Open Thread

This is our monthly place to discuss relevant topics that have not appeared in recent posts.

GD Star Rating
Tagged as:
Trackback URL:
  • A couple of bits from Steve Sailer you might find interesting. He thinks that the topic of well-off parents financially assisting their adult children (including through inheritances) was more discussed in the 19th century and hushed now, even though it remains important. “[O]ur fictional and inspirational lives […] seem to be still dominated by a dream of rugged individualism that is increasingly out of date in a crowded, expensive country.” He also suggests looking at Google’s autocomplete feature to find “the Undernews — the stuff a lot of people are interested in but isn’t respectable”.

  • Drewfus

    What are the status affects of subsisized medical care on an individual? Does receiving medical care without payment and as a matter of right, raise the status of the receiving individual? Prehistorically, was health care offered in an egalitarian manner or dependent on the status of the individual concerned?

    During the time an individual is receiving free medical care, they are a net cost to the tribe or society. This tells us something about the importance of that individual to the tribe/society, and signals both internally and externally (to outsiders) that the tribe/society is wealthy enough to treat its ill, rather than discarding them (like some species do), or leaving them to their own devices.

    A further question then; if free medical services raise the status of individuals, then to what extent is this elevation dependent on the general health of each individual? If, in our own time, free medical care raises the status of individual X – where X is a person of average BMI, a non-smoker, a non-drug taker, and occasional drinker – then how much does it raise the status of individual Y – where Y is obese, smokes cigarettes and pot, and is alchoholic?

    What i’m suggesting is that a perverse incentive could be at work; the less well an individual looks after themselves physically, while still maintaining the right to free medical services, the higher their social status, by implication. To generalize, how much is widespread obesity a reaction to growing inequality?

  • Ely Spears

    Robin, do you have any particular thoughts about the rational, static society discussions in David Deutsch’s 2011 book “The Beginning of Infinity”? It seems at odds with some claims floating around OB. For example, you say, “There is simply no general guarantee that humans will get more done when they believe more truths” at the end of your post The Functions of Faith. I think Deutsch would strongly dispute this, and instead argue that we get vastly more done now by virtue of believing more near-truths, and that the high functioning aspects of our society are those that are not static, e.g. they efficiently locate bad beliefs and replace them with more truthful notions. Of course we have a looong way to go, truth-efficiency wise, but why do you feel there is “no general guarantee” in the quote above?

  • Robert Koslover

    There is literally no such thing as “social” justice.  Think about it.

    • richatd silliker


    • There’s no other kind.

      • Drewfus

        When you start calling ‘social justice’ ‘justice’, i’ll believe you meant it.

  • So, what kind of econotroll are you? 😉

  • richatd silliker

    If money is an encapsulation of labor how is it possible for QE to work? Is this not encapsulating money to debt?

    The hole we are in gets deeper as we use the money.

    Should the money go directly to state and local governments to invest in infrastructure? From there the money can go to the banks. The banks can pay interest and loan the money out.  If they screw up they can go under. At least we will have something for our money.

  • A tenet of Robin’s sociology is the importance of the drive for status in human psychology and the claim that status expresses a primeval capacity to be a strong ally in conflicts. I wonder if this really comports with what we know about hunter-gatherer societies;

    1. For what conflicts did our ancestors require allies? That is, what are the prizes in egalitarian societies?

    2. How did “powerful allies” help resolve such conflicts? Were physical conflicts within prehistoric bands common?

    It sometimes seems that we project the contemporary role of status back to the prehistoric past–as opposed to interpreting the present in the light of actual knowledge of the workings of hunter-gatherer bands.

    •  Also, the relate question: what kinds of trade occurred within bands (or occurs in extant hunter-gatherer bands)? Robin seems to conceive of primitive hunter-gatherers as regular entrepreneurs, scheming about how to sell high and buy low. What are the actual terms and extent of trade within hunter-gatherer bands? (Was there any division of labor, besides between the sexes?–which seems a prerequisite for substantial trade.

  • Drewfus

    Does… 90% of people believe they are better than average drivers …indicate people are overconfident, or rather that they know it is easy to make a claim like that if the cost of checking the claim outweighs the benefits (to the receiver/listener/surveyer) of knowing the truth.

    I’m a better than average lover. This means i know you probably won’t want to check, even if i invite you to watch. Overconfidence has nothing to do with it.

