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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Taleb corrects Pinker

He observes that Pinker has been fooled by randomness and The “Long Peace” is a Statistical Illusion:
When I finished writing The Black Swan, in 2006, I was confronted with ideas of “great moderation”, by people who did not realize that the process was getting fatter and fatter tails (from operational and financial, leverage, complexity, interdependence, etc.), meaning fewer but deeper departures from the mean. The fact that nuclear bombs explode less often that regular shells does not make them safer. Needless to say that with the arrival of the events of 2008, I did not have to explain myself too much. Nevertheless people in economics are still using the methods that led to the “great moderation” narrative, and Bernanke, the protagonist of the theory, had his mandate renewed.

Now to my horror I saw an identical theory of great moderation produced by Steven Pinker with the same naive statistically derived discussions (>700 pages of them!).
  1. I agree that diabetes is a bigger risk than murder --we are victims of sensationalism. But our suckerdom for overblown narratives of violence does not imply that the risks of large scale violent shocks have declined. (The same as in economics, people’s mapping of risks are out of sync and they underestimate large deviations). We are just bad at evaluating risks. 
  2. Pinker conflates nonscalable Mediocristan (death from encounters with simple weapons) with scalable Extremistan (death from heavy shells and nuclear weapons). The two have markedly distinct statistical properties. Yet he uses statistics of one to make inferences about the other. And the book does not realize the core difference between scalable/nonscalable (although he tried to define powerlaws). He claims that crime has dropped, which does not mean anything concerning casualties from violent conflict.
  3. Another way to see the conflation, Pinker works with a times series process without dealing with the notion of temporal homogeneity. Ancestral man had no nuclear weapons, so it is downright foolish to assume the statistics of conflicts in the 14th century can apply to the 21st. A mean person with a stick is categorically different from a mean person with a nuclear weapon, so the emphasis should be on the weapon and not exclusively on the psychological makup of the person.
  4. The statistical discussions are disturbingly amateurish, which would not be a problem except that the point of his book is statistical. Pinker misdefines fat tails by talking about probability not contribution of rare events to the higher moments; he somehow himself accepts powerlaws, with low exponents, but he does not connect the dots that, if true, statistics can allow no claim about the mean of the process. Further, he assumes that data reveals its properties without inferential errors. He talks about the process switching from 80/20 to 80/02, when the first has a tail exponent of 1.16, and the other 1.06, meaning they are statistically indistinguishable. (Errors in computation of tail exponents are at least .6, so this discussion is noise, and as shown in [1], [2], it is lower than 1. (It is an error to talk 80/20 and derive the statistics of cumulative contributions from samples rather than fit exponents; an 80/20 style statement is interpolative from the existing sample, hence biased to clip the tail, while exponents extrapolate.)
  5. He completely misses the survivorship biases (which I called the Casanova effect) that make an observation by an observer whose survival depends on the observation invalid probabilistically, or to the least, biased favorably. Had a nuclear event taken place Signor Pinker would not have been able to write the book.
  6. He calls John Gray’s critique “anecdotal”, yet it is more powerful statistically (argument of via negativa) than his >700 pages of pseudostats.
  7. Psychologically, he complains about the lurid leading people to make inferences about the state of the system, yet he uses lurid arguments to make his point.
  8. You can look at the data he presents and actually see a rise in war effects, comparing pre-1914 to post 1914.
  9. Recursing a Bit (Point added Nov 8): Had a book proclaiming The Long Peace been published in 1913-1934 it would carry similar arguments to those in Pinker’s book.
Taleb is using a different means to reach much the same conclusions I have. Again. Pinker is essentially applying the same "This Time It's Different" argument to violence that the mainstream economists applied to the dot com bubble, the housing boom, and the post-2008 "recovery".

Simplistic thinkers inevitably think in linear terms. They assume tomorrow will be like today because today was pretty much like yesterday. Both those who know history and those who understand probability understand that at some point in time, this will no longer be the case.

History is rife with long periods of peace and tranquility. Those are quite often the sections missing from the history books, because there was nothing much that was noteworthy to record. But human nature being what it is, sooner or later events always becoming more exciting, which usually means more bloody.

