Thursday, March 16, 2017

Long Yet Still Very Short History of Sophism

Early hominids* evolved to kill other hominids in conflicts by having bigger groups. Especially after evolving throwing and activating Lanchester's Square Law, (PDF warning) having a bigger troupe was crucial. This required bigger brains, which incidentally makes you smarter.

*(Yes I'm starting that far back.)
For completeness I'll also mention that secondarily, good killer instincts evolved and solidified.

Having become smart and deadly, hominids become not only ecologically successful, but ecologically dominant. The only real selective threat was other hominids. This resulted in a troupe size arms race. However, this had an unexpected result: troupes became so big that most members would spend the bulk of their time interacting not with other troupes or the environment, but other ingroup members.

Thus hominids started to form three castes; the warriors, for dealing with outgroup conspecifics; the shamans or priests, for dealing with the nonverbal, nonstrategic environment; and the merchants, who dealt primarily with internal exchanges.

Surface area being what it is compared to volume, merchants are the most numerous caste. For them, the most important resource-acquisition skill did not involve contact with reality, but opposingly with fooling other ingroup members into thinking defection was cooperation, and of course of detecting and defeating the others' efforts to do same.

Result: the arms race stopped being group size, and become liar-liar competition. Humans now practice lying instinctively. Humans have exquisitely sophisticated lying assistance adaptations, such as the consciousness/subconsciousness compartmentalization. However, necessarily, this makes you smarter, and as a result of these two chained smartness arms races, human brain size has increased blisteringly fast over evolutionary history.

Perhaps the pelvic limits on brain size also helped shift the war from group size to liars. Brain spent on having a bigger troupe doesn't help as well for lying and detecting lies, and ditto neurons spent on killing instinct, so there's a tradeoff there.

Result: lying is natural. Agriculture thus inherently creates an environmental niche for a guild of liars. Expert craftsmen at exploiting lies for mind control. This guild will have its own subculture, techniques and tricks, and I call it Sophism, of which the earliest clear record is Protagoras. They are a perversion of the shaman caste: they use their grasp of reality, but are treating conspecifics like a natural problem to be manipulated, instead of as peers like the merchant caste do. Instead of shamans of the forest, they are shamans of the human.

For completeness I'll mention that super-Dunbar sized groups necessarily require anthropology; the science of being human; the shaman type very similar to Sophism.

Sophism has a problem. There's responsible folk, who will have stuff, and irresponsible folk, who are easy to fool, but little overlap. Irresponsible folk irresponsibly waste their windfalls and return to equilibrium. Responsible folk who hit hard times have a tendency to turtle up and survive them.

Humans have strong egalitarian instincts from back before money evolved. With no way to store wealth and troupe size being critical to survival in war, every individual counted and hoarding was pure waste. Similarly, because a strongman is a defector, and defection harms the whole group, anyone who made themselves out to be too dominant was quite rationally torn down by a coalition.

Sophism, the apotheosis of natural lying instincts, can appeal to natural egalitarianism to propose an equal-sounding form of government: democracy. In theory everyone is in charge, but we still get the benefits of division of labour, by making someone else do the actual ruling.

Of course the wealthy know that it's two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. Though in reality the wealthy are the wolves, thus two sheep and a wolf, and in reality the sheep are monkeys, so it's a wolf versus a monkey troupe. Before agriculture, troupe size mattered. After, army sized still mattered a whole lot even though armour disabled Lanchester's Square Law, and so the wealthy wolves tended to surrender to Sophist sophistry. Not to mention it soothes their own egalitarian guilt.

(And thus democracy is an envy/spite engine.)

Thus Sophists establish democracy, to establish a siphon between rich and poor, and skim some off the top. It's not like the irresponsible poor are going to notice there's some missing. Plus hey, free stuff.

Sophism first appears clearly in the historical record in Greece. From there it spread around, reaching most of the world within a couple centuries. Folk contaminated by Sophism lost their kings or suffered similar problems.

When Rome fell, we entered a 'dark' age, where Sophism was lost. However, Islam kept (and subsquently suffered from, when Al Ghazali Sophisted them to death) enough texts for the Sophism virus to re-appear in Europe around 1100. Whereupon demogogues started reappearing, you got St. Francis, Luther etc. causing chaos, and ultimately...they lost their kings.

What is Progressivism? It is our particular strain of Sophism. Given a Hajnal folk who believe in Christianity, the easy lies are predictable. These lies get laid down as culture, and then new niches for lies appear on top of them, and thus Progressivism is largely predictable.


For now, I'll be brief about mentioning Sophism resistance, also known as Philosophy. Sophism is parasitism, so sooner or later the population adapts to resist the parasite. Lies are unstable form of predation, as they require the prey to trust the predator. No matter how well adapted, the predator cannot make the prey trust them.

Philosophy's root is the art of checking your facts. Generalized due diligence.


Democracy is socialist redistribution of power. Power is often used to acquire wealth. Democracy thus implies socialism of wealth.

Or more generally, democracy is in itself the defeat and surrender of wealth. The responsible are punished, and the irresponsible rewarded. The responsible etiolate, while the irresponsible multiply. As per Plato et al, the electorate degenerates, moving leftward, becoming ever more vulnerable to Sophist manipulation.

Full socialism is communism. Full communism is full equality. We are only equal in death. 


As part of Sophism resistance, the responsible right starts noticing the irresponsible left voters are a problem, especially as responsibility declines so much that infrastructure starts to break down. For now, they're not realizing that responsibility is a spectrum. There's always a left half of the bell curve, who will suffer envy and independently be more vulnerable to Sophism. Even Massachusetts votes right 40% of the time. Only DC is pure, and that's probably due to filtering.

The Left is not the enemy. Even if the electorate was subject to drastic action and radically shifted right, there will still be a left half. The mind control parasites are the enemy.

More accurately, egalitarian hubris is the enemy. Envy is the enemy. Pride is the enemy. Lies and the lying instincts are the enemy. These ideas may be familiar...


Anonymous said...

Natural Selection is the enemy.

For it is all one big struggle for existence.


Tim G said...

Sapiens by Harari might interest you.

anon said...

This is an excellent post

Humans have strong egalitarian instincts from back before money evolved. With no way to store wealth and troupe size being critical to survival in war, every individual counted and hoarding was pure waste. Similarly, because a strongman is a defector, and defection harms the whole group, anyone who made themselves out to be too dominant was quite rationally torn down by a coalition.

congratulations on being the second reactionary to admit humans have strong egalitarian instincts, and which group of humans have that in spades and how can that be managed or kept from others hacking?Like t or not we have instincts for both trade and altruism, and admit it or not capitalism has done more to destroy us than socialism, Im not arguing in favor of socialism just stating facts that must be considered. Capitalism does not as moldbug claims default to food management it defaults to quick profits at any cost, it does not default to giving us what we need at the best possible price it defaults to selling us what it can make the most money from even if it kills us which it often does.We all know the evils of the socialist side so I will skip, both destroy culture which was developed to mitigate these and other instincts.Culture is a temp fix and it wont fit nice into a sperg political invention, it can only work in real time with wise men. moldbugs capitalist patchlords will not be wise men-sorry it would be nice if it were so simple but isnt