Month: February 2016

Venting about Election 2016

The presidential candidates have been at it (name-calling) for months. It’s my turn now.

Trump’s dissing of his opponents and ideas that are disagreeable to him is refreshing, though I sample it through the filter of the written word. I am repelled by Trump’s appearance, manners, and mannerisms. His mouth often assumes a circular shape, the significance of which I leave to the dirty-minded among you.

In the spirit of equal opportunity, I can honestly say that Hillary is repulsive, too. She reminds me of a grounded parade float. And she’s so obviously honest and sincere that she’s sure to become a saint (in the church of holy baloney). It would serve Hillary right if she goes to jail for mishandling of classified material while Bill continues to roam free despite his mishandling of women.

Bernie Sanders reminds me of a former neighbor who proclaimed himself a Marxist (despite his upscale abode). He’s an ignoramus who sees the economy as a zero-sum game, when in fact it’s a cooperative enterprise that (generally) rewards people for the value of their contributions. (I’m confess that I can’t find any value in the contributions of Lady Gaga, rap singers, and most contemporary “entertainers.”) But Bernie wouldn’t know anything about that because, like Hillary, he hasn’t actually worked for a living in decades. He has a soft spot in his heart for those who feed at the public trough because he’s one of them. It’s surprising that Bernie doesn’t attract a larger share of the black vote. I guess that’s because Hillary is married to the first black president.

Put Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in a blender and you might get one formidable candidate, someone with brains and likability. As it is, Cruz and Rubio seem destined to finish second and third to Trump in most of the primary races, which means that Trump may lock up the GOP nomination before the convention.

It seems that election 2016 won’t come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils — not with Trump and Hillary as the choices. Not that it really matters to me. I live in Texas, where almost any Republican (even Trump) is bound to win. So I look forward to election day, when it’s likely to be warm and sunny in my part of Texas (the central part). I’ll probably spend the day outside, doing something useful like cutting brush.

Signs of Age

This is a long post, but it demands absolutely no thought on the reader’s part.

I remember when —

“Turn of the century” meant “around 1900.”

Events were recent if they happened after World War II.

An old movie was released before 1940.

An old car was made before 1940.

An antique car was made before 1920.

The Saturday matinee cost 5₵ and engendered spirited games of “cowboys and Indians” and “war,” replete with cap guns and politically incorrect epithets.

Cap guns and BB guns were given as gifts and confiscated only when they were misused.

Children who misbehaved were spanked. Serious misbehavior merited a few whacks with a belt applied to a bare bottom. The mere threat of a spanking inspired good behavior.

There was a difference between private and public behavior. One didn’t do or say in public what was properly confined to the home (and to the bedroom).

Hockey players were bare-headed, and were penalized for board-checking.

A long baseball game lasted more than two hours.

Communists were (rightly) considered enemies, not just people who were exercising the right of free speech.

Most Democrats were anti-communist and pro-defense.

Most Southerners were Democrats.

People went to the polls to vote on election day (not before) and weren’t barraged by telephone polls.

You could have any phone you liked, as long as it was black, wired, heavy, and had a rotary dial (or maybe not).

A garage was just wide enough for a Model A Ford with its doors half-open.

You could listen to music by going to a night club, going to the movies, turning on the radio, or playing a record on the Victrola — and that was it, unless there was a musician in the house.

There wasn’t any gore in movies, even war movies.

“Charlie Chan” wasn’t considered racist and was played (with dignity) by Anglos.

Grandma had outdoor plumbing, pumped water from the ground, bathed in a large galvanized tub, kept perishable food in an icebox about the size of a mini-bar, and cooked on a wood-burning range.

Lawn mowers didn’t have engines and weren’t operated by immigrants from Latin America.

Cars had running boards.

Male teachers wore suits and female teachers wore ladies’ suits or dresses when they were teaching.

Libraries were quiet.

Adults didn’t talk during movies.

War was waged until the enemy surrendered.

Factory workers were grimy by shift’s end.

People who worked standing up or with their hands vastly outnumbered people who worked at desks.

There were secretaries who typed what other people wrote by hand or dictated to them.

Office computing machines weighed 30 pounds and took several noisy seconds to do simple arithmetic.

College students were mainly interested in grades and sex, and few of them had a political opinion.

When people smoked, they smoked tobacco.

There was a dish full of candy on the coffee table.

The center of home entertainment was either a piano or a console radio.

A city child walked to and from school if he lived within 2 miles of it.

Mothers stayed at home to care for their children and keep house.

Summer vacation didn’t end in the middle of summer.

Cars were cars, not gussied up panel trucks.

Pickup trucks were driven by people who did actual work, like farming and ranching.

Colleges were run by college presidents, not gangs of students.

Baseball players wore their socks long and their pants short, for the simple reason that it made running easier.

Baseball gloves weren’t the size of bushel baskets.

Baseball bats were about 3 feet long, weighed about 3 pounds, and seldom broke.

Basketball players wore shorts, not baggy pants with short legs.

A&P was the biggest grocery chain.

Coffee was brewed in a stove-top percolator.

People quit riding bicycles when they graduated from high school or college.

A driver signaled a turn by putting his left arm out the window. Forearm up meant right turn; arm straight out meant left turn; forearm down meant stopping (from the days before brake lights).

It was legal to drive with only one working tail light if it was on the driver’s side of the car.

New license plates were issued annually, and plates were coded to indicate the county of issuance.

Children were ashamed when their parents divorced.

Children were ashamed when their parents weren’t married in the first place (which was a rare thing).

The Mass was always said in Latin.

Nuns wore floor-length habits and their hair was completely hidden.