It's not hard to understand why there are fewer wars these days. Nuclear weapons have put an end to the post-French Revolutionary progress towards Ludendorffian total war. But that doesn't mean they will never be used or that Man will not find other means to fight cataclysmic wars. It's rather remarkable that anyone would make such abysmally stupid claims about the prospects for the continuation of the "Long Peace" when the USA is moving rapidly towards ethnic civil war, Europe is preparing for extreme ethnic cleansing, and the Dar al-Islam is in the process of uniting under a new and aggressive Caliphate even as the USA attempts to instigate war with Russia.

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59 Comments:

Blogger Nate March 15, 2015 8:28 AM  

I sincerely hope the cover of this book has an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Anonymous Salt March 15, 2015 8:41 AM  

History is rife with long periods of peace and tranquility

That's merely the long recuperation from the last violently episodic event.

Blogger pyrrhus March 15, 2015 8:52 AM  

There was such a book published in 1913 by Norman Angell, called the Great Illusion, which argued that there could not be a Great War. It won all kinds of prizes....Taleb's masterpiece, Anti-Fragile, pursues these practical statistical points about extreme results in detail, and is highly recommended.

Anonymous bub March 15, 2015 8:59 AM  

Perhaps the rabbits live in denial as a fear suppressor. In Noah's time, every day proceeded much the same as the day before, until one day the raindrops began to fall. In evolution, all of their theories rely on the constants beneficently bestowed by the great uniformitarian god. The rabbits build these walls out of fear and a lack of imagination, the fear of the coming of the wild hare.

Blogger Nate March 15, 2015 9:06 AM  

"History is rife with long periods of peace and tranquility."

I'm not even sure we have been in one of those periods at all. It seems to me that he's made the same mistake in the macro sense that he claims people make in the micro sense.

We worry about murder instead of diabetes he says... but he is looking for large scale dramatic war, ie murder, instead of small scale intense local conflict, ie diabetes.

WWII gets the headlines... but its the thousands of little wars going on all over the world that tell the real story.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2015 March 15, 2015 9:10 AM  

If you are a Christian living in Iraq you aren't going to be interested in convergence trending in extreme variation events. Likewise. Noah's flood, Sodom's Fires, Jerusalem's several sackings, Samson's death are extreme variation events. Doing justice to the Iraqi Christian's question "am I going to die" doesn't involve a global thesis by which the future of chaotic events can be better predicted tomorrow than it is today. Genuinely Chaotic systems suggest it can't.
Chaos may contain epicycles in particular parameters - still isn't helpful for predicting extinction level events; runaway destructive positive feedback.

People modelling the weather globally have been attempting the impossible I believe.

The best remedy for the future is to make it. [interesting article, thanks]

Anonymous ZhukovG March 15, 2015 9:13 AM  

People like to be told what they want to hear. Whether it deals with war and peace, economics or personal behavior. It is the Vox Days and Gandalfs, with their gloomy news, that are unwelcome in court.

"Ill news is and ill guest."
Grima Wormtongue

OpenID simplytimothy March 15, 2015 9:20 AM  

"Now Pinker is excusable. The practice is widespread in social science where academics use mechanistic techniques of statistics without understanding the properties of the statistical claims."

Mea-culpa. The ability to recognize patterns and push variables around until a 'problem' is 'solved' is what got me through a first course in differential equations. Lacking from that 'education' was

1. Fluency in proofs.
2. Geometric reasoning vs Algebraic reasoning.
3. A solid grasp of the origin of the principles and their use throughout history. i.e. why, who, how, when.
4. The ability to discern the "map" from the "thing"

Taleb (or Feynman) are examples of how do to it.

Note also the social dynamic in play. We have the educated (Taleb) vs the credentialed (Pinker).

Very inspiring.

Anonymous PA March 15, 2015 9:24 AM  

The nature of global war in the latter half of the twentieth century and continuing has been biological warfare by means of immigration and integration. The ethnic cleansing of major cities and genocide-level demographic impacts are reminiscent of great wars.

In an age of mass media and nukes, war by population replacement has been deemed least likely to blow back on the belligerents.

