocialized wimps will read your stuff otherwise?

January 24, 2009 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

How do propose solving the problem of the zero bound on interest rates?

No problem. No solution needed.

Say that we have a nice hard gold standard. Historically these have seen some periods of general price declines.

(Now, to be perfectly accurate, one simply cannot measure such things, because there is no such thing as an "average price level" that is meaningful between non-identical individuals. However, it is always possible to construct a price index of some sort, and define it to be "average price level", waving aside all considerations of individuality.)

Anyway, gold has historically appreciated at perhaps 2% per annum. Something like that. This, in the view of quack economists using modern definitions, is "deflation". (In fact the money supply in a gold standard has always increased, as gold is discovered and mined, but very rarely ever lost. But the inflation of the money supply, which would otherwise be expected to raise "average price levels", did not keep up with opposing effects of growing population (creating more demand for money), and productivity increases.)

So let's assume that: average goods get cheaper, by 2% per year. You're a banker. You've got, say, 1000 oz of gold as your cash on hand. What do you do?

Well, you lend it out, of course. It's true that you won't lend it for rates less than maybe 1%. But so what? Even in our debased system, most borrowers pay more than 3% more than banks do for money. I.e., right now, banks can get all the money they want from the Fed, at zero interest. They're giving the stuff away, so long as you can loan it out. What are they charging as interest rates for car loans? 5.44%. That's a 5%+ difference.

But let's take your question further. Let's say that, for some reason, solid money actually declines in value by 10% per year. Gosh, no lending can happen, right?

Not at all. Lending can still happen, but just at a relatively high real interest rate. I.e., it must be say 11% or 12% to be worthwhile. There are still some projects (though many fewer) that can pay such rates. But mostly what we see is that a high expected future value of money communicates something: don't save! Don't buy stuff! Hold your money!

January 24, 2009 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Michael S.,

You are delusional if you think the Social Register records 2009 America's "socioeconomic elite". SR was more-or-less irrelevant by 1984. A NYT article from 1997:

Once, the Social Register was a juggernaut in New York social circles. ''It used to be if someone wasn't listed, you just didn't know them,'' said Brooke Astor, the doyenne of New York society.

Nowadays, however, with the waning of the WASP elite as a social and political force, the register's role as an arbiter of who counts and who doesn't is almost an anachronism. In Manhattan, where charity galas are at the center of the social season, the organizing committees are studded with luminaries from publishing, Hollywood and Wall Street and family lineage is almost irrelevant.

''The Fortune 500 list in infinitely more valuable'' said Nan Kempner, the Park Avenue hostess and assembler of benefactors for the various charities in which she is active. ''The Social Register has never been on my mind.''

Blaine Trump, the supersocialite and fund-raiser, said she had never read or even seen the Social Register. ''I'm sorry, is that some sort of a directory?'' she asked. ''It's just not a point of reference for me.''


The posted statistics serve to refute the idea that the old upper class (even what was left of it at that late date) was ever overly eager to associate with Jews. The old upper class is dead. Whatever it's been replaced with, it's not an "aristocracy", much less a "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy", the latter phrase, again, implying both a non-existent "WASP"/Ashkenazi unity and the absence/exclusion of non-"WASPs" (other than Jews) from the elite.

The dominance of the socioeconomic elite by WASPs to the exclusion of all others (e.g., Catholics and Jews) broke down in the post WWII years and had fallen apart by the end of the 1960s.

No shit?

Racketmensch's suggestion of the CFR may be more meaningful. Why not take a look at their roster - again, for 2009, not for 1984. You'll find just the mix of old WASP names and Ashkenazic Jewish ones that MM identifies as composing the present American socioeconomic elite.

Let's.

CFR board of directors (names of possible/probable old-stock Americans in bold):

Co-Chairman of the Board Carla A. Hills - born in Los Angeles, perhaps "WASP" in a broad sense, but not obviously of the old Eastern establishment
Co-Chairman of the Board Robert E. Rubin - Jew
Vice Chairman Alexandre Louise Mohan - Jew (unless it's a Francophone subcon)
President Richard N. Haass - Jew
Board of Directors
Director Peter Ackerman - Jew
Director Fouad Ajami - Lebanese
Director Madeleine Albright - Jew
Director Charlene Barshefsky - Jew
Director Henry Bienen - Jew
Director Alan Blinder - Jew
Director Stephen W. Bosworth - born in Michigan
Director Tom Brokaw - born in South Daktoa
Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell - "Born and raised in Hinton, West Virginia, into a Greek-American family"
Director Frank J. Caufield - California venture capitalist; could conceivably be of Irish Catholic descent
Director Kenneth Duberstein - Jew
Director Martin Feldstein - Jew
Director Richard N. Foster - unable to confirm birthplace; possibly New England
Director Stephen Friedman - Jew
Director Ann M. Fudge - Negress
Director Helene D. Gayle - Negress
Director Maurice R. Greenberg - Jew
Director J. Tomilson Hill - ?
Director Richard Holbrooke - Jew
Director Karen Elliott House - "A native of Matador, Texas, [pop.: 740]"; Irish-surnamed mother; married to a Jew
Director Alberto Ibargüen - Cuban / Puerto Rican
Director Shirley Ann Jackson - Negress
Director Henry Kravis - Jew
Director Jami Miscik - Czech?
Director Michael H. Moskow - Jew
Director Joseph Nye - New Jersey
Director Ronald L. Olson - Swedish-surnamed Midwesterner
Director James W. Owens - "a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina"
Director Colin Powell - Negro
Director David Rubenstein - Jew
Director George E. Rupp - "born in Summit, New Jersey, the son of [German] immigrant parents"
Director Anne-Marie Slaughter - "raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by her American father and Belgian mother"
Director Joan E. Spero - Jew
Director Vin Weber - Minnesota; Catholic
Director Christine Todd Whitman - New York
Director Fareed Zakaria - Indian

Up to 10 of these 40 names might be "WASP" in the broadest sense. Of these, we have at least two Midwesterners, two from the West, and two from the South. This leaves no more than four -- Whitman, Nye, Foster, and Tomilson -- who could potentially resemble the Northeastern "WASP" stereotype.

Meanwhile, I count 17 Jews, 4 blacks, 1 Hindu Muslim, 1 Hispanic, 1 Arab, 1 Greek, 1 Czech, 4 assorted whites (two of those being offspring of immigrants).

I see exactly one ethnic group wildly overrepresented here.

January 24, 2009 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Denying AGW outright is foolish. No one knows the answer to this question at present. No one. The alarmists and the deniers will do the most harm. However, there is a middle way here. One can recognize and respect the potential problem without implementing all kinds of crazy laws to deal with a non-existent doomsday version of it. As with everything else in life, this problem is statistical, not binary.

There are robust utility functions that go into each of the GCM's to attempt to keep them honest. Scientists know to test the models against independent observations, ones which were not built into the model's primary data set, to see whether the models are predicting correctly or not.

I'm a big fan of Coby Beck's guide to How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic. Specific entries that deal with points Moldy brings up are here and here.

But of course, most people's minds are made up on this already, just like religion or politics or anything else that supposedly defines one's base value system. Also, note that the graph of the level of credulity one gives AGW (plotted inversely on the y-axis, from infinity to zero) versus the character of one's political beliefs (plotted in the usual direction on the x-axis, from ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative) is essentially a straight line with a slope of one. That's not a coincidence.

One last thing: AGW is not a concern of geophysics. I am a geophysicist. Geophysics is concerned with tectonic processes and seismology. Climatology and, to a lesser extent, atmospheric science, are concerned with AGW.

January 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

To anyone looking for insightful climate blogs, I heartily recommend Roger Pielke Jr. He's fantastically fair-minded IMO. He's linked on the blogroll of both Climate Audit and RealClimate, if that's any indication.

January 24, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger nazgulnarsil said...

there would be no demand for 30-year CDs.

wait what? wouldn't what are currently 401k's get invested into the 30 year CD's?

January 24, 2009 at 7:35 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Leonard wrote "But mostly what we see is that a high expected future value of money communicates something: don't save! Don't buy stuff! Hold your money!"

That is one form of saving. Saving doesn't only mean "putting in a bank". Apart from that, the analysis is in line with my earlier comment about the Real Balance Effect.

January 24, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Just checked and Tom Brokaw's mother is Irish, as well.

That leaves no more than eight "WASPs" on the CFR BOD (vs. seventeen Jews) -- this at a supposed stronghold of "WASPs" in a country whose population (for the moment) remains plurality white Protestant and around 2% Jewish.

January 25, 2009 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

Michael writes:

Denying AGW outright is foolish. No one knows the answer to this question at present.

But this is already the "denialist" position. The orthodox position is that there is overwhelming evidence that substantial AGW has occurred and will continue to occur, and that immediate, drastic action is required to prevent catastrophic results. The various skeptics differ on which points they dispute, but anyone who does not accept the necessity of immediate action to combat global warming is considered a "denialist".

January 25, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger George Weinberg said...

BTW, personally I don't have a position on AGW. I reject the idea that one should be required to express and be prepared to defend an opinion on any topic under the sun, and I happen not to be particularly interested in that one. Global warming may or may not cause TEOTWAWKI, but my personal beliefs (or lack thereof) on the topic certainly will not. The idea that I might be required to pay a (possibly useless) carbon tax doesn't thrill me, but it doesn't bug me any more than any other taxes I pay or the counterproductive uses to which the money is put.

