Monday, March 23, 2020

Freedom Wants to Be Global

Stuart K. Hayashi

MAGA nationalists throughout white-majority countries have shouted, Admit you can have freedom while borders are permanently closed to economic migrants from the Third World!

There is actually an internal contradiction in their vague notion that freedom originates from the very confines of national borders.

To be free is to be able to do anything possible to you and peaceful without being threatened with violently-enforced constraints, such as those from government. For your peaceful actions to be free of constraint from government is, necessarily, for them to be free of constraint from governments’ geographic borders.

Nationalists would have you believe that the source of freedom from violently-enforced constraints is . . . borders that are violently-enforced constraints.

For the government to put you under lockdown is for it to draw a crude ring around you and say, “You’re free to do what you want with your own belongings — up until the edge of our crudely drawn ring. If you accept other people’s invitations to step foot on their private land holdings, and those holdings are outside the ring we drew, we’re right to use force against you.” That makes as much sense as putting you under house arrest and saying, “You have freedom because you’re still free to do what you want in your own house . . . up until you attempt to step outside peacefully.”

But that is what nationalistic restriction of immigration happens to be — except nationalism is a sort of quarantine that’s intended to be permanent.

And insofar as they cite, as the basis for this long-term quarantine, the “cultural incompatibility” of some peaceful people with others, what the nationalists fear is not that you will infect others with some physically damaging pathogen, but with your ideas.

Stewart Brand famously said something that is seldom completely understood by those who quote it enthusiastically: “Information wants to be free.” I want to borrow a bit from that. More than I am of what Brand said, I am certain of this: freedom wants to be global.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Symbols vs. Illusions vs. Lies

Stuart K. Hayashi

Symbols, illusions, and lies have something in common — they are not Q literally (Q being something in reality) but they are somehow taken, rightly or wrongly, as some mental representation of Q.

  1. A symbol represents Q in your mind, but your mind does not respond to it as if it’s literally Q.
  2. An illusion — a mirage, magic trick, or artistic depiction — might represent Q in your mind, and your mind might respond to it as if it’s literally Q when your mind should not.
  3. A successful lie represents Q in your mind when it should not, and the liar would have it that your mind respond to it as if it’s literally Q.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sorry, Sargon: Stefan Molyneux Has in Recent Years Continued to Pressure His Fans to Disown Their Loved Ones

Stuart K. Hayashi

Lately I have blogged about a foolish video apologia for white-nationalist cult leader Stefan Molyneux on the part of right-wing YouTube vlogger Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin. Molyneux put out a tweet dishonestly denying that he has advocated eugenics and white nationalism. Sargon approvingly cited the tweet and took it at face value, as if it were proof that there was nothing to those accusations. You can actually see montages on YouTube that show that Molyneux indeed has a record of promoting eugenics and whitewashing white nationalism. Molyneux has gone as far as saying that “freedom has a eugenics component to it inevitably.” You can see those montages and my blogging about them over here.

Although the denial of Molyneux’s eugenicism and white nationalism was the main topic of Sargon’s video, Sargon did touch on something else that warrants concern. Sargon disapprovingly read out loud a tweet pointing out Molyneux’s long record of pressuring his followers to disown their siblings, parents, and close friends merely for disagreeing with Molyneux’s ideological advocacy. Molyneux was especially known for this practice between 2006 and 2014; we have not heard as much about it since then. Dismissing the tweet about Molyneux’s treatment of his followers, Sargon pronounces, “I think those accusations are probably somewhat overstated, aren’t they? And this, I think, is something that happened a long time ago. And I think it would be fair if we were to ask him his positions on these times now.”

Someone would come away from that statement of Sargon’s with the impression that Molyneux’s practice of dividing families is something that is long past. As I have blogged before, urging his fans to disown their parents and longtime friends over disagreements with him is something that Molyneux has done publicly at least twice since 2017. As of this writing, Molyneux has not shown any contrition over what he has done.

Below are three different cuts of the same montage of Molyneux performing this manipulation in recent years.

There is one cut that is two minutes long and can therefore be embedded in a tweet. Editing it down that short meant cutting out parts of Molyneux’s sentences, though. For the complete sentences, you can watch the 20-minute cut. If you watch the longest cut, you must have some patience for Molyneux’s many ramblings tangents.

15-minute cut

20-minute cut (less of Molyneux’s tangents have been cut out)

2-minute minute that can fit in a tweet (a lot of editing, with some interjections edited out of the sentences; for the complete sentences, watch and hear the 20-minute version)

See also: See also: in November of 2019, Molyneux did an entire video falsely denying he ever said, and meant in a biological context, that not all human beings are the same species. For a montage disproving Molyneux’s denial (which, again, comes in a two-minute cut and a longer cut), go here.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sorry, Sargon: Your Pal, Stefan Molyneux, Does Promote Eugenics and White Nationalism

Stuart K. Hayashi

4-minute, 44-second cut

6-minutes, 39-second cut

2-minute cut, which can be embedded in a tweet

Last month, the quasi-nationalist YouTube vlogger “Sargon of Akkad” (Carl Benjamin) did a video for his sister channel, Akkad Daily, where he launched a defense of white nationalist cult leader Stefan Molyneux, whose podcast he once did an interview for. Because Molyneux used the MailChimp marketing software for sending out his white nationalist e-mail newsletter, Nandini Jammi, cofounder of the activist campaign Sleeping Giants, alerted the MailChimp company of the uses to which Molyneux was putting its platform. Not wanting its brand associated with the white nationalism, MailChimp ceased providing service to Molyneux. In protest against MailChimp’s decision, Sargon denied in his video that Molyneux had done anything wrong at all, proclaiming, “...I do not agree that Stefan Molyneux is even a white nationalist.”

Early in the Akkad Daily, video, Sargon shows this tweet where Molyneux delivers what anyone who has been following his career for the past five years will be able to spot as obvious lies. Molneux’s tweet pronounces,

  1. I oppose eugenics as an egregious State violation of the non-aggression principle.
  2. I have interviewed 17 leading scientists on human intelligence - including leftists:
  3. I am not a “white nationalist”

Point 2 of Molneux’s is dubious. The link in his tweet is one that goes to a playlist of seventeen videos, but two of the videos are with the same interviewee (Kevin Beaver), which means “17 scientists” is not even the correct numeric figure.  Before sending out the tweet, Molyneux did not even bother to count the people on his own list.  One of them, Nicholas Wade, is not a Ph.D. scientist but a well-known science writer whose education goes no farther than a bachelor’s degree in natural science.

Moreover, two of the interviewees — James Flynn and Eric Turkheimer — contradict Molneux’s claims and have, subsequent to those interviews, identified Molneux’s claims as charlatanism. The main interviewee listed whom Molyneux cites in his claims about race and IQ is Charles Murray, and Eric Turkheimer directly contradicts him here and here, strongly implying that the very same talking points of Charles Murray repeated by Molyneux are racist. With respect to James Flynn, following his interview with Molyneux, he directly called Molyneux a hack and a waste of time: “I wouldn’t think of going within a mile of him if he talked. These people [Molyneux and his minion Lauren Southern] are just coattail-hangers. They don’t have anything new to contribute to the debate...”  In the tweet, Molyneux cites Turkheimer and Flynn as if they corroborate his propaganda. In actuality, they disprove it, and yet Molyneux continues name-checking them under the pretense that their findings are consistent with his racism.

As for four of Molyneux’s interviewees in particular — Charles Murray, Linda Gottfredson, Helmuth Nyborg, and Jason Richwine — the work for which they are best-known is not well-respected anywhere in the academic community except for a very insular and discredited circle I will discuss further below.

 Points 1 and 3 of Molyneux’s tweet are outright lies, though the dishonesty of Point 3 is more obvious.  Since late 2015 this blog has cataloged the evidence of Molneux’s support for white nationalism.  However the term eugenics remains much more obscure than “white nationalism.” For that reason, eugenics requires a deeper explanation.