Nurses wore white uniforms with skirts, starched white caps, white stockings, and white shoes.

Dentists’ drills ran at a low speed and weren’t water-cooled.

Barbers used hand-operated clippers and asked you what kind of hair oil to apply. They also smoked while cutting hair, and exchanged off-color jokes with older patrons.

If the ice man didn’t deliver to your house, you could go to his stand to buy a block of ice.

The milk man delivered milk in glass bottles.

The coal man backed into your driveway and dropped a load of coal through the coal chute and into your coal bin.

Allowance was earned by cutting the grass, raking leaves, and shoveling coal into the furnace.

The insurance man came to your house to collect the life-insurance premium.

Grandparents were old, sedate, and usually had gray or white hair.

The loudest movie was quieter than almost every kind of “entertainment” now carried on radio, TV, and the internet.

Four-letter words were never uttered over the air or in movies (with the notable but mild exception of one word in GWTW).

Most adult males had served in the armed forces.

An office-seeker proudly proclaimed that he was a veteran.

Male centenarians were usually veterans of the Civil War.

Gas stations sold gas for 10₵ a gallon and dispensed air at no charge.

For a nickel, a Coke machine dispensed Coke (and nothing but Coke) in a green, 8-ounce, glass bottle.

The only kind of water-flotation device seen on a beach was a (usually patched) inner tube.

All auto and bike tires had inner tubes, which were frequently punctured.

Almost every car in the U.S. was made by Ford, GM, or Chrysler.

Most GM and Chrysler cars had straight-8 or straight-6 engines. (My first car was a straight-8 Buick.)

Babe Ruth was a hero to all boys, even those who hated the Yankees.

Basketball was the sport of last resort, played (indoors) only when it was too cold for baseball or football. And football was strictly seasonal (a fall spot). Baseball was the game for all seasons but winter.

Every boy had a glove, a baseball, and a bat. Few had a football; fewer still, a basketball.

Thinkers vs. Doers

There’s a mythical dividing line between thinkers and doers. It’s true that there are thinkers who can’t do practical things very well, and doers who don’t think very well. But real doers must think, and think well.

Thinkers are exemplified by pundits and academicians who expound grandiloquently on such matters as the “evils” of capitalism and the “virtues” of socialism (though they usually don’t cal it that). Their pronouncements mask a kind of “penis envy” that’s aimed at the real doers of this world. Such thinkers survive mainly because they are able to trade their verbal facility for incomes that enable them to buy posh homes, fancy cars, fine dining, opera tickets, and so on. Their cushy lives are made possible the surpluses of the capitalist system that they deplore. They are crony anti-capitalists.

The gene pool in which intellectuals spawn was enriched by the survival of the physically and mentally fittest, who didn’t have the option of talking their way out of the dangers posed by the elements and predators (human and otherwise). Life isn’t as fraught for today’s doers — people who produce actual products and services. But doers nevertheless have to think rather carefully and well in order to succeed in the world of commerce.

I have been a subsidized thinker and an unsubsidized doer. Take it from me that doing is not only hard work, but doing well in the world of commerce is every bit as mentally demanding as riskless thinking and pontificating.

Intelligence, Personality, Politics, and Happiness (re-post)

I am re-posting this, by popular demand. It’s identical to the updated original.

This post is a collection and refinement of related posts at my earlier blog, Liberty Corner (with updated links). Each section of this post carries the same title as the original post at Liberty Corner. “IQ and Personality” is and has been, by far, the most popular of my Liberty Corner posts, so I give the eponymous section the place of honor in this post.

Web pages that link to this post usually consist of a discussion thread whose participants’ views of the post vary from “I told you so” to “that doesn’t square with me/my experience” or “MBTI is all wet because…”.  Those who take the former position tend to be persons of above-average intelligence whose MBTI types correlate well with high intelligence. Those who take the latter two positions tend to be persons who are defensive about their personality types, which do not correlate well with high intelligence. Such persons should take a deep breath and remember that high intelligence (of the abstract-reasoning-book-learning kind measured by IQ tests) is widely distributed throughout the population. As I say below, ” I am not claiming that a small subset of MBTI types accounts for all high-IQ persons, nor am I claiming that a small subset of MBTI types is populated entirely by high-IQ persons.” All I am saying is that the bits of evidence which I have compiled suggest that high intelligence is more likely — but far from exclusively — to be found among persons with certain MBTI types.

The correlations between intelligence, political leanings, and happiness are admittedly more tenuous. But they are plausible.

Leftists who proclaim themselves to be more intelligent than persons of the right do so, in my observation, as a way of reassuring themselves of the superiority of their views. They have no legitimate basis for claiming that the ranks of highly intelligent persons are dominated by the left. Leftist “intellectuals” in academia, journalism, the “arts,” and other traditional haunts of leftism are prominent because they are vocal. But they comprise a small minority of the population and should not be mistaken for typical leftists, who seem mainly to populate the ranks of the civil service, labor unions, the teaching “profession,” and the unemployed. (It is worth noting that public-school teachers, on the whole, are notoriously dumber than most other college graduates.)

Again, I am talking about general relationships, to which there are many exceptions. If you happen to be an exception, don’t take this post personally. You’re probably an exceptional person.

IQ AND PERSONALITY

Some years ago I came across some statistics about the personality traits of high-IQ persons (those who are in the top 2 percent of the population).* The statistics pertain to a widely used personality test called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which I have taken twice. In the MBTI there are four pairs of complementary personality traits, called preferences: Extraverted/Introverted, Sensing/iNtuitive, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. Thus, there are 16 possible personality types in the MBTI: ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ESFP, and so on. (For an introduction to MBTI, summaries of types, criticisms of MBTI, and links to other sources, see this article at Wikipedia. A straightforward description of the theory of MBTI and the personality traits can be found here. Detailed descriptions of the 16 types are given here.)

