The Emperor is Naked

Most of us have probably heard the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes (though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s banned by schools these days). The very short version is that a couple of con artists tell the emperor that they can make him a set of clothing that is invisible to people who are stupid and incompetent. The clothes are non-existent, but the emperor himself and everyone around him pretend to admire the new clothes, because they don’t want to admit that they can’t see them. Eventually a little boy sees the emperor, and loudly declares “The emperor is naked!” Everybody, the emperor included, finally realizes that the little boy is right and that they had been tricked.

The reason stories like this stick around in our cultural consciousness for hundreds of years is because they illustrate something profoundly true about the nature of that the. It’s often easier to understand these truths implicitly through a story than to actually articulate them directly. Some psychologists theorize that dramatization of a particular concept is a necessary first step to being able to understand it explicitly.

Probably the most obvious concept of this particular story is that you can get people to pretend to believe something they don’t really believe by manipulating their ego: by shaming those who don’t believe it and/or praising those who do. And this happens a lot in modern society. Think about this the next time you hear somebody pejoratively labeled a “denier” of someone else’s agenda-driven pet theory.

But what I want to focus on here is that this story is an accurate representation of the concept of groupthink. Solomon Asch’s work famously demonstrated that most people would choose an obviously wrong answer to a simple question if everybody else in the group chose the same wrong answer first. You can probably imagine yourself in this situation: the possibility of being the only person who is wrong is a lot more unsettling than that of everyone being wrong. You don’t want to be singled out as the one idiot in the room, so you follow the herd.

The emperor and his advisers and all the townspeople in the story played along with the deception because they didn’t want to be singled out. You can get a lot of people to play along with such a deception, especially if you can get early buy-in from someone of high social standing. Like, say, an emperor.

To follow the Asch experiments further, he found that all that was needed to give the study participant enough confidence to give his true answer instead of the false answer of the rest of the group was for just one other person in the group to give a different answer first.

This truth is illustrated beautifully in the story in the character of the little boy. All the emperor and the advisers and the townspeople needed to drop the whole façade was to hear just one person speak the truth. And it’s not a coincidence that that one person is a child. A child is one who has not yet developed the stifling self-consciousness that starts to dictate much of our behavior around junior high on through the rest of our lives. This incredible freedom from ego might explain in part why the archetypal child is venerated in stories and religious traditions.

If you guessed that I was going to start getting political with this, then you’re right. Suck it up, buttercup! This story strikes me as a perfect parallel to the concept of political correctness. Political correctness is, at its essence, a set of socially accepted lies, which few people actually believe, but to which everybody must pay lip service or else be singled out and publicly shamed.

The shaming in this case mostly comes in the form of character attacks. You’re an evil person, a bigot, etc. Of course, they try to fit in every other angle too. You’re a dumb yokel, you’re uneducated, you’re just mad because you can’t get laid (attacking someone’s sexual self-worth is actually the most effective form of shaming–if it’s plausible), etc.

I hope you’ve noticed the irony in both cases. In the Emperor’s New Clothes, in order to avoid being judged as stupid and incompetent, the people act in a way that is stupid and incompetent. People adhere to norms of political correctness because they want to be perceived as having good character, but in doing so are actually revealing themselves to be morally weak and cowardly. Though to be fair, standing up to the political correctness mafia often results in more tangible consequences than mere social shaming, such as losing your job, getting sued, or getting sucker punched by strangers. But even still, a truly courageous person will be willing to risk such consequences.

Which, at last, brings us to Donald Trump. If you haven’t already surmised, Trump is the little boy. The mainstream media has not been shy about labeling Trump as “childish”. And they’re right, in part. That’s exactly why so many people like him so much. And why the peddlers of lies hate him. He is the one self-assured, defiant little boy willing to speak truths that nobody else in such a high position is, and the whole edifice of lies is crumbling as a result. Haiti and most African nations ARE shitholes. And the emperor is naked.

 

Advertisements

Women Treat Men Like Men Treat Jobs

“Women treat men like men treat jobs.” I can’t remember where I heard this particular bit of wisdom, but I was thinking about it today, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I don’t think it means something akin to “something that people generally don’t like very much but are stuck with to pay the bills, although that interpretation certainly works in some cases. Rather I mean that it’s a good analogy to help men understand female sexuality.

