Holiness Spirals and Wars of Attrition

A crucial concept in understanding our current political situation is holiness spiral. It may be the single most important concept.

A holiness spiral is equivalent, in terms of game theory, to a war of attrition. I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, Neuro, wars of attrition are interesting, but what about all-pay auctions and patent races? Is a holiness spiral game theoretically isomorphic to those also?”

You’re in luck; the answer is Yes, because they are winner-take-all contests.

AttritionWar

Why does that matter? Because once you’re invested in a winner-take-all contest, it is actually rational, in a certain sense, for you to keep putting resources into winning the contest even after the value of winning is lower than the value of the total resources you’ve put into it. No, I’m not crazy; this is well-known in game theory.

A classic example is the “dollar auction.” This can be an auction in which all bidders must pay their bids even if they don’t win (all-pay) or it can be such that only the two highest bidders pay their bids. Business schools have done experiments. A professor of business goes in front of his class and says, “Here’s a dollar bill. I’m going to auction it off. The rules: Highest bidder pays his bid and gets the dollar. Second-highest bidder pays his bid but doesn’t get anything. All lower bids pay nothing and get nothing.”

Some doofus bids a cent. Some other doofus bids 2 cents. And the idiocy has begun! Now that someone has bid 2, the guy who bid 1 is in the following position: If he doesn’t change his bid he loses 1 cent. If he raises his bid to 3 cents he wins the dollar and pays 3 cents, for a net gain of 97 cents. OK, so they’ll bid until one of them has bid 99 cents, then they’ll stop, right?

Nope. Say the bids stand at 98 cents and 99 cents. The guy who bid 98 loses 98 cents if he stands pat. If he bids a dollar he wins and breaks even. So he does that.

OK, now the bidding is done, right?

Nnnnnnnnope.

The guy who currently has a bid of 99 cents loses 99 cents if he stands pat. If he raises his bid to $1.01, then he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 1 cent. That’s better than a net loss of 99 cents.

Hmm. And the other guy? If he stands pat he loses his dollar bid. If he raises his bid to $1.02, he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 2 cents. But that’s better than a net loss of a dollar.

You see where this is going (“To infinity and beyond!”). Not only in theory, but in actual experiments, people do in fact end up paying more than a dollar to win a dollar!

Key features:

• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player. Just knowing your own bid doesn’t tell you whether you’ve won; you have to know the other guy’s bid as well.

• You bear costs whether you win or lose. This is the “all-pay” feature. An all-pay auction is an artificial situation, but consider a war of attrition: some of your soldiers are killed, etc., whether you win or lose. It really is all-pay. Same for patent races: Suppose you spend $0.9 billion on R&D trying to develop a new medicine worth $1 billion, but your competitor is on track to win by spending $1 billion. Win or lose, you pay the R&D costs. It would actually be better to plow another $0.2 billion in, so you’ll “win” the race by paying $1.1 billion.

• Action is sequential: You would never start by bidding $1.02 for a dollar, obviously. But once you’re invested, you have some losses you’d like to recover. So your investment in the contest keeps rising.

So… holiness spirals. If you’re new to this concept, the word “holiness” is ironic here; it means “leftist.” It probably started centuries ago with some totally innocent-sounding thing like, “Let’s expand women’s rights. Why shouldn’t women be allowed to work as secretaries outside the home?” Before you know it, it’s the official position of the Washington Post that no woman should ever go to prison, no matter what crime she commits.

And someone said, reasonably, “Why should it be illegal for men to wear women’s clothes and vice-versa?” (Used to be illegal, apparently.) A century later, male-to-female transvestites are in the women’s bathroom, and a security guard who tries to remove one from the ladies’ room is charged with assault.

What the hell happened? What happened is that some asshole started the political equivalent of an all-pay auction.

Let’s look at holiness spirals in light of the three features above. We want to understand this because that will help us to stop the fucking thing. And a holiness spiral is like an asset bubble: It either keeps advancing or it collapses. So if we stop it, we destroy it.

Holiness spirals:

• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player(s). You can attack people less holy than you, but they can’t effectively attack you. If Fred is the holiest he can say to the mob, “Attack Steve; he’s not holy enough!” But Steve can’t say, “Attack Fred; he’s too holy!” That’s saying, “Attack Fred; he’s too good!” So everyone tries to out-holy everyone else.

• You bear costs whether you win or lose. Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy. But you pay those costs whether or not some other lunatic is saying, “Yeah, AND anyone who objects should be thrown into the hoosegow!” If that guy wins, then there are dudes in the women’s bathroom— as you advocated— plus dissenters are punished. Why did he outflank you to your left? Because while that made the society somewhat more insane, it made him personally safer, since now he is the holiest.

• Action is sequential: You would never start by saying men should be allowed to use the women’s bathroom. Indeed people didn’t start by saying that, historically. But your initial sane position that “There’s no need for laws to enforce gender clothing norms” got outflanked by someone who said something a little more pro-trans. That put you in a less holy position relative to him, so he could attack you, but you couldn’t counter-attack. So you outflanked him with something a little more in that direction. Thus the bidding war. It starts with you saying “I bid one cent for that dollar.” It ends with guards being charged with a crime if they try to keep a man out of the women’s bathroom. Well, that’s not actually where it ends. We’re not done with our holiness spiral yet.

Fighting these fucking disasters.

Above I wrote this: “Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy.”