What makes this great demographic war unusual is that it's almost invariably involved the state attacking its own core population groups. Maybe the motive was nothing more epic than short-term gain (i.e., real estate churn) at the price of long-term harm.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus March 15, 2015 9:25 AM  

There are times of false peace when those who are prepared to lose provided it's slowly and peacefully duly lose, and those who are determined to take everything quietly take the half of the loaf that can be taken without too much resistance.

Then, for example, the field belongs to Queen Boudica, with much to avenge and the right temperament for that job, and to Romans determined to go all the way, without resistance if convenient but despite all possible resistance if necessary.

OpenID artisanaltoadshall March 15, 2015 9:30 AM  

Fat tails indeed. The world dodged the bullet in 2009 when Baxter Laboratories (which runs a biosafe 3 facility shipped 72 pounds of live flue virus to Europe to make flue vaccines. Of the 18 labs that received a portion of the shipment, only one tested it (on ferrets) and they all died. Subsequent investigation revealed that it was live flue virus and word was quickly passed so a pandemic was averted.

Nukes don't scare me nearly as much as scalar weapons. Only two events needs to take place to plunge the entire world into chaos and war and both involve scalar weapons. The first would be a massive eruption of Cumbre Vieja with a massive earthquake. That would kick a huge piece of rock into the Atlantic and six hours the eastern seaboard of the US would be destroyed by tidal waves. Especially New York City. There goes the world's financial system causing a derivatives explosion. The second is the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera. There goes the US breadbasket when world cereal grain stocks are at an all-time low.

Major powers would rush to fill the power vacuum, minor players would take advantage of what they could and the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse would ride.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus March 15, 2015 9:31 AM  

PA: "The nature of global war in the latter half of the twentieth century and continuing has been biological warfare by means of immigration and integration. The ethnic cleansing of major cities and genocide-level demographic impacts are reminiscent of great wars."

Yes.

And peaceful populations that were ultimately willing to lose if it was slow and not bloody are being pushed to destruction. On a city basis, many of them are already gone.

Meanwhile aggressive anti-whites, having gotten so much, are minded to take everything, and tolerate no resistance.

OpenID artisanaltoadshall March 15, 2015 9:37 AM  

PA
In an age of mass media and nukes, war by population replacement has been deemed least likely to blow back on the belligerents.

Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes caused by scalar weapons are considered acts of God. Nationalistic movements can go after immigrants but who can contend with the Lord? Scalar weapons are rarely even mentioned and are considered tinfoil hat conspiracy theory, yet they've been around for many decades.

Anonymous p-dawg March 15, 2015 9:41 AM  

Are you surprised that men would cry, "Peace! Peace!" when there is no peace? I'm not.

OpenID simplytimothy March 15, 2015 9:43 AM  

Maybe the motive was nothing more epic than short-term gain (i.e., real estate churn) at the price of long-term harm.

The motives of Plump Pleasant Plumber come to mind.

Anonymous Question from the floor March 15, 2015 9:45 AM  

How rapidly, do you suppose, are we approaching this "ethnic civil war?" 10 years? 100 years?

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 15, 2015 9:50 AM  

Always ask the question, "Why is this information produced?" For people like Pinker, that is easy, The Holocaust, so he blows some rhetoric out his ass like the great frauds Gould and voila social theory and stuff.

Also IMO much of the genocide campaign impetus comes from the Holocaust, but to our great fortune that campaign has turned to farce, its rhetoric laughable. Thank god for the blacks, and their campaigns to front the push for the religious impulse of human equality with the likes of Trayvon Martin and Gentle Giant.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey March 15, 2015 10:24 AM  

Exactly. This is an important point:

Simplistic thinkers inevitably think in linear terms. They assume tomorrow will be like today because today was pretty much like yesterday. Both those who know history and those who understand probability understand that at some point in time, this will no longer be the case.

I remember arguing with family, colleagues, and clients from 2000 to 2008 about the unsustainability of housing prices in Southern California. They believed prices would always go up--which they did not, with often disastrous results. Few people considered the downside. There was zero risk management.

Similarly, most Americans (including the country's power elites) continue to believe in the viability of the imperial mass immigrationist MultiKult project. To them, the idea of ethnic civil war--what some of us prefer to call "race war"--is simply unthinkable.

There is a certain type of mentality--which I think is quintessentially American--that is predisposed to this type of linear reasoning, denial of reality, and wishful thinking.

