Monday, January 18, 2010 92 Comments

The Hanson-Moldbug debate

Occurred as scheduled last night. As scheduled, it was taped. I will post a link if/when I get one. I haven't seen any such thing, so this reconstruction is entirely from memory.

I had a simple plan for handling Professor Hanson. First, I'd prepare myself both chemically and intellectually by sneaking off before the receptions to a Peet's, where I'd order a quadruple espresso, read the Latter-Day Pamphlet No. 6 (Parliaments) on the left side of my screen, and watch the arguments in Slice v. Gannon on the right. Then, back to the reception for an hors d'oeuvre and a glass of red wine. When Dr. Hall rang the bell, I'd spring forward and disable the Professor with a hard snap-kick to the inside knee, then finish the job with a few quick rights to his bulging, alien-like forehead.

While I followed the first part to a T, I was unable to implement the second. Professor Hanson is just too nice a guy. In fact, I'd like to thank both the Professor and Dr. Hall for what I hope was an entertaining evening. The original idea for the event was, I believe, Dr. Hall's; he suggested it to Professor Hanson, who suggested it to me. Which shows you what good guys they both are.

Professor Hanson is not, of course, a retard, and of course I never suggested that he was. Quite the contrary - he is an American social scientist of the 20th century. This phenomenon, in which non-retards express retarded ideas, is no novelty in that time and place.

As a student of history, I am entirely ignorant of all centuries before the 17th. I know a little bit about the 17th and a bit more about the late 18th. I feel I have a solid, but hardly exceptional, understanding of the 19th. On the 20th, ain't no nigga that can touch me.

At least, not as a generalist. Nor is this because my general understanding of the 20th is excellent. In many ways I feel I am actually stronger on the 19th. Rather, it is because everyone else's understanding of the 20th is so poor. This is to be expected. It barely just happened.

In the early 21st century, almost everyone, even the nominal experts, still reads the 20th century through some 20th-century propaganda filter. As Francesco Nitti said of the Italians, we are ubbriacati di bugie - drunk with lies. The 20th's nominal experts on the 17th, who generally are experts, suffer from no such intoxication. Even a Marxist, like Christopher Hill, can be perfectly perceptive and trustworthy on the 17th century.

Therefore, we can stop lubricating ourselves with lies about the 20th. And at some point, we will. If not now, when? As I told the Professor, he is as far ahead of his institution, as his institution should be ahead of him. He is at least trying to overcome his biases. He is fully engaged with his subject matter, believes sincerely in his nominal beliefs, and wants to discuss them with others. This makes him one scientocrat in a thousand.

The great intellectual mistake of the 20th century is that its governments believed they were subsidizing science, when they were actually subsidizing scientocracy. For instance, over lunch today I sat across from Ralph Merkle and Rob Freitas. "What's the largest present obstacle to the development of this stuff?" I asked. "Money," Ralph said.

I am slightly skeptical of diamondoid nanotechnology, (a) because I have learned to be skeptical of anything that promises results in so long a term (scientists, even real scientists, are the world's greatest liars), and (b) because I suspect slightly that it represents an inappropriate transformation of macro-scale engineering into the nanoscale. The molecular nanotechnology we have, life, is built on low-energy bonds and runs in a wet environment with a very high error rate. Diamondoid nanotech is built on high-energy bonds, runs (at least for manufacturing) in hard vacuum, and depends on a very low error rate - errors will cascade like crazy.

Nonetheless, Merkle and Freitas are clearly real scientists, and they reacted to my objections more or less the way Kimbo Slice would react to my punches. I realized within a couple of minutes that I was wasting my time, and moved on to royalism and cryptographic weapons control. Ralph Merkle, being a very intelligent person, is very easy to instruct. If you can explain something interesting to him, in five minutes he will be explaining it to you.

These guys, however, are about as likely to get government money as Charles Manson. It will be a great day when Merkle and Freitas get all the money they need, and ITER has to hold a bake sale to buy a tokamak. Alas, they are by no means the only scientists in this position.

In the late 20th century, scientocrats of every possible flavor got all the money they needed. More, in fact. As for science, in some fields it flourished; in others, it was almost entirely defunded. There was never any shortage of cargo-cult science to fill these random holes.

The basic problem is that the robber-barons of Silicon Valley, unlike their Victorian forebears, do not realize that, if they want all this science, they will actually have to pay for it - themselves. Instead, they look at their tax forms and think: I gave at the office. But they didn't. They gave to scientocracy. Now, they need to figure out how to patronize science - or there will be no science. Just scientific Bondo, sanded to perfection and painted with meticulous care.

Professor Hanson, while a good guy and not a retard, clearly has at best a dim sense that he is in any sense any part of any such apparatus. He is a 20th-century "social scientist" - a scientocrat by definition, a true believer in government by science and science by government. He is aware that this system does not work at all, but this does not lead him to question the entire tradition. Indeed, since his mind exists inside that tradition, he interprets it as mere reality. There's something going on here, Mr. Jones. And you don't know what it is - do you, Mr. Jones?

In any case - back to the debate. I should note that last night was not, in fact, my first public appearance. It was my first public appearance since I was on It's Academic in the mid-80s. Wilde Lake High School - the quiz-buzzer terror of the lower Chesapeake basin, I'll have you know. And I was the anchor of the Brown team that almost beat MIT's 35-year-old grad students in the '91 College Bowl regionals. And I have taught, a little. And I played a waiter in one of Mrs. Moldbug's short films.

In short, I have no real training or experience in acting, speaking or debating, whereas I'm sure Professor Hanson is no stranger to the microphone. ("We're both in the entertainment industry," he told me after the debate. I agreed.) Therefore, my strategy would have to be extremely blunt and simple. For the most part I think it went well, though I made a couple of mistakes which I'd correct in retrospect.

In my 10-minute opening statement, I said - reconstructing, in the Thucydidean manner:

Futarchy is considered retarded because it violates both common sense and logic. If it violated only one of these, it might just be considered harmful. Since it violates both, a stronger word is called for. Since we all went to fourth grade, we all know such words. My goal tonight is to work through the logic, and leave the common sense to you.

Futarchy is the use of decision markets for sovereign decisions. Decision markets are useful given two requirements: they need to be well-trained and disinterested. Since these requirements are obviously seldom true at the sovereign level, futarchy is retarded.

Because most of us have no training or experience in managing a sovereign, and because the sovereigns we know seem quite poorly-managed, the sovereign case is a bad first example for understanding decision markets and their limitations. Let's use a simpler example: chess.

Can a decision market play chess? Yes - given certain assumptions.

Imagine a chess game. Now, imagine a group of kibitzers watching the chess game. Now, imagine the kibitzers begin to bet on the game. The betting will create odds. The odds express each side's probability of winning. This is a prediction market.

To turn this prediction market into a decision market, we say: could we get rid of one of the players, and just have the kibitzers play the game? Indeed we could.

We notice that after White makes a good move, White's odds go up. After White makes a bad move, White's odds go down. To decide between two moves A and B (or any N moves), we can take conditional bets on White's chances if move A is made, and White's chances if move B is made. Whichever bet produces the best odds is, in the market's opinion, the best move. If a move is not made, all bets in that market are nullified - like a "scratch" in horse racing.

For instance, on the opening move, the conditional odds for P-K4 might be 50-50 (assuming the players are equally ranked), and the conditional odds for P-KB4 might be 40-60 (because it's hard to recover from a strange bad opening). Therefore, White will chose P-K4 over P-KB4.

Or should. Now: in what conditions will this process actually work, ie, generate good moves?

My point was: a market is not magic. It is just a way of collecting the votes of the market players. It is not democracy, not exactly, but in this sense it is like democracy. Under what conditions will this result be wise, rather than foolish?

Carlyle [whose quote I mangled horribly] enlightens us on the matter:
'If of ten men, nine are recognizable as fools, which is a common calculation,' says our Intermittent Friend, 'how in the name of wonder will you ever get a ballotbox to grind you out a wisdom from the votes of these ten men? Never by any conceivable ballotbox, nor by all the machinery in Bromwicham or out of it, it will you attain such a result. Not by any method under Heaven, except by suppressing, and in some good way reducing to zero, nine of those votes, can wisdom ever issue from your ten.'
[BTW, don't bother searching for Carlyle's 'friend Crabbe' or his Intermittent Radiator - Crabbe is just one of Carlyle's many imaginary friends, like Dryasdust or Heavyside.]

Thus, we have our first requirement for success. The kibitzers need to actually be chess players. However many non-chess-players you have betting on a chess game, their bets will not express anything interesting. They will still produce a number - but that number will be noise.

In an actual betting market (as opposed to a ballotbox), there is actually some Bromwicham machinery for suppressing the fools. Namely: the fools lose money, and are forced to go home - or never (as Professor Friedman pointed out) arrive. For the wise, it is the other way around.

