Thursday, May 4, 2017

Our Murder Weapon

Today's post focuses on the recent Waking up podcast by Sam Harris, #73 Forbidden Knowledge:

The Bell Curve

In the podcast, Sam Harris interviews Charles Murray, the author of the Bell Curve. The Bell Curve is on of the most controversial books of the past 50 years. The books deals with the growing importance of IQ and the partitioning of our society with the upper end consisting of an elite class of high IQ people who are isolated from the rest of society.

sam faced own issues with ben affleck
charles murray
when he forces you to change opinion neizche
steven gould
mismeasure of man
new yorker review
wrote critique of book
thesis of bell curve
same as coming apart
future shaped
by radical increase in valuation of iq in marketplace
effectiveness of educational system in getting intellectual talent and pulling into
elite universities
this combination of factors is creating
a cognitive elite
that is increasingly
has own culture
isolated from and ignorant of the rest of society
bell cur
3 or 4 chapters on the nature of the cognitive elite and how it came about
next 8 chapters on
relationship between iq and various socio economic factors
educational attainment
restricted to non latino whites to avoid heated issue
then looked at does it apply to nation as a whole
there it went into race and was contraversial
over the years
the reality of g has had even more validation
such a the the quantity of grey vs white matter
snip single nucleotide poly
can take more than one form
responsible for human variation
related to social behaviour and mental function
went from single digits and is now reaching toward the thousands
task force known and unknowns for iq
nothing overturned in bell cur
criticized for only looking at:
educational attainment
others threw in other variables
christoper winship at harvard
looked at siblings
fixed effect analysis
confirmed inependent role of iq on social outcomes
east asian greater visual spacial intelligence
charles spearman
noticed at turn of the century
tests were clustering on something (iq)
you can have better skills in one area vs another
for example verbal and math
but if you are above average in one you tend to be above in the other
they are correlated
iq and success
steven goldberg city college ny
iq has same role as weight for offensive linemen
you need a certain amount of iq
but there are other factors such as grit
iq is highly heritable
50 to 80 percent
more heritable the older we get
genetic amplification
environment vs genes
twin studies disentangle
jack up environment can have short term effect but fades out
notion that if traits are genetic that is bad
if environmental good
because we can do something if they are environmental
but the fact of the matter is that
changing environments in ways that produce measurable
changes is hard
and we do not know how to do it
failed social policies
other highly heritable
big five
personality traits
these are also 50% ascribed to environment
shared and non shared environment
non shared takes up most of this 50% not ascribed to environment
not susceptible to manipulation
can manipulate shared somewhat but not shared
judith ridge harris wrote book on subject
the left used to be boosterish towards iq
the SAT was invented for meritrocratic purposes
a way for kids for non exclusive backgrounds to get into ivy league schools
iq is a good way to indentify intellectual talent
now ordinary people are comfortable with iq concepts
elites are uncomfortable, elites are flat earthers
iq test just test ability to take tests
cultural biased
iq tests have predictive validity
for income, employment decisions
can test for bias
rate items for cultural loading
does SAT capture ability to do well in college
minorities do better on culturally loaded questions than purely abstract questions
there are systematic ways to interrogate the quality of tests
modern tests pass these with flying colors
now that the human genome has been
we can look at the subject in a whole new level
bluriness of race is noise in the signal
it will obscure differences not highlight them
if one says genese are not a componenet of IQ
then you need to prove that it is solely environmental
this is a high bar to prove