  • Drewfus

    All primates have status drives, social competiton, and rivalry. With homo sapiens, there might be another social dynamic that is not just more of the same, but unique to us; the insider/outsider dynamic.
    Social status is about *individuals* seeking and maintaining power, and attaining and maintaining allies is a means to this. By comparison, insider/outsider status is more about *membership*, and the power (or lack thereof) of the *group* – not the individual. This seems radically different to me. For example – powerful groups can apply rules to other groups that do not appy to the group that ‘legislates’ the rule. For me, i think of homo-hypocritus more as insiders-hypocrisy. That is, not so much about rule evasion as blatant double-standards.

    “1. For what conflicts did our ancestors require allies? That is, what are the prizes in egalitarian societies?”

    Avoiding outsider status (a negative reward) and it’s associated dangers…

    “2. How did “powerful allies” help resolve such conflicts? Were physical conflicts within prehistoric bands common?”

    They didn’t and the physical conflicts were constant. The main source of the conflict was safe land. That is, hills, caves and land near water. Insiders inhabit safe lands – outsiders are stuck in more dangerous zones. Only humans compete for land *within their own species*. Highly significant IMO, as it adds an extra and unique dimension to intra-species conflict that can help explain the unusually high brain capacity of later hominids.

    • Drewfus

      Meant as a reply to Stephen R. Diamond (above).

      • Drewfus

        “Do these exist among foragers?”

        Not officially, no, but i’m not really thinking of foragers. I’m thinking about groups that were fairly geographically stable, like early farming communities.

        The insiders-outsiders metaphor is grasped, somewhat intuitively, by almost everyone (just ask). This suggests an extra dimension of social competition and status exists in human communities – group status. Pretty much all mammals have individuals-based status heirarchies – alpha males, etc, but only humans seem to have distinct group-based heirarchies.

        This means that rather than social dominance simply falling to the physically strongest and best fighting males, other traits become necessary. Brain capacity and intelligence start to increase rapidly. Homo-politicus is born. The social role and behavior of females changes, and becomes much more interesting than in other primates. This affects the social status of women in a positive manner, leading to even greater social competition. Further brain growth is the result.

        All the while physical strength is becoming less important. Muscular ability atrophies. Compare human strength to chimp strength – no contest.

        All this change originally results from unequal access to high quality land, where high quality means safe and fertile. Examples: Close to water sources like rivers or lakes, or at the foot of hills. Herds of lions share the same land, but humans compete for prime real estate. That is the key difference.

    • For me, i think of homo-hypocritus more as insiders-hypocrisy. That is, not so much about rule evasion as blatant double-standards.

      Is there any evidence that primitive bands are hypocritical when they wage war against outsiders? I see little or no need for hypocrisy in dealing with outsiders. With the rise of universalistic religions, wars came to require rationalization (although even so, weak ones).

      • Drewfus

        We are not on the same page. My fault. What i mean by insiders and outsiders is not “our tribe versus every other tribe”. I mean it more in the sense of privileged versus non-privileged classes, or castes. That is, intra-group, not extra-group. To put it another way – “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

      • in the sense of privileged versus non-privileged classes, or castes.

        Do these exist among foragers?

  • richatd silliker

     QE does not give money to people to spend.  My understanding is that this money is used to buy financial assets from banks. This in turn allows the banks more leeway to loan out money.

    To a large extent the winners and losers that are chosen by the “market” have been largely determined over the last two hundred years.

    What I am suggesting is this. That money be given to states to spend on infrastructure projects. To protect that investment and because the government has a priori on an individual’s behaviour implement a accounting system to monitor the awarding of contracts. This monitoring keeps corruption at bay. Use the military, if necessary, to protect the people doing the monitoring.  The important thing to remember is that this is the governments and our money.

    Now, the states place the money in the banks. The banks pay interest and or charges fees.  Most likely it’s a saw. No fees.  No interest.

    The work is paid for value received and the companies that have done the work put the money in the bank.  This is where the “market” takes over. 

    One of the important things to remember is that in order to succeed infrastructure  must be in place. 

    Another thing to consider is that when a technology becomes common place it should be declared a utility and removed from private enterprise.  Buy at market value, give the owners their money and encourage them to build something new.

    Now as to money being tied to labour. It is people who get things done. No work done.  No value.

    The problem to-day is that money is tied to capital instead of labour.