Tim Southee, Mike Hesson and the Sunk Cost Fallacy

Matt Henry has a better ODI strike rate with the ball than even Shane Bond, but can’t make the current Black Caps ODI side over players with much worse numbers

A sunk cost is an economic concept that refers to an expense that has been already paid for, so that this expense is irrecoverable. It sounds unremarkable, but sunk costs do funny things to the human brain. The Sunk Cost Fallacy, and a little game theory, may help explain why Mike Hesson refuses to make the hard call and drop Tim Southee for Matt Henry in the Black Caps ODI playing XI.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an example of a reasoning error that is commonly made when sunk costs are involved. It refers to when people do something irrational because they have sunk costs (in the form of money, time or energy) into a line of reasoning already.

The common example given is the Concorde project, during which the French and British governments realised that the project would never make economic sense, but which they continued with anyway on the grounds that they didn’t want to waste their sunk cost.

This is a well-known phenomenon in economics because it often leads to horrific waste, particularly when people throw good money after bad in the hope that their initial investment will be recouped (it’s also a well-known phenomenon in poker when players go broke). As far as Mike Hesson is concerned, the same psychological process may be occurring with his obstinate refusal to elevate Matt Henry to the opening bowler’s position alongside Trent Boult.

Southee is only 29 years old, but he has been playing for ages. He debuted as a teenager, and looked incredibly promising with a five-wicket haul and a run-a-ball 77 in a Test against England. Since then, New Zealand Cricket have invested substantial resources in him, giving him every opportunity to take the new ball against all comers. No less an authority than Allen Donald touted Southee as potentially a great swing bowler, but it’s hard to deny the raw numbers.

The numbers argue confidently that Southee is not as good as Henry (in ODIs at least), and probably never has been.

Since the loss to Australia in the final of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Southee has averaged 42.77 with the ball. He has taken 45 wickets in this time frame at an economy rate of 5.72. Henry has taken 44 wickets at an economy rate of 5.81, which is similar, but has an average of 28.13 thanks to a strike rate of 29.

This is, amazingly, a better strike rate than Shane Bond managed over his career (29.2), and means that Henry has been 50% more likely to take a wicket on any given ball than Southee during this time.

Southee is striking at 44.8 since the last Cricket World Cup, and has not taken four wickets in an innings since then, despite playing in 38 games. Henry has only played in 25 matches since the final loss but has already managed three four-wicket bags and one five-wicket bag in that time – only one of each fewer than Southee has managed in a 132-match career.

In fact, Southee has not managed to get four wickets in an innings one time in the last three years, whereas Henry took four wickets in his last match.

Mike Hesson might be thinking here in terms of potential, in that, theoretically, Southee has the potential to be another Jimmy Anderson. Like Southee, Anderson is also tall, bowls with an open stance and relies on swinging the ball to nick batsmen out. Also like Southee, the Englishman didn’t achieve anything particularly special in his first 132 ODIs, returning an average of 30.18 for his 179 wickets.

But in 43 matches since the start of 2012, Anderson has taken 65 wickets at an average of 23.97. Hesson might be expecting a similar transformation to come over Southee, but it’s also very possible that he has invested so much time and energy in Southee that he sees this investment as a sunk cost that he is compelled to recoup.

A solution that would save everyone’s face would be to demote Southee to third seamer. This would be the best of all worlds for everyone except for Lockie Ferguson, who would then struggle for a starting berth.

The positives are that it would allow Boult and Henry, with the best strike rates, to bowl with the new ball when they are the most effective, and it would allow Southee to utilise his skill set of varied deliveries at the death while minimising his weaknesses of being slow and inaccurate. Southee also has 33 wickets as third seamer, averaging an entirely acceptable 28.18 (compared to over 35 while opening). It seems like a solution whose time has come.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger III

This reading continues on from here.

