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Philosophistry is now a book!

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New Essays

Discrimination is a cruel, but important teacher

For example, if you have a slight resting bitch face, and walk through a grocery store, you will have a hundred micro-interactions where people have to make a quick decision as to whether you're nice, happy, sad, angry, etc. If they get it wrong, and treat you in a way that's inappropriate to your true expression, then it will lower your fitness. In this way, there is significant pressure for our outward expressions to match our inwards, and all thanks to discrimination.

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Half of all genetic traits are latent

Mom's needlework is present in her, but obscured in her sons. Likewise her sons' ambitions may be muted in their daughters. For the muted recipients, those traits either remain completely dormant, or find some narrow or redirected expression, either through proxy hopes and dreams or more gender-appropriate ones.

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If traditional economics worked as expected, the cost of socks should be zero

By this point in time, the cost of socks should be nearly free, at least according to traditional economics. And yet, at Wal-Mart—that banner example of traditional economics—the price of socks remains static or rising. Some of this has to do with the fact that much of Wal-Mart's costs are real estate. And yet Amazon, a company with no storefronts, has the same issue with pricey socks. The larger issue is that traditional economics doesn't scale. If Wal-Mart can sell a more luxe sock to more people, all of a sudden the cheaper sock disappears. And this isn't necessarily a knock on the rationality of buyers. Big retailers, for the purposes of marketing or for efficiency, drop or hide cheaper options. Theoretically, the bargain hunter could scour the rest of Internet—the most efficient marketplace of all—and find the cheapest sock, but they would discover that those cost reductions were only provided by small retailers who have to charge exorbitant fees because they can't negotiate volume discounts with shippers like Amazon can.

A similar breakdown has happened in farming. At first glance, it seems that farming should consolidate into one, massive, automated player. Instead, the big farmers focus on few crops, such as corn, most of which they sell as feed for animals or as grist for companies who can purchase low-quality, single-crop items at scale, such as McDonald's. Meanwhile, most of the ingredients in the food we eat are regionally sourced by a small business farmer.

Technology is still providing productivity gains, but we cannot necessarily realize those gains if they can't be applied at scale because there isn't enough demand.

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Just as there are geometric rules that guide evolution—such as predators having two eyes forward and prey having two eyes to the side—there may be a geometric principle to consciousness, with id and subconscious being a natural dichotomy, one that we would find in other conscious animals, or even aliens

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Maybe we're approaching the limits of capitalism

The friction costs of capitalism are so high now, that more capitalism may do more harm than good. Communism's problem was that it was inefficient, but if the efficiency problem could have been solved, without corruption (or maybe with it, still), then was there really a problem with communism? We may be seeing that answer in China. It appears capitalism's final argument was that it preserved innovation. What if innovation isn't sacrificed in a different system? There are too many moving parts in the complex goods and services we demand, such as health care, that Adam Smith's invisible hands get too tied up maximizing their individual gain, that the whole embrace weakens.

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Rationality is a ritual, one that involves light, vague estimates of costs and benefits

They're so light, that one wonders if they can even be called rational. For example, when you ask for help and someone volunteers it, neither party is really measuring cost-benefit because the stakes are so low. Rather, all our actions are just a matter of drives and culture. Likewise, in the case of voting, it's not a rational decision for most of the electorate.

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Religion is still the best thing we have for building community, for telling us what to do with our mind, for masking eugenics, for helping the sexes compromise, for ___ etc

As for explaining our origins, it's about even with science, since science can't explain what happened before the Big Bang. And as for explaining the nature of reality, it's about even with science. Science can tell us a lot about what we can measure, but it can't, and maybe won't, ever tell us about what we can't.

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Socialism and capitalism are both straw men that the media and the masses flog back-and-forth to keep them distracted from real solutions

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There are masculine versions of feminine things men are attracted to and vice-versa

So, for example, a woman who is soft translates into a man who is sensitive. Or a man who is powerful translates into a woman who is confident.

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The social classes have gendered roles in an odd-even, male-female pattern

The social classes have gendered roles. The upper-middle-class is the most feminine, with lithe professors and an emphasis on respectful, politically-correct discourse. The upper-class is more masculine, with titans of industry and others looking to scale the highest peaks of wealth. Then, the top out-of-sight is feminine again, angelic in their security at the top of the firmament.

Going back down from the upper-middle-class, the middle-class is also feminine, focused on equal marriages and appeasing everybody above and below them. The high-proletariat, though, is masculine, with the six-figure plumbers and contractors being the kings of professions that favor strength. On down, though the low proletarians, are a return to femininity in the form of strong maternal safety nets to protect everybody who is one layoff away from poverty. And then below, we swing back to the masculine anger that comes with being destitute or bottom-out-of-sight.

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We already have a tool for eugenics, and it's dating within our own religions

There are no deplorables at the religious service, maybe a few token ones for inclusiveness, but those that can't sit and behave and be introduced to the priest's daughter are tacitly excluded.

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We are evolving into polite computers

Consider the example of the rigid C-3PO, who is very anal about protocol and other details. Likewise, we are developing genes to worry about obeying rules, both small and large, both self-imposed and other-imposed. That rule-following is part and parcel of a world that is becoming increasingly numerate, integrated, and also automated.

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We might have as much free will as someone doing improv

Our minds just retroactively ascribe a predetermined will or hand behind our actions, when really they were just random.