r/IntellectualDarkWeb Podcast Transcript Excerpts (#1)
As mentioned before, I really liked the content of the third podcast I was invited to attend, hosted by Joseph Parrish, but the audio quality was garbage on my end:
So I took the liberty of transcribing it. Or, to the point, I had Rev.com transcribe it. In retrospect, they did a pretty damn good job, but it’s definitely not perfect, and if you see any errors please blame them. Turned the whole thing around pretty quickly too. Consider this an endorsement.
The dialog is obviously conversational, so not the best stylistic approach, but whatever. It’s long , in the neighborhood of 18,000 words, so here are some excerpts.
On Honor Cultures
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, Sam Harris takes positions and he moves, he does this thing. But sometimes he’s just, I listen to the Making Sense podcast for a while and I had to quit at some point ’cause I was just getting frustrated, I’d be yelling at my windshield when I’m driving around, like guys, why aren’t you thinking about this? There’s much more important stuff going on.
He had one guy. I don’t remember the guy’s name, he was a professor at Duke University. He had written a book about honor cultures.
Oh yes, I remember that one.
You remember that one? So he goes through different examples of honor cultures worldwide and those are maybe not as interesting ’cause they’re not as engaging, when he starts talking about baseball. And that was a great one because you know, you have this deal where if the pitcher hits your batter, they hit the pitcher with the ball to kind of regain your honor for your teammate getting pegged, that kind of thing.
I used to play soccer a lot, so I get where that comes from. I don’t know if the author missed it or he just didn’t think it was important, or maybe Sam completely missed it, the reason these things arrive is because of lack of faith in the authority. The baseball pitcher is going to hit the other pitcher with the ball because he doesn’t believe the umpire is going to punish the other pitcher for his transgression.
Right, yeah. That’s a good example. When authority systems fail, it’s basically daring individuals just acquire justice by their own means.
Sure, right. Exactly. And the thing that frustrates me is that that’s a very important thing to understand for our own culture, historically. You see it in the 1800, 1700s, whenever it was when you had Senators challenging each other to duels and you saw it in the Wild West, and that kind of thing. But you see it now and nobody is realizing it. ’Cause it ties right back into the gun material.
So homicide victim rate, and let me first couch this by saying I’m pulling numbers from memory and so if you read a number in an article and it’s not exactly what’s in the podcast, go by the article. Homicide victimization rate by demographic in the United States is, it’s two and a half or three per 100,000 for white men. It’s like one per 100,000 per white women. It’s two and a half or three for black women. And then it’s like 30 per 100,000 for black men. And then if you go up by age bracket, for black teens it’s like 100 for 100,000, it’s outrageous.
Yeah, it’s way big. The numbers just blow you down when you look at them. And why is that happening? I think people say, “It’s the culture”, saying it’s the culture sounds like a way of blaming black folks. Really what it is, I think, is that they don’t trust the authority figure. Many of them are wrapped up in the drug trade because it’s a way to make more money than working at the car wash or something stupid, whatever their best opportunity is outside of that. And there’s no way you can go to a small claims court to resolve a drug dispute.
So the only way you can resolve it, the only way you can ensure how good your contract is, is by maintaining honor and honoring your contracts, so honor culture. And then the only way you can resolve someone doing something dishonorable in the contract is through violence. So it works just like the Wild West, just like any other pocket of area that has an authority gap. And this authority gap is, you could say that it’s caused in part by the drug war, and it’s also probably caused in part by, I’m not a huge person that beats on the drama of systemic racism, but the numbers in the justice system are kind of skewed. They look like systemic racism to me. If you want to look at it, it looks like there’s some racism in how the verdicts are handed down.
Snitches get stitches, that’s a phrase for a reason. So you have an authority gap there, and the authority gap creates a vacuum. The vacuum produces an honor culture and then the violence comes along with it. And that would have been a really important, really good thing to have in this podcast. And they thought for an hour and a half, or two hours or something like that, and they didn’t even mention it.
Wow. They were talking about honor as … they were more focused on how it can be good in some ways or, let’s not beat on our culture too hard. They were going at it with that rather than simplifying applying, we’ll say honor dynamics, to contemporary problems.