if genes and enviroment are a 50/50 split
if enviroment is caused by racial difference
then race would have to live in an environment
standard deviation then environment would need to be
1.5 below the mean
if you look at income, education, occupation, it does not make sense
it is not plausible
flynn effect
also identified by richard lynn in east asian tests
iq tests are renormed
iq scores have been gradually been rising
unknown why this is happening
is it a matter of increasing exposure to things what would help on iq tests
could also be partly an increase in g but probably not a lot
why write book
important to recognize differences
cristina hoff summers education
the equality premise
that people only suffer adverse outcomes because of race or sexism has cause harm
problem with affirmative action
putting people in positions where they are set up to fail
social forces
higher education sucked intellectual talent from hinterlands and shuttled off to ivy league
intellectual talent more highly valued
plus natural human implulses
want to hang out with people like you
silicon valley
los angeles
seperation of classes worrisome
for a country like the us where
equality has always been valued
jonathan haight
deplorables comment
new elite class treats mainstream america with disdain and is isolated from it
new upper class in a lot of ways behave very well
belong to civic
because no code of values that they feel that they or others need to live up to
do not practice what they preach

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Course I'm respectable

Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough. -Noah Cross in Chinatown

 This post is based on an excellent RIYL podcast interview with artist, Josh Bayer by Brian Heater: 

RIYL - Episode #213 Josh Bayer 

Josh Bayer went to art school in the late 80's. His art teachers were part of the 70's abstract expressionist scene. Consequently, his education did not focus on techniques or fundamentals. He jokingly compares his schooling to the Art School Confidential Movie:

Making Crudity Work

While Josh would have liked to have had a more traditional art education, he does say crudity can and does work for certain artists. Art that is not interested in traditional anatomy or volumes. Art that is flat.

He mentions Laura Owens as an example of one such artist.

Another artist he mentions for his crude flat style is Michael DeForge:

Back to Black

Josh also mentions two other artists that went in a different direction. In this case, they hated traditional superheros and the direction that traditional comics had been headed. Instead, they focused on a heavy pen and ink style:

One of these artists is Charles Burns:

the other artist that he mentions is Gary Panter:

Crumb Contemporaries & Acolytes

Frank Stack

Paul Mavrides

Classic but Unfashionable

Josh mentions Ethan Van Sciver as an artist with a classic but, currently, unfashionable style:

Newspaper Style

Josh list many artists, who worked in what he termed as an expressionistic newspaper style. This is a style that he jokes using the China Town quote from the top of blog that is so old that it has finally become respectable.

Herb Trimpe

Al Milgrom

Tom Morgan

Sal Buscema

Milton Caniff

A Day In the Life

Josh mentions that George Orwell had a weekly newspaper column call, As I please, where he could write about whatever struck his fancy: - As I Please

Here are some artists whose comics follow this style by illustrating their lives and going in whatever direction their lives take;

Noah Van Sciver

Laura Weinstein

Back to the Basics

Josh eventually returned to school, the School of Visual Arts in NYC, to focus on the basics that he missed learning during his first go at school.

School of Visual Arts - NYC

He studied figure drawing under Phil Jimenez:

What drew him to the school was being able to learn from Thomas Hart

Comic Art Skill Set

According to Josh, many art schools skip on the fundamentals required to be a good comic artist. Comic artistry requires many fundamentals:

Understanding of ground lines
Knowledge of anatomy

...but the key skill that is often over looked is time management. Comic book artists need to put all these things together and get their work out quick and often dirty.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gnosticism Part II - Your Own Personal Jesus

Reach out and touch faith
Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who's there 
Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus

Gnosticism - The Series 

Gnosticism is a multi-post series on certain strains of early christian thought that were declared heresies and suppressed. For centuries, little was known about these heresies except for what was published by orthodox critics. Fairly recent discoveries of ancient texts have shed amazing insight into the amazing diversity of early christian belief. Other posts in this series include:

Gnosticism Part I - The Eastern Jesus

Personal Jesus

In this post, we will examine Gnosticism from the view of its early critics to its modern reexamination. On the way we will uncover a Christianity that is more mystical and personal than its orthodox brethren.