The point on eugenics is of interest to me for several reasons. First, long before I heard of Molyneux, I was already interested in the topic of the ethical ramifications for eugenicist theory.  I had taken an interest in the topic because I wanted to see where it did or did not apply to a possible medical procedure in the future where parents engineer the embryos of their children, immunizing them against inheritable diseases or even adding enhancements in aptitudes. More pertinent to the topic at hand, though, throughout February this Stefan Molyneux has, as in the above tweet, ludicrously talked of eugenics as if it were a practice he has never advocated.

What Was, and Is, Eugenics?
Eugenics studies formally began in the late 1800s by Sir Francis Galton, a fellow scientist and cousin to Charles Darwin. Galton had noticed that many accomplished people came from the same family. He suspected that so many of members of the same family being so skilled and accomplished had less to do with their having grown up under the same environmental conditions than with their each having inherited those traits biologically. Sir Francis theorized that if (rich) people with the most “desirable” physical biological traits had children with one another, that would result in even “better” children. Sir Francis named his own theory eugenics. Eu- is Greek for “good”; eu-genics means “good seeds/origins/genes.”

Always connected to eugenics was a personality trait that was of special importance to Sir Francis, one that he considered to be inborn rather than the result of conditioning or one’s own choices. That trait was intelligence. Ironically, for all of his own brain power, Sir Francis himself was unable to devise a method that he found satisfactory in quantifying intelligence. The purported solution to Sir Francis’s problem would come from an unlikely source. And there was another gap in his theory that had to be filled.

Besides their blood relations and their mutual interest in biological inheritance, Galton had something else in common with Darwin: although both of them correctly inferred that there must be some sort of mechanism by which one generation transmits its biological traits to the next, neither Galton nor Darwin could identify what that mechanism was.

That task was left to a quiet Benedictine monk named Gregor Mendel.  It was Mendel who, through his experiments on pea plants, discovered the mechanism of the gene, and who discovered the principles behind dominant and recessive alleles. Although Mendel mailed his monograph to Darwin for comment, Darwin tragically never opened it, apparently occupied by other matters going on in his life. Hence, Darwin went to his grave not having this valuable piece of information that would further integrate his theory.

Mendel’s discoveries could easily have been lost to history if his writings were not discovered by three scientists of the early twentieth century who were tackling similar problems — Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries (who coined mutation), and Erich von Tschermak. Providing a further integration was William Bateson, who coined genetics.

Despite the two gaps in his theory that the respective works of Mendel and Binet would fill for him, Sir Francis went ahead with his eugenicist movement, undaunted. Deciding that his theory should be applied in practice, Sir Francis proposed that some governmental body should determine which people possessed the most desirable physiological traits, and then pay them taxpayer funds to incentivize them to breed with one another. In this suggestion, Sir Francis introduced an idea that is common in — though not a requirement for — eugenics advocacy. That idea is that the government should intervene in human interactions that will increase the likelihood that people will have children possessing the most “socially desirable” inborn traits, especially above-average intellectual ability.

As Sir Francis failed in developing a plausible measure of intellectual ability, the French psychologist Alfred Binet worried about children. He noticed that some children had learning disabilities, and he worried that the longer these disabilities remained unidentified, the more these children would fall behind in their development. He needed a method to identify which children were struggling with their learning, and it was for that reason that he devised the IQ test. Whereas Sir Francis conceived eugenics as the perfect rationalization for his desire to elevate his own class and marginalize others, he had failed where Alfred Binet succeeded.  The IQ test that would be the salvation to Sir Francis’s theory was originally developed with the intention of lifting up the very same people whom Sir Francis and other eugenicists were working hard to marginalize.

Once they had learned of the discoveries of Mendel and Binet, it was the task of Sir Francis’s successors in leading the eugenics movement — such as mathematician Karl Pearson in the United Kingdom and biologist Charles Davenport in the United States — to incorporate Mendel’s genetics and Binet’s IQ test into Sir Francis’s overall social movement. Once this integration was performed, the movement of eugenicism had developed two main planks.

1. Theory: Free will is nonexistent at worst and unimportant at best. Free will was so unimportant to eugenicists that they did not even acknowledge it, saying that in the philosophic question over what made an adult who she is, and gave her the character she has, could only be a question of nature versus nurture — an idiom derived primarily from phrases Sir Francis Galton himself had used in writing on eugenics. In eugenics theory, the main factor in causing someone to be different from everyone else — the main factor causing her behaviors and choices — is inborn biology. 
Incorporating Mendel’s discoveries into eugenics, the theory is that if someone is more successful at business or military operations than other people, it was because of his genetics. Eugenicists would not simply say this person has superior genetics and leave it at that, however. Eugenicist theory is also collectivist. What matters is the collective. In eugenicist theory, this person with allegedly superior genes is duty-bound to transmit those superior genes to future generations. 
2. Practice: Agreement with the theory above was sufficient to make someone a eugenicist, but most eugenicists went further. Eugenics was not merely supposed to be descriptive; most eugenicists expected this discipline to be prescriptive as well. As they saw it, it was not sufficient that people be free to choose to marry and have children with whom they want. Such choices were “selfish” in that people who married and had children were making such choices without consideration for how such choices affected the gene pool of the wider society at large [see page 157 over here]. 
For this reason, the second plank of eugenics is that some genetics-savvy third party — which was usually the government, but did not always have to be — would have to intervene on people’s private fertility choices and provide them guidance. This guidance would come in the form of reminding romantic couples that in their choices with whom they had children or even interacted at all, their personal happiness must not be prioritized over actions that would provide a net benefit to their germlines and race as a whole. 
A play in a 1913 issue of The Fortnightly Review attributes this to Sir Francis’s eugenicist protégé, Karl Pearson: “As far as the elementary principles of right and wrong are concerned, what in the world can they be if they are not what is or is not expedient for society? What is social is moral, and what is social is right, and there is no safe definition of right beyond that.”

More briefly, eugenicism is defined by two beliefs. First is that genetics, not environmental conditioning or your own choices, is most decisive in determining your actions and personality traits, including those that distinguish you from others. Second is that rather than leave people alone in whom they meet, marry, and have children with, there has to be a third party that can oversee these activities, discouraging some pairings and births and approving others. All of this is for the alleged well-being of some social collective.

Note that all those planks can be believed by people of any race or ethnicity, and therefore a person can try to apply eugenics to any race or ethnicity, or even all of them at once. The famous writer and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, for example, urged that black families practice eugenics for the betterment of genes among blacks. For these reasons, someone can theoretically be a eugenicist without being a white supremacist. However, it is not an accident that eugenics is often associated with white supremacism. Beginning with Sir Francis himself, most eugenicists have been white and have conflated alleles associated with white skin with superiority. If one made a Venn diagram where one circle was “eugenicists” and the other was “white supremacists,” the point of overlap between the two circles would overtake the “eugenicist” circle almost completely, leaving but a tiny sliver to account for eugenicists who were not also white supremacists.

It is true that Mendel’s discoveries concerning alleles can greatly conflict with white supremacists’ premises. Mendelian genetics itself shows how genetics conflicts with the idea of “race,” “race” and skin color being much more superficial than genetics — literally. Because the genes for dark skin, dark irises, and dark hair are dominant, whereas light skin, blue irises, and blonde hair are recessive, the child of a black man and blonde woman will usually have dark skin. This leads many white supremacists to think of the child as being more “black” than “white.” Yet the geneticist recognizes that whatever the child’s outward appearance — “phenotype” — a look at the child’s genetics, genotype, shows the mixed-race child is not any more closely related to his father than he is to his mother.

But racism is not about rationality but rationalization. It is less concerned with science than having a veneer of scientific respectability to reinforce its preconceived conclusions. For that reason, eugenics has mostly been used as an intellectual tool of white supremacists.

Eugenics As the Originator of the Racist and Anti-Immigrationist Talking Points That Molyneux Uses
There are two main methods whereby eugenicists can shape a society’s gene pool to their liking. The first, “positive eugenics,” involves the eugenicist third-party rewarding the “right people” for procreating, thereby reinforcing and encouraging more of that behavior. That is consistent with Sir Francis’s first eugenicist policy proposal. Again, this third party does not always have to be the government.

