Knowing Humans

Study their behaviors. Observe their territorial boundaries. Leave their habitat as you found it. Report any signs of intelligence.

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Thursday, September 01, 2022

Claremont Theist Embarrassed By Theology

In the conservative Claremont Review, Spencer Klavan uses the Marvel multiverse to launch a survey of many-worlds theory that starts well but stumbles badly halfway through.

Klavan ably summarizes the Marvel multiverse and the related science of quantum physics. He touches on the idea of possible intelligent design in the life-friendly fixing of our universe's two-dozen fundamental constants. He even admits that we can dispense with a designer if we take the simple but breathtaking step of considering all possible universes to be equally real. But his stumbling begins when he posits that this step is just hubris from physicists, instead of exploring the academic philosophy behind the idea: Modal Realism.

Klavan is trivially correct to complain that multiversal realism should not pretend to be a scientific/empirical truth, on par with quantum physics or Big Bang cosmology. But he uses this strawman to ignore the possibility that a multiverse theory can be epistemologically superior to his preferred theory (involving a loving God who "invites" humankind to know "His glory"). Klavan simply shrinks from the challenge of comparing two philosophical theories: 1) that all universes are equally real, or 2) our universe was created and fine-tuned by a loving superhero of unknown origin, operating via unknowable mechanisms, and who reportedly has an obsessive interest in H. sapiens.

Here is the closest he can bring himself to a bake-off between those two theories:

They are competing theologies—one of them handed down to us through ancestral wisdom, the other dictated to us by scientistic pseudo-clerics and by the spirit of our fractious age. One way of adjudicating between theologies, though, is to ask whether they can inspire art that expresses the full range of man’s nature in a satisfying way. 

That's it. No discussion of parsimony. No discussion of the epistemological trade-offs in the two offerings. Just a fawning hand-wave toward "ancestral wisdom", coupled with a drive-by ad-hominem against "scientistic pseudo-clerics". And then a silly attempt to use artistic track records as a way to adjudicate the truth-value of competing theories.

The giveaway, of course, is that Klavan calls them "competing theologies" instead of "competing epistemologies". In doing so, he circularly smuggles into his argument his foregone conclusion: that any fundamental explanation of existence should be considered a "theology". With his unquestioned assumption that any theory of reality must posits gods (or their equivalents), it's easy to shill for your society's traditional sky-fathers.

The subtext here is amusing: Klavan recognizes that the crutch of "theology" is embarrassing for any modern philosophy, and his only defense of it is to allege that the other side is guilty of it too. Only a few centuries ago, theologians were proud of their vocation, and claimed to have multiple independent proofs of the existence of their god. (Aquinas had five!) Now, even theists accidentally use "theology" as a kind of intellectual slur. Game over.

Claremont is supposed to represent the pinnacle of current intellectual conservatism. Is this really the best they've got?

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Drug of Myth Arc

 Here are my favorite live-action sci-fi/fantasy/superhero dramas:

  1. The Boys
  2. Battlestar Galactica
  3. Westworld
  4. Heroes
  5. Legion
  6. Humans
  7. The Expanse
  8. Watchmen
  9. The Umbrella Academy
  10. Jessica Jones
  11. The Man in the High Castle

Why do these shows all lean so heavily on Myth Arc?  Can't anyone do a riveting long-arc fantasy series that doesn't rely on glacial revelation of some secret plan that some of the characters have known from the beginning? 

You could argue that the alternative would just be a soap opera, but there have been great ones: Sopranos, Vikings, Rome, House of Cards. I suppose having a Myth Arc has since Babylon 5 been table stakes for a fantasy series. (Even more so now in the age of streaming, which doesn't worry about viewers starting in the middle). You could in theory write a fantasy series without a Myth Arc (or a comedy series without romantic tension), but it would be like opening a coffee/tea shop without any caffeine on the menu. Your prospective customers would just patronize somebody else willing to deal them the drug they demand.

Monday, January 03, 2022

My Million Dollar Pandemic Mistake

I moved my 401Ks from equities to bonds on 2020-03-09, the week before the market bottom. For various reasons, I did not move back into equities until May 2021. I finally admitted to myself that I shouldn't try to avoid a market peak if I obviously couldn't avoid a market trough.

But my fundamental mistake wasn't merely that I tried to time (i.e. outsmart) the market. My real mistake was rationalizing the pandemic as a one-time excuse to end my 25-year streak of following Less Antman's investment strategy. Less explains it better than I could, below. (And no, I can't claim that his "check the stores" test justifies my mistake. I work in e-commerce, and we were never closed.)

