How to Elect Hitler

Since the outset of the election cycle and well into the first year of Trump’s presidency, we’ve seen the rise of a special type of political commentary: Tump apologetics. Trump-explainers or apologists, what ever you like to call them, are ideologues who spend their time telling a story about Trump that is counter to the current mainstream notion that our president is a sea-monster come on land. Most notable of these apologists is the cartoonist Scott Adams. He’s extremely convincing in his assurances that Trump is doing something other than tottering around knocking over buildings.

The problem with this is that there is a non-zero chance that Trump is Hitler. I’m personally of the opinion that he is not, but hey, enough Germans thought Hitler wouldn’t turn out to be Hitler. It’s clear that even monsters can be persuasive and charismatic leaders, otherwise we’d never have a problem.

So if Trump were Hitler after all, we’d probably feel pretty stupid for having supported him. We’d ask ourselves how we didn’t see the long line of awful terrible things he had done that lead up to his final ascension to God-Emperor of the Fourth Reich. And then we would realize, it was the fault of the Trump-Explainers for making his sins palatable.

Still, there is a certain set of circumstances that favor the rise of King-Trump. The Apologists alone cannot be blamed for his success. We must look at the factors necessary to allow the election to office and continued support of Litterally-Hitler.

(1) In order to elect Hitler, you have to make the opposition to Hitler worse than Hitler. At the very least, you have to make the opposition seem worse to the people who are likely to form Hitler’s support base. This means fill the opposition with harpies.

(2)Hammer on the small details, ignore the big stuff. If the opposition spends its time trying to make the monster down by biting at his ankles, it’s going to make them look petty. It’s going to flood everyone’s mind with petty shit until they basically ignore any valid negative info being broadcast about Hitler. At this point, most of the major blunders Trump has made have been drowned out by hysterical repetition of “Covefefe!”

(3) Make people okay with demolishing existing power structures. Hitler did one thing particularly well, took out his political opposition until he could move unhindered. Trump has promised to drain the swamp and his base is ecstatic about the notion. Congress has begun to look like an immobile heap of corruption. The judiciary looks like rouge Marxist sophomores in robes. Neither one is interested in upholding the constitution and bettering the lives of the people. At least that’s how things look to Trump’s base, and their ready to get rid of those roadblocks. What is not being thought of is the fact that those are the same roadblocks that stand between Hitler and launching his nation into global war.

And for those who suggest that draining the swamp is about reducing corruption, consider how difficult it would be to do. Term limits would fill the rows with new, weak, pliable members who know that their only hope of influence is to play ball with the current administration.

The conditions are right for another Hitler to strike, but it’s not the fault of Hitler himself. It is the fault of the opposition team and the incumbent political players for making people willing to toy with such forces.

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The Ultimate Process/Outcome Thinking Test

I’m constantly on the look out for good examples of the divide between those who utilize process thinking and those who use outcome thinking. It’s not a new concept, but it caught my attention as being one of the purest examples of this dichotomy.

Take a look and tell me what you think of this article:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608248/biased-algorithms-are-everywhere-and-no-one-seems-to-care/

If you think it might be a legitimate concern and future AI should be designed to negate this effect, you’re a dirty outcome thinker.

If you think machine learning is pure and any bias shown is just a result of real world outcomes, you’re still a dirty outcome thinker.

Here is why: the mechanism of bias in machine learning is never reveled . There are two basic ways a machine can learn. Either (A) the system is learning from raw data and making predictions about outcomes on it own, or (B) the system is learning from a human counterpart and and copying their performance.

Lets take granting a loan for example.

A is troubling because there’s a possibility the system is making accurate predictions about real outcomes. It’s possible that on average, people of a certain race, background, or even eye color, have a higher default rate. The system wouldn’t know why that is, it would just know the smart money isn’t on those people.