THIS IS KEY. One of the crucial aspects of all this is that even sane, normal people pay the costs of having trannies in their bathrooms, and women (if the WaPo gets its way) being allowed to commit murder without punishment. (Well, they already are, but the WaPo wants this to be expanded beyond babies.) That means that— unlike the all-pay dollar auction— even people who aren’t participating in the holiness spiral have an incentive to stop it. This mattered e.g., on November 8, 2016 and will matter more as the holiness spiral becomes ever more extreme.

What specific actions can we take? First, we need to spread the awareness of the insanity as far and wide as possible. I do this in various corners of the Net, and everyone on the right should.

Also— and plainly this has already started— we need to ramp up our black knighting. N.B. not black knighting as in Monty Python’s hapless knight, but black knighting as in attacking our enemies under the guise of being holier enemies. For example, when an organization proudly announces on Twitter that it has hired a homosexual female, attack them for not hiring a minority or Muslim homosexual female. This sort of thing happens all the time now, and one can’t tell whether it’s the crazies getting crazier or good guys black knighting. The great thing is precisely that one can’t tell. That’s why it’s effective.

And what is the effect? Simple: It eliminates the safety, and therefore the benefit, of leftward movement. If my proudly announcing that I just hired a white lesbian immediately gets me attacked for not hiring a black lesbian, there’s no safety in that holiness-signaling move, so no reason to do it. Lately, if you just hire a straight white Christian male and don’t say anything, you’re less likely to be attacked by the hate mob than if you’re a leftist who proudly boasts about that lesbian hire. (Leftists seek vulnerability: They go after other leftists because they know leftists (1) care about fitting in with the lefty herd, and (2) must comply with the latest left-wing demand to keep their leftist customers/donors/whatever. In contrast, what will happen if they scream about Vox Day hiring a straight white male for his publishing company? He’ll just laugh at them. His customer base sure as hell isn’t SJWs.) The realization will spread that you might as well just hire the best person and keep quiet about it. That is becoming safer. And to the extent that it’s not safe, it’s not much less safe than trying to appease the SJW mob. And that destroys the incentives that propel the holiness spiral.

Black knighting must be done absolutely straight-faced. Don’t try this in a forum where they already know you’re not an SJW; you’ll just be dismissed as stirring up shit. But: New personality (dox-proof) in a forum where they don’t know you. We can all get to work black knighting.

The beautiful thing about black knighting is that the enemy has no defense against it. If they even try to defend, then you’re like, “Hey! They’re Anti-trans! Anti-wymyn! Anti-gay!” Etc., etc. They simply cannot deny that you’ve out-holied them. This isn’t theory; we’ve seen this happen increasingly in the last few years. E.g., the gay black author who was just SJW-shamed into pulling his book due to accusations of insufficient political correctness.

So, two things everybody on the right can do: Spread news to normies about the craziness. And join the black knighting movement, which is already well underway.

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7 thoughts on “Holiness Spirals and Wars of Attrition”

  1. “Black knighting must be done absolutely straight-faced. Don’t try this in a forum where they already know you’re not an SJW; you’ll just be dismissed as stirring up shit.”

    It works even if you can’t keep a straight face, although in a different way. Either your black-knighting is serious critic or it is ridicule. Riducle is very effective at attacking holiness.

    The person who pretents to be holy, does it to be respected and admired. Ridicule is the opposite, so it hurts.

    Moreover, there will probably be some people in the audience who aren’t really believing in this holiness and just faking believe. There is always a chance that your ridicule might trigger a “the-emperor-has-no clothes” event. At the very least, there is a chance that some people will join your ironic black-knighting and amplify your ridicule.

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  2. Those are good points, and they have the happy effect of taking the pressure off. I.e. you don’t have to worry about letting the mask slip. And the Twitter lefties’ outraged reaction to trolls like Godfrey Elfwick illustrate how much mockery freaks their shit.

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  3. I wonder if only something like the proposed sending illegals to sanctuary cities will work.
    There’s a good argument that nothing short of true accountability will work, because people will rationalize pretty much anything at all, even just outright lie or say one thing and the opposite, if the alternative is being excommunicated.

    Black pilling sounds interesting though, and fun.

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  4. In a sense it already has worked, since it has forced to left to start screaming, “Hey! We don’t want those people in OUR cities!” Of course, they don’t say this directly; they use double-talk, but it’s obvious what they’re saying anyway. Normies can’t miss how blatant the dishonesty is. God, I love this President.

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  5. I’m glad to know it has worked. Perhaps it has woken some people up, though not that many people will admit it publicly.

    Here in Europe, if you tell people that those who want to bring in immigrants should house them themselves, or live right next to them, then they tell you ‘what a horrible thing to say, that is a nasty comment’. They claim comments like that have some bad intentions behind.
    I have given up the hope for any kind of communication with them.

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  6. For some reason I thought you were here in the US.
    But anyway, it has been amusing to watch the lefties here say things like, “We don’t want to deprive other areas of the country of the benefits of having immigrants.” LOL. No one is fooled by that.

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  7. I studied in the US, lived there for a few years. But can’t say I know the US since universities tend to be their own little island.

    Like many, I was not long ago a leftist too, so I know how disingenuous they are. I bullshitted my way through conversations, knowing that’s what I was supposed to do. Not knowing what I was talking about didn’t matter because I knew my back was covered. Shameful!

    > But anyway, it has been amusing to watch the lefties here say things like, “We don’t want to deprive other areas of the country of the benefits of having immigrants.” LOL. No one is fooled by that.

    Reminds me of how they shame Japan. If 3rd world immigration were such a tremendous economic opportunity, why does it bother them that they don’t take advantage of it?

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