Right. Yeah. Honor culture works all over the place, it works very well. It works in business. I’m a civil engineer. For some of my contracts with big firms, I have to sign something that enumerates every tiny little detail. But for the clients that I know and I trust, I write them a two page letter proposal and I sign it. I know they’re going to do me right, they know I’m going to do them right and we’re both working off our honor. Neither of us would screw the other one because that would be a dishonorable thing to do.
And so that has a feature to it. And the feature is that it doesn’t need any lawyers. And all of the cost and expense and contortions that go along with that. What that means is that if everybody in an entire culture was honorable, you wouldn’t need a whole lot of the government infrastructures. And if nobody in your country is honorable, you need a whole lot of government infrastructure that is not producing anything for you and it bogs your economy down, and that sort of thing. So people who have different sensitivities to honor culture tend to fall on different places in the political spectrum, anarchy and autocracy.
Folks who think that if everybody was just honorable, we wouldn’t have any problems, they’re more likely to be libertarian. And the people who think that everybody is out to screw everybody else and we need some kind of authority to resolve it or to tell everybody what to do, then they fall on the other side. So I think that there’s a very important link between people’s perceptions of honor and how they vote, and stuff like that.
The HWFO Culture War Analysis Toolkit, Distilled:
Right. And I think that part of, when I started looking at this cultural stuff, is an offshoot from the gun stuff because I was kind of freaked out from what I discovered in my own media trap. And so I started building a separate set of tools. I’m not a sociologist, but I think a lot, and so I kind of develop my own thing about what I knew. And so I kind of started with biology and looking at parallels.
So there’s this narrative that people have been telling for a long time that first off, here’s a narrative fact that I don’t think is true, that we’re beyond evolution and that we’re not evolving and that we’re disjointed from the process of evolution because we’re intelligent. And I think all of that is subjectively bullshit. And we’ve got all these things that we think are unique to us, like agriculture and war and economics and divisional labor and slavery. And all of that kind of thing. Civil infrastructure, cities, all of those things that we think make us unique.
The ant kingdom has every single thing I just mentioned.
Yeah, they have agriculture, they have war, they have slavery, they have division of labor, and it all works off a decentralized network, there’s no central brain telling these ants what to do. They have all of those things. For agriculture, the leaf cutter ants bring the leaves down and then they have mold, and then the mold grows and they eat the mold. They have livestock, where they’ll farm aphids and they’ll carry aphid eggs and they’ll tend them and they’ll keep them safe in the ant hive and then they’ll bring them up and put them on the underneath side of corn leaves. I’ve seen them do it in my garden.
They have wars, and their wars are nasty. The goals of their war is not just to establish a boundary, their goal of the war is literally genocide of an adjacent ant colony. Their goal is to kill the babies. Because then, they get the resource, they get the area, they get the territory. Sound familiar? All of those things are, and here’s another thing. We don’t even dominate the planet. If you put all of the ants on a scale, they would be 25% of the terrestrial animal biomass by weight of the planet.
Yeah. And they’ve been doing this for 50 million years. They’ve had all the things that we see in human culture, and they’ve had it way longer than we have. We haven’t caught them yet, and they’re running a really tight program, and if you look at our societies, the strongest societies that perpetuate the most, and are the most influential in world history or whatnot, are the ones who are able to emulate those programs the best.
I ran into this thought because, so I’ve got a son, and when you have a son you start thinking about all kind of horrible, wretched stuff. “Good God, my son’s seven years old, that means I only got 11 years to end war, how am I gonna do that?” I’m trying to figure out how war works, and the truth about war is … I was raised a Quaker, they’re conscientious objectors to war. Still am one, but a whole bunch of my family, I mean they’re in the army and they’re like, officers in the army.
I’ve got a cousin who’s a general, war is kind of the family business. But, I know they’re good people, and then so how do you oppose it? Well, the problem is that once you start looking at it mathematically, you can’t, because it’s a Nash equilibrium in game theory.
’Cause in the ant’s war, it’s because if there’s two ant colonies next door to each other, and one of them wars and the other one doesn’t; the one who doesn’t loses, and they get rubbed out. The one that wars lives on and perpetuates its genes. Darwinism creates war at that level, and we’re running the same programs.