The sixth essay in Ride The Tiger is called “Active Nihilism – Nietzsche”, and continues to deal with the problem of the Death of God. Also continuing with the esoteric theme of this book, Evola appears to insist that the solution is alchemical. The negative is overwhelming and ascendant; it cannot be resisted. So the question becomes “how far the negative can be transformed into something positive.”

Here we are concerned with “the transition to the postnihilist stage.” Modern man is free, free from the strictures of Abrahamism – but free for what? We have striven against our enslavement for so long that we don’t know what to do with freedom. We invented God to assuage our existential anxiety, and, now that we are “free” from this God, that anxiety has rushed back with a vengeance. Evola cites Sartre here: “We are condemned to be free.”

Evola contends that Nietzsche’s conception of the Superman is not sufficient to avoid this nihilism. His reasoning is that the Superman theory is not sufficiently different from the other eschatologies, such as the Marxist one, and therefore cannot be more than a pseudosolution to the problem of nihilism.

As was true for Marxism, the Superman theory could potentially be used to justify all manner of horrors in the present by promising paradise in the future. However, Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence strikes much closer to what might be described as a perennial philosophy.

The seventh essay is called “Being Oneself.” It seems as if that, once the pseudosolutions and outright false philosophies are abandoned, what one is left with is oneself. This something is beyond morality (indeed, morality is considered something to be liberated from), and internal, instead of imposed from without as if by God or King.

Nietzsche comes in for some criticism here. Evola considers his attitude to the human spirit “materialistic”, but concedes that Nietzsche must have seen beyond because he is capable of distinguishing the “Self” from the “I”. Other thinkers, such as Guyau, are considered, but dismissed for not offering anything truly new, merely “restrictions that more or less return to one οf the systems οf the old morality.”

Evola concludes that the answer, as ever, is to “Know Thyself”. However, there’s a caveat. In the past, it was easier to know thyself because one was defined by strictures of class, religion, nation, caste and many other things. Modern man is free, so he cannot fall back on these now-abandoned strictures.

Modern man is, in fact, so free that it is as if he has been shattered to pieces. His soul “contains multitudes”. This shattering, Evola contends, can be most easily observed in remorse, which is an emotion that mostly affects divided people and which is characteristic of our time.

The eighth essay is called “The Transcendent Dimension – ‘Life’ and ‘More Than Life'”. The man who gets it, Evola contends, is one who possesses a transcendental dimension, a spiritual dimension. Here he distances himself further from Nietzsche, who for Evola was more of a vessel that history acted through than a genuine actor in his own right. Nietzsche’s great error was “confusion of the sacred with the profane”.

Evola, through quoting Nietzsche, gives us a prescription for a man of gold, although without using alchemical terms: a many who has great passions (clay), but who holds them in check (iron), and who hold them in check with apparent ease (silver) and who, last of all, does not draw any particular egoic satisfaction from doing so (gold). Here, the highest sort of man is one who overcomes great dangers, for it is only in doing so that all these qualities can be expressed.

Evola mentions the common interest in Zen philosophy among the Beat Generation that was heavily influenced by the existentialists. Here, religious belief (of any kind) is rejected as a failure of the human spirit, of the sort of person who did not have the character to survive the tension of the Age of Nihilism, and who hence surrendered to easy answers.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Smart and Dumb Are Best Measured Not On One Spectrum, But Two

The usual way for people to think about intelligence is as a single spectrum, where we start dumb and – if we’re lucky – grow to become smart. This seems to fit neatly into the dominant thought paradigm, which is that of materialist, empiricist science. This paradigm contends that single-celled organisms evolved to become intelligent and the more intelligent the better.

This is certainly one way of looking at things and it’s a valid perspective. It’s just a little simplistic. Intelligence is so multivariate and nebulous a concept that trying to reduce it to a single number is like trying to rank all of the world’s great works of art along a single scale. It might make some kind of sense, but it’s not really meaningful.

A better way to think about intelligence is that there’s a smart spectrum and there’s a dumb spectrum. The two have some overlap, but it’s minor. These two spectrums have been generally considered to overlap entirely, in that the more dumb a person is the less smart they must be and vice versa, but anyone who has met a decent range of other people in their life will know that this isn’t true.

