Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Climate-Science and Conspiracy

“I am very happy to affirm that I am not a giant expert on climate change: I know a bit, and I know that there’s not yet been a giant global conspiracy involving almost every scientist in the world (although I’d welcome examples).” — Ben Goldacre. [1]

One can hardly trust the integrity, or else the intelligence, of someone who would cast the matter in so flippant and so adversely-framed a fashion, but it seems instrumentally, though not morally, to be the best strategy left to those who still wish to defend an obvious example of bad science.
.....It is ironic that Ben Goldacre, who has made a journalistic career out of professing to be against bad science, would speak in favour of a magnificent and glaring example of it, though we should hardly be surprised. He is another small example of why posterity, if there might still be a sapient and merry remnant of it, will laugh its head off.
.....The dichotomy which Mr Goldacre sets up is clear: either one believes it likely that the science of global warming is valid, or else one believes it likely that there is a global conspiracy, involving almost every scientist in the world, to conceal its invalidity. I can suggest a dichotomy of my own: either Mr Goldacre lacks the intelligence to understand that relatively few scientists in the world are actually involved in generating the claims of climate-science; that a few of those few in that sub-field of science have influence over the  direction of research; that all of those few find it conducive or even necessary to their careers to profess a belief in a certain theory; that some other scientists who stand outside that sub-field may be inclined to give credence to its claims; and that a sub-field of science, or even the whole field of science itself, can be warped or corrupted at various levels in many simple, subtle, and all-too-plausibly-human ways; — or he is employing a contemptible strategy designed to suggest that his opponents must believe in something highly implausible, if not absurd: something like a worldwide network and active conspiracy amongst hundreds of thousands of glint-eyed scientists all laughing madly in their secret conferences at the vast deception that they are knowingly perpetrating. But perhaps my dichotomy is a false one too. Perhaps it is a trichotomy: it could be that Mr Goldacre is none too bright, or that he is a scoundrel, or that he is both.
.....If we were to judge the success or validity of scientific theories by the number of occasions, and the degree of enthusiasm, by which they were proclaimed to be unquestionable truths as held by the vast majority of genuine and reputable scientists, then we might rightly say that the theory of anthropogenic global warming has been a very successful one, perhaps second only to Lysenkoism. But maybe Mr Goldacre finds incredible the claim that the science of biology in the Soviet Union was for many years subverted by a quack-theory. I mean, fancy believing that all the scientists of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Soviet Union — every one of them reputable by its power to define them as such — were involved in a conspiracy against genuine scientific research! Or perhaps it was mostly that a vast public-bureaucratic government, much like our own, involving ideologies and ambitious men, much like our own, was able to kill a science and let a zombie-science arise in its place. Either way — preposterous!
.....Sarcasm aside, in suggesting the high implausibility of a global conspiracy of hundreds of thousands of witting members, I do not mean to imply that there have been no conspiracies in the case of climate-science. Clearly there have been. Some scientists have conspired in various ways to deceive a large number of scientists and non-scientists alike. Of that we know for sure. Thereto alone it is somewhat irrelevant the extent or proportion to which they were informed by benevolence, malice, hopes for large dinners, or anything else. The question of benevolence, malice, or anything else, is addressed largely to the motive-content of conspiracies, and is at a tangent to the mere fact of their existence. [2] Other conspiracies, each formed for whatever reasons and interests, some fleeting and trivial,  some long-lasting and serious, we may well suspect to exist at higher and lower levels of significance and influence. Great power and wealth are to be had and social maneuvers to be made — with the usual agent involved: a clever and aggressive species of hairless ape.
.....There is nothing surprising in the mere fact of the existence of conspiracies, or rather, there is nothing more surprising therein than that groups of school-children, company-executives, or marketing-men conspire against particular rivals and against the general outgroup, the scope whereof may extend to the public at large. To adapt a phrase from Robert Michels: who says organisation, says conspiracy.
.....Most conspiracies are largely insignificant or petty, simply occurring as natural and frequent aspects of any group-life. Some, of course, can be grander or more significant, as is clear in the case of climate-science. The most pertinent questions in this regard are about their nature and aims, their size and scope, and the relative degrees of their deliberate and systematic aspects, wherewith one ought not to make oneself prey to, nor indeed be put off by, the silliest and the unfairest connotations which tend nowadays to be associated with the word.
.....The fairly-recent and widespread refusal to believe in conspiracies, which, as I say, are in varying degrees of significance natural aspects of all groups and organizations, testifies to the increasing inability on the part of millions to think without having their thoughts subverted and overthrown by unnecessary connotations; for this refusal does come mostly by way of cravenness in the face of the justifiable fear that one will be called a nutcase in acknowledging any state of affairs to which the word “conspiracy” is rightly and significantly applicable. It seems that the word “conspiracy” cannot be taken in a prosaic sense by most people anymore; they must take it in a grand sense, by a few in reference to their own grand claims of conspiracy, and by most in mockery of any claim thereof.
.....One might have expected that the experience of the playground, in which some groups of children conspire against other groups of children, would have been enough to give most people a life-long understanding of the nature of social reality; but it seems that at some time or other in their lives the species of wit native to them, a species educable by experience, is overrun by an interloping foreign species of faux-sophisticated cretinism. A world of fools can be turned into a world of morons by selling them the idea that moronic disbelief is rational and enlightened detachment.
.....Anyway, in the absence of credible evidence, it is trivially true, of course, that the climate of the earth might be changing outside its natural pattern due to human interference, but then it is trivially true that the Zarboks of Planet Nasquib might at this very moment be pointing a giant laser-gun at the earth, ready to blast it to smithereens. But let us conspire to keep this latter possibility a secret amongst ourselves. We do not wish to give governments or corporations any more bright ideas. Inter-stellar battle-fleets are expensive to build, I hear, and no doubt Al Gore would need to be involved.

[1] Ben Goldacre, “Climate change? Well, we’ll be dead by then”, The Guardian, 12th December 2009.
[2] It is a fairly good adage that one should never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence, so long as it is not misapplied or made into a mind-emptying mantra. (The case is similar with Occam’s Razor, which is perhaps the most popularly-misunderstood and abused principle of all time.)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tiresome Joke

“Staggering across the fringes of the [Copenhagen] summit are the people who will see their countries live or die on the basis of its deliberations. . . . Dazed Chinese and Indian NGOs explain how the Himalayan ice is rapidly vanishing and will be gone by 2035 — so the great rivers of Asia that are born there will shrivel and cease.” [1] 

Staggering? Dazed? Maybe it was the booze and the tedium of the keynote-presentations, or perhaps Johann Hari is just making things up again. Glad to say, however, that I very seldom read anything by Mr Hari: he is a bad joke endlessly repeating itself, faintly amusing on the first reading or two, but soon growing tiresome; but I do wonder if he has ever made a pretence at truthful reportage that hasn’t been immediately exposed as laughable fancy by his own ill-judged hyperbole:— laughable, I say, at first.

