Outline of the new Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler book

by on February 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm in Books, Economics, Education, Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, The Arts | Permalink

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, and here is the opening bit of the summary:

Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains were designed not just to gather and hunt, but also to get ahead socially, often by devious means. The problem is that we like to pretend otherwise; we’re afraid to acknowledge the extent of our own selfishness. And this makes it hard for us to think clearly about ourselves and our behavior.

The Elephant in the Brain aims to fix this introspective blind spot by blasting floodlights into the dark corners of our minds. Only when everything is out in the open can we really begin to understand ourselves: Why do humans laugh? Why are artists sexy? Why do people brag about travel? Why do we so often prefer to speak rather than listen?

Like all psychology books, The Elephant in the Brain examines many quirks of human cognition. But this book also ventures where others fear to tread: into social critique. The authors show how hidden selfish motives lie at the very heart of venerated institutions like Art, Education, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion.

Acknowledging these hidden motives has the potential to upend the usual political debates and cast fatal doubt on many polite fictions. You won’t see yourself — or the world — the same after confronting the elephant in the brain.

Due out January 1, 2018, of course this is essential reading.

1 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm

You won’t believe this one astonishing fact – Human beings are primates ….

…. with elephants in their brains!

And the ability to manipulate language by blasting floodlights!

Who now can understand why they are scared to look into the mirror – they would be confronted with the elephant in the brain!

2 Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 4:14 pm

The elephant in the room is whether this popular book is intended for Grade 6 audiences, which it probably is, and what it adds to the existing literature, which is probably not much. I don’t see this book being ‘essential reading’.

3 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Well, for those who continnue to busy themselves in the sandbox throwing mud in every which way, perhaps it will be useful.

It would be good if it were accessible for kids in grade 6, but by the tidbit shown, probably most adults could benefit from reading it. I doubt someone such as yourself would learn new facts, but perhaps new perspective?

4 anonymous reply to Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Ray – Robin Hanson is not someone I agree with on much – he is fundamentally unsound on issues of natural law. However, he has thought long and with admirable concentration on many contested issues which are, God help us, important. Your silly review of a book that has not been published was a waste of my time to read. Apology accepted in advance: please strive to do better in the future. Please post more on chess, and other things you know about! Gnothi seauton! (If you are in fact, as I believe, some weird collective project of a community college English faculty in some God-forsaken place west of LA and East of Athens, well that would be interesting too…)

5 Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 9:37 pm

Well my fiend, what makes you think your positive review of an unpublished book is any better than my negative review? And if Hanson is unsound on natural law, that’s already one strike against him, no? Also I’m not sure he’s thought long and hard about contested issues, I’ll just have to take your word for it. As for my chess knowledge, it’s but a small part of my vast erudition. Check and mate, fool! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0355pN8llBg&feature=youtu.be Fool’s Mate)

6 Todd K February 20, 2017 at 9:51 pm

I haven’t read the book twice (once before not reading Tyler’s book and once after) and both times came away feeling pretty neutral.

7 anonymous reply to Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Several years ago I came across Professor Hanson’s interesting website, and said to myself, well, maybe this is just another one of the Dawkins/Dennett sic-fi boys, but maybe he is actually an honest thinker. So I posted a few comments, using the type of rhetorical tropes that I thought would get him to reply – simple Aristotelean targeted questioning – and Professor Hanson did reply, and his replies were remarkably thoughtful. As I have communicated with him, and learned some things from what he said, my guess as to the worth of his book is not unfounded. As for natural law, everybody generally to the left of Justice Scalia, in my opinion, is unsound on natural law, and Scalia himself was unsound too (Scalia was easily tripped up on federalism issues – google Ireton, a 19th century Justice, for the relevant controversy); and of those to the right of Justice Scalia, I profoundly believe that those who do not fully support animal rights are also fundamentally unsound (I am perhaps the most conservative member of ASPCA in the world – God bless their compassionate hearts!), and I also profoundly believe that those who do not support the decriminalization of marijuana are also fundamentally unsound on the basics of natural law (unlike most of my fellow natural law compadres, I fully support reparations for every single person arrested since 1945 for mere possession of marijuana – albeit I am certain that nobody with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia or psychosis should have any more right to smoke weed than I have a right to yell at everybody in Central Park that they need to leave, I want Central Park to myself! – seriously ). I recognize these opinions of mine leave me in a party of just about one in a million. Well, one of the best comment threads I read last year included an interchange between you (R. Lopez) and that guy who ranks historical chess players and I followed that up and read a fascinating comment (on the historical chess ranker guy’s website – he is a professor in the fantastic and unbelievably unique town we call Buffalo, I think) about how there may be an actual drop-off in the development of Our understanding (Our meaning you, me, the experts, and the computers too) of the complexity of chess just beyond where the edge of chess knowledge now is – sort of a Mariana Trench of exponential incomprehensibility….Thank you for that. Have you read much by Saint Francis de Sales?