January 25, 2009 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

P.M.: you're right, I realized after posting that, that I was thinking in modernist terms where "saving" is largely distinct from holding money, because who holds any more of an inflating currency than he has to? Instead of "saving" I meant "investing", basically.

January 25, 2009 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Now with part 3 it's clear you're just doing the OL thing again. It's not an introduction like that wasn't an open letter, it's just you repeating yourself.

I suppose I should start out by saying that my views on the subject are similar to Bryan Caplan. Most people I encountered engaged in global warming skepticism were on the political right and wanted to conflate the issue with socialism. Over time many former skeptics have since dropped their skepticism over a number of issues. As Utilitarian says here in regard to IQ/race, that track record indicates something.

I'm not terribly shocked that Romm and Hansen are a bunch of dicks. That doesn't quite establish any scientific point though.

Joe Romm should be in prison. James Hansen should be in prison. Michael Mann should be in prison
That the sort of psychotic blather I'd expect from, well, James Hansen. What crime are they accused of? Lying to the public? It's pretty fucking Orwellian to consider that a felony offense.

the iron triangle of Washington fame
Speaking of which, I reiterate my request to discuss the members of the Polygon you've named but neglected.

add Andrew Revkin to our fantasy arrest list
If people are going to be arrested for blogging, why not include you and me?

So we'll need to actually consider the science - or Science, as the case may be.
My guess is that pretty much nobody here is competent to do that, so you're better off relying on Public Choice reasoning.

Again, the problem is boolean. There is no continuum, only two perspectives.
Yes, if you're an idiot or liar. There are always multiple possible perspectives, but some people just want to exclude them. To quote Hopefully Anonymous: "The concept of "both sides" may be the mother of all biases. Primate social groups, in my understanding, often make leadership decisions by an alpha male and a challenger male battling for supremacy. This bias of decision-making by weighing 2 sides (as opposed to considering there may be n-th possible 'sides') warps a significant amount of decision making, it seems to me."

What is the Loyalist position on AGW?
There is none. Loyalism merely denotes loyalty to the King and opposition to the American rebels. This is a scientific issue, which is orthogonal to that. According to The Great Global Warming Swindle though, Margaret Thatcher is responsible for the idea as an attempt to boost nuclear power.

But we are better than that
No, you're not.

We'd like to actually evaluate the matter.
No, you don't. You've already made up your mind.

There is no dispute as to the existence of this effect, or the increasing levels of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere, or the fact that this trend is produced by people burning fossil fuels.
I think that puts you fairly close to the mainstream. You're an AGW credulist. Disagreements about policy are not disagreements about science.

this is undisputed, but I have never, ever seen an AGW credulist mention it directly
"This will come as no surprise to regular readers of realclimate who will know that the energy flux scales with the logarithm of CO2."
I don't even read climate sites because I don't care. I just googled for logarithm and that came up. If you were really interested in the truth of the matter you could have done the same.

This is not the kind of argument that appeals to a scientist. It is the kind of argument that appeals to a voter.
You GREATLY overestimate the cognitive faculties of voters. Most have never seen any hockey stick graph and wouldn't understand it if they did.

note that he has a Ph.D in physics from MIT
Did he actually learn about climate science?

Nearly every scientist in a field can be working together to promote a falsehood because they all get their money from Joe Romm and company
I thought Romm had been giving out money to people in renewable energy? I don't think climatology has a cabinet-level official to send lobbyists to.

In practice, of course, they did quite a bit more damage to Bush than he did to him.
What did they do to Bush? He served two terms and his problems were mostly of his own making (i.e Iraq). What bad stuff happened to Bush related to climate science?

This is the famous precautionary principle.
Here we get into a dispute over policy rather than science. The precautionary principle similarly may say it is a good idea to pre-emptively invade Iraq.

Here is a thought-experiment that will resolve this easily for you. In a world with no fossil fuels and a stable CO2 level, scientists studying the sun announce that they have (never mind how) scientifically determined that its intensity will increase by 0.3% between now and 2100. You are Dictator of Earth. How do you react to this information?
Excellent, David Friedman has a great post on just that. He accepts the standard view on AGW science, but hasn't decided whether warming or cooling from the present state is preferrable. Robin Hanson has stated that he thinks reducing carbon outputs is a lost cause and we should just engage in geo-engineering like artificial volcanoes. The thing I like about that is it evades collective action problems, although it doesn't do a damn thing about the acidity of the ocean.

if we ignore feedbacks
Global warming alarmists are generally quite worried about that. The peat under the Russian tundra and the albedo effect of snow are big deals to them.

the practical consequences, as we see when we look at them on their own, are just not that serious.
A number of islands and third world coastal areas are supposed to get the shit-end of the stick, but it's supposed to be a good deal for Canada and Russia.

Worse, we can even question the proposition that the human consequences of a mild warming are negative
Possibly due to status quo bias.

"Optimum" does not mean "worse."
It might be "local maximum". One of the other terms for the Holocene Optimum is in fact the Holocene Thermal Maximum. One definition for optimum is "largest amount possible under given circumstances".

Indeed, in the age of Puritan environmentalism, we can barely even express the thought that a human alteration to the environment might be in some sense benign
I haven't heared of any proponents of geoengineering being slimed. The contrast between this and IQ/race is clear.

This gives us our policy prescription: end all official funding of science
I'm with you there at least.

Today, bright young people go into the environmental sciences because they offer quite a different attraction: power
That strikes me as pretty funny. Most people have never heard of Romm, whose phd isn't even in the environmental sciences.

Not counting Marxists, there are three significant schools of economic thought today: one founded by Lord Keynes and revitalized by Paul Samuelson (also known as "economics"), one founded by Irving Fisher and revitalized by Milton Friedman (also known as the Chicago School), and one founded by Ludwig von Mises and revitalized by Murray Rothbard (also known as the Austrian School).
A lot to chew on here. For a good history/summary from an Austrian perspective, Matthew Muller highlights Pete Boettke's "Where Did Economics Go Wrong: Modern Economics as a Flight From Reality". Interested readers should best read that, it expands on some of the points I'm making.
When most people think of "heterodox economics" they talk about the Post Keynesians. They're definitely more important than Austrians within the economics field but you don't think to mention them. Even New Keynsians (who took the name the Post Keynesians think best fits them) admit Samuelson & Solow lost the debate in the Cambridge Capital Controversy, but just say it doesn't matter in practice. The Chicago School was quite heterogenous (though still basically Marshallian) in the early days and it is hard to say that Fisher is most representative rather than Viner or Frank Knight. The second school of Chicago economics is most associated with Friedman, but Robert Lucas & rational expectations has more disciples (people acknowledge that Friedman debunked the dinosaur Keynesians but there's little need to dwell on it). I would also say alongside Chicago you might want to include Demsetz and the UCLA school.

I am shocked, SHOCKED that you claim Mises founded the Austrian school. Any real Austrian will tell you it was founded by Menger and continued by Bohm-Bawerk and Wieser before Mises, Hayek, Schumpeter and the rest learned it. It was also revealing that you referred to Mises as "capo" of the school a while back. Does a person interested in the ideas think in such terms? I say no. Matthew Mueller gives a typology of three varieties of Misesian economics. Mencius is a follower of Rothbard and many of the LvMI folks, who subordinate economics to libertarianism. The early Austrians were not so distinctive for being libertarians but for their methodology. Murray "Mr. Libertarian" Rothbard changed that by bringing Mises into the Old Right of America and getting Ayn Rand & co to promote his ideas. Hence another Boettke paper titled "Why Are There No Austrian Socialists?: Ideology, Science, and the Austrian School". This post discusses a paper by John Henry on the progress of laissez-faire economics, from the Whigs opposed to aristocrats (who few care for these days) to the Austrians and Friedman in the early days of the F.E.E. It actually has a similar viewpoint to Mencius here, but from a different perspective.

You may ask: why is it that Misesian economics has no influence on government policy?
Because they reject the Popperian idea of science you approvingly cite. Only people who are already convinced of libertarianism bother with Austrian economics, and then they deny their theories can ever be falsified.

I'm sure some would quibble with the classification above
Replace "some" with "nearly all".

Mises is orthodox economics.
Austrian economics wasn't well known in the english-speaking world at the time the Austrians considered themselves orthodox or mainstream.

he generally uses the term orthodox to describe 19th-century or at least pre-WWI economics
Keynes couldn't read German, so he wasn't actually familiar with Austrian economics (he apparently "reviewed" onen of Hayek's book not published in English anyway). Classical economics preceded the marginal revolution (with which the Austrian school began) and orthodox economics in England and America was dominated by Marshall, who couldn't get completely on the marginal bandwagon and so sought to meld the new thinking with old classical ideas.

Let's say an orthodox economist is an economist who believes that any supply of money is adequate
Looks like the Mises institute is guilty of promoting unorthodoxy:
http://mises.org/story/3200 (they are even selling a book about how the free market supplied money when there was a shortage)
For a reply, see here.
At any rate, your definition of "orthodox" is simply retarded. Classical british economics was riven by debates between the Currency and Banking schools. Lawrence White has a paper pointing out how wrong folks like Krugman and De Long are for trying to lump the Austrians in with the "real bills doctrine" descended from there and still relevant in the thirties when they didn't actually fit with either school of thought:
http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.com/2008/05/debunking-liquidationist-myth.html

These reversals happen for a reason: if you are a quack, quackery is what you know, so the obvious way to dismiss your critics is to label them as quacks.
Ah, so that's why evolutionary biologists call creationists and IDers cranks! Perhaps we should listen to Fundamentalist at the Mises blog and wed Austrianism to creationism.