In the 1980s millionaire optometrist Robert Klark Graham, inventor of the shatterproof eyeglasses material that would pave the way for polycarbonate glasses lenses, privately founded the Repository for Germinal Choice. This was a sperm bank where, initially, both the men donating the sperm and the women receiving it would have to have higher-than-average IQs. (Graham’s failure to attract enough people led to him lowering his standards later.) Graham was explicitly inspired by the eugenicist propaganda of the Pioneer Fund (more about that below) and he was directly helped by three known eugenicists — Garrett Hardin, who coined “the tragedy of the commons”; Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Hermann Müller; and William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor. The last of those three was explicitly a white supremacist as well. As the sperm bank was a wholly voluntary matter, it was an example of private institutions enacting positive eugenics, the private sperm bank being the third party.

The second method, “negative eugenics,” is more well-known. As suggested by the name, negative eugenics is involves the eugenicist third-party taking action to discourage or prevent particular people, those deemed undesirable, from being able to procreate and transmit their “inferior” genes to future generations. The most well-known and horrifying means of doing this was mass murder. The Third Reich outright murdered people of ethnicities it deemed defective. Another method was for state governments in the USA to impose compulsory sterilization of people they judged unfit — mostly epileptics and other persons with psychiatric disorders and low IQs.

In a February video where he disingenuously denies ever having any sympathies for eugenics, Stefan Molyneux pretends that murder and compulsory sterilization were the only forms of negative eugenics that governments employed. Molyneux conspicuously omitted mention of two other violent method that governments employed to “protect” the white population from being polluted and “replaced” by allegedly genetically sub-par races. The first of these was miscegenation laws — ordinances and statutes penalizing interracial marriages. This is of interest in that Molyneux has repeatedly direly cautioned his audience against interracial couplings. The second method was immigration restriction. For multiple reasons — not just because this immigration restriction is something that Molyneux has long advocated, and on the basis of the original eugenics movement — this omission of the role eugenics has historically played in the enactment of immigration restrictions is very convenient for Molyneux.

An organization that played an especially role in the eugenics movement, not merely in the USA but even in Germany under the Third Reich, was an American not-for-profit called the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund was founded in 1937 by Wickliffe Draper, the heir to a vast textile fortune. The aims of the Pioneer Fund were then explicitly eugenicist and racist. Even this early in the organization’s history, it was already developing a racist theory that, with some minor alterations, Molyneux would be approvingly repeating from 2015 onward.

Latching onto Alfred Binet’s IQ test, the Pioneer Fund scholars noticed that IQ was a stronger predictor than other factors in predicting how financially successful someone would be in life, and that, on average, some “races” scored higher on IQ tests than others. There is a lot of evidence that someone’s IQ is strongly influenced by the level of living standards under which that person grew up. Anticipating that that might become the accepted explanation for disparities in IQ scores between people, the Pioneer Fund sought to convince the public that inborn genetics, especially genetics relating to skin color, was the primary driver of IQ.

Among the recommendations the Pioneer Fund made for public policy was the restriction of immigration into the United States on the basis of race, genetics, and IQ. Just as many members of the Alt-Right do today, eugenicists associated with the Pioneer Fund, such as Madison Grant and Charles Davenport, bemoaned the influx of impoverished immigrants into the USA who were of ethnicities they considered culturally and genetically different from themselves. Foreshadowing the very same rhetoric from today’s Alt-Right, they predicted that these ethnic-alien immigrants would come to the USA and reproduce.

Either these alien immigrants would marry native-born WASPs, which would produce hybrids the eugenicists considered a net decline in quality for the population, or the ethnic aliens would keep to themselves in their own enclaves and ghettos, having too much sex, and eventually out-breeding the native-born WASP population. As today’s Alt-Right screams about a great replacement of whites causing a “white genocide”, the eugenicists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries proclaimed that a failure on the part of native-born WASPs to obstruct the immigration of these impoverished aliens would lead to the replacement of the native-born WASPs, the WASPs’ own “race suicide.”

However, the impoverished immigrant ethnicities the original eugenicists feared most were not the exact same ethnicities about which Stefan Molyeux and his Alt-Right cronies howl today.  Whereas Molyneux and the Alt-Right of today demagogue against Latinos, Arabs, and Africans, the fashionable fears of the 1920s were directed toward another set of ethnicities. Having already barred the immigration of Chinese people through the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and, with eugenicist Theodore Roosevelt successfully pressuring the Japanese government in 1907 to take on the task of preventing its own Japanese citizens from migrating to the continental USA (but not Hawaii, then a U.S. territory), the eugenicists turned their ire toward people who are usually considered white today:  southern and eastern Europeans.

It was the immigration of these people that was restricted in the Immigration Act of 1924. This law, signed by President Calvin Coolidge, imposed national origin quotas that were explicitly racist and eugenicist in intention, favoring immigration from northern and western European Protestants and curbing immigration from southern and eastern European Catholics and Jews.

Here we find an interesting irony in Molyneux’s white-nationalism advocacy. Molyneux has twice praised Poland as a model for other white nationalists to follow. Of his trip to Poland, Molyneux first said disingenuously, “First of all, I’ve always been skeptical of the ideas of white nationalism, of identitarianism, and white identity.” Then, to the extol the virtues of what he considers to be a whites-only society, he continued, “However, I am an empiricist, and I could not help but notice that I could have peaceful, free, easy, civilized, and safe discussions in what is essentially an all-white country.” In another video, he pronounced,

You know, I go to Poland — what is it, 99-percent white? I don’t need any security. The streets are incredibly clean. Crime is almost nonexistent. Nobody gets called a racist. There’s no talk of white privilege. No identity politics. No endless diversity-nagging. You know, I’ve spoken against white nationalism, but I’m an empiricist. I’m an empiricist! I went to the country. I saw how it was like. . . . I’ve spoken out against white nationalism, but I’m am empiricist. I’m listening. I’m listening to my experiences. Can’t argue with the facts. Can’t argue with the reality.
Yet this same Molyneux praises the very same national origin quotas that the original eugenicists championed and enacted, national-origin quotas that were finally removed in 1965 with the Hart-Celler Act. (Contrary to Molyneux and his followers, the Hart-Celler Act was not the huge opening up of the borders they call it. The national-quotas were replaced by the current visa system, which places caps on the number of visas issued to each country. No more than 7 percent of the recipients of visas each year can come from the same country, but, because Mexico adjoins the USA, over 23 percent of visa applications understandably come from Mexico. This disparity, which anti-immigrationists such as Stephen Miller and Rep. Tom Cotton refuse to rectify through any liberalization, is a major reason why so many people have to resort to immigrating covertly.)

In misrepresenting the 1965 Hart-Celler Act as some anarchic opening up of America to all the nonwhites of the world, Molyneux mourns the repeal of the openly-eugenicist national origin quotas. He tells one caller, “First of all, America from 1925 to 1965 had a virtual moratorium on immigration. And, by the way, it was in fact one of the more prosperous times — if not the most prosperous times — in American history.” In calling this duration such a prosperous time, Molyneux overlooked that the Great Depression fell in the middle of it.  He likewise snivels to Peter and Anita calling in from Sweden,

Sweden decided in 1975, with no public consultation, to become a multicultural nation in the same way America decided — the Democrats in 1965, with no public consultation, and with specific lies told to the public about the effects of these policies — changed the Immigration Act to cut off immigration from Europe [big lie from Molyneux] and open it up to the Third World, to decide to become a multicultural nation.

Here is the irony in that: unlike Molyneux, the crafters of the Immigration Act of 1924 not only did not praise Poles for their whiteness, but did not even consider Poles to be white. They reviled Poles as congenitally penurious people who would pollute the gene pool of the United States if they migrated here and had children here. The consequence of the same national-origin quotas that Molyneux defended, reports the New York Times, was that in the USA, “the arrival of Italians and Poles fell by 90 percent” in 1924. As Daniel Okrent discloses, “There were more than 3.5 million Jews in Poland in 1939. Under the National Origins law, the 1939 quota for the entire nation allowed only 6,524 Poles, Jews and non-Jews alike, to enter the United States legally.”