[1] Johann Hari, “Leaders of the rich world are enacting a giant fraud”, The Independent, 11th December 2009. (At least the title of his article alludes inadvertently to the state of affairs.)

The Argument from Haughtiness

Edward Feser has touched on the matter of haughtiness in philosophy [1] and how it may overwhelm rational commitment and truthfulness, such that there is a refusal to admit simple or obvious mistakes; and he has reminded me of something that J.R. Lucas wrote:
“When I started philosophy, Logical Positivism was very much in vogue, and my tutor tried hard to get me to believe the Verification Principle. So I asked him whether it was a tautology, perhaps showing some new meaning being given to ‘proposition’, or ‘meaningful’, so that only some selected instances could be accorded the favour of being thus described. He said No. Was the Verification Principle, then, an empirical proposition, discovered by careful research in which lots and lots of propositions had been examined, and none found to be meaningful except those that were analytic or empirical. He admitted, albeit a trifle reluctantly, that no such research had been carried out. In that case, I concluded triumphantly, the Verification Principle, if it were true, was itself meaningless, hoist by its own petard. He did not think it a very good argument, and told me to try harder to believe.” [2]
Herewith a little sketch of an argument:

I. It goes without saying that I am a very clever and careful analytical philosopher.
II. Very clever and careful analytical philosophers, such as I, do not make or accept obvious mistakes.
III. It goes without saying that I do not make or accept obvious mistakes.
IV. Anyone who does not recognise the obvious truth of (III), which logically follows from the obvious truths of (I) and (II), is making an obvious mistake.
V. Anyone who claims that I have made or accepted an obvious mistake is (a) making an obvious mistake and is (b) not a very clever or careful analytical philosopher. [From II, III, and IV.]
VI. Very clever and careful analytical philosophers, such as I, ought to dismiss as unworthy of consideration the obviously-mistaken claims of not very clever or careful analytical philosophers.
VII. I ought to dismiss as unworthy of consideration any claim made by anyone that I have made or accepted an obvious mistake. [From V and VI.]

[1] Edward Feser, “Rosenberg Responds to his Critics”, Edward Feser (weblog), 10th December 2009; last paragraph. Therein also: “in contemporary academic philosophy, what is grounds for failing an undergraduate paper can be Festschrift material for a professional.”
[2] J.R. Lucas, “A Simple Exposition of Gödel’s Theorem”, A Talk at King’s College, London, October 1996, reproduced online at the website of J.R. Lucas.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


“Copenhagen is poised to achieve a profound historical transformation: reversing the road we have travelled for 200 years.” [1]

I regret to note that the prime minister does not have in mind the overthrow of public-bureaucratic government and the restoration of the ancien régime. Unfortunately the one-eyed klepto-visionary is having another fit of “moral passion” at the prospect of “a great global project of mutual ambition”, [2] which of course is forward down the road which we have been urged to travel by the self-declared friends of humanity for the last two-hundred years. Well, he calls it “moral passion”, whatever that means, but to me it seems more like the slavering of a butcher’s dog when sensing that dinner-time is approaching at last.

[1] Gordon Brown, “Copenhagen must be a turning point. Our children won’t forgive us if we fail”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 6th December 2009.
[2] Ibid.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Lifting the Benighting Mist

“Queenie understands the drabness of Britain without immigration and grabs her chance of excitement, defiant of the heart-breaking consequences. The real point of diversity, on television and in life, is not that [it] is correct but that it is vibrant.” [1]

It seems that, for thousands of years, Europe was burdened with unremitting drabness, its hideous peoples condemned to unvibrant lives; but that now the dark ages are over, and the present age is yielding ever more to a bright future whereunder the benighting mist of the dullest and most hideous race on earth will finally lift to reveal a sunlit land of vibrant diversity. Praise the gods — or buy a Kalashnikov.

[1] Sarah Sands, “See why diversity works – switch on your set”, The Independent on Sunday, 6th December 2009. (“Vibrant and diverse” — the gibber of mass-insanity.)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Today the Lisbon Treaty came into force, and so, in a humble way, I should just like to mark this great occasion by swearing undying enmity to the European Union.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Dodgy Uncle

“[Rajendra] Pachauri said the large number of contributors and rigorous peer review mechanism adopted by the IPCC meant that any bias would be rapidly uncovered.” [1] Or that bias would be amplified and dissent from it smothered. It is odd, but I am quite sure that Mother Nature used to get a say on the validation of scientific hypotheses. Maybe she has been voted off the panel. Uncle Peer-Review, on the other hand, seems to be doing all right for himself, not that I’d trust him, mind you, especially when he’s feeling rigorous.

[1] James Randerson, “Leaked emails won't harm UN climate body, says chairman”, guardian.co.uk, 29th November 2009. (H/T: Dennis Mangan, “Global Warmers Won’t Give Up Easily”, Mangan’s (weblog), 30th November 2009.) On zombie-science and the baleful influence of peer-review, see Bruce G. Charlton, “Zombie Science — Dead but Won’t Lie Down”, Medical Hypotheses, 2008, Vol.71; reproduced online at Medical Hypotheses (weblog), 26th July 2008; id., “Peer Usage versus Peer Review”, British Medical Journal, September 2007, Vol.335:451; reproduced ibid., 1st September 2007; id., “Truthfulness in Science Should be an Iron Law”, Medical Hypotheses, 2009, Vol.73; reproduced ibid., 13th October 2009; and Alexander A. Berezin, “Hampering the progress of science by peer review and by the ‘selective’ funding system”, Science Tribune, December 1996. (Note: Mr Mangan’s fine blog has been deleted for some reason.)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Schwein’sche Weltansicht: Pig Propositions Nos.1-10

As received and written down in the year 1850 by “Sauerteig”, aka Thomas Carlyle:—