B is just down right dumb. A system is taught, not using real world data, but rather using the history of human decisions, it will never learn anything humans don’t already know. It will just learn to be very good at playing human. Machine learning scientists don’t usually take this approach for that reason, so the bias is usually not derived from human decision, but rather from historical data.

A is still dumb because it’s looking at historical data hoping that it will be able to infer future outcomes. It’s not concering itself with why a trend exists or even if the information being processed is relevant. Machine learning can come up with some crazy accurate correlations in historical data that have zero predictive power. Understanding a process, a reason why, is necessary to predict the future. That’s why machine learning alone is not the solution to better loan application processing.

Black people being turned down for loans is not symptom of a racially biased system. It’s the symptom of a system designed for the sole purpose of turning people down. The computer’s job is to find ways to discriminate. The idea that you might ask a computer to select half a group of applicants to reject, and then become confused when the group selected showed similarities in at least some respects is appallingly stupid.

Here is why the talk of bias in machine learning is a red flag for process thinkers:It’s rejecting the outcome of a system that does nothing but analyse outcomes.

Machine learning based selection processes like loan approvals and parole appeals are just another facet of the paper man problem I wrote about previously. A machine is only able to make selections based on digitized information. All ability to use social persuasion, character reference, or intellectual debate to effect the outcome of a decision is gone. It further strengthens the selections for men and women who lack real world skills but display exemplary resumes.

 

 

The Wage Wall

Rather consistently we hear mentions to the gap in pay between women and men. The line that is most often use is that women make $.75 for every man’s dollar. This of course has been soundly refuted by a number of studies that show the apparent difference in pay is more a result of career and life choices than systemic oppression.

What I find more interesting than the truth of the statistic, is it’s persistence. You would think if there were such a noticeable difference, it would be clear as day. And yet the effects, if ever there were any, remain invisible to us. We need the use of sophisticated statistics to show what should be everyday common knowledge. The wage gap is supposed to be pervasive meaning people should be able to tell if they are direct victims of it or not. But we can’t and the reason for that is much more dangerous that the issue of the wage gap.

Employers work hard to obfuscate wages. Culture has a shyness towards discussing the topic of wages. Everything in society is fashioned around the idea of keeping wage information compartmentalized and isolating workers. Let’s imagine that there was a wage gap, it would be great for employers. If they could cut costs on personnel by 25%, you bet they’d do it, sexism or no.

The ability of employers to segment their workforce and manipulate wages without transparency should worry everyone, not just women. and this is where I see the divide between process thinkers and outcome thinkers.

Right now the outcome is being shouted from the roof-tops and presidential podiums – It’s bad that employers are paying women unfairly. The acceptable solution to this is that women not be paid unfairly. A mandate might be put in place that wages not be assigned with any knowledge of the employee’s gender. There might be audits to asses any statistical preferential treatment of one sex over the other. It’s possible that there is a good solution to fix this exact problem.

But the process thinker is more concerned with how the problem might come about in the first place. Why are employers able to operate with such impunity that they could segment a half of the workforce into a lower wage bracket? Why, on a case by case basis would workers accept these lower wages? Why is the force of the free market favoring job creators over job workers?

The most robust answer to all of these questions is that we have begin wage comparison. It needs to become not only acceptable but encouraged to discuss wages with one’s peers. This will not only fix any sex wage gap that might exist, but any race, orientation, marital status, and what not discrimination.  Most importantly, it will put a stop to the A/B testing style wage assignment.

 

Paper Men

Men are being subjected to a particularly uncomfortable form of selection these days. I call it the line up. It’s the resume. It’s the dating profile. It’s not entirely a male issue, women are subjected to the hostilities of the job market as well, but the line up is a uniquely male experience.

Increasingly, individual males are having to represent themselves in a virtual format. They must boil themselves down to a list of qualifications, perhaps a picture, and slot that profile in along side a couple hundred others. It is a distillation of male utility. “Tell us what you can do for us. Tell us why you’re useful.”