The most obvious counterpoint to the single spectrum of intelligence argument is the large number of hopeless nerds and autists out there. There is an archetypal absent-minded professor who knows everything about their area of expertise and nothing about any other aspect of life – someone who could lecture a class of a hundred postgraduates but can’t change a lightbulb. Always these people dominate IQ tests, but it’s not as simple as declaring them intelligent.

These people, usually men, exhibit a high reading on the smart spectrum as well as a high reading on the dumb spectrum. So they aren’t intelligent in the same way as people who are high on the smart spectrum and low on the dumb spectrum.

This is not a dig at the university sort. A majority of smart people have made themselves less dumb for the reason that they have realised how much suffering their own dumbness causes and have acted to mitigate it. After all, what other use is being smart in the first place?

Another type of person who exhibits a high reading on both the smart and dumb spectrums is someone who wastes the intelligence they were born with. Being high on the smart spectrum isn’t by itself enough to succeed in life – there are all kinds of personal qualities like perseverance, diligence and honesty to consider.

People who are high on the smart spectrum and low on the dumb spectrum are rare, and are also difficult to recognise. After all, the average person is fairly dumb, and are therefore prone to assume that truly intelligent people are themselves dumb if they disagree with that average person on anything.

In many ways, these people are compelled to hide away, because being high on the smart spectrum isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially if someone else becomes envious of it and wants to challenge you.

Likewise, being low on the smart spectrum isn’t the worst thing either, because as long as one is also low on the dumb spectrum one can often just chip away at goals until they were completed, especially if one has been taught the right methodology. Being high on the smart spectrum can lead to distractions, and can lead to a person becoming impractical.

People low on the dumb spectrum and low on the smart spectrum might be the old-fashioned kind of person who never had a full education available to them, but who is nevertheless wise and not easy to fool. They can’t really fool others because they’re not smart enough to spin bullshit quickly enough, but it’s hard to fool them because they’re not greedy or gullible.

You could find a lot of this sort of person among farmers and agriculturalists, as well as members of traditionalist religions, and especially among old people.

The last sort of person is one who is low on the smart spectrum and high on the dumb spectrum. These people most effectively embody the chaos principle, because they are not as passive as people who are low on the dumb spectrum.

People high on the dumb spectrum have the tendency to do impulsive, mindless and destructive things, but if they’re also low on the smart spectrum they don’t tend to learn from their errors and gladly commit them over and over again. Driving drunk is a classic behavioural expression for a person in this quadrant.

These four personality types can be mapped onto an elementalist framework. The high-smart, low-dumb person can be thought of as gold, the high-smart, high-dumb person can be thought of as silver, the low-smart, low-dumb person can be thought of as iron and the low-smart, high-dumb person can be thought of as clay.

Whichever has the most value depends on what one is trying to achieve. If the important thing is to avoid errors, then the priority is to be low on the dumb spectrum. If the important thing is to be creative and to react quickly to changing environments, then the priority is to be high on the smart spectrum.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Should New Zealand Legalise Cannibalism Out of Respect For Maori Culture?

In recent years, people have been asking hard questions about the effects of Western colonisation on the New World. Many moral values that were taken to be universal are now being re-evaluated in the new light of Western oppression. Eventually, New Zealand will need to ask itself: were the British wrong to abolish cannibalism?

In British culture, there is a massive taboo around cannibalism. The act is considered even lower than barbaric, more befitting of an animal than of a human being. Famous cases such as the Sawney Bean family horrify British people even to this day. The taboo can be traced back at least as far as Homer and is universal in the West.

In Maori culture, before British contact, there was no such taboo. Cannibalism was rife. The act of cannibalism was, as it has been all around the world, an extremely effective black magic ritual, in which the cannibal convinced themselves that they had absorbed the power of their victim. This ritual is effective for the simple reason that it increases the ego of the cannibal and makes them more formidable in the realm of iron magic. Moral considerations didn’t come into it.

