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Small-Scale Question Sunday for April 28, 2024

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

What do you answer (verbally, quite brief) if someone asks you what wokeism is? Or what your problem with the woke is?

Identity based progressivism, usually recent aggressive illiberal status seeking strains.

I just call it “corruption”; because that’s what it is.

The woke are not meaningfully distinct from an Eastern European cop demanding a bribe; great for the cops, bad for everyone else. That they claim it all goes to the church is not material.

It is material in-so-far as it modifies their branding/camouflage, tactics, targets, methodology.

It's not "just" corruption. A cop explicitly asking for bribes in America is going to get fired and prosecuted instantly. There are a lot of things cops can and do get away with, but explicit bribery is not usually on the list, with rare exceptions. But if they camouflage it, it's more possible and likely. Call it "asset forfeiture", make excuses for why it doesn't count as theft, and then target poor people with drugs that don't evoke sympathy from the public. It's still a form of corruption, but it's a very different form of corruption than the DMV official demanding an extra $100 to expedite your paperwork or it will get lost for 6 months, or a police officer pulling you over and threatening to write you a ticket for made-up charge unless you slip them $50. Just using the word "corruption" doesn't tell you the difference, or orders of magnitude, about what to expect to have to pay and how to avoid it.

Similarly, woke progressives are not going to pull over your car and extort $50 from you, nor will they arrest someone with marijuana and snatch all their money. They worm their way into industries and beurocracies and government agencies, then hire friends and family and like-minded people who look and act and speak like them, fire people who don't, and divert funds away from productive uses and towards spreading more woke-ism and getting cushy jobs for themselves and their friends. And they use nice-sounding ideals as a cudgel to choose who to attack and who to let go. I agree that this is a form of corruption, but it's a very different form of corruption than most other forms. And it's very very very good at masking the corrupt parts of itself and pretending to be good, and thus skates by unnoticed and in fact praised by so many people.

Calling it "corruption" is not wrong, but there's so much nuance it misses.

I always go with a variant of "splitting society across various characteristics, and labeling on side of the split the 'oppressor' and the other the 'oppressed'". My problem with it is that it foments resentment, conflict, and hate, instead of fostering cooperation.

What is the cognitive difference between someone who uses a living experienced figure of speech, versus a dead metaphor only understood through conversation? Examples: run a tight ship, get on board.

When sailing was commonplace in English culture, these phrases would convey salient and significant experiences: the idea of strict rank inherent to seafaring, the idea of one singular authority deciding life and death with no one else around for hundreds of miles, civilized cooperative order versus chaos (ship versus rough seas), the prospect of status enhancement from obedient conduct; and the “board” of the ship meant near-claustrophobic proximity, rank-and-file, before tasks were dispersed. None of this meaning is transmitted in the expression today, only the connotation of when the phrase was previously heard by you. So, if you heard “run a tight ship” today, you would probably just imagine a manager who likes to be hands-on… and that’s it.

Some questions:

  1. Am I just wrong here? I don’t think so. Consider the new zoomer expression “delete your account”. This expression conveys meaning which would be lost on someone living in 1860. It implies an immediate, swift, final action which totally eliminates a type of socializing (a type alien to the 19th century). We can easily imagine “delete your account” becoming an offline expression in the future, but then it would only connote basic shaming.

  2. Are metaphors, in some sense, vastly more important for cognition than we think? How do we understand a word without metaphor? A word like “sufficient” seems to connote less than a phrase, just a small intellectual feeling without image, emotion, sound, texture — a hunch.

  3. Should we kill off dead metaphors, and somehow replace them with living metaphors?

  4. Should we give children a breadth of metaphorical experiences in the Montessori sense for cognitive gain?

I think it's simply a fact that any given person's idiolect contains a mixture of metaphors they understand from experience and archaic ones that they have absorbed from the broader culture without fully comprehending. Learning how language was used in the past is one way to help sharpen your own thinking and ability to artfully express yourself, but communication is a two way street, so however much I like using e.g. metaphors from chemical kinetics to describe social and political processes, I have to adjust my vocabulary based on context.

To answer your last two questions, linguistic evolution is a natural process that you or I have little power to influence, but I certainly think it adds something to a child's understanding of the world to know that for instance the word "broadcast" is a term borrowed from farming, at least insofar as it drives home the point that early 1900's America was an agrarian society where everyone would understand such terminology. Learning a foreign language is helpful in a similar way, particularly one that uses a completely alien set of metaphors and historical references.

I don't have answers to any of your questions but, anecdotally, it drives my 17 year old nuts when I use old figures of speech that somehow he has never heard before. "What does that even mean!?" Great conversation starters!

Why did anyone make zooming in go in increments of 25% (100% -> 125%) and zooming out go in increments of 25% (100% -> 75%) without having them be discrete steps between states? Nobody wants the 93.75% size that you end up with after zooming in and out once each.

Ctrl+0 will get you back to the 100% zoom setting.

I can very easily imagine a situation where the user wants to achieve the specific zoom level that will perfectly frame a certain set of items in a CAD workspace, but is too lazy to open the marquee-zoom tool to do so. In such a situation, achieving an irregular 93.75-percent zoom level by zooming in and out several times with the mousewheel perfectly serves the user's desire.

I'll admit that I have done that before, but I'd still rather have an easy way to return to "fit page to window" zoom level than going way over to the edge of the screen and clicking a button.

What is gpt2-chatbot?

(a mysterious entry appeared a couple days ago in the LMSYS Chatbot Arena and is blowing everybody away)

Can we really not domesticate monkeys and employ them in repetitive labor like collecting fruit and removing trash from beaches? Does the world not yearn for monkey-based saffron plantations?

Have you not seen "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes"? Spoiler The Planet of the Apes is Earth. This is how you get a planet of the apes.

Monkeys are routinely trained to work. They're used to pick coconuts in Thailand and I think a few other crops in more isolated instances, but they tend to be awful thieves and like to attack people as far as I know.

Agricultural labor- particularly fruit picking- also has a large amount of seasonal variation and most farmers prefer the flexibility of questionably-legal migrant labor to having to feed hundreds of mischievous and herpes ridden primates that get animal welfare folks all up in your business.

Monkeys are trained to pick coconuts in Thailand commercially, that’s the central example of monkey labor as far as I know. There have been a few historic examples like the baboon in South Africa trained to be a railroad signalman (albeit one under supervision, apparently). I don’t think we really want large numbers of semi-wild monkeys living near populated places in Western countries; in the countries that do have them labor is usually cheap enough that it might not be worth it for many things.

So, this ended up being not as small-scale as I would like. It is 1:40am on a Tuesday. I can't sleep, because my work is causing me to inappropriately panic. Not sure how I fix this.

My tasks for a week can be as follows (here is an anonymised version of the notes I made just to keep track of all the tasks that I needed to either finish, or at least make good progress on, in one of my work weeks - IIRC, this list was made early in the week and more stuff was thrown at me I didn't expect later that week, so this list is an underestimate):

  1. setting up a service for Client A, which I need to contact the ATO for
  2. looking through and fixing the review points for Client A’s quarter-end reporting for seven to nine entities
  3. having a meeting so we can discuss a different approval process regarding accounts payable for Client A
  4. processing the weekly payments and staff reimbursements for Client A
  5. doing weekly bookkeeping and bank reconciliation for Client A
  6. working on improving the process for Client A
  7. looking through the documentation that Client B has provided, understanding the workpaper provided to me for preparing financial statements and calculating tax owed to the ATO, and requesting information from the client if necessary
  8. finishing off the financial statements and income tax returns for Client C, which is a group consisting of two individuals, two trusts and one company
  9. setting up two trusts in our internal system for Client D
  10. training at 8:30am on Friday
  11. Correcting Client A’s setup forms for connecting a bank feed to an accounting software
  12. requesting deferral for an ABS survey Client A neglected to fill out
  13. Fill out timesheet at COB Friday.

I have taken to working overtime and/or on the weekends fairly frequently because my work somehow seems to endlessly keep piling on, and requires so much multitasking and deadline juggling that it feels like overload (many of the tasks in question are detailed work that if you get wrong have consequences further down the line). A good portion of these are the type of tasks that need to be done yesterday. And it's worse now because it's tax season, and the deadlines for all the clients I've put off due to being swamped with other work are coming due.

What makes this really sting is that my current workload got the way it did because according to them I was competent and people thought I could take on tasks effectively, so a really big client (Client A in the list) that's currently expanding got delegated to me. The sheer volume of work coming from that one client is truly immense, and a lot of the work is new and novel, and the deadlines are incredibly tight. They basically use us to perform an array of admin tasks, and often just spontaneously spring poorly articulated requests on us which then need to be taken up by someone (performing these tasks often requires a large amount of back-and-forth before one realises what they even want). The diversions are incredibly distracting and when I get back to my other work, I effectively need to get reacquainted with it, which takes a large amount of time.

I think that at this point, I'm working more than any of the other juniors in my place despite having been there for less than a year. Perhaps I am just inefficient, that's a distinct possibility I don't necessarily discount. But I believe this is almost entirely because of one incredibly pesky client which swallows up anywhere from 40-90% of my time depending on the week in question (no other junior is working on this client).

It doesn't help that I'm getting quite burned out, and am increasingly finding it difficult to concentrate on anything at work which results in more procrastination than I'm proud to admit, especially because I know I can be pulled right out of what I'm doing in favour of another task. The refrain from many of my managers is that they would prefer me to work on stuff I enjoy. However, in practice it works on a needs basis - this client needs working on, and I can do the work + have demonstrated I am willing to put in the time, so it gets delegated to me. Going to work now feels interminable and like being pummelled, and the dread mounts before every workday in a way it hasn't prior to this.

Sorry, I realise this is basically a long, reprehensibly self-pitying complaint session about how my work sucks. But I am at the end of my rope, and if anyone has any advice, I would like to hear it.

Parallel to the sibling, do talk to your manager about how you're doing. What you should do depends on how they react.

If they recognize that you're getting burned out and cut you some slack, then great, you're at a good place to work and stay there a while.

If they say something to the effect of, suck it up kid, here's another assignment, then it's probably time to start looking for a new job. Put together a resume, talk to some recruiters, reach out to any friends or former co-workers. You might well be surprised how much more money and lighter workload you can get at a new job.

Either way, burnout is very real, don't ignore it. Take action now, before it gets too unbearably bad.

Ask for help.

Your manager exists to balance the workload in situations like these. Either by handing off one of the secondary clients or by allocating additional help on the big client. You should be able to go to him or her and say “Client A is taking more of my time than expected. Can I get some help?”