I'm afraid that, with AmeriZIRP in full swing, the Keynesians have rather the best of it
If we take Robert Lucas as example "Fisherite", he participated in a recent conference with other Chicago economists on the stimulus plan, and he denies that zero interest rates means monetary policy is ineffective, or that fiscal policy has better prospects.

U encourage people to check out that last link. Kevin Murphy does a pretty good job of explaining how his assumptions differ from the Obama team on the value of the stimulus package. Like Keynes, they think that there are a lot of unused resources (unemployment) and so public spending won't crowd out the private sphere. The participants in that conference are all hostile to the idea, so for a Keynesian perspective you can check out Russ Robert's EconTalk interview with Steve Fazzari.

The orthodox economists of the 19th century, the believers in sound money, were not in general policymakers. They viewed their task as one of describing the economy, not controlling it. But in the '20s and '30s, when university men started to move into government, politically palatable solutions were needed. The Austrians and other orthodox historians had nothing of the sort.
Christ, you're full of shit. Mises himself was an advisor to the Austrian government. Other Austrians had advised the Habsburgs.

The "new economists" called it the "business cycle," a term implying some endogenous origin in the commercial community
Greg Ransom, who really hates the left more than most Austrians I'm familiar with, denies that Austrian theory requires the business cycle to be endogenous:
http://blog.mises.org/archives/009035.asp

We are heading for Brezhnev faster than most of us think.
Make a prediction and put your money where your mouth is.

Interesting you mention Pinker. He's a pretty mainstream and respected guy, despite his "dangerous idea" in the previous Edge question. Jonathan Haidt thinks he's got one that one-ups the Bell Curve controversy. And in the introduction to the Bell Curve itself they mention how acceptable many of their ideas are in academic journals but not in the general public discourse. If you want to deny the Bell Curve you might have to deny the power of social science.

For those interested, here's John Hawks on Ashley Montagu and race/evolution.

if Negroes are unsuited for representative government
You haven't yet tied in HBD to representative government. I remember before asking what was so bad about reconstruction and I'm still waiting for a real answer.

For example, if a noble attacks a commoner, we can presume that the latter has in some way provoked or offended the former
Actually, crimes committed against whites are penalized more severely than ones against blacks. Nearly every anti-racist advocate of justice likes to repeat this fact, but what they typically neglect to mention is that the vast majority of crimes are intra-racial, so the effect is greater punishment for a random white criminal (because their victims are more sympathetic) relative to a black one.

The result, which should be visible in any large business without dangerous commonerist tendencies, will be a predominance of nobles in top executive positions.
Do we actually see this?

That this Orcish parody of aristocracy was created, in the lives of those now living, out of the certainly imperfect but generally functional pre-WWII American Negro subculture, through policies designed by "social scientists" who were in fact religious moralists in disguise, is one of the larger ironies of modern history.
I'm a fan of Thomas Sowell, but I'd like to point out that you have to take into account the Great Migration and the transition from rural to urban living among blacks.

abolish all racial privileges including laws against "harassment" and "discrimination," and restore unconditional freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Jared Taylor used to be a fairly mainstream figure advocating just that without any bit about "white nationalism". Richard Epstein wrote about the same thing from a libertarian perspective, using the logic in Gary Becker's phd thesis that informs much of the "economic imperialism" of Levitt & friends today. So I don't think that qualifies as "completely unnacceptable". Your bit about tagging everyone and placing the unsponsored in holodecks or converting them to biodiesel fits that bill.

Perhaps we need another week of therapy, after all.
Ugh, another never ending series with no progress being made.

That's all for now, hope to get to other comments to this post tomorrow.

January 25, 2009 at 4:29 PM  
Anonymous spirit said...

2 TGGP
>> Joe Romm should be in prison.
>> James Hansen should be in
>> prison. Michael Mann should be
>> in prison

> That the sort of psychotic
> blather I'd expect from,
> well, .James Hansen. What crime
> are they accused of? Lying to
> the public? It's pretty fucking
> Orwellian to consider that a
> felony offense


Before accusing others of psychotic blather you need to read a thing or two about the US.

Martha Stewart was jailed for lying, why Joe Romm cannot be jailed for the same crime?
==========
Title 18 of the U.S. Code Section 1001, which states that: “(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any judicial matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years or both.”
=============
http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/043/lying.html

January 25, 2009 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Leonard wrote 'Instead of "saving" I meant "investing", basically'.

Even there, that's using the term "investing" in the ordinary usage (e.g. "investing in bonds") and not in the economists' technical sense, which could cause confusion depending on just what readers might have in mind. It doesn't help that different economists sometimes use technical terms differently, either, e.g. when an Austrian says inflation he isn't talking about price rises but about money increases (and when he says someone is an Austrian he doesn't mean someone from the country whose capital is Vienna).

To most economists, investing is the process of increasing pools of physical assets. Buying a bond from a firm is not investing, although it may well lead to a firm investing using the funds it got from the sale - and, when inventory piles up because it isn't sold, that is also investing, in that sense ("unintentional investing", which doesn't seem to make sense in everyday usage). Also, it would be rare for buying a government bond to lead to investment, in that sense. If you use more ordinary meanings, you don't get figures that add up for certain key accounting identities economists use - and contrariwise, if you use some of the figures they come up with, they aren't directly related to what matters to you, e.g. GDP. It's like using temperature in degrees rather than saying the weather is pleasant. But at least those figures can be used for further work, as long as you remember that they are intermediate calculation fictions and should be adjusted to show what you get.

January 25, 2009 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does TGGP even read this blog? He clearly neither understands it nor enjoys it. If he wants to be known as a smart guy who hangs out with smart guys like Mencius, TGGP oughta keep his comments short, because the lengthy comments only announce his intellectual limitations in no uncertain terms.

January 25, 2009 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Lawful Neutral said...

Anon 7:22,

You've got to be kidding. TGGP adds more to these discussions than 90% of commenters. Compare him to the other "pet opposition" folks, and it's really no contest.

January 25, 2009 at 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon Lawful Neutral, the guy is a fucking idiot. Mencius is wrong on a whole heap of stuff. I certainly don't agree with him all the time. Nonetheless, TGGP is a fucking idiot, and will continue to be a fucking idiot long into the blogosphere's future.

I mean for fucks sake, you've said he adds more to the discussion. All he has done is a "fisking" of mencius, including some sentences where he retorts with something similar to "NAH AH!" or "NO U!" The guy lacks any ounce of tact or etiquette.

This is his schtick EVERYWHERE. He's a relentless cut and paste arguer that also believes in some bizarre shit himself (and god forbid you call him out on it though, cause as we know TGGP is always right. You see ... the little secret about smart people who believe stupid shit, is that they are VERY good at arguing away any inconsistencies in their own belief system that they originally came to believe for stupid reasons. Thus they believe they are always right ... after all ... there is no one that can compete argumentatively with them, or so they think ...).

If he were the intellectual giant he considers himself, then he'd actually engage in philosophical and critical argument, which fisking isn't. A good argument responds to weak points in the argument itself, e.g. premises, conclusions, plus the informal and the formal logic of the former and latter. TGGP is just being is typical egocentric, asshole self by responding to every single line and in some cases he doesn't even make an argument in retort, just assertions.

As someone else has mentioned of him before on this blog: he's an aspie who needs to get the fuck over himself.

January 26, 2009 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon above me at 12:48AM.

I don't particularly like TGGP either, but you come across as more of a dick than he does. He's just asking questions of Mencius, dude. Questions I think need to be answered.

I'm looking forward to a final showdown between TGGP and Mencius. Mencius needs to address TGGP's points.

January 26, 2009 at 3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mencius "needs" to do nothing of the sort. His blog, his rules. I'd much rather go where Mencius wants to go than have him spend all his time responding to TGGP - which would be pointless anyway, since even the most detailed response to TGGP's logorrhea would not enable him to "get it". If TGGP is unable to follow the arguments and agree with them as they are, then no amount of additional explication will help him to understand and agree.

Class should not proceed at the pace of the slowest. Some Children Must Be Left Behind!

January 26, 2009 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

In practice, of course, they did quite a bit more damage to Bush than he did to him.
What did they do to Bush? He served two terms and his problems were mostly of his own making (i.e Iraq). What bad stuff happened to Bush related to climate science?


Climate science was just one of the many "reasons to hate Bush" that came from the left. Why hate Bush? He hates the environment! He wouldn't sign Kyoto! He's the devil! &c, etc.

January 26, 2009 at 6:22 AM  
Anonymous m said...

I agree with the second anonymous; I think TGGP adds a whole lot to the conversation. First anonymous, you are coming across as a bit of a dick - you are free to ignore his comments or respond to the merits of his points.