1. The Universe, so far as sane conjecture can go, is an immeasurable Swine’s-trough, consisting of solid and liquid, and of other contrasts and kinds;—especially consisting of attainable and unattainable, the latter in immensely greater quantities for most pigs.
2. Moral evil is unattainability of Pig’s-wash; moral good, attainability of ditto.
3. “What is Paradise, or the State of Innocence?” Paradise, called also State of Innocence, Age of Gold, and other names, was (according to Pigs of weak judgment) unlimited attainability of Pig’s-wash; perfect fulfilment of one’s wishes, so that the Pig’s imagination could not outrun reality: a fable and an impossibility, as Pigs of sense now see.
4. “Define the Whole Duty of Pigs.” It is the mission of universal Pighood, and the duty of all Pigs, at all times, to diminish the quantity of unattainable and increase that of attainable. All knowledge and device and effort ought to be directed thither and thither only; Pig Science, Pig Enthusiasm and Devotion have this one aim. It is the Whole Duty of Pigs.
5. Pig Poetry ought to consist of universal recognition of the excellence of Pig’s-wash and ground barley, and the felicity of Pigs whose trough is in order, and who have had enough: Hrumph!
6. The Pig knows the weather; he ought to look out what kind of weather it will be.
7. “Who made the Pig?” Unknown ;—perhaps the Pork-butcher?
8. “Have you Law and Justice in Pigdom?” Pigs of observation have discerned that there is, or was once supposed to be, a thing called justice. Undeniably at least there is a sentiment in Pig-nature called indignation, revenge, &c., which, if one Pig provoke another, comes out in a more or less destructive manner: hence laws are necessary, amazing quantities of laws. For quarrelling is attended with loss of blood, of life, at any rate with frightful effusion of the general stock of Hog’s-wash, and ruin (temporary ruin) to large sections of the universal Swine’s-trough: wherefore let justice be observed, that so quarrelling be avoided.
9. “What is justice?” Your own share of the general Swine’s-trough, not any portion of my share.
10. “But what is ‘my’ share?” Ah! there in fact lies the grand difficulty; upon which Pig science, meditating this long while, can settle absolutely nothing. My share—hrumph!—my share is, on the whole, whatever I can contrive to get without being hanged or sent to the hulks. For there are gibbets, treadmills, I need not tell you, and rules which Lawyers have prescribed.

Latter-Day Pamphlets, No. VIII: August 1850: Jesuitism (London: Chapman & Hall, 1850), pp.269-70. (Sus exsaturatus grunnit: “We’ve clearly cracked all the important things and are now left with the minor trivia of life.” Tim Worstall, “What Joy It Is”, Tim Worstall (weblog), 25th November 2009.)

Sissyfuss in Vain

Apparently there has been much screeching by feminists in opposition to the establishment of so-called men’s societies at English universities. The founder of one of these societies pleads for acceptance:
“The mens [Masculinity Exploring Networking and Support] society is no threat to women’s rights or their welfare, and we certainly aren’t a reaction to them. We are the only (as far as I am aware) society at Manchester to have a code of conduct for members. We are being trained by Nightline, the excellent listening and counselling service, with a view to establishing a drop-in centre. We hope to work closely with the lgbt and women’s rights collectives. Together, not as men or women or trans, but as human beings, we can make a better community, a better world.” [1]
I am not sure why feminists are so angry in this particular case, unless it is just another instance of the general and mechanical reaction arising from the potent and unpredictable mix of liberated hormones and political visions, whereof it is senseless to ask for reasons. This society will be “running workshops” regardless of “gender identity” and “gender categories”, and “holding lectures and screening documentaries exploring the historical perceptions of masculinity”. [2] It sounds like a society for the neutered who will labour in vain to please their foul harridan-mistresses. Feminists ought to be cackling with glee.
.....Although not much given to envisaging the establishment of societies, I can see the need for an Anti-Harridan Society, yearly awarding the Matthew Hopkins Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Hag-Offending. Yet it fails my powers to imagine the need for it to work closely with lgbt and women’s rights collectives. Maybe there are “workshops” that can help me with my disability.

[1] Ben Wild, “My men’s group isn’t anti-feminist”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 25th November 2009.
[2] Ibid.

Monday, 23 November 2009

In the Same Fume

“We are no gods, but shortsighted men and must be content with finding out a little bit of truth in wading through a sea of errors,” wrote the chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein. [1] Sad to say that governmental policy-setters, political interest-groups, and image-impressed masses demand great and all-at-once truths to bolster their swift-rising needs and desires, or, failing such truths, great and unanimous falsehoods vouchsafed by the authority of self-reviewing idols, who are fancied to reside at a lofty remove, but who breathe the same poisonous fume of ideology amidst the thin air of expedience as do their all-too-corrupted demand-makers. Junk-philosophy, junk-literature, junk-art, junk-scholarship, junk-music, junk-religion, junk-statecraft, and junk-science: we can expect little else from the liberal disorder of modernism, except that it will continue to be vigorously defended as progress by junk-humanity.

[1] Letter to Michael Faraday, 17th September 1857, The letters of Faraday and Schoenbein, 1836-1862, ed. G.W.A. Kahlbaum & F.V. Darbishire (London: Williams & Norgate, 1899), p.289. (For an understanding of the present state of science, philosophers and sociologists of science will of course find more illumination, if less edification, in the emails of modern climate-scientists than in the old letters of long-dead gentlemen-scientists.)

Warm Diplomacy

“Central American nations will demand $US105 billion . . . from industrialised countries for damages caused by global warming, the region’s representatives say.” [1]

The proper response, of course, is to send the equivalent value in warships and gunboats.

[1]Nations to seek billions in ‘climate debt’”, Adelaide Now, 21st November 2009. (H/T: Dennis Mangan, “Global Warming Exposed as the Greatest Scandal in Modern Science”, Mangan’s (weblog), 22nd November 2009.)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A Question

“Is Society become wholly a bag of wind, then, ballasted by guineas?”

Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets, No. V: May 1850: Stump-Orator (London: Chapman & Hall, 1850), p.163.

By Three-Thirds

“You cannot play fast and loose with England”, says Lord Hattersley, in a paean of new patriotism [1], whereat Mr Laban Tall wonders whether hanging is too good for him. [2] I am inclined to say that it is, although, if we added drawing and quartering, the matter could be settled rightly and in a manner fit for a latter-day lord of misrule.

[1] Roy Hattersley, “My search for God’s own country and why I wouldn’t swap England for anywhere else”, Mail Online, 6th November 2009.
[2] Laban Tall, “Sparkbrook”, UK Commentators (weblog), 7th November 2009.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