In summary, here is what the statistics indicate about the correlation between personality traits and IQ:

  • Other personality traits being the same, an iNtuitive person (one who grasps patterns and seeks possibilities) is 25 times more likely to have a high IQ than a Sensing person (one who focuses on sensory details and the here-and-now).
  • Again, other traits being the same, an Introverted person is 2.6 times more likely to have a high IQ than one who is Extraverted; a Thinking (logic-oriented) person is 4.5 times more likely to have a high IQ than a Feeling (people-oriented) person; and a Judging person (one who seeks closure) is 1.6 times as likely to have a high IQ than a Perceiving person (one who likes to keep his options open).
  • Moreover, if you encounter an INTJ, there is a 22% probability that his IQ places him in the top 2 percent of the population. (Disclosure: I am an INTJ.) Next are INTP, at 14%; ENTJ, 8%; ENTP, 5%; and INFJ, 5%. (The next highest type is the INFP at 3%.) The  five types (INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, and INFJ) account for 78% of the high-IQ population but only 15% of the total population.**
  • Four of the five most-intelligent types are NTs, as one would expect, given the probabilities cited above. Those same probabilities lead to the dominance of INTJs and INTPs, which account for 49% of the Mensa membership but only 5% of the general population.**
  • Persons with the S preference bring up the rear, when it comes to taking IQ tests.**

A person who encountered this post when it was at Liberty Corner claims that “one would expect to see the whole spectrum of intelligences within each personality type.” Well, one does see just that, but high intelligence is skewed toward the five types listed above. I am not claiming that a small subset of MBTI types accounts for all high-IQ persons, nor am I claiming that a small subset of MBTI types is populated entirely by high-IQ persons.

I acknowledge reservations about MBTI, such as those discussed in the Wikipedia article. An inherent shortcoming of psychological tests (as opposed to intelligence tests) is that they rely on subjective responses (e.g., my favorite color might be black today and blue tomorrow). But I do not accept this criticism:

[S]ome researchers expected that scores would show a bimodal distribution with peaks near the ends of the scales, but found that scores on the individual subscales were actually distributed in a centrally peaked manner similar to a normal distribution. A cut-off exists at the center of the subscale such that a score on one side is classified as one type, and a score on the other side as the opposite type. This fails to support the concept of type: the norm is for people to lie near the middle of the subscale.[6][7][8][33][42]

Why was “it was expected” that scores on a subscale (E/I, S/N, T/F, J/P) would show a bimodal distribution? How often does one encounter a person who is at the extreme end of any subscale? Not often, I wager, except in places where such extremes are likely to be clustered (e.g., Extraverts in acting classes, Introverts in monasteries). The cut-off at the center of each subscale is arbitrary; it simply affords a shorthand characterization of a person’s dominant traits. But anyone who takes an MBTI (or equivalent instrument) is given his scores on each of the subscales, so that he knows the strength (or weakness) of his tendencies.

Regarding other points of criticism: It is possible, of course, that a person who is familiar with MBTI tends to see in others the characteristics of their known MBTI types (i.e., confirmation bias). But has that tendency been confirmed by rigorous testing? Such testing would examine the contrary case, that is, the ability of a person to predict the type of a person whom he knows well (e.g., a co-worker or relative). The supposed vagueness of the descriptions of the 16 types arises from the complexity of human personality; but there are differences among the descriptions, just as there are differences among individuals. According to a footnote to an earlier version of the Wikipedia article about MBTI, half of the persons who take the MBTI are able to guess their types before taking it. Does that invalidate MBTI or does it point to a more likely phenomenon, namely, that introspection is a personality-related trait, one that is more common among Introverts than Extraverts? A good MBTI instrument cuts through self-deception and self-flattery by asking the same set of questions in many different ways, and in ways that do not make any particular answer seem like the “right” one.

My considerable exposure to high-IQ scientists in 30 years of working with them is suggestive. Most of them seemed to exhibit the traits of INTJs and INTPs. And those who took an MBTI test were found to be INTJs and INTPs.

IQ AND POLITICS

It is hard to find clear, concise analyses of the relationship between IQ and political leanings. I offer the following in evidence that very high-IQ individuals lean strongly toward libertarian positions.

The Triple Nine Society (TNS) limits its membership to persons with IQs in the top 0.1% of the population. In an undated survey (probably conducted in 2000, given the questions about the perceived intelligence of certain presidential candidates), members of TNS gave their views on several topics (in addition to speculating about the candidates’ intelligence): subsidies, taxation, civil regulation, business regulation, health care, regulation of genetic engineering, data privacy, death penalty, and use of military force.

The results speak for themselves. Those members of TNS who took the survey clearly have strong (if not unanimous) libertarian leanings.

THE RIGHT IS SMARTER THAN THE LEFT

I count libertarians as part of the right because libertarians’ anti-statist views are aligned with the views of the traditional (small-government) conservatives who are usually Republicans. Having said that, the results reported in “IQ and Politics” lead me to suspect that the right is smarter than the left, left-wing propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. There is additional evidence for my view.

A site called Personality Page offers some data about personality type and political affiliation. The sample is not representative of the population as a whole; the average age of respondents is 25, and introverted personalities are overrepresented (as you might expect for a test that is apparently self-administered through a web site). On the other hand, the results are probably unbiased with respect to intelligence because the data about personality type were not collected as part of a study that attempts to relate political views and intelligence, and there is nothing on the site to indicate a left-wing bias. (Psychologists, who tend toward leftism, have a knack for making conservatives look bad, as discussed here, here, and here. If there is a strong association between political views and intelligence, it is found among so-called intellectuals, where the herd mentality reigns supreme.)

