Our Relationship With Information Has Fundamentally Changed in a Quarter-Century

The greatest selective advantage that the human creature has over its competitors is an unrivalled capacity for intelligence. This manifests as an ability to make use of information. Few are aware of it, but the human relationship to information has undergone a revolution over the past 25 years – and it has implications for our conception of intelligence.

It used to be that there was a shortage of information. Now there is a surplus. In many ways, this has been a good thing. In some ways it’s had strange implications.

Some of the ways it is good are like the way creatures that have adapted to a shortage often find themselves thriving when there is a surplus, such as athletes who have trained at high altitude where there is a shortage of oxygen.

It has meant that researchers and academics now have it easier than ever. Instead of relying on a librarian or punch cards, researchers can put a regular expression into a search engine which has crawled all the papers in their field (or subset thereof).

In fact, most people have in their pockets instant access to more information than physically exists in the largest library in the world. This is fairly straightforward, and not as interesting as the ways in which it is strange.

The strangest implication of our new relationship to information is that it is no longer about finding rare nuggets of truth among fields of irrelevant or easily dismissed information. Now it’s about knowing how to distinguish those nuggets of truth from nuggets that might look or sound very similar but which might really be full of falsehood.

Becoming educated about a subject used to be like finding diamonds among rocks – now it’s more like sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Being correct is now no longer a question of having money to buy books or to hire a learned tutor and having a good enough memory to recall what one has been told. Now it is a question of gullibility.

Take climate change as an everyday example. Determining the truth of this isn’t as simple as just finding out what the foremost expert thinks.

Who are the foremost experts on climate change, and why? And why does one set of supposed experts disagree so fundamentally with another set of supposed experts? If the experts are unified on climate change, how is that different to when they were unified on homosexuality being a mental illness? How much of the consensus is groupthink?

And what is the extent of politics on the science of climate change?

Questions like this once didn’t need to be asked because there was no way of propagating enormous amounts of dis- or misinformation like there is with the Internet of today. Often things were as simple as finding the nearest university professor who had an interest in the subject, and that was as good as one could hope for.

Dealing with this change is difficult because it requires an entirely different set of mental skills. The new paradigm prioritises nuance and probability over revolution and absolutes. Shades of gray instead of brutal black and white.

One now has to be more streetsmart with research, and accept that politics has a much greater influence on science – especially the soft sciences – than most would dare admit. Today’s climate change debate appeared in the previous generation as the debate over racial intelligence, and in the generation before that as the debate on the medicinal value of various psychoactive drugs – two other subjects where finding the simple truth is impossible.

To some extent it doesn’t matter: the sort of person who didn’t read books nowadays simply doesn’t educate themselves with the Internet instead. You can’t make gold out of shit.

But to a large extent, intelligence is different to what it used to be. It is no longer a simple question of storing, retaining and reproducing information like a biological hard drive, but a question of identifying the most likely claim to correctness out of a number of plausible competitors, like a knight choosing a blade from an armoury before battle.

This may mean that the kind of person we consider to be intelligent now may not be the same kind of person that we will consider intelligent in another quarter-century.

Is it Time to Make Winston Peters the King of New Zealand?

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It’s a question on the lips of very, very few people: should New Zealand replace Queen Elizabeth II with Winston Peters as our Head of State?

Many people are talking about the day when New Zealand finally casts off the last vestiges of British cultural dominance. For some reason, the obvious thing to do when this day comes is widely considered to be to become a republic. A man no less knowledgeable than David Lange said that New Zealand will inevitably become a republic.

There’s a problem with this cozy narrative, though: most republics around the world are shit.

Indeed, if you say “The Republic” to a New Zealander they will probably think immediately of South Africa, which is hardly a country New Zealand wants to emulate. By almost every measure: wealth, crime, education, corruption, healthcare, justice, race relations – New Zealand is a much better country than South Africa.

As Plato could have told us, the basic problem with a democracy is that when the head of state represents the mob, you inevitably end up with a tyranny, as the cruder elements of human nature, left unchecked, express themselves in abusive government.

This is why the Roman Republic ended up with the assassination of Caesar and civil war, why the Weimar Republic gave us Hitler, and why the death throes of the American Republic has presented us with a choice between the buffoonish Donald Trump and the execrable Hillary Clinton.

Not only do republics run a serious risk of being shit, but constitutional monarchies (as New Zealand is) fill most of the list of the decent countries in the world. Almost every decent country in Europe – Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Monaco and Liechtenstein – is a constitutional monarchy, as is Canada, Australia, Japan and Thailand.

Constitutional monarchies, in which the head of state is a monarch whose powers are laid out in the form of a constitution, have some massive advantages over Presidential systems. The foremost, as mentioned above, is that they can avoid putting all power in the hands of a representative of the lowest common denominator.