How rapidly, do you suppose, are we approaching this "ethnic civil war?" 10 years? 100 years?

Not soon enough. Let's get this party started.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey March 15, 2015 10:32 AM  

The nature of global war in the latter half of the twentieth century and continuing has been biological warfare by means of immigration and integration. The ethnic cleansing of major cities and genocide-level demographic impacts are reminiscent of great wars.

Very few people, I've discovered over the years, are apt to think this way. Whether it's from a lack or ability or lack of imagination, I don't know. It's this "noticing of patterns" (as Steve Sailer might say) that is so rare these days.

Blogger rycamor March 15, 2015 10:36 AM  

The siren song of extrapolation... Midwits really believe extrapolation is prophecy.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey March 15, 2015 10:41 AM  

The nature of global war in the latter half of the twentieth century and continuing has been biological warfare by means of immigration and integration. The ethnic cleansing of major cities and genocide-level demographic impacts are reminiscent of great wars.

Very few people, I've discovered over the years, are apt to think this way. Whether it's from a lack or ability or lack of imagination, I don't know. It's this "noticing of patterns" (as Steve Sailer might say) that is so rare these days.

Blogger automatthew March 15, 2015 10:45 AM  

There's a related idea in an old Gene Wolfe story, "The Peace Spy", which is more spec-fic, than sci-fi. As is typical with Wolfe, it is subtle and less than straightforward.

The surface story is about a Soviet woman, the daughter of some high Party official, who has made herself a voluntary hostage against nuclear weapons in some large U.S. city. Young Americans have done the same for the U.S.S.R. The world is thus freed from the fear of nuclear war, but also freed from the constraints of Mutual Assured Destruction.

From an analyis by Marc Aramini:

The political message of the story is actually fairly deep: now that there
are hostages in the two countries against the threat of nuclear war, the
nations have nothing to fear … and is revealed in the final line, without
that fear, even though it really hasn’t been mentioned explicitly, the
world is now at war, with the Russians actually marching towards France. For
the majority of the story, it seemed as if the world were now at peace
thanks to this bold and self-sacrificing move, but it served to prevent
only the threat of total annihilation and not war.

...

The motives of the United States and the Soviet Union are actually
marginally altruistic at first glance in this story – they want to avoid
the final nuclear war at all cost, so they keep “voluntary” hostages of the
other side, something which seemed fine to the main character, Sonja, until
loneliness and another purpose enter her mind. The United States is
reluctant to let her leave, and she willingly destroyed her passport on
arrival. However, since the Secretary of the Navy has stopped sending
money to his daughter, and there is war blossoming, it seems that the
nations simply want war without the threat of mutual assured destruction.


Anonymous nil March 15, 2015 10:45 AM  

To be fair to Pinker, his claim is that violence has declined, not that it will continue to decline. Whatever his statistical errors acknowledges that the decline in violence is not guaranteed to continue, and never makes the prediction that it will.

Blogger James Dixon March 15, 2015 10:47 AM  

Simply ask yourself: Have people changed? Have the weapons they have access to gotten more or less powerful?

The answers to those two simple questions will tell you all you need to know about this theory.

Anonymous kfg March 15, 2015 10:52 AM  

"How rapidly, do you suppose, are we approaching this "ethnic civil war?" "

When is your house going to burn down due to an electrical short?

The tinder is already laid down, all it will take is the right spark. The spark itself cannot be easily predicted.

I'll predict this though, the longer it is before the fire gets started, the more logs are going to be on it, thus the longer and hotter it will burn. That's one reason there are those anxious for the party to get started.

Anonymous Anubis March 15, 2015 11:08 AM  

The biggest differences between the risks of diabetes and murder is the ability of the individual to control each. This blog's audience ranges from +1SD to statistical outliers however the people that believe in equality think we are as likely to take out a 500%+ APR payday loan as a black government worker. While the act of flossing has been given credit for a large benefit, no one would put forth a similar claim about using your hands as toilet paper and its negative effects on IQ. If nothing else everyone on this blog should have a years supply of emergency food in case of a Yellowstone caldera event even if its only the horrible "1year supply of survival food for $300" set up which just covers your basic macronutrient requirements.