January 26, 2009 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Maggie Gallagher reads Mencius?

from yahoo,

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly," President Barack Obama said, "firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

With words like these, President Obama made himself into an uber-WASP for our time. His inaurugal address was, rhetorically speaking, an extraordinary reflowering of old-school Protestant rhetoric. It was a speech virtually without applause line, for when the president paused, it was most often to a stunned (perhaps prayerful or awe-inspired?) silence on the part of the crowd.


Hm.

January 26, 2009 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

P.M. Lawrence - was Sir Thomas Browne (author of "Pseudoxodia Epidemica," "Urne Buriall" "Religio Medici," etc.) an Irishman?

Anon., I think you are confusing my proposition with its converse. It is not correct to say (and neither MM nor I said) that WASPs constitute an elite. Many are non-elite. Nor is it correct to say (and neither MM nor I said) that Jews constitute an elite. Many are non-elite. However, what I have said (and what I understood MM to have said) is that the elite is composed of WASPs and Jews in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the general U.S. population. That is still true even of your survey of the CFR board of directors.

Also open to discussion is what is meant by elite. In MM's original post he referred to a fairly broad group of high economic achievers - in his words "genetic elites with average IQs of 120, long histories of civic responsibility and productivity, and strong innate predilections for delayed gratification and hard work."

In other words, he is identifying the modern economic class equivalent to the gentry and nobility as a whole - everything from bonnet lairds to royal dukes. The top 1% of society includes the "millionaire next door" as well as Warren Buffett. And, in this category, WASPs undoubtedly outnumber Ashkenazic Jews, simply because there are so many more of the former in American society as a whole than there are of the latter. But both are represented in the top 1% in considerable disproportion to their presence in the society as a whole. Needless to say most of these people are neither listed in the Social Register nor in the membership roster of the CFR, much less as part of its board of directors.

A survey of even smaller seqments - say the top 1/10, or top 1/100 of the top 1% - may reveal different patterns in each, but this would have little to do with the import of MM's original remark.

January 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Spirit:
It is pretty bogus that Martha Stewart got sent to jail, but the crime she was charged with was obstruction of justice. Which criminal investigation are Romm or Hansen accused of obstructing here? I don't deny that perjury, for example, is a crime (though it wouldn't be if I were in charge) but lying is not synonymous with under-oath perjury.

Anonymous January 25, 2009 7:22 PM:
First off, choose a handle. Secondly, I do enjoy the blog. If you'd been reading this blog and the comments long enough you'd have seen me at my more syncophantic, I think I adopted a more biting tone when Mencius left the comments section. I think Mencius is a smart, interesting and entertaining writer. I want to encourage him to be even better and not engage in intellectually lazy fact-deprived narratives. I like Karl Popper's idea of subjecting conjectures to stringent attempts at refutation. I agree with Hopefully Anonymous on circle jerks vs pissing contests. I don't "want to be known" as a guy who hangs out with Mencius, I want to engage in conversation. I write long comments because Mencius writes long post and I think Mencius' writings deserves that kind of examination and critique. I don't do this for every crapflood on the internet. With some people it is just pointless trying to talk to them and all I can do is give up.


Anonymous January 26, 2009 12:48 AM:
I don't know if you're the same person as above. I would if you chose a handle. What's wrong with fisking? Mencius does it himself. Kevin Carson has a defense of it here, and one of the arguments against it is supposed to be that it's one-sided, but I'm doing it in HIS OWN COMMENTS SECTION. He's free to respond and in fact it is my hope to provoke him into doing that. I encourage YOU to do the same to me! If I believe in some bizarre shit, then call me out on it! If I make an assertion without support, demand that I provide some. I like to include lots of links but I still overlook opportunities to add even more relevant ones. I don't understand what's wrong with being a "cut and paster". I'm quoting Mencius so I can respond to what he actually says rather than a strawman I made up. Do the things he says not count as premises or conclusions?

I never claimed to be any sort of super-genius. If you clicked the link on Boettke's paper on the history of economic though you'll see in the comments I told Mueller I didn't feel competent to critically evaluate Boettke's claims. I don't feel competent to tell AGW credulists or denialists they're wrong about the science either. I am competent enough to google realclimate and logarithm to see if they actually mention the effect Mencius references on their page.

On ettiquete: Mencius has just demanded that some people be sent to prison. This isn't a tea-party, at this blog people are bluntly called out. Feel free to do the same to me, although I'd like some cut-and-pasting of specific stupid things I say.


Anonymous January 26, 2009 5:57 AM:
It's true that it's his blog and he can do whatever he wants. He hasn't shown any interest in banning in me but rather seems to like strong criticism. If he actually did police the comments for disagreement we'd think of him more like Brad Delong. I'm not even that focused on him responding specifically to me, just to anything at all. Writers that don't engage with others tend to devolve into solipsism or masturbation. A couple of times he has promised to answer some comments from the OL series, but instead he's repeating himself, and I think that makes for a more boring blog.


G. M. Palmer:
Lefties hated Bush before he was even in office. Hate without actions can't cause any harm unless you believe in psychic powers or sympathetic magic.

January 26, 2009 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous spirit said...

2 TGGP

> Spirit:
> It is pretty bogus that Martha
> Stewart got sent to jail, but
> the crime she was charged with
> was obstruction of justice.
> Which criminal investigation are > Romm or Hansen accused of
> obstructing here? I don't deny
> that perjury, for example, is a > crime (though it wouldn't be if > I were in charge) but lying is
> not synonymous with under-oath
> perjury.

You obviously have very little knowledge of the matter and also didn't read the link I gave you

Let me quote:
About Title 18 of the U.S. Code Section 1001
===========================
Under this statute it is a crime to knowingly and willfully make any materially false statement concerning any matter within the jurisdiction of the United States. The falsehood must be material; but this requirement is met if the statement has the “natural tendency to influence or [is] capable of influencing the decision of the decision making body” which receives the false statement.[18] This statute has an extraordinarily wide scope. Unlike perjury, the false statement need not be given under oath. Any statement, whether made orally or in writing, can violate this law.

The statements need not be made in a formal setting. Any false statement made to any federal agent is enough. This is true even if the statement was not recorded and no transcript was made. (Often the only evidence of the false statement consists of notes made by the federal agent). It is not necessary that the government actually be deceived or misled. Unlike obstruction of justice, there is no requirement that the person making the false statements be aware of a government proceeding and intend to interfere with that proceeding. In fact, it is not even a requirement that there be any sort of judicial or other government proceeding. Any false statement made to any federal employee can be sufficient to violate this law. Martha Stewart, for example, was convicted of this crime because she made false statements to employees of the FBI and the SEC. Her lies were not made in a formal interview, and the only evidence of what she said was in the notes and recollections of the federal employees involved.


==========================
http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/043/lying.html

So Romm or Hansen fit perfectly fine under this statute and can be jailed.

January 26, 2009 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I did read your link though I have not read the statute itself. Martha Stewart made statements to agents of the FBI and SEC and as a result was charged with obstruction. The example at the end of the link concerns statements Computer Associates made to attorneys conducting an investigation. The link says it's not necessary for there to be an investigation, but all their examples involved one. It even mentions how lying is and must be a crime "in judicial proceedings". The quoted language from the law specifies that the lie is in "any judicial matter". I don't know what kinds of statements Romm made that MM considers lies that would stand up in any courtroom beyond a reasonable doubt. I even personally doubt that MM thinks Martha Stewart should have gone to jail.

January 26, 2009 at 2:05 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Michael S.,

I think you are confusing my proposition with its converse.

I think you're a fucking moron.

To recap:

(1) MM writes: applied to the cream of America's actual WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy, genuine genetic elites with average IQs of 120, long histories of civic responsibility and productivity, and strong innate predilections for delayed gratification and hard work

The above fragment contains the following propositions:
- America has an "actual aristocracy"
- That aristocracy is "WASP-Ashkenazi".
- The "cream" of the "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy" are "genuine genetic elites with average IQs of 120, long histories of civic responsibility and productivity, and strong innate predilections for delayed gratification and hard work".

(2) MM fanboy (if not MM sockpuppet) Michael S. attempts to defend "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy" on the grounds that "Ashkenazic Jews are about the only ethnic group even more disproportionately represented in the present socioeconomic élite than are so-called WASPs" and "there have been many intermarriages between the two groups".

(3) Me: No conceivable meaningful system of classification would place "WASPs" and Jews together in some unified and exclusive category. That is, any way one logically slices up Americans into classes, one will never find "WASPs" and "Ashkenazis" grouped together to the exclusion of other ethnicities. Implicit here is that mere "WASP" "overrepresentation" in the "elite" (of their own country!) is irrelevant to the discussion unless one can name some segment of the "elite" dominated by "WASPs" and Jews to the exclusion of others. Apart from all the other reasons the set of all of Presidents back to Washington is utterly irrelevant as evidence in favor of MM's idiotic and mendacious turn of phrase, the set includes zero Jews and one Irish Catholic.

I also point out Jews disproportionately marry Catholics.

(4) More irrelevance from Michael S.: There be Jews in the Social Register.

(5) I point out that even in 1984, Jews were vastly underrepresented in the SR. Digby Baltzell whines in TPE about "WASPs" still not letting Jews into their clubs in the 1960s.