Another is that, because monarchs have no term limits, the monarch (and their various consorts, princes, dukes etc.) will remain engaged with the government over the course of many decades. The British Government benefits immensely from the wisdom offered by Queen Elizabeth II, who, in the natural course of her business as Queen, has had the opportunity to meet an unprecedented number of influential people.

In this way, the monarch offers a link to the past that allows for a higher, more detached perspective. This is only possible because the monarch does not sully themselves with an undertaking as filthy as politics in the first place. Would any group of American intellectuals call upon the wisdom of George W Bush?

If the argument for a constitutional monarchy is accepted, why Winston Peters?

First and foremost, Winston Peters is actually a Kiwi. He is not a German who lives in England. All other things being equal, this makes him vastly more qualified than Queen Elizabeth II, for whom New Zealand might as well be on the Moon.

Peters is also both Maori and Pakeha, and therefore better represents the blood whose vital energies founded and gave rise to the nation than any foreign monarch could. Not only that, but also more than any Kiwi who was not themselves both Maori and Pakeha. Even better is that he does not identify solely with either group, having previously made a big deal about ending the “grievance industry” beloved of black magicians among Maori elites.

Aside from his crude racial qualities, Peters is of auspicious family: two of his brothers have also been MPs.

Despite that, Peters is far from an upper-middle class twit. He was previously captain of the Auckland Maori rugby side and played in trials for the New Zealand Maori. This makes him a man for all people, from the rugged colonial who hewed the country out of rock and kauri to the gentle statesmen of modern Wellington.

That is not the only way he represents what is innately good about the Shaky Isles. He is also an explorer, like everyone who immigrated to here over the years. He has been to North Korea to meet their leaders when he represented the nation as Foreign Minister in the Clark Government. This is something that can be said of no other Kiwi, and probably few of us would have the gumption to travel to North Korea as a representative of the nation.

His wisdom has been demonstrated by the Winebox inquiry, being right about the need to switch to a Western European pension system, and by being right about the effects of mass immigration on social cohesion. Since most of the impetus behind letting so many immigrants in is to make quick money as soon as possible, Peters’s attitude represents the kind of long-sighted calmness everyone needs in a king.

And his commitment to the nation is unquestioned. Even losing his Parliamentary seat in the General Election of 2008 was not enough to cause him to give up. In this regard he is equalled only by people like Richie McCaw and Edmund Hillary.

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Crucially, none of these things necessarily qualify him for a place in Parliament, which is, of course, a nest of scum-sucking, lying, parasitic whores, and never more so than right now under a John Key Government.

This proposal raises obvious questions regarding whether the position be hereditary or not (it could be ceremonial), and the precise limits to monarchic power.

It seems that the time has come for New Zealand to stand on its own two feet and make Winston Peters the King of the constitutional monarchy of Aotearoa.

The Right is Surging Because Authority Has Failed the People of the West

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Doom and gloom abounds in the public consciousness. A popular line of reasoning at the moment is to follow the parallels between the rise of totalitarianism in the early 20th century and the current global political situation. Predictably, fingers are being pointed, but those of us with an understanding of history are reluctant to do so just yet.

A currently popular NZ Herald article outlines the reasoning. In short, “there are chilling similarities between the terrifying dictators who led us into WWI and WWII and modern politicians such as Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe and US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump”.

Apparently our world is in an especially precarious place right now because of countries like Russia, which is “a dictatorship with a charismatic leader using fear and passion to establish a cult around himself”. The article goes on to predict that a great war is coming because politicians are running for power based on a platform of division and scaremongering.

The joke is that every authority figure does this – setting the people against each other is simply the only way to stay in authority! It isn’t limited to Hitler and Trump – every king, every prime minister, every president, ever, has always stoked fear and chaos for the simple reason that only scared people will give their power away to authority figures.

If you disagree, try to name a single politician who has ever been voted to power on a platform that stoked up no hate against anyone. It’s impossible! At the very minimum, the left always stokes hatred against the rich and established and the right always stokes hatred against the poor and disenfranchised. The libertarians have created a niche by stoking hatred against both the right and the left, and the Greens have found a niche stoking up passive-aggressive hatred against the working classes. In wartime the enemy is some foreign tribe, and in the absence of anything else politicians can always stoke hatred against the Jew.

The problem is not that Trump and Putin are shamelessly taking advantage of a “perfect storm” of adverse factors. The problem is that authority figures have consistently failed us – every time we have given them our power, they have used it against us to control us, to steal money from us, to send us to die on military adventures or to put us in cages.

It’s time to realise that this is the very nature of authority, and that crime is what we will get by continuing to submit to it.

George W Bush and Tony Blair have not faced prosecution for their illegal invasion of Iraq that killed over a million people. Hillary Clinton blatantly broke the law and was nominated for President anyway. Barack Obama has committed war crimes with the US drone program and will not be prosecuted. All authority figures in the West have persecuted their own people with the War on Drugs, and no-one has been held to account. It seems that once a person achieves a certain level of authority, we are happy to let them be above the law.