The data provided by Personality Page are based on the responses of 1,222 individuals who took a 60-question personality test that determined their MBTI types (see “IQ and Personality”). The test takers were asked to state their political preferences, given these choices: Democrat, Republican, middle of the road, liberal, conservative, libertarian, not political, and other. Political self-labelling is an exercise in subjectivity. Nevertheless, individuals who call themselves Democrats or liberals (the left) are almost certainly distinct, politically, from individuals who call themselves Republicans, conservatives, or libertarians (the right).

Now, to the money question: Given the distribution of personality types on the left and right, which distribution is more likely to produce members of Mensa? The answer: Those who self-identify as persons of the right are 15% more likely to qualify for membership in Mensa than those who self-identify as persons of the left. This result is plausible because it is consistent with the pronounced anti-government tendencies of the very-high-IQ members of the Triple Nine Society (see “IQ and Politics”).

REPUBLICANS (AND LIBERTARIANS) ARE HAPPIER THAN DEMOCRATS

That statement follows from research by the Pew Research Center (“Are We Happy Yet?” February 13, 2006) and Gallup (“Republicans Report Much Better Health Than Others,” November 30, 2007).

Pew reports:

Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972….

Of course, there’s a more obvious explanation for the Republicans’ happiness edge. Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats, and — as we’ve already discovered — people who have more money tend to be happier.

But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is, poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.

Gallup adds this:

Republicans are significantly more likely to report excellent mental health than are independents or Democrats among those making less than $50,000 a year, and among those making at least $50,000 a year. Republicans are also more likely than independents and Democrats to report excellent mental health within all four categories of educational attainment.

There is a lot more in both sources. Read them for yourself.

Why would Republicans be happier than Democrats? Here’s my thought, Republicans tend to be conservative or libertarian (at least with respect to minimizing government’s role in economic affairs). I refer you to a post in which I discussed Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions:

He posits two opposing visions: the unconstrained vision (I would call it the idealistic vision) and the constrained vision (which I would call the realistic vision). As Sowell explains, at the end of chapter 2:

The dichotomy between constrained and unconstrained visions is based on whether or not inherent limitations of man are among the key elements included in each vision…. These different ways of conceiving man and the world lead not merely to different conclusions but to sharply divergent, often diametrically opposed, conclusions on issues ranging from justice to war.

Idealists (“liberals”) are bound to be less happy than realists (conservatives and libertarians) because idealists’ expectations about human accomplishments (aided by government) are higher than those of realists, and so idealists are doomed to disappointment.

All of this is consistent with findings reported by law professor James Lindgren:

[C]ompared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were angry, mad at someone, outraged, sad, lonely, and had trouble shaking the blues. Similarly, anti-redistributionists had about two to four times higher odds of reporting being happy or at ease. Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. When asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework. (From the abstract of Northwestern Law and Economics Research Paper 06-29, “What Drives Views on Government Redistribution and Anti-Capitalism: Envy or a Desire for Social Dominance?,” March 15, 2011.)

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you are very intelligent — with an IQ that puts you in the top 2% of the population — you are most likely to be an INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, or INFJ, in that order. Your politics will lean heavily toward libertarianism or small-government conservatism. You probably vote Republican most of the time because, even if you are not a card-carrying Republican, you are a staunch anti-Democrat. And you are a happy person because your expectations are not constantly defeated by reality.

*     *     *

Footnotes:

* I apologize for not having documented the source of the statistics that I cite here. I dimly recall finding them on or via the website of American Mensa, but I am not certain of that. And I can no longer find the source by searching the web. I did transcribe the statistics to a spreadsheet, which I still have. So, the numbers are real, even if their source is now lost to me.

** Estimates of the distribution of  MBTI types  in the U.S. population are given in two tables on page 4 of “Estimated Frequencies of the Types in the United States Population,” published by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type. One table gives estimates of the distribution of the population by preference (E, I, N, S, etc.). The other table give estimates of the distribution of the population among all 16 MBTI types. The statistics for members of Mensa were broken down by preferences, not by types; therefore I had to use the values for preferences to estimate the frequencies of the 16 types among members of Mensa. For consistency, I used the distribution of the preferences among the U.S. population to estimate the frequencies of the 16 types among the population, rather than use the frequencies provided for each type. For example, the fraction of the population that is INTJ comes to 0.029 (2.9%) when the values for I (0.507), N (0.267), T (0.402), and J (0.541) are multiplied. But the detailed table has INTJs as 2.1% of the population. In sum, there are discrepancies between the computed and given values of the 16 types in the population. The most striking discrepancy is for the INFJ type. When estimated from the frequencies of the four preferences, INFJs are 4.4% of the population; the table of values for all 16 types gives the percentage of INFJs as 1.5%.

Using the distribution given for the 16 types leads to somewhat different results:

  • There is a 31% probability that an INTJ’s his IQ places him in the top 2 percent of the population. Next are INFJ, at 14%; ENTJ, 13%; and INTP, 10%. (The next highest type is the ENTP at 4%.) The  four types (INTJ, INFJ, ENTJ, AND INTP) account for 72% of the high-IQ population but only 9% of the total population. The top five types (including ENTPs) account for 78% of the high-IQ population but only 12% of the total population.
  • Four of the five most-intelligent types are NTs, as one would expect, given the probabilities cited earlier. But, in terms of the likelihood of having an IQ, this method moves INFJs into second place, a percentage point ahead of ENTJs.
  • In any event, the same five types dominate, and all five types have a preference for iNtuitive thinking.
  • As before, persons with the S preference generally lag their peers when it comes to IQ tests.