8 anonymous reply to Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

Thursday Assorted Links, December 22, 2016.

9 Cliff February 21, 2017 at 12:07 am

Ray Lopez’s best attribute is that he is so confidently and hilariously wrong that he demands refutation at every turn, hence eliciting the truth of all such matters on which he propounds

10 anonymous reply to Ray Lopez February 21, 2017 at 12:31 am

writing is the only way to distance oneself from the century in which it is one’s lot to be born (Don Colacho – not quite correctly as to the truth of the matter, but well said). What is not important is that man believes in God: what is important is that God exists. (Don Colacho again, getting closer to the truth). Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself (Francis de Sales). All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers (ditto). The modern time control (Spassky). Half an hour’s mediation is essential each day, unless you are busy. Then a full hour is necessary (Francis de Sales again). Time control directly inflluences the quality of play (Spassky again). God loves us the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way (from an “indie” movie but I have quoted it often, in several languages. It sounds most amusing in Spanish but in French, curiously, it easily fits into Alexandrines in a way very few American slogans do. Well maybe it is not just a slogan. Cor ad cor loquitur). Don’t say I didn’t try.

11 Dick the Butcher February 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Not all humans are descended from apes. Scientists recent discovered extinct from 255 million years ago, quadrupedal, venomous vertebrates. Liberals are descended from this beast.

12 Edm February 21, 2017 at 12:28 am

Whereas the reptilian and venomous traits are plesiomorphies preserved in the wingnuts?

13 Dick the Butcher February 21, 2017 at 8:19 am


14 Tom T. February 20, 2017 at 6:59 pm

The tone sounds like a parody of Scott Adams.

15 Mark Thorson February 20, 2017 at 10:55 pm

Scott Adams, yes. Parody? No, it sounds very much like him.

16 anonymous reply to Mark Thorson February 21, 2017 at 12:06 am

In his defense I parody myself too sometimes. Pleasanton rocks!

17 thfmr February 20, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Sounds in a vein with Freud’s “Civilization and its Discontents.”

Btw, is there a reason academics clamor to disavow Freud? I mean a good reason…

18 anon February 20, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Was Freud an evolutionist?

FWIW, I read this similar book some time back


Perhaps Hanson is less about comparative evolution and more .. probably risky in tying behavior to primate determinism?

Anyway, I totally agree that there are often invisible social currents in our lives, up to our politics, arising from our monkey nature.

19 thfmr February 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Certainly to Freud, man is an animal whose essential needs are thwarted and confined by society. Short book, and though twenty years since reading, I recall thinking “nailed it” throughout.

20 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:18 pm

For what it’s worth, here is someone going off on evolutionary psychology.


Why I said “probably risky” above.

21 whatever February 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm

Arrgh, another 3 minutes wasted. Yeah, sure, evo-psych is not “scientific” in the same sense as physics. But for f*ck’s sake, “justifying rape”? No, E-P doesn’t justify anything, but it explains much.

Most of its adherents are convinced that virtually every human action or feeling, including depression, homosexuality, religion, and consciousness, was put directly into our brains by natural selection. In this view, evolution becomes the key–the only key–that can unlock our humanity.

Yeah, all of life is ultimately explainable by Natural Selection. Why on earth does he think that humans are special?

And yeah, Thornhill and Palmer are right, their detractors are ideologically motivated. I’m pretty sure that their analysis misses an important point (rape is not only about sex, it is also about power; in fact sex is not only about reproduction, it also serves a social function), but it is obviously an adaptation. A quick math simulation shows it without recourse to “just-so” stories. (Anybody who uses that term has read too much Stephen J. Gould, another sign of being politically motivated.)

The problem is that everybody is ideologically motivated. We start with a view of the world and then we fit the data into it. That view of the world can change with time (and data) but it would be foolish to believe that one’s opinions are pure deduction ex vacuo.