Anonymous Salt March 15, 2015 11:43 AM  

That's one reason there are those anxious for the party to get started

Also, a cache of ammo is a terrible thing to hold and never use.

Anonymous kfg March 15, 2015 12:04 PM  

Epitaph: They laughed at me when I had my shotgun fitted with a bayonet, until they ran out of slugs before they ran out of zombies.

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber March 15, 2015 12:08 PM  

I'll go with the big spark theory. Humanity is violent. Rabbits insist otherwise. Obama is trying his best to start the fire. All that really has to happen is am Islamic attack on something we hold sacred, like a school. You see, the democratic party is composed of marxists and Islamo appeasers. Yeppers, when we have to fight back, well, we'll have to relocate the lot. In anew ethnic civil war, folks don't take prisoners.

OpenID artisanaltoadshall March 15, 2015 12:18 PM  

The shooting starts within 72 hours of a widespread banking system shutdown (especially EBT cards). I think I could argue that the 17 state EBT card failure (Xerox corp contract) was a test to see what would happen. In the old south the police had to guard stores and at least one WallyWorld closed its doors because of the very vibrant mood of ugliness.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 15, 2015 12:40 PM  

I sincerely hope the cover of this book has an ostrich with its head in the sand.

With an ISIS guy standing next to it holding a scimitar. Maybe a few other folks in line to take a hack at the bird too.

Anonymous Aeoli March 15, 2015 12:47 PM  

@nil,

Your defense might be plausible if not for the title and subtitle of the book.

Anyway, hven't read it and don't intend to. Life's too short to inflict nonsense on myself, and my eyes work just fine.

Blogger Doom March 15, 2015 12:49 PM  

I have never been sure, why, but I concur. Does man get bored? I mean, peace pays, but it sucks. Long bouts of nothing, really. Well, there is civility, but what challenge is that. It is as playing cards compared to playing football. And, when men haven't seen the horrors of war, they honestly don't remember why not. War is also one way for a specific pack of men to break the system and gain access not otherwise afforded.

As to the theory that a major war between nuclear powers would be the end of man... I wonder how many warrior, even scientific and political, minds would like to know if that is true? Dreadful as it is, I am curious. Without complete, abject, horror at the thought, curiosity will eventually be tested. As a child and the electrical outlet, or crossing the busy street, or other such. Hate me all you want, but I am curios. Always have been. I don't know how many times I risked being run over, but I know of one even if I was too young to personally remember it. The kindly old lady stopped for my German Shepherd, who ran into the road and forced her to slam on her breaks, because she didn't see me. It's just the way. I highly doubt if I am alone in that.

Well, and it seems that the civil world becomes so stated and corrupt that goodness requires it to be broken and reset. Whether it is lack of access for good (or bad) players, a stifling air about rotten cities and states the crushes men to dust, or the old evil that seems to build on itself until it chokes out anything good, decent, natural to men. Gotta plow that field, perhaps burn and salt it, from time to time... or face becoming a nothing cog in a murderous evil system of oppression. It has to happen, eventually. Look for a time when powerful actors realize they have been cut off at the knees, which is underway. A good break-bad point.

Anonymous Full-Fledged Fiasco March 15, 2015 12:50 PM  

"To be fair to Pinker..."

No, let's not be fair to Pinker:

1. Kill Popular Science

2. Blacks with Bullets Embedded in Bone

Anonymous Bob March 15, 2015 12:56 PM  

Instigate war with Russia?

Well hell yes... this administration will gladly push any button available to get the light-colored humans to fight each other, preferably to extinction, or at least as close as possible to extinction.

It can;t be that hard to figure out.

Anonymous BigGaySteve March 15, 2015 1:00 PM  

Statistical outliers, you guys have no idea how horrible it was being a gay guy that knew what a black swan event is when the movie Black Swan came out. When I first heard about it, I was at a bar & I went up and said "I couldn't help but overhear you talking about a black swan event, can you tell me what is going on. : Oh its coming out next week." Needless to say until it stopped being shown in theaters I was being taunted by the possibility of intelligent conversation in places where it was not uncommon to see someone snorting cocaine off a table.

"I think I could argue that the 17 state EBT card failure (Xerox corp contract) was a test to see what would happen."