This Darwinian training effect is crucial to prediction markets. A market is only as wise as its players. The mere mechanism is not sufficient. A market's opinion is the democratic vote of the players, weighted by the size of their bets. In a well-trained market, the wise will be betting with fat wallets and the fools with thin - providing Carlyle's vote-suppressing machine.

Now, when we map from chess back to government, we see an immediate problem. Lots of people know how to play chess well. Open a chess decision market to the public, and you will get scads of chess masters. (Chess computers, even.) It's unclear, however, that anyone in the 21st century knows how to govern well.

Certainly, our government today makes bad decisions (a claim with which Professor Hanson and I agreed fervently), so those with experience are without skill. Amateurs might do a better job. Or not. We are back to our non-chess-playing kibitzers.

There's a worse problem, however. The market must also be disinterested.

If the predictions of a prediction market are simply thrown away, it is disinterested by definition. Its results have no side effects. If the predictions are used to make decisions, however, those decisions by definition have effects. If those effects affect a player in the market, that player is not disinterested.

So: suppose player P stands to make $X from decision D. In our chess example, he might have a side bet, paying $X, that White will open with P-KB4. Therefore, the question is: what will be his expected loss, $Y, from buying enough P-KB4 bets that White opens with P-KB4?

If X is greater than Y, manipulating the market (ie, moving it intentionally) is profitable, and P can be expected to do it. If Y is greater than X, moving the market is unprofitable. Obviously, even in the world's deepest prediction markets (financial markets), large transactions move markets all the time. In fact, many traders are paid the big bucks for figuring out how to place large orders in these markets without moving them.

Now, I said, there is simply no way to ensure in general that Y is greater than X. To know that Y is greater than X, there is only one way. You have to know Y, and you have to know X. Or you have to know that there is some algorithmic relationship between the two.

In futarchy, this is simply impossible to quantify or analyze. There's no way of measuring who will profit how much from a bad decision. There's no way to classify the market players into wise men and fools, measure the size of the money behind the wise players, and figure out Y. There's also no way to figure out X.

Professor Hanson, so far as I can see, addresses this problem in three ways.

First, he constructs a model in which Y is infinite and X is finite. (In fact, his "wolves" not only have infinite liquidity - they know the magnitude of the manipulation.) Therefore, the model proves: Y is greater than X. As it is indeed, in the model.

Second, he does sociological experiments with undergraduates. He sets up these markets such that Y is greater than X. We can tell that Y is greater than X in the experiments - because the experiments succeed.

Third, he finds actual markets in which actual manipulations fail. Sure enough: Y is greater than X. Of course, because non-disinterested decision markets are retarded, one would not expect to discover them in reality.

None of this goes even a millimeter toward proving what needs to be proved - namely, that in all markets, Y is always greater than X. It is just a list of cases in which Y is greater than X. In two of the cases, Professor Hanson has constructed his examples himself. In the third, reality itself has performed the selection. Therefore, he succeeds in proving his assumptions.

Now, this is where I ran into a bit of trouble. As I asserted, deduction beats induction every time. You can show me all the markets in the world in which Y exceeds X - whether you've constructed these markets yourself, or found them in reality. But to show that your markets will not be manipulated, you need to show that Y will always exceed X. And this you cannot do, because you don't know Y and you don't know X, and you can make no general statement about the relationship between the two.

Philosophically, this argument is unassailable. As a matter of practical communication, however, it would have been awfully nice to show up with some actual examples of cases (in the futarchy department) which X is almost certainly greater than Y. Brad Templeton asked for this, and I had to stutter for a moment before answering, off my back foot, "cap and trade." Clearly, in a public appearance one should never have to think on the spot. It makes one look dumb.

Cap-and-trade is an good example because while X is, obviously, enormous, there is simply no population of wise people who can predict its effects. Because nothing like this policy on this scale (eg, reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050, the standard proposal) has ever been pursued. To get a big Y, you need big money behind sharp predictors.

Now, as Professor Friedman (who not only has a considerable personal resemblance to Yoda - but, as soon as he opens his mouth, confirms that resemblance) pointed out, this begs a question which I asked in my essay but was going to skip in the debate - futarchy being such a target-rich environment. How do we measure success? In chess, easy. In government, hard.

You need a "national happiness" number. I believe Professor Hanson actually used some phrase of this type. Of course, Stalin's famous quote came instantly to mind: "Life has become better, comrades. Life has become more joyful." This is the reductio ad absurdum of the scientocratic planned economy - or would be, if anyone realized how absurd it was.

For instance, GDP (total end-consumer sales of all businesses) is a ridiculous proxy for national happiness. It is not even a unitless number - it is measured in dollars, which are anything but constant. Removing this denominator involves substantial mathematical fudge. Moreover, to accurately predict conditional impacts on this number, you need a very large impact, and you need a very good default prediction of GDP.

Moreover, the effect of carbon controls on GDP will probably be negative. No - we need a positive environmental mitigation number to add to this already-ridiculous fudgeball. And so on. In Professor Hanson's own Foresight presentation, he had a wonderful chart of "economic growth" going back to, I kid you not, 200,000 BC. With points representing actual numbers - apparently plotted from some actual dataset, not just randomly scribbled.

Needless to say, no units appeared on the "growth" axis. There's really nothing like a unitless number. I wanted to raise my hand and ask the Professor to define "growth," a word he used 47 times in his presentation, apparently with the assumption that both he and his audience knew exactly what it meant. If so, I feel it could at least have, you know, units.

Not only is the utility of such a number-soup metric questionable, its predictability is extremely questionable. There is a classic business-school exercise in which the professor puts a jar of jellybeans on the desk, then asks the class to guess how many jellybeans are in the jar. Shockingly, the answers tend to fall in a bell curve with the center around the right answer.

To me, this says something about the human brain's ability to estimate geometry. However, if the professor left the jar under the desk, and the experiment still worked, it would say something about the human brain's ability to operate telepathically. This, of course, is Feynman's problem of the Emperor of China's nose.

So, my general answer: X is likely to exceed Y in a case in which there is a large side effect, and little or no predictive power in the market. Carbon mitigation is an obvious such example. It is hardly alone in this.

Honestly, I think the greatest difference between my perspective and Professor Hanson's is just that I have much higher standards. His entire argument proceeds from the position that, since government today is so bad, anything that could be somewhat less bad is worth a look. Sure, we can't know that Y is greater than X in all cases, but often it will be. Besides, don't people buy decisions now? Well, gee, they sure do. So there you go.

For me, government safety is like airplane safety. Not only do I want a watertight proof that Y is greater than X, I want two or three parallel and independent proofs. At least one of them will probably turn out to be wrong. Professor Hanson is a professor, and thinks like a professor. I'm an engineer, and think like an engineer.

I am also a student of history. So I have two sources of higher standards for government design: my perfectionist engineering attitude; and the European writers of the Victorian era, whose aristocratic governments worked much better than ours, and were thus appalled by government failures which to us seem trivial and not worth mentioning.

Therefore, this idea that since we have a bad system, we should consider new and different bad systems which may (or may not) be slightly less bad, strikes me as comical. It's actually quite easy to fix our government. All we have to do is restore the old, effective system - aristocratic and/or monarchical - which we foolishly discarded in favor of all this Bromwicham machinery. A new gizmo, a prediction market rather than a ballotbox, is not what's needed. What's needed is an end to gizmoes, and a return to real statesmen.

In other words: if you want to play chess, hire a chess player. In the chess example, the enthusiasm for Bromwicham machinery by which a roomful of kibitzers can, in some collective way, play chess, is easy to explain. The explanation is anarchism - the desire for no one to be making mere personal decisions at the sovereign level. Everyone wants power; all the kibitzers envy the chess player. So: let's shoot the chess player, and let the kibitzers play the game. We shall have no king. We shall rule ourselves. Freedom! Or something like that.

And we tried this. With what results - we now see. How long will it take to admit the mistake? Alas, at least another century or two, I suspect. The fruits of anarchism! Visit Port-au-Prince before Port-au-Prince visits you.

92 Comments:

Blogger nazgulnarsil said...

I'm interested in the video largely to see how the audience reacted.

January 18, 2010 at 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 20th's nominal experts on the 17th, who generally are experts, suffer from no such intoxication. Even a Marxist, like Christopher Hill, can be perfectly perceptive and trustworthy on the 17th century.

Uh, what? You yourself have shown that the 20th century view of the Civil War and American Revolution is "drunk with lies". A mind disordered with Cathedral lies cannot possibly interpret previous centuries correctly.