*   *   *

Related posts:
Intelligence as a Dirty Word
Intelligence and Intuition

Uber Panic

The killing spree by a Uber driver in Kalamazoo will doubtless reinforce efforts by various municipalities to tighten the screws on Uber, Lyft, and similar operations. (Lemonade stands are probably in for a bad summer, too.)

After all, if one Uber driver kills people, all Uber drivers must be suspected of harboring homicidal tendencies. By that logic, many occupations and preoccupations should be more tightly regulated; for example:

Actor. Remember John Wilkes Booth?

Artist. Jackson Pollock wasn’t the only person who died when he wrecked his car.

Fan. Selena wasn’t the only celebrity to be killed by one.

Phlebotomist. Jeffrey Dahmer was one.

Democrat or Jaycee. Dahmer’s soulmate John Wayne Gacy was both.

Ph.D. student. That’s James Holmes.

I could come up with many more examples, but you get the idea: All X are bad because _____ is an X and he is bad.

 

Name Game

Any number can play. Think of word or phrase that’s not usually associated with a name and convert it to a person’s first or last name (middle initial optional). It can be a straightforward conversion, as in the first three examples, or a homonym, as in the fourth. The figures in parentheses show approximately how many Americans have each name.*

Armand Hammer (8)
E Z Money (1)
Harry Butt (17)
Harry Dogg (2, one Harold and one Henry)
Helen F. Troy (3)
Helen Wheels (3)
Helena Troy (6)
I. Cann or Kann (61, with various first names)
I. Kant (18, with various first names)
I.M. Fried (14)
I.M. Good (4)
Ida Katt (2)
Ima Dogg (1)
Ima Hamm (6)
Ima Hogg (6)
Ima Looney (2)
Iva Butt (0)
Iva Carr (17)
Iva Dollar (1)
Iva House (4)
Iva Legg (3)
Jack B. Quick (12)
Jane Roe or Rowe (180)
Jerry Cann or Kann (24, including Geralds and Gerrys)
John Doe (more than 98)
Johnny B. Good (19)
Joy S. Noel (2)
Mary Christmas (more than 98)
Red Herring (13, including persons with first names that shorten to Red)
Sieg(fried) Heil (1)
Sig Sauer (3, including persons with first names that shorten to Sig)
Silver Coyne (1)
Silver Dollar (8)
U. Cann or Kann (3, with various first names)
U. Kant (8, with various first names)
U.R. Good (1)
Vera Cruz (74)

These aren’t exact matches for familiar phrases, but they’re close:

Bob Apple (55)
Ivy Hall (4)
Wade Pool or Poole (22)
__________
* Estimates obtained by using People Search at Intelius.com. The figures are approximate because People Search isn’t error-free, dead persons are often listed, and there are some duplications.

Bigot or Tribalist?

There’s a world of difference between these three things:

  1. hating persons who are different because they’re different
  2. fearing persons of a certain type because that type is highly correlated with danger
  3. preferring the company and comfort of persons with whom one has things in common, such as religion, customs, language, moral beliefs, and political preferences.

Number 1 is a symptom of bigotry, of which racism is a subset. Number 2 is a sign of prudence. Number 3 is a symptom of tribalism.

Liberals, who like to accuse others of racism and bigotry, tend to be strong tribalists — as are most people, the world around. Being tribal doesn’t make a person a racist or a bigot, that is, hateful toward persons of a different type. It’s natural (for most people) to trust and help those who live nearest them or are most like them, in customs, religion, language, etc. Persons of different colors and ethnicities usually have different customs, religions, and languages (e.g., black English isn’t General American English), so it’s unsurprising that there’s a tribal gap between most blacks and whites, most Latinos and whites, most Latinos and blacks, and so on.

Tribalism has deep evolutionary-psychological roots in mutual aid and mutual defense. The idea that tribalism can be erased by sitting in a circle, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya — or the equivalent in social-diplomatic posturing — is as fatuous as the idea that all human beings enter this world with blank minds and equal potential. Saying that tribalism is wrong is like saying that breathing and thinking are wrong. It’s a fact of life that can’t be undone without undoing the bonds of mutual trust and respect that are the backbone of a civilized society.

If tribalism is wrong, then most blacks, Latinos, members of other racial and ethnic groups, and liberals are guilty of wrong-doing.

Superiority

You are a superior person (i.e., a liberal and probably a Yuppie) if you hate most of these things:

  • smoking (tobacco)
  • fast food
  • rednecks and other rural types
  • all sports but running, soccer, and cycling
  • fundamentalist Christians (but not fundamentalist Muslims)
  • Israel
  • NASCAR
  • AGW “deniers”
  • fossil fuels (but not the low-cost energy they yield)
  • CO2 (though your “carbon footprint” is probably bigger than that of most Americans and almost everyone else in the world)
  • the Constitution (as written) and those who defend it
  • large families
  • home-schooling and private schools (for others)
  • deregulation
  • war (though WWII turned out okay)
  • police (except when you need them)
  • guns
  • capital punishment (all other forms are also suspect)
  • capitalists (though you may be one and certainly benefit from capitalism)
  • red-meat eaters (unless they also like sashimi)
  • private-property rights and freedom of association (for others)
  • anyone who likes most of the above
  • people who are opinionated, judgmental, intolerant, and hateful (high irony)

The “Marketplace” of Ideas

Markets are physical or virtual places in which individuals and firms buy and sell products and services, sometimes competing directly and always indirectly. (Even a so-called monopolist must compete for the consumer’s dollar.) A market transaction occurs when a buyer gives a seller something of value in exchange for a product or service.