You (anon) are very vulnerable to that delusion, BTW. You believe too much in your own rationality and your ability to spot your own biases, sometimes with hilarious effect.

22 dearieme February 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Because everyman no longer bothers to disparage Freud it is at last not infra dig for academics to mock the old boy’s rubbish.

23 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I think mostly because he was wrong about just about everything he said, although there are some vaguely notional relevant things in much of what he says.

Like, I think most people do not lust after their mothers (Freud theorized extensively about such things), and over time I think consensus says that there isn’t even really much value in wondering about exceptions or hints of grey.

Is there really anything of value in his entire collected works other than a simple way to express “the narcissism of small difference”?

24 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

Like, more back at you. People do not have to defend why they think something is irrelevant. The person who thinks it is relevant has to defend it the other way around.

25 thfmr February 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm

I’d lay healthy odds you’ve read precisely zero single primary texts from Freud.

Great parenthetical, by the way. Truly you have considered things unknown to us.

26 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Well, considering that he wrote about 100 years ago, and was wrong about just about everything he wrote, and wrote many dozens of books and hundreds of articles, I sure hope that you’re prettty close to correct.

27 whatever February 20, 2017 at 10:47 pm

I am truly amazed that people still read Nathan’s posts (Nathan W == Troll me). I thought for a long time that he was a teenager in his mom’s basement. I was stupefied to learn he is actually a grown man. He even has a job (a lousy job, but still).

28 Troll me February 21, 2017 at 3:39 am

So disinteresting that it is necessary to drop in with such friendly banter …

29 Shane M February 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm

It’s been a long time since I read Civilizations and its Discontents, but I left school with a favorable view of Freud. I was only about 20 at the time, but how he viewed conflict between individual instincts constrained within society seemed insightful in compared to other “classics” I was exposed to. But I was only 20 and maybe should reread with life experience.

30 msgkings February 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm

I think Freud is now underrated. He was of course wildly overrated at first, but IMO the pendulum has now swung too far the other way. He made some interesting points.

31 Roger Sweeny February 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Btw, is there a reason academics clamor to disavow Freud? I mean a good reason…

Because he was wrong? Because he was–mostly.


32 AlanG February 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

“of course this is essential reading.” From your blurb I don’t see how this is any better than the collected works of Tversky and Kahneman that I already have read. Essential? Well I think that is in the eye of the beholder or perhaps it’s really only ‘confirmational bias.’

33 Sondre Rasch February 21, 2017 at 4:39 am

If you read some of Robin Hanson’s texts on signalling you will find that it is completely supplementary to Tversky & Kahneman, and in many ways much groundbreaking

34 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm

“Our brains were designed not just to gather and hunt, but also to get ahead socially, often by devious means. The problem is that we like to pretend otherwise; we’re afraid to acknowledge the extent of our own selfishness.”

I’d say pretending otherwise is actually an essential component of how we get ahead socially.

35 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:16 pm

An indication towards getting long for the purpose of mutual gain, as opposed to an indication towards eternal headaches, ego games, etc., certainly does suggest a more beneficial relation with more potential for upwards economic or social potential.

The themes on silverback gorilla style leadership in the board room, presented through stats suggesting that various psychopathic traits were overrepresented at higher levels of management, seem to have convinced some people.

The fact that some backstabbers (etc., etc. etc.) managed to climb the ladder before this was openly discussed does not constitute evidence that various such approaches to career advancement will continue to result in an overrepresentation of psychopathic traits in upper management in the future.

Among other things, for a concerte and easily implemented strategy for signalling purposes, perhaps a stlyish suit would communicate a desire to advance more effectively than psychological dominance games against those you suggest a desire to “work with” (dominate).

36 Robin Hanson February 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

Dominance behavior can give one far more benefits than merely showing a desire to advance.

37 Troll me February 22, 2017 at 12:50 am

I’m not impressed by people that are easily impressed by people who puff themselves up and the rest (although nothing against that, it may go along with many kinds of things).

If you’re talking about taking charge of a situation, getting active in delegation of responsibilities, identifying needs and capacities and ensuring that they can be matched according to achieving some objective, etc., this can be a sort of dominance behaviour that is very effective.

So, I think we probably agree to a fair extent

But I’m thinking of people who learn the “silverback gorilla style leadership” exhibition under the belief that puffing up and speaking with a deep voice will carry you to the finish line. Personally, I’m extra attentive for fluff and bullshit when I observe this.