(6) More irrelevance, followed by essentially conceding my point: The dominance of the socioeconomic elite by WASPs to the exclusion of all others (e.g., Catholics and Jews) broke down in the post WWII years and had fallen apart by the end of the 1960s. Followed by more irrelevance and then: Racketmensch's suggestion of the CFR may be more meaningful. Why not take a look at their roster - again, for 2009, not for 1984. You'll find just the mix of old WASP names and Ashkenazic Jewish ones that MM identifies as composing the present American socioeconomic elite.

(7) A glance at CFR's BOD finds few "old WASP names" but plenty of "Ashkenazic Jewish ones".

(8) Now slimy fuck Michael S. reverts to claiming "disproportionate representation" of "WASPs" at the CFR while failing to define how he's using the term, what fraction of the U.S. population he believes "WASPs" constitute, or which members of the CFR BOD he believes are "WASPs". White Protestants are in fact underrepresented.

The rest of your comment is essentially an acknowledgment that you have been consciously wasting my time in defending MM's throwaway attempt at distorting reality.

January 26, 2009 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

n/a, Michael S is not MM's sockpuppet. They've posted at my blog and their IP addresses come from different places. The stuff he's said about himself differs from Mencius' story and their style differs as well.

January 26, 2009 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

n/a,

I mean, you're the one replying to him.

jeez.

January 26, 2009 at 6:50 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Michael S. wrote 'was Sir Thomas Browne (author of "Pseudoxodia Epidemica," "Urne Buriall" "Religio Medici," etc.) an Irishman?'

No, he was from that earlier lot of Brownes in England from which the Irish ones came. I deliberately wrote about current names, and acknowledged that the Irish ones were of English stock. Somewhere along the way, the English ones settled on the spelling Brown. Any Brownes now in England have ancestors in Ireland at some point, often within a few generations.

January 26, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

I can't believe the discussion is this obsessed with one of MM's offhand comments about a white aristocracy. The whole discussion is completely beside the point. To demonstrate, let me do a substitution.

Assume you can differentiate a large group of high-IQ people. Assume they also have basically every other possible indicator of good citizenship, such as good self-control and so on.

Would what we're calling 'ignoble privilege' turn these people into savages in one, maybe two generations?

Hell yes.

Alrighty then! It doesn't matter if there's a white aristocracy or not.

The fact, and the point, is that affirmative actions and all similar policies are profoundly racist, a fact you can easily confirm today.

I had suspected as much, and now Mencius has kindly proven it for me.

January 26, 2009 at 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I adopted a more biting tone when Mencius left the comments section.... He's free to respond and in fact it is my hope to provoke him into doing that.

Oh yeah, vomiting on him line-by-line is definitely the best technique to have him come back to the comments section. He won't just contemptuously ignore you, he'll come right back in here, desperate to secure your good opinion once more.

January 27, 2009 at 5:35 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

n/a - I'm astonished at the venom you seem to have worked up about a few obiter dicta of MM's and my glosses on them. Descent into profanity is often a sign of the bankruptcy of one's argument. As the old legal advice goes: When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts; when you have the law on your side, argue the law; when you have neither, abuse your opponent.

No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to reply to my remarks. I fail to see, therefore, how I have been wasting your time. Your time is entirely yours to waste.

While on occasion I agree with MM, there are other times I do not. You will find instances of both if you read the write-backs to his posts over the past couple of years. I have commented here fairly regularly.

My criticism of MM is that while I think he is often right in his analysis, his prescriptions veer into the science-fictional. Often I will try to add to the discussion with historical background or analogy, which sometimes does, and sometimes doesn't support his conclusions.

January 27, 2009 at 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Ryan Glinski said...

Michael S. said,

"As the old legal advice goes: When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts; when you have the law on your side, argue the law; when you have neither, abuse your opponent."

The actual saying is "when you have neither, try to confuse and obfuscate the issues as much as possible." Abusing your opponent might work, but being especially nice might work as well. Bull Shit is something of an art form in that regard.

While I'm at it...

A guy walks into a lawyer's office and says he's been on parol for 2 years, his probation supposedly ended that day, and that he wants to make sure it's all over and he's free and clear.

The lawyer says "no problem bud. Let's do it like this: if I can find this out with a phone call I'll charge $100. But if I have to do anything else like write a letter then I'll charge you by the hour." The ex-con replies "sounds like a deal" and hands the lawyer a $100 bill.

Now, as the lawyer goes to put the money in his desk, he notices that he was actually given two $100 bills stuck together. At this point he has an ethical dilema: "Do I have to share the extra $100 with my partners?"

Thanks to everyone's who has replied to my posts. I was especially intrigued by the notion that CD's are non-transferable while bonds are. So that means there could be a spot market for bank bonds and people could have some level of instant access to thier savings. The issue I see is the danger of those bonds starting to circulate as a substitute for money and ending right back up in the hell of fractional reserve banking.

This is a long paper here but it reminded me a lot of another post from MM. It's what maybe one could call a "liberal" version of his patchwerk model for government/economics. I think y'all will find it to be quite interesting and enjoyable read.

"Industrial Policy: New Wine in Old Bottles"

http://c4ss.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/industrialpolicycarson0109.pdf

January 27, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous Pseudo-Racist:
Of course, the great irony is that only whites who have never been part of the liberal orthodoxy can ever be truly comfortable around blacks.
That sounds like an empirical question.


Enoch:
Regarding inflation, you might be interested in What the Mainstream Can Learn from Rothbard's Monetary Econ - and What Rothbard Should Have Learned from the Mainstream.

Regarding the business cycle and government, I'll just link to Greg Ransom again (which is not to say I endorse his views).


Stirner:
David Friedman makes the same point about peak oil and global warming.


The issue of the "WASP-Ashkenazy aristocracy" may have been sparked by the GNXP post on Jeurasians and Redblex. Hopefully Anonymous thinks that Scots once played the role of "smart pets" of the English (around the Scottish enlightenment I'd assume) and now Jews play that role for Anglos. HA's point about a subset of WASPs with a higher average IQ than Jews in America is borne out here, although I think that may be a selection effect without the endogamous breeding HA discussed.


Ryan Glinski
genes for homosexuality
Doubtful.

but those genes, as far as I know, never correlate to the genes that control melanin concentration when you pick a big enough sample size
Actually, I think a large sample size may lead genes to correlate with different ancestry whereas if you looked within a group with common ancestry the genes might have no correlation.

you can't say blacks are more likely to be dumbasses than whites or vice versa
Yes you can, special ed students are disproportionately black.

The kids at the best private school in Kenya will score about the same on an IQ test as the kids at the best private school in Texas
Doubtful, gaps widen at the tails of distributions.

Many people in Japan and China have genes associated with sociopathic behavior. Yet it's only in America, mostly, that we see serial killers
Japanese or Chinese Americans behave a hell of a lot like their relatives back home. Is it Really Bee-cause of Culture? And with this "culture" business, what are the upstream variables?

But as Japan's culture becomes more like America's, you start to see Japanese serial killers. There still aren't many if any Chinese serial killers.
I'd really like to see some empirical evidence.


Speaking of empirical evidence, even if he is a belligerent anti-semite, I'd like to give kudos to n/a for actually going presenting data on the CFR, intermarriages and so on.


Tom Wolfe made the point about the underclass as aristocrat in Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, which I have violated copyright by placing online.


Leonard:
old-line economists (aka Austrians)
That reminds me, I might not have made one of my points clear enough. Fisher became very prominent in America before anybody had heard of Keynes, so the old economics Keynes was attacking would be more resembling Fisher. Keynes was familiar with Anglo economics, not the Austrians. Fisher was a Yale man at any rate, so it's odd that MM puts him in the Chicago school. Of course, it's also strange that he refers to Keynes-Samuelson as just "economics" and Fisher-Friedman as "the Chicago school" as if it weren't orthodox economics anymore.

Now do you see a problem?
An expanding money-supply and government control over money are distinct things. A number of Austrians and anarchists favor free-banking which permits fractional reserve and a dynamic money supply.


Joseph:
You can think of much of history of the U.S. in the 2nd half of the 20th century as a series of fights between Harvard and the University of Chicago.
If you don't want to think very sensibly. Harvard would consider Yale to be its real rival. Chicago is known for its economics department, but that's about it. You haven't presented any evidence that Chicago was more Jew-friendly than Harvard and the idea that Harvard attempted to create a financial crisis as if us yahoos couldn't do it on our own is rather funny.


Leonard:
Why should you deserve to do that?
They're his cows and his rocks, if you don't want to use his token system buy your cows somewhere else. He set up a simplistic Robinson Crusoe-esque economic situation for a reason (to examine an economic idea) not for you to drag details of our own system into it.


Michael S:
There was no Keynesian stimulus in the Depression. The Hoover admin was most influenced by the Real Bills Doctrine. You also might want to distinguish between Keynesian theory and Galbraith.


Leonard:
No, it doesn't.
Then imagine there are no rocks at all. Is it more difficult to exchange wealth then?

And say that the government
The government didn't create the rocks. The government wasn't involved in the hypothetical before you inserted it.

Humans don't create it, although we can move it around into more useful forms.
We don't create anything. The law of conservation says we can't bring new matter into existence, only manipulate it. Mining gold and turning it into coins in manipulating it. It didn't do anything for anyone when it was specks in the sand or ore.

Any supply of decently good money is "proportional to the amount of wealth".
How about none at all? That must be included in "any".