(1) The wealth of a society is in the goods and services produced, and not in the monetary system. Check the stores: they're still open, providing lots of goods and services, and owning shares of the world's most profitable businesses makes your wealth as safe as the continued provision of those goods and services (if they disappear, money is useless).

(2) SOMEBODY has to own stocks at all times: the so-called "flight to quality" actually represents some people panicking out of the true source of wealth and handing ownership of these sources at fire sale prices to other people in exchange for green pieces of paper with pictures of presidents on them that aren't guaranteed to be redeemable for anything.  Someone once described a bear market as "that time period during which stocks are returned to their rightful owners."

(3) Diversify, diversify, diversify.  Own lots of businesses in lots of industries in lots of countries.

(4) The much higher rewards of equities over the long term result primarily from the uncertainty of returns over the short term.  Thank the volatility: it is your best friend in the end. Here is why:

Stockholders are owners of businesses, and owners get paid last, after employees, contractors, suppliers, and creditors. So changes in available revenue affect owners first, and that is the source of a great deal of uncertainty and occasional outright panic. Point granted: stocks are much more volatile than bonds and cash, and employees have a much more predictable flow of wages than their bosses do of dividends and capital gains. Yet since owners are paid last, in the long run they can be expected to be paid most — not always and certainly not in all companies, but for someone who owns a globally diversified portfolio of the world’s productive businesses, it’s a pretty good guess. My purpose in life is to tell my clients this as often as necessary.

So might I suggest that you remind yourself during scary times, why you’re invested in stocks? You’re providing the service of accepting the short-term uncertainty that others want to avoid. You’re the rock, the stable source of capital for businesses, without which market economies cannot function. Be a rock and react like a rock to the non-news that human nature goes through periodic bouts of extreme fear.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

My 2021 Predictions

I had a good year for predictions. The only thing I got arguably wrong was to predict the jury would convict Rittenhouse on the weapons charge, but technically the prediction wasn't tested as the judge dismissed that charge before the jury could consider it. (I still would bet that the jury would say they would have convicted on that charge if it reached them.)

In March and April I was thinking there was a reasonable chance that SARS-CoV-2 was a lab leak. But after tuning into the debate on Twitter, by August my estimate was 20% and was still dropping in November. In December I said "Expect the CCP to successfully promote indefinite uncertainty".

In May I promoted an article by The Drive about adversary drone tech, and I said "I bet China, not aliens" are behind any serious phenomena that the Navy is seeing.  Now, per Mick West, I would rate mistaken identity even more likely than adversary tech for even the most interesting incidents.

In May there was a flurry of enthusiasm over a claim of fungal spheres growing on Mars. I unsuccessfully offered Robin Hanson 10:1 odds that this claim would fizzle quickly. Nobody seems to be talking about it any more.

In June I created a question on Metaculus about whether it will be widely accepted by 2030 that alien technology has visited our solar system. The community of 59 forecasters agrees with my prediction of 1% chance. If Metaculus allowed lower bets, I would say 1/1000.

In the run-up to the Pentagon's disappointing late-June release of UFO info, I successfully predicted in May that there would by Jan 1 (today) be no public

  • CONTINUOUS multi-sensor track of hypersonic or hyper-G behavior
  • sensor data contradicting Mick West's explanations of the 3 Navy videos
  • imagery any harder to explain than the 3 Navy videos
Alas, I could not get any UFO enthusiasts to take bets on this.
In June I noted a shocking "big news" claim by anti-vaxxer Steve Kirsch about recent mortality data as the vaccines rolled out. An obscure Twitter user pointed out that the alleged anomaly was normal, and I successfully predicted his explanation would hold up.  Kirsch later deleted his "big news" tweet.
In November I successfully predicted the outcome of the Rittenhouse case and ensuing lack of riots. After the verdict I predicted that "2A advocates unfamiliar with Rittenhouse's internet footprint will be disappointed in him as a 2A poster child". The jury is still out on that one.
In November I endorsed the pre-omicron view that the ZeroCovid policies of China/Australia/NZ had clearly stopped making any sense. Omicron reinforces this view. It's going to be interesting if Omicron variolation combines with vaccination to finally turn Covid into "no worse than the flu".  Expect to hear "I told you so" from both China/NZ lockdown extremists as well as from anti-vax/anti-mandate extremists. I predict that everyone will end up believing they were right all along about this pandemic, which means that our species will be no better prepared for the next one.
After the SCOTUS abortion oral argument, I predicted on Dec 1 a 75% chance that the court will overturn Casey's viability line, and this will badly hurt the GOP.
In December I debunked a pro-vax claim about a 4-yr-old dying of Covid, but said that the rest of the list of 253 ["covidiot deaths"] at http://sorryantivaxxer.com are unlikely to be debunked.
In December I published my earlier conclusions on the identities of Q. I say there is only a 10% chance that any substantial fraction of Q's output was done independently of the team I identified. All five of my specific predictions about Trump/Q in that post will continue to hold up.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Q Unmasked