38 Tyler February 20, 2017 at 9:27 pm

This is something often discussed where I live (Hong Kong). The impression of locals familiar with Westerners is that they are remarkably adept at turning their own selfish interests into a moral case for a specific action at the drop of a hat. The thing is, Westerners are good at that precisely because they truly believe it themselves – they believe that what is good for them must be good for everybody else, and that lends an air of authenticity and earnestness to their arguments that can very easily fool the inexperienced listener. Moreover, because they believe themselves to be genuinely interested in the greater moral good, they are also particularly prone to think that others are interested in the greater moral good as well. This ranges from high level business to the pettiest matters, but it’s remarkable to watch when you know what to look for. Local HK Chinese, by contrast, tend to assume everyone is acting more or less selfishly, and that others think the same of them, and words/actions are generally calibrated around that.

39 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Which way wins over there? I would think in the US, failing to properly mask behavior in un-selfishness would tend to be detrimental to social success, since the general expectation is that you should be masking. But even if the local culture doesn’t expect masking, some of what you say would suggest that masking may still be the superior social strategy. Which would be kind of surprising, and certainly interesting.

40 Tyler February 20, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Depends on your industry or micro-environment. The more international the environment, the more unselfish masking helps and is somewhat required. The more local or (Chinese) national, the more that type of masking is distrusted. But they practice masking as well, just a different type of masking – a more intentional form where both sides are aware that there is an underlying set of truths and assumptions and thus they don’t need to be stated. You never come away from the conversation feeling that this person has genuinely selfless interests in mind, even if their explicit words were phrased so as to seem selfless.

41 Cliff February 21, 2017 at 12:11 am

Maybe they convince themselves the Westerners are turning selfish interests into a moral case because they already believe that everyone is acting selfishly?

42 rayward February 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Trump may not be quite as large as an elephant, but Trump’s brain is hardwired to get ahead by devious means. Hanson is writing a timely book.

43 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Despite the long delays by the Democrats in finally approving Dr. Tom Price, the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare is moving fast!

44 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Stop impersonating me or I will crush glu like one crushes a shuttlecock.

45 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

* crush you like

46 Thiago Ribiero February 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Why are we Brazilians treated so shabbily here? It is a tota; mystery.

47 Thiago Ribiero February 20, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Damn this horribly tiny phone. I meant total of course.

48 And Now for Something Completely Different February 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Dear Thiagos, your exchange is brilliant comedy stuff , especially the part about the horrible tiny phone. Where are Monty Python when you need them?

49 Ted February 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Unless there’s some Straussian interpretation I am missing, Tyler’s interest in Robin Hanson is most baffling indeed.

50 anon February 20, 2017 at 2:14 pm

I will go out on a limb and say that this post is about the content of those paragraphs.

51 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Well, for me, the lurking question is whether those paragraphs are actually written by the book’s authors, because what a wonderful passage to read without having to take any of it even the least bit seriously. Though if it was written by an author, it is just possible that it is a masterpiece of self-aware mockery.

Particularly the use of the 3rd person, along with the idea that the authors are venturing into uncharted territory – ‘But this book also ventures where others fear to tread: into social critique. The authors show how hidden selfish motives lie at the very heart of venerated institutions like Art, Education, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion.’ Typographically, that may be true, using the Germanic style of capitalizing nouns.

52 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:06 pm

As I say, “cheating monkeys” sounds similar. I’m sure there are others, but I do think that the book will have value because so many people want to pretend they are rational agents, abstracted from their social monkey roots.

53 And Now for Something Completely Different February 21, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Yes, writing “the very heart of venerated institutions like [… ] Politics [… ]” is indeed roaringly hilarious.

54 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Shot in the dark …

If you’re not well versed in the science, it’s difficult to discuss many realities relating to diverse streams of advancement in recent decades in relation to mind influencing technologies.

Hanson’s writing seems to address many such issues in a highly palatable way that enables greater actualization of cognitive liberty on such matters without, say, having to face off with the powers that be.

If true (more speaking of Hanson), that’s very OK, and an excellent thing, right?

55 Sondre R February 21, 2017 at 4:45 am

Tyler seems to want to input into his brain the widest variety of thought.

What I find in Robin Hanson is someone i often don’t agree with, but always makes me think. The reason is that he seems to be consistently original and creative. The things he writes, you will not have read anywhere else in different form usually.

