Signal To Noise

Gregory Cochran writes:

Can you dismiss an argument because the originator is a bad person? Obviously not. But if the originator lies a lot, or simply doesn’t know jack about anything, the probability that the argument is worth anything can be low, so that it might not be among the first 100,000 things on your must-read list.

I mean, it’s perfectly possible to have a valid mathematical theorem emerge from Johnson noise, but what are the odds?


* Pinker’s old article on Kevin MacDonald makes this argument. Basically “I have limited time and don’t owe anyone a hearing, and MacDonald gives many indications of not being worth my time.” Nathan Cofnas revisited that argument recently and said Pinker might have been right then, but that MacDonald is still being talked about so maybe now is worth giving a hearing to.

* Greg’s (and all ours really) time is the constraint. Every minute he spends listening to a nut (even a brilliant nut) is a minute he didn’t spend listening to a brilliant non-nut.

* Dismissing the opinions of a liar or evil person is prudent. It is not that they are incapable of saying something useful. It is that their dishonestly and evilness makes the search for truth more difficult in the generality. Whatever they can add to the stock of human knowledge or your stock of knowledge, is outweighed by the cost.

* Vox Day on Greg Cochran: I looked at it. I also read his paper “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence”. He is better informed than I am concerning the genetic details. I am without question smarter than he is and would easily destroy him on the subject.

* Greg Cochran: The neat thing is that if you look at the correlates, stuff like income and college graduation rates and Nobel prizes etc, everything else you can think fits an average IQ of about 112. Perhaps they’re faking it – if so, doing a good job.

I’ve looked at all the IQ studies. I have no reason to think it’s any lower for actual Ashkenazi Jews in Israel.

I don’t think Flynn-effect changes are real. Math abilities aren’t changing much.

* Looking at the correlates as a reality check is sensible, but the same correlates do not reflect all that well upon Israeli born Jews. Israel is a pretty good chess country overall, but this is almost entirely due to Soviet immigrants. The top Israeli born Ashkenazi player is Avital Boruchovsky, who is 467th globally. They’ve got four native born science Nobelists (all in chemistry) and one Fields Medalist, which is very good but not overwhelmingly so.

This is all of a way of saying that Israelis seem to have a level of achievement in line with their mediocre PISA results. I don’t think Lynn’s estimate of a 103 IQ is too far off for Israeli Ashkenazi, which makes it more likely that American Jews are 0.5 standard deviations above the mean as opposed to 1. This is about what you’d expect from the GSS surveys that show their vocabulary scores to be roughly equal with that of Episcopalians, although their incomes are much higher.

Kevin MacDonald once estimated that Jewish Verbal IQ was 125, which was so stupid that I didn’t bother to read him any further. It is possible to overpraise these people.

* Detecting BS in yourself is definitely harder and less fun than detecting it in others.

I think a really good first step to that is to ask yourself, when you’re just sure something must be true because it just has to be, how you’d know if it were false. How would the world look different? What evidence would you expect to see? What observations or experiments would disprove it.

Just as with some one else’s dumbass innumerate story or moral panic, if you just try looking for some numbers and engaging System 2 instead of System 1 (thinking things through logically, writing down logical statements and arguments and equations), you can often find fuzzy thinking that you were accepting.

The other thing I can recommend is to try to find smart people with intellectual integrity who disagree with your basic worldview, and read what they have to say. Even when they’re wrong, they’re likely to teach you something.


* There are quite a few YouTubers with decent subscriber counts (10k to 50k) who openly engage in wrongthink but never appear on camera and manage not to get doxxed. The guys from the very popular The Right Stuff podcast only got identified when they pissed off a guy in their own circle – someone trusted who’d known their identities from the beginning – who doxxed them as revenge.

The guy who was alleged to have doxed the others were Ghoul. A panel member who got doxed himself after showing his face in videos. When that happened one of the leftie sites that published his info also published emails alleging he had offered the others’ info in exchange for taking his own down. Which is probably how that rumor got started

The version that seems most plausible to me is that, the TRS people got doxed through having really poor operational security and that the allegations of one of their own betraying them were antifa disinfo to cause infighting.

They were all friends on public facebook accounts (doing cheeky stuff like listing standard poolco as employer), had one of their own show his face in youtube videos, pseudonyms with identifiable info (mike enoch being pretty similar to mike peinovich), prior history writing under their real name in the libertarian sphere, having personal email on early archived versions of their web page for paypal donations, some of them having usernames that were connected with their IRL identity on other boards. And having poorly screened meetups and going to conferences. So them being exposed really was inevitable once they got popular.

* Listen to Cochran and Company, watch disasters. Avalanches, flash floods, tidal waves, planes crashing into explosions, sprinkle in idiots painfully hurting themselves, be eclectic. Brain salad for the ears, youtube junk food for the eyes.

* Seriously though multitasking is what bright folks on the internet are doing all the time. Listening to music, reading, whatever. For years I was accused of being impatient when listening to people present ideas. What was really happening was reading spoiled me. I can read the same information 5 times as fast as I can listen to it. I thought blogging heads was a good idea but they screwed it up by have dolts explain science and having bar room bullshitters babble on about politics from their ideological standpoint. Find interesting people and talk way. The listeners will decide what if anything they multitask on. Might I suggest providing links to more detailed information if the listener is so interested.

* The podcast haters gonna hate but I am lucky enough to be able to work and listen which is much more efficient than work and read. In fact it’s not possible to read a transcript and do my work they are mutually exclusive. I’m not alone here either. I know several manual labor guys out there that consume large quantities of audio books while driving a forklift or something else. You can pretty easily get a transcript but it’s much harder to get good quality audio. I smell some new killer app in this domain. You’re welcome.

* I use a silly name on twitter, Facebook and other sites as my place of employment is a ‘political organization’ that isn’t supposed to be a political organization. I found out the hard way when I was told by my supervisor that my posts on Facebook were not appropriate for an employee even though nowhere in my profile does it say where I work. I ‘unfriended’ everyone I work with, but my wife has an ‘open page’ and so I don’t say or do anything there. My nom de guerre is easy to figure out with a quick search, but few bother. It’s funny to see right-wing people flip because I use the word ‘comrade’ and progressives follow me because of my twitter ‘profile’. It’s an interesting window into personal bias and shows that everyone has one, even me. Hey, I only have a few more years to work and then I can say what I want.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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