My Principles For Understanding The World

These are my rules for life and these are my principles for decoding reality:

* We’re all locked in an iron cage together and nobody is coming to save us. To survive, you want to become as strong as possible because you never know what someone else will do. The most important task for a nation-state is to survive.

* Different people have different gifts. Different plants and animals have different gifts. Different dog breeds have different gifts. When dogs kill people, those dogs are usually rotweilers and pitbulls. When people kill people outside of war, those killers are usually from a group easy to identify — young dumb men.

* Nobody cares about out-groups.

* The stronger your in-group identity, the more negatively you will feel about out-groups.

* “Ties bind and blind.” (Jonathan Haidt)

* Everybody has a hero system. Most people get it from their community. (Ernest Becker)

* “Anti-Semitism is as natural to Western civilization as anti-Christianity is to Jewish civilization, Islamic civilization and Japanese civilization.” (Maj. Kong)

* In a 2006 lecture, Tom Wolfe said: “Each individual adopts a set of values which, if truly absolute in the world – so ordained by some almighty force – would make not that individual but his group…the best of all possible groups, the best of all inner circles.”

* In his 2018 book, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities, John J. Mearsheimer wrote:

My view is that we are profoundly social beings from the start to the finish of our lives and that individualism is of secondary importance… Liberalism downplays the social nature of human beings to the point of almost ignoring it, instead treating people largely as atomistic actors… Political liberalism… is an ideology that is individualistic at its core and assigns great importance to the concept of inalienable rights. This concern for rights is the basis of its universalism—everyone on the planet has the same inherent set of rights—and this is what motivates liberal states to pursue ambitious foreign policies. The public and scholarly discourse about liberalism since World War II has placed enormous emphasis on what are commonly called human rights. This is true all around the world, not just in the West. “Human rights,” Samuel Moyn notes, “have come to define the most elevated aspirations of both social movements and political entities—state and interstate. They evoke hope and provoke action.”

[Humans] do not operate as lone wolves but are born into social groups or societies that shape their identities well before they can assert their individualism. Moreover, individuals usually develop strong attachments to their group and are sometimes willing to make great sacrifices for their fellow members. Humans are often said to be tribal at their core. The main reason for our social nature is that the best way for a person to survive is to be embedded in a society and to cooperate with fellow members rather than act alone… Despite its elevated ranking, reason is the least important of the three ways we determine our preferences. It certainly is less important than socialization. The main reason socialization matters so much is that humans have a long childhood in which they are protected and nurtured by their families and the surrounding society, and meanwhile exposed to intense socialization. At the same time, they are only beginning to develop their critical faculties, so they are not equipped to think for themselves. By the time an individual reaches the point where his reasoning skills are well developed, his family and society have already imposed an enormous value infusion on him. Moreover, that individual is born with innate sentiments that also strongly influence how he thinks about the world around him. All of this means that people have limited choice in formulating a moral code, because so much of their thinking about right and wrong comes from inborn attitudes and socialization.

* Marginalized movements attract marginalized people.

* There are no solutions. Only tradeoffs. (Tom Sowell)

* Crime and other anti-social behavior waxes or wanes depending upon our willingness to punish it.

* What will determine the success of an administration? Events, my dear boy, events. Situations will shape us as much as we shape situations. If an election takes place in a time of great threat, the right-wing candidate will likely be better positioned to win. On the other hand, if people are relatively safe and prosperous, the left-wing candidate will likely be better positioned to win.

* Every living thing strives to create the optimal environment for its thriving and will react viciously to anything that endangers it.

* If you want to preserve native life, you have to restrict invasive species.

* The common denominator in all punditry is self-importance aka I see things you don’t see and therefore you need to listen to me. Do your favorite commentators optimize for truth or for some other value, such as success? I have no interests in the Biblical views of those who can’t read the Bible in its original languages and I have no interest in the Middle East views of pundits who can’t read Arabic.

* People — including clergy and pundits — will say and do almost anything to augment their status. Status is the most powerful force in life that’s rarely discussed. We don’t like strivers and yet we’re all strivers.

* Every functioning democracy contains considerable elements of dictatorship, socialism, capitalism, and oligopoly. For example, the president of the United States has the same foreign policy powers as King George III.

* There’s no magic key to unlocking how the world works. The closest thing we have to a magic key to reality is the predictive power of IQ for large groups. Goodness, for example, requires empathy, which is a form of abstract thought, and the capacity for abstract thought is measured by IQ. If a thousand 80 IQ people spill a drink on the floor of a public gathering, a thousand 100 IQ people spill the same amount of liquid, and a thousand 120 IQ people spill the same amount, the higher IQ groups will be more diligent about cleaning up the spill.

* Left and Right politics are evolutionary adaptations that have enabled our ancestors to pass on their genes. In some circumstances, a Left-wing approach to reality will be more adaptive. In other circumstances, a right-wing approach will be more adaptive. Book: “[T]he political left has been associated with support for equality and tolerance of departures from tradition, while the right is more supportive of authority, hierarchy, and order.”

* Our political, cultural, and personal tendencies are strongly influenced by our genes.

* Religion, from a secular perspective, is a subset of culture, which comes from genes and environment. African Christianity, for example, is very different from Scandinavian Christianity.