I’ve come to believe that every psychological difference between men and women can be explained as a result of the differences in our reproductive biology. In this case, the operative difference is that men can reproduce with many women simultaneously, but women can only reproduce with one man at a time.

This one fact explains quite a lot of our differences, actually. That society puts a higher value on the average woman than on the average man, that men are more distressed than women by sexual infidelity, that women are pickier when choosing dates, and so on. Perhaps I’ll go into those in more detail later.

But back to the job analogy. Assuming we’re talking about full time work and our you’re not a crazy workaholic, you can only realistically have one job at a time. As such, your choice of job is going to be important to you, and you’re not going to take it lightly. You’re going to do your research, and probably not just take the first job offer you get without first exploring your options–unless you’re desperate.

Once you have a job, you’re probably going to hold on to it for a while, perhaps even for the rest of your working life, unless you realize soon after that you made a bad choice. If another job offer presents itself while you already have a job, you are not going to consider taking the new job unless it looks considerably better than your current job. And even then you’re going to be somewhat hesitant to take it, because you know that switching jobs too much can get you a reputation for being a job-hopper, which harms your chances for future employment.

For the ladies, this example also works in reverse: that men treat women like employers treat employees. Most businesses fail. And even of those that succeed, many never have the capacity to hire any employees. Those that are especially successful can hire multiple employees at the same time, since they have the resources to attract them. They will choose the most qualified employees they can, given the options available to them.

Companies generally prefer to have more employees rather than fewer. But since their resources are limited, there is a necessary trade-off between quality and quantity of employees. In some cases, one really good employee can replace a whole team of lesser employees. Better employees come at a higher cost than lesser employees, since better employees are also more desirable to other companies.  Some companies will put more emphasis on quality and some on quantity; that is–some may prefer to hire several low-skill, low-pay employees in place of one skilled, high-paid employee, and vice versa.

All else equal, companies prefer younger employees who have many working years left ahead of them. They tend to avoid employees with a history of job hopping, since they realize that these employees are more likely to leave soon after being hired. They try to avoid employees who have had a lot of bad jobs in the past and have become cynical about jobs in general (interview tip: don’t complain a lot about past jobs). And they prefer more qualified employees to less qualified employees. A company that finds an employee working for another employer while on the job will be very unhappy, and probably fire that employee immediately, since the employee’s working capacity is limited.

I could extend this analogy even further. This may be getting a little ridiculous, but hey I’ve come this far already. Rampant polygamy, which is the natural result of unfettered human sexuality, is subject to certain societal constraints. For every Genghis Khan with a harem of 2,000 women, there are 1,999 men who get zero women. This is likely to cause a lot of resentment among the less successful men and perhaps even lead to revolt, so institutions such as law and religion in many societies attempt to limit the number of women that can be monopolized by one man. Similarly, very large companies tend to be met with some degree of distrust and resentment, and are subject to anti-trust laws which limit their size.

And society treats companies that hire a bunch of unskilled illegal immigrants for three dollars an hour with the same scorn as that one friend (you know the one) who bangs all the fat chicks.

 

 

 

Know the Value of Your Time

Here’s another productivity tip that I’ve been perfecting lately. I remember listening to a Jordan Peterson lecture in which he suggested students put a dollar value on their time in order to help them discriminate between those activities that are worth their time and those that aren’t. After thinking about it for a little while, I’ve concluded that this is excellent advice, and I’ve begun to implement it in my own life. I’ve got some ideas of how best to do this, and I have decided to share them with you, oh lucky reader!

First you have to figure out how to set your price, which is by no means obvious. Having been an econ major in college, I naturally gravitated toward a marginal utility approach. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what that means; I’ll illustrate with a thought experiment:

Say I offer to pay you $50 to do a task that takes you exactly one hour and you feel totally neutral about the task itself. That is, you don’t really find the task enjoyable or painful; it’s just monotonous. Data entry, for example. Would you do it? How about if I offered $100? Or $20? Ask yourself what is the minimum dollar value you would be willing to accept for that hour-long task. This is the value you should put on your time.