So, how are we running them? Is the next question, right? We’ve got this realization, how are running the ant program? First off, well how are they running it? The answer is pheromones. Each ant has a complicated bit of behavioral code that is activated by pheromones that they pick up from the ants around them. There’s no central command, but walking down the ant hill, some ant says, “Gosh, we need a nursery.” And he releases that pheromone, and the next ant smells it, and then he smells ten ants in a row saying the same thing as he goes off to do that thing.
We receive the same signals in our socio-economic system, by someone saying, “Golly, I wish there was an app on my phone that would allow someone else to come pick me up.” And people say that, and then we are willing to give, instead of pheromones, you give money, and then money acts as our pheremone. So that’s how we maintain a decentralized system of action, and money’s just a barter token. That’s all it really is. Any kind of barter token would work, as long as it was standardized to serve this function.
But then the other thing is, how do we get the code? Because the ants are born with rigid behavioral code, and it only evolves on an evolutionary time scale. We have come up with these ant programs in a relatively short amount of time. Really, it’s kind of like the guy who set up the ant program that we’re all running right now is Hammurabi.
There have been some other ones that have been more centralized, and they died out. You had the pharaohs, and you had the Mayans, and the Egyptians, and the Incas, and the Aztecs were all central, theology-based ones. The people in charge were god and you do what they say. Then, Hammurabi had this, “Okay, we’re all going to be a little bit decentralized.” They still had a very strong religious thing, and that was how they adjudicated disagreements, and how they had government, and how they standardized money.
The shekel was a hypothetical representation of a bag of grain. They were on the grain standard, like the gold standard, but grain. So, once you had that, then the more centralized ones got rubbed out. The ones that better emulated the ants rubbed out the ones that worse at emulating the ants. That’s how we got where we are. We have evolved our programming, and that was the tool that I developed to try and understand the Culture Wars.
We’ve got hard code and we’ve got soft code, and we have some white space. We can fill that white space with indoctrination, and indoctrination can be something like, “If you have to be somewhere, show up 15 minutes early.” That’s an indoctrination. There’s no reason that that’s necessarily true, it was just installed in you, and you abide by it. You go visit Spain, and everybody’s 45 minutes late, but they’ve all been indoctrinated with a different version of what’s right. So, because they are all operating on a different program that all works for them, and because you’re operating on your program works for you, then the only conflict comes when these two different programs interact. Right? And then that is a culture war skirmish. Makes sense?
Makes sense, so-
That’s the framework that I look at all this stuff with. People who have indoctrinations don’t want to give them up, because giving up an indoctrination is hard. Then you’d have to decide what you’re going to replace it with, and most people, once they’re maybe 20–25 years old, they’re done being indoctrinated. They’re like, “I’ve got these and these work for me, and I’m not leaving ‘em.”
Now I’m the same way, and so the culture war is something that happens when people are adjacent to somebody else who has a different indoctrination, and the indoctrinations don’t mesh, and so they fight. They argue. This is where social media comes in, because it use to be that we were all pretty much isolated from everybody else, so if you had a different indoctrination then it’s no big deal. But if I’m sitting here watching your Facebook feed all day, and you’re watching mine, our indoctrinations might clash. So I can tweet the fact that I think you should be 15 minutes early, and a Spaniard could tweet the fact that they think I should be 45 minutes late, and now we’re gonna fight. Whereas before, there’s an ocean between us, who cares? But now, there’s not an ocean between us.
So these things are linked up. The culture war exploded in tandem with the explosion of social media, because we were much more adjacent then we ever have been before, and indoctrinations, they were very different. And that does not necessarily mean that one indoctrination is better than another, it just means that they’re different and incompatible. Then, when they’re incompatible, there’s no way to resolve it because nobody’s going to give theirs up, because it’s too hard to give up.
Where I’m trying to come from in general is, it’s like don’t … and I have to reel myself in on this. Don’t take a culture war position, or if you do, do it from an efficacy standpoint. It’s like, this particular indoctrination doesn’t work. Not because it’s wrong, or it’s stupid, or my indoctrination is different, but this culture position doesn’t work for efficacy reasons.
Then, outside of that, make no statement. ’Cause the truth is that in the end, the best one’s gonna win out, because Darwinism. So, the question is, can we get there without fighting about it first? That’s my thought.