So a couple of questions have to be asked: if cannibalism was an accepted part of Maori culture (in that it was practiced by many tribes over the whole country), did the British really have the right to suppress that particular cultural expression? And, if they didn’t have that right, are we obligated to re-legalise cannibalism out of respect for Maori culture?

After all, cannibalism may have been an effective method for keeping the tribe strong. Because it was mostly the old, children and those defeated in battle who got eaten, it could be argued that this practice served to keep the Maori genepool free of weakness. If so, who are white people to impose their own moral framework over a useful practice?

The major objection to cannibalism is that it is almost never consensual, and arguably could not ever be with someone of right mind, for the simple reason that it goes against basic self-preservation instincts. Getting cannibalised in New Zealand usually meant that one’s brains were first dashed out with a patu or taiaha, and it’s hard to legalise this for obvious reasons.

Another major objection is that many Maori tribes actually opposed the practice of cannibalism, and were happy to welcome the British settlers, who not only also opposed it but who had muskets to make their opposition count. The Ngati Porou of the author of this piece is one such example. Thus is could be argued that cannibalism was never a universal Maori practice and therefore not an integral part of the culture.

However, these objections have to be considered in the context of modern technology. As Sir Apirana Ngata said: “Ko to ringa ki ngā rakau a te Pāhekā” (“Your hands to the tools of the Pakeha”). Well, now ngā rakau a te Pāhekā include machines that can grow animal flesh in laboratories, and cheaply enough so that a lab-grown steak can be produced for $20. It won’t be long until we can cheaply grow human flesh in a lab.

If human flesh can be grown in a laboratory, this would get around the problem of people having to be killed into order for cannibalism to be possible. This would get around the moral objections so far presented against the legalisation of cannibalism. If there are then no remaining objections to legalising cannibalism, one is forced to conclude that the balance of liberty ought to fall on the side of established precedent.

Because cannibalism has been practiced in these isles for much longer than English has been spoken, it seems natural to conclude that it ought to take precedent over British settler values like not practicing cannibalism. Therefore, the New Zealand Government ought to take action that clearly demonstrates its respect for Maori culture, and make the practice of cannibalism legal.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Writing the Depressive

All of us know what it feels like to be sad, but few truly appreciate how it is to be clinically depressed. There’s something about wandering ghost-like through an ashen world of dead feelings that is a challenge to express to those who are full of healthy, natural vigour. This article shares some tips for writing realistic characters who suffer from depression.

Depression (in the sense of a mental illness) is otherwise known as major depressive disorder. To be diagnosed with it, a patient has to meet certain criteria. 21% of the French population have been diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives, which speaks to its prevalence in the modern world.

There are two obvious approaches here.

The first is to use thoughts. Conveying the innermost thoughts of a character is, in many ways, the ultimate power of the literary medium.

The kind of thoughts that go through the mind of a depressed person tend to be anxiety, sadness and fear. Life not only seems to have no meaning, but seems completely hollow and empty. Even thirty seconds is a sufficiently long time in which to experience some genuine psychological torment, and it seems all-pervasive and never ending.

It’s important to distinguish depression from sadness. Depression is a mental illness, and as such it causes irrational thinking. A bereaved person can tell you that they expect to feel happy again at some point in the future once the shock has worn off; no such expectation exists for the depressive. It seems like it’s going to last forever.

Of those people who have never been depressed, few understand the ways that guilt can eat away at the minds of someone who is. Depression is not like a physical ailment in the sense that one can easily justify taking time off from regular duties to recover. It’s rare that a depressed person has the ability to think clearly enough about their condition to realise that they need a break.

It’s far more common for a depression sufferer to end up consumed by guilt in their every waking moment, thinking about the things they should be doing in the time they are convalescing, and how they are letting people down by being weak. This reveals one of the worst things about depression: the way in which it feels like one is persecuting oneself.