Recommend this:

Robin Hanson is more like himself than anybody else I know. He’s obviously brilliant – a PhD in economics, a masters in physics, work for DARPA, Lockheed, NASA, George Mason, and the Future of Humanity Institute. But his greatest strength is discovering things that are new and really matter. Bryan Caplan the economist described it like this in the link above:

“When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘Eh, maybe.’ Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘No way! Impossible!’ Then I think about it for years.”

Given all that, plus that I believe they are friends, it makes total sense for Tyler to have his attention towards Hanson.

56 Rimbaud February 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

10 months away is way too early to already start promoting this.

57 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

One could suspect – look, there is an elephant blasting floodlights in your brain! – this book, as presented, is going to need all the help it can beg, borrow, or steal.

58 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Going to have to second this take.

59 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

“Due out January 1, 2018, of course this is essential reading.”
Well, I won’t read it until it becomes self-recommending.

60 Mark February 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm

My autistic son has no desire/ability to get ahead socially. He is pretty astute and accurate identifying the role of selfishness in people’s motives, and has a dim view of humans generally. He takes care of our cats and loves his sister, and is good at math and science but not in a MS/PhD way.

Any ideas on how to prepare him for a world where AI may render him ZMP? Is a BS in econ sufficient?

61 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm

“He is pretty astute and accurate identifying the role of selfishness in people’s motives, and has a dim view of humans generally.”

And yet he fell prey to the most cynical and selfish animals of all Creation: cats. Turtleas are more dignified and dogs are more sincere and trustworth.

“Is a BS in econ sufficient?”
Has it ever been?

62 Jason Comely February 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm

The award for most cynical and selfish animal of all Creation goes to humans, hands down.

63 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Cats are worse, cats and Paraguayans.

64 Cliff February 21, 2017 at 12:12 am

I know self-flagellation is all the rage, but- what?

65 Ari T February 20, 2017 at 8:57 pm

I agree. Dogs are awesome. Better than many people!

66 Ray Lopez February 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

@Ari T – as a dog lover you must read this excellent Wikipedia link. I wasted a good part of an hour. And I do take care of dogs and like them, lots of different dogs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatal_dog_attacks_in_the_United_States (many of them being dogs who attacked their owners, said owners being kindly little old ladies, not at all harmful people).

I guess my gruesome favorite is the poor woman who was attacked by her dog, the sister of the woman grabbed the dog by the legs, as is proper, dragged it into the bathroom, locked the door, and while ministering to her hapless sister the dog broke through the bathroom door, again attacked the poor woman, grabbed her by the throat and ripped it out, killing her. Now that’s just pure bad luck. I think around the year 2007. Check out the year 1946 or so “trial” in a US court of law of the dog that killed an infant and the ‘pros’ and ‘anti’ folk that wanted to euthanize it. A trial in a US court of law, imagine that. Proving there were crazy dog lovers back then too. I also like the show dog, in the 1950s, who was a champion dog who killed his pet shop owner. So don’t tell me this owner did not know about dogs. Sure you can hypothesize he was a sadist, but how about the numerous little old ladies killed by their dogs? Some of these dogs are simply ill-tempered or have brain tumors it seems.

TC should do a link on this article, it’s that good.

67 Lanigram February 20, 2017 at 3:17 pm


You might find the transcript of Tyler’s interview of Peter Thiel interesting. Peter says autistic people have the potential to create ideas relatively immune to the creativity destroying conformity enforced by the social environment. We need more neuro-diversity. I bet some of the geniuses of the past were on the autistic spectrum. Let your son follow his interests. Best wishes for you and your family.

68 Sam Haysom February 20, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Maybe a few but I think you vastly underestimate the importance of charisma and social ability in getting ideas accepted in the premodern world.

The one exception to this might have been European German-Jewish community where learning over all other considerations truly was valued, but that society stagnanted completely until some Jews with powerful personalities convinced the rest of the Jews how embarrassing the lack of Jewish worldly achievement was.

69 Alain February 20, 2017 at 9:27 pm

Some? Newton, Jefferson, Einstein, Michelangelo many of the greats.

70 Sam Haysom February 20, 2017 at 9:43 pm

None of those people were even close to being autistic.

71 thfmr February 20, 2017 at 3:17 pm

In my view it’s simple: human wants are forever unquenched. Find something humans want and provide it. In this lifetime we will not be asking robots “please remodel my kitchen” or “please dance alluringly on that pole.”

No a BS in econ isn’t sufficient. A desire to offer services that others want, without respect to absurd qualifications and degrees–this is more likely to save your son.

