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The Social Science of Tiger King with Geoffrey Miller and Diana Fleischman

The absolute final word on all social-scientific questions related to Tiger King, the recent Netflix documentary. Taking questions from Twitter, we analyze: Why these tiger-breeding cult leaders score hot chicks (and guys, including straight guys!), the personality traits of these people, the ethical culpability of Joe vs. Carole, the ethics of animal breeding in general, etc. We also highlight multiple feasible equilibria in which Carole and Joe cooperate to reduce animal suffering.

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter and Youtube. You can also listen to this on Geoffrey's channel.

Follow Diana Fleischman on Twitter and Youtube.

Click here to download this episode.

There are no humans on the internet

The best way to build community and make friends on the internet is to treat all internet interlocutors as if they are real humans in a real-life, local village. If you do this, over time many people will like you and want to form an alliance with you. Because most internet behavior is so atrocious, if you abide by traditional inter-personal norms (reciprocity, manners, courtesy, etc.), you quickly become a strange attractor. You become a kind of weird avatar from another time and place. Of course, you will encounter many haters in the short-run. They will interpret your quaint earnestness as an ironic performance, or “soy boy” pusillanimousness, or some kind of 4-dimensional hyper-grift. But in the long-run, traditional interpersonal ethics are irresistibly attractive because they are, in fact, good and superior.

Now, of course, there is a reason why average internet behavior is so atrocious.

It is seemingly impossible to abide by small-village norms on the internet, simply because those norms evolved in contexts where villagers had no choice but to play iterated games and everyone could remember everyone else’s behaviors. On the internet, neither of these conditions hold: nobody is forced to remain in any grouping over time, and there are so many people that nobody can remember everyone else’s behavior. There are strong incentives to exploit others, and no obvious reason to invest much care into others. So if you treat every potential interlocutor with care, you’ll quickly waste all of your resources and be exploited into nothingness.

However, it is feasible to apply traditional ethics to everyone who enters your personal sphere for the first time, and then simply ignore them as soon as they fail to reciprocate. In game theory this strategy is called “tit for tat,” and in my contexts it is found to be the best possible strategy. Many people seem to follow a variant of this strategy, in their “blocking” behavior. On Twitter, many people will block someone at the first indication of their enemy status. But most of these people are not really playing traditional-ethics tit-for-tat reciprocity because usually they’re usually also lobbing hand-grenades into the enemy camp for fun and profit on a daily basis. I’m saying one should treat the entire universe of internet denizens on a courteous, tit-for-tat basis: If they’ve done me no wrong, then I won’t do them any wrong. If they come into my sphere, I will treat them as a real friend until evidence of bad behavior, in which case I will not retaliate but simply ignore them.

Anyone who abides by this strategy will be surprised by how quickly a meaningful community emerges around them. This might seem obvious, even trite, but what’s not is how to scale this strategy. Most people who operate this strategy find themselves in relatively tiny clusters. And almost inevitably, they form their own imaginary out-groups and all the pitfalls of group-psychological bias emerge. What I’m really interested in is how to make this strategy scale, without limit or cessation.

I think I have figured out why this strategy is so hard to scale. The solution is hidden behind a deeply counter-intuitive paradox. It’s so counter-intuitive that it’s too psychologically difficult for most people to execute. But in certain ways I think I have been learning to do it, which is how I’ve become conscious of it.

The paradox is that to treat internet denizens humanely at scale, one must cultivate a brutal coldness toward all of the internet’s pseudo-human cues, which are typically visual (face pictures and text) applied to your sense organs by corporations for profit. These pseudo-human cues are systematically arranged, timed, conditioned, and differentially hidden or revealed to you by absolutely non-human, artificial intelligence.

Your goal should be to hack this inhuman system of cues on your screen, with a brutal analytical coldness, in order to find and extract humans into potential relationships. One must stop seeing the internet as “a place to connect with others,” but rather see it as nearly the opposite: It is a machine that stands almost impenetrably between and against humans, systematically exploiting our desire for connection into an accelerating divergence and alienation from each other. It is only when one genuinely cultivates this mental model, over time, that it becomes psychologically possible to treat one’s computer for what it is: An utterly inhuman device for conducting operations on statistical aggregates, a device which only accidentally comes pre-packaged with an endless barrage of anthropomorphic visual metaphors.

Those are not people “behind” the avatars on your screen, those are functions in a machine. When we speak of “the algorithms,” we generally imagine them as code behind apps, but the difficult fact to admit is that “the algorithms” are primarily other people, or at least those names and face-pictures we “interact with.” The codebase of the Facebook app doesn’t really manipulate me, the code is not “gaming” me, because I have no biological machinery that allows complicated lines of technical language to trigger changes in my behaviors. It is ultimately the creative energy of other human beings, uploaded to the machine, that is the driving force of what is manipulating me; the codebase only provides a set of game-rules through which other human beings are incentivized to apply their creative effort.

The horror of big social network platforms is not to be found in “technology” or “capitalism,” it is to be found in what we have become. Capitalism is only the name of that which aggregates from the raw reality of what we really want, of what we really do. The solution is to desire differently. Desire is amenable to updating and collective organizing, at least to a degree, which cannot be said of advanced capitalism.

We must get to work, with icy discipline, creating systems to extract humans from the machine, which means to produce human relationships from what we do have in abundance: data. Human relationships are no longer given to anyone by default, so if you want them you must produce them through engineered systems, or else pay someone who can engineer them for you.