January 18, 2010 at 6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

European writers of the Victorian era, whose aristocratic governments worked much better than ours,

They did? Comparison of continental European governments from 1815 to 1914 to the US government in the same period does not exactly lead to that conclusion. Just look at how many people voted with their feet and moved from the former to the latter. There must be some definition of "working better" that I'm not seeing...

January 18, 2010 at 6:11 AM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

[I}They did? Comparison of continental European governments from 1815 to 1914 to the US government in the same period does not exactly lead to that conclusion. Just look at how many people voted with their feet and moved from the former to the latter. There must be some definition of "working better" that I'm not seeing...[/I]
People moved to America because of all the empty space and FREE LAND! Not because of any comparative advantage in governing. The "Belle Epoque" was one of the greatest flourishings of culture, wealth and society in the history of man. It compares very favorably to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and "Gilded Age" era here in the States.

January 18, 2010 at 7:16 AM  
Anonymous pwyll said...

Really enjoyed the debate, and it was great to have David Friedman's pointed comments as well. Looking forward to the next appearance...

January 18, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People moved to America because of all the empty space and FREE LAND! Not because of any comparative advantage in governing.

The vast majority of immigrants did not move to ungoverned spaces - especially the 23.5 million people who came here after 1880. They were city dwellers and factory workers, not small farmers. Obviously they thought the US governed New York better than Europe governed Warsaw, Palermo, and Dublin.

January 18, 2010 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Uhnonymous--I believe that's why MM said "the 17th century."

January 18, 2010 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger bw said...

I, Brian Wang, was at the debate and asked the question about California's proposition system being representative of what I believe is a large part of Futarchy. This was dismissed by both you and Hanson. However, I would request that this be given some more consideration. Not all propositions fit as some are votes on non-monetary matters.

As a resident of California, there are bond measures and other financially related propositions where passage would mean that I will in future be out of pocket hundreds to thousands of dollars. Far more than I have ever gambled on any single bet or betting session. The groups that get a financial proposition into play are spending millions to get the signatures and then more on the marketing campaign on the lobbying. Some potential or actual winners can get billions in benefit for say a large development project. There are also labor union measures.

These are up and down votes with money on the line for the voters. So I do not see any meaningful differences between a futarchy market for the question of removal of a CEO or removal of a governor and a proposition vote to recall a governor. (which we can examine the historical record)

Also, in terms of your royalist argument for CEOs to run government. There are several examples of CEOs running governments. Michael Bloomberg mayor of New York. Potentially Meg Whitman as a governor of California. Mitt Romney (governor of Massachusetts)

January 18, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

briefly,

mayor != run government

also,

intrade futures market has Brown over Coakley--a real test of futarchy ;)

January 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

It's not surprising that Mencius wouldn't like futarchy, since he hates democracy, and futarchy basically just is democracy with a slight tweak. You could probably even get MM to admit that futarchy would be superior to democracy, though not enough to meet his high standards of excellence in nonsuckage.

January 18, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhnonymous--I believe that's why MM said "the 17th century."

Palmer fails reading comprehension yet again.

MM said, "European writers of the Victorian era, whose aristocratic governments worked much better than ours..." The 17th century was not the Victorian era. That is why I was referring to the 1800s, which was the Victorian era. Next time engage brain before operating mouth.

January 18, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous HoochieMamainDaHouse said...

I admit to having too high an opportunity cost to read all of Moldberg's posts.

So what is the shortened argument that monarchical/aristocratic gov'ts are superior to representative democracy?

Is it simply a rehash of Barro in the vernacular of a third grader?

January 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger bw said...

Mayor is the top executive of a City. Governor is top executive of a State.

George W Bush was CEO of Arbusto Energy (later Bush Exploration). Bush became Chairman and CEO of Spectrum 7. It was bought in 1986 for $2.2 million by Harken Energy, with Bush joining the Harken board of directors and finance audit committee. (A series which showed how bad he was at running companies). There is the dynastic quality of Bush being descendant of Bush senior and there is the Kennedy "royalty".

There are also the Goldman Sachs executives in high positions in US government (Hank Paulson, Joshua Bolten, Steve Shafran, Kendrick Wilson III, Edward Forst and Neel Kashkari.

Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey Company and others also have significant influence in China, Vietnam, Singapore etc...

January 18, 2010 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Jesus Christ, people.

Not sure where all the vitriol comes from but it's Uhnonymous that fails reading comprehension.

MM said that a Marxist can be trustworthy on the 17th century. A6:02 referenced the Civil War and the Revolution--two events that happened after the 17th century.

Blackadder: doesn't he do that?

January 18, 2010 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Probably-not-Uhnonymous* can mark down 'constructive criticism' on their resume as a 'growth area.'

*(To be fair, though, ambiguity is a problem with these anononyms.)

They can't actually be thinking, "I can't be thoughtful, so I'll be rude instead, then everyone will respect me," can they?


HoochieMamainDaHouse,

I admit to having too high an opportunity cost to read all of Moldberg's posts.

I think you're using opportunity cost wrong.

So what is the shortened argument that monarchical/aristocratic gov'ts are superior to representative democracy?

You've given me no indication you'd give enough consideration to the idea to be worth my time.

Is it simply a rehash of Barro in the vernacular of a third grader?

My, er, opportunity cost for reading Barro is too high, but I'm guessing not.

January 18, 2010 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, how many fucking times do I have to quote the same words? Moldbug said straight out that he thinks Victorian-era aristocratic governments worked much better than ours. Read again and let me know when your lips stop moving: "European writers of the Victorian era, whose aristocratic governments worked much better than ours..."

A6:02 referenced the Civil War and the Revolution--two events that happened after the 17th century.

That is a separate post from the Victorian-era post of 6:11, 7:16, and 9:57. What MM says about the experts of the 17th century being trustworthy is entirely separate from what he says about Victorian-era governments working better than ours.

January 18, 2010 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Anonymous of January 18, 2010 9:57 AM wrote of tenkev's "People moved to America because of all the empty space and FREE LAND! Not because of any comparative advantage in governing", "The vast majority of immigrants did not move to ungoverned spaces - especially the 23.5 million people who came here after 1880. They were city dwellers and factory workers, not small farmers. Obviously they thought the US governed New York better than Europe governed Warsaw, Palermo, and Dublin."

That's missing the point. The empty spaces, free land, mineral resources and so on carried the other industrial and urban stuff and drove its growth - particularly with the help of European capital. If this argument were valid it would equally prove that Argentinian and Brazilian governance were better than European - and, of course, Australia received many immigrants from Britain even though it was under broadly the same governance as Britain (not in local custom, but in directing principle). And certainly my mother, of an Irish family that emigrated to France for political reasons, reported that the Irish themselves thought of Irish emigrants to the USA as economic migrants.

January 18, 2010 at 4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too much analogy in your thinking, it just gets in the way. I understand your skepticism, but it seems to me that you have over-developed your skeptical mindset and apply to anything you wish to 'prove' false - in you own mind anyway.

I have been working on a collective decision making system for over 10 years (non-commercial, non-academic, self-motivated independent development)and perhaps 10% of your current understandings aligns with my own. What happens to all these analogies you use to 'dis-prove' an idea when your current understanding changes? They all fall down, invalidated and irrelevant.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be skeptical, but there are weaknesses and bad consequences for taking it too far.

Many great thinkers have convinced themselves something is not possible only to be proven wrong as understanding changes and evolves outside of their skeptical (read biased and horrendously narrow) mindset. Unfortunately, the more capable the thinker, the more they can rationalize and convince themselves they are 'correct'. It is my belief that this is just such an occasion. Time will tell.

Here's a useful exercise in the mean time; Can these valid issues you have raised be successfully resolved? What changes are required to your understanding to do this?

Hints:
1. remove the 'economic' and 'market' analogies they are distracting and not particularly useful.
2. remove the human from the system - completely. What's left? People are a processing resource. They take an input (information), apply logical thought (to varying degrees) and produce an output (more information).

How is this similar to evolution? Evolution searches for and promotes the best mutation amid a sea of possibility - the more possibilities the more effective the system becomes. The fact that 99.99% of those possibilities turn out to be useless doesn't matter.

What matters is that the system of evolution finds and promotes the best mutations.

What matters is that the system of collective decision making finds and promotes the best ideas.

January 18, 2010 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I forgot,

get handles, people.

I'm not sure why pedanonymous can't see why he's wrong but whatevs.

January 18, 2010 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

remove the human from the system - completely

Do you suggest building your system of governance with devils or angels?

January 18, 2010 at 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Praxis888 said...

@Anon 5:05 "collective decision making". Does the quality of the decision decrease with the size of the "collecitve"?

January 18, 2010 at 6:19 PM  
Anonymous nbonapants said...

For those eager for a Mencius pic...

http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/michael/blog/2010/01/with-mencius-moldbug/

January 18, 2010 at 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those eager for a Mencius pic...