I think White Girl Bleed A Lot has some of the videos from that event. When Sandy hit NYC there where people with nice cloths dumpster diving for food 2 days after despite having a weeks notice. They could have at least picked up enough granola bars to hold off dumpster diving until 3 days after. Even worse Nanny Bloomers turned away the national guards help & had his crony get a no bid contract for 100 ambulances with 2 EMTS each that just stayed in place for 5 days. Even the village voice had bad words for that blunder. http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/dgreenfield/how-obamas-fema-criminally-botched-the-hurricane-recovery-effort/
If either of those 2 bad decisions had not been made the outbreak of meningitis post Sandy in NYC gays traced back to a bath house might not have been so bad. I fled from a diverse city to a Whitopia.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 15, 2015 1:14 PM  

I'm not even sure we have been in one of those periods [of peace] at all...he is looking for large scale dramatic war, ie murder, instead of small scale intense local conflict, ie diabetes...WWII gets the headlines... but its the thousands of little wars going on all over the world that tell the real story.

What he means by "peace" is no war is hitting close enough to home that college profesors in Boston face real consequences for taking an idiotic stand on it. He can continue spouting his party-approved rhetoric without any worry someone will shoot him as a traitor. Brown people killing themselves in places no one is ever going to hold an international symposium on psycholinguistics might object to his comments, but they're never (for some definitions of "never" anyway) going to be a threat to him...

Anonymous Augustina March 15, 2015 1:29 PM  

Pinker also massages historical data to make past violent conflicts look worse, so that the horrors of 20th century progressivism don't look so bad in comparison.

One example is how he inflates the numbers of dead as a result of the An Lushan rebellion in the Tang Dynasty in 755 AD. Here I will just quote wikipedia.

" Some scholars have interpreted the difference in the census figures as implying the deaths of 36 million people, about two-thirds of the population of the empire. This figure was used in Steven Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature, where it is presented as proportionally the largest atrocity in history with the loss of a sixth of the world's population at that time,[17] though Pinker noted that the figure was controversial.[18]

Historians such as Charles Patrick Fitzgerald argue that a claim of 36 million deaths is incompatible with contemporary accounts of the war.[19] They point out that the numbers recorded on the post-war registers reflect not only population loss, but also a breakdown of the census system, as well as the removal from the census figures of various classes of untaxed persons, such of those in religious orders, foreigners, and merchants.[20] For these reasons, census numbers for the post-rebellion Tang are considered unreliable."

This is kind of like how global warmists try to get rid of the Medieval Warming Period so that the 20th century warming looks bad by comparison.

Manipulating historical data and controlling the narrative is one of the many ways progressives lie. I don't trust lefty books at all.

Anonymous Jack Amok March 15, 2015 1:29 PM  

Well, and it seems that the civil world becomes so stated and corrupt that goodness requires it to be broken and reset

Doom, here's what I think happens. It has to do with relating Taleb's slightly incorrect comment that "We are just bad at evaluating risks" with Vox's "Simplistic thinkers inevitably think in linear terms. They assume tomorrow will be like today because today was pretty much like yesterday."

Taleb is slightly incorrect in that only most of "us" are bad at evaluating risk (and perhaps that's simply because most people are too uncomfortable with risk to think about it very clearly). Some of us aren't too bad at evaluating risk. But now on to Vox's comment.

The thing is, tomorrow is going to be pretty much like today, until it isn't. But until it isn't, people who ignore risk have an advantage. They're not investing in mitigations for potential disasters. Once the disaster comes of course, they're wiped out, but until then, they prosper and rise in power and influence.

Society in a time of war, confusion and turmoil is ruled by hard-headed men who make cold calculations. In extended times of calm, we get clowns that tell people what they want to hear.

Anonymous nil March 15, 2015 1:37 PM  

Your defense might be plausible if not for the title and subtitle of the book.