Of special note here was how the Pioneer Fund and its major backers, such as Madison Grant and Charles Davenport, strongly supported the restrictions against Polish immigrants, especially those who were trying to come as refugees from Naziism. The Pioneer Fund’s complicity in this historical travesty extends far beyond its success in preventing the Third Reich’s victims from finding refuge. The Pioneer Fund’s contributions to the Third Reich’s power were much more direct, even friendly.

During the 1930s, American scholars financed by the Pioneer Fund, including Grant and Davenport, communicated directly with “race scientists” of the Third-Reich government: Hans K. F. Günther, Erwin Bauer, Fritz Lenz, and Eugen Fischer. (Yes, someone named Eugen was an expert on eugen-ics.) These were not racists who merely happened to live in Germany when Adolf Hitler was chancellor. They were employed directly by the Third Reich government for the stated purpose of advancing the Aryan race at the expense of Jews, Roma people, and any other ethnicity the Nazis disliked. As his employees, they ultimately answered to the Führer himself. In Europe, the Third-Reich race scientists cited the experts of the Pioneer Fund. In turn, the Third Reich sent its propaganda movies about its eugenics program to the Pioneer Fund, and the Pioneer Fund got these films shown throughout the United States in high school science classes and even churches. In the duration of the thirties and up until U.S. entry into World War II, the Pioneer Fund provided apologetics in America for the Third Reich’s eugenicist measures.

It was only when Americans confronted the atrocities the Third Reich committed, taking eugenics to its only possible conclusion, that the discipline of eugenics in general fell into a well-earned disrepute throughout the Western world. This was not, however, the end of the Pioneer Fund itself, which underwent a re-branding. Henceforth, the Pioneer Fund and its adherents had to discard the term eugenics, which had deservedly gained a negative stigma. Moreover, on account of the civil rights movement, white supremacism had gained a deserved stigma as well. Henceforth, advocates of the Pioneer Fund’s propaganda would refer to it as “race realism” and the science of “human biodiversity.” But while its self-designations had changed, the Pioneer Fund’s overall mission had not. It had to become more covert in its methods for promulgating eugenics and white supremacism.

Now being more discreet, the Pioneer Fund had to make its racist argument through indirect means. It did this by stressing average IQ. The argument arrive by means of syllogisms deduced from shaky premises. This is the first syllogism, which is stated explicitly.

  • Differences in living standards are caused by differences in IQ.
  • The “races” have differences in living standards.
  • Therefore, the “races” having different living standards is caused by differences in IQ.

Once that syllogism is accepted, Pioneer Fund cronies introduce the next premise: Differences in IQ are a factor that is biologically inborn and immutable.

When, in the privacy of your mind, you apply that new premise to the above syllogism, this is the next syllogism you are to deduce, one that the Pioneer Fund is relatively careful about not making too blatant.

  • Differences in IQ are a factor that is biologically inborn and immutable.
  • The “races” having different living standards is caused by differences in average IQ.
  • Therefore, the “races” having different living standards is caused by a factor that is biologically inborn and immutable.

This is a roundabout method for saying that insofar as there are unequal living standards between members of different races, this is mostly explained by inborn, congenital differences between those races, differences that no public policy can rectify. Because he is less clever than most people associated with the Pioneer Fund, Stefan Molyneux has stated openly his reason for choosing this set of syllogisms as his explanation for poverty among nonwhites in the West.  You can hear him give that reason in this 1 minute, 12-second-long clip video:

1 minute, 12 seconds

Molyneux assumes that if he rejects this eugenicist rationalization for unequal living standards between ethnic groups, the only alternative is the accept the popular left-wing idea that the poverty of blacks and Latinos relative to whites is mostly explained by pervasive systemic and institutionalized racism toward nonwhites — a type of racial inequality that, convenient for his demagoguery, Molyneux conflates with an accusation that whites generally hate nonwhites and generally choose to act toward them out of malice.

This demonstrates how, as much as he touts himself a genius, Molyneux possesses a weak and uncreative imagination. The situation is more complex. Even after slavery and Jim Crow have been vanquished, they have made such a powerful difference the circumstances of many people that even with slavery and Jim Crow gone, their geographic, political, and psychological after-effects can continue to have an impact. And though Molyneux and many other white supremacists talk about welfare payments as if those are the only governmental program that can discourage or impede entrepreneurship among nonwhites, Richard Rothstein and his book The Color of Law provide much more plausible explanations for how governmental programs have deprived many blacks and Latinos of access to the same capital markets that are more accessible to whites.

As an example, the New Deal and the Truman administration subsidized affordable housing for whites to an extent far greater than what was done for blacks and Latinos. And insofar as later government programs from the Lyndon Johnson administration onward have attempted to help blacks and Latinos catch up, the benefits that white families had already received decades earlier were “grandfathered” in and had a better chance to perpetuate themselves.

In any case, as I have argued before, the Pioneer Fund syllogisms that Molyneux has adopted and propagated are based on faulty assumptions. It is true that IQ is a better predictor than many other variables when it comes to predicting who will have high living standards as an adult. But, as psychologist Gena Gorlin has pointed out to Yaron Brook, this is not because IQ is a good predictor in its own right. Rather, IQ is a weak predictor, and it is rated a better predictor than the other variables because those others are even weaker.

Moreover, though living standards and IQ correlate, it does not follow that an ethnic group starts off with a high average high IQ while in poverty, and then grows prosperous. Rather, rises in average IQ for an ethnic group follows that ethnic group’s rise in living standards. In a flimsy attempt not to appear racist, Molyneux and the Pioneer Fund propagandists stress that East Asians, on average, score higher on IQ tests than whites and are often richer than whites. But, contrary to their insinuations, it is not the case that East Asians having a higher average IQ than whites was the default.

The same James Flynn whom Molyneux had interviewed, only for him later to express toward Molyneux, has looked at the historical administering of intelligence tests to Asian-Americans. Flynn found that when the data are standardized, as recently as 1975, Chinese-Americans had a lower average IQ score than white Americans. Those of East Asian descent began to outpace white Americans in average IQ only subsequent to their having outpaced white Americans in terms of average wealth.

Subsequent to World War II, and among several others, four scholars connected to the Pioneer Fund and its race-realism propaganda rose to prominence. Those four are Charles Murray, Linda Gottfredson, Helmuth Nyborg, and Jason Richwine. As you will recall, these four are among the “17 scientists [sic; 16 interviewees]” whom Molyneux cited in his tweet as if they prove he is not a eugenicist or racist.

It is thus interesting to note how, in their eugenicism, Molyneux and the Pioneer Fund are parasitic off of two scientists in particular who probably would have abhorred their aims. First is Gregor Mendel, who was reputedly a gentle soul whose quiet life was in great contrast to the aggressive domination that Molyneux and the Pioneer Fund seek over nonwhites. Second is Alfred Binet, who devised the IQ test as only a means of helping children who were marginalized, and who would have hated how his invention is used, by bigots who could not equal his achievement, in their attempt to perpetuate the marginalization of the sort of vulnerable people whom Binet had sought to help.

Conclusion: Sargon’s Convenient Denial of the Message Molyneux Has Routinely Spouted for the Past Four Years
As in his February 2020 video, Molyneux can unconvincingly deny as much as he wants that he ever promoted eugenics. In reality, his propaganda about race and IQ, and against impoverished immigrants, comes from an organization that was openly eugenicist from its founding to World War II, and from an organization that, until the war, partnered with the Third-Reich government in openly eugenicist advocacy.

Assisting Molyneux in that denial is Sargon of Akkad. He concludes his January 2020 apologia for Molyneux by proclaiming his doubt that Molyneux ever spoke well of eugenics or white nationalism. To anyone who identifies Molyneux as the eugenicist and white natinonalist that he is, Sargon challenges, “When did he say that? Where’s the clip? Where’s the quote? Like, prove what you have asserted.”