Cool haircut!

Gotta love how guys who promote authoritarian gov't always seem to look so, um, tough.

Palmer, have you printed this one out and framed it yet? How many times have you jacked off to it today?

January 18, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

The vast majority of immigrants did not move to ungoverned spaces - especially the 23.5 million people who came here after 1880. They were city dwellers and factory workers, not small farmers. Obviously they thought the US governed New York better than Europe governed Warsaw, Palermo, and Dublin.

Probably most of these were 20th century. The bulk of Irish came here during the famine - an obvious case of mismanagement, but no one ever accused the English aristocracy of being over-concerned with the fate of the Irish:)

Poles, similarly, were victims of probably intentional misgovernment by their tripartite rulers.

Same obviously for the Jews.

Italians came in droves in the first decade of the 20th century, most with the intention of returning.

So not sure the big waves of immigrants from a few localized trouble spots necessarily disproves MM's point about the quality of aristocracy in 19th century Europe - at least not compared to the 20th century, which produced many more refugees, though not necessarily immigrants to the U.S. thanks to strict immigration laws, however brief their reign may have been.

January 18, 2010 at 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Immers said...

wtf is up with the gm palmer hate, he is easily my favourite commenter..

January 18, 2010 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous HoochieMamainDaHouse said...

Alrenous,

I will read a summary if you are willing. I would appreciate it. I used to read mencius way back in the day, but lets be honest the dude rambles.

However the claim that aristocracy is preferred to the status quo is an intriguing one, if placed in a presentable manner.

RE: Opportunity cost

Assume I can read either barro or mencius. The choice is mutually exclusive. Lets say reading Mencius has a value of v. Reading barro who has a value of b. Reading mencius means I incur a cost of b, i.e. the opportunity cost. If b>v then my opportunity cost for reading mencius is too high. QED.

January 18, 2010 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

The 20th's nominal experts on the 17th, who generally are experts, suffer from no such intoxication
I'm skeptical. "Whig history" certainly covers the 17th century. I'd expect it to be biased on favor of Protestants and more specifically England. Vampire of the Continent is only a partial corrective.

"Money," Ralph said.
Teacher's unions say the same thing.

These guys, however, are about as likely to get government money as Charles Manson.
Via Wikipedia I see that Merkle was professor at Georgia Tech, which is a public university. Right now the U.K is funding diamond nanotechnology.

Decision markets are useful given two requirements: they need to be well-trained and disinterested.
This is unproven. "Wisdom of crowds" effects are seen with completely untrained participants, and many interested people participate in stock markets.

To decide between two moves A and B (or any N moves), we can take conditional bets on White's chances if move A is made, and White's chances if move B is made
That actually sounds a lot like Kurzweil's description of the A.I for chess-playing programs.

This Darwinian training effect is crucial to prediction markets
Again, "wisdom of crowds" can occur without training. I recall Hanson saying that his experiments still worked with untrained participants.

It's unclear, however, that anyone in the 21st century knows how to govern well.
Lee Kuan Yew.

There's no way of measuring who will profit how much from a bad decision.
You could make a prediction and bet on it!

As it is indeed, in the model.
In the real world, not even Bill Gates ever had enough money to "buy the pot".

Of course, because non-disinterested decision markets are retarded, one would not expect to discover them in reality.
Only hydrogen is more plentiful than stupidity.

As I asserted, deduction beats induction every time
And I reject your assertion as rank rationalism. It is easier for us to fool ourselves with deduction than induction.

cap and trade
Are you referring to the market prices themselves or a prediction market on the effects of cap-and-trade? Sounds like the latter, but it's ambiguous enough that clarification would be nice.

January 18, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

there is simply no population of wise people who can predict its effects
The economic effect doesn't seem that mysterious: it would make us poorer. Economic collapse is also the only thing that allowed many eastern European countries to meet their Kyoto reduction agreements. When it comes to the effect on the climate, any skeptic who thinks that the conventional wisdom (which less enlightened traders are operating under) is wrong and exaggerates the warming can bet against it. Since you yourself know that "X is, obviously, enormous" our skeptic trader should as well. The magnitude will depend on the legislation being voted on.

I agree that GDP+ would be a very hard thing to come up with. Weakest point in futarchy, in my view, since it relies on actual democracy. Predictocracy sounds worse though. And the status-quo hardly has any explicitly specified target, and it's implicit one would probably make us retch.

On long-running estimates of economic growth, I'd recommend Greg Clark's "A Farewell to Alms". Some good examples, like the number of labor-hours necessary to produce a given amount of light. Of course, the Darwinian metric for growth should be population size.

However, if the professor left the jar under the desk, and the experiment still worked, it would say something about the human brain's ability to operate telepathically. This, of course, is Feynman's problem of the Emperor of China's nose.
We know more than nothing in both cases, and as was already explained at OB the result would be a probability distribution reflecting the degree of uncertainty.

Professor Hanson is a professor, and thinks like a professor. I'm an engineer, and think like an engineer.
Funny enough, in a previous debate Hanson attributed his comfort with approximations to his background in science/engineering! His degree was in physics rather than computer science (although he also has some background in that).

The Victorian governments don't seem so great (I'm actually suprised you didn't use the Stuarts instead, rather than the post-Orange/Cromwell Parliamentocracy of Victoria's England). They failed to persist and you yourself believe what resulted was bad. In my view, they were creations of a particular time and could not survive technological changes. With even more advanced technology, they would be even further from political equilibrium.

I don't consider myself an anarchist, but there's something to be said for it. Medieval Iceland apparently worked pretty well, and Somalia improved under anarchy. It's no Luxembourg, but what do you expect from Somalia? Bouake of the Ivory Coast is the new kid on the anarchist block, doing a hell of a lot better than Leopold's Congo Free State.

Speaking of Haiti, Edward Luttwak explains Papa Doc Duvalier's strategy of stability through impoverishing the country here. Mencius has said he considers the Duvaliers better than what followed.

January 18, 2010 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Brian Wang, a democracy punishes everyone the same, even if you vote against bad laws or don't vote at all. Futarchy rewards people who make accurate predictions and punsishes people who make inaccurate predictions. The money spent on elections is a tiny fraction of the amount of money at stake. More money is spent in the U.S on toothpaste advertisements!


G. M. Palmer:
Intrade is a prediction market rather than a decision market. It's also been "tested" a decent number of times before.

Anonymous is a complete fool. In contrast, Anonymous is rather perceptive. And then there's Anonymous, who should never show his/her/it's face on the internet again. I could have used some disambiguation there, but clearly none of them is interested in that sort of thing.


HoochieMamaInDaHouse:
I believe MM's preference for monarchy is along the lines of Hans Herman Hoppe: as owner the monarch internalizes what would otherwise be externalities. Harm to the country is harm to his property, so is incentivised to take care of it. Because he hold's office for life and plans on handing over the country to his children, he has long time horizons. The same is also true of a farmer, whose livestock is analogous to a king's subjects.


G. M. Palmer:
Do you suggest building your system of governance with devils or angels?
Maybe a quantumocracy where decaying nuclei make all the decisions.


HoochieMamainDaHouse:
The choice of reading Mencius and Barro is not mutually exclusive. It would just require a greater investment of time. The value of reading Barro could be higher than that of reading Mencius, but then the marginal value of reading Mencius after Barro could still be higher than the next-best use of your time.

January 18, 2010 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

HoochieMamainDaHouse,

Assume I can read either barro or mencius. The choice is mutually exclusive. Lets say reading Mencius has a value of v. Reading barro who has a value of b. Reading mencius means I incur a cost of b, i.e. the opportunity cost. If b>v then my opportunity cost for reading mencius is too high. QED.

If indeed the things you could be doing with your time outrank reading Mencius, then they're going to outrank thinking about Mencius as well.

In other words, you can read the summary I'm about to point at, but I don't recommend it - go do whatever it is that's better, instead.

Also, I think the summary sucks, but it's not like I can do better.

http://moldbuggery.blogspot.com/

It also has links to the open letter and the gentle introduction.

January 19, 2010 at 2:13 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

TGGP,

This is unproven. "Wisdom of crowds" effects are seen with completely untrained participants, and many interested people participate in stock markets.

These are actually different situations. In the first, disinterest ensures that truly foolish voters vote randomly and effectively cancel each other out, as Carlyle demands.

Stock markets have Y greater than X, and fools vote with thin wallets, as Carlyle demands.

I must stress I'm not endorsing Carlyle - I'm just pointing out that these situations match his criterion.

Anonymous is a complete fool. In contrast, Anonymous is rather perceptive. And then there's Anonymous, who should never show his/her/it's face on the internet again. I could have used some disambiguation there, but clearly none of them is interested in that sort of thing.