As an aside, “independent content creators” are somewhat misleadingly named; perhaps they are primarily community engineers. Truly independent creative effort, which successfully differentiates itself from the passively extracted “creative effort” of social media sheeple, is like a lightning rod that organizes around itself other like-minded humans looking for an exit from the machine. But of course, the independent community is its own machine, and successful “content creators” are essentially disciplined entrepreneurs running often rather sophisticated systems.

We should seek to build independent systems that are even more aggressively inhuman than big social network platforms — because they hack desire with even more precision — but they should output relationships and experiences that are far more authentically human than anything else currently available. And they should be able to do this at scale. More artificial intelligence, more automation, more precisely optimized processes, but engineered by individuals and small-groups against, rather than for, the pseudo-human web.

Midnight B4 Moldbug in LA w/ Barrett Avner, Alex Moyer, and Wanyoung Kim

We recorded this late in the evening before the live show with Curtis Yarvin. It's lit, based, and fire.

Barrett Avner of Contain

Alex Moyer, director of TFW NO GF

Wanyoung Kim, author of Cosmophenomenology

Click here to download this episode.

Curtis Yarvin Live at the Based Deleuze Release Party in LA

In our epic 3-hour talk, Curtis Yarvin discusses: Democracy, his preference for Bernie Sanders, debunking the American Revolution, benevolent dictatorship, Ancient Rome and the need for an American Augustus, salus populi suprema lex esto, formalism, sovereign corporations, his rejection of Nazis and White Nationalism, and much more.

This podcast was recorded at the first ever live show of the Other Life podcast in LA, celebrating the release of my book Based Deleuze in paperback.

Several people helped make this event happen. Barrett Avner of Contain (Twitter, IG, Podcast) was my LA-based partner behind this whole event, he helped tons with planning and booking and this could not have happened without him. Alex Talan, also of Contain, helped run the audio. Ben Williamson made dope flyers, and shot and edited the video. Zach Hamilton of the video studio Church made the slick custom intro at the beginning of the Youtube video for this talk.

🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

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The Second Golden Age of Blogging

Many people say that “blogging is dead,” but dead for whom? Blogging remains powerful, just not for the same type of person who found it powerful in the “golden age of blogging” (roughly 2003-2009). In that period, blog-based intellectual freedom coincided with professional career tracks. Tyler Cowen, Crooked Timber, Instapundit, etc. — most of these people were already successful, institutionalized professionals, and the blog was a new way for them to think and talk in public, having fun while parlaying their professional status into increased public reach. When people say “blogging is dead,” what they really mean is that this type of blogging is dead.

Blogging was then diffused into social media, but now social media is so tribal and algo-regulated that anybody with a real message today needs their own property. At the same time, professional institutions are increasingly suffocated by older, rent-seeking incumbents and politically-correct upstarts using moralism as a career strategy. In such a context, blogging — if it is intelligent, courageous, and consistent — is currently one of the most reliable methods for intellectually sophisticated individuals to accrue social and cultural capital outside of institutions. (Youtube for the videographic, Instagram for the photographic, podcasting for the loquacious, but writing and therefore blogging for the most intellectually sophisticated.)

Those who think blogs are irrelevant today — usually Gen-Xers or older — typically underestimate the degree to which real power has evacuated traditional institutions such as academia and New York publishing houses. Such people think, because they don’t know many institutionalized professionals who still blog, that blogging must be dead. What they don’t realize is that the credibility premium historically enjoyed by professional institutions is plummeting toward zero. This fact is so obvious to younger Millenials and Zoomers that it goes unremarked, undebated, because it is already baked-in to their reading/watching behaviors.

If the First Golden Age of Blogging saw the blog as a public amplifier of creative, intellectual talent ensconced in professional careers, today we are living through a Second Golden Age of Blogging, where the blog is now a vehicle for starting and exiting careers. Starting a career might mean building an audience that later becomes a customer-base for some kind of independent entrepreneurship, or it might mean winning the attention and interest of employers in a target industry. Exiting a career might mean blogging pseudonymously (exiting careerist constraints), to make intellectual progress and impact for its own sake. Or exiting could mean building a bridge into a new, different career track. This blog is certainly one example, but I’m not just generalizing from my own experience. There are countless examples of individuals who have successfully navigated all of these pathways, in recent years, with their personal blog as a primary source of leverage. In fact, there are so many examples that no individual case seems interesting enough to be newsworthy. Blogging isn’t dead, it’s so alive that it’s imperceptible.

Rap is not art but it’s cool

Rap is not art, it’s stylized abjection. Same with punk. Indeed, this is one reason why it has been possible for rap and punk to merge today, musically and sociologically. Who ever would have predicted this from first musical principles? In rap and punk, sounds primarily have social effects, not musical significances or aesthetic qualities such as beauty (as singers with beautiful voices optimize for beautiful singing, and are appreciated for this reason). Rap and punk are forms of low-conscientiousness signaling, which are enjoyable and attractive because the artist does not care about optimizing for admirable qualities such as beauty. Paradoxically, we admire people who can afford to not be admired. We infer, correctly, that they must be quite powerful in some way that’s not obvious. The popular name for this hidden, mysterious power is “cool.” Rap and punk are not beautiful art, and they never have been. But they are cool, and cool is at least as valuable and important as beauty. Genuinely cool artists make us feel, or rather they make us know — through the incontrovertible proof of their own life — that no matter how imperfect we might be, and no matter how undervalued or even hated we might be, it is always still possible to be great.

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