Some commenters have suggested that there’s no marketplace of ideas. They’re right, insofar as there’s no exchange taking place — ideas for money or something else of value. But there are competitions among ideas. Those competitions involve active vendors of ideas (e.g., religious, political, scientific), who vie for adherents, even though the vendors may receive no payment from their adherents.

Unlike true markets, where competition usually eliminates sellers whose products and services are found wanting, the competition of ideas often leads to the broad acceptance of superstitions, crackpot notions, and plausible but mistaken theories. These often find their way into government policy, where they are imposed on citizens and taxpayers for the psychic benefit of politicians and bureaucrats and the monetary benefit of their cronies.

The “marketplace” of ideas is replete with vendors who are crackpots, charlatans, and petty tyrants. They run rampant in the media, academia, and government.

Caveat emptor.

How Democracy Works

A minority of eligible voters elects representatives.

Those representatives — often by bare majorities — empower bureaucrats who effectively write laws and impose penalties for the violation of same. Bureaucrats are barely constrained by statutory law, and the Constitution is nothing but a word to them.

Bureaucrats aren’t accountable to voters, nor do they care one whit about the “people’s representatives,” except those who funnel money their way. Representatives exercise power through their pet bureaucrats, and so they care more about them than about the wishes of the voters who put them in office. Civil-service protections ensure that bureaucrats almost never lose their jobs.

Judges — elected by a minority of eligible voters or appointed by representatives who are elected by a minority of eligible voters — interpret laws in accordance with their political views. This is especially true of so-called liberals, for whom the Constitution and constitutional laws are meaningless.

In sum, Americans’ lives are largely controlled by functionaries who do as they wish — regardless of the views of voters, the law, or the Constitution — because they can almost always count on holding office for as long as they wish, and exercising their power with near impunity.

That’s “democracy” in America.

Related reading, here.

Downton Doings

Not having read or heard anything about what will happen in the final two episodes of Downton Abbey, I venture the following predictions, some of them admittedly outlandish:

Barrow salvages his place at Downton by accepting a demotion from under-butler to footman, taking the place of Molesley, who becomes a teacher.

Molesley’s rather diffident courtship of Baxter* finally yields an engagement. Molesely and Baxter are unable to have children of their own, so they take up the cultivation of marrows.

Anna goes full term, and Mr. Bates jumps for joy (figuratively, of course). But they both end up in prison when Barrow discovers their clever plot to kill Green and place the blame on someone else. Molesley and Baxter adopt the Bates child, who later in life emigrates to America and manages a motel.

Andy learns to read so that he can become a pig farmer. He and Daisy get hitched and move in with Mr. Mason, who conveniently dies. Andy takes Mr. Mason’s place as tenant farmer. (Alternatively, Daisy reveals her secret passion for Mr. Mason and they wed. This is Daisy’s way of compensating for the unconsummated marriage to Mr. Mason’s son, William.)

Lady Edith tells Bertie the truth about Marigold. Mr. Nice Guy takes it in stride and they wed, after disposing of Michael Gregson (Marigold’s father), who (finally!) returns from Germany as an advance man for Hitler.

It’s a double wedding, actually. Lady Mary, having thrown over two dashing suitors, opts for (literal) solidity in the form of Tom Branson, who seems to have doubled in width since his days as a chauffeur. (I have said since the death of Lady Sybil several seasons ago that Mary and Tom would tie the knot.) This causes some consternation in the Crawley family because it smacks of necro-infidelity.

Lord and Lady Grantham — who foresee the Great Depression and its dire implications for Downton — sell up and move to America, where Lord G. breeds foxes. When that business folds, Lord G. sells vacuum cleaners door-to-door and Lady G. opens a tearoom.

Mrs. Hughes tires of Mr. Carson’s incessant carping about her inferior cookery and smacks him with a cast-iron skillet. Barrow helps Mrs. H. dispose of Mr. C.’s body.

Mrs. H. partners with Mrs. Patmore in the bed-and-breakfast — and other things.

Dr. Clarkson and Lord Merton vie for Isobel’s hand in marriage. A duel is averted when Dr. Clarkson spikes Lord Merton’s claret with digitalis, and declares the cause of death to be an acute myocardial infarction.

O’Brien returns as the Dowager Countess’s lady’s maid. The pair fade into the sunset exchanging acidic insults.
_________
* For those of you who aren’t devoted to DA, Baxter is a woman. Barrow is the only male character with an overt yen for same-sex sex.

On the Lighter Side

My recent posts have been quite grumpy. It’s time to go to the light side.

Did you hear about —

  • the pro-life, pro-defense liberal who thinks that fears of global warming are greatly exaggerated?
  • the Republican professor of English at an Ivy League university?
  • the straight, white, conservative male undergraduate at Oberlin College?
  • the LGBTIQ activist who believes that all business owners should enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of association?

Neither did I.

Dumb-Ass Logic

Will Wilkinson, writing about some idiots who inhabit Cato Institute, notes that their

case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden … and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country. That’s it. That’s the case.

Here’s the problem with that “logic”: You can’t take a country that has a lower index of freedom than Denmark, Canada, Sweden, etc., and make it freer by making it more socialistic. The citizens of those other countries enjoy as much freedom as they do in spite of — not because of — their socialistic institutions.

Luckily (I think), president Bernie would face a Republican-controlled Congress. Though the actual will and ability of Republicans to oppose big government has become highly suspect.

Name That Politician

[T[he most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist … and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Ezra Klein, Vox

With the omission of one word, indicated by ellipsis dots, that’s a spot-on description of Obama. The omitted word is “sexist,” on which I’m agnostic because Obama’s cynical appointment of women (and blacks) to high positions could mask contempt for them as a group.