Note that this will probably be different than whatever hourly rate you make at work, if you have a job. That’s normal. If your job is already covering your needs, you will likely require a higher pay rate to be willing to do extra work.

Ok, now you know how much money your free time is worth. The next step is to analyze everything you do, or are considering doing, and decide whether or not each activity is worth your time.

Let’s say you value your time at $50 per hour. Excluding unavoidable responsibilities, how have you spent your time the past few days? Let’s say you spent two hours yesterday watching TV. You spent the first hour watching Impractical Jokers. Was that experience enjoyable enough to be worth spending $50? Well yeah, obviously! But then you spent the next hour watching whatever stupid TruTV show comes on after Impractical Jokers. Was that worth $50? Probably not. Next time, turn the TV off after you watch what you really want to watch and do something that’s worth your time.

Better yet, figure out what’s worth your time before you do it. Say your friend asks you if you want to go to a theme park. Ask yourself, is it worth spending four hours in line for thirty minutes of riding roller coasters? If you really, really like roller coasters, or you just enjoy hanging out with your friend even if you have to wait, the answer might be yes. Otherwise you should probably pass. Calculate the full price you’re paying, for example: $50 for theme park ticket + $50 x 4.5 hours for the value of your time = $275. Is the full experience worth $275 to you?

You can apply this to productive endeavors as well. Say your job will pay for your tuition to get a master’s degree. You don’t particularly want to go back to school, but you think it would help your career. Since colleges helpfully already measure their course offerings in weekly hours, you could easily come up with a time cost of the whole program. 80 credit hours x 12 weeks per semester x $50 per hour = a time cost of $48,000. Do you expect the degree program to increase your future income by more than $48,000? If so, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Another application of this that I’ve really started to take to heart recently is deciding whether to do something yourself or pay someone else to do it. If it would take you an hour to do an oil change (with buying the oil, clean up, and all), and the mechanic shop charges $30, it would be a good investment to let the mechanic do it if you value your time more than $30 per hour. Likewise, if it would take you four hours to clean your house, and a maid charges $80, the maid service would be a good investment if you value your time at more than $20 per hour.

A lot of responsibilities and time drains can be outsourced, now more than ever. I just tried Uber Eats meal delivery service for the first time recently. Last night I bought a burrito for $9, and Uber Eats charged $5 (plus $2 tip) to deliver it. At first I thought that was really steep. It almost doubled the price of my burrito. But then I considered that it probably saved me a good 45 minutes that I would have spent driving to the restaurant, waiting for food, then driving home. Using this new framework, I recognized that I spent $7 and saved 45 minutes. Not a bad deal.

Of course, you don’t need to come up with exact calculations. That would take time in itself. For a big decision, such as enrolling in college, it might mike sense. But for pretty much everything else, a rough estimate will do. To use the above example, I never bothered to calculate what exactly my 45 minutes was worth. I just knew that it was obviously worth a lot more than $7, which is all that really mattered.

The benefit to this exercise is that it keeps you accountable for how you spend your time. Your time is valuable, and it deserves to be treated as such. Such a systematic approach to evaluating activities makes it much easier to say no to time vampires that may capture your attention but don’t add much to your life.

A Random Thought

I think the gender wage gap would be completely negated by the portion of men’s wages that we spend on women. Between buying dinners, clothes, jewelry, cars, shared houses, vacations, alimony and child support, the average man probably spends more of his money on women than he does on himself. Add that to the fact that taxes and corporate health insurance programs are both disproportionately paid by men and the benefits received by women, and you’d probably find that a comparison of incomes adjusted for these variables would show women ending up with considerably more than men. I’d be interested to see a study on this, if anyone can find one.

The income gap that feminists are ACTUALLY upset about is the much larger gap between the sweet, pretty, feminine women whom men can’t help but love and the ugly, bitchy, masculine women who are the feminists themselves.

A Simple Theory on Nutrition

Let me preface this article by conceding that I am not any sort of expert on this topic. I’ve managed to keep my own body quite healthy, fit and strong, but I have no relevant credentials and a spotty understanding of biology. Then again, given how abysmally wrong the experts in the field of health science have been over the past few decades, perhaps this counts in my favor.