Sargon, challenge accepted. Below are the clips of Molyneux. Molyneux has explicitly announced his evaluation that white nationalism makes good points that are gaining his sympathy. And although, at the start of this year, Molyneux has dishonestly claimed never to have voiced support for eugenics, there was a time, when he first started promoting the Pioneer Fund’s propaganda about race and IQ, where he was more honest and let it slip that he knew that this is all eugenics. Then more openly favorable toward the topic, Molyneux told Bill Whittle that as much as he may deny that he is talking eugenics, he still believes that “freedom has a eugenics component to it inevitably.”

4-minute, 44-second cut

6-minutes, 39-second cut

2-minute cut, which can be embedded in a tweet

Postscript: The Freedomain Cult Splitting Up Families
In that same pro-Molyneux video, by the way, Sargon tries to downplay the notion that Molyneux should face any culpability for his long history of pressuring his fans to disown their parents, siblings, and longtime friends if these people do not agree with ideological points Molyneux has espoused. This is a practice Molyneux has started at least as early as 2006, and he received much more attention for it in 2014, when he lost a major portion of his anarchist. It was then that the major ideological focus of Molyneux’s podcast stopped being “anarcho-capitalism” and instead “race realism.”

Of Molyneux’s emphasis on trying to split families apart, Sargon says, “I think those accusations are probably somewhat overstated, aren’t they? And this, I think, is something that happened a long time ago. And I think it would be fair if we were to ask him his positions on these times now.”

Although Molyneux received the most attention for this practice in 2014, it does not mean it has stopped. Rather, it has continued in more recent years. As I have blogged before, Molyneux has done this at least twice publicly since 2017. Below are two long montages showing this, and a greatly-edited two-minute version that can be embedded in a tweet.

15-minute cut

20-minute cut (less of Molyneux’s tangents have been cut out)

2-minute cut that can fit in a tweet (a lot of editing, with some interjections edited out of the sentences; for the complete sentences, watch and hear the 20-minute version)

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Imagination Is About Reality

Stuart K. Hayashi

  • I could eat something that kills me. But, for the most part, I eat to live. Eating is for survival.

  • I can use language to tell a lie. But one relies on language to tell the truth and to learn it in conceptual detail. More than not, language is the tool for learning and transmitting the truth.

  • I can use my imagination to indulge in, and transmit, delusions. But all deductions rely on imagination; rational decision-making relies on imagination. Imagination is the tool for comprehending and living in reality.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Disproving Stefan Molyneux’s Denial That He Said Humans Biologically Aren’t All the Same Species

Stuart K. Hayashi

Video with the proof, 4 1/2-minute-cut

Video with the proof, extended version (7 minutes, 32 seconds)

2-minute cut that can be embedded in a tweet

The YouTube vlogger, cult leader, and white-supremacist demagogue Stefan Molyneux is at it again. His claims about his recent past are contradicted by the very same archives and recordings that, being as insufferable as he is, he insisted on making about himself.

Commentators such as pseudoscience debunker Jeff Holiday have pointed out that Molyneux has been going around saying that human beings are not all one species. To say that different “races” or ethnicities of humans are not the same species is inaccurate. The scientific definition of species is a population of life forms that are able to breed with one another and produce fertile offspring. Human beings are able to breed a horse with a donkey to produce a mule, for example, but all such mules are sterile.  From the condition of mules, we can ascertain that horses and donkeys are separate species. By contrast, a black person and white person can have children together, and their mixed-race children can also grow up to have children of their own. That is how we know that all human beings are the same species.

On November 8, 2019, Molyneux uploaded a video wherein he announced he would refute misconceptions about him that his detractors disseminate, making special mention of the “writers” among them. He said that a quotation of his — the one about humans not all being the same species — was repeated out-of-context by his detractors in order to make it sound as though he believed not all humans were literally the same species, biologically. He maintains in this video that of course he knows better — implying that none of his Freedomain Radio podcasts convey such illiteracy about biology.

He begins, “It’s time to push back against the nonsense that’s written out there on the internet about me.” And what is this nonsense? “This is a quote that’s ascribed to me, and yeah,” — he chuckles — “it sounds pretty bad, and the quote is this: ‘I don’t view humanity as a single species...’ This is how the quote goes. ‘I don’t view humanity as a single species...’ And what does that mean? Now, the first thing you’ll note is it ends with a dot-dot-dot [ellipse]. That means, of course, it is an incomplete thought, and that’s your first context you may not be getting the full picture of what I’m talking about.” With respect to those who quote his denial that human beings are all one species, he adds that “this is put forward as some sort of racist statement. But where is it coming from?”

He goes on that the quotation is from a podcast he did in 2014, stopping to mention that it is telling that someone would have to comb through an episode that old to implicate him in his racism. Molyneux says that as though he were not regularly promoting racism over the past year. He goes on that the podcast in question was about whether there would be a criminal justice system in his ideal anarchist society. He then proceeds to play audio snippets of that episode, where Molyneux discusses violent criminals with the caller.

 The Molyneux from November 2019 states that when he said in 2014 he does not view humanity as all one species, it was merely metaphorical talk to emphasize how vastly different the psychology of a violent criminal is from a law-abiding citizen. He would have the viewer believe he was comparing the violent criminal to say, a lion, whereas the victim is the zebra the lion hunts down. In this video, Molyneux puts it to the viewer that he had not conveyed that he literally believed human beings could not all be the same species in a biological context.

Upon the end of the audio recording, the November 2019 Molyneux proclaims, “Okay, so we’re talking about the predator-prey relationship between violent, destructive, rapey, murderous criminals, and the general population. Now, I don’t say humanity is not a single species, ‘cause that would be biologically and factually incorrect.”

He goes on to pose the viewer, “So have I said anything about race? Of course not.” No, he was merely “using an analogy of predator-prey relationships to describe crime and punishment in human society. And that’s it. There’s nothing about race in this at all. [Emphasizing, even more smugly than usual:] So you can see the motives of the people who write this kind of stuff [facts that do not flatter Molyneux]” (emphasis his). He ends by urging his viewers to share this video on social media, so as to disabuse his detractors of their misconceptions about him. He declares sternly, “These are the facts. This is my actual word. This is my actual voice.”

This is what the text description for the video says on YouTube,

What did I mean in 2014 when I said: "I don't view humanity as a single species..."? 
Am I biologically illiterate? 
Is the statement somehow racist? 
You'll be truly shocked at the TRUE FACTS behind my words...

In the November 2019 video, Molyneux says he is well aware that the definition of species is members of a population that are able to procreate and produce progeny that are also fertile. Hence, we are to believe that the answer to “Am I biologically illiterate?” is a resounding no, Molyneux has not, in his time as a podcaster, said anything so biologically illiterate.

Here is a fact that Molyneux neglected to mention: the podcast episode whose audio Molyneux played for the audience was not the only episode in which he said human beings are not a single species.

He also made that statement in an episode that he first uploaded onto his Freedomain Radio website on September 30, 2015, available over here. He also uploaded a video of that onto YouTube on Monday, October 19, 2015. YouTube Corporate has since removed that video for its racist contents, as you can see here and here (since Molyneux specifically denied his humanity-is-not-one-species remark was not in the context of racism, we will have to get into that further below). However, the video version of that podcast remains available. The very same day, Molyneux also uploaded the video onto Vimeo, where he gave it the same title that he gave it on YouTube. It is “The Death of Europe | European Migrant Crisis” at .

Rather convenient for anyone wishing to check on what Molyneux meant by his statement, it is relatively early in this hour-long video. Within the first two minutes, Molyneux prefaces his infamous quotation by saying that not all human brains are physiologically alike — they have differences not only in degree but in kind. “We don’t all have sort of one sole brain that is roughly equivalent across the, I mean, there are differences in intelligence, right? There’s a bell curve of intelligence. There’s difference in ethnic levels of success on IQ tests.”

As a follow-up to that, Molyneux states, “And so, looking at human beings as one species is not biologically valid.”

That sentence is immediately followed by this explanation, which strongly evinces that Molyneux indeed did not know or care what is the definition of species. “We are a variety of subspecies:  politically, ethnically sometimes, definitely in terms of gender, in terms of IQ, uh, in terms of culture. These produce physical brain differences that are very hard to remediate when you get older.”