* As long as tens of millions of people such as the Japanese are more decent than the most committed nations of monotheists, I’m not sure how one can argue that God is necessary for ethics (something I’ve believed almost all of my life). Our behavior is shaped by who we love more than by our beliefs, texts, and practices.

* There’s no reason you should pay attention to politics unless it gives you pleasure. For the average person 99% of the time, it doesn’t matter much who’s president of the United States. Most people don’t get their meaning in life from anything as abstract as politics. Most people get their meaning from family. If they have room in their life after family, they get their meaning from their work, friends, and interests. You can accurately assess people by their closest connections. We can only date and relate to people like us. Your mate mirrors you. People who lack connection are dangerous. Some people, however, such as myself and likely you, my dear reader, cannot obtain most of their meaning from family and friends because we feel compelled to investigate our abstract interests.

* In reality as opposed to liberal theory, nobody has the right to anything unless you are lucky enough to live in a society that is strong and enforces your rights, but rights can still all be taken away at any time by elites due to a real or putative emergency. The sovereign decides the state of exception, notes Carl Schmitt. There is no objective enforcement of the law because law is operated by human beings who react in unique ways due to their genes, imprinting and situation. No group has the right to land. Jews don’t have the right to Israel and the Japanese don’t have the right to Japan. Groups only control territory by force.

* If it becomes socially acceptable for minority groups to pursue their own interests without regard to the majority’s interests, majorities will start acting in their own interests without regard for minorities.

* You are judged by the company you keep. We attract people like ourselves. If you want to figure out someone, look at their ancestors and look at their closest friends.

* Much of human behavior can be understood by simply asking — what’s easiest? Most people most of the time will do what is easiest. The reasons people give for their behavior usually have nothing to do with their real reasons. People almost never say what they mean nor mean what they say.

* Most people primarily want approval from a small group such as their family. You can never persuade anyone to believe anything if their income depends upon not understanding.

* Everyone tries to adapt to their circumstance to best insure their survival. Why do people act the way they do? They’re trying to insure their survival. Some people do this through violence, other people through litigation, and other people by sucking in a maximum of welfare. Some people try to insure their survival by expressing love and other people try to do it through selfishness. Every organism tries to create an environment around it that is most conducive to its thriving. Every organism has a strong reaction against anyone trying to hurt it.

* Outside of people, you don’t find two subspecies peacefully sharing the same environment. One subspecies usually drives out other subspecies. Diversity and proximity often lead to conflict and tragedy. The more united a people, the stronger (usually).

* Most of us aren’t significant (beyond the handful of people who love us). If somebody does not get their primary source of meaning from family and friends, then they either have extraordinary talents or they are deluded. People seeking meaning are usually lonely and neurotic.

* We weren’t born yesterday. We did not evolve to be gullible. The left dominates academia and media but that doesn’t turn people into leftists. We all tend to do a good job detecting when other people are seeking to manipulate us against our best interests. We tend to do a bad job detecting our own faulty thinking.

* Left and right politics are ultimately different strategies for dealing with Darwinian selection pressures. In some cases, a left-wing approach will be more adaptive (more welcoming to strangers, more innovative in how you organize family and communal life, more egalitarian, more lenient in punishing criminals, more freedom for sexual expression), while in other cases, a right-wing approach will be more adaptive (more suspicious of strangers, more traditional, more hierarchical, more severely punishing of violations of group norms).

* Predisposed: “People who support greater military spending, harsher punishment for criminals, and restrictive immigration are not doing so just to infuriate liberals but because they are more physiologically and psychologically attuned to negative eventualities.”

* Predisposed: “[E]thnocentrics do not give a fig for individual rights.”

* Predisposed: “The connection between conservatism and free market principles as a relatively recent development.”

* The battle doesn’t always go to the strong and the swift and the powerful, but that’s the way to bet. Experts aren’t always right, but expertise in a particular area will usually be more right than the opinions of the less informed.

* I’ve never found generational critiques compelling. Compared to group differences, the differences between Boomers and Zoomers are trivial.

* Any rando can say anything. We think more clearly when we think socially. If you want me to read a dissident perspective on public health matters, show me a meta-analysis published in a prestigious journal.

* You can’t understand anything outside of its situation.

* Much of what we think about the world comes from the emotional payoff we receive from that type of thinking. In the most profound things beyond the strictly physical objects around us, we don’t usually see the world as it is. Instead, we see it as we are. If you think a lot about the world coming to an end, for example, the chances are that it makes you feel important. You see through the BS! If you believe that salvation is only through Jesus or Torah or Mohammed or Marx, that similarly makes you feel important.

* When Israel is accused in the UK parliament of war crimes, it is a perverse compliment. A normal human reaction to high-achieving people is to tear them down. Nobody berates the Arabs for being savage because nobody expects much from them. When whites are accused of every evil under the sun, it is similarly a perverse compliment.

* Most people look at the world in terms of what is good for their group. Only Northern Europeans consistently argue in terms of one universal morality.

* We did not evolve to be happy. We evolved to survive. We have a negativity bias. Wikipedia: “Evolutionary mismatch (also “mismatch theory” or “evolutionary trap”) is the evolutionary biology concept that a previously advantageous trait may become maladaptive due to change in the environment, especially when change is rapid.”

* Professions strive to increase prestige and income by doing things that hurt the majority, such as psychiatrists diagnosing ordinary human sadness as the medical illness of depression and then prescribing pills that have no more efficacy than the placebo effect.

About Luke Ford

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