The second obvious approach is to use the reactions of other characters to the depressed one. All mental illnesses have a marked social impact, and depression is no exception.

Depression is a sinister, insidious illness. In many cases, a person with it will not realise that they have it. The protagonist of your story might end up arguing and fighting with people all day because of sourness or irritability caused by the condition, all the while assuming that the fractiousness that caused it was natural and normal.

Some well-meaning friend might tell them that they have depression only to be told to piss off. To a depressed person, a friendly suggestion to “Cheer up” might well be taken as an insult. Constant irritability is as much a part of depression as sadness is, and a story might be best able to evoke this through the social side.

In other cases a person can’t avoid realising they have depression, because other people will continually remind them of that fact. The protagonist of your story might be smarting from constantly being called a “miserable prick”, and this might make them even more depressed. It might cause them to withdraw and plot revenge (or even to seek help – who knows?).

The fear of the loss of social bonds can be evoked here. This is a very powerful, primal instinct that almost everyone can relate to. People don’t enjoy interacting with depressed people, and after a while the rejection may lead to the depressed person deciding that those others would be better off without them.

Note that stories featuring depressed characters don’t need to themselves be depressing. In a way, every story about a depressive is a happy one, because any depressive who is still alive must have been able to find some reason to keep going.

This might be the most interesting part of the entire character. After all, it’s objectively not clear why any of us should keep living, given the uncertain prospects for any happiness in front of us. A depressed person might exhibit a stronger will to live or a more beautiful nature than any other person who did not need to struggle through the condition.

Despite this, the reality of the depression experience is that it is one of the most terrifying and deadly of all illnesses, mental or otherwise. The temptation to take the ultimate step to end the suffering is always present, which makes the experience worse than a horror story in several regards.

*

This article is an excerpt from Writing With The DSM (Writing With Psychology Book 5), edited by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2017/18.

The Tyranny of Mercury is Control of Information and Free Expression

Mercury was known as the “Messenger of the Gods”, and alchemically represents the information that is immediately below transcendental

Mercury comes inbetween silver and gold in the hierarchy of alchemical substances, which is one reason why it was given the name “quicksilver”. As the tyranny of silver is control of intellectual perceptions and the tyranny of gold is control of spiritual perceptions, so is the tyranny of mercury control of information and truth perceptions. This means controlling who is allowed to say what and when.

All tyrannies have an interest in controlling information – a lesson best taught by Orwell’s 1984. As Stalin said, “Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We don’t let our enemies have guns, so why would we let them have ideas?” Ideas are how people organise themselves, and without ideas they are unable to position themselves to strike against the tyrants, never mind whether they have guns.

Resistance to a tyranny must first begin with an idea, because the resistance will need to rally around an idea if they are to be coherent enough to succeed. The usual case is for that idea to be expressed in terms of information, as a memeplex, and therefore counter-resistance must first begin with denying accurate or meaningful information to the people, because otherwise the people will provide and share the necessary information to each other.

Thus, in order to control information you have to first control free expression. There are two major ways to do this.

The first is through legal consequences. This means to forbid a range of opinions or means of expression and then to punish anyone who proceeds to express them anyway. The best-known examples of these methods are the Soviet Union and East Germany. In the latter country it is believed that, at one time, one in five of the adult population were Stasi informants.

In the 21st century, tyrannical attitudes to free expression can be observed in the ever-increasing prison sentences handed down to people for what are essentially blasphemy charges – blasphemy against the religion of political correctness. This has been happening in Britain for some years already and it looks likely to get worse.

Some of the most egregious examples are the sentences for social media posts criticising Islam. Freedom to criticise religion – especially the mindless, violent, supremacist cults of Abrahamism – has been an integral part of Western culture since the Enlightenment.

This could be equated to “hard power” in the sense that transgressors run the risk of getting locked into a cage of iron by direct force. It’s essentially no different to giving someone a backhand across the mouth for saying the wrong thing. The ultimate purpose is to discourage the transgression by applying immediate physical suffering.