How to Commit Genocide

Now, my brethren in darkness, it is time to let a little of the light of reality into our dark existence, not so much as to put us to fright, timid and truth-shy beasts that we are, but just enough to give us a glimpse of our surroundings, so that, for a short while only, and as a swansong of the last traces of feeling and reason that we might possess, we shall catch a glimpse also of ourselves. Doubtless you will feel somewhat afeared by the title of my address; but you ought not to worry yourselves overmuch: I promise that, when you have eased yourselves back into your dark and dreamy world, you will have in your minds a vision of genocide which will appear to you to be quite lovely, certainly not something about which to be concerned, but rather a process in which you will find great hope and for the furtherance whereof you will see your moral duty. You will celebrate its occurrence, you will praise its agents, and you will damn and vilify its enemies. I know this is how you will see it because that is already how you see it, and this little spell in the light will not change you. You are part of something great and terrible. Your near-insignificance as individuals, and your decrepitude as persons, is made sacrosanct in the impersonal greatness of the collective deed.
     I will not give you a step-by-step guide to genocide; I shall present to you simply an ethos on its method: how to commit it in a manner as befits us as sophisticated beasts. I cannot deny that, at the outset, “genocide” will likely seem to you — by connotation — an odd word to use for so hopeful and soothing a process of dissolution as we intend and wherein we are now taking so happy a part. It is a word which you find dreadful, or rather, it is the connotive meanings that it inflames in your minds which appall you. But genocide itself, and its denotation alone — that is to say, the deliberate and systematic destruction of a people or a race — is something which strikes both you and me as a happy thing. You ought not to recoil at this breath of honesty; for we are all of the same opinion, you and I, and in the end for us — for us modern and sophisticated men — morality, good and evil, value and disvalue, all come down to mere opinion, and mere opinion to mere motive, and mere motive to material force, and so on, until we end in primal, meaningless, and unintelligible matter.
     If anyone were to say that the simple definition of genocide which I lay out here is mere straw, unwelcome fodder for lawyers, or that “genocide” simply does not denote the deliberate and systematic destruction of a people or a race through just any means, and especially not through our sublime method, but rather that an act or a process of genocide qualifies as such if and only if it is committed through some particular means as decided and specified by some legal or bureaucratic body, the United Nations perhaps, or by a body of scholars and lawyers, then that would be splendid, marvellous, a devil-sent gift of sophistication. For, naturally, by our ethos, the last thing we should want is for anyone to believe that we are actually “committing genocide” in any terms by which we might be condemned. We should hope, on the contrary, that people will believe our process to be a delightful spring-season of humanity and an opportunity for universal love; anything but genocide. The perfect, most sublime method of genocide would be one whereof the occurrence would be denied honestly by everyone. It is that to which everyone of us ought to dedicate himself, be he hopeless of absolute perfection in this imperfect world. It is only here and now, my dark comrades, that I am putting it to you as it is. Here also, if you insist on clinging to a cloak of darkness, you may call it whatever you like, but it matters not at all to the method and its realisation, except on what we might call the positive side. I am not here to tell you how you ought to feel about a particular disturbance of air, a particular material sign. I should not waste my time. We of all people, here and now, ought to appreciate just how far from reality all our words and connotations can set us, if we wish it, and how useful that proves to be. The discomfort of the light will not last long, and we may as well bear it for a little while; but if you insist, if you really cannot drag yourself, just for a moment, from the dark and dishonest place in which we all prefer to dwell, then you can call the process that we have in mind “enlightened melting” or “genogenesis” or “vibrant diversification”, or whatever pleases you. It matters not. Here, by the denotation I have set out and by honesty’s demand, I shall call it genocide. I am not here to argue with you. I am here to tell you about it; and the only aim whereof I can be confident in addressing you now is that you will surely admit at least, whether you shy from all else, that my — our — method of so-called genocide is a sublime one as befits the times.
     It is an evolution of the method of genocide. We do not use bludgeons or machetes, we do not use rifles or grenades, we do not use poison-gas or disease — we use marketing and hope. It is an evolution from crudity to sophistication. Each method is more sophisticated than the last, and, at each stage, men are further removed from the consciousness of their deeds, a consciousness which tends to come by way of connotive meanings — whereby images and impressions match expectations of what it means to be engaged in something. Our stage is the most sublime; for it puts men at the furthest remove. And, for us moderns, the furthest remove is next to godliness.
     We have touched on the matter of connotation, and we shall address it a little further, and shall continue to do so throughout, since it is by connotation that we marketers of unreality, we demonic sloganeers, bind you all. By our method, genocide can in principle occur without suffering, and indeed it can in principle be a pleasant experience for all; for every person of the people which is to cease to exist as a people may also desire it. If we sell it well, almost everyone will desire it. Yet this is quite against the connotive meanings that most people have for it. To most people, genocide connotes bad things, and therein it finds its overwhelming meaning for them, but if what is happening under our process appears to them to be something good, then it does not appear to them to be genocide. Now, if one sets about the deliberate and systematic destruction of a people or a race by whatever means, then it is genocide in the denotive meaning as we here understand it. If, however, one sets about the deliberate and systematic destruction of a people or a race by our means, by our sublime method, then it is not genocide in the connotive meanings by which most persons understand it. Thus, it is the case that, by our method, we can commit genocide in the denotive meaning, and yet we can expect to find that this process will not appear to most persons to be genocide, since they are committed to understanding it by the connotive meanings which are quite unnecessary or irrelevant to the process. In the end, it is all just a quibble over words — along with the little matter of the systematic destruction of peoples. So that, briefly and loosely stated, is an introduction to our method of genocide. Let the primitives use their machetes and their poison-gases; we have a more sophisticated and more humane method.
     So how, in a nutshell, do we commit genocide according to our method? Well, here it is: We take a people and make it a non-people in the eyes of most of its members, and, since no genocide can be committed against a non-people, then, in the eyes of most of the members of that people, no genocide can be committed against it. We present to it all manner of happy visions of the future, and we can even brighten the image of the future by dimming the image of the past. To the cattle that we have created — yes, especially the ones who have been through our educational institutions! — connotations are everything and mother-wit nothing. That is why they seek so-called lifestyles, these men without culture, and that is why we can sell them anything, even the destruction of their own race; for remember: we are salesmen, marketers — committing genocide: we call it celebrating diversity! At all times, the process is to be made to appear a positive one, indeed one in which a man ought to feel proud and almost holy to take part, and, since we are dealing with modern demotic man — the pig who demands his swill and calls it liberty — the process must have its pleasures and comforts. The crucial step is the first one: if we can persuade the majority of a people that it is not in fact a people, then we have already committed ideal genocide against it; the rest — the physical-biological genocide — should follow in due course and without much fuss. And it is fuss and suffering and slaughter that we wish — as humanitarians — to keep to a minimum.
     It ought to go without saying that destroying whole nations composed of tens of millions of persons would present certain logistical difficulties by the old and crude methods of mass-murder; and it could hardly go unnoticed. But who would be so crude to do such a thing nowadays, when there is at hand an ethos and a method as sublime as ours? Everyone of us ought to see that it is far better that genocide be conducted in a more peaceful way: by mixing peoples out of existence. Hatred naturally plays a fundamental and systematic part. The more men who can be taught to hate their own race and people, the more of us there will be to impel the process of their dissolution.
     The few amongst the targeted people who object to the genocide being committed against it will be put through the indignity of having to demonstrate and justify the right of their own people to continue to exist as a distinct people, which of course will be in vain, for how could such a thing be taken to be demonstrated and justified in an atmosphere of virulent hostility — wherein no lie or denial or vilification is too grand — and against the very perpetrators who have the appetite and the power to determine the genocide in the first place? This indignity will itself demoralise and cower and depress any opposition, as well as providing us with a spectacle to savour. And the better their case, and the finer their arguments, the more we shall hate and condemn them. And to their entreaties, we must remain pitilessly dismissive, whilst we put ourselves on the side of good and them on the side of evil..