This may feel like admitting defeat. It’s not. You’re not in this alone, so use the resources available. Plus, in my experience, leadership likes it when people are communicative about their roadblocks. It makes their job easier.

I don’t know that I can help with anxiety late at night. Other than the usual advice of avoiding caffeine and screens before bed, enforcing a regular sleep schedule, et cetera. I suppose one thing that’s helped me in your situation is resolving on a course of action. I feel better knowing that, in the morning, I have some plan. Doesn’t have to be a perfect one.

Any tips for Singapore? First time in Asia. Here for some weeks but mostly busy with work

Roti Prata is delicious. Go to a hawker center get some.

Apparently I made the mistake of wandering into one in little India on a Sunday afternoon. Since then avoiding the Indian areas a bit. But I was told that it’s the migrant worker off day and it’s normally not so crazy chaotic.

The airport has air conditioning everywhere and the atmosphere is entirely unrepresentative of the outside weather. It is a hot humid hell in summer.

Don't book a cheap hotel at the last minute in Geylang. Bugs crawling on the bed, bizarre bathroom layout, threadbare towels. 0/10 would not recommend.

I am in Geylang this very minute

Edit: Either this place is severely hyped online or I came here on the wrong day of the week. Was expecting crazy Asian red light district. Found a bunch of karaoke bars and some working girls having drinks with prospective clients. Food was great though

If your intention is to experience the more salacious nighttime entertainments in Malaysia/Singapore, you have to set aside your expectation of a Soi Cowboy style bargirls spilling into the sidewalk, and know how to navigate the red light scene. The influences of East Asian courtesan style entertainments permeate throughout everywhere the Chinese/Korean/Japanese diaspora has a presence, and the manifestations especially in Singapore are truly unfindable anywhere else.

There are a few extremely interesting nightlife entertainment options that are not commonly experienced by westerners, so I think it is worth sharing the mechanics of Southeast Asian seediness with the fine denizens of themotte. The experiences described below are rated on three variables: Engagement, Play, Damage. Engagement is how much of a conversation/activity you can have with the girl, like if you're on a date. Includes conversation, flirting, playing bar games, having the girl pour your drinks or sing or dance for you. Basically the geisha/courtesan experience. Low engagement is basically when the girl is a meat mannequin, high engagement is the full GirlFriend Experience, whereby it is what loveless guys imagine: a girl waits hand on foot to compliment him for how awesome he is and sympathize with every slight he complains about. Play refers to the amount of physical hanky panky allowed. Low play is sitting side by side, stroking of extremities and handholding (how lewd), medium play is light fondling and sitting on laps, and high play is full on snogging and groping, pretty much first base. Full play is third base and above, in the venue so be prepared for some public action if you're in a full play joint with friends. Damage refers to price. Low is around 50/hour, and at the higher end you are looking at 600/h, not including additional expenditures you may incur of your 'own' volition. More on that at the end

BROTHELS The most obvious is the literal Red Light Brothels. In Geylang they are in the even numbered 'Lorongs', which are on the southern side of the main road and restricted to the earlier numbers (Lor 6, 8, 14, etc). These legal brothels are literally marked with red lanterns, usually with a man lounging outside shooting the shit with other guys. Be warned that there are chinese temples interspersed with the houses that have red trim on the shrines, and these places are not open for business. The working girls here provide purely sexual services, and it is an extremely upfront transaction: you go in, you see the girls in the fishtank (no more glass walls like Thailand, they're just out in the open), and select one to go up to the rooms. If you are unhappy with the selection you can ask the headman for the catalogue, the girls are arranged by nationality so some neighbouring houses may have a girl more suited to your preference. Don't expect too much vibing, these are purely sexual services. If you step into a house without ordering, you won't be harassed or otherwise disturbed, but the headmen will clue others in if there is a tourist just eyeballing, and entry may be refused. No engagement, full play, damage is low to medium depending on the girl.

MASSAGE PARLOURS Because there are plenty of legit parlours, patrons of special service parlours should seek these out at specific locales, particularly Peoples Park and Orchard Towers (the four floors of whores). The obvious sign of the girls will be young women with too much makeup and tight dresses with long fingernails inviting you for a massage. If you find an attractive woman in slacks and a polo t inviting you for a massage, it will be a real one and you would find a very different form of relief following the session. Like the brothels, these massage parlours are fairly straightforward affairs. Select, go in, get it done. Little engagement, pure play. Damage is slightly less than the brothels because these are strictly speaking illegal.

BARGIRLS Hunting grounds for working girls looking for itinerant businessmen unconcerned about fidelity. These are typically filipino bars operating in Lucky Plaza and Circular Road. Though there are plenty of working girls at the various hotels in Orchard Road, these girls typically are prearranged on telegram groups these days and not open for solicitation. The filipino bargirls usually are professional working girls, but often you will find domestic helpers or white/pink collar women having a side gig on weekend nights. These are the establishments where you sit in the bar area with other patrons and have the bargirls chat you up to buy more drinks. High engagement, but very little play on station. Damage on site is medium because these girls are great at convincing you to huy many many drinks to keep them by your side

INDIAN DANCE BARS These are a rather unique feature catering to professional NRIs who have been excluded from other venues due to complaints from working girls about dealing with Indians. The patrons sit on couches surrounding dance platforms, and girls come in to dance to Bollywood hits. Depending on how well you tip the girl may come sit with you and engage in conversation, but there are many platforms and other patrons. Girls stay at each platform for one song before moving to another, averaging 4 songs per shift before retiring for another set of girls to dance and the first batch either rests or sits with a high tippet. The girls are largely hindi speakers because of the makeup of NRIs with the cash to burn - tamils in Singapore and KL can take advantage of local tamil connections to indulge in other entertainments otherwise barred. Due to this specific market dynamic, the demand is surprisingly inelastic and girls can choose to ignore a man even if he tips aggressively. Between the heavies on station and aggressive police presence nearby (at least for Singapore), unruly patrons dont get to stay unruly for long, so the girls make bank. Low to medium engagement, very low to medium play, surprisingly high damage - the tips stack up quick.

KTV This is where things get interesting. Ignore the family friendly venues where you drunkenly belt out hits from your teenage years with your friends for that sweet hit of nostalgia to fend off the advancing years. These KTVs are where the girls make every effort to make you feel like a young man again while draining your wallet to make you as poor as a young man as well. These places are everywhere and at the same time invisible. A local is necessary to navigate to find these bars with opaque windows and negotiate with the door bitches, but it is quite the experience. Upon entry you and your buddies are guided to a private room, then the mamasan will bring out a selection of available girls to entertain you. The job of these girls is to get money out of you in one of twp ways: directly paying them for how much fun they provide you, or playing drinking games with you to both drink your booze and make you finish your booze more quickly. And these girls are good at both: the modern courtesan experience, where the girls alternate between singing and dancing for you, to aggressively challenging you to games of liars dice whereby the losers drink, to sitting on your lap and stroking your hair while you sob about why your boss isn't giving you your promotion and topping up your cups every few minutes. Then at the right moment they will put your hand on an appropriate body part and let you start feeling like you're going somewhere... only for the notorious butterfly system to kick in. See, these girls aren't exclusive to you during the 4 hour shift, there may (or may not) be other patrons who also enjoy the charms of your selected girl, and these girls flit between rooms akin to a butterfly. All the better to whet the appetite and loosen the wallet. The girls typically are mandarin speakers, so looking for an english conversant one can be difficult. Thankfully the language of lust is purely physical, and for everything else wechat autotranslate lets them tell you how much money they are demanding of you. Virgin punters are easily taken advantage of, and it is necessary to get the mamasan to reign in her girls. If one has no favourites, it is best to get the mamasan to determine payouts, otherwise the girls are aggressive double dippers and will try to convince you to pay them separately from the mamasans. As a fun note, the snacks in these establishments always feature the infamous fruit platters, a shitty collection of cheap cut local fruits that somehow go for fifty to a hundred bucks a pop. Baffling till you realize this is how entertainment budgets allow for this type of expense to be charged to the company - the fruit platters are the mamasans take for her to distribute. Engagement is medium to very high (depending on your own level of game), play is medium to high, and damage is medium to high, or even Catastrophic - more on that later

THAI DISCO/SIAM DIU This is the cleanest yet most damaging sleazy establishment. Like an Indian dance club, the girls are on a stage to sing and dance before the tips determine which patron ends up winning their affection for the (partial?) shift. Unlike the Indian dance clubs, where girls rapidly rotate between the small platforms to get each set of couches to tip aggressively, these girls on stage get bidded on like prize horses. And like prize horses, bidding gets crazy. A runner collects money from bidding patrons who signify the amount they are paying and the pin number of the girl they are interested in. During the 'award ceremony' after the sets, the girls get garlands or sashes draped across them like mardi gras beads, signifying how much they are earning. Each garland starts at 50 bucks, up to 25k. Did you notice I said earning, even though I said bidding earlier? Thats because this isn't an auction, its a bet. The amount a punter puts into the pot only lets the girl know he's in play, but the winner is whoever tilts the hardest. When the alcohol flows and a popular girl flits between two or three high rollers in a shift, things can go nuts towards the end. I've seen bidding wars have a girl get competing bids of 10 12 15 20 25 30k in a single session, with the runners frantically rushing back and forth to scan QR payment codes and drape increasingly lavish flower garlands on the girls. All this just for the girl to sit with you and chat you up, mainly so you can rub it in another mans face that you've been better at draining your companies bank account than he is. No play on site, but you are guaranteed to bring her home for the night if the damage exceeds 10k (yes the threshold is that high). Engagement is low to medium, play is low, damage is a binary of low or catastrophic. Thai discos are magic money draining pits. Magic money draining however happens not only at the venues themselves, for many girls - especially the thais- fancy themselves shamans. By the magic of a sob story and promises of exclusivity, a girl who obtains your phone number will cast these spells incessantly to drain you of all your funds and any lines of credit as well. Many men have fallen under the sway of these girls, and a single night of 300 can be the gateway for tens to hundreds of thousands to disappear into an abyss.

A circumspect man with his head screwed on tight will be able to experience exotic entertainments without losing everything, but everything can be lost if the right spell lands.

Singapore has a rather staid reputation, deservedly earned relative to the insanity one can experience in Bangkok, Pattaya or Batam. Yet the febrile sleazy scene, guarded by conscript police and a political establishment unbeholden to moral grandstanding has allowed an extremely robust commercial sex sector to thrive, without the stain of organized gangs and it's consequent violence blighting the land.

Oh and for other touristy crap, just stick to the good hawkers near train stations. Maxwell, Amoy, Old Airport Road and Chinatown Complex are the top tier hawkers and the internet recommendations are generally quite accurate.

