An Alternate Theory: Gell-Mann Amnesia

UPDATE (8/19/14):  Take it from Stacy McCain, if not from me.  My sentiments exactly.


Ace thinks the Amazing Ever-Changing Narrative re: Michael Brown comes from leftist reporters (BIRM) treating their readers like children.

The media is writing their reports like Children’s Stories because they conceive of their audience as essentially children, whom you must protect from jarring facts which might teach “the wrong lessons.”

Allow me to suggest an alternate theory: It’s the lefty reporters themselves who are the children.

Have you heard of Gell-Mann Amnesia?  It’s a coinage of the late, great Michael Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray [Gell-Mann’s] case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

We always forget that reporters are, as a group, incredibly stupid and woefully uninformed about basic stuff.  They’re not presenting big, complicated, messy stories as Aesop’s Fables because they’re afraid their readers will draw the “wrong” conclusions.  This is literally how they themselves understand the world.  Brown’s black, the cop’s white, what more is there to say?  If they could handle nuance and ambiguity, they wouldn’t think these

BvPX1U1IMAAPttBare rubber bullets.

It’s pretty simple: The left and the media (BIRM, of course) really really really wanted George Zimmerman’s white hispanic scalp last summer.  Or, failing that, a good old fashioned race riot; either one would distract from the ongoing implosion of the entire liberal project.  Or, ideally, both — Obama could give a few thousand more speeches, and they could cover those speeches, and pronounce them supra-Churchillian and uber-Lincolneque, and wouldn’t that be just swell?

But they didn’t get either, and they’re determined not to let another golden opportunity slip away.

That’s it.  They’re petty, petulant children who can’t even grasp the extent of their own ignorance.  But we can.  Don’t fall victim to Gell-Mann Amnesia.

Musings on Suicide

So, this story

broke today. Robin Williams, aged 63 and one of America’s most beloved actors, has committed suicide. Millions are heartbroken, he was a gifted actor, his fellow stars enjoyed working with him, we’ll all miss him…blah blah blah. The president even took time out of his busy schedule of golfing, fundraising, giving speeches, and otherwise ignoring America’s problems to get in a kind word or three.


Just great.

You know what this says to me? It says, “The fame, the fortune, the adulation of millions – it just wasn’t enough for me. I couldn’t kick my drug habit and stop feeling sorry for myself, so I threw my life away. Screw you, fans.”

He became bored with life and decided to off himself.

Did those words actually come out of Robin Williams’ mouth? No, but that’s precisely what’s being said by the act of killing himself.

It’s been less than 24 hours since his body was found, and already the Internet is abuzz with talk about what a great guy he was, what a tragedy this is, and so on and so forth. My Facebook feed is cluttered with people crying over it.

You know what? I’m going to go against the grain here. Screw that guy. Screw him. Screw Robin Williams. I don’t feel sorry for him and I’m not calling his death anything other than what it actually is – a waste.

And it’s the worst kind of waste – the self-inflicted kind. The guy at least $50 million, had a long string of high profile credits earned over a four-decade career in film and television, and the adulation of millions. It wasn’t enough, apparently. He’d spent most of his life battling drug and alcohol addiction – in and out of rehab – and when he couldn’t sack up and get over his issues, he decided death was the answer.

Is Robin Williams the first celebrity to have a drug problem? Certainly not – it seems like most of them have at one time or another. We all can come up with the names of those who died of overdoses, from Jimi Hendrix to Amy Winehouse and hundreds of others. But those people died in an accidental way. They made poor choices. So did Williams, but unlike the others, he actually sought death. He willfully and intentionally killed himself.

Williams is guilty of murder – the murder of self. He took life – a great gift, one being denied right now by evil men such as the blood-soaked terrorists plaguing Christian communities in Iraq. Denied 3,000 times/day in American abortion mills. And threw it away. He threw away not only life itself, but also the other gifts God had given him: acting talent in such quantity as to earn him $50 million (and that’s just what he still had at the end, not what he actually raked in over the years). He was an international acting sensation, a man millions upon millions of people wanted to meet, wanted to emulate, wanted to honor just because he’d done such a good job entertaining them.


Can you get your head around that? I’m having trouble with it, personally.

Suicide is a despicable, disgusting act – one of the most hateful and selfish things a person can do. No matter what kind of signs there were (or weren’t) there before, what kind of notes of explanation might be left behind, the bereaved will never feel like they have the answer to the two big questions – “Why did this happen?” and “Was there something I could have done to prevent this?”

Now, a friend on FB criticized me for my remarks. She said that while she agreed with me, that I was long on judgment and short on compassion for Mr Williams. You know what I said to her?