What was it you said? "It would be untrue to say I laughed out loud, but I did crack a smile." Something like that?

January 19, 2010 at 2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW....
Can't believe I read these offensive words here:
This phenomenon, in which non-retards express retarded ideas, is no novelty in that time and place.
Pretty shocking that in this day and age you still haven't heard that using the word retard is a slur. I'm guessing that you knew this but just didn't care. What were you thinking? You'd gain some hipster points? Quite the contrary. You look like a total tool and lose readers. Shame on you for thinking it's okay to trash people with special needs because they probably wouldn't know anyway. How do you spell LOSER????

January 19, 2010 at 5:33 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Looking forward to video. I agree with the big picture assessment; that the reason futarchy appeals is due to anarchy. Also that gross national happiness is retarded.

I've also been wondering who actually makes sure that all bets are payed, who decides on the social welfare function (I believe Hanson says we should vote on this), who measures, interprets, etc. Are those not the executive, legislative, and judicial functions powers? At this level you are back to actual human beings making actual decisions, ie actually governing, no? This is just another way of trying to construct an impossible mechanistic government of laws rather than people.

I have to disagree that nobody knows how to govern. Obviously, nobody knows how to be an absolute sovereign, however, many people do have knowledge of specific areas of governing. Cops know *something* about policework even if they are legally shackled a bit more than MM cares for. And as TGGP points out, Lee Kuan Yew knows something about general sovereign government (as does Steve Jobs, really); not only that, but Lee Kuan Yew was somehow able to train himself despite being born in the 20th century.

Incidentally, I was on It's Academic too. We should swap Mac McGary stories.

January 19, 2010 at 5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The empty spaces, free land, mineral resources and so on carried the other industrial and urban stuff and drove its growth - particularly with the help of European capital.

You're missing the point. The land and resources would not have attracted the capital that drove its growth if they had not been under a stable, effective government. Investors understood "political risk" very well back then, and they understood that the US was a good place to put their money.

Many people here don't seem to appreciate that economic opportunity does not happen in a vacuum, and cannot exist independently of effective government. If the Gilded Age US economy boomed and Alexander III's Russian economy stagnated, this was partly because the aristocratic government of the latter was brutal and incompetent, and thus poor soil for economic growth to flourish.

If this argument were valid it would equally prove that Argentinian and Brazilian governance were better than European

Brazil and Argentina were better governed in the late 1800s than Spain, Portugal, and Italy, which were the main sources of emigration to Brazil and Argentina.

Australia received many immigrants from Britain even though it was under broadly the same governance as Britain

Factors driving immigration to Australia in the late 1800s were (a) a gold rush, and (b) the Australians paid Europeans to come. Obviously if the governance is roughly the same but one party provides powerful economic motives, that's going to tilt the playing field.

I'm not sure why pedanonymous can't see why he's wrong but whatevs.

What, you can't understand why I don't find your total failure to address the issue in a substantive manner instantly compelling?

Neither you nor anyone else here has provided a convincing argument that Victorian era Europe was better governed than the USA of that time or of today. But whatevs!

January 19, 2010 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably most of these were 20th century.

No, late 1800s (1880).

The bulk of Irish came here during the famine - an obvious case of mismanagement,

Hello, that is exactly the point I am making! MM claims that Victorian era European government "worked much better than ours", and the British governments incompetent and unfeeling response to the Irish famine (as well as other famines in the British Empire) is a powerful example of Victorian era European governments not working.

Poles, similarly, were victims of probably intentional misgovernment by their tripartite rulers. Same obviously for the Jews.

Again, that is exactly the point I am making! MM claims that Victorian era European government "worked much better than ours", and the Russian governments vicious intentional mistreatment of Poles and Jews is a powerful example of Victorian era European governments not working.

Tenkev said immigrants to the USA were just looking for empty space and free land. Well, there was a shitload of empty space in Imperial Russia. Why then would a Pole or Jew want to come to the USA? Gee, let me think... could it have anything to do with the aristocratic Russian government unleashing pogroms on them periodically? Maybe you guys just want the government to keep taxes low and deliver the mail on time, but some people think that the most basic benchmark for "good government" is that it does not try to kill you.

So not sure the big waves of immigrants from a few localized trouble spots necessarily disproves MM's point about the quality of aristocracy in 19th century Europe

A few localized trouble spots? Like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia, Ireland, and Scotland? At what point are you going to admit that 30 million Europeans coming to the United States alone is not an isolated exception, but the rule? You don't lose those kinds of numbers if you are providing good government.

at least not compared to the 20th century, which produced many more refugees,

If continental European government from 1918-1945 was worse than continental European government from 1815-1918, that does not establish that continental European government from 1815-1914 was actually good, or better than our government now.

To repeat, MM claims continental European government from 1815-1914 worked better than our government right now.

wtf is up with the gm palmer hate, he is easily my favourite commenter..

Arrogant, pompous windbags need deflation.

@TGGP:

The Victorian governments don't seem so great (I'm actually suprised you didn't use the Stuarts instead, rather than the post-Orange/Cromwell Parliamentocracy of Victoria's England). They failed to persist and you yourself believe what resulted was bad. In my view, they were creations of a particular time and could not survive technological changes. With even more advanced technology, they would be even further from political equilibrium.

Exactly! Thank you!

January 19, 2010 at 6:48 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

So that's what MM looks like. A bit disappointing, if not exactly surprising. I imagined Moldbug would look more like the guy on his left does with long hair and casual, anarcho-libertarian SWPL demeanor.

January 19, 2010 at 7:24 AM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

In 1800 Europe had 203 million people compared to only 7 million in North America. In 1850 it was 276 & 38. In 1900 Europe had 408 million compared to America's 74.

Higher population density means higher rent, generally, and in this case definitely. Of course, the poor people of Europe moved to America. Just like the poor people of the Bay Area live in Oakland and not San Francisco. Poor people move to where land is cheap.

You cannot use immigration as a measure of government effectiveness in this case. Imagine what people do if an America sized landmass just appeared in the middle of the Pacific ocean. If you don't think people would flock to it rapidly you are badly mistaken.

January 19, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Peter McCluskey said...

Needless to say, no units appeared on the "growth" axis.

If you follow the references in http://hanson.gmu.edu/longgrow.html, you'll find some discussion by relatively respected economists of what the numbers mean.

January 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that's what MM looks like. A bit disappointing, if not exactly surprising. I imagined Moldbug would look more like the guy on his left does with long hair and casual, anarcho-libertarian SWPL demeanor.

Jew dork looks like dorky Jew!?

Whoodathunkit!!?

January 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Pals said...

Peter,

You use the words "relatively respected economists" as if they're supposed to convey value, when all they say is that the economist is respected compared to other economists. That's a bit like saying "relatively chaste whores".

But what's even more hilarious is that these "relatively respected economists" include BradFuck DeLong. I'm sold.

January 19, 2010 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

To the Anonymous Fuhrer who posted @ January 19, 2010 11:04 AM

Moldbug is a Mishlinge - not a full racial Jew - as is Takuan Seiyo, myself, Chelsea Handler and Jennifer Connolly.

So Moldbug is a Dorky Mishlinge, not a Dorky Jew.

Since you - for no apparent reason - brought up the subject of Jewlattos, did you know who else is a half-Ashkenazi?

President Dimitry Medvedev of Russia is Jewlatto (on his mother's side, which makes him eligible for Aliyah!!).

His mother's maiden name is Shaposhnikova and Medvedev was not baptized until he was 23 in the year 1988.

I just thought I would let you know that Medvedev is a Jew because the subject of Ashkenazi Jews is so extremely popular on the internet.

That is all.

January 19, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Medvedev

Medvedev's father was a Professor at the Leningrad Institute of Technology, Anatoly Afanasevich Medvedev (November 1926 — 2004)[4][5]; his mother was Yulia Veniaminovna Medvedeva (née Shaposhnikova, born 21 November 1939),[6]

January 19, 2010 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@MM,

Cap-and-Trade huh....

I would have said tariffs. Technically, it makes sense to outbid the tariff seeking industry but transaction costs make it unlikely.

January 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Conan said...

Way to break stereotypes, The Undiscovered Jew.

Next time you should try being even more prickly.

January 19, 2010 at 7:25 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Way to break stereotypes, The Undiscovered Jew.

Next time you should try being even more prickly.


I'm not kidding.

Medvedev's mother is actually Jewish.

January 19, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Retardo's Law of Comparative Disadvantage said...

Futilitarchy FTW!

January 19, 2010 at 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Undiscovered Jew,

You're a little late there - Adam Sandler already had a song about all that back in the 90s.