First, it is clear that Molyneux did mean it in a biological context, literally, when he said human beings are not all one species.  Secondly, as an example of human beings not all being one species, he cited people varying “ethnically” — that is, in terms of race.  Thirdly, by talking about males and females as being separate “subspecies,” he made plain that when he recorded that video, he really did not know the definitions of species or subspecies.  What he has been consistently advocating for years is severely “biologically illiterate.” Molyneux finally learning the definition of species over five years later does not substantiate his becoming biologically literate since then:  he continues promoting the racist pseudoscience of “human biodiversity” and “race realism” that actual biologists identify as biological illiteracy.

Later in the very same video where Molyneux says “looking at human beings as one species is not biologically valid,” Molyneux airs a conclusion about race that he derived from this premise about people differing “ethnically” as a sign of humans not being all one species. “That conclusion, stated at the 0:28:19 timestamp on Vimeo, goes, Screaming ‘racism’ at people because blacks are collectively less intelligent — screaming ‘racism’ at people because Asians are collectively shorter — is insane.”

Note the conflation there. On average, men of Japanese ancestry are shorter than Caucasian men. That is not the same as saying, as Molyneux has in other videos, that there are congenital psychological differences between whites and blacks relating to intelligence. He has gone as far as proclaiming that a difference in average IQ scores, which he believes is mostly genetic, lead black men to be more predisposed toward violence than whites.

The facts are these. In November of 2019, Molyneux uploaded a video onto YouTube declaring that when he previously said human beings are not all one species, he did not mean it literally in a biological context and his saying that was not connected to anything about differences about human races. Yet, when he made that statement in his “Death of Europe” podcast episode, he did say it in a biological context, conveying that this was to be taken literally. Moreover, immediately upon saying that, he continued that humans not all being one species had implications for differences between ethnic groups.

Please watch the videos of this, below (the 4 1/2-minute one if you are pressed for time).

Molyneux, for once, put it best: “These are the facts. This is my actual word. This is my actual voice.”

Video with the proof, 4 1/2-minute-cut

Video with the proof, extended version (7 minutes, 32 seconds)

2-minute cut that can be embedded in a tweet

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Great Inclusion

Stuart K. Hayashi

You might have heard this paranoid rhetoric about how dark-skinned immigrants joining the white majority in residing in a country is somehow “replacing” the native-born white people. Yesterday when a retail employee told me — *gasp* — “Happy Holidays!”, it dawned on me that this has a subtler precedent in the moral panic Bill O’Reilly started fourteen years ago alleging that retail employees telling their customers “Happy Holidays” was part of a sinister effort to replace Christmas.

There was no replacement.

“Holidays” includes Christmas. By definition, Christmas cannot be replaced when it is included. The objection to “Happy Holidays” is not that it replaces Christmas, but that it includes holidays such as Chanukah and Kwanzaa alongside Christmas. This is just as the dark-skinned immigrants do not replace the white citizens, but are included alongside the white citizens. The word replacement is itself used as a replacement for the word that defines what is actually feared: inclusion.

There is no Great Replacement. There is, however, a Great Inclusion.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Creativity Theory of Economic Value

Stuart K. Hayashi

Note: This essay is something of a follow-up to two others from this blog: “How Intellectual Property Rights Address Economic ‘Scarcity’ ” and “Economic Value of Intellectual Property As a Direct Result of Supply and Demand, Not Labor Inputs: The Shorter Version.”

Market Economics Not a Result of Edenic Abundance Changing to “Scarcity,” But a Result of Transitioning From Poverty to Wealth Creation
“Scarcity” — meaning the fact that there are a finite number of units of a desired good available on the market at any given moment — does influence the free-market price for a good or service. If I really want X and the number of units is dwindling, I have to go through more effort to get it. That would increase the price. But while “scarcity” is important, it is not primary.

Saying “scarcity” is primary in economics gives a false impression. That impression is that the standard with which economics begins is the abundance of Eden, wherein there being an infinity of every desired item reduces each item’s price to zero. To add that economics is about reconciling this “scarcity” with our “unlimited wants” is to imply that we started with this Edenic cornucopia, only for us to have fallen into a degraded state where there are a finite and “scarce” number of goods, for which we must make payments to stingy vendors. On that interpretation, it is not surprising that so many university students are led to believe that vendors make everyone else poorer instead of richer.

For ancient people, some goods, such as fresh air, were a given that indeed could be damaged by more primitive forms of industrialization. (Contrary to much rhetoric from the early 1970s, the solution to such damage is not cutbacks on productivity, consumption, population size, or industrialization, but simply more advanced and efficient forms of industrialization.) But, for the most part, the economic default for ancient people was poverty.

The economic value of most natural resources is not obvious. Lithium is found in the wilderness, and ancient people didn’t find all of its value to be obvious. It took scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to discover that, per gram, lithium conducts comparatively large quantities of energy in ways most other metals cannot —in ways even copper cannot. Hence, we use lithium in smartphones. The default is poverty; economic value and wealth — which refer not to monetary units, but the goods and services for which the monetary units are exchanged — are, for the most part, created.

Economic Value Not Inherent in Natural Resources, But Placed Into Them By the Practical Application of the Creative Mind
John Locke at least partially understood this principle. If someone is to rise above mere subsistence, then the land, as it currently exists, is not adequate for living. A homesteader must plant crops and irrigate them. It takes creative effort to convert a patch of land into a habitat suitable for above-subsistence living. But, for this effort, Locke used the term labor, which successors such as David Ricardo and Karx Marx apparently took to mean that physical motions — manual labor only — was the prime mover for wealth creation. But it’s not just movement of the arms and legs that are involved.

Another bodily organ must be used — the cerebrum. Homesteaders have to use their mind to figure out which are the most strategic crop to plant, how best to manage the soil, and how to engineer irrigation channels. The part of the body most responsible for improvement of land and nature is not the arms but the mind. That is the entrepreneurial side of what the homesteader does — the inventive side. The term I use for it is “creativity.” That is the creativity that recognized that wireless telephones could be made smaller and more powerful if a previously overlooked metal called lithium was used in them. And, as John Locke and, to some degree, Adam Smith, conveyed at least implicitly, it is because of the homesteader having created new value in the plot of land that the homesteader should be recognized by law as rightfully owning and controlling it. Logically applying this principle further extends to specific original designs per se — designs for useful products and for artwork.

Two Sides of the Creative Entrepreneurial Process: The Business Executive More on Handling the Labor, The Inventor/Engineer More on Handling the Natural Resources
The consistent theme in economics is that while natural resources and manual labor are important in the creation of material value, they are nothing without Mind Power. When it comes to coordinating the efforts of the manual labor, the mind power comes from the party that is the managerial businessperson — what this essay shall henceforth identify as the “business executive” or just “executive.” Without the business executive providing proper instruction and oversight to them, the manual laborers will be unable to use their muscles to convert the natural resources into useful products. Capital — meaning the machinery and the allocation of resources to the machinery — is also important. But all capital itself is the result of the application of Mind Power in enabling manual laborers to convert natural resources. Capital itself is a product of that process.

When it comes to the use of manual labor to convert natural resources, the business executive’s role, again, falls more on managing the manual-labor side than the natural-resource side, in that the executive focuses more on the overseeing of the manual laborers. That consists of hiring competent ones and rewarding them accordingly, while firing unproductive ones. Engineers and inventors, too, provide instruction to manual laborers to convert natural resources into useful products, but the focus is more on the natural-resource side. Engineers and inventors start off with a knowledge of the scientific principles governing natural resources, and it is from this understanding of natural laws the engineers and inventors draw up their original designs for product features that are useful, practical, and cost-feasible. The inventor-engineer’s instructions to others come in the form of these designs — that is, the diagrammed designs found in patents.

