Wednesday, March 1, 2017

- Illiteracy and Innumeracy

Let's be frank, no one in politics understands statistics and probability, because they don't want to. Take the most obvious example if you move in my circles, the average group IQ difference. Blacks are approximately 1 STD below whites, who are approximately 1/2 STD below asians. This isn't really in dispute. And the meaning of the fact is distorted on both sides.

Liberal politicians, particularly black liberals, say that this is a fraudulent number because of cultural bias, or... Actually, I don't know for sure because the combination of statistical facts and liberal voices invariably makes me tune out. All I hear is blah, blah, blah... racism...blah blah... white people... blah blah... supremacy... blah. But I think the alt-right get's the meaning of this fact wrong too. They seem to think that because whites are on average smarter than blacks, it makes whites better people.

While I strongly agree that white culture IS in fact better than black American culture, and that means better for everyone including blacks, this statistical fact still doesn't tell you anything at all about individual people. Smarter does not necessarily equal better.

Numerate Alt-Righters like the Derb and Steve Sailer (and in all humility myself) have repeated this again, and again, ...and again, ........... and again. And no one on any side of the issue ever seems to hear it. It's willful ignorance to pretend that group averages say something about the comparison of two individual group members. And if the alt-right is going to be different from what came before it, it needs to start speaking with numerate literacy.

We need to be accurate. We cannot afford not to be. Our generalized positions contradict too many dogmatically held views of most Americans. And we can't afford to be controversial, which is unavoidable, and inaccurate both. The broader public knows when it's being handed another load of bull from politicians, and this is the most common load in public discourse. Credibility should be our most sought after goal, and that comes from relentlessly sticking to things we can prove (rather than argue) are perfectly true.

And it's for that reason this story bothers me just a bit as well.

U.S. House candidate Brianna Wu, a Massachusetts Democrat, is worried that people will drop rocks from the moon that will hit the earth and kill people.

Wu is one of the Feminist proto-totalitarians from Gamergate, and since Gamergate contains the seeds of the alt-right, she's broadly considered awful. Her interest in Social Justice means she's an inveterate liar. But her claim comes from the adolescent reading list of everyone who ended up in a STEM career, "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress", the 1966 classic libertarian sci-fi novel written by Robert Heinlein.

In the story, the moon has been permanently colonized and decides to declare political independence from earth. Having little in the way of manufacturing but much in the way of resources, they decide on a comparatively low tech threat of launching a largish boulder toward earth as a kind of man made "sweet meteor of death". Based on the reaction to Wu's tweet, 'right leaning' journalists are unfamiliar with this literary staple of the freshman Physics department.

Heinlein wrote fiction, but is usually lumped into the generalized group of 'hard science' writers, who stuck with the known facts of physics and extrapolated from there. And in the story he goes into some detail about how this inaccurate but effective weapon could be effectively used. "Slower = Faster", is the 'gravity well' effect reduced to a science fiction soundbite.

So while the logistics of Wu's claim are difficult to imagine from our present circumstance and far very flung from SpaceX's coming moon tourism, they are scientifically valid in the broadest sense.

This doesn't make Wu a hero. It's a stupid complaint, from a very likely stupid girl who is probably only upset at the idea that future moon residents might be able to escape her totalitarian impulses. But in purely theoretical terms and with a fair amount of extrapolation, she's not wrong.

I think it's important for the Alt-Right to be the party of facts and accuracy. It should be a risky thing to disagree with the alt-right because it's a movement grounded in fact, whenever facts are available. And giving even those people we revile politically the full credit they're due, should be a part of that too - particularly when the issue at hand is as infantile as this one. Both the left and the old-right think twitter witch burning is great fun. But if we want to be taken seriously, we need to avoid that impulse. Our facts are controversial enough.

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