This is one of the best write-ups about a topic I have ever seen on the motte and I can’t believe it’s just a reply to my 2 upvotes comment in a 14 day old thread. Reported as a quality contribution of course and hopefully it gets picked up.

Also I am still in Singapore actually but I’m not single and here with my girlfriend. She would definitely be okay to check out interesting establishments if it won’t get too seedy or awkward. We take a walk around Amsterdam red light district every once in a while when bored and it’s a fun couples activity somehow. But things are a lot more public and windows shopping friendly there

If you are with your girlfriend, the indian dance clubs and thai discos actually have pretty bar stool + table setups for you to drink without indulging in the proclivities. The door bitches look quite intimidating but on slow weekday nights (mon tues thurs) they will rather have anyone coming in to down a jug or two instead of having zero business at all. Be as shameless as the Asians in looking without seeing in thai discos or indian dance clubs, you are under no obligation to tip or hang flower. The best place for that as tourists is Circular Road, near Boat Quay which is the drinking area for the professionals in the Central Business District. Filipino bar girls and indian dance clubs there in between ridiculously cheap (and good) indian muslim food joints. If you get supper around 930 to 1030pm at the restaurant called Shah Alam you can usually see a Vellfire pop up and drop off a clown car full of girls in saris. For thai discos that will require a local, if only for the language barrier and the difficulty of navigating the Middle Road to Arab Street nightlife areas.

If you're with your girlfriend and have good heat tolerance, do stuff like Henderson Waves or Botanic Gardens. Can't really go wrong with green tropical forest shit. If you have more time then consider trips to JB, it is basically cheaper Singapore. Temples and culture may require trips to Indonesia or Thailand or Vietnam. At least the trips to the airport in Singapore are fun unto themselved, and many Singaporeans actually treat thr airport as a shopping center with an attached airplane management facility.

South East Asia climate fact: They are hot all year round. Even during "winter" the average lows usually don't drop below 18-20C (~68F). It's more of a "wet and hellishly hot" cycle "dry and not that hot".

Singapore's climate is especially stable and lacks variation.

Please don't do drugs.

Put the cans of spray paint away

Don’t chew gum.

Don't bring Durian to hotel rooms.

Don't pull the emergency lever on the MRT.

Jaywalking is okay though. I always joke that the most serious crime I have ever committed was jaywalking in Singapore. Londoners like me jaywalk as routinely as New Yorkers, and it didn't actually cause a problem. (I believe there is technically a S$1000 fine, but it isn't enforced).

Is there really anything more to Balaji Srinivasan’s whole “network state” idea beyond that tech billionaires should get to build city-states, with groups auditioning online for their patronage; combined with a serious mischaracterization/misunderstanding of Zionism, and Herzl’s role within it?

I think a generalized concept of a network state makes some sense, in that it recognizes that increasing numbers of people in the future will be more loyal to an online community of likeminded individuals than to their physical neighbors or the nation state that governs the land they live on. Such a group will naturally seek to build a parallel set of institutions and leverage their combined resources to achieve shared goals. Not having read much of Balaji's actual writings on the subject, I can't speak to any concrete proposals of his, but I can presume that he has a misguided sense of who, if anyone, will be directing this phenomenon and what the results will ultimately be.

Given the (pretty good, IMHO) case Michael Lind lays out in this Tablet piece about how demographic trends still strongly favor utter dominance by the Democratic Party, what can people on the right do, then? Note, I'm not asking what the Republican party does, which is move left to capture moderate voters so to remain electorally viable (per the median voter theorem and Duverger's law); I'm asking what voters who care about the policies that would thus be abandoned, as opposed to the "politics as sports" folks who are happy just so long as "their team" beats the other guy.

As Andrew Breitbart says, politics is downstream from culture.

People on the right need to be better at winning the culture war by producing more of their own entertainment. This is difficult because the personality traits that lead someone to be conservative also lead them to not engage in works that dominate culture, such as entertainment and media. And conservative media/shows/games tend to be comically overtly conservative.

But there is a gap in entertainment. If people on the right can make entertaining works that dignify and uplift the values they hold dear without making it overtly political and cringy, they can start winning via culture. More and more people are consuming media/entertainment from East Asia because they don't push woke nonsense (or don't do so as much as it is done in the West), so there clearly is a demand for non-Hollywood non-woke content.

Also, form a strong community. Be a good person. Start a family. Serve as a good role model. You don't have to do everything on your own. If you're a positive influence on just a few people around you, then you are already doing way more than the average person.

People on the right need to be better at winning the culture war by producing more of their own entertainment.

This might help some, but I doubt its enough. Because the marketplace of ideas doesn't select for truth, but for virulence. Many left wing memes are "cognitive heroin"; however bad they are long-term, too many people will prefer them. The Left's positions is simply more persuasive — or should I say "seductive"? — than the right's.

Start a family.

Far easier said than done in today's environment. And is this section aimed at me personally, or just a generic "you"? Because I'd have different answers each way.

Because the marketplace of ideas doesn't select for truth, but for virulence.

I believe you mean infectivity, not virulence. Infectivity is how easily something's spread; virulence is its tendency to kill its host.

Yeah, I'm not so sure he's wrong about that one.

Generic statement, I don't spend enough time here to form an image of any individual poster.

Also not meant to be a fully exhaustive answer, just an example of things that can be done. I don't think I need to repeat what other people have said, they have already said it far better than I can.

To @100ProofTollBooth, @2rafa, and the others:

What, really, nobody can come up with anything other than some form of "join a religious group (for instrumental reasons, even if you don't believe) and hunker down" Benedict Option, where you just try to avoid being crushed utterly until… what, Judgement Day?

Say what you will about @FCfromSSC's usual over-optimistic canned response ("Just defy the Federal government, brah. They can't do anything to you if you don't accept their legitimacy; the bullets in that FBI agent's gun will bounce off you once you stop respecting Federal authority!"), it's at least a proposal for winning, as opposed to merely slowing the losses and trying to avoid total defeat (and poorly, at that).

  1. In several of your other replies, you bring up demographics. I'd take the optimistic viewpoint that demographics are always in favor of those who are both pro-natal and able to raise their children with stability into adulthood. On the left, it's fair to say that those with the means are often minimally natal (single kids) or actively anti-natal. The new NPR lady has a bunch of tweets about the "moral hazard" of bringing children into the world. Those without the means to raise children, the accidentally pregnant a lot of the time lower class of any and all colors, don't tend to place their children in a position to thrive in life, let along seize the reins of power. The most well organized of those - evangelicals - are broadly in agreement with my social policies. So, I'm counting a lot of wins. I don't see the 35 year old purple-hair DEI consultants married to bicurious cucks suddenly deciding to raise a brood of their own. They may try to indoctrinate my kids, but see more about that below.

The current PMC populated by boomers, some Gen-Xers, and woke millenials is, historically speaking, a weird outlier. That the PMC even exists, let alone the level of power and influence it enjoys, is a direct byproduct of the amazing economic conditions from 1945-2005. DEI departments and woke education master's degree holders only exist in a society that has so much extra wealth that these people can do their non-jobs and not starve. In a real economic depression, a lot of them get canned quick. In a period of re-expanding growth, you'll see the actually productive surpass them and, frankly, hold a louder microphone. Examples: Mr. Musk and Mr. Thiel.

Returning to the primary point, who are those communities who have both the fecundity and financial-ity (i really wanted to rhyme to work, sorry) to build the next leaders of society? Well, we already told you.

  1. You bring up the "that's a lot of ifs" argument quite a bit. I'd say that any large scale strategy is predicated on risk-adjusted decisions about how to allocate resources and then conduct operations. If you're waiting for an absolutely bulletproof plan that is blindingly obvious in its multi-decade efficacy, I think you might want to talk to some dead Chinese fellows about how that works out.

  2. "The state is coming for your kids and will also maybe kill you." Although a bit dramatic, I agree with you. I have faith that that tide will turn back and, in some pockets, already has. Glen Youngkin won in VA largely because he said "Hey, stop teaching kids woke stuff in public school." The college protests of late are also great fuel to the fire for school choice and hefty parental veto rights. The most indoctrinated kids are paralyzingly anxious and fail to continue to exert the same level of cultural influence their parents did. If working more than 3 hours a day creates "trauma" for you, I'm not worried about you outbuilding me.

  3. "What if it is already too late and we're fucked." Well, then we're fucked. And I get to die and go home to Jesus, which is already the point. I know that's an argumentative cop out and I truly am sorry for it, but when people keep going down the recursive rabbit hole of "what if you're wrong about that? and that? and that?" Then, I guess if so many of my past, present, and future assumptions are all horribly flawed, I deserve the apocalypse. The Good News (read that capitalization carefully!) is that I, like Lizzy Warren, Have A Plan For That.

Glen Youngkin won in VA largely because he said "Hey, stop teaching kids woke stuff in public school."

Maybe, but I think there's a difference between "stop teaching woke stuff" and "stop copying the Catholic Church's playbook". I seem to recall a significant rape scandal at that time (the school administration was just relocating the boy-in-a-skirt rapist from school to school, then the cops arrested the victim's fathers when they dared to complain)?

There's a lot of tolerance for the former and most parents don't really care all that much about it (considering how averse they seem to be in terms of trying to reclaim their rights). Heck, even a "we're so powerful we won't even bother to cover up the fact that trans rapists are A-OK in our books" has only so far prompted the election of one more sympathetic governor; if that's the full extent of parental organization and power here, well...

You don’t do it waiting for judgment day, you do it so that when the opportunity arises, and it may well do, you can eventually seize power. Not of the whole country, but of some kind of defensible territory. Look at the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The Jews waited 2000 years. But if you have a tight knit group, with money, that practices endogamy, that produces children, eventually you may well have the opportunity to exercise some kind of power. And on a more practical and immediate note, it also allows you to impose your own kind of order on a community, preserving a space for yourself and people like you even as the wider nation might shift radically.

The Jews waited 2000 years.

And how many other minority groups ended up assimilating and dying out? There's a survivorship bias here.

But if you have a tight knit group, with money, that practices endogamy, that produces children,

That's a lot of "ifs." Especially the money part, these days; but also endogamy (few manage it, and are often under suspicion, save maybe the Hasidim — who have the advantages of being Jewish — and the Amish — who are seen as "quaint" and harmless) and producing children.

it also allows you to impose your own kind of order on a community,

Only as much as the broader society allows you to.

preserving a space for yourself and people like you

Until the government decides to crush your communities, arrest your leaders, and take and "residential school" indoctrinate/assimilate your children.

Fine, yeah. But consider how many times the Soviet Union used extremely harsh measures to try to eradicate ethnic identity and still failed at doing so. Nothing is guaranteed. But the option is still better than either (a) fighting impotently and getting crushed or (b) doing nothing and guaranteeing failure.