What can I say? Suicide angers and disgusts me. My uncle took a troubled youth into his home and showered him with kindness. The little punk repaid him by stealing his handgun, blowing his own head off, and leaving his body for my aunt to find.

And I’m watching my dad – who is about the same age as Williams – struggle with addiction to the same drugs, and depression – and go on and on about how life isn’t worth living – when he’s surrounded by people who love him, and more money than I’ve ever seen. So forgive me if I’m coming up short on “compassion” today.

Compassion is great, but I reserve it for people who’ve been dealt a bad hand in life – who suffer through no fault of their own – especially those who don’t lose their optimism and their faith in God despite that suffering. Those are the people who are truly worth our compassion. Right now, I’m feeling compassion toward Robin Williams’ wife and family and the fans of his movies, not the man himself.

I don’t have compassion for people who commit suicide. It’s a crime against God, who is our Creator and our Maker. He’s the one who formed us together in the womb and is willing to walk beside us all the days of our lives, no matter how good or bad it gets (Psalm 23 comes to mind here). Our bodies are not our own, but belong to our Creator (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Williams violated the covenant God has made with all men – to be born, to live, and to die on God’s timeline and according to His prerogative – not our own.

Robin Williams failed to place his faith, trust, and hope in our Lord, in Jesus, the one who promised He would be with us always, even to the end of the age. He destroyed the body God created for him. He willfully chose to use drugs and alcohol. He willfully chose not to use the resources available to him in such a way as to beat addiction for good.

So rest in peace, Robin Williams. And screw you.

Checking My Work

I know at least 2 of our 3 regular readers don’t like it when I talk about onrushing fascism.  But the good news is, you can check my work!  If one understands the appeal of fascism, as I believe I do, and knows something of its history, one should be able to predict fairly accurately how it will manifest itself here.  So let me take a stab at one particular manifestation.

First, read this.  Or, if you don’t want to skim the whole thing, read this:

The economy declines, jobs leave for other climes, the petroyuan looms, college graduates crushed by debt find no work, the middle class shrinks, and the young begin to live perforce with their parents. Times of diminishing expectations are dangerous.

City after city joins the ranks of the bankrupt, semiliterate, corrupt black Bantustans which by honest naming would be called Lower Third World. Their culture is utterly alien to that of Eurowhites. Across the open border to the south pour huge waves from the Latino slums, less alien to Eurowhites, less hostile, but nonetheless threatening to form yet another country within a country. The Third World proportion of America closes rapidly on a full third. Despite desperate attempts to impose multicultural harmony, experience shows that widely disparate peoples who do not like each other do not enjoy happy endings. My country ‘tis of three, sweet land of dystrophy….

Fascism, and especially Nazism, were social movements long before they were political movements.  The Friekorps from which the Nazis grew were primarily anti-Bolshevik, not anti-Semitic.  The Nazis conflated the two, of course — not without reason — but the pall of unease that hung over all of Weimar had much more to do with democracy and decadence than anything else.  In those conditions, the appeal of discipline, of goals, of men who are openly and proudly for something that wasn’t either foreign (Jewish) eggheadery or effete decadence can’t be overstated.

So: Remember the Promise Keepers?  The media and the left (BIRM) couldn’t scream loud enough that their gatherings were the new Nuremberg Rallies (a search of NOW’s archives is also instructive, though all those links are conveniently dead).   And that was back in the 1990s, when the economy was strong, the borders were less porous, and the Muslim fanatics who were trying to murder us were only intermittently succeeding, so nobody was listening.  (It helped that one of their founders, Colorado University football coach Bill McCartney, was an outspoken badthinker with a zipper problem).

Note well:  I am not saying that the Promise Keepers were Nazis, or that they are Nazis (it seems they still exist).  All things considered, they look like a pretty decent group of guys to me.  But note their mission.  Note their values.  Note the media’s all-out efforts to smear them.  And, most importantly, note the timing.

A family-n-values social organization had deep mass appeal in the nineteen nineties, a.k.a. the most prosperous and secure decade in the history of the human race.  Opposition to politicized “diversity” and militant homosexualism was filling football stadiums twenty years ago, back when nobody had ever heard of “gay marriage” and our president, loathsome as he was, at least pretended to care about the country he ruled, and wasn’t importing the Third World as fast as their tubercular lungs could move them.

There will be another Bill McCartney, with less emphasis on the peace-n-love dimension of Jesus’s teachings and a lot more of the fire and brimstone and righteous anger.  And when the press goes all-in trying to smear him, and paint his followers as Nazis, and accuse him of using racial and sexual code words, and of trying to turn America’s white young men into patriotic little robots, he’s going to say: “Yeah.  So?”