Anyway, Klein means to describe Trump. But Obama fits the shoes nicely.

Election 2016: Does It Matter?

If a Democrat is elected president, he or she can’t do any more damage to liberty and the economy than Obama has already done. (But … see below.)

If a Republican is elected president, he or she is unlikely to undo the damage to liberty and the economy that Obama has already done. (But … see below.) Republican presidents have a poor track record of walking back the bad things done by Democrats. They just don’t want to be “mean,” I guess.*

Here’s the “but”: The president gets to nominate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrat nominees are reliable leftists; Republican nominees aren’t reliable constitutionalists (e.g., Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Roberts) . But I’d much rather take my chances with a GOP-appointed justice than with a Democrat-appointed one.

If it weren’t for the power of appointment, I’d probably stay home on election day.

* Cruz may be “mean” enough, though possibly not electable because of his “mean” image. I’d love to have the chance to vote for Cruz, but I think Rubio would be a more appealing GOP candidate.

Society

If anything irritates me more than political correctness, left-wing cant, and thoughtless drivers it’s reification. By that I mean the practice of treating broad classes of things (e.g., Americans, voters) as if all members of the class harbored the same views and acted in concert.

Reification is manifested in such expressions as “the national will,” “the American character,” “the wishes of the electorate,” and (perhaps most egregiously) “society.” All such constructions submerge individual differences and suggest degrees of agreement and connectedness that simply do not apply to large masses of people.

Take “society” (please!). How many times have I read “We as a society have decided…” such-and-such about a government policy? Too many times. “Society” decides nothing about government policy. Politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs set government policy.

Why arbitrarily constrict “society” to the geographic boundaries of the United States? If “society” consists of the myriad cultures, religions, social classes, economic classes, occupational classes, neighborhoods, churches, clubs, etc., etc., etc., that are comprised in the United States, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean nations — and perhaps the whole Western Hemisphere — to the mix. In fact, given the vastly varied origins of Americans, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add the whole world to the mix.

There you have it: “Society” is synonymous with the population of Earth.

Doesn’t that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? Well, it might if you’re a muddle-headed lefty or a wishy-washy centrist who likes to think nice thoughts.

Here’s a way to squelch that warm, fuzzy feeling. Think about the people you don’t and wouldn’t associate with, and ask yourself (honestly) if you consider them to be members of the society to which you belong — the people with whom you associate because have much in common, including mutual trust and respect.

If you’re a lefty or a left-sympathizer (e.g., a well-off person with more money than sense), can you honestly say that your society includes, for example, ghetto gang-bangers or rural rednecks? I’ll bet that your honest answer is no. And while you’re on an honesty kick, you can probably list a lot of other types that you wouldn’t include in your society.

So, let’s quit talking about “society” and start talking about what really happens to our money and liberty when politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs gang up on the oppressed majority.

Pop Logic

If you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to vote.

An 18-year-old is strong and full of energy — just what a foot-soldier should be. An 18-year old is impetuous and usually has little in the way of income, property, or investments to protect — just what a voter should not be. (Voting should be restricted to persons aged 30 or older who have income, property, and investments to protect.)

It’s okay to (insert crime or egregious behavior here) because others have done the same thing.

This is an attempt to absolve a person or group favored by the speaker or writer. By the same logic, the favored person or group could be absolved of murder. This kind of “logic” is often used to excuse the behavior of politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton) and to justify reverse discrimination (e.g., “Whites got away with X, so it’s okay for blacks to do X.”)

Abortion should be allowed until X weeks, when a fetus becomes viable.

If the certainty of survival determines whether a human being should live or die, the human race should be exterminated because everyone is doomed to die eventually.

The death penalty doesn’t deter murder and should therefore be abolished.

It is because of such sentiments that the death penalty is no longer a common or certain punishment for murder, and therefore less of a deterrent than it used to be. Moreover, the death penalty is properly justified as a punishment. Its deterrent effect is secondary.

The death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished.

Murder is barbaric, and murderers should be executed so that they can’t murder again. And if potential murderers get the message, so much the better.

It is far more costly to enforce the death penalty than it is to keep a murderer in prison.

That’s because the cringing opponents of the death penalty have made it costly to enforce.

“Migrants” (the PC term for illegal immigrants) are human beings, and should be allowed to enter our country freely.

It’s true that illegal immigrants are human beings. The real question is whether immigration law should be changed by Congress (and not by executive fiat). By the “logic” of those who favor unlimited immigration, murderers (who are human beings, after all) should be allowed to murder with impunity.

Borders are arbitrary and shouldn’t restrict the movement of people who want to better themselves.

That’s okay if you know whether everyone who’s crossing a border is doing so to better himself — and not at the government-enforced expense of others. And if borders are arbitrary, why should you call the police if someone trespasses on your property and steals from you?

The “rich” should pay their fair share of taxes.

A person who says this is ignorant of the fact that the “rich” (i.e., those who earn high incomes) pay an overwhelming share of taxes. And he probably doesn’t consider himself to be among the “rich,” who are “those people” who earn more than he does.

I’m “rich,” and my taxes aren’t high enough.

The government accepts voluntary contributions. What you probably mean is that the government should raise taxes on the “rich,” presumably to give more money to the “poor.” Which suggests that you’re not rich because you’re smart. If you were smart, you’d know that government keeps a big chunk of taxes to pay above-market salaries to government workers and contractors. The poor would be better off if you and like-minded “rich” persons just sent your emissaries among the “poor” and handed out money. Or perhaps you don’t understand that the money which you spend and invest creates jobs that help to lift up the “poor” and end their dependency. Self-reliance is to be nurtured by job creation, not discouraged by handouts. But, as I said, you’re probably among the dumb “rich” — if not among the guilt-ridden (for no reason) or emotionally addled (i.e., functionally dumb) “rich.”