Ancient Critics

Irenaeus - Irenaeus


satirized some of the more bizarre elements
elaborate cosmologies multistoried heavens

Modern Scholarship
Origins of Gnosticism

Early modern scholarship focused in exploring the origins of Gnosticism and fell into several main camps:

The Underworld of Platonic Thought

The first of the modern scholars focused on Gnosticism's ties to ancient Greek philosophy:

Adolf Von Harnack

The first of these was Adolf Von Harnack who sought to explain Gnosticism as a distorted, heretical, form of Christianity that sought to blend of Christian doctrine and Greek philosophy: - The Origins of Gnosticism

The modern study of Gnosticism begins with Adolf von Harnack, a theologian and church historian, who described Gnosticism as the acute Hellenization of Christianity. This meant that Gnosticism did not precede Christianity. However, Gnosticism was not a separate but concurrent religion alongside Christianity either. Rather, Gnosticism broke off from Christianity when radical Christians sought to blend Christianity with Greek philosophy and Hellenistic cultural constructs and models of understanding.

"Arthur" Darby Nock 

Later scholars, including the prominent Arthur Nock, expanded on the links with Greek philosophy, particularly Platonism:

Gnosticism Judaism and Egyptian Christianity by By Birger A. Pearson

Esoteric Platonism

These efforts centered on Gnosticism's place as one of many popular offshoots of Middle Platonic thought, Esoteric Platonism:

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Middle Platonism

They were veiled in mystery and secrecy, leading John Dillon to refer to them in the perhaps more apt phrase "the Platonic Underworld." We will be discussing three examples of this "underworld": Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and the Chaldaean Oracles. The writings comprising the Corpus Hermeticum, so-called because of its supposed derivation from the teachings of the legendary sage Hermes Trismegistus, bear the marks of a variety of philosophies, Platonism and Neopythagoreanism being the most prominent. Hermetic ideas are found in Christianity as early as the writings of St. Paul, and Gnostic elements are to be discerned in John's Gospel as well as in Paul. The earliest Christian theologians were Gnostics, and the most prominent among them, Valentinus, nearly became pope. The systems of the Gnostics, especially Valentinus, attempted (among other things) to solve certain problems of Platonic and related philosophies by employing mythological language, astrological symbolism, and elements of alchemy and ritual magic. Finally, the Chaldaean Oracles, a mysterious composition melding Platonic and Neopythagorean philosophy with a revelatory religiosity, was a major source of inspiration for later Neoplatonists.

Other resources: - PHILOSOPHY 234AA: PLATO LECTURE III: PLATONIC INTERPRETATION - Plato’s Cosmology and Achilles’ Shield Compared (Full)

Babylonian Mysteries

predates xstian critics

Wilhelm Bousset

Wilhelm Bousset traced Gnostic ascension beliefs to ancient Babylonian traditions:

Richard August Reitzenstein - Gnostics or Illuminati, The Origins of the Gnostic Movement

German scholars such as Gustav Widengren, Richard Reitzenstein, and M. H. Schraeder, who are largely ignored today, delved deeply into the prehistoric roots of Iranian religion known as Zurvan. This is the germ of the doctrine of cosmic duality attributed to the Persian prophet, Zoroaster, and spread throughout the world by the members of his religious order, the Magi.

Reitzenstein in particular intuited that Gnostic ideas were influenced by Persian duality, or Zurvanism, but he was unable to work out how. No one since his time has done any better. The investigation is complicated by the remoteness of Iranian religion, dating to the 6th millennium BCE.

Persian duality is the great enigma in the history of religions. So far no scholar in the world, not even Mircea Eliade, has cracked the Zoroastrian nut.

Zarathustra is said to have been older than Plato by 6,000 years. He learned universal wisdom from the Good Spirit, that is the excellent understanding. His name translated into Greek, Astrothutes, means “star-worshipper" (Plato Prehistorian, p. 211).

Judaic Christianity

derived from judaism
jewish heretics
1934 books

Existential Christianity

Hans Jonas - Hans Jonas’ ‘Gnosticism and Modern Nihilism’, and Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Jonas started to deal with religious topics, and specifically with Gnosticism, from the very outset of his philosophical career in the 1920s. After gaining recognition thanks to his remarkable philosophical-existential interpretation of Gnosticism, he returned to the modern age and its philosophical characters. Principally, Jonas discovered that modern philosophy up to Heidegger and Sartre suffered from a peculiar spiritual disease – namely, nihilism – that he had already traced in ancient Gnosticism and that he intended to reject. Therefore, Jonas’ acquaintance with ancient religion and thinking gave him a deep insight into the modern age and provided him with a first glimpse of what was later to become his biological philosophy. - What Is a Gnostic?