This will cause the entire media-industrial complex to explode…. and gain him about a zillion new followers.

Maybe I’m wrong.  I don’t think so.  But it’s easy to prove it if I am.  I give it five to ten years — faster if we’re dumb enough to elect Hillary! (you can guess which way I’m betting), a little slower if a Romney clone wins in 2016.

Things I Wish Conservatives Understood: The Endless Fight Against Tribalism

Yesterday we explored the idea that all organizations, even the explicitly right-wing ones, eventually drift left.  One of the two main reasons for this, I argued, is simple tribalism.  I want to expand on that a bit today.


Conservatives like to argue that “conservatism is the negation of ideology.”  And in some senses, that’s true.  You may not believe in the Gods of the Copybook Headings, but they most certainly believe in you, and you can’t argue them away (which is what “ideology” boils down to).

But leftism isn’t an ideology.  All their blather can be reduced to one sentence:

Hate the man who is better off than you are.

That’s not a political program, much less a worldview.  It’s just an ugly fact of human nature, gussied up in the impenetrable lingo of German Idealist philosophy by a talented grifter and his bloodthirsty disciple.  Tackling it on the intellectual level is wrong.  Marxism isn’t rational, it’s rationalistic.


Rationalism is the notion that reason alone — independent of experience — is the only true source of knowledge about the world.  But experience is the school of mankind, and we can learn at no other.  “Reason” invariably becomes rationalization, which makes all organizations into tribes.

An example:  Even the staunchest libertarians among us would argue that national defense is one of government’s few legitimate functions.  We know this through unaided reason (very few of us, thank God, having experienced life during an invasion).  But people who are actually employed by the defense forces don’t think of it in those terms.  Rationally, the members of the 43rd Kazoo Battalion (Air-Mobile) know that times and technologies change, and armies must change with them to fulfill the one and only core function reason allots them.  A rational commander of the 43rd, therefore, would eventually find himself arguing for his unit’s dissolution.

Is he actually going to do that?  Of course not.  He’ll set his whole staff to proving that the loss of the 43rd Kazoo Battalion would be an irreparable harm to the morale of the entire 6th Old-Timey Carnival Division, and thus to the army as a whole.  A cynical observer would say he’s just doing it to preserve his own job (and that cynic is probably right), but — and this is the point — the commander himself wouldn’t think of it that way.  He’d justify his decision to himself in terms of the organization, and the members of the organization, and those who depend on the organization.  What about Major Bob, with his sick wife and five hungry kids to feed?  What about all the kazoo contractors put out of work?  The poor single moms who make their living cleaning up around the base?

Military efficiency has been demoted to a secondary concern, you’ll notice.  The purpose of the organization as a whole — national defense — no longer even registers.  The 43rd’s commander could no doubt give you an impassioned speech on the nature and purposes of the armed forces, and their place in the maintenance of free government.  He surely can tell you why units like the 43rd Kazoo Battalion (Air-Mobile) should be decommissioned.  But when it comes to his own outfit, all that reasonable stuff goes out the window, replaced by the mental picture of Major Bob’s starving kids.  And this in an organization that just about everybody thinks is right wing!


Conservatives, at least, have the bulwark of their ideology to mitigate this kind of thing.  It’s not likely, but it’s at least possible that the 43rd’s commander will examine the situation in the light of his beliefs about government, and lay down his command.  Capital-T Truth, as he understands it, might trump tribe.

Leftists don’t even have that.  Tribalism is a feature, not a bug, of the leftist worldview.  Marx argued that

It is not consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

If that’s true, then you can change human nature itself by force.  Which — if rationalism is true — means you can change reality by force.  Humanity’s new and improved social being will have a new and improved consciousness, which means a new and improved Reason, which means a new and improved Truth.

(Note that Erich Fromm, the author of the linked piece, backhandedly admits as much.  “[F]orce, for Marx, could have at most only a transitory significance, never the role of a permanent element in the transformation of society,” he writes.  Just so:  Once men are forced into a new social being, and thus a new consciousness, there will be no need to keep forcing them into it).

Thus Lenin’s brutal, brilliant summation of politics: Who?  Whom?  When truth itself can be altered by force, the only possible question is: Who’s going to win?