Me: his book argues that violence has declined, not that it will continue to decline

the title: "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined"

don't see what the issue is

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber March 15, 2015 1:41 PM  

Well, history clearly shows that violence is the most effective way to change. Professionally applied violence has always worked. Always. Those who argue otherwise end up dead anyways. If civil order breaks down, the it's the law of the .308. You see, there's a whole group of thugs who think that they'll get ahead in a riot situation. Actually, the police are protecting them. High velocity rifle rounds are serious business. You can bleed out quickly from a leg wound. Especially if EMS refuses to enter the shooting scene. If thugs want to act like feral dogs, oh well.....yeah, cut off their food. How many of them understand that they may never see the sniper that is killing them? I personally believe that the Islamist will destroy a school, like the Chechnya rebels. Americans are extremely violent. Marxists don't really understand that.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper March 15, 2015 1:49 PM  

One thing I've noticed is that folks like Pinker are prone to ignore the effects of technology entirely in both the nukes our host mentioned and that of medicine. This is an old article on UPI http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2002/10/04/Recent-research-suggests/68691033752503/ but it makes a very salient point, modern medicine makes wounds that would have killed not many years ago, much less lethal.

The above article suggests a 4 fold reduction in the actual death rate and yes this includes edged weapons and blunt weapons not just firearms. That doesn't mean we there is any less violence , just that less people die from it.

As antibiotics cease to work I fully expect this to see number increase though unless political hay can be made of it, the numbers will be jiggered.

As to what Bob suggested, no doubt the White people enemies and rivals and their elite would love to see us destroy one another but a large scale war is highly unlikely simply because the Russians have enough nukes to sanitize the planet . This means there is no bolt hole for anyone to hide in and from what I understand of the Russian character , it doesn't matter if the nation they are hiding in has no nukes or even a military. They are getting some too.

A large scale conventional war is vaguely possible I suppose but also a little too risky. Whats going on with that is a great many of the 50 to 60 year old crowd are still stuck in the comfortingly easy to understand Cold War.

hat old Upton Sinclair quote (IIRC) about not being able to teach someone something their job depends on them not knowing applies here also the real wars against invasion of the West by hostile foreigners and Islam and our own Leftist elite are terrifying to even think about and more importantly, they take place here not in some far off place.

Getting peoples head into the real game is possible but its not easy and its just getting started anyway, Europe is of course way ahead but no one is ready for the fight.

Anonymous kfg March 15, 2015 1:49 PM  

"High velocity rifle rounds are serious business."

Moreover, in that sort of civil unrest, the non-regulars are not going to be restricting themselves to Geneva Convention approved rounds.

They're gonna run what they brung.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus March 15, 2015 1:54 PM  

Jack Amok: "They're not investing in mitigations for potential disasters. Once the disaster comes of course, they're wiped out, but until then, they prosper and rise in power and influence."

They can do well after that too, if they insist that they are victims, and use their political influence to see that they, the aggressive and reckless, are bailed out at the expense of the thrifty, the honest and the cautious.

For example, those who lived large and made windfall profits rolling over properties might be made good at the expense of those who lived small and rented.

When this kind of "humanitarian" intervention prevails, disasters won't squeeze imprudence out of the market. On the contrary, every bailout (with no crooks going to jail) provides more proof that the honest and the humble are suckers.

The Tea Party was a protest against this. It was utterly defeated. (The Tea Partiers were white, so it was easy to call them racist.)

Woe unto the nation whose leaders favor grasshoppers and squeeze the ants.

Anonymous Orville March 15, 2015 2:16 PM  



As to the theory that a major war between nuclear powers would be the end of man... I wonder how many warrior, even scientific and political, minds would like to know if that is true?
I'm of the opinion that a major nuke war will not wipe out mankind because much of the modeling of fallout disbursement is based on the same kind of climatological scientistry that foretells our doom from warming.

If uniforms show up instead of Putin, we may yet find out.

Anonymous Orville March 15, 2015 2:17 PM  

Synchronicity! The captcha on my post above was "Moscow".

Anonymous Jack Amok March 15, 2015 2:24 PM  

They can do well after that too, if they insist that they are victims, and use their political influence to see that they, the aggressive and reckless, are bailed out at the expense of the thrifty, the honest and the cautious.

No, you're still thinking about a tomorrow where there's something with which to bail them out. One of these days is going to dawn with a truly bare cupboard if these fools remain in charge.

Blogger Bruce Lewis March 15, 2015 2:36 PM  

artisanaltoadshall: What are "scalar weapons"? An Internet search yields mostly BS. Are such things real?