The sad but predictable result of submitting to lineups is that fewer men find success. The broader the market, the higher the bar for entry. Odds are most men are somewhere around average in looks, capabilities, and credentials. Those doing the selection will want the best applicants and so will not select most men.

In a time where geography and immediate availability were significant factors in a man’s worth, average men had a chance. In face to face interactions, men could make up for lacking “specs” on their resume or dating profile by showing character and gameness. Those qualities are impossible to certify, so there is no place for them in today’s selection process.

This leads to a selection bias towards men who look good on paper. Photogenic, participated in higher education, took only high paying jobs, never made recorded mistakes. I know some men like and I do not consider them reliable. Never straying from the beaten path does not make strong men.

Come Together

Before the dust even had time to settle and the smell of gunpowder still hung in the air, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., specifically blamed “political rhetorical terrorism” for the shooting. “I stand here today and say stop, we have to stop,” Davis said, urging the country to come together as Americans, not Republicans and Democrats.

At the same time, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) immediately called for more gun control. McAuliffe said “there are too many guns on the street” but then said the issue shouldn’t be raised today. A reported then remarked, “If it’s not the day for it, why are you bringing it up?” The governor said he talks about the need for more background checks on gun purchases and for closing the gun show loophole all the time.

There has never in American history been an act of violence so ready made for political punditry, and never have the democrats been so tone deaf in their response. Just as the republicans are framing this as an issue with partisan politics, the democrats feel the need to engage in some partisan politics. Of particular note, they look for answers that take the blame away from them and place it back on others involved in the events of the day. For them, the reasons behind this man’s madness are unimportant, only the fact that he had the power to enact his mad will.

If the democrats had any one smart on their team, they would be framing this as an attack on American ideals. Most assassination attempts are seen as the result of sad deranged mad men, not the logical extension of a political association. If the democrats let this stick to them, it’s a failing on their part.

That being said, while the republican response of “Come together” is the right one for the time, it rings hollow. When given a little more thought, what is really says is that we should embrace the homicidal psychopaths in hopes that they’re murderous intentions might be quelled. It is the same approach that has been failing to stop Islamic extremism for decades. We do not need to come together in a mutual compromise. We need to come together to reproach the aggression growing in political discourse and that requires the liberal portion of this nation to take a seat for a moment.

Climate Accord Unconvincing

I’ve been cajoled once again into wrapping my head around an insane political battle. This time it’s the US withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Taking the US out of a huge world unifying attempt to save the environment for the purposes of preserving coal jobs is exactly the kind of thing we all expect from the sea-monster-in-chief.  But I wanted to go a little further into the matter and see what reasoning other people were using to justify this deplorable move.

The first clue I got was the number $100 Billion. It’s the annual amount that was set to be raised by involved countries to ease poorer countries into environmental stability. Notably this amount is annual and a “floor” meaning the commitment was well expected to rise over time. There is no mention of how this burden was meant to be portioned up, only that it was the responsibility of developed first wold countries to do their part because they produce more green house gasses per capita.

Following a long tradition of using shame to coerce others into action, the left has taken a particularly subtle approach to convincing us we want the accord. This is done in two steps: first make us believe the accord has meaningful impact on the environment, then shame developed countries for their production of green-house gasses by describing them as disproportionate polluters. This is reminiscent of the white shame tactic here. Richer countries foot the bill because they are at fault for the problem. China, the primary global source of pollution, is seen by the accord as one of the poor countries and will likely not be held to the same standards as the US.

I think this all is another great example of the parallel systems of thinking butting heads. On the Paris side we have the Outcome Oriented thinkers who want to control a specific variable they see as an indicator of a problem. The Pull-out side sees how thoroughly some top down imperative could screw with the process of building a strong economy. The two sides don’t even need to disagree on the matter of climate change or the seriousness thereof.