My theory is based on the premise that our bodies are, generally, well-designed to be healthy. Or well-adapted through many generations of evolution and natural selection, if you prefer.

Just about everything you might want to know about nutrition centers around three questions: what to eat, how much to eat, and when/how often to eat. I believe our bodies are perfectly well equipped to answer all of these questions without any conscious scientific knowledge at all. As luck would have it, our bodies come from the factory already equipped with signaling mechanisms designed to answer these questions for us.

For the question of what to eat, we have our sense of taste to guide us. If it tastes good, it’s good to eat. If not, it isn’t. For the questions of how much to eat and when/how often to eat, we have a sense of hunger to guide us. It’s good to eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we are sated.

This isn’t the whole theory, of course. If it was, we could all eat pizza and ice cream with every meal and binge on Fritos until our stomachs explode. No, unfortunately there is one caveat: it only applies to naturally occurring whole foods.

Scientists do a piss poor job of telling us how to be healthy, but they are very talented at making us fat. Food engineers have been able to modify existing foods and create new “foods” that trick our body’s natural signaling mechanisms and turn them against us. I’ll give you a few examples.

Most of us enjoy sweet foods. An apple, for example, tastes good because it is sweet. This is the body signaling that the apple is a good thing to eat. Scientists have been able to identify the exact chemical compound (the sugar) in the apple that provides the pleasant taste sensation, and isolate it. They are then able to provide the sweet taste of the apple without any of the other nutrients and enzymes that are also present in the apple. They can also add this isolated sugar to other ingredients to create new artificial foods (like candy, ice cream, cookies, etc.), and increase the sugar content to make the new foods even more appealing to the taste buds than the apple.

This presents a host of problems. It means that sugar can now be consumed in much larger quantities than is feasible when eating only whole foods. It can be consumed in the absence of any of the naturally corresponding nutrients and enzymes that may counterbalance the negative effects of pure sugar. And it means that sugar can be combined artificially with other chemicals that may be harmful or toxic and thus make the toxic concoction appealing to the taste buds.

Another pitfall is artificially modified foods. Trans fat is a great example. Trans fat is a chemically modified version of oils found naturally in various plant sources, such as corn. Trans fat does not exist anywhere in nature, so our bodies’ taste signals have not had any reference to classify them as good or bad. But since trans fats are chemically similar to naturally occurring fats, the taste buds generally classify them as “good”. But, unfortunately, trans fats can’t be properly processed by the digestive system and are toxic.

The conclusion, then, is that if you stick to naturally occurring whole foods, you can eat as much, as often, and whatever appeals to you without regard to calorie counting or macronutrient target ratios, and stay healthy.

There will inevitably be some questions regarding how natural is natural enough, or which artificial foods are safe and which are not. Note that I’m not saying that all artificial or modified food is necessarily bad, just that it’s not inherently trustworthy. There will always be some gray areas here, but as I suggested before, the 80/20 principle will serve you well. Here are a few general rules of thumb:

  1. Avoid those things you already know are highly unnatural. Aspartame, trans fat, MSG, etc.
  2. Shop around the outside of the grocery store. Meat, vegetables, fruits, milk, etc. Avoid food that comes in boxes or cans.
  3. Natural food is usually perishable. If the expiration date on your food is five years in the future, it’s probably highly processed.
  4. More natural is better than less natural. Grass-fed beef is better than feedlot beef. Organic vegetables are better than conventionally raised vegetables. Wild caught fish is better than farmed fish. Blue corn is better than yellow corn. Etc.

Stick to these recommendations and you’ll be healthy and beautiful in no time.

A Theory on Career Women

My last real job was a particularly dreary one, working on compliance for the mortgage department of a large multinational bank. The building was run down, the equipment was outdated, and every desk and monitor in the endless sea of cubicles was covered in dust. Nobody was happy to be there.

