Steve Sailer is not being mainstreamed but seems no longer to be taboo. Charles Murray–suspect in some quarters but respected nonetheless–refers to him regularly and fairly on Twitter.
Murray following Sailer doesn’t go down well in all quarters. An illustrative tweet from no one of particular note:
The main reason I unfollowed Charles Murray, who is no Nazi, is b/c he follows Sailer and RTs him. Bad company to keep.
Still it is of interest that Sailer is no longer anathema.
And now Sailer and Nassim Nicholas Taleb are in conversation on Twitter. In fact they seem to be in some kind of Twitter spat.
Taleb does not suffer fools gladly but he is also the proverbial hammer to whom everything seems to be a nail. Fools everywhere. Is Sailer the fool Taleb suggests?
The dust up is over race and difference, natch. Taleb criticizes Sailer’s use of sports to highlight racial differences, pointing out that such analyses highlights extremes.
It has no impact when someone is crossing the street. Noise dominates outside of extremes.
Check out the back and forth on Twitter if you like.
In the meantime two questions for Taleb:
- Even if you consider high level competitive sports to be a trivial matter relative to differences at the extreme (and Sailer disagrees with this) are there not many other areas where differences at the extremes might present non-trivial issues worth noting?
- Relative to the noise in the middle: sure, walking down the street who is to say? And if we lived in a world where each regarded the other as an individual noise would tamp down the importance of difference between individuals. But we do not live in that world. We live in a world in which group identity is a fact that must be dealt with. This has consequences “in the middle” on things like who gets to be a firefighter and how to consider disparate treatment of school misbehavior.
Taleb seems to be saying Sailer is fetishizing the extremes but it appears he may be fetishizing the noise.
“The main reason I unfollowed Charles Murray, who is no Nazi, is b/c he follows Sailer and RTs him. Bad company to keep.” so people now decide to associate with people based on THEIR respective association. Just like all the Social Media’s Trust and Safety councils decide to wield the ban hammer. How do these people not see they are basically contributing to the growth of ‘bad company’? in the end, we are not judged for what we say, but with whom we hang out. Identity Politics manifests itself more and more.
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How does the old line go? First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they threaten you, then they say of course you were right all along. Taleb engaging with Sailer puts Sailer somewhere on that trajectory. The problem is the larger trend that Sailer represents, which is people getting wise to the meta-societal suppression of uncomfortable truths. As Michel Houellebecq recently remarked in apiece he wrote for Harper’s, a modicum of hypocrisy is crucial to the smooth functioning of society. Of course this can go too far, but so can the backlash against it. For example, there are ideas (truths, I would say) that I have come to accept over the past decade that I absolutely cannot address with my black friends. Even my progressive friends have either stopped trying to argue with me or have found ways to plagiarize my positions and simply think along parallel tracks, depending on who they’re working or socializing with. This can only lead to social compartmentalization where a Taleb, if he really disagrees with Sailer, just won’t address him, and ideas won’t be exchanged between schools and trends and tendencies. It isn’t just a problem on the left.
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