The second way to control free expression is through social consequences. Although this is similar to the first category in the sense that the idea is to modify behaviour by punishing that which is undesired, this method uses more subtlety – although it can be equally as brutal.

Humans have a deep, instinctual fear of being excluded from the tribe. In the biological past, getting banished from the tribe for some kind of moral transgression frequently meant death. Even though starving to death is nearly impossible in today’s age of plenty, the raw, primal fear of it remains – and can be manipulated by those who can see the wiring of the human brain.

One of the consequences of this pattern of human instinctual behaviour is that people with social influence can wield this influence as a weapon against those without it, by threatening to destroy the community reputation of those with low social capital. The way to destroy another person’s community reputation is to suggest that they are not moral on account of some belief they have or action they have taken, thus leading to distrust.

Such threats frequently evoke fear and acquiescence, and could be equated to “soft power”. This is similar to the sense that countries like Britain are believed (by some) to possess a cultural influence that goes much further than their military one. A perception exists that one risks being shunned from the clique of cool nations if one goes against them.

It can be readily observed today that the West is falling into a state where freedom of expression can no longer be taken for granted. When a tyranny begins to fail, the first thing they are tempted to do is to restrict free expression, because the free expression of a people who have been failed by their leaders will involve criticism, and this criticism threatens the continued rule of the tyrant. Understanding the tyranny of mercury gives us clues as to the tyrant’s next moves.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Should White People Be Quarantined From Other Races?

White people can’t be trusted to interact peacefully with racial minorities any more than dogs can be trusted with steak on the kitchen bench

Despite decades of public information campaigns fighting racism, the average income of most non-white ethnicities remains lower than the average income of white people in white countries. Because it is axiomatically true that all groups of people are identical in all psychological attributes, we know that this income disparity can only have come about from white people maliciously denying economic opportunities to those groups. This is proof that white people cannot live equitably with other races.

The time has come for the world to ask itself: do we need to protect the innocent races of the world from the infinite evil of the white man? In other words, should we quarantine white people from the rest of the Earth?

White people gave us Adolf Hitler, so it is clear that they are the human personification of evil. Everywhere they go they bring poverty, chaos and misery. The American and Australian continents were booming with wealth and prosperity before the white man came and reduced them to the impoverished hell-holes they are today. Violence was unknown in Africa before the white man set foot there.

To allow the non-white peoples of the world to live freely among white people, as they currently do in the West, is tempting fate. We all know that it’s only a matter of time until the natural viciousness of the white man stirs him into a genocidal bloodlust and he ends up stuffing billions of people into gas chambers. Getting rid of the white man completely is a futile dream, because his vengeful and aggressive nature means that such efforts can only backfire.

What we need to do to protect the innocent races from the evil of the white man is to declare that the white-majority countries in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand must remain so for the sake of not provoking a genocidal chimpout. In short, non-white people should not be allowed to live in white countries – for their own sake.

The world needs to accept that white people are too dangerous to expose other people to them, and this is especially true for Muslims and Africans. Immigration of these two groups must be immediately curtailed.

Every time a Muslim slaughters a bunch of people in the West, white people are frothing at the mouth to condemn the Muslim, and seldom make reference to the fact that terror attacks are merely karmic payback for the white man’s historical reign of terror.

Likewise, the fact that black Americans rape white women at a vastly higher rate than white Americans rape black women is evidence that the inherent racism of the white man is so strong, so all-pervading, that not even when he loses his mind in a sexual frenzy does he consider black women worth copulating with. The white man is only capable of viewing the black woman with disgust, in contrast to the warm will to engage that black men express towards white women.

In summary, it should be declared that Europe, North America and Australasia are effectively already lost to the rapacious lust of the white man, and that the risk of physical harm to other races is so great that they must not be allowed to set foot in these areas. Another Holocaust is inevitable, so the current Western intake of refugees and third-world immigrants could be likened to lambs going to the slaughter – are we not obligated to intervene?