     If we proceed in right manner, that is to say, with the sophistication that is our pride, then there really is no need for all that nasty business which appears as a necessary condition of genocide in the connotation-addled minds of most people. We sophisticates know that genocide does not necessitate murder or widespread suffering; on the contrary, we know that in principle it can be a pleasurable and enriching process for all. It can be simply the deliberate and systematic mixing and dissolving of a people out of existence. Certainly, in practice, there will be a few recalcitrant knuckle-draggers, as we like to call them, who will deplore the process; but for them, and for their sentimental whining and pathetic suffering, we can have nothing but hatred and pitiless contempt. We can never guarantee that the process might not go awry from its spotless way; but, on the whole, we can expect, we can hope, that genocide will be a jolly good affair with no unsightly incidents. But do you wish to know what is the most exquisite aspect of using other peoples as the tools by which to destroy a targeted people? Well, savour this, my sybarites: any resistance by any members of the targeted people against the tools of its genocide will likely and understandably be one of physical aggression; the resistance will be crude and thus visible to all eyes, and thereagainst we and our method will remain innocent and unseen. Here the “smashing of the crematoria”, as it were, will appear an act of evil, and the rebuilding of “them”, a return to goodness and progress. Are we not supremely-crafted beasts?
     Ideal genocide is reversible, however, though is unlikely to be reversed; for once the spirit of a people has been dispelled and depressed into the earth, it is very hard to reanimate it again. Physical-biological genocide is not reversible, of course, at least not without the most advanced technological intervention and the will to use it, and it is highly unlikely that anyone would trouble themselves to that end once a people or race has gone. If that is so, as it seems, then we can say that, once the physical-biological heritage of a people or a race, having taken thousands of years to come to a unique form, has been destroyed, it is near-impossible to bring it back again. So, with all that in mind, and if we are to remain faithful to our genocidal aim and push it through to the end, we must be careful to make sure that between the first stage of our method and the last, that is to say, between ideal genocide and physical-biological genocide, no spirit of the people is allowed to reanimate. Any little sign that it might do so ought to be regarded as an instance of great and looming evil and must be met with the most outrageous contempt and hatred. But I have no need to tell you that: you already know it well.
     It is unlikely that anything could stop so artfully-crafted a process as ours. I mean we even have self-declared patriots who love their country so much that they wish to see it turned into another one. How mind-bending is that? But we bend minds, dear brothers in malice, that is our method: we make it almost impossible for a man to think. And what of you so-called conservatives amongst us — what do you wish to preserve? Why, nothing, nothing at all, except your bank-accounts and your marble-topped kitchen-surfaces and the like, and we may even get you to give those up too. You also are men of the left-way, just like the rest of us, but slow on the uptake, heavy of foot, timid of spirit, lumbering in the baggage-train and protecting the flanks as the vanguard of left-progressivism forges on in its march of hatred and destruction. Now and then, a troop of this vanguard will turn back and ride down the column screaming at the stragglers and whipping the strayers back into line. And so you dim little skivvy-conservatives, timid little beasts, offer no effective resistance, just an occasional mutter to be heard, but otherwise frightened into conformity with evil. By awe, you even come to adopt the language and the mannerisms of these magnificent amoral beasts, these march-masters, though never quite with the same enthusiasm, never quite with the same demonic style. And the plebs — the men whom we should like to see rot away now that they have outlived their usefulness, now that we have found our redemption in more interesting and colourful people — what of them? A spent force and a revolting mess! I mean, truly, how could we love men who do not know how to cut an avocado properly, or who prefer malt vinegar to balsamic? These men serve only to dirty the picture in which we would like to frame ourselves.
     We know that a reign of fear is a most effective one, especially when it is given a moral colouring; and through it we can make men in our own image who appear beautiful in our eyes. Burke didn’t know the half of it, no, not even the tenth of it. — “The glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.” — Ha! Glory is well outside its range; grubby, inglorious survival would be a triumph for it. But how could the sage have known? In his day, and for a hundred years and more thereafter, Europe still had an inheritance. Now it is gone, frittered away on indulgences and insane pursuits, on so-called lifestyles for all. Europe, spiritless, listless, debased in its own eyes, sits in the gutter, contemplating sui-genocide. Yet that word cannot be quite right; the personal metaphor cannot quite stand. Strictly we must say that it is unlikely that it is an act of sui-genocide; for it is unlikely that there could have been one appetite for such. Personal metaphors for peoples are useful, but apt to mislead. In a people, the intent lies in some, but not all.
     The question of intent is especially acute with you, my half-mechanical fellows, for what do you intend? Certainly, back in your striving lives, your intentions seem to you good not bad, or rather, they are directed towards the image of the good. Now this image of good may be projected by absolute evil, the total privation of good, to which you will strive nonetheless, all the while congratulating yourselves on your moral propriety. Your whole brute-like existence, my sophisticates, is impressed with images, or idols.
     For those who engage in the process of genocide, there can be primary and secondary intentions, perhaps even more. A man, for instance, may have for his primary intention the creation of a new and happy people, or a stupid one, or any kind, created out of the elements of already-existing peoples. It is indeed a goodly part of our method of genocide to sell the idea of creation rather than that of destruction. Our marketing — pure, sinister, exquisite evil — could be expressed as: We need to destroy ourselves in order to survive and to become greater. Of course it is nonsense — the pronoun in the first clause cannot be the pronoun implied in the second — and we never even express it quite so, but it is in essence what we have been selling by various arguments, usually those invoking competition with other states. What it really means in other words is: Your people must be destroyed and replaced by one better suiting the needs or the desires of the moment. But we sell genogenesis not genocide. Thus, for most men, genocide is a secondary intention, not a primary one, though some may take a malicious delight in carrying out the present task of that intention. The case is similar for murder. A man may have as his primary intention the prevention of a secret becoming known, and so he may carry out the secondary intention of murder to secure that end. He intends murder nonetheless. 
     Our lives are complex webs of intentions, which may prove very hard to unweave for our understanding; and a primary intention can be so overwhelming that one can almost loose sight of the reality of the secondary intention by which one hopes to achieve it. Hardly anyone intends the process of genocide by the whole vision of it; few have the imagination to do so; but all of you, my fallen colleagues, intend your part in it by denotation and by the new positive connotations attached thereto which blind you to the reality of what you are doing. You do not know that you are committing genocide in the connotive meanings thereof simply because you are not in fact committing it as such; for you intend no such thing, that is to say, you intend nothing towards the stock-images by which your understanding of such a process is subverted. And, by concentrating on the positive connotations of creation, you can make the negative connotations of destruction fade from your minds. You are, as one of our slogans has it, always seeking “to think positively”. Certainly it is true that some of the most maniacal and hateful amongst you fill the newspapers and the airwaves with their genocidal desires, about which they are quite open, yet the rest of you — and perhaps these others too — do not have ears or eyes for such things; for your ears and eyes are for connotation-matching. Besides, you are either desirous of the same thing by the primary intention which they sell to you, by some happy image or moral imperative, or you are quite indifferent to its occurrence, willing to go along because that is just the way of things.
     It would be foolish to say that a process is genocide if and only if everyone who takes part therein must intend, or deliberate on, the whole of the process as genocide; for, if that were the case, then we must very much doubt there has ever been a case of it, except in the smallest tribal-groups. It is a partly systematic and partly deliberate process, with ideological, technological, and material conditions being functions of the systematic aspect; and the more it evolves, the less deliberate and the more systematic it becomes, until, in principle at least, and perhaps one day in fact, if our aftercomers ever attain full Enlightenment, there could be a process entirely systematic, and wholly pitiless, thereupon surpassing our definition of genocide. Still, as it stands, we may be proud of the stage we have reached.