Anonymous A.B. Prosper March 15, 2015 2:40 PM  

Orville, its not so much that nukes are a human level extinction event from fallout but one that destroys all civilization and everything we built.

The Russians alone have enough weapons to target every significant habitable area on the Earth with enough to spare for every food producing area as well. I doubt these are salted weapons but that's no matter,

Having the human race reduced to a few bands of hunter gatherers or a few low tech farmers is little comfort to the billions who would die in a real nuclear war.

Anonymous The other skeptic March 15, 2015 3:13 PM  

I personally believe that the Islamist will destroy a school, like the Chechnya rebels.

You mean like in Forstchen's latest novel?

Anonymous Giuseppe March 15, 2015 3:28 PM  

Wait...you mean yet another economist has his head firmly up his ass?

Colour me shocked

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber March 15, 2015 3:41 PM  

Yeah, folks around the world really don't understand just how murderous Americans really are. We'll find out.

Blogger Noah B March 15, 2015 4:42 PM  

"Also, a cache of ammo is a terrible thing to hold and never use."

Same goes for the bags of lime.

Blogger ScuzzaMan March 15, 2015 4:47 PM  

I'm not so quick to leap to the "Pinker mistakes this for that ... " style of conclusion. I recognise that Taleb exercises a degree of professional courtesy in so doing, but I am not bound by either the norms of his profession nor the strictures of his own worldview.

Pinker is a court intellectual. His job is not to reveal the truth to the benighted masses - heaven forfend! - but to manufacture plausible-seeming fairy stories to maintain the masses in their benighted and docile state. To "explain" to them why the Emperor is divinely appointed to rule over them, why this is good and proper, and why they should be grateful that the emperor shoulders this horrific burdens of deciding how they should live, whom they should kill, and when they should die.

He is doing his job. The more he convinced people like taleb that he really believes his own stories, the better he is doing his job.

But I dont give him the benefit of that doubt, not for a moment.

It matters not one whit that a genius like Taleb might disembowel the whole shaky edifice with a searing critique of Pinker's mistakes. Indeed, by calling them mistakes Taleb is actually helping to perpetuate the notion of a benevolent dictatorship, just trying to promulgate peace through superior firepower.

To which I say, fuck that.

Perhaps seven people will read and comprehend Taleb's critique; millions of voters will hear about Pinker's idiot conclusions on the nine o'clock news.

Job done.

Alas, even fewer will read my own towering intellectual contribution ... oh! da 'umanity!

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber March 15, 2015 4:51 PM  

Nope, if it goes the way I think it will, well just have to fire up the old backhoe. There won't be any questions about why they got shot. Just public health concerns. Just think, all those thugs hiding behind cars, just like Hollywood taught them😂. You see, the police have been protecting the thugs. All those free range thugs, just wandering around. There really aren't that many serious ones. They're the ones who will be wearing body armor of some sort, hanging around in the background.

Blogger Plump Pleasant Plumber March 15, 2015 4:54 PM  

ScuzzaMan I reckon the best way to look at it is LUPO. Lying until proven otherwise.

Anonymous JI March 15, 2015 5:56 PM  

Good article. Drives me a bit crazy when people, usually media types, confuse rare events with things like 6-sigma events. Taleb is not talking about events that are part of the same statistical process; he's talking about a different process intervening. Unless that is accounted for in one's statistical model, one's model will be just plain wrong.

Blogger Corvinus March 15, 2015 5:59 PM  

I personally believe that the Islamist will destroy a school, like the Chechnya rebels.

Not sure about that... the Beslan business ended up being horrible PR for the Chechens. To use Lind's terminology, it was an epic disaster at the moral level. The Chechens since have been "Germanized", i.e., most of them are extremely sensitive about being associated with terrorists in the same way Germans are sensitive about being associated with Nahtzees. (The reactions of the Tsarnaev bros' families was one example.)

Using Yazidi girls as sex slaves doesn't disgust people nearly as much as murdering children.

Anonymous Heaviside March 15, 2015 7:17 PM  

Most of what you will find on the internet about "scalar waves" is chock-full of BS.

Here's one non-BS account of them:

http://lit.jinr.ru/Reports/SC_report_10-11/p194.pdf

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