Anonymous January 24, 2009 8:52 AM:
Get a handle! And I think you mean "undersocialized", people with better things to do don't waste time on the internet reading gigantic blog posts.


Anonymous January 27, 2009 5:35 AM:
Pick a nym. I was actually thinking more along the lines that he would want to deliver a "rhino-sized reaming" of the sort he promised Bryan Caplan (but never delivered). He does occasionally comment at GNXP, and when I attack his ideas there he generally responds with a vigorous defense.


Michael S & Ryan Glinski:
The version I've heard is that when you have neither the law nor the facts you bang the table. Also, Kevin Carson definitely one of the better e-pundits out there.dinhilon

January 27, 2009 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

TGGP, the guy clearly means to use his scenario as an analog to our situation. But fine, if you want to view him as a guy alone on an island, we can do that. In that case, I don't see any utility at all to his painting rocks as cow-tokens. It's just a plain waste of time.

Here's the thing about money: money is a social creation. It's a nash equilibrium over an entire society, even the entire world. So to talk about money in a "society" of one is meaningless. Money has zero value to a man alone on an island, except insofar as he might escape.

And this does apply to his example, no matter how minimal you make it. Either you drain it of meaning entirely, or you allow the potential problems to exist, which absolutely must be solved for any money to work. To be money. Among other things, the supply of money must be stable, more or less. The idea of people using painted rocks for it is silly, except perhaps if you make the assumption that only a few people in the entire world have paint. (Or rocks.) If not, then "counterfeiting", or its anarchistic equivalent, will destroy your money supply. But of course long before that happened, a different, better money would have evolved. Certainly your one new stone will be a drop in the bucket; among other things, this falsifies the scenario, where the OP assumed that only a cowboy would want to, or be able to, paint up a new rock to celebrate his new cow.

So, basically I was assuming all of that was obvious enough, and skipping forward to the one of two solutions that are stable. One is gold, or more generally, elemental money. The other is state monopoly fiat. Of these two, the first is silly -- the average cowboy doesn't have a gold reserve to be used to try to match his herd. So, the second is what the guy must have meant, or at least, what we can deduce his line of questioning was tending towards even if he himself didn't really think about it.


We don't create anything.

We don't create matter. We do create new information. Right out of thin air! Like the sentence "this sentence is google clean": a unique, sparkling snowflake! Most of our money is just bits in computers. It most certainly is created by us.

January 27, 2009 at 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Speaking of empirical evidence, even if he is a belligerent anti-semite,"

Is there any other kind of antisemite? Has anyone ever encountered a pleasant and cheerful antisemite?

January 28, 2009 at 5:28 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

TGGP,

The gnxp post is offensive in its own right, but I don't see any way of going from "Jeurasians" to "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy". I have seen rajiv push the "WASP"/Jewish intermarriage meme elsewhere -- absent evidence of course -- but hopeanon's goofy comments seem a more likely point of origin if MM didn't devise the fantasy on his own.

The Myth of Old Money Liberalism. More later.

January 28, 2009 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, I'd agree there was little or no net Keynesian stimulus during the Depression because of income tax increases. But what else can you call the spending programs of the New Deal other than Keynesianism avant-la-lettre? Strictly speaking, Keynes's whole prescription (running government deficits during recessions and surpluses during booms) has almost never been tried. In American and British politics, Keynesianism has principally been a label for government spending to 'prime the pump,' and the notion that experts can centrally plan economic activity to produce better results than free markets could..

I was quite interested to see the link indicating that Episcopalian/Anglican IQs were slightly higher on average than those of Jews.

To say that Scots were 'smart pets' of the English is amusing in view of history. The Scots that came in the retinue of James VI/I at the time of his succession to the English crown were much resented by the English gentry. James's habit of heaping them with preferment (for which they were openly hugnry) had much to do with this.

It is well to note that the Scots aristocracy was not nearly as Celtic as the Scottish population in general, having significant Norman (e.g. Sinclair) and low-country (e.g. Fleming) elements. The Dalriadic Scots themselves originally came from Ireland, and mixed with the indigenous Picts, the ones Hadrian built the wall to keep out of Roman Britannia. The Lowland Scots, at least, are an ethnic mix not terribly distinct from the northern English. In the two centuries following the union of the crowns, many Scots came to England to improve their fortunes, and there was a lot of intermarriage between Scots and English subjects, particularly amongst the propertied classes.

No doubt, Hume, Smith, Ferguson, Lord Kames, and other figures of the Scottish Enlightenment were smart cookies, but the typical English attitude towards the Scots at this period was quite ambivalent - consider Dr. Johnson, who befriended Boswell, toured the Hebrides with him, and held Jacobite sympathies in his youth - but never had a good thing to say about Scots in general. I don't think the 'smart pet' attitude became general until the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822 under the tutelage of Sir Walter Scott. Many things we think of as particularly Scottish date from no earlier than this period, e.g., most clan tartans. The real apogee of the Scots was in the nineteenth century, when Victoria made her retreat at Balmoral, and Scottish soldiers like Napier and Elphinstone helped to extend the British empire.

P.M. Lawrence, I wasn't familiar with the Browne genealogy but I see from G.B. Roberts's "Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants" (Baltimore, 2004: Genealogical Publishing) that Anne Gore, an illegitimate descendant of Henry VIII and daughter of Sir Arthur Gore, 2nd. Bt., married John Browne, first Earl of Altamont, and their daughter Anne Browne figures in the Mahon genealogy compiled by G.C. Mahon with further notes and data by his granddaughter Mrs. Dean Acheson (wife of the sometime U.S. Secretary of State). If the Brownes in question went from England to Ireland after the Protestant reformation, I should call them part of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, which is rather a different thing from "Irish" without further qualification.

Certainly the Achesons were quintessential WASPs, and this Anglo-Irish descent illustrates the dangers of too literal an insistence on the "Anglo-Saxon" aspect. I don't think Digby Baltzell would have excluded people with such ancestry from the WASPs' nest - nor Scots like the Forbeses, Livingstons, and Auchinclosses - nor old Dutch patroon families like the Cortlandts, de Peysters, van Rensselaers, etc. Baltzell considered himself a WASP, though his surname is German, and of course the Digbys were descended from the Roman Catholic Gunpowder-Plot conspirator Sir Everard, through his son Sir Kenelm, the hero of Scanderoon.

If I have read Baltzell correctly, the people he meant by his acronym descended from just about all the old colonial settler stocks, except for those excluded or self-excluded by religion (the pietist Anabaptist German "Pennsylvania Dutch," the Sephardic Jews of Newport and Charleston) or by remote geography (the "Scotch-Irish" or Scots borderers who settled in the southern Appalachians).

January 28, 2009 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

Certainly the Achesons were quintessential WASPs,

No. Neither of Dean Acheson's parents was American.

DESPITE LATER APPEARANCES, Dean Acheson was not an American patrician. Nor was he born to great wealth.

[. . .]

An Englishman of Scotch-Irish descent, Edward Campion Acheson was born in Woolwich, Kent, in 1857. The Acheson family had apparently lived for centuries in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then migrated to Armagh in Ulster (northern Ireland) in the early seventeenth century, and finally to England. A master sergeant, Edward's father, Alexander Acheson, married Mary Campion, a south Irish woman from Cork, served in the Crimean War, and fought in the baffle of Balaclava. There are no family records, but after Edward and his three brothers were born, Mary Campion died, and Alexander married again. Edward was apparently unhappy with his new stepmother and in his teens escaped his unhappy fate and emigrated alone to Canada.

[. . .]

Eleanor was the daughter of George Gooderham, one of thirteen children. The Gooderhams had also emigrated from England [to Canada], but in their case early in 1832, and had become in due course prosperous millers, which had been their calling in England.

[. . .]

Despite the Achesons' financial security, they were hardly in the same class as the Alsops and the Russells. They were neither considered, nor considered themselves, part of an American aristocracy.

January 28, 2009 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Again, n/a, you are using the acronym WASP in a way that its originator did not eppear to intend. The American elite even sixty years ago was not a closed caste like (say) the Austro-Hungarian or French nobilities became after their fontes honorum disappeared. Compared to Continental aristocracies, the American upper class is just an urban haute-bourgeoisie. It is relatively inclusive. One can join it with sufficient money, polite manners, and the requisite social introductions. One can marry into it.

Wouild you say that Louis Auchincloss was not a WASP? The Auchinclosses were Scots who came to the United States in the early nineteenth century, not long before Acheson's and his wife's ancestors. Yet I can think of no better portrayals of the class we are discussing than those written by Louis Auchincloss, who observed it acutely from within.

Your exceedingly narrow view reminds me of the old doggerel -

"And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God."

My understanding (and Baltzell's, as I read him) is of a considerably broader group than one comprised of Lowells and Cabots. George Plimpton, whom I knew, was an Ames on his mother's side, great-grandson of the Union general Adelbert Ames. The Ameses were never as grand as the Lowells, Cabots, Winthrops, etc., and would not have been considered true Boston Brahmins. The Plimptons (though Plimpton/Plumpton goes back to Robert de Ros, a surety of Magna Charta, married to Isabel, daughter of William the Lion) were in their turn not as noteworthy as the Ameses. Nonetheless, George was an exemplar of the WASP type.