Again, the only alternative is coup-complete and in that case the far right just doesn’t have the necessary amount of elite human capital versus the center and left as Tracing and others have (in my opinion) persuasively argued.

I am this demographic.

Political consciousness came online after college as a Reganite conservative. Realized there were some contradictions there but, more importantly, that the rot started far earlier. Progress to a William F. Buckley conservative and am now at the Willmoore Kendall level.

And am tradcath.

There is no "promised land" of small-c conservatism in the US. There is no city or state aside from maybe Idaho / Wyoming that is truly conservative all the way thru (and those I just listed have actually taken the libertarian blackpill). This is not to say it's a Lost Cause (is this the Jubal Early forum?!). The mission of small-c conservatives right now is pretty much lawfare. And, looking at SCOTUS and the legacy of Mitch McConnell, it's actually going damn well. Then again, the reaction to Dobbs has shown that America is so used to elective abortion that it doesn't actually want to give it up, despite posturing to the contrary. This is even more true with social spending and direct cash transfers.

On a social level, tradcath communities are real, vibrant, and actually growing especially among the Youths. The problem is internecine conflict. Some Gen-Z tradcaths are trying to be "more catholic than the Pope." YouTube Catholics seem to be largely YouTube first, Catholic second. The Pope himself ... well ... Jesus. The positive side is that it truly is a durable community. Moms (and Dads) routinely group babysit, there's always a potluck or sort of open dinner thing happening, people trade tips on schools, make business deals and connections, plan vacations together. A parish with a strong tradcath element (a giveaway is at least one Traditional Latin Mass per week) actually uses the Church building itself as a center for community instead of "spooky once a week lecture hall." This can all be done with relative ease because everyone is already one hundred percent bought in to a shared understanding of the True essence of morality, existence, and God. So, yeah, social trust levels are high. I do sometimes enjoy thinking about progressive families coming face to face with a playdate situation in which they have to think, "holy shit, I don't actually know anything about how this other family views the world, and I'm giving them my child for an afternoon." The kayfabe of "respect all backgrounds" disappears real quick.

The issue of concern both with small c-conservatism and American tradcaths is that we fail to avoid becoming fatalist crusaders. It's actually not that big of a deal to be a permanent minority so long as we can self-preserve (read: tradcaths babies on one hand, and politicians from rural states that have a structural advantage in the Senate on the other - even if those states are actually libertarian in concept). I do worry that there's a temptation to borrow from the Snake Handler Pentecostals and the Massive Resistance Southern Democrats to go on a campaign of self-immolation just to show how righteous we are.

A side bet for you: I would expect enrollment at small Catholic colleges (note: not seminaries, just explicitly catholic affiliated / run colleges) to spike for a few years.

The mission of small-c conservatives right now is pretty much lawfare. And, looking at SCOTUS and the legacy of Mitch McConnell, it's actually going damn well.

I disagree. If this keeps up, expect either court-packing, or loss of respect for SCOTUS decisions (there is no actual enforcement mechanism for Supreme Court rulings). Either way, I expect the Left to shut down these avenues fairly soon. Besides, the primary “win” here, Dobbs, is more a symbolic victory than anything else — as you note, it hasn’t actually changed much at the ground level.

On a social level, tradcath communities are real, vibrant, and actually growing especially among the Youths.

For now.

The positive side is that it truly is a durable community.

At current conditions. But as state oppression combined with anarcho-tyranny inevitably ratchet up, I doubt it’ll do nearly so well. You’re not (literally) bulletproof.

It's actually not that big of a deal to be a permanent minority so long as we can self-preserve

And I’d say that’s a mighty big “if,” given how much worse “bake the cake, bigot”-type actions are going to keep getting.

tradcaths babies on one hand

And how long are they going to stay that way when public schools get done with them?

and politicians from rural states that have a structural advantage in the Senate

And that’s not going to last all that much longer, either, given both demographic and political trends.

At best, this is a “losing as slowly as possible” strategy. It simply carves out a tiny bubble of survival, and only at the sufferance of the broader society. It can’t last forever.

I would expect enrollment at small Catholic colleges

They’re bankrupt and trads are scared of student loans. Right now the trend is against small Catholic colleges, who are shifting towards charismatic Catholics to make up for it.

Figuring out how to make adolescents bridge over into adulthood and the broken marriage market are top 5 problems in the tradcath world. These are not totally unrelated problems, obviously. But this isn’t Orthodox Judaism or Mormonism here where the community is astonishingly well run on a temporal level even if it’s not to everyone’s taste.

They’re bankrupt and trads are scared of student loans. Right now the trend is against small Catholic colleges

I didn't know this. Thanks.

who are shifting towards charismatic Catholics to make up for it.

So .... protestants.

the broken marriage market

Yeah, I was remiss to have left that out. I think part of the thing about the Gen-Z Catholics that is worrisome is they think that tradcathin' will make marriage easier. It won't, it just makes the commitment to the idea that much more serious. The massive external danger is that the secular world looks at marriage as an easy in-and-out situation that one can simply eject from if they feel like it gets in the way of "who you are" (or other such nonsense).

The real issue with the tradcath marriage market is the missing step A- the social technology to force young people to take budding relationships very seriously and either call them off or get engaged in a quick timeframe is there. It works. It’s just, well, that requires a step A to get there and tradcath communities are extremely bad at that step A. I have yet to see a workable solution actually get implemented and it’s not as if there’s a single top down authority to make people adopt one.

It doesn’t seem like there’s an epidemic of bad marriages or whatever, tradcaths expect to have to make sacrifices to have a marriage work out and a preexisting framework for deciding who sacrifices what. That may not be perfectly fair, but it’s highly workable and intuitive.

I really like this response, I just want to pull out some more details.

"The missing step A" -- Is this the initial meeting between two young people? From what I can gather, it looks like you're saying that tradcath communities are great for getting a young couple on rails into a marriage, but bad at getting Harry to meet Sally at the dance. Is this accurate?

I am well placed enough in my IRL tradcath community to know at least a few details on every couple marrying this year. 50%+1 were introduced by their siblings(this group grew up in the community, by and large, and so large families plus teenagers with lots of free time[because homeschooling] and young adults who don’t move out of their parents house as soon as they can afford to). Subtract online dating and there’s not a lot of possible room for meeting organically left- and elders of the community think this number of marriages is too low.

Ironically one of the bigger challenges is getting Sally to show up for that church dance, although tradcaths put enough effort into stopping teenaged Joseph and Maria from having a relationship that grown-up Joseph is also probably in for an awkward start to pursuing the girl who does show up at the church dance anyways just from aftereffects. Everyone has a different solution and that solution is always one which doesn’t entail that particular person to make any changes.

In the francophone world I believe the problem has been solved by a strong, formal expectation that eligible young adults not seeking the religious life attend the parish young adult group. This expectation has, for whatever reason, not made it to Anglosphere trads- partly due to the extended nature of Anglosphere adolescences I suspect, but there’s probably other reasons.

This just makes me want to start sponsoring Knight of Columbus Taverns all across the country. Bolt 'em on to the local parish. Have to be a local or sponsored by one to attend.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit - in the form of the fully alcoholic blood of Christ and its various Irish and Scottish cousins - can move the younguns to form holy unions.

Huh, no one really has answered your questions.

Some possibilities for the right:

Have a coup, or otherwise radically alter the governance structure. (many, including on the right would resist)

Hunker down and wait a generation until the left birth-rates itself into nothing. (requires: keeping kids from being convinced by the propaganda)

Attempt to secede. (See: 1861-1865)

Import voters with similar values (MAGA, famously enthusiastic supporters of immigration).

Win in the national public discourse, in ways that are sufficient to convince people.

Get someone who is sufficiently non-polarizing and extremely convincing into office?

It's looking like we'll get something of a reprieve in the near term by the fact that black and hispanic voters are increasing their republican support. I also don't know what effects Musk's twitter will have on political views and polarization.

Some of this may depend on what policies you care about. Different people care about different things, and you might be able to get some sorts of bills through if you can get them bundled with things that they would want to pass anyway. Do whatever you can to make them either unlikely to be polarized, or easy to pass and easy to forget. Attempt to encourage state-level governance, as then you can get reasonable laws in at least some states (unfortunately, this is already right-coded).

Huh, no one really has answered your questions.

Yeah, it's frustrating.

Have a coup, or otherwise radically alter the governance structure.

Again, monarchist awaiting our Augustus, so I'm right here on that.

Hunker down and wait a generation until the left birth-rates itself into nothing.

Did you read the link? It'll take more than just a generation, which requires a way to maintain cohesion across generations — which is where I suppose all the other replies going on about religious groups (the sort of instrumentalization of religion that, back on SSC, Mai la Dreapta used to denounce and Well… would brag about) come in.

Import voters with similar values (MAGA, famously enthusiastic supporters of immigration).

From where, exactly?

Win in the national public discourse, in ways that are sufficient to convince people.

Between so much of the left being "cognitive heroin" (to borrow from Scott), and their control of the media megaphone, that's just not happening.

It's looking like we'll get something of a reprieve in the near term by the fact that black and hispanic voters are increasing their republican support.

Again, if you read the link, that phenomenon is vastly overstated.

If I was a white gentile I’d probably become a tradcath. I have no particular fondness for Catholicism, but I get the impression many tradcaths don’t either, especially when it comes to the Pope, the Vatican and the actual hierarchical structure and institution of the Catholic Church in practice.

As @coffee_enjoyer said, you need to pick some kind of religious narrative, and almost all invented or new age religions fail and have failed. Tight knit traditionalist religious groups have the best chance of being able to preserve functioning communities.

The only viable option is to pick an existing one. That leaves you with various insular forms of Protestantism, like the Mennonites/Amish, but they take few converts and would require an unlikely degree of adaptation to a new life, with Orthodoxy, which is very ethnically tied to some specific groups like Greeks and Russians in the US, or with Catholicism. Mormonism is in rapid decline and is very goofy. Tradcath groups see many converts, many from mainstream Catholicism but sometimes from outside it too.

There may be fundamental issues with Christianity having some kind of inherent leftward drift (I think the evidence is inconclusive) but in the near/medium term this is probably the best option.

If I was a white gentile I’d probably become a tradcath.

First, how does this answer my question? What does this do, politically, for the right?

And second, isn't this instrumentalizing religion, joining a denomination for reasons other than genuine belief?

There are less isolationist, committed, conservative varieties of protestantism out there as well…

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, or I'm sure some Lutheran denominations (WELS?) aren't going to be abandoning their teaching anytime soon, for example, and they don't have especially high barriers to joining. It won't be as tightly knit as the Amish, but it might be comparable to tradcaths.