     Our worldview, if we can call it that, is a shattered image, and we look through different shards depending on our needs and whims. Unconcerned with rational consistency, free from the desire for wholeness of vision, driven only by utility and appetite, we can bring an argument to bear against one thing which we wish to see destroyed but not against another which we wish to see spared, albeit in the case that the argument applies equally to both. We hold that whatever cannot be defined absolutely by material-objective determination is fair game for destruction, if we have the appetite for it; and it just so happens that in our philosophy, from the purely mechanical and atomistic view, rather than from the formal and holistic view, no complex object of sense-experience can be absolutely defined to its fullest-objective degree by finite minds. The principle of matter is unintelligible and its division without form is arbitrary. Nihilistic scepticism, we must remember, can go all the way, and can be brought down upon reason itself; yet we, for now, can apply it all the way for some things and no way at all for others, depending on our appetite. Upon that which is marked for destruction, our nihilism is let loose without restraint, to its fullest degree, savaging without pity, and even bringing with it a mocking crowd. From that which is to be spared, our nihilism is held at bay, whilst appeals to reasonableness and commonsense are made. Anything whereof we might wish to deny the existence, we can, by a thoroughgoing scepticism, make the defence thereof extremely hard, certainly too hard for the average person, and that is enough for us. It is the mass that carries the day, under our guiding hand. And do not think that commonsense — even of the very commonest sort — must be a sufficient defence in the end, not now that the people have been brought into the political-ideological realm for refitting. And anyone who proves unsuitable for sophistication or recalcitrant in their primitive beliefs, any who “should find no place in our democracy, our modern society, our twenty-first century, etc”, will be discarded as unfit to be part of the demos, as you may witness even now, if you care to look. That is the reality of the world we are creating — no wonder that you care not to see it! 
     The Problem of the Many is for us the solution to all our problems, namely, to everything that stands in our way. Imagine that which we call a forest. Given that it is composed of that which we call trees, it is impossible to say determinately whether it is a forest, whether it is a vast number of forests, or whether it is no forest at all; for there is no absolute-determinate point at which we may say it is one or another as to the material-objective boundaries thereof. Better still: imagine that we admit for a moment the existence of a beech-wood. Imagine further that a beech-tree is removed and a spruce-tree is added. Is it still a beech-wood? Imagine the same happens another time and another time. Is it still a beech-wood? Well, we of all people can call it whatever we like! We could remove every beech-tree, and replace each with a spruce-tree, and still call it a beech-wood; for was there ever in fact a beech-wood or a beech-tree in the first place? It is all just names for us: there are no forms or essences by which our words and concepts can map reality.
     In the final analysis, we constitute the principle for the destruction of everything in the world; but we must begin somewhere, and we begin at the top and work our way down. If we are to dismiss the belief in peoples and races simply because we cannot, as finite minds, draw an absolute-material boundary amongst them, or between them and other things which we do not call peoples and races, just as we cannot draw for any complex object, then we must, if we are to be rationally consistent, deny the existence of forests, tables, automobiles, toenails, humans — in short, every complex object of our world; for the same argumentative principle applies to them all. Now, it must be said, in the light of old philosophy and the principle of the intelligibility of reality, that it is quite unreasonable and quite against commonsense not to believe in such things as trees, tables, humans, etc, in some sense, but that is fine: ultimately we believe in nothing. But we are not going to deny the existence of such things — not yet anyway — because, firstly, we would be ridiculed, even though it is something to which many of the ridiculers themselves would be committed if they were consistent; and secondly, we have not yet found a compelling use for doing so. But let it be understood that these “useful fictions”, as we believe them to be, lead a precarious existence in our minds: when we can no longer find a use for one, or if it is thought that we could get along better without it, then be assured that we shall no longer have any regard for it. It has not yet become expedient to deny the existence of humans; but the same argument and nihilistic spirit, which is used to deny the existence of anything whereof no use or love can be found, will be readily at hand when the need arises; and who knows what the future holds in that regard? For genocide, we must say, is really not that important in the scheme of things, if we look at the grand picture of the total destruction to which we tend. The dissolution of persons as well as peoples can occur; for the idea of persons is no more defensible in our philosophy than that of peoples; and since we take our arguments to be effective against peoples, our having the appetite to their destruction, so, in the end, as the appetite to utility and power dictates, we shall take these arguments to be effective against persons, as well as against any of the other complex objects of our experience which displease us or which prove not to be useful in the calculus of power. We do not believe in the rational will, but we are quite prepared to call our irrational appetite rationality itself if it is useful to do so. It is all just words and words are just noises signifying nothing. Everything is deniable under the government of the irrational appetite of our bestial condition. And ultimately, by our appetite, nothing can be affirmed.
     Presently such is the case with peoples: when is a people actually a people? Never, unless it is expedient for us to say so! We could replace all the Germans with Turks and still call them Germans. And the delightful thing is that the Germans, for the most part, would acquiesce to the process. And by all the argumentative means by which we are dissolving the Germans, the English, the Swedes, and indeed all the European nations, we can dissolve all races, nations, peoples, tribes, and ethnic groups. As for denying native or indigenous peoples their status as such, you may understand that, by our absurd measure and whim, it can be done to every people on this earth. There are no ontologically-objective lines in the sand, as it were. Perhaps it is this which will shock you. Had you not placed innocence in these others? Did you not hold that the Bantu peoples or the Tibetans had the right to exist, that they are actually peoples with homelands? Here for us the Tibetans are an interesting case. The Han-Chinese are in the process of destroying their homeland and culture, and eventually, we may suppose, their physical-biological existence as a distinct people; and even we find in that something to be regretted, when, in the case of our own race and peoples, we feel hardly a twinge, but rather even happiness. Yet times change, and perhaps one day, under the efficiency-imperative of a world-bureaucracy, our more Enlightened descendants will seek the disappearance of all races and peoples — by the same arguments and the same abnegation of reason which we have used and promoted against our own kind. 
     Some of these glimpses of reality may have pained you; for you had fancied, damned and beloved creatures of wickedness that you are, that the great sin of racial antagonism and aggression had somehow departed the world — except, we may curiously observe, in the case of your own European race, which you believe has remained deeply stained with it. But how are we to find our redemption, we sinful ones? Why, we seek our redemption through the destruction of our own race! Do we not believe that the racial aggression of blacks, for instance, or the seeking of the self-determination thereof, is but a struggle for justice, a healthy expression of their identity, whereas the same of whites is a fight for darkness and barbarity, even despite — no, because of! — the civilisation they have brought, and do we not meet the most pathetic, the most heartfelt, and even the most just cry of a white man — our own fellow — with contempt? But of course we do! Our race and our peoples are for us the repository of sin, whereas other races and peoples are the means of our redemption; for, through them we can destroy our own, and thereby rid the world of sin, and that is the only redemption that is available to us godless men. That is why “the other” is holy to us — it is not us, the sinful ones. Nevertheless it must be understood that it is not we as particular individuals who believe ourselves sinful as particular individuals; on the contrary, as such, we believe ourselves to be close to godliness, cleansed by our embrace of “the other”, enough to deem ourselves morally fit to bring outrage down upon the unclean; — it is our own peoples which are sinful, the very existence of them a dark stain on the world. That is why they must be destroyed and why we must be pitiless in our drive to that end. For us, in our sunken world, it is a war of sinlessness against sin, good against evil, justice against injustice, right against wrong, and it would be dreadful for us to give quarter or sympathy to sin, evil, injustice, and wrong. That is how it is for us in our sunken world, a world in which we do not see ourselves, nor ever think of sin as such, certainly not in consideration of ourselves as individuals, a world wherein our deep psychical motives are hidden from us; but here and now, as we are sniffing the air and feeling the sunshine, and recoiling in horror at the healthiness of it, we appreciate that it is we who are sick, and profoundly so.
