[ExI] Meta question

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Fri Aug 19 20:33:40 UTC 2016

On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:22 AM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>  the genes doesn't think at all.
> Yes, and that is their greatest weakness.

Perhaps so, but gene were around a *long* time before they gave rise
to creatures who could think even a little.

>> They still tend to
>> maximize utility over evolutionary time (or go extinct).
> Genes don't have to fund the best solution to a problem and because the
> right mutation cannot be guaranteed to come when needed and because it's too
> hard to change a standard once it's well established  genes almost never
> find the perfect answer, they just have to be better than competing genes.

In a complex environment, it's hard to find a global optimum.  Genes,
however, seem to be fairly good at finding the local optimum.

>> It's a bleak realization that evolution has wired us up this way.
> But genes aren't the end of the story, the fact that the second half of the
> 20th century was dramatically less bloody than the first half is reason for
> hope.

And this century could be dramatically more bloody than the first half
of the last century.  I still say it is the genes.  They have
programed humans to work ourselves up into wars and fight when the
future looks bleak.  It's true that the last half of the last century
was much less bloody, but for the last half of the last century the
future looked better than the present for most people.  That's what
keep "war mode" and related social disruption in the off state.  There
hasn't been time nor selection pressure to change genes in the last
100 years.

Don't forget that the proposed gene selections set us up to fight, but
they also have selected us to _not fight_ when we don't have to.  The
selection against fighting when you don't need to is even stronger
than the selection to fight when it's best for the genes to do so.

"It's the economy" and perhaps even more important, the future
prospects for the economy measured in income per capita.

That's why the IRA went out of business.  Over a long time, the Irish
women cut their birth rate down to close to replacement.  With the
population close to stable, economic growth got ahead of population
growth and the income per capita started up.  A brighter future
switches off population support for the warriors (IRA) and they went
out of business.

>> it does explain the popularity of one of the candidates this year,
> But we've never had a candidate like Donald Trump,

If you take a less parochial view, they are not uncommon.  I don't
want to get into Godwin's law, but think about what happened to the
Germans in the 20s.  Just because a country is highly civilized
doesn't mean they can't jump into being barbarians in a heartbeat.

> why did we get a trumpian candidate this year?

For about 90% of Americans, i.e., all but the top ten percent, their
real income has not gone up since the late 70s or early 80s.  They
have not recovered what they lost in the 2008 recession.  The next
generation, their kids, are going to have a miserable time.  The ones
who bought into needing a degree to get ahead are saddled with so much
debt that's most of them will never own a home, a lot of them will not
have families.  There is good reason to view the future as bleak.
That turns up the gain on xenophobic memes and people start seeking
leaders who they believe (in their xenophobic fugue) can do something
about it.

> I don't think it was genes I think it was just a
> unusual confluence of circumstances. Somebody decided to run for president
> who had money   (although probably not nearly as much as he claims) and
> virtually 100% name recognition and showmanship skills to peddle ideas that
> were decisive, dramatic and simple (but not simple in a good way). The fact
> that Trump's  ideas were bad ideas and  would only make the problems they
> were supposed to solve worse explains why his strongest demographic is
> uneducated white men.

It's not just uneducated, but uneducated white men with poor future
prospects.  The high paying manufacturing jobs are gone, either
automated out of existence or moved overseas because low cost shipping
has leveled the manufacturing labor market world wide.  Back in the
1950 dinky little Prescott, Arizona, at the time less than 10,000
people had a shirt factory.  It's long gone.

But as to an unusual confluence of circumstances, I agree.  However,
think about this.  8 years ago Trump tried and went down with hardly a
ripple.  Of course, the clowns he was up against this time didn't

Bad as it is in the US, there are places where it's a lot worse.
Syria for example.


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