Another key figure in the reevaluation of ancient Gnosticism was Hans Jonas. A pupil of existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger in the 1930s, Jonas turned his attention to the wisdom of the Gnostics, and discovered in them an ancient relative of existential philosophy. Existentialism's pessimism about earthly life and high regard for experience as against theory thus found a forebear and analogue. Although critical of the Gnostics' apparent "nihilism," Jonas was, along with Jung, one of the most important figures to bring Gnostic teachings into modern perspective.
The linkage effected by Jung and Jonas between Gnosticism in the past and living philosophies in the present was of crucial importance and came very close to supplying gnosis and Gnosticism with vital, living definitions. The questions posed (and answered) by the ancient Gnostics revealed themselves now, not as outlandish and bizarre, but as earlier discussions of issues addressed in more recent times by Freud, Jung, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and many others.

originated existentially
an attitude towards existence
political apathy and cultural stagnation
plus influx of oriental religion into Hellenistic culture
plus alienation felt by many
plus longing for miraculous salvation
to escape political and social constraints
led to Gnostic worldview
pessimism about the world coupled with self transcendence
parallel between modern existentialists
Heidegger influenced his thinking

The Real Orthodox Christianity

Walter Bauer

gnostics were in the majority in early xstianity
this is in dispute as the gnostics referred to themselves
as the few "hoi polloi"
critics were e.w. turner and c.h. roberts
but he did open up new way of thinking about them
nag hammadi trove of 1945 showed
gnos was a widespread movement
derived from a variety of traditions
much of it distinctly xstian
a few were derived from only pagan sources
and may not be gnostic
others use jew traditions extensively

Impetus for Gnosticism

Impetus not Source 

Carsten Colpe

search for origins not fruitful
leads to infinite regresses of remoter origins
does not contribute much to understanding
led to search for impetus to create gnost rather than source

Robert M. Grant

gnos reaction to romans destroying jerusalem 70 ad
shattered traditional views

Gilles Quispel

experience of self
projected on to religious experience

typological explanation
specific kind of psych world view

E. R. Dodds

derived from mystical experience

Gershom Scholem

traces to esoteric currents in rabbinical circles
jewish gnos
current research not focused on a central theory
but detailed analysis
three strains
#1 relationship between gnos and hellen
#2 from a literary form perspective
#3 relationship with contemporary religous environment

current xstian represents small selection of specific sources
many others excluded
who made the decisions
for the first time we can examine from the heretics pov

ressurection as a political function
legitimizes authority of men
who claim to excercise exclusive leadership
as succesors of the apostle peter

Multiple Choice: None of the Above

This post is based on this Our Interesting Times Podcast:

In the podcast, Dr. Joseph Farrell is interviewed on the subject of Common Core.

Dr. Farrell wrote a book on the subject: Rotten to the (Common) Core: Public Schooling, Standardized Tests, and the Surveillance State

Standardized Testing in America has a troubled history. Its agenda has long remained veiled behind "expert opinions" and "latest studies." The future of American education stands in a tradition of social engineering, data mining, pseudo-psychology, and dumbing down classroom strategies.

Dr. Farrell noticed two things when serving as a university professor in Oklahoma:

  • The capabilities of the average college student has declined markedly,
  • Among the students with the worst abilities were the education majors.

In his work, Farrell reviews the reasons behind these failures of our education system. Unlike many works that focus on the flaws with Common Core standards, Farrell's book focuses on the assessment process.