I worked with three women. The first was a moderately attractive brunette in her early thirties with young children at home. Her only career goal (according to her own admission) was to be promoted to one level higher than her current position so that she would get an extra week of vacation time. The second was a sweet blonde lady in her fifties with a slight Southern accent and adult children. Her greatest joy in life was drinking beer and watching auto racing with her family.

The other woman was my boss’s boss. She was morbidly obese, had been working at the company for over twenty years, and was disliked by everyone. She mostly kept to herself in her corner office lair, the entrance guarded by most pathetic tiny, balding, forty-something gay (I think) male secretary lackey I’ve ever seen in my life.

I was reminded of this particular office dynamic a couple days ago when reading a Heartiste piece pondering the utility of status jockeying among women. Since, as Heartiste, the study he cites, and a basic understanding of human nature concur, social status is irrelevant to a woman’s mate value, why then do women compete with each other for status? Heartiste proposes a few theories.

For me, the topic brought up a in my ever-insatiable mind a related question that I have considered only briefly before. That is, why do some women spend decades of their lives toiling endlessly in miserable, meaningless, soul-destroying desk jobs to attain wealth and career positions that seem to afford them no real benefit? Is a closet full of Coach bags and Louboutin shoes really worth it?

Of course, most women aren’t this way at all. Most women are like the first two women in my old office. They work when they feel they have to, but find it far more meaningful to spend time taking care of and relaxing with their families. Post-feminist society does everything in its power to beat into young girls’ heads that they ought to spend their prime-fertility years laboring away at a meaningless desk job for some corporate behemoth to pursue the same career ambitions as men, but the corporate propaganda is proves to be no match for biomechanical reality most of the time.

This is the real reason for the gender wage gap, by the way. It isn’t that women are oppressed by the evil patriarchy. It isn’t that women are taught not to assert themselves (these days you can hardly take a step without bumping into a fat spinster cat lady or scheming male feminist loudly demanding girls do precisely the opposite). It is quite simply that career/financial success directly influences male mate value, so men want it more. It has no influence whatsoever to female mate value. The sweet, pretty receptionist will come out ahead of the ambitious female Senior Director every time.

But why then does there persist this minority of women who work their lives away for money and titles and obvious status signals such as luxury cars and designer clothes? my theory is that they are confusing indicators of mate value for mate value itself–or they’re hoping you will.

For a man, accumulating wealth raises his mate value in and of itself. Typically, a wealthy man is a man with high mate value. Such a man, by virtue of his high mate value, will pair with a high value woman, and generally share his wealth with her. So, traditionally, a woman displaying signals of wealth would be assumed to have acquired that wealth through her high mate value.

melania

Most women compete for the actual prize: a high quality man and high quality offspring. But a few women–probably those who feel they can’t compete very well in the traditional domains of feminine charm–will opt instead to compete with men for mere signals of status, hoping to dupe others (and perhaps themselves) to mistake their outward display of success for the real thing.

But it’s a pretty transparent façade. Normal people view the ambitious career spinster with her fancy shoes and fancy purse like they do a beat-up old Chrysler in a Wal-Mart parking lot with a BMW logo super-glued to the hood.

The #1 Best Weight Loss Tip Ever

I’m a big fan of applying the 80/20 principle to all aspects of life. That is, in a wide variety of pursuits, it only takes 20% of the possible effort to get 80% of the possible results. On that note, here is the best way to lose weight with minimal effort (that doesn’t involve smoking crack):

When you’re thirsty, drink water.

Not diet soda. Not fruit juice. Not Gatorade (I don’t care about your stupid electrolytes). Not flavored water. Just regular plain old H2O.

Pretty easy, right? This one tip will do you more good than obsessive calorie counting, and it’s easy to turn into an ongoing habit. Also note that I’m not suggesting you give up drinking beer when you go to a party or coffee to help you wake up in the morning. I’m just saying for general hydration, drink only water.

Give this a try for three weeks. Set a specific start date and end date and write them down somewhere. Weigh yourself on the start date and then again on the end date. I think you’ll be pleased with the results. You will also likely feel healthier in general and save yourself some money. If you like the results, keep doing it. You’re already pretty much in the habit of it anyway. Maybe even consider getting a high quality water filter and avoiding plastic bottles.