72 Sam Haysom February 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I can predict pretty much off your characterization that barring some attitude correction he will struggle. Smug autism is basically a life sentence to underachiement and bitterness. Maybe explain to him that his motives are equally selfish (and not being charming people are going to be even more likely to detect that selfishness).

You might also explain to him that the entire Christian world took a pretty dim view of human nature too but they didn’t let them keep them from engaging with other humans and building and amazing series of cultures.

73 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Sideways to the question, but I think the concept of ZMP is more about people who actually produce something of value but do so much to bring it down that the net contribution is nevertheless zero. E.g., being so deterimental to teamwork and motivation, etc., so as to reduce overall productivity by more than the value of the work they themselves do.

This is a much different situation from someone who simply cannot produce enough for an employer to be abel to justify paying the price floor (minimum wage).

In many jurisdictions, there are special programs which see the government supplement wages of various types of disabled individual, I think often including those with particular mental disabilities which make it difficult for them to earn more than the statutory minimum for employment activities.

Another possibility, considering the existence of more direct benefits, is that assistance from the government can meet basic needs, while volunteer opportunities can contribute to satisfying more advanced human needs.

Finally, if you’re seriously considering paid employment in his future, I would question the diagnosis of “autism” except to the extent that it may prove useful in accessing resources, whether external assistance or just ideas in general. Regardless of what resources you might have been able to access as a direct result of such a diagnosis, very possibly a more open mindset will be more potentiating.

For example, consider this as an introduction: “Do you want to hire my autistic son?”, as compared to “He’s very socially aware but also socially disinterested, but he has a number of specific useful skills for the position”.

“Second finally” … if he’s astute in identifying other people’s interests and how it motivates them, is this not a specific flag that autism is not the correct diagnosis?

74 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Like, if you’re going around telling everyone that he’s autistic, you’re basically pre=castrating every single possibility you and him might ever be linked to at the same time.

If he can get a Bachelor’s degree, he’s “socially awkward” (with some select additional explanatory words if absolutely necessary), not “autistic”.

75 Mark February 21, 2017 at 1:15 am

I thank everyone who took the time to respond. I keep drafting a more detailed response, but all my drafts feel superficial and/or incomplete. All I’ll say is I’ve read these closely, and I’ve been reminded of some of my blind spots, so they’ve helped.

76 Shane M February 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Alot of good investors have autistic traits.

77 The Other Jim February 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm

>Only when everything is out in the open….

Yeah, good luck there.

I can only speak for my lifetime, but never before have so many topics been off-limits for “discussion out in the open.”

And I know that Tyler is 100% fine with this.

78 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm

‘but never before have so many topics been off-limits for “discussion out in the open.”’

Yep, it used to be those talking about the international communist conspiracy threatening America’s way of life were treated with respect, at least by Republicans. Unlike today, when those pointing to American sigint records detailing Russian involvement in American politics, they are told the topic is off limits, at least in respectable Republican circles.

And really, it used to be so much easier to talk openly about pedophilia, until those hard leftists at the American Conservative Union got Milo’s CPAC invitation rescinded, simply because of what Milo said. Like this – ‘“I’m grateful for Father Michael,” he said. “I wouldn’t give nearly such good [oral sex] if it wasn’t for him.” When pressed, he argued that his interviewers were blurring the meaning of “pedophilia,” misapplying it to consensual sex between post-pubescent men, even if one partner was below the age of consent.

“Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature,” he said. “Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet who have not gone through puberty.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/20/cpac-sticks-with-yiannopoulos-as-critics-highlight-his-comments-about-underage-sex/ (Do note that the link text is different than the headline – seems like some SWJ at the ACU actually watched Milo on youtube in the last couple of hours.)

79 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Americans are so myopic and lacking in world awareness that they would invite Russian psych war invasion to help win an election.

Hopefully this is mostly just about being naive, in a sense somewhat related to the percentage of American citizens who hold a passpport and the percentage who have ever visited a foreign nation for purposes other than a beach holiday, and not, say, a wholesale welcoming of authoritarianism a la Putin, as some fear may be occurring.

80 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Of course, all possible plays in all possible directions could also be presented as having relevance in nearly all possible situations where such thinking has some relevance …

81 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

And I sure hope that Breitbart doesn’t reveal itself to be a nest of hard leftists by firing Milo, thus showing that open discussion of pedophilia, and its effect on creating people, like Milo, able to give such good [oral sex] is being repressed due to Breitbart’s long suspected SWJ inner cabal.