I like politician X because he’s becoming more popular.

That’ the implicit reasoning behind the bandwagon effect. For example, some people go from “undecided” between X and Y to “favor X over Y,” and it shows up in the polls. This leads the wishy-washy — bereft of principle and wanting to be on the right side of a trend — to join the movement toward X. And because of that more of the wishy-washy join the movement. And so on. The wishy-washy don’t necessarily prefer X and Y for an ascertainable reason, they just like to be on the winning side.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Sorry, but as much as I favor an almost-unlimited right to bear arms,* I can’t swallow that one whole. Unless you’re a witch or wizard, you can’t kill a person by pointing a finger at him. Guns do (often) kill people when people with guns point them (or not) and pull the trigger. And I daresay that most of the killings are intentional. Further, it’s likely that there would be fewer murders (though probably more crimes, overall) if there were fewer guns around. It’s psychologically and physically easier to kill someone with a gun than with a knife, a baseball bat, a garrotte, or bare hands. But even if guns were outlawed, I — like millions of other Americans who own unregistered weapons — wouldn’t give up my gun. Technically, that would make outlaws of me and the other millions, thus validating the motto “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” But we would hold onto our guns to protect ourselves from the real outlaws — those who use guns to harm, rob, and coerce others.
__________
* I draw the line at persons who have been convicted of felonies against persons and property, loonies, idiots, and minors. I don’t draw the line at type of weapon — anything goes.

People who oppose preferences for blacks (e.g., unmerited job offers and university admissions for the sake of “diversity”) are racist; people who oppose homosexual “marriage” and preferences for homosexuals are homophobic; and people who disagree with politically correct positions, such as preferences for blacks and homosexuals, are hateful.

All such statements are cheap rhetorical tricks, played by people who don’t want to confront the real issues; for example:

  • the harm done to non-blacks and homosexuals (and members of  those groups, as well) by preferential treatment
  • the harm done to traditional marriage by the state’s encouragement of nontraditional marriage
  • the predictable harm to property rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and the rights of non-preferred groups that follows inevitably from preferential treatment for any preferred group
  • the harm done to civilizing social norms by the disparagement of traditional norms, such as heterosexual marriage and advancement based on merit.

But blacks, homosexuals, etc., are victims.

So, it’s all right to victimize whites, Asians, heterosexuals, etc., but not blacks, homosexuals, etc. (For the tone-deaf, that’s a rhetorical statement, not a claim.)

The Honorable Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge was an honorable man because his conversion from hard-heartedness to soft-heartedness was personal. He didn’t ask others to subsidize his new-found generosity.

Scrooge stands in sharp contrast to judges and other government officials who “grow” in office, as liberals like to put it. What it means to “grow” in office is to foster an intrusive, costly government that undermines self-reliance and usurps and destroys the voluntary institutions of society and their civilizing codes of conduct.

Aperçus de Maugham

I would much sooner spend a month on a desert island with a veterinary surgeon than with a prime minister.

There is a sort of man who pays no attention to his good actions, but is tormented by his bad ones. This is the type that most often writes about himself.

It is a relief to me when I can get away and read a book.

People are hard to know. It is a slow business to induce them to tell you the particular thing about themselves that can be of use to you. They have the disadvantage that often you cannot look at them and put them aside, as you can a book, and you have to read the whole volume, as it were, only to learn that it had nothing much to tell you.

As a matter of practice it is good to be on your guard against the Englishman who speaks French perfectly; he is very likely to be a card-sharper or an attaché in the diplomatic service.

I ventured once to suggest that the liberation of women and their new-won sexual freedom had so altered men’s views of the importance of chastity that jealousy was no longer a theme for tragedy, but only for comedy.…

What added to my growing distaste for the theatre was not that directors were sometimes incompetent, but that they were necessary at all.

The writer’s only safety is to find satisfaction in his own performance. If he can realize that…he is amply rewarded for his labours, he can be indifferent to the outcome.

The conclusion I came to about men I put in the mouth of a man I met on board ship in the China Seas. “I’ll give you my opinion of the human race in a nutshell, brother,” I made him say. “Their heart’s in the right place but their head is a thoroughly inefficient organ.”

They tell me that Professor Whitehead has the most ingenious brain of anyone who is now engaged in philosophic thought. It seems to me a pity that he should not always take pains to make his sense clear. It was a good rule of Spinoza’s to indicate the nature of things by words whose customary meanings should not be altogether opposed to the meanings he desired to bestow upon them.

Schrödinger…has stated that a final and comprehensive judgment on the matter [of reality] is at present impossible. The plain man is justified in sitting on the fence, but perhaps he is prudent in keeping his legs dangling on the side of determinism.

Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives not by truth but by make-believe, and his idealism…is merely his effort to attach the prestige of truth to the fictions he has invented to satisfy his self-conceit.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up

Presidential Dialectics

George Washington couldn’t tell a lie. Bill Clinton couldn’t tell the truth.

Teddy Roosevelt believed in talking softly but carrying a big stick. FDR carried the big stick. LBJ threw away the stick. Obama found the stick, broke it, and replaced it with a pea-shooter.

Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America is business, but it didn’t take long for FDR to change that. Now, the business of Americans is the government’s business.

JFK told Americans to ask what they could do for their country. LBJ told them what to do: Pay more taxes and support the shiftless.