Everyone is susceptible to tribalism.  If one tribe embraces it, though, and practices it shamelessly and publicly, it corrodes the entire social structure.  By sticking to his guns, the commander of the 43rd put his whole unit, plus a whole lot of other people, out of a job.  A hoary old Roman senator of the early Republic might just do it, or a stiff-upper-lip Victorian civil servant somewhere east of Suez, but they lived in cultures that valued integrity.  In 21st century America, you’re a fool not to get yours as hard and as fast as you can, and anyone who put his group out of a job for anything as laughable as a principle would probably get sued for damages.

Group dynamics are entirely against us.  Conservatives have to understand that it probably will take someone falling on his sword — probably lots of someones — to even have a hope of turning the culture around.  Regardless, we have to understand that it’s an emotional issue, not an intellectual one, and this is why all organizations in modern America, even the explicitly right wing ones, drift left.

Atheist Conservatives

Ace has an essay up I’m still mulling over, and I think it’s worth reading.  A quick thought:

For practical purposes, I’m one of those “atheist conservatives,”* and I see two big problems with Ace’s “tribalism” theory.

First, to whom are “we” atheist conservatives supposed to appeal?  Is someone really going to say “oh, go talk to Severian if you want to talk about conservatism, he’s not one of those fundamentalist whackjobs”?  That concedes waaaaaaaay too much of the argument to the leftist before it even begins (and that’s not even considering that a lot of those “fundamentalist whackjobs” are far better debaters than I’ll ever be).

Second, “Christianity” (broadly defined) is Western Culture (broadly defined).  If they’re consistent, atheists in western countries are cutting themselves off from 2000 years of culture — culture that’s more or less in our DNA at this point.  It can be done, of course, but you have to look elsewhere for your ethics — to Aristotle, say, or the Stoics, or the samurai.  And that’s a hard sell.  I’ve got a utilitarian, non-Christian case against “gay marriage,” but as it’s steeped in Western Culture — which is, again, Christian culture — there’s not much point in actually making it.  We’re making basically the same argument to the same purpose.

I dunno.  It’s worth thinking about, but I’m not sure how much it really matters.


*I’m not actually an atheist, and haven’t been for a long time.  After reading Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition, I realize atheism isn’t logically tenable.  But it’s a long leap from “some kind of God is logically necessary” to “that God is the Christian God, exactly as laid down by the Missouri Synod.”  Absent some actual revelation, I’m going to have to continue calling myself some kind of half-assed agnostic.  But in the sense Ace uses it, I’m indistinguishable from an atheist for political purposes.

RWCG Explains Our National Health Care Thing

Welcome to the new “constitutional” order.

In the mind of a run of the mill lefty Smart Person, once a Health Care Thing was passed, it was as if we had amended the Constitution. Scratch that; it was as if we had, instead, adopted a new, unwritten Constitution. It was a sort of infinite enabling-act allowing for a complete overhaul of our society, to do whatever it takes to cause it to have a National Health Care Thing. Having a National Health Care Thing, in other words, represented a sort of phase transition from our previous, nominally Constitutional arrangement, to our new, glorious National Health Care Thing-having arrangement.

A commenter asks for a catchall word to describe this.  I suggest Caesarism.

Caesarism is not dictatorship, not the result of one man’s overriding ambition, not a brutal seizure of power through revolution. It is not based on a specific doctrine or philosophy. It is essentially pragmatic and untheoretical. It is a slow, often century-old, unconscious development that ends in a voluntary surrender of a free people escaping from freedom to one autocratic master.

You know, The Decline of the West is a tough read, even in the highly abridged version.  But it’s worth getting familiar with the gist of Spengler’s ideas.

What Is to Be Done?

I don’t have a single word of commentary here.  I would vote for any political party endorsing these six planks, and you should too.

1. Close the borders to Western nations indefinitely. (Reason is self-evident.)
2. Create voluntary incentives to reduce dysgenic fertility. (Dollars for Depo.)
3. Discourage IQ- and education-based assortative mating. (Successful men pairing off with pretty, but less educationally attained women, is eugenic. The smart, industrious genes are passed more fully around the general population.)
4. Reinvigorate protectionism. (Gutted native wages only intensifies public pressure for government largesse to a growing segment of long-term unemployed.)
5. Eliminate all female-friendly public policies. (No more Title IX, mandated day-care, freebie contraceptives, etc. The evidence is strong that publicly catering to women’s fickle pleasures incentivizes bad things like single mommery, latchkey kids, late marriage, low fertility of the higher classes, and punishment of creative iconoclasts who are the engine of progress.)
6. Reduce proximate diversity. (Social atomization encourages short term time orientation, distrust, and corruption, which lead to incompetence and decay.)

That last one may require a break-up of the US. Ironically, to save America, you must kill it first.

Nuff said.