Anyway, I don't know why you're bringing up Medvedev. It's not relevant to the fact that Moldbug, a Jew dork, looks like a dorky Jew. I seem to have hit a nerve with you though. I guess you too look like a dorky Jew or something. It's ok, you guys have real cool hairstyles.

Also, is it possible to say anything about Jews without being referred to as "fuhrer" by thin-skinned, sensitive, self-deceiving paranoids? Speaking of "fuhrer," wasn't Hitler himself one-quarter Jewish? I guess that explains the pushiness.

January 20, 2010 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger 怎麼辦 said...

Everyone fastens where there is gain.........................................

January 20, 2010 at 3:56 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Everyone fastens where there is gain.........................................

In bed!

January 20, 2010 at 4:55 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

TGGP,

Speaking of Vampire of the Continent, did you read Menace of Peace as well? I found that to be even more of a corrective. Yikes.

January 20, 2010 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

deTocqueville--

Thus, nature, in presenting Europeans with the empty lands of the New World, offers them something they do not always know how to use. I see other peoples of America enjoying the same physical conditions of prosperity as the Anglo-Americans but without their laws and customs, and these nations are miserable.
It is impossible to pretend that the English have not won a huge dominance over all the other European races in the new World. They are much superior in civilization, industry, and power. Anglo-American laws and customs represent, therefore, the particular and predominant reason, which I have been seeking, for their greatness.

January 20, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Anyway, I don't know why you're bringing up Medvedev.

I don't know why you brought up MM's Ashkenazi ancestry since it wasn't relevant to my comment. Perhaps you should stay on topic next time you comment.

It's not relevant to the fact that Moldbug, a Jew dork, looks like a dorky Jew. I seem to have hit a nerve with you though.

Actually he looks like any other white nerd.

I guess you too look like a dorky Jew or something.

I am indeed a white nerd. I even have glasses with frames similar to Moldbug's.

Also, is it possible to say anything about Jews without being referred to as "fuhrer" by thin-skinned, sensitive, self-deceiving paranoids?

Why do you think I wanted to insult you?

I wanted you to know Medvedev is a Jew because you seemed interested in the subject of Jews - or in the case of Mencius - half Jews. I thought if you knew Medvedev is Jewish you would be happy because you brought up the subject for no apparent reason.

You are happy that the President of the Russian Federation is a Jew, aren't you? I certainly am happy he's Jewish.

January 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What MM fails to address is that it's not that "we" decided to ditch aristorcatic monarchy and get democracy. Democracy kicked the former's butt militarily.

January 20, 2010 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it was relevant to your comment. You offered your opinion on what he looks like, and I described what he looks like. You sound like those stupid liberals who shriek "What's race gotta do with it!?" at anyone who simply mentions the racial background of a person or something.

Anyway, none of this changes the fact that he looks like a dorky Jew, and that apparently you do too. I don't know why you're making such a big deal about it. There's nothing wrong with it. The snazzy hairstyles alone are worth it. You seem to have some sort of hangup about the word "Jew." Are you some kind of self-hating Jew or something?

January 20, 2010 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Ulster said...

What MM fails to address is that it's not that "we" decided to ditch aristorcatic monarchy and get democracy. Democracy kicked the former's butt militarily.

He has addressed this - many times in fact. It's one of his main arguments. That Anglo-American democracy is dominant and perceived to be the best political arrangement and promoted as such not because of "progress" or historical inevitably or any innate merit, but because the US won WWII (along with previous military victories by 'democratic' regimes.

January 20, 2010 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Alrenous:
Mencius' writing tends to be even more bloated than Hayek's, so thinking about the ideas strewn through them could take less time than doing all the reading to dig them out. UR has much to gain from distillers and Brody Dalle certainly isn't picking up the slack.

You are correct that in one situation we had disinterest and in another we had trained participants. Since he said "and" rather than "or", a single one of my examples would be enough to refute him. It would be less common for disinterest and untrainedness to be combined, because interest incentivizes training! Mencius allowed that self-selection produces "training" (so it does not necessarily require time), and it is indeed Hanson's intent to have self-selected participants. If it actually was necessary to have time for training, it could be begun as a prediction market and, once the calibration was deemed satisfactory, converted to a decision market. Hanson has also said that he would not choose to begin futarchy at the level of the U.S government but with smaller organizations and build up.

Yes, I did say something like that in reply to one of your one-liners.


Anonymous Advocate of Differently Abled Retards:
There's a shitload of stuff a hell of a lot more offensive than that here.


josh:
My guess is also that anarchy is behind the appeal of free banking as opposed to mandatory 100% reserves.


Anonymous Who Doesn't Care About Retarded People:
So untapped natural resources and good government are both factors. It can be hard to disentangle them in establishing causality.

Alexander III's Russian economy stagnated
I don't think that's actually true. This page says otherwise, but on the other hand it was made by Russians and you can't trust them on Russian history any further than you can an American while he's (for it is always a man doing so) ponfificating on American history. I'd like to see some actual numbers comparing American vs Russian growth in the 19th century (it's been an interest of mine for a while) but a few minutes of googling haven't turned them up, so therefore they must not exist.

You've pointed out a good contradiction in that we look down on the reactionaries of the ancien regime for repressing Poles, Jews and assorted other minorities and Mencius seems to share that sentiment, but thinks it can be separated from the essence of the regime which would obviously not engage in such foolish behavior if it was a profit-maximizer. I mentioned before that the blogger IV_III_VI agrees with me that the logical setup for Mencius' ideal is Islam. He thinks that an Islamic regime could retain an elite dhimmi caste which would prevent stagnation but be unable to destabilize the regime. I argued that it's hard to have one without the other. The Russian Empire acted like an empire and got screwed over by the modern era and its nationalist baggage.

January 20, 2010 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Maybe you guys just want the government to keep taxes low and deliver the mail on time, but some people think that the most basic benchmark for "good government" is that it does not try to kill you.
Actually, not getting killed is MM's pre-eminent criteria of government. However, he holds the government responsible for any murder committed by civilians as well. He also claims that his ideal government will have Laffer-maximum taxation since that's the equilibrium rate. We are currently a considerable ways away from Laffer-maximum taxation. Eric Crampton argues that the USSR was lucky to avoid that rate of extraction!



The Undiscovered Jew:
Mencius should adopt the look of the Bloody White Baron?


tenkev:
You're right about the importance of population density. It plays a big role in Ed Glaeser's Why Doesn't the U.S. Have a European-Style Welfare State?, which is a hell of a lot better explanation than "They were conquered by the U.S in WW2".


Pals:
I think economic history (not the same thing as history of economics, where he persists in repeating debunked claims he's been informed about) is supposed to be Delong's specialty. Despite being a liberal he gave high marks to Greg Clark's "A Farewell to Alms", which is quite politically incorrect in its message. I certainly dislike Delong as a blogger (removing/editing comments that refute him is a well known habit of his), but I wouldn't be surprised if he knows more about the history of economic growth than us. I'd want some second opinions though.


The Undiscovered Jew:
Then shouldn't you be calling yourself The Undiscovered Mishlinge? Mencius' embrace of Jewish identity reminds me in some respects of Obama, except that I think that part of his motivation is getting a rise out of netnazis.

I didn't know Shaposhnikova was a Jewish name. I found out there's a famous gymanst by that name, but I didn't see any references to her as Jewish.


newto0311:
Tariffs are something where there is a fairly strong consensus among economists (which rubs off on more educated laymen) that they're bad for the economy. We can fairly confidently say that would lose under futarchy. I've even seen arguments that the steel tariffs on net hurt steelworkers.

January 20, 2010 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Retardo's Law of Comparative Disadvantage:
I guess that the next step above the futile system.


Anonymous Don't Call Me Fuhrer:
The rumor about Hitler being Jewish is just a sort of urban legend. I'm sure many are saddened at the loss of opportunity for Jewbilation in claiming that historic world leader.


josh:
I claimed I'd read it, but on the other hand I also claimed I would post a review of "In Defense of Hypocrisy". I guess I'm just less conscientious than Karl Smith. Or at least his own idealized version of himself. I've got a number of books on my computer, but I get too easily distracted to finish most of them.


Probably not the same Anonymous from above:
What MM fails to address is that it's not that "we" decided to ditch aristorcatic monarchy and get democracy. Democracy kicked the former's butt militarily.
To put it in more jargony terms, MM takes the normal perspective of viewing the form of government as exogenous. The more public choice you read, the more you tend to view it as exogenous.


Ulster:
Robin Hanson made a similar point here and here.

January 20, 2010 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Video of the Hanson-Moldbug debate is not available at the moment, but audio is.

January 20, 2010 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Futila the Hun said...

Critics of futilitarchy say that human beings are not actually futility maximizers. But the beauty of futilitarchy is that even if individual humans don't maximize futility, the system as a whole does maximize futility, and so it's almost impossible to change such a system once it's in place. (This basic insight lies behind many celebrated results in indecision theory.)