[These notes were drafted April 2021 but not cleaned up and posted because my interest in Q waned as QAnons largely stopped claiming Trump is still really president. Publishing now in Dec 2021 to summarize the available Q evidence. Nothing here is original/novel, but I haven't before seen this info collected in one place.]

Summary

The original anonymous 4chan Q LARP was hijacked by Coleman Rogers and Paul Furber, who were joined by -- and later expelled by -- Ron Watkins and his father Jim (pictured above).
  • 2017-10 Q begins as one of many anonymous 4chan LARPs (FBIAnon, HLIAnon, CIAAnon, CIA Intern, WH Insider Anon), probably as confessed by users Microchip and Dreamcatcher.
  • 2017-11 Q identity is assumed by Coleman Rogers (PamphletAnon), working with Paul Furber (BaruchtheScribe), Rogers' wife Christina Urso (Radix) and perhaps Tracy Diaz (TracyBeanz) and Jerome Corsi. Ron Watkins (CodeMonkeyZ) soon joins the team.
  • 2018-01 Q moves from 4chan to 8chan, controlled by Ron Watkins and his father Jim. Furber is expelled from Q, and claims Q is now an imposter.
  • 2018-08 Rogers is expelled from Q, leaving the Watkins in control.

Timeline

  • 2017-10-05 Trump: "Maybe it's the calm before the storm."
  • 2017-10-28 #1 "HRC extradition already in motion"
  • 2017-11 Rogers+Furber+Diaz create /r/CBTS_Stream
  • 2017-11-09 #128 Q begins using Matlock tripcode
  • 2017-11-25 Rogers+Furber+Diaz "gain control" of Q
  • 2017-12-01c Q 1st post on 8chan CBTS
  • 2017-12 Q changes tripcode to M@tlock!
  • 2017-12 Jerome Corsi, Infowars
  • 2018-01 Q moves from 4chan to 8chan with same tripcode
  • 2018-01-05 Furber says original Q tripcode is compromised [e1 49m], Rogers disagrees
  • 2018-01 Mon Furber removes both of Q's tripcodes
  • 2018-01-09 Q joins Rogers' 8chan /thestorm #515 e153m
  • 2018-03 /r/CBTS_Stream removed from reddit
  • 2018-04 Corsi says imposter takes over Q
  • 2018-04-08 #1082 JFKjr
  • 2018-04 Rogers creates Patriots' Soapbox
  • 2018-05-19 Q accidentally leaks too-long tripcode NowC@mesTHEP@in--23!!!
  • 2018-06-15 Rogers "finds" anonymous Q post unsigned by tripcode
  • 2018-07 /r/greatawakening removed from reddit
  • 2018-09-18 #2224 /CM pls confirm #2226 Q knows # of IPs!
  • 2018-12-12 Q says JFKjr not alive
  • 2019-08 8chan goes offline
  • 2019-11 8kun replaces 8chan
  • 2020-02 Jim Watkins registers "Disarm the Deep State" PAC
  • 2020-02-17 #3872 "Game Over" the day Fred Brennan flees Watkins-triggered prosecution in Philippines
  • 2020-06-06 #4437 Q posts Python code
  • 2020-07 Twitter bans 7K QAnon accounts
  • 2020-12-08 last Q drop

Q Fails

  • 2017-10-31 #15 The wizards and warlocks (inside term) will not allow another SATANic Evil POS control our country.
  • 2020-06-04 #4414 Central communications blackout [never happened]
  • 2020-06-11 #4455 What happens when Ds can no longer CHEAT ELECTRONICALLY? Push vote-by-mail? [Oops, Q ignorant of Dominion.]
  • 2020-06-24 #4755 The 'Election Infection' cannot stop what is coming.
  • 2020-09-16 #4722 They will: not concede on Election Night, contest this legally in battleground states, project doubt in the election results, organize massive riots. Playbook known. [Trump, not Dems, did all 4 of these things.]