As an actual IRL tradcath my understanding is that WELS, ROCOR Orthodox, and certain greek-catholic groups whose membership often overlaps with latin-mass groups anyways are the closest sociological analogues to traditional Catholicism(which is growing and does have staying power even if it's overstated). Maybe add Opus Dei too if you count them as a group. At @2rafa 's point about a possible inherent leftward drift- the SSPX is by far the oldest major tradcath group and also tends to be the most moderate on hot-button issues, despite having an uberconservative reputation, with the SSPX supporting things like old-earth instead of young-earth creation, knuckle under and get the covid vax if you have truly no other option, accepting longer periods of dating before marriage, etc. Now that could also just be because of having relatively fewer Americans in top positions making it less firmly red-tribe aligned, also, it's not inherently less conservative to believe you should get the covid vaccine if your employer won't accept any religious exemptions or that the earth might be as much as 30,000 years old.

which is growing

Yeah, I certainly got that impression.

and also tends to be the most moderate on hot-button issues

Huh, I would have expected the FSSP to be more moderate in general. Is that not the case?

No, it is not, although the most moderate individual priests are probably with the FSSP. In general the FSSP has the biggest tent out of the major traditionalist groups while the others have tighter control over individual representatives, but the ‘typical’ FSSP line will be a bit more socially and sometimes liturgically conservative than other English-speaking traditionalists, although the SSPX probably does more purity testing. Conservative, top-down organizations with a history of purging their ultra conservative wing(in fairness, usually for genuine bad behavior) do not tolerate unapproved right wing radicalism very well.

Of course a slim plurality of the IRL tradcath world is French-speaking, and rules of thumb like that could easily be different across a language barrier.

Just rig elections.

Easier said than done, particularly given that the other side is a lot more experienced at it.

[Didn't realize this was the small question thread, reply was more appropriate to the Culture War thread.]

You should post it as a parent comment in main thread

naw, it's a repeat of a repeat of a repeat. Wouldn't have made it if it weren't a direct response to a question. It'll come back up in the main thread soon enough.

One can make pragmatic arguments why "unchecked border-crossings, disintegrating families, DEI deans, and worthless degrees" aren't good and worth avoiding. I'm personally indifferent to fading churches, partially because they've been useless in preventing the current situation. At the end of the day, one has to support candidates in the primaries who are sane and support his/her favored policies. I don't see any of the above issues and the good policies to address them being abandoned anytime soon.

At the end of the day, one has to support candidates in the primaries who are sane and support his/her favored policies

What about when there isn't a candidate supporting your policies? For example, where's the "end no-fault divorce" candidate?

The only realistic move is to organize into a tight religious in-group, because: religion is the best way to train the young’s’ spiritual/mental immune system against political propaganda, religion is the best way to transmit cultural/philosophical concerns, and (most of all) America offers strong religious protections which would allow you to live sequestered away from normal life in America. Note that (while I think Western Christianity is the best) your religion need not be fantastical or even really theistic. Unitarian Universalism for instance is simply the progressive worldview codified into religious dogma and adorned in tax protections. There’s nothing stopping a conservative from establishing a religion that believes in Spinoza’s God, believes that the Western classics were divinely inspired, or even believes that certain developed populations are God’s chosen people. Now your community’s resources can be pooled together without taxes, you can establish schools with a religious and conduct requirement, etc

The only realistic move is to organize into a tight religious in-group, because: religion is the best way to train the young’s’ spiritual/mental immune system against political propaganda, religion is the best way to transmit cultural/philosophical concerns, and (most of all) America offers strong religious protections which would allow you to live sequestered away from normal life in America.

First, how does this accomplish political goals?

Second, you vastly overstate said religious protections. AIUI, getting religious tax exemptions is actually incredibly difficult, particularly for a "new" religion.

Third, isn't this just "instrumentalizing religion"? How is your conservative "new religion" anything but a LARP, with added tax evasion scheme?

Frankly, I'm getting tired of people proposing the (ridiculous) idea that the best way to achieve material political goals is to start a [expletive deleted] cult.

Political goals are accomplished through influence. Communal political influence requires (1) the conscious saving of money which is reinforced socially especially for the rich members, (2) the directing of the money to a centralized lobbying arm which can efficiently accomplish goals, (3) protection against out-group propaganda. Read about the political influence of Kiryas Joel if you’d like, which at one point was the poorest town in America, yet senators would make a speech every year to them because of their donations and block voting; and they then benefitted from that politician’s funding of amenities and lack of investigation into crimes. Political goals are also accomplished through consumer behavior. Religious cultures direct consumer behavior toward in-group providers, and boycott companies against their goals. Religions take the money that is ordinarily spent on wasteful consumerism and direct it to communal goods. They also hire among their own.

vastly overstate said religious protections

No I do not. Every Protestant church has religious protections.

isn't this just "instrumentalizing religion”

That depends if you believe in it or not. If you don’t believe in it, then obviously you shouldn’t do it. Personally, I have had divine revelations in dreams and given an understanding of mystical meaning behind Biblical symbols and allegories. But that’s just me, you know? I’m also tired: of people who don’t understand how people work, of my dog eating deer poop, of hubris, of the cost of a double cheeseburger at Wendy’s. I am not sure what tiredness has to do with this conversation.

ridiculous idea

Yeah, civic nationalism has really been working hasn’t it? Was it Einstein who said that the mark of a genius was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Meanwhile, I will stick to my understanding of how culture operates which is informed by thousands of years of history and a hundred years of social psychology.

Read about the political influence of Kiryas Joel if you’d like

I have. I've even talked about it to others IRL as a model to emulate, whereby the universal response is that such a thing only works for Hasidic Jews; that there are unique elements there — ranging from their long history and separate language to their ability to suppress criticism by denouncing critics as antisemites — that cannot be emulated.

Every Protestant church has religious protections.

Every currently existing Protestant church. But, AIUI, you're talking about creating a new one. And, also AIUI, the IRS tends to default to treating all new religions as tax evasion schemes until proven otherwise.

Personally, I have had divine revelations in dreams and given an understanding of mystical meaning behind Biblical symbols and allegories.

And these just so happened to give you true belief in the specific doctrines of the denomination you found it most convenient for your political goals to join? If so, then lucky you, I suppose.

Yeah, civic nationalism has really been working hasn’t it?

And where did I endorse that? It's clear that isn't working, either. But I don't see 'just rebrand your secular political goals as a religion and start a cult, bro' as a viable project either.

that cannot be emulated

If you lack creativity, then nothing can be emulated. You should just accept defeat at that point. Consider that Hebrew is a reinvented language.

tax exemption

It’s so difficult yet virtually every small non-denominational Christian church is tax exempt? This is another case of defeatism. No one said change is trivially easy; this level of defeatism is unwarranted.

these just so happened to give you true belief in the specific doctrines of the denomination you found it most convenient for your political goals to join

They give me insight into a lot of things, most of them have absolutely no political consequences. But some have political consequences, sure. Is it surprising that God wants his people to thrive? This is the basis of all religion.

Consider that Hebrew is a reinvented language.

The Hasidim of Kiryas Joel speak Yiddish as their day-to-day language, not Hebrew. You should know that if you'd read up on them.

It’s so difficult yet virtually every small non-denominational Christian church is tax exempt?

Because for all of them, there's a history and structure already in place, going back to whichever group they schismed off of earlier. As others have pointed out, "religions" invented whole-cloth tend to be much harder to get past "tax scam" skepticism.

You just casuallly dismis all objections with "just try harder, bro." Along with the implication that one can have politically-useful divine revelations on cue as needed. It still boils down to "Just found a cult, bro. Not working? Just try harder, bro." And, of course, the usual denouncing anything other than unfettered optimism in your particular solution as "defeatism."

“Consider that Hebrew is a reinvented language” means consider that at one time a group decided to re-invent their in-group language. And yes, there’s a structure in place, which was started by people creating the structure, between the 18th and 20th century, depending on schism.

religions" invented whole-cloth tend to be much harder to get past "tax scam" skepticism

Like what? Satanism? What is more difficult than inventing a religion that worships literal Satan? How about the Rastafarians or the Nation of Islam. I dismiss the objections because they aren’t legitimate. You do not need an in-group language, although you can re-invent one; you don’t need history, although that helps — all history begins somewhere.

implication that one can have politically-useful divine revelations

Boy do I have some Abrahamic religions to show you. How many wives did Joseph Smith get to have after his revelation? How many riches, wives, and conquered nations did the early Arab expansion obtain? Was the Moses story invented to explain why Moses was kicked out of Egypt? Here’s a less outlandish tale: Western culture is uniquely chosen by God and the revealed texts are the Western classics. This can be your religion, if you’d like it to be (nota bene: it is not mine).

I agree with this answer. Religion allows small groups of people to slowly reshape the culture as it attracts new members. The religion grows stronger as the mainstream culture grows weaker, which can eventually lead to the religion re-shaping/replacing parts of mainstream culture. A historical example is the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.

States with Religious Freedom Restoration Acts have stronger religious protections than those that don't.

Traditional religions in some people's eyes have lost their credibility/safety so there seems to be an opportunity to create a new religion that is better aligned with modern scientific beliefs.

I see people say things like this. I seldom (never) see anyone do things like this. Tax exemptions are also not a panacea for creating a successful organization, the Satanic Temple and Universal Life Church are not exactly going gangbusters. I suppose you're thinking more along the lines of the Amish or Hassidic Jews and maybe a touch of Mormonism. But they were all well established without tax breaks.

American life (in general) continues on apace without much in the way of influence from these successful insular organizations, so I'm not sure how, even in success, this would help with @Capital_Room's question. I, however, given our previous interactions, am not surprised that your solution to almost any issue is more dakka religion.

The “young” Right re-learned the importance of religion for survival only recently, I’d argue, around the time of the Benedict Plan in 2017. And public thinkers like Jordan Peterson only recently brought serious arguments for religion to the public, in a way that can satisfy the more “rational” conservative cohort who would otherwise be stuck on Nietzsche and new atheism. So it’s not surprising you haven’t seen this development immediately.