January 21, 2010 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...

Thanks for the link to the audio, teegeegeepee!

January 21, 2010 at 2:54 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

"Despite being a liberal he gave high marks to Greg Clark's "A Farewell to Alms", which is quite politically incorrect in its message."

I watched a youtube video of a discussion of Farewell with Clark, Tyler Cowen, and Brad Delong. Cowen and Delong were both completely obstinate when it came to the politically incorrect message. I distinctly remember Clark several times saying to Cowen, as politely as ha could, 'but, Tyler, you don't *really* believe that'. Delong of course was even more smug and PC, but respectful in that status-conscious way that modern academics tend to be toward each other in public.

January 21, 2010 at 5:09 AM  
Anonymous c23 said...

What MM fails to address is that it's not that "we" decided to ditch aristorcatic monarchy and get democracy. Democracy kicked the former's butt militarily.

IIRC, MM thinks nuclear weapons make mobs of political soldiers obsolete. Napoleon would have had a tougher time conquering Austria if they had all had nukes.

January 21, 2010 at 5:12 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Does Hanson realize that college students or stock investors != the voting population?

If he does (which doesn't seem clear), then Futarchy is simply a way to restrict suffrage--something that MM has clearly pointed is not sustainable as it is always in the best interest of one party to dilute suffrage.

MM might as well have said "Futarchy is democracy, democracy is unsustainable because the dilution of suffrage is always a good idea, thanks for the free ticket, peace."

January 21, 2010 at 5:18 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

If we're so all-fired obsessed with democracy, why don't we just charge for voting? Bring back the poll tax. Set the price of a vote at something unreasonable but attainable--$10,000 for a presidential election, $3,000 for a senator, $1,000 for the house, and a sliding scale for local elections. Give the money to, you know, kids or some junk.

January 21, 2010 at 5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alexander III's Russian economy stagnated
I don't think that's actually true.


There isn't any doubt that Russia lagged industrially. That's why they got their asses kicked in 1905 and 1914-17. They started striving mightily to catch up in the 1890s, but there is no doubt that Alexander III held them back.

So untapped natural resources and good government are both factors. It can be hard to disentangle them in establishing causality.

Nah.

Actually, not getting killed is MM's pre-eminent criteria of government. However, he holds the government responsible for any murder committed by civilians as well.

Understood, but on that basis the European governments of the Victorian era were STILL inferior to the USG. The Russian government took a hands-off attitude towards civilian murders of Jews.

Higher population density means higher rent, generally, and in this case definitely. Of course, the poor people of Europe moved to America. Just like the poor people of the Bay Area live in Oakland and not San Francisco. Poor people move to where land is cheap.

There was plenty of lightly populated land other than the USA in the world in the 19th century. The wide-open steppes of Russia were not greatly different from the Great Plains of the USA. So why go to Kansas instead of Ukraine? Because the USA was better governed.

You are happy that the President of the Russian Federation is a Jew, aren't you? I certainly am happy he's Jewish.

I am indifferent to his ancestry, but I did enjoy his massive pwnage of a certain total dork, body-language-wise.

January 21, 2010 at 5:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Props to Mencius for showing up. He seems to be a sincere individual who means well. That's why it pains me to propose he's most obviously wrong here. Almost embarrassingly so.

Hang in there Mencius, ya stubborn sommabitch.

As David F. put it: there is a reason why Y is bigger than X.

Mencius admitted there is no experiment that exists for Hanson to test futarchy with. With such comments, he has thusly buried himself. To take such a stance requires a kind of desperation.

-ThePenileFamily

January 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone care to put up a mirror link for audio? This one's down:

http://hanson.gmu.edu/ppt/Molbug%20Debate%20Jan10.wma

Thanks...

January 21, 2010 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

[I]Understood, but on that basis the European governments of the Victorian era were STILL inferior to the USG. The Russian government took a hands-off attitude towards civilian murders of Jews.[/I]

The US government wasn't really all that effective in stopping civilian murders of Blacks either. See the KKK or the White League or the Red Shirts or the New York Draft Riots. Not to mention the fact that the US government at that time had a CIVIL WAR with staggering losses in life and property. No such war in Europe at this time.

[I]There was plenty of lightly populated land other than the USA in the world in the 19th century. The wide-open steppes of Russia were not greatly different from the Great Plains of the USA. So why go to Kansas instead of Ukraine? Because the USA was better governed.[/I]

Easy. Because Russia and the Ukraine were full of Eastern Orthodox people. Catholics and Protestants would not have been welcome.

January 21, 2010 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I used Windows Movie Maker to whip up a wmv and uploaded it here.

January 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

TeeGeeGeePee,

Mencius should adopt the look of the Bloody White Baron?

Maybe he should...

Then shouldn't you be calling yourself The Undiscovered Mishlinge?

I thought (briefly) of using the handle the undiscovered "Half-Jew" but it was too wordy.

I didn't know Shaposhnikova was a Jewish name.

Her full name is Yulia Veniaminovna Medvedeva. Veniaminovna is a Russianized version of "Binyamin". Also Medvedev has, to my knowledge, never denied being Jewish. If his mother was not Jewish wouldn't he just say "no my mother has never been a Jew or associated with the Jews"?

And that gymnast looks like she might be Jewish.

Regarding "A farewell to Alms", if Clark's theory were correct about the English going under intense selection pressure, wouldn't the English have a higher mean IQ than other European ethnic groups?

January 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you guys say to an agreement that every week someone takes turns paying M $20 to participate in the forum?

Though if he has to respond to TGGP, then TGGP has to pay him $20/hr to do so. =)

January 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

At the OB thread I linked to above I got Hanson to say "It is far from crazy to suppose autocracy makes for more peace and prosperity than democracy, and yes that view is unfairly dismissed in academia." So MM's got that going for him.

On a less related note, Monsieur IOZ does a great takedown of the Donk/proggles' love-hate relationship with democracy.

Futila, I like the cut of your jab.

alexi, you're welcome.

josh, I recall that video but I guess I forgot the contents.

c23, I thought it was automatic weapons rather than nukes. You can't very well stop the sans-culottes from storming the palace by nuking it. Check out John Mueller: Nukes? No Big Whoop

G. M. Palmer, restricting the franchise (through the selection effect) is probably part of his intent. Bryan Caplan is fairly explicit about his elitism in that respect. Robin would be more immune to complaints about disenfranchisement since everyone is still technically free to bet on their wrong beliefs, they just get punished when it turns out they're wrong. If expanding the franchise leads to bad results, then speculators could bet against that expansion. I don't know what expanding the franchise would entail, betting vouchers for the poor? That wouldn't have much effect, speculators would relieve them of their subsidy.

The Undiscovered Jew, you're right those other names are more awkward.
Clark thinks that selection was NOT for IQ. Rather, it was for conscientiousness.

Anonymous, I was let go last month, so I think I'm exempted by MM's criteria. And if I was going to sign up with paypal I'd be donating to Sailer first. I have enjoyed reading him though, so I suppose I owe him something.

January 21, 2010 at 5:39 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

you're right those other names are more awkward.

I recall reading the maiden name of Medvedev's maternal grandmother was "Korylov" (Warning: might not be spelled correctly).

Additionally, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is half Jewish on his father's side.

Perhaps I should email JewWatch and alert them that Putin is in league with the Jews so that they can take appropriate action?

Clark thinks that selection was NOT for IQ. Rather, it was for conscientiousness.

I don't want to beat Clark up *too* badly because I haven't read his book. However, from what I have read in reviews I have the following (tentative) problems with his thesis:

1) Clark argues the British upper class had an exceptionally high birth rate - even compared to other elite Europeans and elite Asians during the relevant historical period.

But if the English elites were having such a profound evolutionary/demographic impact on the overall the English population from roughly 1200 to 1800 A.D., would one not also expect that the English elites would have passed on the genes for high intelligence as well as conscientiousness in greater frequency throughout the English population compared to other European and Asian nations?

2) There is no evidence the English population is much different from other Europeans in terms of personality and other psychological traits such as conscientiousness.

3) It is not necessary for genetic change to precede behavioral changes (in this case "Middle Class" traditions) in a nation's cultural makeup because behavior is vastly more malleable to surrounding environmental/social/political/economic change than intelligence and personality are (psychologists generally agree that it is extremely dangerous to try and change personality).

