Blindly Trusting the Experts

Years ago, my mother went to amazing lengths to provide formula for my baby brother. She boiled glass bottles; she boiled nipples; she boiled water to make formula, she boiled the spoon to mix it. My wife nursed our children, and my daughter nurses hers; this was “radical” 35 years ago, but is pretty “mainstream” today.

So I asked my mother why women, equipped with two convenient built-in milk dispensers, went to so much trouble to use formula. She replied, “we all used formula, we were told that it was more scientific, it was better for our children.“

The same with schools. She was told not to allow me to learn to read early, which might lead to boredom in school. The “experts” supposedly knew better than the rest of us. Home schooling stood that on its head – when parents with only a high school education often outperform professionals, the professionals might be doing something wrong.

A small but growing and influential corps no longer blindly trust the government and its tame “experts.” Is the government now losing legitimacy?

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Arbitrary Lines and Borders

I used to live near an Orthodox Synagogue. Because of their religious belief, Orthodox Jews do not drive on the Sabbath; they walk to services every Friday night; therefore, they strongly prefer to live in close proximity to their Synagogue.

Since the Synagogue was on a busy street, I walked through often, and came to recognize a distinct style, big bushy beards, a certain kind of flat-brimmed hat, the cut of overcoat, the somber colors.

I’m sure, for natural reasons, that these birds do flock together. But there are no hard-and-fast boundaries. If we were to inspect the demographics, we’d probably find many Orthodox families grouped in distinct clusters. We’d also find some areas where Orthodox and Gentile intermingle to some degree.

There was no “border control.” Nobody barred my passage through the neighborhood. It’s quite probable that if I’d taken a shine to some potential mate therein, the family would have steered us apart. There were no artificial barriers to conversation and commerce, but my actual intercourse with these neighbors was slight.

Bordertarians leap from these natural groupings of people to a desire to draw arbitrary lines and borders and post guards to create and enforce this physical separation. That’s quite a extrapolation. Some go even further, and label the mere proximity of people dissimilar to oneself as “forced integration.”

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Liberate Migration

“The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable.” — Frédéric Bastiat

It is long past time for sane people to recognize that immigration laws, borne of racism and bigotry and the fake science of eugenics, are bad laws; they are not respectable laws at all.

The conclusions of the “science” of eugenics have varied greatly. During its heyday, that “science” claimed that Jews, the Irish, and Asians were all mentally inferior. That fake “science” was enshrined in the form of immigration quotas.

Today’s neo-eugenicists now take it as given that Jews and Asians are intellectually superior. They have never explained how the “science” got it so wrong a century ago.

Immigration law is a prime example of Malum Prohibitum, an act prohibited not because it is wrong per se, but because of the whims of legislators. These laws deprive people of liberty for arbitrary reasons which are profoundly unjust, immoral, and impractical.

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Racialism is Bogus

The Unwelcome Revival of Race Science” is far longer than need be, and carries a certain amount of unnecessary political baggage, but nonetheless, there’s some gold among the dross.

Gist: racial theories are on the rise, particularly among today’s alt-right. To understand why the claims of race theorists are bogus, the author examines the data. A currently popular theory is that Ashkenazi Jews are particularly intelligent; but when tested in the 1920s, the data shows that they were less intelligent than other whites. This article does not mention it, but a prominent eugenicist of that era, Herbert Spencer Jennings, found that the Irish were particularly deficient. Asians of that era, similarly, scored badly on IQ tests.

Much has been made of twin research, but a confounding variable is that adopted twins usually go to families of similar socio-economic status; similar outcomes might be due to similar upbringing. When adopting families are very different in socioeconomic status, the data finds differences in measured IQ.

A most interesting result is the Flynn Effect. IQ tests have to be renormed every decade or so, because each succeeding generation achieves higher scores. By today’s norms, your grandparents had an IQ of only 70. Today’s “racialists” would argue that such morons as their own grandparents were therefore unfit for democracy, and perhaps should have been sterilized.

The entire edifice of ethno-nationalism is based upon shoddy science.

Now, I disagree with the Guardian as to their advocacy of a large welfare state. In particular, it is my belief that today’s schools tend to disadvantage minorities and those of low socioeconomic status; despite spending vast sums on their education, these schools tend to lead to horrible outcomes.

Those of low socioeconommic status who seek their own solutions – by working with their own children, teaching them at home or in co-ops, sending them to charter schools, and otherwise enriching their educational experience – tend to obtain superior results. Hence, I do not trust the political process to uplift those who are at the margins. I advocate educational freedom as in libre, not free as in free beer.

But as to the science, the Guardian and I are on the same page; racialism is a bogus construct, a zombie idea, and the sooner we consign it to oblivion, the better.

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Unnecessary Wars

Pat Buchanan and I take opposite sides on some issues, particularly with his emphasis on “culture wars” and his aversion to immigration. Nonetheless, I must give a qualified recommendation for his book Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.

Tl;dr version: both World War I and II were unnecessary. The Brits won the war but lost their empire; they overextended, ran up debt to unsustainable levels. The conclusion of WWII effectively made the world safe for Communism.

The United States of America appears to be heading down a similar slope, made slippery with the blood of millions of victims in the Middle East; the military forces are overextended, and debt is at its highest level ever, $20+ trillion and rising.

For a longer perspective, I recommend The Rise and Decline of the State, by Israeli historian Martin Van Creveld.

In this book, Creveld argues that the nation-state originated as and is optimized primarily as an engine of conquest. Militaristic expansion is designed-in. The nation-state has been going out of fashion, largely for two reasons: conquest is uneconomic compared to international commerce, and nations now fear atomic weapons.

Conquest is at best zero-sum; whatever we take, you lose; a vicious cycle.

By contrast, when commerce is shorn of coercion, it tends to be positive-sum; when we exchange voluntarily, both benefit thereby; the world is that much better off when we trade. This is a virtuous cycle.

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Legislators, Know Thy Limits

A certain legislator wished to make his state great via technology. My reply:

Technology is hardly the forte of the legislature. There are fundamental differences between a body of random people whose sole qualification is the ability to get voted into office, and entrepreneurs, who risk their own skin in the game, rather than risking the lives and livelihood of millions of others.

Legislators need to absorb a few economic realities, beginning with Public Choice Theory and the Economic Calculation Problem. This might inoculate them from the virus of Magical Thinking.

Or, as a shortcut, ponder the legend of King Cnut, whose courtiers believed him capable of anything; he bade them carry his throne chair to the beach, and there commanded the tides to desist, so that his courtiers might understand that even the king’s powers had limits.

Legislators cannot transcend the laws of physics, nor of economics.

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