The white man is to humans what polar bears are to bears: a ruthless, mindless killer. All of the other races of this Earth only want peace and goodwill. For the sake of the physical safety of those other races, they must be prevented from wandering into countries populated by white people.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The Century of Psychology is Being Delayed By Politics

This might be the “Century of Psychology” – if politicians allow it to be

It could be argued that the 19th century was the century of physics, and the 20th century was the century of chemistry. Men such as Maxwell, Watt, Faraday, Tesla, Edison, Rutherford, Hoffmann, Einstein and Shulgin transformed our everyday lives. But now that we can blow up the entire planet at the press of a button, physics and chemistry seem to have hit their limits. This essay argues that psychology will be the science that transforms the 21st century, but there are numerous political obstacles in the path.

As once was true for physics and chemistry, the current popular level of understanding of psychological science is primitive. In the same way that we laugh about previous generations believing that the Moon was made of cheese, so too will future generations laugh at us for believing ridiculous things like smoking cannabis causes schizophrenia. Descriptions of the way we treat desperately mentally ill people today, such as subjecting them to involuntary electroshock treatment, will evoke horror in the future.

Nowadays, thanks to mass education, people can get their heads around aeroplanes, photography and nuclear energy and no longer consider them sorcery. There are a number of obstacles, however, that must still be overcome before the science of psychology can have its full impact upon the world. The main one at the moment is that people tell lies because of politics, and these lies obscure the truth about humanity’s true nature.

For example, the left tells lies intended to create a perception of, and belief in, the natural equality of all people. Because their political dogma is based around the need for horizontalisation, they are loathe to concede that any two people or groups of people are different in any way that might imply that one was better than another.

Although there are no two things in Nature that are precisely equal, the fervour with which it is asserted that all human groups are precisely equal in intellectual capacity equals that of any religion. At its most ridiculous, this obsession with equality will concede that the human form has been shaped by evolution and that the differences in human phenotypes are a function of evolution, but that evolution stops at the neck.

Many people have discovered that genetic differences between groups, especially when it comes to intelligence or temperament, cannot simply be discussed openly without some leftist shrieking all manner of accusations at the participants. This has a retarding effect on the advancement of science because people become reluctant to discuss psychology honestly for fear of having “Racist!” screamed in their face.

The right, for its part, blames the poor and blacks for their state of poverty. If only they would stop doing drugs and read books, the right contends, prosperity would soon follow. They have no time for the arguments that the poor are doing drugs to medicate trauma-based mental illnesses that no other medicine can treat, or that they can’t concentrate to read books on account of being full of adrenaline all the time from the verbal and physical violence in their environment.

Not only does the right tend to blame people for the damage that has been done to them from the outside, but they give credit to people for success that is better attributable to the environment in which that person was raised and the support networks they had. This is bad because it makes it impossible to discuss the nature of society accurately and with honesty, and therefore impossible to design social policy that reduces human suffering.

Authoritarians tell a story about human nature that exaggerates our similarity with chimpanzees. This narrative emphasises the violent struggle of daily chimpanzee life and how qualities such as viciousness, paranoia, brutality and aggression serve to keep one’s enemies at bay. It represents an extreme form of verticalisation in which no-one can turn their back on anyone else for a second.

This ideology can be used to justify a wide range of cruelties, because authoritarianism is naturally terrified of chaos, and so authoritarian societies clamp down on free expression and recreational exploration of sex, drugs and music. All of these things, plus others, are regularly banned in authoritarian societies, which emphasise the usefulness of hierarchy for keeping things in their place.

The problem with this attitude is that human beings have a need for recreational activities, because boredom is literally a mental disease, and one that leads to physical diseases. People have to be allowed to enjoy themselves, because human nature needs to find a balance to the masculine working and fighting aspects of life.

Moreover, authoritarian thinking cannot handle drug use because drug use leads to free thought, and novel ways of thinking are considered security threats by control freaks, who clamp down on them. This mentality is responsible for cannabis being illegal. Pharmaceutical advances in the treatment of psychological conditions seldom happen when authoritarians are in charge.