Yes, the Business Executive Is Important and Must Be Wise: Yes, He Still Relies on the Provider of the Patented Invention
By now, you know very well that I think the important and creative role of the executive is underappreciated in our society. You have read my rebuttals to the frequent accusation — made most famously by Karl Marx, but which is far from exclusive to, and long preceding, him — that the executive is a parasite who contributes nothing and simply skims off the manual laborers and the natural environment, who do all the real work. Without the creative and rational decision-making of the business executive, nothing gets done. In this very essay I will add that, by that very same token, the executive is helpless without the inventor and engineer. That is where patents come in.

All products that exist today had to be invented. That even applies to crops. And, since the 1980s, even sexually-bred cultivars have been properly recognized as intellectual property; these are Plant Variety Protections issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every unit produced by a business comes from a design that was formulated by some engineer. And very few of the most beneficent features of a specific company’s product were designed in-house. The best design features of most companies’ products came from somewhere else.

In an economy without patents, there would be only two avenues in which an inventor can be remunerated for her having originated the useful design features:

  1. The inventor works for a specific firm. The firm pays the in-house inventor.
  2. The inventor is not an official employee of the firm, but the firm pays the inventor directly in the role of some independent contractor or consultant who tells the firm which design features to include in its products.

Again, the problem here is that most firms’ products’ design features were not originated in-house. And if there is no intellectual property protection, every firm can copy every desired design feature without compensating the originator.

Patentable Designs Are the Result of More Than Meditating, Sitting Cross-Legged, and Humming “Ohmmmmmmmm”
This greatly shortchanges the originator — the inventor of the beneficent design features — as design features that are both cost-effective for producer-firms and useful for customers don’t come out of the air. They are the result of an arduous process called Research-and-Development. The “intellectualism” of intellectual property doesn’t mean just sitting on a mountain meditating, sitting cross-legged, and saying “Ohhhhhhhm.” The intellectualism also means going out in the field, performing experiments and, through sensory experience, observing the results. This involves investment capital and natural resources that go into the equipment for conducting these experiments. The development of a new invention is, on the inventor’s part, a combination of both thought and assiduous action, just as it is with a homesteader improving a plot of land.

Now let’s say there’s a business executive who notices beneficent design features that some inventor produced for a product. The inventor doesn’t work for the executive’s firm; that inventor is not paid in-house. And the executive doesn’t have to contract out to the inventor to obtain the results of the inventor’s services. Even if the executive must defray some costs in the process of reverse-engineering the invention, the executive does not have to devote any of the expenditures that made possible the invention. And, without there being any patent protection, this executive can copy the inventor’s design without paying the inventor anything — which means that this executive appropriates the results of this inventor’s creative efforts while contributing nothing to reimbursing the inventor and the inventor’s investors the costs of the R-and-D that made the invention possible.

Without the inventor being reimbursed and remunerated for the R-and-D that produced the invention, we can’t expect many more great inventions in the future — where will the inventor get the resources needed to conduct the R-and-D for her next great invention when she can’t even cover the costs of her most recent invention?

Here, we should not fall prey to a common retort that, in the absence of patents, inventors will still be compensated by being directly employed in-house by firms, which, on account of being the market’s “first mover,” will still rake in a hefty profit before other firms spot the invention on the market and then produce their own knockoffs of that same design. We know that that will not happen. As a case in point, Chinese knockoffs of Yekutiel Sherman’s invention — a smartphone case with a built-in selfie stick — made it to the market before Sherman’s own units did. Firms that pilfer someone’s original design can pilfer the “first-mover advantage” as well.

Such a business executive who pirates inventors’ designs might be wise in many respects. He might be able to identify workers who slack off, and fire them. He might know how to make productive employees feel empowered, with just enough autonomy to keep them satisfied. He might know how to minimize overhead costs, having the best timing in replacing depreciated factory equipment. All of these decisions would be genuine intellectual achievements.

But to the extent that this executive is producing units of an inventor’s design without remunerating the inventor, this executive is freeloading off of the inventor. To the extent that the executive pirates the inventor’s design, that executive is being exploitative and a parasite — and in a manner far more detrimental than anything from Marx’s fevered dreams. And that is indeed the same, in principle, as it would be if you devoted years of creative effort in making a livable homestead, only to find me squatting on it against your consent and providing no remuneration to you.

The Value of a Unit of Product Being Not Only in Its Physicality, But in Its Design, Which Is What the Inventor Provided
Many separate parties, prior to the Wright brothers, tried to produce heavier-than-air flying machines. One such party was Samuel Pierpont Langley, a wealthy official from the Smithsonian Institution and a blood relative to the great financier J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. But these other parties failed to produce an airplane that had all three of these traits: 1) it could be propelled into the air, 2) it would retain lift while in the air, and 3) it could be steered in the air. The Wright brothers were able to achieve all three criteria because of R-and-D efforts which they had made and which other competing parties had not. Their special advantage, coming from their work, was in their ability to steer their flyer by warping the shape of its wings.

The Wright brothers’ having fulfilled all three criteria was new wealth created. And that new economic value, which heretofore had not existed, can and should be isolated from what an airplane-manufacturing firm does. If a business executive was wise in all of his human-resources management decisions and overhead-cost-cutting, but pirated the Wright brothers’ designs for the units he sold or leased, and profited therefrom, that executive would indeed be stealing from the Wright brothers. He would be stealing from the Wrights the value of the resources they inputted into the R-and-D for their flyer, and for which they were to be reimbursed by any customer or client who directly made use of the product of their R-and-D.

Patents are the recognition that, by default, the inventor places her specific original design on the market on the implicit contractual understanding that those who directly make use of her design will, according to her terms, reimburse and remunerate her for the “scarce” resources she inputted in the creation of her design.
It is through the practicably intellectual combination of thought and action that a homesteader makes a plot livable, thereby producing in land a new value that was not present before. It is by the same token that, through a practicably intellectual combination of thought and action, an inventor produces a cost-efficient and consumer-satisfying new design. And, without these inventor efforts, the business executive is unable to produce units with greatly enhanced and customer-satisfying features. This is not a Labor Theory of Economic Value but a Creativity Theory of Economic Value.

Economic Value Does Not Come Directly From Inputs of Cost or Labor, But Inputs of Cost and Labor Do Directly Influence the Supply Curve
This should not be misrepresented as a Labor Theory of Economic Value in the tradition of David Ricardo or Karl Marx. I am not saying that an item’s price or value is the direct result of the labor or cost inputted into the production of that item. The item’s free-market price and economic value are indeed the direct result of the intersection of the marketplace demand curve with the supply curve. But those who bother to give a close look at marketplace demand and supply, each, will recall the definition for each. The “supply” curve maps the principle that, the more money will be paid to people for providing a particular service, the greater the number of people or firms there will be trying to provide that service. On the converse, if no one can be expected to be paid for rendering a particular service, we should not be surprised if the number of people or firms willing to supply that service dwindles close to nothing.

And a major reason for why it takes a higher price to induce a larger number of people or firms to provide that service is: the provision of any service imposes a cost upon the provider.

Implicit in the supply curve is the inquiry, “Why doesn’t everyone just supply 100-percent of their services for everyone else for free?” The reason why you don’t give away everything you have, and almost work for nothing, is that every service or good you supply to others imposes a cost upon you — a cost in the form of labor or a financial investment. In most cases, people become more willing to supply their services or goods if the price they charge exceeds the cost. Hence, as shown in the supply curve, the higher the price that can be charged for something, the larger the number of people there are who are willing to supply that something.

Because providing a service imposes a cost on the provider, it is not surprising that someone’s willingness to provide that service grows along with the size of the profit that can be realized by becoming a provider. And that applies to the service of providing original new designs which are to be incorporated into units of products.

Because R-and-D costs, in terms of time and resources, are so great for inventors, someone’s reluctance to go through the trouble of producing useful new design features for products will be overcome if there is a lot of money to be made for producing such inventions. Conversely, if there is no money to be made in producing useful new designs, we should not be surprised if hardly anyone is willing to do it.

And because most useful new design features in products are not produced in-house, it is through patents that inventors and engineers are paid. It is through their patents that inventors and engineers are paid for the service of introducing useful new design features to be incorporated into the units of products sold — a service without which business executives cannot substantially improve the units they sell.