In fact, climate is the only matter not up for debate on this one. The argument sits squarely in the economic ring. The Paris accord is about enforcing non-market pressures on the global economies to change their behavior. Drawing out of the accord is about avoiding the potential economic damage that might do. The problem here is that economic models are almost entirely useless. They are poor predictors of real world variables and no one can seem to agree on which ones to use. Therefore making your argument for or against the Paris accord in economic terms is accomplishes less than nothing.

Trump highlighted this fact by siting economic reasons to not ratify the accord, and those have mostly fallen on deaf ears. In a feat of mental gymnastics, one report called his numbers fake because they describe the economic impact assuming an actual execution of the plan set out be the Obama administration. Climate/economic models are at this point so defunct even those fighting for them don’t expect their execution in any meaningful manner.

 

Natural Divisions

We might imagine that this nation is comprised of two camps. These camps are separated by the unique methods of thought I’ve describe in previous posts as Outcome/Process and The Individualist/Loyalist. Allow me to pain a picture of these camps

The Process Loyalist is concerned with those directly around him. He politically leans towards conservative libertarian. He respects patriotism and sacrifice. He finds the actions of others who do not think like him childish. He would rather purchase a tool than a finished product. Be believes that negative outcomes can and often do come from good intentions. A fight with a friend doesn’t last long and rarely results hard feelings.

The Outcome Individualist is concerned with the greatest good for the most people. She leans towards Liberal Socialist. She respects fairness and charity. She finds the actions of those who do not think like her to be the results of moral failings or evil. She views the present as it might be written in a future history book. She believes she’s been far to fair to those who would hurt others, and maybe it’s time she took the gloves off. A fight with her friend will remain in the back of her mind for some time, occasionally causing a friendship to end.

If these two camps set up right next to each other on the bank of a river, I wonder how long they might stay. If they should come to disagree on some particulars of water usage or hunting rights, how might they resolve those disputes? It’s my guess that the tents from the individualist camp might one by one pull up their stakes and move across the river. The Process Loyalists might build a bridge to remain joined with the others, but would slowly find their tenuous unity with the sister camp slipping away.

It is natural for groups to divide. All living things do so, from cells to countries. When the gulf between groups grows too large, forcing unity only breeds contempt. If division is inevitable, it is the Process Loyalists who must let it happen. The Individualists are naturally prone to separate into smaller and smaller groups. It’s only the overbearing grip of the Loyalists that forces any further association.

Morality of Rejection

The individualist thinkers are identifiable by their reaction to outrage. On almost a weekly occurrence some poor soul is subjected to the game of public name and shame by the media. Most of the folks deserve it, some do not. Justified or not, the mechanism of public shaming is hugely effective, and highly individualistic.

You might at first think public shaming would be a tool of those who care about loyalty, but the use of shame to expel a member shows not strong group cohesion, but rather highly individualistic thinkers. For them, expulsion is the only course of action because the individual cannot be corrected.

To further exemplify this, think of the times public figures have been made to apologize for an inappropriate comment. Do their apologies ever rectify the situation? Do they often return to their original social standing and continue a productive career? Does the group attempt to remunerate the situation to retain the member? No, the member falls off the map. They are metaphorically expelled from the group even though they apologized because that is how the individualists deal with conflict.

It does interest me that individualists should even take such offense at transgressions against a group. Their interests are, namely, themselves. If the actions of one member don’t directly affect another, what cause do they have to react?

The answer lays in the adoption of a moral code. Morality, as a system of absolute right and wrong, is something that can only has a place in individualistic societies. A moral man might ask “What is right?”, while a tribesman must ask “What is right for my tribe?”

Appealing to a greater sense of morality while the tribe dies makes as little sense as appealing to the individual, who belongs to no one, to think of his tribe. Both modes of though must use their own metric to derive a code of conduct.

A tribe struggling for survival has less room for abstract morality and may often permit behaviors that would been seen as wrong to the individualist. It can also less afford to expel one of it’s members for transgressions that did not directly threaten the welfare of the tribe. The tribe would have to operate with high Loyalty and low morality.