This problem cannot be solved by voting for a different authority figure! The constant use of bait-and-switch, in which the ruling class gives us all manner of choice for leader but only within a very narrow, controlled band, guarantees that we will never get an authority figure in power who actually cares about the people. And if anyone stands up who does, the media will tell us that he is a populist and therefore the next Hitler!

We, the people of the West, need to take back our power from the authority figures that have failed us.

Do not give your power to politicians by voting.

Do not give your power to the Police by dobbing in your neighbours for victimless crimes.

Do not give your power to the media by giving your attention to their squawkings and hatemongering.

Do not give your power to the corporate machine by buying things you don’t need.

Do not give your power to religions that claim God has declared another group of people to be inferior. It doesn’t matter if it’s gays, women, or outsiders – do not give your power to any priest that tries to divide you against others.

Do not give your power to the usurers by borrowing money for short term pleasure.

Do not give your power away to anyone claiming to be an ‘expert’ who cannot demonstrate a superior capacity for reasoning and honesty.

Do not give your power away by believing anything you are told, including this article.

If we, the people of the West, do not give our authority away to incompetent bullshitters and swindlers, we will be able to build a decent world from the ashes of what’s coming.

The West is awake!

The West is awake!

Anatomy of Failure

This photoessay, to be taken between now and November, will chart the failure of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential bid. The medium chosen is the form of screen captures of my BetFair account, in which I document making heaps of money as Hillary’s campaign goes down the toilet.

01 MAY (the day God told me Hillary was going to lose)

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21 JUL

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28 JUL

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03 AUG – Hillary storms back into a dominant position! Must be time to load up on Trump some more…

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04 AUG – Over three months until the election, Hillary is in to $1.33. The Donald has blown out to $4.50, are we going to look silly here going against the Clinton machine?

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11 AUG – The Donald collapses on news that he has been encouraging his supporters to kill Hillary Clinton in event of him losing the election.

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14 SEP – after surging for a while, concerns about Hillary’s health come into play when she falls ill at a 9/11 memorial.

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Are Establishment Forces About to Collapse Into One Party?

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In the world of the cyberpunk novel The Verity Key, politics has sunk to such a degenerate level that no-one has any confidence in politicians, no matter who they are or what they promise. In response to this, there is no longer any room for shame in politics. The left and the right have collapsed into the Establishment Party, which doesn’t even pretend to stand for anything other than the naked self-interest of the powerful.

Francis Fukuyama wrote about a ‘Great Pendulum’ that swung back and forth throughout history every half century or so and whose oscillations heralded new ages and epochs. A Taoist might understand this as the dynamic between masculine and feminine, in which the excesses of one kind of energy lead naturally to the rise of the other.

The Great Pendulum may have swung the furthest to the right in the 1940s and 1950s, which were characterised by nationalist wars and widespread acceptance of eugenics and the physical elimination of those considered unworthy of life. The revolution against this way of thinking occurred in 1968, and was marked by student protests, LSD and Woodstock, culminating in the ‘Summer of Love’.

If the pendulum has swung left since then, and if this swinging left has been characterised by gay marriage, liberal immigration laws for people from impoverished countries, and the obesity epidemic, then perhaps it has been half a century since 1968 and the pendulum is about to swing back. The mass sexual assaults and terrorism so far in Europe this year might see 2016 remembered as the ‘Summer of Hate’.

If it does, we may see a revaluation of values that indicates the pendulum will swing to the masculine side once again, as it last did in the Victorian Age that marked the height of the British Empire, one of the most audacious attempts to impose order upon chaos ever devised.

Donald Trump may be a harbinger of this revolution. Then again, the real opposition for Trump may come from within his own party, in the form of the Establishment favourite Ted Cruz. Certainly Donald Trump destroyed his opponents in the Republican primaries by appearing as more of an alpha male, which might suggest a shift away from the consensus politics of the last 50 or so years.

Bernie Sanders might not represent a swing to the right, but his rise in influence could nonetheless reflect a switch to a more rational way of trying to improve the lives of the citizenry, as opposed to the trend-based, emotion-driven, suffocating maternalism represented by Hillary Clinton.

Seen in this way, Clinton and Cruz have more in common with each other than either does with their opponent in their party primary. This might turn out to be the embryo of what will one day become the Establishment Party.

In Europe, a different process might lead to a similar result. Already in some European countries, France and Sweden the foremost, there is an open conspiracy to deny all media time to the growing far-right parties. This conspiracy might turn out to be the last stand of the regressive left as the momentum of the great pendulum proves unstoppable.

If the far-right parties continue to grow, all other parties might come together in some countries to resist them. These new parties will be grand coalitions of conservatives, social democrats and perhaps even Greens, and will be Establishment Parties in all but name.