Libertarians, on the other hand, tell a story about human nature that exaggerates our similarity with bonobos. This narrative emphasises lovemaking and peace, and maintains that all people are capable of being good if only given a chance. Although this is based in a perfectly lovely sentiment, it’s no less dangerous.

For one thing, the belief that all people are inherently good makes it harder to defend ourselves from those who are not good. Libertarian naivety about the dark rivers that run through the human heart mean that they make political decisions that expose them to that darkness. Often the mistake is not realised until it cannot be easily rectified (such as the European experience with Muslim and African immigration).

Another point is that libertarian logic denies the inherent human need for (at least a modicum of) order. It might be true that excessive legal and cultural strictures cause suffering, and that liberation from such is exhilarating, but no-one can simply dwell in a state of chaos without eventually feeling impelled to impose some order upon their surroundings.

Psychology has the potential to radically improve the standard of living of all people, especially this century as advances in brain-scanning technology herald great advances in neurochemical understanding. The biggest challenge that psychology faces, however, is that many people are motivated to deny psychological truths for the sake of political advantage. This will delay the impact of advances in psychological science on human society.

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger II

This reading continues on from here.

Part II of Ride the Tiger is called ‘In the World Where God is Dead’, and deals with the ever-present problem of the nihilism that arises when one abandons traditional values. This part consists of nine essays.

The first of these (the third essay in the book), ‘European Nihilism – the Dissolution of Morals’, sets the tone for this section. The subject matter will be familiar to any reader of Nietzsche, and indeed Nietzsche is mentioned in the first paragraph. This essay also mentions Doestoevsky, in the context of “If God is dead, everything is permitted.” It promises to be heavy stuff!

“Rational”, or atheistic morality, has no firm basis, Evola contends. Without an appeal to a higher power, any moral philosophy will eventually be chipped away at by critics until it disintegrates. Moral taboos cannot be justified, and therefore we can’t move past “everything is permitted”.

Perhaps more worryingly, it’s possible that, even if God did exist and inform us all, nothing would really change.

The fourth essay is ‘From the Precursors of Nihilism to the “Lost Youth” and the Protest Movement’. Existence has become absurd, Evola contends, because there are no longer any restraints. Here he traces the advancement of nihilism in the years post-Nietzsche. As Nietzsche predicted, the problem of nihilism only intensified as we entered the 20th century.

Movements such as punks and beatniks are drawn under the wider rubric of nihilists. The counter-culture becomes, for Evola, a “destructive, voiceless rage”. It’s isn’t necessarily that things are bad in and of themselves, but that a quiet, peaceful, mediocre life evokes this rage. Natural man feels little difference between the modern cornucopia of manufactured goods and slavery.

Citing Paul van den Bosch when he wrote that “When we were born, the gold was already transmuted into lead,” Evola makes another appeal to the perennial philosophy and its esoteric nature. This is necessary because the left-wing revolution has “betrayed its origins” with “a new conformism” – a statement that echoes in 2018.

The fifth essay is ‘Disguises of European Nihilism – The Socioeconomic Myth and the Protest Movement’. To Evola’s mind, there are two great socioeconomic myths of our time: the myth of Western prosperity, and the Marxist-communist myth of oppressor versus oppressed. Both myths are predicated on the same falsehood, namely that the signs and markers of the dissolution of society represent “progress”.

One severe problem exists with both of these myths: neither has any room for any conception of a higher world – the realm of gold in alchemism – and so both myths, while they solve the problem of nihilism, introduce unacceptable problems of their own. Both ideologies are predicated on a gross, fundamental error: that solving questions of material suffering will also solve questions of existential suffering.

Perhaps the last words here are “there is no correlation between material and spiritual misery.” This lays out the futility of trying to find absolution through materialist avenues. One is left with the impression, in Evola’s words, that “The time is near of the most despicable οf men, who can nο longer despise himself.”

Are we now in the time of the Man of Clay?

*

If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).