As far as the Achesons are concerned: one does, after all, have ancestors other than patrilineal. Mrs. Acheson was a descendant of Edward III both through her maternal grandfather's Mahon/Symes line and her maternal grandmother's L'Estrange/Atkinson line. On her grandfather's side she descended through Percy (Henry "Hotspur," ancestor of the dukes of Northumberland), Clifford (barons Clifford) and Lowther (ancestors of the earls of Lonsdale). as well as from Henry VIII in the line previously mentioned. The Achesons are kinned to MacLean of Duart in Scotland, descendants of James II; to the Flemings, Livingstons, Elphinstones, and Cockburns, illegitimate descendants of Agnes Stewart, countess of Bothwell, daughter of James IV and Margaret Tudor.

If that's not WASPy enough for you, what is?

January 28, 2009 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Michael S. wrote "there was a lot of intermarriage between Scots and English subjects, particularly amongst the propertied classes".

I found it amusing that Mrs. Forbes-Hamilton, the protagonist of the British TV series "To The Manor Born", claimed that her family had lived in that particular English village since the Middle Ages. Both parts of that double Barrelled name are Scottish, so they must have arrived in that later wave.

'If the Brownes in question went from England to Ireland after the Protestant reformation, I should call them part of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, which is rather a different thing from "Irish" without further qualification'.

Of course it is, which is precisely why I made just such a qualification, "Irish, from the southern protestants of English stock". I didn't call that the Ascendancy in case some readers were unfamiliar with the term. As that group was "English to the Irish and Irish to the English", it's not an English name as spelled. You are welcome to say that it is not simply Irish, but it's definitely not English.

January 28, 2009 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Anonymous January 28, 2009 5:28 AM:
Don't post as anonymous.

Is there any other kind of antisemite? Has anyone ever encountered a pleasant and cheerful antisemite?
There was a time when anti-semitism was fairly common, and then there were presumably plenty of congenial anti-semites. Nowadays they are going to be mostly score low on Agreeableness when taking a Five Factor personality test.


n/a:
Offensive? Odd coming from you! Razib didn't really touch on Protestantism vs Catholicism, and it's likely that a majority of the "Redblex" would be Protestant, with anglo-descended whites making up at least a plurality if we aren't extrapolating too far into the future.

The Myth of Old Money Liberalism
Thanks for the link, but I was used to the stereotype that old money is conservative. In MM's original, and better, description of the American class structure those are the Optimates, who are right-wing. Science/tech, media and finance have more new money people and MM would classify them as Brahmins (who are left-wing). Unfortunately, he dumbed that down by simplifying things into Eloi, Prole and Morlock.

By the way, you might be interested in this from Austin Bramwell. Bramwell himself seems like an example of the stereotype whose accuracy he is attacking.

(running government deficits during recessions and surpluses during booms) has almost never been tried
If only because governments are so loathe to permit a surplus to pop up.

and the notion that experts can centrally plan economic activity to produce better results than free markets could..
Keynes' ideas of burying bottles of cash in the ground to let people mine them out or paying people to dig wholes and fill them doesn't have any reliance on expert central planning (pork may even be considered an example of Hayekian spontaneous order).

To say that Scots were 'smart pets' of the English is amusing in view of history.
That's why I only assumed it for some limited period of time, or else some of Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks & White Liberals would be quite silly.

January 28, 2009 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

@michael s.: since you seem to be something of a genealogy buff, i wonder if you know anything about the history of the Tildens? i ask mostly out of personal interest, as my paternal grandmother was a Tilden, and she claimed the line goes back to a duke somewhere in the middle ages. (i've made cursory attempts at verifying this myself, but online genealogy is a cesspool of hucksters trying to sell you your "family crest".) if you need a more compelling reason to answer, recall that a Tilden was almost president.

January 28, 2009 at 8:17 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

TGGP,

Everything MM tries to imply with "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy" is blatantly and obviously wrong to me. It should need no refutation. But I will be posting more data, anyway.

MS,

Louis Auchincloss's ancestry appears to be 7/8 colonial American. His non-colonial American ancestor arrived before 1835.

Dean Acheson's parents arrived in American in 1892, the year before he was born.

Only someone with severely handicapped powers of reasoning and poor knowledge of American history would try to equate these two. I'm guessing you're a (bad) lawyer.

The issue is not whether Acheson can be described as "WASP", but your description of him as a "quintessential WASP", which is absolutely indefensible. You appear to be a "UHB"-wannabe whose knowledge of "WASPs" comes entirely from reading the New York Times and watching Metropolitan.

Acheson, being the child of immigrants, should never be used to illustrate the supposed tastes or political leanings of "WASPs". Recent immigrant ancestry, even where the immigrants are ethnically highly-assimilable, is potentially quite salient in, e.g., shaping political opinions.

Baltzell's, as I read him

You appear not to have read Baltzell (in general, not specifically because of this irrelevant paragraph).

Royal ancestry: 100% irrelevant to this discussion.

January 29, 2009 at 2:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

n/a, my genealogical comments were (if you bothered to read them) in the main about Acheson's wife. He married into the Northeastern WASP group, was of the same British ancestral stock, and was acceptable to it.

I don't, as a matter of fact, read the New York Times regularly. And what is "Metropolitan"? I do, on the other hand, have a copy of the 2009 Winter Social Register handy (I am listed in it myself), and note there are five Achesons listed, on page 6 in the third column. That should be adequate to demonstrate the social acceptance of the family.

As I have noted several times before, the American WASP elite is a relatively inclusive group, and even sixty or seventy years ago could be entered by persons with sufficient money, polite manners, and the requisite social introductions - which were often the product of shared educational background at acceptable schools and universities, or of marriage into a prominent family.

P.M. Lawrence - according to my casual research, the American Tildens descend from Nathaniel Tilden, who sailed to New England on the "Hercules" in 1634. He had been mayor of Tenterden in England in 1622 and was ruling elder of the first church of Scituate in the year following his arrival in the Massachusetts Bay colony. His younger brother Joseph was one of the Merchant Adventurers' Company that fitted out the "Mayflower." Nathaniel Tilden had seven children. One, his youngest son Stephen, married Hannah Little of Plymouth, a granddaughter of Richard Warren, who was a "Mayflower" passenger. Hannah Little's father Thomas married Warren's daughter Anna (d. 19 Feb. 1676). If you descend from Stephen Tilden you are in luck, since there is excellent documentation available for his line.

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has for many years had the ongoing project of publishing complete five-generation lineages of all the Mayflower passengers. Richard Warren's is listed in vol. 18, which is in three parts. Part one lists the first four generations, part two the fifth-generation descendants of Mary (2), Anna (2) and Elizabeth (2), and part three the fifth-generation descendants of Abigail (2), Nathaniel (2), and Joseph (2). You will want parts 1 and 2, the latter of which should take the Warren/Litttle/Tilden line into the early eighteenth century. It is possible you could find a connection easily there. I don't have these books, but they are available from the Society for $25 each and may be ordered from its website. A good genealogical library, if you are near one, may have them.

Samuel Tilden was a New Yorker. I suspect you could find more about his lineage through the New York Genealogicsal and Biographical Society. It has an extensive library and offers a record search and copy service to its members. Individual memberships are $60 a year or $1500 for life.

If you are interested in learning more about your genealogy, it would be quite helpful to join a lineage society. These organizations are - unlike the 'your family crest' mail order scams - quite particular about accurately documenting lineages, and most of them publish lineage books. Very few of them are snobbish or exclusionary - most actively seek new members, and will often help you to find your qualifying ancestry. It isn't that difficult to find an ancestor who was a Revolutionary soldier. If your mother or grandmother was a DAR you can get a copy of her papers from the Daughters, and trace back easily to the late eighteenth century. Not only the propositus but all the others listed back to him provide 'leads,' and examining the proofs referenced for each generation will often enable you to document other lines.

The Mormon church has a vast genealogical library because of its practice of baptizing ancestors by proxy. You do not have to be a Mormon to use the library's services. Check with a Mormon ward near you. Most have small genealogical collections and will obtain microfilms of books they don't have for you from the central collection in Salt Lake City. They welcome all genealogical researchers, and the fees charged for special orders as described above are reasonable.

Internet genealogy pages are often of questionable value but one I found on the Tildens that appears to be carefully done is:

ralphinla.rootsweb.ancestry.com/tilden.htm

Hope all this helps.

January 29, 2009 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous n/a said...

And what is "Metropolitan"?

The movie from which your usage of "urban haute bourgeoisie" to describe upper-class "WASPs" derives.

I do, on the other hand, have a copy of the 2009 Winter Social Register handy (I am listed in it myself)

Dude, you're trying way too hard.

Incidentally, the NYG&B board sold the building and donated the library to the NYPL last year (this after the membership very intelligently voted to strip themselves of any say in running the organization).

January 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger mnuez said...

You know, this is really something. I've long since advocated that Mencius disallow the congenitally stupid from diarrheang all over his blog threads and thus ruining the focus of the conversation for the rest of us. He didn't take me up on it so my subsequent plea is to fellow readers and relates to a different sort of villain, the kind who chooses to have the entire thread digress from the lengthy and brilliant post that preceded it so that he can masturbate publicly as regards his pet fetish: Fellow readers, DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!!

Nobody who speaks to the subject of the post (or some major part therein) is a troll, even if he disagrees vehemently with the views of everyone else in this thread, but someone who takes TWO WORDS out of a lengthy and worthy post and won't shut the fuck up about them is a troll who smarter and better people will avoid.

