Draft Reply on Antiversity

I’m posting in bullet form before my thoughts are presentable to stimulate further discussion with Vincent and other interested parties.  This may be irrelevant to the point of indecipherability to many readers, caveat lector.  (I already spent rather more than “lunch” typing this – didn’t realize how many points would end up in the outline – and I doubt I will finish expanding these points or even start working on this draft for several months, but I hope it is somewhat intelligible.)

A. Preliminaries –

A1. Final point of “Part 3” is 1st in many ways: what resources of $ and manpower do we think an Antiversity would have to work with? Correct solution to any problem totally dependent on what resources you plan to invest in the solution.

A2. My basic instinct is, copy the Left!  Long march through institutions. So we need to evaluate any specific plan for Antiversity against the “option value” of pursuing a tried (but possibly multi-decade) strategy

A3. Regardless, Long March/Antiversity are clearly natural complements. (Even if you think recruiting an army and laying siege is easier than persuading a city to join you, if you could persuade just one sentry that surrender is a good idea and get him to let down the drawbridge, suddenly the siege becomes a lot easier.)

A4. More broadly: how much should we copy leftist tactics/strategies, or avoid? Beyond copying and domesticating tactics, what about harnessing the same trends (i.e. trends that invariably lead to disorder; finding a microbe to infect the infectious microbe)

A5. Even more broadly: is the plan to build up an arsenal of informal power to resist Cathedral and then “hand it over” after formalization? Or do we need to be leery of acquiring informal power and make the Antiversity self-formalizing?

B. Signal-jamming –

B1. Big picture: we don’t want to whine about the fact that we’re considered kooks and worse.  It’s not a question of moral dessert or victimology.  We want to win, and we think we can win because we’re right (and will get righter and righter because we don’t engage in amyl-nitrate-fueled epistemological barebacking).

B2. Vincent’s précis: challenge is to fight system of signals which recognizes Cathedral as authoritative and stigmatizes any opposition as kooky/eccentric

B3. First step is Batesian mimicry.

3a. We need to find the authority-signals that are most weakly associated with ex cathedra knowledge-generation capacities and start mimicking them ruthlessly. Don’t mock the fact that academia is a cargo cult, put up a plywood radar tower to convince the choirboys you’re the priest. (Result: choirboys stop trusting lower ranks of Cathedral. Cathedral needs to retrench to its most expensive signals.)

3b. Go full “Nasreddin Hoca”(sp?); start circulating dissident research/articles formatted as though it came from sanctified sources.  N.b., information and analysis in such articles must be immaculate, only the publication (and maybe even the author!) are changed. Counterfeiting of frippery of prestige on massive scale. — This can even extend to hosting them where academic papers would typically be shared, e.g. personal university webpages and so on.

B4. University degrees, affiliations, chairs etc. confer prestige due to selectivity. Okay (we say), this is mostly a filter for neurocognitive traits; I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours? Antiversity cadres should have recent, rigorously administered Wechslers, Ravens, maybe others; maybe other validated instruments like HEXACO; also useful to have them take GRE, maybe LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, or other tests which we know Cathedral priors and deacons must have taken (and so could conceivably publicize); in other words, use same quantitative filter for credential-granting, but just use the filter as the credential and challenge the Cathedralkin to publish theirs.

B5.  All this has the effect of weeding out weaker Cathedralkin from stronger.  Now, stop treating any arguments as about conclusions, treat them as arguments about dueling claims to authority.  That means we are the wolves and they are the deer.  Don’t go after the bounding stag, always attack the herd by culling its cripples and misfits.  Antiversitarians will have to train to switch to attacking an opponent’s brand as soon as he authority-signals: find the weakest departments in his field, the weakest PhD’s awarded at his alma mater, the weakest research by his colleagues, and mock them and force him to disavow them before anyone can return to first-order debates.  (Disruption tactics!)

B7.  This forces Cathedral to fall back on its real resources (expensive signals) and its real strengths (accurate signals).  What are the most valuable parts of the R1-university package? (And likewise for the lower rungs of the Cathedral: most valuable parts of better magazines, etc.) Can we rip them off wholesale? (What are the best ideas for reforming the Cathedral that are impractical due to institutional inertia? Can we rip those off?)

B8.  Regulatory arbitrage.  Those resources and strengths come with strings attached; what are they?  For example, the Antiversity will not get any R1 grants, so it will not have to submit research ideas to Institutional Review Boards.  What would researchers die to be able to do, that IRBs forbid? Antiversity does that.  (Can we set up cells in foreign countries to circumvent national research restrictions?)