The individualistic society operates on an abstract morality because it’s members have no tribe to protect. They have no life or death scenario by which to judge the rightness or wrongness of an action, so they must invent a code of conduct. When a member transgresses against this moral code, it is the same to them as a tribe member endangering the survival of his whole tribe.

Knowing this we can understand the behaviors of the individualist. We can see where they draw their lines and how they defend them. We can also understand why what is an atrocity to one man is a necessity to another.

Loyalty

I’ve noticed something that has always been true, but only recently been visible to me. There is a factor in personal relationships called loyalty, and it is strongly lacking. No, I don’t mean that in the cryptic facebook update complaining about your ex sort of way. I’m referring to a very specific social construct.

Loyalty is effect of two competing forces that happen to both result in strong social bonds. The first is the pressure for conformity. Fear of rejection, and ejection, from a social group breeds conformity. People’s differences are compressed and their similarities expanded. This allows the smooth integration of desperate individual personalities.

The second is pressure towards acceptance. If you eject too many people from the group, your group ceases to exist, so there is a very real need to accept differences between individuals. Aside from behaviors that directly threaten the group or break fundamental rules, errant behavior should not result in expulsion.

The reason I wrap these two forces up in the one term loyalty, is because that word holds a lot of emotional weight and our monkey brains understand the emotion better than the concept. With a loyal group you can have both the assurance that you will not be rejected and the impulse to correct your behavior. It’s high corrigibility mixed with absolute belonging.

The alternative to loyalty is individualism. With individualism, the first factor of conformity is rejected. The individual stands alone and unique. Efforts to change the individual are seen as attacks. The second factor, acceptance, though often touted as a pillar of the individualist society, is also rejected. In it’s place lays indifference in the guise of tolerance. People are only allowed to be different as long as they remain tolerable and do not offend an abstract sense of morality.

Divergence form this abstract morality is dealt with through isolation and disassociation. If you do not agree with the group, you leave it rather than try to change it. If the group does not agree with you, they expel you rather than try to change or accept you. Individualism is a solvent to society.

Restricted Access to Urges

I spend much of my time and mental energy making decisions. In a sense, making decisions is all anyone does, the rest is just twitching of muscle fiber. In this process of decision making I’ve come to identify a push pull between high-level desires that involve future reward and low-level urges that involve pretty immediate reward.

Then there is a third form of decision making that I’ve come to recognize recently, preventative behavior. It’s not really a different type, it’s really just a form of the high-level stuff, but it’s still interesting. Preventative decision making is anything that modifies behavior in such a way as to avoid being exposed to a choice in which low-level urges might come into play. Largely this stuff is socially conditioned.

It came to mind when I was thinking about the social taboo on infidelity and open relationships. I don’t strongly feel the urge to cheat, nor do I feel interest in an open relationship. What strikes me as odd about that is I don’t think I made a choice about either of those. I know on an urge level sex is highly persuasive, so it should seem like a decision that requires heavy high-level counter balance to keep me from succumbing to urges. But my only experience of the matter is general indifference.

And that’s because I’ve steered clear of the choice all together. Through a mix of social conditioning and personal commitment to uphold said conditioning, I’ve never come close to having to make an actual choice. If I expand on this idea, I realize that there’s a whole host of behaviors I’ve never even considered, not because I’ve chosen not to, but because I’ve chosen not to choose.

I don’t think I’d ever murder, but the truth is I’ve never made the choice not to murder. I have taken steps to avoid ever even coming close to thinking about it. I’d never rob, steal, assault, vandalize, or in other ways break the law. Not by choice, but by avoidance of choice.

It leads me to the question, is it possible that without this aversion to situations that might present me with unfavorable choices I’d have a very different set of behaviors? Are criminals evidence that just being presented the choice to break the law is enough to enter an unwinnable situation? Would we all do the same stupid things if presented with the opportunities on a daily basis?

The next question that should follow is: Do highly regulated social structures result in lower crime and impulsive behaviors? Does social conditioning actually work for this stuff?