Patents As They Relate to the Creativity Theory of Economic Value
The inputs — labor or other costs — that go into supplying a product to the market do not directly determine that product’s economic value. The product’s economic value is directly influenced by the intersection of marketplace supply with demand. But as the scarce inputs — labor and costs — that go into supplying that product do influence the supply curve, such inputs do influence the supply and quantity of innovative new designs regularly introduced onto the market. In that respect, the costs and labor of invention do indirectly influence the supply-demand nexus, and, with it, the economic value and prices of innovative new products. To deny this is to deny the very definition and principle of the “supply” curve in the supply-and-demand nexus.

To damn intellectual property rights is to deny to inventors any formal ownership over the creative efforts that are the fountainhead to all wealth creation.

On December 25, 2019, I edited out of the final two paragraphs, removing two sentences I thought were redundant to the point I already made in the first two sentences of the penultimate paragraph.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Honesty Versus Unfiltered Speech

or, Carefulness in Word Choice Isn’t Self-Censorship

Stuart K. Hayashi

When people notice me taking time to choose my words carefully, they often convey that they find this off-putting. They misinterpret it as shyness or, worse, some attempt to be sneaky. In the latter case, the assumption is that if I’m choosing my words carefully, it must mean I’m employing some strategy to flatter and deceive. A corollary to this assumption is that the most consistently honest sort of person is one who blurts out every immediate value-based impression that is made upon him — which is what Donald Trump seemed to do regularly on the campaign trail from 2015 and 2016. “Wow,” some people said. “Everything the other candidates said seemed so calculated and artificial. So when Donald Trump throws caution to the wind, and airs the same prejudices I’ve nursed but were too scared to articulate, that is real honesty.”

For a man to tell an outright lie is for him to express a conclusion and for him to intend for it to be interpreted as his reasoned conviction, only for it to turn out that the conclusion contradicted his own actual views the entire time. Recognizing this, too many people on Twitter, 4Chan, and 8Chan conflate unfiltered speech with honesty and even free speech. On the latter count, they conversely presume that in any situation where people exercise caution before articulating their opinions — be that caution based solely on one’s own judgment or based on social pressures — that situation is necessarily one where free speech is suppressed.

In this vein “Onision” — a well-known narcissist on YouTube who has over a million subscribers — has been very consistent about airing various derogatory prejudices about other people and, because those prejudices do not contradict any knowledge he knows to be true, he apparently decides to call himself “the most honest person on YouTube.”

But to speak the truth, someone must first know what truth is — not just a specific item of truth, but the very concept. Someone can indeed be honest when making a statement that turns out to be inaccurate. That is to be honestly mistaken. But being honestly mistaken is more than just believing in an inaccurate statement in the very moment one makes it. Another component is required but too often overlooked: even if an honestly mistaken person does not always succeed in his being accurate, he is consistent in trying. And to try to be accurate is to be aware of one’s own present limitations in knowledge and to investigate the facts of a matter before conveying confidence in one’s conclusions about it.

Honesty is not just the absence of doubt in one’s own statements, but the consistent employment of rationality in evaluating the merits of the conclusions expressed in those statements. Thus, part of being honest in one’s evaluations of a topic is often, in many instances, to refrain from airing a declaration about it.

If, upon first glancing at Mr. X, I announced I suspect Mr. X of being a crook because he looks how I imagine one to look, it wouldn’t contradict what I know about Mr. X. But it wouldn’t be about investigating facts either. In turn, it wouldn’t be about truth-telling. And even if such an announcement were prefaced as tentative, the announcement having been made would influence the evaluations and actions of other people with respect to Mr. X, “poisoning the well” for him. Hence, the announcements of one’s negative prejudice about Mr. X is not an honest statement of one’s own admittedly narrow understanding, but an action that one knows can contribute to prejudicing other people, implicitly encouraging those other people to prioritize prejudice over the search for truth. That a person’s evaluation doesn’t contradict anything that he knows to be factual isn’t sufficient to make the expression of that evaluation a truthful one.

If a man airs an evaluation without any concern for whether it is accurate or not, it does not count as an outright lie, but it still errs on the side of likely falsehood, and therefore precludes it from being an exercise in truthfulness.

To be truthful, a person must have real convictions, convictions reached through objective observation and remembering of evidence. It doesn’t require that one be a stubborn Sherlock Holmes-style detective who is on deliberate “investigation mode” in every waking moment. But it does mean that a person does take some time to introspect and ask himself why his opinions are what they are, and if they stand up to scrutiny.

On this topic, I remember a rather disturbing statement made by someone to whom I was very emotionally close. After she met my mother, she said to me something I didn’t understand at the time: “I didn’t disagree with anything I said. But it was still all an act.” It turned out that my friend has a dangerous mental illness where she doesn’t have a stable “narrative identity.” She doesn’t have any well-considered firm opinions; there is only comfortable mimicking of the opinions and mannerisms of the people who give her the desired sort of attention. (To my knowledge, the situation has not improved. 😢)

Someone who has no firm convictions, and yet states opinions confidently anyway, is not telling outright lies — but is not being truthful either. (And, contrary to today’s clichés, no, it’s not the case that “life and the world are so complex that being objective will preclude you from forming any confident convictions anyway.”)

Hence, if someone engaged in unfiltered speech — divulging every prejudice, or even just some prejudices — without qualification, and not actually looking into such matters objectively, that person would not be contradicting what he knows to be factual, but this would still not be an exercise in honesty. It would, at best, be the equivalent of just making a lot of noise. And making gibbering noises is not the same as spelling out the truth.

Someone who expresses just about every snap judgment on whim, and leaves it at that, is someone who has very little concern for learning what is true. And one who does not care about learning the truth, in turn does not care about telling it.

Perhaps it is the case that none of the many harsh and sweeping value-judgments aired by Donald Trump and Onision contradict anything they know to be true. But they have both demonstrated that they do not know or care what the concept of “truth” even means. And, by that standard, they are anything but truthful.

Having the First Amendment and freedom of speech means that someone cannot and should not face violent reprisals, especially from the State, based on the peaceable expression of opinions when using the private belongings of consenting parties. This applies even if the opinions are hateful and willfully oblivious to concerns about accuracy. A free-speech republic does not use the law to proscribe a person or private establishment from exercising unfiltered speech — the one exception being credible articulations of violent threats. But, by the same token, when a single person or private establishment places filters on what it states openly, that is not the same as an attack on free speech. That is not self-censorship. Nor is it a private establishment censoring anyone. What it is, is simply a private party choosing to exercise its own judgment within a political environment of free speech.

There are some occasion in which, when people’s speech is consistently very guarded, there is reason to be suspicious. There are many cases where people observe a phenomenon that is dangerous or pathological, and yet they refrain from speaking out for fear of social rejection. That is why Donald Trump gets to be surrounded by sycophants who pretend not to notice his pathology. When people notice obvious and urgent facts but refrain from acknowledging them, that guardedness is indeed a form of dishonesty. To name obvious facts when it is urgent to do so, is the same as honoring truth. And, on the converse, to refrain from naming obvious facts when it is urgent to name them, is indeed to desecrate the truth.

And politicians being calculated in their choice of words is indeed a form of dishonesty for the reason that when they do select the words they will speak, the gaining of immediate emotional approval is prioritized above an adherence to facts, facts of which many voters find unpalatable.

Yes, when a very conscientious and self-conscious person takes an extraordinary long amount of time to choose his words — to an extent where it becomes debilitating — that can indeed detract from a conversation. At that point, guardedness can end up concealing urgent truths rather than just being diligent in double-checking the facts in preparation for their eventual release.

But as long as one doesn’t reach the point where it becomes debilitating, taking one’s time to choose words carefully, for the purpose of trying to be accurate, is an exercise in honesty.

Unfiltered speech, saying whatever one feels — even when it doesn’t contradict what one knows consciously — is to be indifferent to accuracy and facts and truth, and therefore is not to be honest. By contrast, filtering one’s speech — when thoughtful and with consideration for accuracy and facts — and delivering it when it needs to be delivered, is what it means to be honest.