The HWFO Gun Series Distilled:
Well, I think the left has a problem. They have a similar problem to the right, about different stuff. Like a whole lot of people on the right want to act as if you could put the sexual revolution back in the box. They talk about why the sexual revolution’s bad and they want to fight it, and it’s not going away, and the people on left hand side can see this, and they can say, “Look, it’s not going away.” If anything … a lot of people on the left don’t even get this far, but a person on the left might say, “What should we do about the problems that we do realize from the sexual revolution?” To plug the holes in what’s going wrong now with society because of it. Things like single parenting.
That same kind of dynamic happens with guns. 40% of the guns on planet Earth are in the hands of private US citizens, and our gun per capita ratio — we have more guns than people in the United States. We are so far past the saturation point on guns, that even if you hated guns, you need to first acknowledge there’s no way to get rid of the guns. The guns are already there, they’ll work for 80 years, they’re simple, very strong tools. All you have to do is clean them once a year, and they’ll last for another 80. They’re easy to maintain, they’re pretty easy to build.
So what we need to be doing, even if you hate guns, is start by acknowledging the facts on the ground. There are too many guns to deal with, and therefore we should look at the problems that we see. Because the gun isn’t a problem when it’s sitting in a closet. The gun is only ever a problem when the bullet comes out the end, and hits somebody, and kills them. Sometimes, that’s not even a problem, if there’s a justified reason for it, but in general, the freakoutery around guns isn’t actually about the guns, it’s about the death.
So, what you need to do, is you need to say, “Well why did the bullet leave the gun on the way to kill another person?” What was the motivation for that instance? If we started looking at that, that’s where we can make hay. That’s where we can improve things. I’m not saying that we can’t improve things. Anything can be improved.
One of the most recent articles I did on this topic, there was a American Journal of Public Health study that was a deeply complicated, multivariate analysis of gun homicide, and it was, in my opinion, the gold standard of it. It was the one that I referenced in the first article I ever put up on Medium. It talked about how there’s no bivariate relation between gun homicide and gun ownership, and there’s not. I mean, anywhere. You look at European countries, world countries, the states in the United States, anywhere you look, there’s no correlation between the number of guns owned and a homicide rate on a bivariate basis, because gun homicides are a multivariate problem.
There’s a lot of things that influence them. Income inequality is the biggest. Black population ratio is five or six times more predictive on a multivariate level than gun ownership is. And that goes, in my opinion, back to the honor culture thing we talked about earlier, and the prison industrial complex, because even when you strip that out and control for that as a separate confounder, that’s still a significant one, which the AGP study did.
So if you look at that study, they said that for every 1% change in gun ownership rates, you would have a 0.9% change in gun homicide rate. That was what they did with their multivariate analysis, but people don’t realize that’s a 0.9% change of a rate, and the rate for homicide is like, I dunno, do the math, 2 per 100,000 right? So that’s 0.009 x 0.00002, that’s the rate of people you save by changing 1%.
If you do that on an incremental basis, and I did some graphs, it’s like this. “Alright so we’ve got 30% gun ownership rate in the United States, and let’s pretend we could somehow drop that to 15%, drop it by half.” Let’s say you pretend that in dropping it by half, you are taking guns equally from grandmas and criminals, which you’re not going to be. If you do a buy-back or something, there’s going to be a bunch of old ladies who don’t need a gun anymore, will sell ’em back. For instance if there was a gun buy-back in Georgia, I would sell two guns back and use the money to buy ammo.
So there’s going to be a lot of guns that you buy-back that aren’t going to affect your ownership rate at all, you only need one to kill somebody, or kill yourself, and killing yourself is two thirds of the problem. So, let’s pretend you’re able to do all that, and let’s pretend you’re able to reduce your gun ownership rate, and let’s pretend that buying half the guns would reduce the ownership rate by half … I’m not convinced of that at all, but let’s pretend all those things, which are all assumptions that are liberal assumptions in favor of the gun buy-back case.
Then let’s say you spend $750 a gun on the buy-back, because you’re going to have to, because a lot of guns are worth a lot of money. A lot more than 2–300 bucks. You would end up spending, I think I calculated up $64 million. You’d have to buy $64 million worth of guns to save one life.