C. /ourguys/

C1. As the standards of the Cathedral’s authority-signaling system start to come down, the Antiversity needs to create its own.

C2.  Thales.  The best signal of intellectual superiority is to constantly make lots of predictions that others think are crazy but then come true…. over and over and over again.

2a.  The “Less Wrong” thing of calibrating your predictions over a huge range of (mostly irrelevant) beliefs is better than nothing, but still pretty pozzy: ideal is to speak softly until you’re ready to shout out a “wacky” prophecy that you are confident about, and then goad as many opponents as possible into ridiculing you for it.

2b. If you are very confident about a large number of minor predictions or think you have very good calibration of all your predictions, the correct way to demonstrate that is by using the knowledge to solve problems that flummox everyone else, or through entrepreneurialism/investments/bets.

2c.  Yes, if the Antiversity is that great, some of its cells should be self-funding.  Sort of like Bell Labs. Possibly this principle should be extended to non-predictive research as well: e.g., volume of book sales is a gauge of relevance and insight.

2d. (Minor point: also important to work on making more conditional predictions if you would plan to defend your prediction if it fails, post hoc.)

C3.  “Trap principle” (More later)

C4.  Vincent’s précis made it sound like the Antiversity would be Leninist (organized by democratic centralism), which I think is very smart.

C5.  The Cathedral is authoritative and prestigious largely not due to its prestigious branches, but due to its mediocre ones.  Positional signaling systems only work well when the system labels it’s inferior-quality products as INFERIOR QUALITY in big flashing letters, which is what creates faith that the BEST QUALITY-label really marks out something great.  So to supplant the Cathedral, the Antiversity needs to offer its own mediocrities and, generally, signal not only quality but hierarchy.

5a.  This is a change from how the Orthosphere functions now.  To some extent it’s a hugbox, right? We have a lot of camaraderie and mutual sympathy and are always encouraging one another as much as we can.  This is integral to competitions where good teamwork is mainly a function of unity, loyalty, and energy.  The Antiversity would need to neg its mediocrities harder than the Cathedral would.

5b. (To some extent right-wingers experience with this on /pol/ etc., which is one of the great benefits of our anonymous, decentralized organization.  People who participate in A+D discussions get used to severe criticism and adapt accordingly, but A+D can’t create status hierarchies.)

5c. Ideally we just want to create a lot of hierarchy, by fiat, even if it initially seems gratuitous and silly.  Whether it is researchers/cells/factions/students/papers/fields/whatever, the Antiversity can create useful hierarchical signals just by ranking the units and continually revising the rankings based on some kind of objective criterion (which could simply be the Condorcet rankings of an agreed-upon board).

5d. This can then be exploited in various ways.  Whatever the hierarchy-signals are — say they are Gold, Silver, Bronze: Gold can signal e.g. that they cannot be bothered with responding to frivolous questions/challenges from irrelevant questioners, please go ask Bronze; Bronze, meanwhile, has the job of showing outsiders that he mastered his field, so that they know Gold really means something.

5e. (However, it would be nice to enact this without attracting the type of people who desire high positions within the Cathedral to begin with, i.e. seekers after prestige/status.  The simplest way to do this would be to go full-reactionary and return to the medieval practice of identifying Antiversitykin by sigils.  Your sigil isn’t associated with your personal status in real life because no one knows it’s you; and anyway, it’s hard to identify with a letter or symbol.  Just one possible solution.  — Using letters, kanji, or some geometric mix of shapes+colors+pattern would probably be the easiest way to generate sigils, but for full intersectional epistemo-fascism the Antiversity could acquire an Urbit-star to identify each of its researchers.)

C6.  Here I’m still thinking mostly in terms of the internal organization of the Antiversity, but we need to think about the structure of the communication system for the Antiversity as well (its interface with normal people, when it isn’t challenging the Cathedral directly).  That could mean everything from cloning arxiv, ssrn, plos; to co-opting existing boards and media to function as the Antiversity’s equivalent to the bottom rung of the Cathedral; to wholly new technological solutions (take inspiration from weev’s samiz.dat project).

D. Diagramming

This is sort of a tangent, but I’d like to flesh out a more versatile way of diagramming what we mean by “The Cathedral” at some point, ideally one that rests on different types of relationships in networks where individuals are the nodes that can then be used to aggregate/analyze the net-relationship of different clusters in the network (i.e., networks where groups/institutions are treated as nodes).


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