NA/KevinM - I agree with you and we all do. Jews are intent upon world domination. They are genetically preconditioned to engage in subterfuge that benefits fellow Jews to the detriment of their kindly hosts in various Whiterlands. They should be all be killed, preferably in excruciatingly painful manners. Amen. Now, if you have any intelligent thoughts on subjects that Mencius actually discussed here, please share them. Thank you.

January 29, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I knew the G&B sold the building but did not know that they had vacated it. When? As far as I knew the new location has yet to be determined. Their website still lists the 122-126 58th Street address as its current location and carries notices of ongoing activity.

The lineage societies used to have offices there but I know the New York Society of Colonial Wars, Mayflower Descendants, and the St. Nicholas Society have moved to 20 West 44th Street. Presumably this was in consequence of the building's sale. I recall the last time I attended a Colonial Wars reception in New York (I am a member in another state society) it was at their former rooms at the G&B. The New York society's great Tiffany silver punch bowl with its heraldic ornamentation was set out for use; the governor told me that the insurance to transport it to their dinners had become so expensive it was only used for functions at the 58th St. address.

Your further description of "Metropolitan" - which I have never seen - reminded me that I had read an article about Whit Stillman, its director, by Anderson Ferrell, in the "Social Register Observer." It is, in case you wish to check it out, in the Summer 1995 issue, pp. 34-7.

You might be interested in a brief snippet:

"....It is this kindness and consideration for others that he believes makes for a porous, inclusive upper class in this country. A class not based on riches, but shared interests. He credits his godfather, E. Digby Baltzell, author of 'The Protestant Establishment' and coiner of the term WASP, with having influenced such ideas.

"... What we are dealing with is not so much a hierarchical society with classes, but with groups and cliques. If people think in terms of circles and not in terms of pyramids or levels they'd have a more accurate view of things."

I don't agree completely with this, but his point that the American upper class is porous and inclusive is precisely the one I have been trying to make.

n/a, why are you so angry and disagreeable? Shouldn't it be possible to have a civil conversation about American society?

P.M. Lawrence and Aaron Davies - my apologies for getting the two of you mixed up. Aaron, good luck with your genealogical research. I hope my comments were helpful.

January 29, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

his point that the American upper class is porous and inclusive is precisely the one I have been trying to make.

No one ever argued otherwise (with respect to northwestern Europeans). Baltzell attacked the old upper class as insufficiently solicitous of non-northwestern Europeans.

Regardless, what have "inclusiveness" and good manners done for the old upper class over the past sixty years?

Good manners have their place. That place is well behind survival.

January 30, 2009 at 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

The reason Baltzell criticized the old American WASP upper class as not being sufficiently solicitous of non-northwestern Europeans was that he believed that a virtuous elite was valuable to society, and that a porous and inclusive elite was more likely to survive than one that was rigid and exclusive. The survival of an elite, in this view, depends on its capacity to co-opt and absorb potential challengers, rather than being destroyed and supplanted by them.

Pareto made the same point in Europe in the early twentieth century. The old French aristocracy was decimated by the Jacobins and its remnants become ossified in their exclusivity. By the time of the Second Empire and later the Third Republic, it had lost any meaningful role in the social and economic leadership of France. The British aristocracy, by contrast, took in new men often enough to retain its vitality - West Indies nabobs in the reign of Queen Anne, rich brewers under the Georges, ironmasters and textile magnates under Victoria, and press lords in the Edwardian period. Its scions married American heiresses. The British nobility and gentry have had far from a smooth road in the last century, but - all things considered - have survived remarkably well.

Porousness, inclusivity, and good manners do not necessarily find their place well behind survival. Sometimes they are a means to that end. The limber reed that bends with the wind may well survive the storm better than the stiff old oak. Rigidity is often accompanied by brittleness.

The nouveau riche tend to be plungers and risk-takers. That's how they got where they did quickly. Now the market collapse has done for some of them, and Bernie Madoff made off with others' fortunes, only to trip himself up in the process. Old money may now step in to pick up some of the pieces. J.P. Morgan observed that bear markets serve to return assets to their rightful owners.

January 31, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous n/a said...

It's less than obvious the unilateral cessation of even the slightest hint of ethnocentrism by American elites earlier than actually happened would have resulted in a set of values and interests being exercised by Jewish elites different than we actually observe. It's even less obvious that a disproportionately Jewish elite could ever be good for the health of a NW European-founded, NW European-majority country.

Nor is survival of an "elite" -- or, more precisely, the institutions and nominal values of the elite -- a worthy end in itself.

Jewish/Arab/Indian/African "peers" in the UK are a sick joke, not a sign of "vitality". Demographic displacement is always ultimately a losing proposition for the natives, "elite" or non-elite.

February 1, 2009 at 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I agree that the survival of a particular elite or its institutions or values is not necessarily a worthy end in itself.

However, every society that ever was, is now, or will be, had, has, or will have some sort of elite. Even the Soviet Union, founded upon egalitarian Marxist principles, developed an elite 'nomenklatura." We must recognize that the emergence of elites is a recurrent pattern in human history. So, as Pareto observes, is competition between old and new elites, or elite factions.

Our concern ought to be that the elite should be virtuous. It is virtue, rather than any particular ethnic constitution, that makes an elite an 'aristocracy,' at least according to Aristotle's "Politics." If the elite is not virtuous, it is just an oligarchy.

I am under no illusions that today's American elite is an aristocracy by that standard. Blaming Jewish influence is what the French call a "fausse idée claire," which is why it will always have a loyal following. The link on the myth of old-money liberalism is interesting, but I'd caution that the old-money conservatism it observes islargely a generational phenomenon. The older generation of old-money families, the one now dying off, experienced - at least in its childhood - life before the New Deal. These people are less conservative than its parents' geberation was, but still much more conservative than the baby-boomer generation that will inherit from them. The succeeding generations are still less conservative. As an example I'd cite Ned Lamont, who won the Connecticut Democratic senatorial primary contest against Joe Lieberman. Ned Lamont is the great-grandson of Thomas W, Lamont, a partner in J.P. Morgan & Co., who was effectively its managing partner between the two World Wars under the nominal direction of J.P. Morgan, Jr. It's worth reading Ned Lamont's Wikipedia entry as an illustration of leftward drift in an old moneyed family.

True, this is only anecdotal evidence, but it is supported by my observation and experience. I knew one of Ned Lamont's relatives, on his paternal grandmother's line. This fellow was a staunch reactionary, and although brought up in New England, found it stifling and moved away as soon as he could. When I read to him Santayana''s quip to the effect that New England liberalism was just New England puritanism stripped of its Christianity, leaving behind only the fanaticism and sanctimony, he gave a knowing and cynical laugh. My impression was that he was an exception to the rule in his family.

If the choice is between a Lamont and a Lieberman, does old money vs. new, WASP vs. Jew, make any difference? Culture and philosophy are no less significant, and maybe are more so, than race or ethnicity.

February 2, 2009 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Obviously everyone has moved on from AGW, but I just want to add one more thing. Look at this "radical" scenario for climate change mitigation, from the former head of climate policy at Greenpeace. The difficult, apocalyptic, civilization-destroying thing we have to do is... achieve carbon neutrality in forty years. Forty years! Just to put that in perspective: the first ARPANET link was created forty years ago, this year. That is plenty of time in which to get the job done.

There have been excesses on all sides of the climate debate, but I foresee calm sailing not too far ahead, once people get to know that the problem can be solved without panic or upheaval. Where that leaves Mencius's case for the dysfunctionality of democracy, I'm not sure. He does say in the post after this that other case studies are easy to produce, even if one or two of these were wrong...

February 3, 2009 at 3:50 AM  
Anonymous Bearded Spock said...

MM-
Unredeemable scoundrels and absolute human garbage are not mutually exclusive groups, so why the distinction? It seems to me that even if you are right and the "WASP-Ashkenazi aristocracy" is a standard of deviation smarter than the mean, wouldn't that mean they would be MORE likely to take advantage of the unfair playing field as well as take advantage more severely than other immoral but less intelligent groups?

It just seems like a distraction from your major (and, IMO correct) theme. Whether or not we have an aristocracy, we DO have a perverted nobility that plays by different rules. The double standard results in massive harm to society. It makes no difference if it's Jews, WASPs, Blacks or Eskimos, the temptation to exploit a perverted system for selfish gain is too great for most people. The suggestion that it substantively matters which ethnic group is doing the exploiting is not crypto-racism. It's racism.

There's no excuse him for perpetuating the false claim that "moral fiber" is a hereditary trait. You can argue that that Eurocentric, JudeoChristian culture is morally superior to the African-America or Mexican-American subcultures and I would agree with you, but that's not all that you were implying.

Try to see this as a NAM. You are confronted with this white culture that you can see is superior to your own, but you can also see that you personally possess relatively few of the qualities that this other culture values. Some of these qualities are attainable and some are not. What's worse, the actions that cause you to gains status in white culture cause you to loses status in your own.

Obviously the Black and Mexican leaders have decided that it's better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven. These people are enemies of civilization, but it was primarily their culture, and not genetic qualities that produced them.

February 14, 2009 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger amy said...

nice

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March 18, 2009 at 4:33 AM  

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