     Be it said, then, my dearest of all Europeans, that the long-term future of Europe is either European or non-European, or, if you prefer to put it another way, racially white as descended largely or exclusively from genetic Europeans, or racially non-white as descended either largely or exclusively from genetic non-Europeans or from genetic Europeans and genetic non-Europeans in a significant admixture. If you choose European, then why is that more wrong than if you choose non-European? Now, you may cry that I have set up a false dichotomy, that really the choice is European, non-European, or a “vibrant and colourful” co-habitation of the two categories of people living happily ever after as separate peoples in mutual harmony; but that is not so, and the dichotomy still stands, or at least it does outside our absurd fantasy; for we are talking about the long-term future of peoples living in the same territory or polity, wherein miscegenation, or slaughter, or both, will likely produce, given that our fantasy does not come true, one of the following outcomes: a European people descended largely or exclusively from ancestral Europeans; a non-European people descended largely or exclusively from ancestral non-Europeans; or a non-European people descended from a significant admixture of both ancestral Europeans and ancestral non-Europeans. The choice for the long-term future of Europe still stands: European or non-European.
     If you say that one preference for the long-term future is better than the other, or even that one is evil and the other good, then you need to ask why your preference is better than that of someone who chooses otherwise. Why, for instance, is non-European better than European? But we already know your preference and why it is good: because, by our ideology, European is evil and non-European is good! You can rightly claim that the preferences are not equal, namely, that they are not both racial preferences; for you can hold that the choice is between race and not-race. But now you have to ask why racial preference — or “racism”, as we call it — is bad whilst anti-racial preference — or “anti-racism” — is good. It could come as an uncomfortable surprise for you, since you are always accusing your fellows of racism because you know that they will take it as bad; for predominant ideologies tend to go unquestioned and even unseen; but now you have to wonder why it is bad and not just assume it is. To put it starkly: why is it bad to wish to preserve a race or a people but good to be willing or careless to see it destroyed? It is after all quite something remarkable that we have embarked upon: to be willing or indifferent to the destruction of a unique form of life which took thousands of years to develop and which can never be recovered, and it is an especially odd will or indifference when it is the form of life to which we ourselves belong. But perhaps you have superior forms in mind: perhaps the dissolution of your own race by its admixture with others will produce a superior and enlightened people;— a super-race in comparison to the old and sinful race to which you belong. But hold on! A superior race? That cannot be what you are after — you hate the idea! You even deny the existence of races to make it impossible to think it! Or is it just the idea of different contemporaneous races that you hate? Is one super-race existing alone — thereby no longer actually a race, but one dominant species — and superior to all the races of the past an idea that sits well with you? Well, of course, the idea also sits well with any pan-exterminatory genocidalist who would like to see his own race triumph above all! But I am only playing with you. You and I do not want any such thing. It is not a superior race that we desire. Inferior is more our style. And that is the funny thing: we would dissolve our own race because we believe it to be embarrassingly superior. It is that belief which is for us the source of its sin and shame. In other times, we would have made splendid supremacists, as all peoples once were in their own eyes for their own ways. But we are now as fate has made us: our own ways are the wrong ways, the sinful ways, and they must be destroyed. Not, again I say, we ourselves as individuals: we hold ourselves to be the blessed and the enlightened ones. Times are different and we are of a different kind. We are Enlightened. We seek inferiority and dissolution.
     So, my dear friends in darkness, I hope you have learnt that, on our terms, on the terms by which we are committing genocide even today, there is nothing necessarily frightful. For sure, you have had to learn a few uncomfortable truths about yourselves: that you are elements of absolute evil, that you are profoundly sick, that you would ultimately be the agents of the destruction of everything; but everything has its price. Even our so-called gift of speech is subject to a most humbling fee: the risk of choking on our own tongues. Besides, you will soon forget; for, except, as now, when it is pointed out to you, the process you see today appears to you quite normal, though it is the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened in the history of the world. But why shouldn’t it be? We are extraordinarily sophisticated, and we are extraordinarily sundered from the reality of our extraordinary deeds — set apart like small, mean, self-absorbed gods.
     It is true that the primitive instincts are not quite dead in us; for we still see in other peoples a goodness and a beauty which do truly exist in them, and we see in our own peoples an evil and an ugliness which likewise do truly exist; but the irony is that it is we above all amongst our own peoples who are the haters and the destroyers; we are the greatest blight upon them. We flit from one thing to another in a never-ending search for things to hate — which makes us feel moral. We do not just represent the principle of the destruction of our own peoples, but also the principle of the eventual destruction of all the other peoples for whom we still have some sympathy. From us, in the end, nothing is safe.
     So what are we together, you and I, in our darkest elements? “We are the spirit that always denies.” We are Mephistopheles. You may laugh at the thought of it, but were you so crude as to put him into literal-material form and then dismiss his existence as nonsense? But of course you were! It is around such crudities that the pearls of our sophistication are formed.
     In all primitive honesty, we can say: what is happening is monstrous, but, since almost everyone is co-opted into the process, made willing by seduction and corruption and the most pleasing images, which each interprets in his own hopeful way, each a fool nodding in confirmation of Barnum-statements, then to whom does it appear monstrous? Why, to almost no-one! And, my foul friends, those few together who remain outside our circle constitute a weakling whom we can crush with ridicule and spite — and law too! But let us not be parochial: that would strike against our pride, which is nothing without claim to universal sophistication. We cannot see any bounds that are not of our own making; and we would sooner become scattered across the whole world like dust than be bound up in some poky little corner of it; — let us not be parochial: the disappearance of the nations matters not at all in the universal scheme of things; forsooth nothing matters; for is that not what the whole of our philosophy teaches, when all is said and done, when we face it honestly, when we refuse to dress it in the flimsy contradictions of sentimentality? At any moment, we can strip that philosophy bare, and bring the most ruthless destruction down upon some object that has begun to displease us because we can no longer find a use for it. All that is left to us — and we demonstrate it daily — is to feed the needs and desires of a distinctly bestial kind. We even boast of it; for it is what we sometimes fancy to be our realistic attitude — we who turn from a glimpse of reality as a woodlouse scurries from sunlight! No, we have already been parochial enough in speaking today of the little matter of genocide, even if by some need of illustration. Let us not pity the loss of some particular race or people, which after all is to us just a fancy and ill-definable collocation of atoms. The universe is too vast a system for us to spare a thought for some little corner of it. It would be silly to do so. It would give privilege to what does not in fact possess it.
     So now, my chthonic spirits, to ease ourselves back into comforting ground, let us all agree: what has been happening to your nations — to the Swedes, to the Germans, to the French, to the English, and so on — is not genocide; it would be absurd for you to call it such; for there have been no stock-images outside your heads which have matched the stock-images inside them; it has merely been the process of the systematic and deliberate dissolution of nations — how wonderful are words! — wherein you, my pale elements, have been playing an enthusiastic part. The process will continue, and so we shall continue to hate and condemn those who stand against us. But I am sorry to have troubled you. Go back to your managed opinions, your moral panics, your endless chasing after gadgets and cars and interesting foods — go back to your dark unreality. If you are lucky, you will hardly feel a thing, and the name of genocide, by the only sense in which your derelict souls can grasp it, will never be invoked, though the integrity of Europe be extinguished for ever.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Charlton on the Clever Silly