82 Jeff R February 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Will the reader be disillusioned when they discern that the authors only wrote the book to increase their social standing?

83 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

At least the didn’t do it to make money. I hate people who do it.

84 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Enlightened – ‘by blasting floodlights into the dark corners of their minds!’

85 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Give the public a break – The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!

86 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 6:47 pm

I said, stop impersonating me or I will repeal and replace you so fast not even the electoral college will help you.

87 Lanigram February 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Budda’s rider on an elephant metaphor for the human conscious/unconscious mind is well described by moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his two books: “The Art of Happiness” and later, “The Righteous Mind”. His works, in turn, draws heavily on the work of Kahneman and Tversky, Dan Ariely, Michael Gazzaniga and others. It’s good stuff to read while waiting for the soon to be released books. Better yet, these works have actually been vetted! Enjoy!

88 Mike W February 20, 2017 at 3:52 pm

And this book is different from Johathan Haidt’s book…how? It even has an elephant.

89 Sam Haysom February 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

I’m curious to see how it’s an improvement even on Paul’s epistles.

90 dearieme February 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm

The refuse I left in the loo this morning is an improvement over Paul’s (and anyone’s) epistles.

91 whatever February 20, 2017 at 4:59 pm

And Haidts’ book is different from Kahneman’s book… how? Or Tversky? Or even Pinker? Or Pinker citing Fiske?

I like Haidt, mostly because I agree with a lot of what he has to say (except his take on Group Selection), but he is the Malcom Gladwell of psychology.

92 thfmr February 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Salty crowd today. The page led me to an essay of one of the co-authors that I thought quite good.


93 Christine February 21, 2017 at 7:52 am

Thank you thfmr – I enjoyed this essay a lot too.

94 dearieme February 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm

“hidden selfish motives lie at the very heart of venerated institutions like Art, Education, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion”: given how many blatant selfish motives those “institutions” involve, that leads to the frightening conclusion that there’s a whole raft – or even a slew – of selfish motives around.

95 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Perhaps a rare appropriate place to mention something or other about butchers and bakers?

This idea that there’s something wrong with making money unless you’ve hung out a sign that says “this is about making money” is just dumb.

It tends to go along with views which suggest that if you’re doing good things, it must be unpaid otherwise it cannot be viewed as “good”. Which from an econ 101 perspective, where you’d think it’s be good to have more incentives for “good things” and less incentives for “bad things” … well, it’s just seems completely retarded to me to promote ideas like people should be ashamed of any positive effects which might come from work they do. (Should we then assume that the proper order of things is to accept monetary payments for doing “bad things”?)

A more mutual benefit approach could be useful. Possibly that’s consistent with your point, but I’m not sure.

96 Thomas February 20, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Echoes of The Selfish Gene.

97 Ritwik Priya February 21, 2017 at 12:01 am

This really could go this way or that. Will it operate at the same level as the Third Chimpanzee? Or will the only polite fictions it punctures a hole in be the kind that nobody apart from the academy holds?

In either case, it needs to be a fun read, for well-read adults.

98 Apple Service Centre February 21, 2017 at 3:47 am

Apple Service Center In India Contact No., Service Centers Addresses, Toll Free Number, E-Mail and Details of Timings are Mentioned below.Apple Inc. have close-by 44 Service Center all over India.Apple Inc. cross all real urban communities like Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Lucknow, New Delhi, Udaipur, Varanasi and so on.

99 carlospln February 21, 2017 at 4:57 am

“Due out January 1, 2018, of course this is essential reading”. [SNIP]

If its ‘essential’, it can’t wait until 01/01/2018.

& if it hasn’t been written yet, how do you know that it is?


100 Robin Hanson February 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

The book has been written, and Tyler has seen it. Publishing is SLOW.

101 Roger Sweeny February 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I didn’t know Gutenberg’s original press was still in use.

102 Tyler Fan February 21, 2017 at 9:39 am

Not available for preorder

103 Flannery Bro'Connor February 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

” Despite millennia of failed efforts to decipher the meaning of laughter, 20th century biologists finally cracked the code. Laughter, both in humans and in our closest primate cousins, is a “play signal”, a message that says, ‘Despite what seems like a threat, everything is great; we’re just playing.’ ”

Phew, thank goodness the biologists finally figured this one out !

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