Farrell has several main objections to the assessment process:

  • Students who take them are often cleverer than the test preparer. This leads to poor questions where students are forced to try to guess what is in mind of the questioner.
  • Particularly in the softer sciences like sociology and history, students are forced to agree with an official narrative in order to pass. By making test takers to conform to a standard narrative, the test turns into something akin to a loyalty test.
  • This type of test design punishes finer, subtler minds.
  • All these issues are compounded by the adaptive design of the test which bases questions on students prior answers.
  • The whole process eliminates the traditional role of a teacher and replaces it with an exam proctor.
Standardized testing and compulsory education are often said to be the bedrock of our democracy. In actuality, standardized testing undermines our democracy. The standardized tests actually are a form of massive social engineering, designed not to cultivate the best and the brightest but to extinguish free and independent thought. It was a one size fits all, cookie cutter approach designed to produce worker drones and consumers, not free thinkers.

Father of Standardized Tests

Farrell posits that while standardized tests sound good on paper, they actually have a more nefarious underside. For example, James Conant sold the idea of standardized testing as a means of identifying promising students and slotting them to elite programs:

PBS Frontline - Americans Instrumental in Establishing Standardized Tests

One of the fathers of the American educational system, James Bryant Conant believed in creating a governing, intellectual elite, chosen by standardized tests and specially educated. His ideal was a classless and democratic society.

Pre-Standardized Testing Era

Farrell contrasts this era of standardized tests to when he was a student, particularly at Oxford University during the 1980's. There he experienced a real education, one where essays were read and graded by scholars in the field and not shipped off to some testing service. Teachers were able to tailor each class to fit an individual students needs.

Leipzig Connection

Paulo Lionni in his book, the Leipzig Connection delves into the little known connection between early German behavioral psychology theories and the development of the modern American educational system: - The Leipzig Connection by Paulo Lionni

Here is how Lionni summarizes Wundt's impact on education:

Wundt asserted that man is devoid of spirit and self-determinism. He set out to prove that man is the summation of his experiences, of the stimuli which intrude upon his consciousness and unconsciousness.

From Wundt's work, it was only a short step to the later redefinition of the meaning of education. Originally, education meant the drawing out of a person's innate talents and abilities by imparting the knowledge of languages, scientific reasoning, history, literature, rhetoric, etc. — the channels through which those abilities would flourish and serve. To the experimental psychologist, however, education became the process of exposing the student to "meaningful" experiences so as to ensure desired reactions.

In the podcast, Dr Farrell explains how Wundt's theories turned educators into mini-psychologist whose role shifted from one of teacher into someone whose purpose was to produce whatever environment that the latest educational theory deemed appropriate for students.

Instead of focusing on mastering whatever subject that they were supposed to teach, educators were required to be licensed in quasi-psychological educational theories. This licensing system massively empowered the progressives who overwhelmingly staffed them.

Early American Education

It was not until the roughly the 1840's - 50's that compulsory education began in New England. Up until then, American education was private or small community based. This non compulsory education was geared towards independent farmers and small business owners. It produced independent minded and well read students.