I don’t get your point about the Satanic Temple. Satanism is not a culture, it’s pretty much only an aesthetic, so it lacks the motive to utilize tax exemption for the purpose of maintaining a culture. If I were to bet, practicing “Satanists” are usually anti-natalists who think that their cultural heritage sucks. I similarly don’t get your point about the Amish; they were established at a time when no one policed how you established towns and schools… when there was no mass media… they just plopped themselves in Ohio and created, effectively, a micro-nation because they could… and there were few taxes then. So you’re comparing apples to orangutans here, in that there is genuinely no comparison to be made.

your solution to almost any issue is more dakka religion

Approximately, yes. More accurately, it’s “hierarchical organized communities which use stories and rituals and social competition to guide human behavior, whose leaders are chosen by virtuous conduct and who are prevented from having any material bias of self-gain eg accumulating wealth or women.” This just so happens to be religious in nature due to quirks of the flesh human nature. It’s hard to look at the demise of South Korea, the resilience of the Pashtuns, the birth rates of the Abrahamic Orthodox, the beauty of renaissance art, the economic waste of consumerist sexual competition, and the quasi-religious attitudes of political radicals and not come to the conclusion that what we need is Optimized Religion(s).

Interesting premise. It is nice to have it all laid out for once! I'll have to think on a lot of this and get back to you. Well constructed.

Edit to say that JP is a weak moron. I can't stop myself, after being accosted in my social group by his fans when he first started. I always shat on his simplistic takes, weird reedy voice, lobster analogies since I'm from Maine and have actually caught lobsters, clean your room advice; his subsequent fall into madness and addiction was really very satisfying for me.

I'll never forget a Joe Rogan appearance where he was bragging about being able to lift a small box.

Following on from this, I recently read this essay by N.S. Lyons, arguing that what the Right has to do is to, effectively, create a parallel society. Many of the commenters inferred that the most obvious way to do this is to use the church networks that already exist, albeit in many places weakened by years of people falling away.

I had that same realization some time ago, presumably like many other people. So I finally became an actual member of a local church within the last year, and have been getting more and more involved in its affairs. The idea is that, in addition to our religious practice, this will be our mutual support network: in a world where the state is against us, and nearly all large organizations are against us, we will at least have our little local group of people that are for us and for each other. Obviously, you can blackpill your way into finding this to be hopeless as well; but I can already confirm that at least right now, so far, it's a lot better than trying to face everything alone.

Were you already religious?

Because that strategy begs the question of why people have been falling away for decades. Otherwise you’re betting on a losing horse. Fine for getting a local support network, but I don’t see it scaling like the more ethnonationalist examples in that essay.

These days, you have to decide what to break: the Word, or the laws of reality. The blue tribers break the former and the conservatives break the latter, as you see with young earth creationists and various other sects of the right wing. I've seen some people on here go to religion lately, specifically Christianity; I'd like to poll them sometime and ask them how they did it. There is just too much of the Bible that is objectively false at this point that I don't know how a Mottizen would go about gaining faith. Unless they went a deist route or threw in with Blue Tribe. But at that point, you might as well not be basing your religion off the Bible at all.

You don’t need to believe it. You just need your kids to believe it, and religious schooling and so on can accomplish that with at least some degree of efficacy.

Secular society has no competent alternative to religious social engineering. All alternatives so far have failed.

There is just too much of the Bible that is objectively false at this point that I don't know how a Mottizen would go about gaining faith.

I think it should go without saying, but obviously people do not share your opinion that many parts of the Bible are objectively false. But without knowing what your specific points are it's hard to really say more.

I was raised with a fundamentalist view of the Bible. One relative of mine went on to grow even more fundamentalist, veering into hatred of the Jews (a severe misreading, if you ask me, and I thought downright heretical until I looked at the lines he was fixated on), but here's some of my grievances. I don't know my Bible very well, and I frankly hold little regard for it, so I will not read more.

  • As I said, young earth creationism is pretty wild, but to my eyes, you pretty much have to believe it, according to my fundamentalist relative, due to Jesus quoting something in the Septuagint regarding it; it is also the basis of the faith (why would we need saving from original sin if there was no Adam and we are no more than slightly more intelligent monkeys). If not, then there's all kinds of questions we can get into: why is the perception of God something that changes with the more we know about the world, instead of something eternal? Why did God write the scripture like that, so that a great portion of believers feel forced to stamp their feet about the world being 6000 years old? Why does my mother insist that the Tower of Babel story is literally true?
  • Much of the Old Testament deals with God proving himself to be better than other gods; a good example of this is probably the Book of Job, where God goes along with "The Adversary" to test Job. Christians seem to rethink these verses of being false idols and Satan in all cases, but it seems pretty obvious to me that it's about directly combating competing gods in the old world. There are so many points in the Old Testament where it basically says "sweet, my god is better than yours, that's why he lets me kill you and all your male heirs, and then breed your young girls after you're gone".
  • From what I've read, there are so many different words used for hell in the books of the Bible that there isn't any consistent view of them, but the mainstream Christian view is that nonbelievers are thrown into an eternal lake of fire to be tormented forever. But believers in Christ get into heaven. I don't know how far right people can get into the weeds on Septuagint vs Masoretic words for "Hebrew", but never even examine this idea at all. Or maybe they have and I don't know it. But what I have heard is that you have to believe all of the Bible, young earth creationism, not permitting women to teach men or get divorced or other things, laying with men gets you stoned, and crucially, Christ's resurrection, or you go to hell. Knowing my relative's issues with the Catholic Church, it amazes me that God would let the Catholics twist the Bible so hard for so long with no resistance whatsoever. They literally could not read the Bible for centuries and discover what it really said. Wouldn't most of them be damned for their degeneration of the Word?
  • It is staggering to me how unfair the requirement that you must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to not be damned. People on the ground witnessing the miracles would have had such a huge leg up in their redemption. Atheists killing themselves by jumping from a plane can save themselves mid-flight, whereas someone pulling the trigger of a gun gets no such chance. Because Jesus incarnated in a little spot in the Middle East, huge swathes of the populace have never even heard the name of the creator of the universe. Entire continents of people would be damned due to not even having a chance at receiving the message. Or, alternatively, they are saved due to their ignorance, but then once missionaries come and give them a chance to hear the message, then they're damned. Or maybe you're more like C.S. Lewis and think that being saved or damned comes from after death, whether you can accept Christ then or not. Okay. That doesn't seem very true to the message of the Bible to me, but that would be a little more fair. But even the concept of hell is crazy to me. What kind of justice is this? Infinite pain for a life with finite sin? Even the biggest assholes I know of in real life wouldn't go for that. And if you take the classical view of what gets you damned (disbelief in the redemption), how can you really hold it against someone? They were provided with no direct evidence of such a resurrection, in a world where pain and suffering are quite arbitrary, and any relief comes from men, usually atheist men.

If you take issue with these grievances, let me know, but like I said, the Word of God should probably be more eternal than to vary completely based on cultural attitudes and scientific research. I don't really see much room to wiggle away from these while still staying true to scripture. And God has let humanity's Christians splinter further and further over 2000 years without any further clarification. @FCfromSSC

First of all, thanks for writing all this out. I'm going to try to address all this as best I can, though I need to stress I'm very much not a theologian, or an apologist, or even a teacher in the church. I'm just a guy. My goal is to at least try to give you my view of these issues, so that even if you're not personally convinced (I'm not that good at rhetoric, I won't take it too hard lol) you at least will hopefully feel that what I've said is something a reasonable person can believe. I'm Catholic, so that's the perspective I'm bringing to this. Also @TheDag, @urquan and @FarNearEverywhere, please chime in if there is something I've missed or something I get wrong. I'm probably going to have more bullet points than you, as this is my third time writing this post (stupid website keeps eating it when I click on links) and I found that a lot of your points have sub-points. I don't really know how to order all that nicely within the constraints of the site, so bear with me.

First, it's important to note that the fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of Christianity is not something all denominations share. From a Catholic perspective, those people are in pretty serious error in fact. So a lot of things I noticed you said like "why does the Bible say factually untrue thing x" are just not an issue for other traditions. Specifically, the Catholics (and others tbf) believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, not that it was directly written by God. That means that the core message about God and our salvation is infallible, but plenty of other things are fallible. For example, if the Bible says "King Bigwig was succeeded by his son Mightyface" in one book, and "King Bigwig was succeeded by his son Weaksauce" in another, the Catholic take on that is "maybe one of those authors got it wrong, shit happens". We're OK with that, because the detail of which king succeeded whom isn't really central to God's message to us (and so on for other minor details of course).

Furthermore, it's important to note that the Bible is not one cohesive book. The men who wrote it down were working in various literary styles and speaking to different social contexts. There are books of history yes, but also books of poetry, and books of raw moral teaching, and books of myths. So not only is it possible that each author is fallible, you have to interpret their words through the lens of cultural context and intended style. All of which makes it pretty challenging to interpret the Bible, but means that we very much do not believe that each and every sentence of the Bible is an eternal truth directly handed to us by God. Fundamentalists believe that yes, but by no means all Christians (or even most Christians, really).

I also wanted to note that it seemed like more than one of your arguments basically boiled down to "I think you can get around this, but then that's not consistent with the Bible". I think that yes, some of the hypothetical counterarguments you mentioned aren't consistent with the fundamentalist Protestant interpretation of the Bible. But that is very much not the only interpretation (or the main interpretation) among Christians! You can't really expect people to hold to an interpretation of the Bible that they never professed to begin with, after all. So I think that significantly weakens your arguments in this area, since they are colored so much by a particular interpretation of the Bible that most Christians don't hold.

With those important overarching points out of the way, it's time for ye olde bulleted list.

  • Genesis (written by Moses iirc) is fundamentally a mythological book. Catholics don't generally believe it's meant to be taken literally, but that the author was using the myths of the ancient near East to try to teach those people about the origins of the world in terms they would understand (which of course doesn't remotely come close to our modern understanding of biology, geology and so on). The important takeaway from the creation story isn't "God made the world in seven days just like we understand days" (which wouldn't make sense in various ways), but "God is the supreme being who created everything, not like your gods who are either glorified mortals or forces of nature". Similarly, the story of Adam isn't generally understood as "there was a literal serpent who got Adam and Eve to eat a literal apple", but as a myth which seeks to illustrate how sin has perverted God's design for the world and placed us all in dire need of a savior.

  • The perception of God isn't eternal because we ourselves are not eternal. How could we have perfect knowledge of God in this life, imperfect as we are? It's like Paul says: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly...". It's not really fair to expect our understanding of God to not change over time. God himself doesn't change, of course, but human ideas of him do.

  • Why does God allow different interpretations of the Bible (at least some of which must be wrong)? Good question and I don't have an answer. I think you should be pretty skeptical of anyone who does. I'm content with the "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" verse on this one, but I can't fault you if you aren't. It's just not something that is an impediment to my faith because I trust God knows what he's doing.