Q Uninformed

  • Q never mentioned Covid/pandemic until 2020-03-23. Q spent Jan-Feb of 2020 mostly talking about impeachment, and was unusually quiet in March. The "Plandemic" obviously surprised Q, who later said it was planned in advance to disrupt Trump re-election.
  • Q never mentioned Hunter Biden until 2020-02-06.
  • Q has never mentioned Dominion or Smartmatic.
  • Q has never mentioned the 2019 Ukraine impeachment whistleblower Eric Ciaramella.
  • Q has never mentioned Miles Taylor, the the HSA chief of staff who secretly wrote in 2018 in the NY Times "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration".

Q Was Not An Intelligence Insider

  • Q chose to first go public on 4chan, a site full of racism and porn.
  • Q's first 127 drops did not have any authentication (i.e. tripcode)
  • Q's first tripcode ("Matlock") was chosen very poorly.
  • Q did not understand that only the first 8 characters of a tripcode count, and instead chose longer passwords that gave no additional security.
  • Q's passwords were known by random Qtuber Coleman Rogers.
  • Q relied on easily-cracked site-specific tripcodes, instead of using off-the-shelf signing tech (e.g. PGP) that works securely and anonymously and portably.

Watkins == Q

  • Q was suddenly so concerned about 4chan being "compromised", but had no such concern about Watkins' 8chan/8kun.
  • After his problems with 4chan, Q had zero concern for establishing a method of identity verification independent of the Watkins.
  • Coleman Rogers on a livestream was able to find and recognize a Q drop that someone had to point out to him was not signed? ("Oh, Q must have forgot to sign it.")
  • Q did not post for the 3 months that 8chan was down? ("Nothing can stop what is coming" -- except the Watkins' inability to operate their site.)
  • Q was able to post on the new Watkins 8kun site when most users couldn't.

Notes

  • Watkins profits from QAnon
    • 8chan/8kun advertising
    • qmap.pub
    • Goldwater news service
    • "Disarm the Deep State" PAC
  • Q never mentioned aliens, and said [#376] UFOs are a distraction

My Predictions

  • Trump will never endorse Q and will disavow if asked directly, but will troll on this topic with weak interviewers/audiences.
  • Trump will continue to claim credit for the Warp Speed vaccines, which will continue to be seen as wildly successful.
  • Q will never resume classic Q posts claiming "the plan" is still in motion. That became untenable when it was apparent in early November that Trump would be leaving office Jan 20. Aside from a couple last "Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming" drops on Nov 12, the Q operation effectively shut down on election day 2020. And after Jan. 6 and the Dominion lawsuits, the Watkins know they cannot take the legal risk of resuming the old operation.
  • Q will probably never post again on 8kun or any Watkins-controlled forum, as the Watkins do want to invite subpoenas for their hosting operations. And Q never took the obvious step of establishing an authentication identity independent of the Watkins, so Q is done.
  • Q never had any access to insider government intel, and so will never be able to use such access to re-establish his identity on some post-Watkins channel. Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming -- except Q's amateurish inability to post independently of a pig-farming porn entrepreneur like Watkins.

Q Tripcodes

Matlock  > ITPb.qbhqo
M@tlock! > UW.yye1fxo
Freed@m- > xowAT4Z3VQ
F!ghtF!g > 2jsTvXXmXs
NowC@mes > 4pRcUA0lBE
StoRMkiL > CbboFOtcZs 
WeAReQ@Q > A6yxsPKia.

References

  • 2021-01 Gospel According To Q - academic paper analyzing Q canon and stylometry. Includes charts of Q drops by tripcode, and Q aggregation sites.
  • Qult_Headquarters - QAnon debunking subreddit
  • 2020-12 QAnon Must Be Eliminated - screed purporting to trace the origins of Q
  • 2020-04 questions about Q OpSec and adjacency to Watkins and porn
  • 2019-06 list of failed Q predictions
  • 2019-05 Paul Furber interview - alleges Q was hijacked 2018-01-05
  • 2018-09-04 OAN Jack Posobiac interviews alleged original Q Microchip
  • 2018-08 ground-breaking NBC analysis of Q origins: Rogers, Furber, Diaz
  • 2018-08 list of failed Q predictions
  • 2018-08 anonymous patriot's critique of Q OpSec e.g. tripcodes
  • 2018-05 Tracy Diaz essay - denies Q complicity