Bruce G. Charlton, evolutionary psychiatrist, professor of theoretical medicine, and editor-in-chief of Medical Hypotheses, lays on a feast of that oddest animal of all: the clever silly.

Here is a sniff of the starter:
“[M]y suggested explanation . . . is that an increasing relative level of IQ brings with it a tendency differentially to over-use general intelligence in problem-solving, and to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense. Preferential use of abstract analysis is often useful when dealing with the many evolutionary novelties to be found in modernizing societies; but is not usually useful for dealing with social and psychological problems for which humans have evolved ‘domain-specific’ adaptive behaviours. And since evolved common sense usually produces the right answers in the social domain, this implies that, when it comes to solving social problems, the most intelligent people are more likely than those of average intelligence to have novel but silly ideas, and therefore to believe and behave maladaptively. I further suggest that this random silliness of the most intelligent people may be amplified to generate systematic wrongness when intellectuals are in addition ‘advertising’ their own high intelligence in the evolutionarily novel context of a modern IQ meritocracy. The cognitively-stratified context of communicating almost exclusively with others of similar intelligence generates opinions and behaviours among the highest IQ people which are not just lacking in common sense but perversely wrong.” [1]
And here is a whiff of the dessert:
“Yet, whatever else, to be a clever silly is a somewhat tragic state; because it entails being cognitively trapped by compulsive abstraction; unable to engage directly and spontaneously with what most humans have traditionally regarded as psycho-social reality; disbarred from the common experience of humankind and instead cut-adrift on the surface of a glittering but shallow ocean of novelties: none of which can ever truly convince or satisfy. It is to be alienated from the world; and to find no stable meaning of life that is solidly underpinned by emotional conviction. Little wonder, perhaps, that clever sillies choose sub-replacement reproduction.” [2]
If some humility could be taught to the clever silly before he begins to form an idea about a matter of widespread social and political importance, perhaps then he could be persuaded to bear in mind a paraphrase of a line by Groucho Marx: Any idiot could understand this matter; fetch me an idiot!

[1] Bruce G. Charlton, “Clever Sillies: Why High IQ People Tend to be Deficient in Common Sense”, Medical Hypotheses, in press, 2009, p.1. (For more of Dr Charlton’s works, see here and here.)

[2] Ibid., pp.3-4. David Stove was also good on clever sillies. See, for instance, his “Righting Wrongs”, in On Enlightenment, ed. A. Irvine (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 2003), and “The Oracles and Their Cessation: a Tribute to Julian Jaynes”, in Cricket versus Republicanism, and Other Essays (Sydney: Quakers Hill Press, 1995).

Saturday, 26 September 2009


It is hoped under the impress of the mechanical philosophy that men will one day be able to look upon the world and explain all of its aspects in mechanical terms without the slightest reference to functionality or intentionality, including the very apparent and conscious intentionality of trying to explain all of the aspects of the world in mechanical terms. It seems, however, that this vain hope has not filtered down into the lower and less sophisticated reaches of reductionistic belief; for therein is taken for granted not only the existence of mere teleology in the microbiological world, but also the existence of strategic ability. An example follows:
“Of course, human environments consist mainly of other people, and the genes of those alive today contain many strategies for dealing with those other people . . . some of them are very good at manipulating other people.” [1]
The belief that bits of nucleic acid have strategies is so fantastic that I am baffled by how a man could hold it. No superstition of this age or any other is so deeply unreasonable. Nevertheless, if we were to entertain it for a moment, we should rightly wonder what dastardly strategy genes have in store for us in their tendency to reveal their dastardly-strategic natures to seemingly naïve and impressionable men.

[1] Anonymous, commenting on Dennis Mangan, “Social sciences as branches of biology”, Mangan’s (weblog), 24th September 2009. (Also: “as far as living things are concerned, genes are everything”. I once heard a man likewise claim that he was merely a genebot, and I must admit that, in view of his moronic character, I was very inclined to agree with him.)