the whole idea of cumpulsory education was to combat or arrest that development
john d rockafeller wanted to turn thinkers into workers
general education board set up with r foundation money
he needed worker bees and consumers not thinkers
modern education part of our consumerist materialistic culture
it is part and parcel of it
horace mann start cumpulsory education experiment in massachussets
one of his goals was to empower a permanent educational beaurocracy
one way to do this is to come up with abstract standards
divorced from any empirical evidence with students and teachers
then when you have failures you blame teachers
and demand more funding for training
in the latests education theories
the result is constant failure and pleas for more money
and a neverending shift from content to methodology
be it standardized tests or teacher certification
it is all part of a huge complex
john taylor gatto
teacher who broke ranks with system
no fixing the system, the system is the problem
one size fits all mentality
slotting into age groups
no more one room school house
no mixing of ages which is not the way society is organized
miss opportunity of having to associate with people of different age groups
a teachers license is a license to practice as a parapsychologist
teachers now point out which children need medication
pathologizing normal behaviour of boys and medicating
adhd does exist but not to the extent that they diagnose
farrell found that if he taught at the correct level, in his case college
there was no room for people to be bored
are children are much more intelligent than we give them credit for
and capable of learning at a much faster pace
so they end up being bored and acting out
other countries like japan teach music and europe foreign languages much earlier
it is sweepingly innefficient and fraudulent system
that is not delivering what has been promised
it is all happening to dumb people down
and make them worker bee consumers
growing homeschooling movement
government money injected into the system
like healthcare has only served to drive up the cost
bunch of admins with 100's dollar salaries
saddling students coming out of college with huge debt and no jobs
after indoctorinating them with propoganda
both medicine and education are harvesting systems
abraham fletchner
influenced by wilhem vunt
decided he was going to implement with a progressive school
the lincoln school
emphasis is not on knowing necessary content of discipline
but on producing good citizens
john d rockafeller junior
sent his sons to lincoln school
classic example of elite surrounding themselves with people
who think like they do
people who cannot articulate an opposing point of view
with any clarity
then you end up with an elite that is ossified and incapable of adapting
we are watching this happen right now in the united states
all the rockafeller boys came out of school not enjoying reading a book
nelson found reading tedious
he went on to be an advisor to eisenhower
he was intelligence officer for latin america during wwii
he was vp under ford
yet he did not like to read
this is repeated over and over
in progressive education
reading is fundamental to higher order thinking
technocracy idea that everything we need to know is on the internet
the soviet encyclopedia phenomena
in the cloud all you need to do is hit a few buttons
to change texts to meet you political idealogy
large corp in charge of internet should not be in charge
for some reason people retain more from a physical book
there are certain things computers cannot do
it cannot replace a teacher in a classroom
mentoring and tailoring lessons to fit individual students
there was a reason they named it kindle
a corporation has a monopoly on texts
"where books are burnt, people are burnt"

abraham fletchner
fletchner report standardized american
allopathic medicine became standard
drugs surgery
obamacare and common core passed at the same time
no coincidence
founders created constitution
on one a sheet of paper with a few sentences
that anyone could understand
now teams of lawyers are involved
healthcare and education
are mechanisms to harvest wealth
empowering corporations
who is gaining monetarily from this
digitizing health records
reducing man into chattel
neil postman
"entertaining ourselves to death"
tax free foundations
have played a huge role
repub reese committee during the eisenhower admin
took over from
rene wormser, book, foundations their power and influence
modern equivalent of old medievel orders like the templars
like the templars they are tax exempt
and are able to retain intergenerational wealth
allows wealthy to control how wealth is used tax free
allows them to drive agenda
various committees during the 50's
reese keefauver mccarthey
all were investigating penetration of us gov't
noone has studied this phenomena as whole
norman dodd catherine casey carnegie foundation
subject country to series of shocks to fundamentally change and merge with soviets
carol quigley "tragedy of hope"
wormser - these foundations have shown inordinate influence over us education.
vast social engineering project to remake america how it wants to be.
science of coercion by christopher simpson
project mockingbird cia infiltration of us media
1950' educational testing service, chauncy
contracted by CIA conant to identify personality types
mk ultra
standardized test is a form of mind control
a loyalty test
means of social engineering
common core are individually adaptive tests
developed by psychologists
not philanthropic foundations
they are lobbying groups
foundations tearing down culture
modern art
frankfurt deconstruction technique
if you break everything down
you are doing this to substitute and artificial system
and keep certain people in power
assualt on individual persons
they sponsor ugliness
the ugliness reflects their souls
david rockafeller
their is a group of people
that view themselves as masters of the universe
with no allegience anything remotely humanizing
culture is the real battle not politics
trying to drive world into inhuman, ugly state of affairs
ultimately cannot suceed because humans are not wire that way
they are subtle
antonio gromci italian communist
communism would not work with economic leveling
it would need to occur with cultural leveling
must be anti traditional in every conceivable way
the long march through the institutions