  • It is true that a lot of the Old Testament comes down to divine dick measuring. But to me, this makes perfect sense in light of the "human authors are writing to the context they live in" interpretation. God revealed truths about himself to these writers, and they communicated those truths in the way they thought would make the most sense to their contemporary audience. For example, the book of Job. I think that this book is best understood as poetry, and meant in the same way good art is made today: it uses the imagery of the story to reveal something true to us. Specifically, that if we trust God then we will ultimately be rewarded (note that it may not be in this life, but we will still be rewarded). I don't know whether or not there was an actual man that Job was based on, but if there was I doubt that his life went exactly as depicted in the book. But that's OK, because the message of "trust God" is the important part.

  • I would not say that there is a consistent Christian view of hell. Even among Catholics there isn't unity as far as I know. That's primarily because the Bible just doesn't talk that much about hell to the best of my knowledge. As far as I'm aware Catholic doctrine on hell is that a) it exists, b) some people will end up there, c) it's an awful place to be. It's important to note here that the reason hell is awful isn't because God designed it as a punishment. It's because God is the source of everything good, and hell is separation from God. Therefore, there can be nothing good in hell (not even the sinful pleasures we can experience in this life), because the source of all goodness is not there. To the best of my knowledge, the imagery of a lake of fire where you get tormented by demons as a punishment is not something the Church teaches. Nor would I say it's something that there's broad agreement on.

  • I certainly don't think it's true that you have to believe in young earth creationism, or any of that other stuff, in order to avoid hell. There are a lot of ideas about hell, but I'm most convinced by CS Lewis' thoughts on this topic. The people in hell are there not because God sends them to eternal soul prison, but because they chose to be there. As Lewis said, the gates of hell are barred from the inside. I do not know if the Church has specific teaching on whether people could theoretically change their mind, so perhaps hell isn't eternal for those who wind up there. I don't know, and again I don't think there's any sort of broad Christian consensus on this topic.

  • I don't imagine that this will surprise you, but I don't think that God allowed the Catholics to twist the Bible for centuries. I think that is nonsense born more of hate than anything else. There's still a lot of bad blood between some Protestants and some Catholics, and it's horrible. But I think that the idea that God let the Catholic Church essentially damn people to hell for centuries through bad readings of scripture is just plain false.

  • So far as I'm aware, the Church does not teach that you must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be saved. It simply teaches that all salvation is through him. For example, the Church teaches that all the Israelites who lived before Jesus' incarnation were saved by his sacrifice, even though it happened (from a mortal timeline's POV) after they lived. The Church also teaches that while its teachings and sacraments are a sure path to heaven, God isn't limited by such things and can save anyone he wants through any means he wants. Some believe that for those who die never having heard the message of Jesus Christ, God still gives them the grace to choose to follow the morals they were taught (and that by accepting that grace, they can still go to heaven through the power of Jesus' sacrifice even if they never knew about him in those terms). The Church very deliberately does not teach that any given person is in hell, because we simply cannot know this side of the grave. It does teach that certain people are in heaven, but that's another topic.

  • I know what you mean about people on the ground witnessing miracles having a leg up, but at the same time I'm not sure that's true. The Bible records that a lot of people who witnessed miracles chose to not persist in faith in God. The Old Testament is full of this (Exodus has the memorable examples where the people just watched God save them from Pharaoh's armies and then say "God has abandoned us" time and time again as they journey). The New Testament has it too. Judas personally saw Jesus, was one of his closest followers, and would have witnessed him do many miracles personally. He still chose to sell Jesus out. Not only that but he despaired at God's forgiveness even after all he saw (which is what many say was his true sin, not the selling out of Jesus). On this very forum, I've seen people say that if they saw a miracle they would think that they were having a hallucination or that there was a scientific explanation. I think that at some level, no matter what miracles you have seen or not, you have to make the choice to believe.

  • I don't think it's true that someone who pulls the trigger on a gun (I think you mean suicide here?) can't save themselves. I believe that God is not limited by time, and that he can even work in the past from our perspective. I think that it's possible (though we can't know until we get to heaven) that God gave people who committed suicide the chance to repent in the last instant of their life, and that some chose to accept his grace. Again, the Church doesn't say that this is necessarily true, but it is pretty consistent that the stuff the Bible says is a lifeline for our benefit, not a limitation of God. I choose to believe that he reaches even those people who us mortals think are beyond hope.

I think that addresses most of your points (hopefully all, but I might have missed something). Not necessarily in order of course, because some of your arguments are interconnected (for example I kind of touched on the "how is hell just" line of thinking while trying to address your third bullet point, even though it was part of your fourth bullet point). But again, just for emphasis: I'm not saying all of these things are arguments you will necessarily believe. My only goal is to highlight that one does not have to choose between the message of the Bible and the objective truth of the world.

It's taken me a long time to write all of this and it's late enough that I don't have time to do editing passes, but I hope that at least it gives you some food for thought. Again, thank you for the earnest and respectful discussion!

This post is good! Yes, that all makes sense. It doesn't really convince me to believe, but it's not totally at odds with reality, like how fundamentalists see it. I may have just talked to too many fundamentalists, but to be fair, that was my only perspective on the bible for pretty much all of my youth.

Catholics don't believe that scripture is infallible? Infallibility is a strong statement to make, and admitting that men wrote it is kind of conceding a lot of ground. I guess I don't know what you're supposed to base your belief on here, if men wrote it and it may not be accurate to what God actually wanted us to know. How would inspired word look any different from some random jackwagon writing whatever he wants?

To that end, is there anything solidifying your belief in day-to-day life? I asked a couple Christians if there is justice in this life, or if it's only reserved for the afterlife, and both of them seemed pretty stumped by what I thought was a simple question. To me, it seems pretty obvious that life is randomly cruel to everyone, Christian or not, a world of chaos, untamed and wild except for where men have tamed it. If someone created it, they're either not paying attention to it, as if they wound up a wind up doll and walked away from the table, or they never cared much about it in the first place, an apathetic god that lets the chips fall as they may. You probably disagree with that, and if you do, I'd like to hear it.

I have so many random theological questions (does the suffering of animals mean anything?), but maybe some other day. Or some other thread.

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It's not really fair to expect our understanding of God to not change over time. God himself doesn't change, of course, but human ideas of him do.

Maybe I misunderstand something here, but why would this be unfair? Aren't there a number of ideas that are unchanging or at least variable only in a narrow space of possibilities? Take something like the laws of logic for example, they are as far as anyone knows eternally true, and what's more they seem to be intuitively undeniable and, in a manner of speaking, to impose themselves on any rational mind and, failing that, at least the material reality of the irrational.

In other words, it does seem to be possible for God to put ideas into the minds of all humans that are relatively stable and undeniable by any serious thinker. Why did he not do that for belief in himself?

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I think you did a good job. One note:

So far as I'm aware, the Church does not teach that you must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be saved.

The concept you're referring to here is Invincible Ignorance. And here's an official Church document explaining:

(Lumen Gentium 16) "those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation” (847).

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  • This is the only one that's at all pressing, I think. Old earth creationism is also a view that you'll see around, as is theistic evolution. There's some intratextual reasons to think that you can't just add the years up anyway, which makes it a bit less problematic. And the word "day" is notoriously ambiguous, and that whole passage is weird. Currently, the part I'm most concerned about is the table of nations in Genesis 10, though I'm also not entirely sure what to do with the flood. I know William Lane Craig thinks that the whole first 11 chapters are a different genre, and shouldn't be interpreted literally; I'm not sure that I'm convinced.
  • Job is pretty clear that "the adversary" is subordinate to God. I don't know that I see enormous lines between there being angelic or demonic powers and there being pagan-style deities anyway, so I don't think this is much of a problem.
  • I don't think misunderstanding the bible in itself means that they would be damned. That said, I don't actually have a problem with people being damned for trivial things, so this isn't at all a pressing objection. See the following, as well.

People on the ground witnessing the miracles would have had such a huge leg up in their redemption.

Yes. And? It's all of grace anyway, a gift that we utterly don't deserve, so I don't really see the issue. See also: Romans 9.

What kind of justice is this? Infinite pain for a life with finite sin?

Ah, you misunderstand. Your sin is against the infinite majesty of God.

And if you take the classical view of what gets you damned (disbelief in the redemption), how can you really hold it against someone?

This isn't the reason that they're damned (or at least, certainly not all of it), they're damned for their sin in general.

Under any definition of the time when the Bible was being written, "day" did not mean "actually hundreds of millions of years". Anyone saying otherwise is coping. Genesis is literally supposed to be how the world came about, and people interpreted it this way and believed it for hundreds of years until the theory of evolution and uniformitarianism came about.

Is God supposed to be a loving God, as almost every Christian I see says it, or is he supposed to be literally the most wicked thing in existence, with Satan and every other false god paling in comparison both to the magnitude of cruelty he is capable of inflicting and the willingness to see it carried out? When you pick apples, you keep the good ones and toss the bad ones. You don't take the bad apples, smash them into bits, reconstitute them, and smash them again and keep repeating this same pattern. That doesn't make any sense. You know what would make it make sense? If humans came up with it to scare you into believing it.

Edit to add: The idea that you can handwave away the unfairness of that is kind of infuriating to me. You're telling me that a kid can be born in a nowhere town with no opportunity, grow up getting abused by his parents, reach ripe adulthood somewhere after 12, lose faith in God because nothing good is happening to him, and end up shooting himself, and he goes to Hell to be tormented forever. Not only was life unfair to him, but also the afterlife was even more unfair to him, somehow. There's no way to reconcile that fate with any of the rest of the New Testament claiming God to be extremely loving. That's pretty unequivocally horrible. God created every part of this situation -- a cruel world, the rules behind entry to Heaven and Hell, the ability to sin and feel pain. What majesty would do that?

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But for all this ridiculousness, these seem to be the only way of maintaining key social technologies including fundamental prosocial memes, at least in the West.

Secular reactionaries can come up with countless legitimate reasons for many aspects of traditional morality, but it seems to mean nothing in the West without “you will go to the fire pit for eternity if you break the rules”.

“Why not have free love?”“Well, actually, you know various studies have shown that things like promiscuity can have deleterious effects on partner bonding with later partners, increasing the risk of blah blah blah…”

Secular justifications for traditional social technology just don’t work with normal people of average and below ability, and even with most above them. Yes it’s stupid, but it’s better for our children to believe it than not.

But for all this ridiculousness, these seem to be the only way of maintaining key social technologies including fundamental prosocial memes, at least in the West.

I don't really think that works in the end. Like @oats_son pointed out, sooner or later your kids are going to go "Hey Mom/Dad, you sure don't seem to believe all the stuff you taught us about God" and the whole edifice comes crumbling down. The way religion teaches us to live might be good, but I don't imagine that most people ever thought about it in terms of "which ideology teaches me the best way to live?". Rather, their way of living followed their belief in the truth claims of the religion. For people who are really good at decoupling concepts (like most people on this forum) you might be able to separate the two, but I am very skeptical that you could do so on a widespread scale.