So for the cost of saving 10 homicides, you could fund the entire City of Atlanta budget for a year. We have like 70 homicides here a year, so could you maybe spend that on more police? Or could you spend it on fixing income inequality? Or could you spend it on work programs for the people you let out of jail for drug crimes?
See what I’m saying? The efficacy of looking at the gun problem just doesn’t work, just doesn’t work mathematically, and that doesn’t even have anything to with the right to own a gun. I mean, in some ways, I think the second amendment is almost a moot point, because there’s no way to get the guns back without a bunch of guys with a whole lot more guns. Are you going to send the National Guard door-to-door? That might backfire, because the National Guard kind of like guns too, and they have friends that are retired that have them.
So, there’s no functional way to address … it’s a Pandora’s box situation, once it’s released, you can’t put it back in the box. It’s out there, it’s done. Accept it and move on, figure out other ways to deal with the problem.
They never want to talk about the actual problems. Two thirds of gun deaths are suicides. Seven eights of those are men, and while gun ownership rate does actually track with gun suicide rate, it only does in men. Not in women. That one eighth of the gun suicides, if you reduce the amount of guns on a state-by-state basis, when you do an analysis on that, the women just find other ways to kill themselves if they’re that intent on killing themselves.
But the men … because I guess men are more emotional and violent, and hastier, or whatever. There’s probably some kind of personality thing you could come up with as an excuse for that. Having a gun in a house, as a man, does increase your chances of suicide because men are more likely to choose the gun as the method, and guns are a really good way to do it. You only need one, you don’t need an extended magazine. It doesn’t matter what kind of gun it is, pistol, rifle, shotgun. That’s two thirds of your gun deaths.
The most important thing we could do for the gun deaths problem … this is the whole point of the second article, and it shows up in the fifth or sixth one also, is just an awareness campaign to gun owners that if they’re having suicidal thoughts, they need to give their guns to a buddy for a little while. If you just did that, then you might save 5000 deaths a year, you might put a bigger dent in the overall gun death problem than any other possible policy, and that 5000 deaths a year, that’d be five times the entire total of domestic violence deaths of women.
Yeah, that reminds me of this classroom we had when I was in the army, about suicide in the military, and they talked about these soldiers stationed in Iraq, and one had been dumped by his wife and so his best friend, without telling him, stole the firing pin in his M4. Then, when the guy was on watch one night in the tower at the base, he was so miserable, he took the M4, put it to his chin and pulled the trigger, but it didn’t fire.
Holy, that guy’s a hero.
Right? So he took his gun apart immediately and saw the firing pin wasn’t there, and went back to the barracks and he ran into his buddy and was telling him what happened, and he’s like, “Yeah, I took your firing pin.” So this was an example the army decided to put on the sort of like, “Hey, take initiative if you have concerns about your friend, to prevent suicide.” Yeah, I mean that’s it right there, suddenly this guy wasn’t about to kill himself. I don’t know if it would have been possible, but he was up on a high tower, he didn’t jump off of it to try and kill himself.
As soon as the gun couldn’t kill him, he stopped.
Right, I mean, that happens a lot in suicide, right. A lot of people will slit their wrists, and then wait three minutes and be like, “Oh shit, that was stupid. I should call 911.” That’s not uncommon with suicide, but you don’t get to do that if you choose the gun as your method, as your route. That shows up in the literature, too, is that men choose guns to commit suicide at a much higher rate than women do.
So that’s amazing. It’s tough for the army though, ’cause one, they can’t just take the guns away, everybody needs a gun in the army. That’s the hard part.
Right, no, exactly. But even then, when guns are everywhere, he found a way to basically do what you said. It’s just, take away, we’ll say the capacity to fire the bullet, and the problem was basically resolved with that. They got him the help he needed and he was then talking in that video and he’s happy. He’s like, “I’m so grateful to my friend for looking out for me.” We need that sort of preemptive look at, one, I think is have a habit where people give their guns to their friends, but also I suspect some if it’s just … and this is often talked about anyway, maybe not enough, is more focus on mental health services and assets to people in this country, so that if they’re in that state or they’re progressing toward that suicidal state, it can be dealt with before they get to the point where they’re so miserable and brooding alone in their room, and then they go for the gun.
That’s only up to about half way. I’ll post more excerpts later.