Btw, since we are on the topic of historical demography and the industrial Revolution, you might possibly be interested in this article I wrote at OneSTDV's blog where I argue demographic transition in the Industrial West occurred because Western women were able to fill brand new job niches which the Industrial Revolution spawned - and not because of feminism:

Smart Fraction Fertility

January 21, 2010 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous c23 said...

tggp, the cryptographically locked small arms were to protect against internal threasts and the nukes were for external threats. See this oldie:
http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/11/nuclear-neocolonialism-formalist-design.html

It mostly makes sense to me, except that I don't see how you can safely stop a nuclear power from implementing anti-nuclear defenses

January 21, 2010 at 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric Raymond and Udolpho both have recent posts up on Kevin MacDonald.

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1595

http://www.mypostingcareer.com/forums/index.php?/topic/107-the-culture-of-critique/

Both seem generally favorable to MacDonald's thesis.

January 22, 2010 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I was let go last month,

I am sad to hear it.

Wasn't for spending 7 hours of each working day blogging, was it? =)

January 22, 2010 at 5:35 AM  
Anonymous IVoIIIoVI said...

I find Moldbug's references to "Kimbo Slice" disturbing. Kimbo is pure hype: as seen in the video, he was beaten under his own rules by an amateur. Fedor could incapacitate Slice and Gannon at the same time without dropping his ice cream.

January 22, 2010 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone who does not deny being Jewish is a Secret Jew?

January 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Ace said...

I agree with "IVollloVI."

Kimbo Slice is overrated. He's not that good of a fighter. He just has an intimidating appearance and a dirty beard, so everyone thought that he was good or something. Turns out that he's not that great.

January 22, 2010 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger juantblanco said...

I think hyperbole is why he keeps referencing Slice -- but he also gave his endorsement to Obama... so....

January 22, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

Be that as it may. His point is still valid. His weak nerdy punch would not faze Kimbo much, if at all.

January 22, 2010 at 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possibly it is not my place to pick nits, but my reaction here is:

"AGAIN with the cryptographically secure small arms."

Let me a-splain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sten <-- Man-portable select-fire automatic weapons are readily manufacturable with hand tools in clandestine basement shops, by the village blacksmith, or by your buddy the machinist who has an old Bridgeport mill. The Sten SMG is an especially crude 1940s design, but it generally worked, as a rule.

Now contemplate the 21st Century, with the widespread proliferation of technologies like CNC machining.

Think about that a little longer.

Now think about the illiterate Pathan gunsmiths, of Darra, Pakistan, and their uncanny ability to copy things like AK74MN assault rifles, right down to the ordnance proof marks stamped on the receivers and the orange plastic magazine bodies.

Is someone in the Peanut Gallery saying "But wait! Dohohohohohoho, perhaps a Mencist state will control ammunition instead!" Uh, sure. Machinists will no longer be able to turn brass cases from rod stock, synthesis and fabrication of priming compound and gunpowder are no longer trivial for anyone who didn't sleep through high-school chemistry class, and scrap lead--say, from old wheel-balancing weights in the scrap-metal barrels at your friendly neighborhood garage--can no longer, mysteriously, be cast in a mold to serve as a projectile. Riiiiiiiiight.

So what is all this crazy talk about "cryptographically secure small arms?" Star Trek ray guns haven't been invented, with or without a numeric keypad on the grip frame with which the Guardian of Sacred Corporate Order will presumably key in his sixteen-digit cryptographically secure PIN.

"If you load an infantryman down with a lot of gadgets that he has to watch, somebody a lot more simply equipped - say with a stone ax - will sneak up and bash his head in while he is trying to read a vernier." --Robert A. Heinlein, _Starship Troopers_

January 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Father said...

Reading between the lines of 436's (IVoIIIoVI) Blog the clever can pick up where Brother Mencius has left the fiefdom.

January 23, 2010 at 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Steve Johnson said...

If you guys are unsure as to whether or not MM knows that Slice is a creature of pure hype or not watch the video in the link at Slice v. Gannon from the post.

Slice does not win that fight. Not at all.

January 24, 2010 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Undiscovered Jew:
Perhaps I should email JewWatch and alert them that Putin is in league with the Jews so that they can take appropriate action?
Everyone is in league with the Jews, even JewWatch. After all, who is the primary market for news on Jews? The Jews!

Clark argues the British upper class had an exceptionally high birth rate
Actually, the upper-class nobles did not have very high fitness. I guess they killed each other off a lot. It was really more the upper-middle class, the people called "kulaks" in Russia, who expanded at the highest rate. Of course, there wasn't enough room at the top for all their children, so they gradually squeezed out and replaced the old lower class. This can be seen in the dissappearance of certain surnames over time and the expansion of others. Additionally, Clark mentions a very high English birth rate relative to other Europeans. But that's not throughout all of history, that's just a sudden surge that coincided with the Industrial Revolution. I don't remember if Clark had data on the differential fertility of other Europeans, but he does say that Asian elites did not reproduce at very high rates. They were also poorer because their lower mortality rate resulted in a higher population density.

would one not also expect that the English elites would have passed on the genes for high intelligence as well as conscientiousness
Clark doesn't seem to think intelligence was being selected for as much as conscientiousness. Cochran & Harpending think that IQ was greatly under selection for Ashkenazi Jews because their occupations were restricted while most Europeans were farmers. Farmers are precisely the people Clark says had the most kids and spread their genes. Relative to our hunter-gatherer past, farming places large requirements on delaying gratification and working hard. Additionally, like the upper class much of the lower class was quite violent back then and got themselves killed off. So non-violence (presumably linked to conscientiousness) was also selected for.

There is no evidence the English population is much different from other Europeans in terms of personality and other psychological traits such as conscientiousness.
I believe Clark thinks the same process was going on in other European countries, but certain coincidences made England seem unique. Also, Clark has the most data on England and so that's what he writes about.

It is not necessary for genetic change to precede behavioral changes (in this case "Middle Class" traditions) in a nation's cultural makeup because behavior is vastly more malleable to surrounding environmental/social/political/economic change than intelligence and personality are (psychologists generally agree that it is extremely dangerous to try and change personality).
John Maynard Smith discusses that sort of thing in his "The Theory of Evolution", which I highly recommend. We are naturally adaptive creatures, and so an initial change in our environment will result in an adaptive response even without our genes changing. However, over generations, our genes will change to facilitate such adaptation.

Regarding feminism, I think it was an epiphenomena of other changes that were occurring.


c23:
The problem of the mob seems far more important for formalism than external threats.


Anonymous:
Now, I was actually asking for more work to do, but there wasn't enough to go around. As far as I knew they neither knew nor cared what I did in my idle time. I'm not too miffed, I had been planning on leaving ever since I was told that after 5 years I wouldn't be able to work anywhere else. I'm also getting more interviews than I did when I graduated.


Anonymous gun nut:
A long while back a commenter mocked MM's proposal to design guns that couldn't be taken apart so the lock couldn't be disabled. That would effectively make maintenance of the gun impossible.


Father Boethius:
Elaborate.

January 24, 2010 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Father Boethius said...

The Honorable TGGP,

You are yourself entitled to such a vast amount of opinions and I would have believed it of no consequence for you to read through Brother Ivan's cryptic puzzling. Verily had I hoped for a detailed critique as is often your wont.

It is my wont to say "Alas! how this mind is keened, baptized in the overwhelming depths!"

Id est the mindful may fear Brother Mencius Moldbug may presently be o'er-occupied with the poetry that is naked, frozen code. As he said in the annals, "a step of readiness is the readying of a government."

In parliamentary systems this is called the shadow government. Brother Ivan is facilitating the construction of a shadow kingdom and is starting in all the right ways. It is the will of G_d that such a shadow kingdom be worthy of housing the sacred and invaluable Antiversity which Brother Mencius Moldbug has promised to deliver soon in book and not blog form.

Many readers of Unqualified Reservations have put their money where their eyes have lain. Brother Ivan has carved out new, Ulyssean territory where our brains and backs may be put to use as well.

Fides Et Conscienta,
Father Boethius

January 25, 2010 at 4:35 PM  
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January 28, 2010 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Kalim Kassam said...

You've heard the audio, now watch the video.

Moldbug x Hanson, like you've never seen them before:

http://vimeo.com/9262193

February 10, 2010 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Trouble with the chess analogy is that we don't have the option of hiring a chess player. We shot most of the competent chess players during various revolutions, and all the remainder died in the trenches of WW1.

All we have left is kibitzers who pretend to be great chess players on the basis of their extensive experience with checkers and arm-wrestling (despite knowing nothing about chess), and kibitzers who freely admit that they're probably not great chess players, but have at least mastered the basic rules and would like a shot at strategy.

Chess by chess players being an option unavailable to us due to the foolishness of generations recently past (in their rejection of the wisdom accumulated by generations _less_ recently past than themselves), we must either do without chess entirely (anarchy), or find some way for the kibitzers to keep a chess game going without killing each other in duels too often (government either by democracy or by means evolved from democracy, such as decision markets).

July 20, 2010 at 2:39 PM  

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