I don't at all disagree with the benefits of genuine belief. I feel I have been robbed of these for myself because I just thought about the issues too much. Are your children doomed to the same bitter realization decades down the line? You're just supposed to hope they're less good at critical thinking than yourself?

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There is just too much of the Bible that is objectively false at this point that I don't know how a Mottizen would go about gaining faith.

I'm your huckleberry.

The popular understanding of Materialism is obviously bogus, and is protected from a rapid descent into absurdity by nothing more than irrational social consensus effects. It is exactly as ridiculous as flat-earth or young-earth creationism, for exactly the same reasons.

Note that the above does not apply to Materialism itself, which is an entirely reasonable position, but is considerably less attractive and persuasive. The difference between the two is that the popular version derives its force from a circular argument about the nature of epistemology, evidence and belief. The popular formulation holds that belief in Materialism is derived strictly from an impartial assessment of the evidence, and also evidence against Materialism can't possibly exist, so if evidence against Materialism appears to exist, it can be discarded without explanation.

Without this circular argument, Materialism is merely another faith-based argument that has retreated into the gaps of unfalsifiability. With this circular argument, of course, Materialism is obviously true by definition, and anyone who disagrees has volunteered for mockery. As long as people don't twig to the circular nature of the argument, the social effect is self-reinforcing. The many legitimate benefits Materialism claims to encourage, by contrast, are in fact equally available to non-Materialists, whose faith generally does not prevent them from designing rockets and microchips in any way.

"Objectively false" is an interesting phrase. I'm not aware of anything in the Bible that is "objectively false". On the other hand, I'm pretty sure everything Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is in fact objectively false, and yet people bought it entirely for a hundred years, and many people believe it to this very day. It seems obvious to me that Determinism is as close to "objectively false" as you can get, and many people here still believe it. It seems to me that belief in "objectively false" things is actually pretty common, and examining the phenomenon can teach you a lot about how human reason actually works and what its limits are.

The short version is that belief is not driven by evidence, but by acts of individual will. All significant beliefs are chosen. This is as "obviously true" as anything can be, but choosing not to believe it makes it easier to choose certain other beliefs that some consider desirable, and so those people generally do that. This is not to say that reality is as we wish it to be, only that our beliefs about reality are under our direct, willful control, and always will be.

This is not to say that reality is as we wish it to be, only that our beliefs about reality are under our direct, willful control, and always will be.

Interestingly I think it is the exact opposite. We don't choose out beliefs about reality by act of will, they emerge from our sub-conscious (our "true" self) and then rationalized thereafter. I think you are right they are not driven by evidence, but I have never ever in my life made a willing act of choice in my beliefs. I simply realized that I believed X, or didn't believe Y (sometimes after someone made a point and I argued against only to realize weeks later, that my belief had changed). I don't know how I would even go about choosing through an act of will to just believe something to be true.

I might also go so far as to say that almost by very definition beliefs cannot be under our conscious control. I cannot choose to believe in God, and I should know because I spent a lot of time trying so that I would fit in. I just could not do it, no matter how I tried.

I think you are right they are not driven by evidence, but I have never ever in my life made a willing act of choice in my beliefs.

I think you have. Consider the following:

When someone presents you with a belief, you can choose to either accept or reject it uncritically. Either is a conscious act of the will.

If you choose not to do either, you can instead inspect the proposed belief critically. This involves comparing it to the evidence available to you. The consensus model is that you collect the available evidence for and against the belief, weigh the two groups against each other objectively, and allow yourself to be guided by the result. There are serious problems with this model:

  • There is a very large, probably infinite amount of pieces of evidence for any possible question.
  • For any given piece of evidence, there is a very large, probably infinite number of connections to other pieces of evidence.
  • Pruning this infinite sea of data and data-connections to a practical subset involves collecting and assessing each piece and its connections for "relevance" and "weight". Neither "relevance" nor "weight" has any objective measure, and all but a vanishing fraction of the available evidence must be discarded. Consequently, there is no objective scale by which one pile of evidence "outweighs" or is more "relevant" than another. This process is irreducibly subjective.

When we examine a proposed belief critically, what actually happens is that we collect the evidence that is immediately convenient to us, prune it subjectively to the subset that seems weighty and relevant by our subjective, personal standards, sort it into "for" and "against" piles, and then compare the two to get a preliminary result. We then assess this result, and if we decide we like it, we keep it and draw a conclusion. If we don't like it, we go looking for more evidence. Either is a conscious act of the will.

Nor does anything require that this process ever terminates. Even if no "sufficient" evidence can be found to justify the conclusion we desire, we are free to assume infer the existence of such evidence from the conclusions we chose in previous iterations of this reasoning process. The end result is that we choose to search through a small portion of an infinite chain of evidence until we find the support we're looking for, and then we choose to stop.

But what if we wanted to go deeper? What if we wanted to try for something beyond subjective, piecemeal assessment of evidence? The last option is to reason about evidence by way of axioms. A given chain of evidence can fit within or contradict a given axiom, logically speaking. This process seems to be objective, or as close to it as humans can get. But all it tells you is whether a given chain of evidence fits or contradicts a given axiom, not whether the axiom is actually correct. There are still infinite evidence-chains, meaning that there are an infinite number of evidence chains that fit neatly into a given axiom. Choosing an axiom is a conscious act of will, and choosing which evidence-chains to compare it to is likewise a conscious act of will.

All consequential beliefs any of us hold are formed by one of the processes described above. All of these processes involve a conscious act of will. Therefore, all beliefs are arrived at through conscious acts of will.

Again, you don't choose to accept it or not. You just do. Or at least I do. So possible inferential distance here. Someone tells me something and I FEEL whether I believe it or not instinctually. Way before I would try to work through why I do. And then wouldn't you know it, my rationalizations always support what i felt to be true. Quite the coincidence huh?

I didn't choose to not believe in God. One day I did and the next I did not. Suddenly all the contradictions and holes loomed large. The day before they did not. I didn't make a wilful choice. Now maybe somewhere in my subconscious evidence was being weighed but I don't seem to have access to that process.

Most people aren't rational from what I can tell, and what we believe isn't either. We build our beliefs off what feels true, not from rationally evaluating them. I am pretty sure this is how it works for myself and somewhat confident this is how it works for most other "normies". And acting as if this is true turns out to predict peoples actions better than not.

And indeed I think some of what you are saying actually supports my position. Why do people when weighing evidence weigh some more and discard some or going looking for more? So that the evidence supports the position they already hold, the position they already believed, before they started examining it "objectively". And the same for axioms, they pick those which support their pre-existing conclusion. Which is why people can hold beliefs that are contradictory, because the critical thought is downstream of belief. And why when confronted with contradictory believes they do no simply evaluate and change their axioms. They waffle, they prevaricate, they deflect. What they don't fo generally is willfully decide they are wrong and change their beliefs.

Indeed if they did, I would suggest there would be little need for the rationalist project at all.

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I was religious before, although not from childhood. I came to that in adulthood.

I guess I would say, frankly, that I personally am trying to focus on what I'm able to control, and to narrow the scope of what I consider "my tribe" to a set of people I know I share at least certain key values with. As another Mottizen recently commented, if we are able to successfully model "functional community" for other people, they may see that we have built something good and try to join it or replicate it; and at the same time we have a certain level of gatekeeping against people who don't actually share our values. Over a long enough time horizon, this mode of organization could restore healthy community in many places. However, if it doesn't, I and my tribe will at least benefit from our mutual increased focus on our mutual benefit.

I agree that this isn't likely to have electoral impact. I suppose I've largely given up hope in electoral processes bringing me any benefit.

Americans already believe in God at very high rates by developed world standards, and that number is surely much higher among the red tribe. Declining church attendance probably has a temporal-world solution that could be routed into with the right social structures/church outreach/whatever.

Does anyone know what's going on with the student loan consolidation by April 30th thing?

I tried briefly looking it up because a friend asked (they have Stafford loans, if that matters?), and it looks complicated and confusing, but like the government is trying to pressure people to consolidate their student loans this week, dangling the possibility of forgiveness "over the summer", but without any concrete promises. Are they trying to push something dubious legality through again?

PSLF related, if you want to take advantage of the weirdness surrounding pandemic loan deferment and forbearance or non-conforming payment plans counting towards your 120 payments to public service forgiveness then this is the timeline. They should be consolidated over to mohela if you want to do that. The pslf subreddit is actually pretty good for info on this. Nothing dubious about it.

Ok, thanks -- we'll take a look at the subreddit.

Thoughts on Trudeau actually being Castro's Son? I've done more research on this than I care to admit just because I love the meme. It is technically possible with the timeline of his mother's honeymoon in the Caribbean approx. 9 months before his birth. I'm thinking of doing an effort post and making a fun conspiracy website here in the USA where the Canadian authorities can't shut it down.

If it somehow turned out to be true, the most embarrassed party would probably be Fidel Castro, in afterlife. A son that hides from the right wing instead of doing this?

What a fucking bad ass. I would have slept with him if I were Mrs. Trudeau

fun conspiracy website

Is there really nothing wrong with Canadian government to the point that most problematic part is cute but almost certainly false story?

I'm not sure what you mean here? That I should be doing more thoughtful investigative journalism into the fall of the Canadian way of life? Or that Canada should have bigger fish to fry than dealing with this conspiracy theory?

That spending time on making world a worse place seems bad use of time.

Unless it is some complex plan of making this guy seems better by unhinged attacks on him? Or further move into direction of low C trust society? (Well in such case it is also effort spend to make world worse)

I'm not here to make the world a better place. I do that in real life where I am kind to my family, friends and everyone I meet for the most part, I go out of my way to help almost anyone that isn't an asshole, to the point where it confuses people used to being scammed or ignored.

I kind of think of it as A Picture of Dorian Grey type situation. I take the ugly weirdness, intrusive thoughts and over-analysis and put 'em online, where often they provide entertainment and food for thought for the people that don't wish to contribute. I've been doing that since college oh so many years ago. If "do something" is your motto, what are you doing to make the world a better place today?

what are you doing to make the world a better place today?

This is sadly unique enough that I would likely doxx myself. And I prefer to not invent fake equivalent.

(it is at least 98% culture-war free)

Without being rude I highly doubt that to be the case. You're not the only one doing X.

I am not claiming that.

But I may be the only one of day 1500 people doing this in Poland, at which point someone dedicated may start checking each person or doing various smarter matches.

Do I need to get out the Dennis Nedry "nobody cares" gif out?