Sentences (#47)

The familiarity of this insight is amply compensated by the breadth of its application:

… people typically care more about making sure they are seen to take a particular moral stance than they care about the net effect of their lectures on behavior.

March 15, 2016admin 11 Comments »
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11 Responses to this entry

  • Sentences (#47) | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Sentences (#47) […]

    Posted on March 15th, 2016 at 4:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    I definitely see more smarter-than-thou signalling than holiness signalling but it may be that because my particularly geeky social circles tend towards the Dawkins-fan New Atheist “lol Xtians are stoopid (look at me I am being scientific)” type of posturing than excessive moralization, so it may be a borderline introverted or autistic cultural trait and it could very well be that holiness signalling is far, far more powerful.

    If yes I wonder if geeks tend to fundamentally misunderstand the sociopolitical landscape. They may take we learned away from religion to science and that is progress, because they care about looking smart, not holy. While maybe the neurotypical majority cares about looking holy not smart and majority religion was a moral compass and progressive religion still is, or maybe abandons religon as a moral compass and accepts liberal secular humanism instead, but AS A religion. And consider that progress.

    So there may be a fundamental difference who want to progress in looking smart or looking holy.

    Well OK this holiness-focus hypothesis is standard NRx but I just wonder if it is geeky reaction, why do I tend to see more smarter-than-thou than holier-than-thou signalling than most people in this.


    TheDividualist Reply:

    For example, a smarts-signaller makes fun of religion, makes it look stupid, for example uses the classic Flying Spaghetti Monster jokes. But it also suggests that he finds religion stupid, but mostly harmless. The goodness-signaller will have none of that fun, seething with righteous rage, he will condemn the crimes of religion, from witch burnings to 9/11. Spot the difference? And I am saying in geekier circles the first is far more common but the second is probably a more important historical force.

    Another typical smarts-signal is the kind of anti-traditional attitude Chesterton’s fence was erected against, i.e. the attitude that people of the past were stupid and if we cannot come up immediately with a rational explanation of why certain traditional things are done that way then they need to be abolished, because something unconsciously done is always worse than doing something with a clear plan in mind. So this is the kind of “rationalism” Michael Oakeshott criticized, the kind of attitude that is unwilling to accept unconscious custom and habit.

    So I know a lot of liberals of this type, who comes across a tad autistic, especially the knee-slapping laughters about religion. On the other hand, I know very few liberals who wage a righteous crusade against racism.

    So I wonder if it is a fundamental difference between geekier or more autistic and more mainstream circles. Or is it me being European? After all my textbook, go-to Prog would be sometimes a Foucault-Derrida fan, and certainly those guys would care more about drowning ya in brilliantly meaningless but impressive sounding prose than about being very holy.

    I don’t know. Sometimes it feels like the smarts-signal was the original Prog thing and got replaced by the holy-signal later and my liberal acquaintances are just slow to catch up. How to put it… from a 19th century angle, capitalism itself looks like an anti-traditional “rationalized production” thing right? Capitalism is pretty big on the smartness-signal. Then we have the Commies but at least they are still big on industrialism. And then we have the environmentalist hippies with their anti-industrial, quasi-spiritual, kumbaya-singing attitudes which is a reduction in rationality compared to capitalistic (or communistic) industrialism, i.e. a reduction in smarts signalling, but a strong increase in holiness signalling. In Easy Riders, the hippie commune strikes one basically as a religious community, despite their loose sexual morals and acid trips, which is still understandable as a gnostic or tantric-mystic religious path. I don’t think that would have flied in the 1950’s, in the 1950’s it was all about making everything mathemathical, right? Rand Corporation and all that.

    In Europe you can hardly notice any holy signals before the 1960’s counter-culture with the hippies comes around. Most Progs were Voltaire types, criticizing tradition because it is so stooopid and urging an efficient rationalization of everything. “Progress” is understood as broadly something more conscious, more scientific and more mechanized up to the 1960’s then suddenly the John Lennon cult takes over and now progress is all about quasi spiritual feelings, Imagine, so holiness. In the US holiness signaling certainly exists before the 1960’s, Pietists enacting Prohibition, but this runs parallelly with progress understood as capitalistic or socialistic, New Deal rationalization so smarts-signals. To put it in perspective, the 1930’s US or European socialist is not so much focused on capitalism being evil but on the market process being chaotic. So he does not try to look like a very good guy but a very smart guy who can replace chaos with dirigism.

    I still can’t make head or tails of it but they look like distinct, different signals.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    Without having put much thought into this, my knee-jerk reaction is that people who can plausibly claim to be smart will do so. People who can’t plausibly claim to be smart will claim to be holy. It’s the next best thing.


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Signal smart or signal holy, consequences vs intent, it comes down to metaphysical assumptions everyone has but few consciously think about.


    michael Reply:

    I think what happened is new liberalism cucked old liberalism


    michael Reply:

    I think the holiness is taken for granted as part of being smart try saying something sacrilegious and see the reaction


    Posted on March 15th, 2016 at 8:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    we are good in cutting problem into pieces and just few are able to put it back together. there is difference between noise and signal, when someone reconstructing probllem or provide insights on how it can be done that I would consider as a signaling. on noise side: all moral considerations which often kind of implementation of uncomprehensible. that is what people do all that time they are trying to implement something before they even remotely able to comprehnd what is that they want. if you realy doing something like a complete idiot then stance and appearance is what you only got.


    Posted on March 16th, 2016 at 5:30 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:
    So there may be a fundamental difference who want to progress in looking smart or looking holy.

    I call the first kind the scholar caste and the second kind the merchant caste, for lack of a better term.
    There are three kinds of natural hierarchy.
    -physical dominance
    -intellectual dominance
    -social dominance

    The first two are easy to describe: one is based on wrestling someone to the ground and holding them there, the next on being right vs. being wrong. The third is what, who has more or better friends?

    Democracy was supposed to be putting merchants into office, what with it literally being a popularity contest, but it turns out merchants are easily conned by scholars, what with them being smart, so it turns out it’s a scholar-king system.

    Holiness signalling is clearly not physical dominance, and relatively clearly not intellectual dominance, so by process of elimination, it’s a merchant-caste thing.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    I’m having trouble separating “having more and better friends” from having physical dominance.

    Also, why do you say “merchants” rather than “priests”?


    Posted on March 17th, 2016 at 11:46 am Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/03/20) - Social Matter Says:

    […] Land has a delightful sentence from Tyler […]

    Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 3:09 am Reply | Quote

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