Political Philosophy and the Theory of Martingales

My political philosophy is the theory of martingales.

A martingale is a dynamic stochastic process which— don’t fucking freak out. “Dynamic” simply means changing over time and “stochastic” means having a random component. In other words, dynamic stochastic processes are Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Anyway, a martingale is a generalization of the concept of a random walk, a dynamic stochastic process which has an expected change of zero. That’s all, no biggie. If you can’t handle this go look at some funny cat videos on YouTube and I’ll see you for my next post. Besides, I’m shuffling some ignorable technical asides off to the footnotes.(1) Maybe that will get this published in USA Today; they fucking love the theory of dynamic stochastic processes.

It’s trivially easy to prove that the evolution of a rational person’s beliefs over time is a martingale.(2) Basic idea: If you’re rational you’ll have anticipated all future events that are anticipatable, so the only thing left over to change your beliefs over time is events that weren’t anticipatable. That is, you cannot predict the future evolution of your own beliefs.

The more precise statement of this explicitly mentions events’ probabilities, but it’s the same idea.

Sample path: Rational agent’s belief over time in 2-space.

I briefly discussed some implications that this fact has for politics in one of my first posts, The Mind Cannot Foresee Its Own Advance, and I want to return to this theme. Despite the opening sentence of this post, my entire political philosophy is not really the theory of martingales; I just wanted to open with a strong statement. Like Beethoven’s famous duh duh duh DUH.

Now the human race (SPOILER ALERT) is not rational, but we are learning over time in way that involves paying attention to data. (Some of us are, anyway.) This is true at least for subjects that aren’t too politicized, e.g. astronomy, and for pretty much all subjects in investigations and discussions outside of our formal institutions (which are hotbeds of reality-hating dogmatism).

But note that crucial caveat: for subjects that aren’t too politicized. We need to keep the “politicize everything” crowd disempowered and at the margins of society so they can’t step on the human race’s ability to advance. Things must be kept as loose as possible so we can continually follow the unpredictable martingale of our evolving beliefs toward the truth.

I mentioned astronomy as a subject that’s not too politicized, but of course no subject is safe from the left. Apparently the USSR had a Marxist dogma about whether the universe is finite. I forget which way Marxist dogma landed on that, but the point is, the dogma didn’t come from data; it came from some notion about whether an infinite universe was consistent with dialectical materialism. (LOL, WTF?) And of course there was the Lysenkoist period, which— according to a Soviet biologist in the Gorbachev era— set Soviet biology back by at least a decade.

Obviously neither astronomy nor anything else is safe from the increasingly insane left, a mob that has decided that acronyms are racist and the statement that 2+2 = 4 is western cultural imperialism.

Not that further examples are needed these days, but an example of how this insanity affects hard science: Bill Nye the Science Guy used to have a video explaining how XY and XX determine a person to be male or female. Netflix censored that video. Nye himself, apparently quite the screaming pussy, disavowed reality and embraced “gender fluidity” theory around that time.

These are examples of the human race moving backwards, but it’s not enough to not regress; we need to advance. And no dogma can ever say “We’ve figured it out; no further intellectual innovations are valid,” because the future evolution of our beliefs is unpredictable.

This doesn’t mean you can’t hold the opinion that certain matters are for practical purposes settled. Often the probability of further significant revisions is small enough (based on current information) that that’s a reasonable belief. But it does mean that no person or group should ever be allowed the power to stop other people from investigating the allegedly settled subject.

Einstein sure as shit wasn’t predictable based on Newton. If future discoveries were predictable they wouldn’t be discoveries.

I’ll return again (probably ad nauseam) to a theme of this blog: The things that many of us used to believe about women were largely the exact opposite of the truth. God forbid that we not be allowed to revise our beliefs over time! I won’t get into specifics much— I rehash them enough— but let me mention that some of this body of knowledge about female psychology is relevant for a single man on the dating market and some of it is relevant from a point of view of “social policy.” (A lot of it is relevant for both.) An example: That a lot of women want to play a game of “Let’s you and him fight” between men, including groups of men at a societal level, has existential implications for the survival of our society. That’s something I never could have foreseen when I was 15, or probably when I was 25.

As Eliezer Yudkowsky said in a lucid moment: “Let the winds of evidence blow you about as though you are a leaf.” This is nothing but a poetic formulation of the martingale proposition.

Does all this imply that free speech absolutism should be non-negotiable? Actually, yes, in principle that’s exactly what it implies. But. We have seen in the last 75 years or so that that may not be a long-run stable situation. Total freedom of speech, as well as providing enormous benefits, also provides malign power-seekers unrestricted opportunity to coordinate and plan with each other. This is a problem because (along with 99 other reasons) when they acquire power one of their first moves is to crush all ideas they don’t like. So it’s possible that level-1 censorship might be necessary to prevent level-10,000 censorship. E.g. we might have to exclude communists from universities because if we let them in, they’ll soon take over and exclude everyone but communists.

Or maybe it’s not that simple. There are enormous practical problems with ceding anything to the idea of censorship because that abandons the clearest Schelling point on the issue. Maybe the best formulation of the problem is not “Choose zero censorship,” because that might not be a long-run tenable situation, but “Choose the minimum sustainable level of censorship.” Not to cop out, but: It’s complicated.

In any case…

The human race faces fearsome challenges, as it always has and always will. We must be free to have our beliefs changed unpredictably by new evidence if we are to learn, adapt, and overcome the tests.

Or to put it more tersely: Rational learners’ belief revisions are mean-zero, so kill all the censors!

(1) A martingale is a generalization of the concept of random walk because the only requirement for a variable to be a martingale is that it have an expected (mean) change of zero. A random walk, at least the versions that I’m familiar with, also typically assumes that the probabilities are symmetric about that mean and indeed, frequently assumes that the probabilities are Normal. It also assumes that the probability distribution governing the dynamics is constant over time. A martingale allows the probability distribution to mutate all it wants, provided that one feature, the mean-zero change, always holds. For example, a martingale needn’t have a constant variance.

(2) It’s an immediate consequence of the Law of Iterated Expectations. Here’s another way of seeing it: If you’ve ever studied Statistics, you’ll remember the obvious fact that a rational forecast algorithm has zero-mean forecast errors. So if you’re rational, then the mean revision to your beliefs as you correct your forecast errors will be… See? Not that hard.
By the way, note that if Joe has data that Jill doesn’t, then Joe can predict how Jill’s beliefs will change when she gets the data, but Jill can’t predict that. She has to wait until she gets the data.

(3) Invisible bonus footnote only for those who read the other two! If all this sounds vaguely familiar but you can’t quite place it, it might be because you once read about the Efficient Markets Hypothesis in Finance. Note the EMH assumes rational market participants. Its random walk implication is an example of the point I’m making in this post. I exposited this idea here.

The Two Most Likely Outcomes: Junta or Government as LARP

The pessimistic crowd thinks, or claims to think, that the left could successfully genocide traditional Americans. This is utterly detached from reality. Keep in mind that there are about 2.2 million members of the armed forces – counting reservists – and about 145 million Americans who report having a gun in their household. There are north of 390 million firearms in the US. People who say we can’t successfully fight without a leader are neglecting the role of sheer brute-force quantity.

Example: Two professional soldiers who have been training together for years and are total bad-ass professionals, against a million other people, who are not bad-ass professionals. Who do you think will win?

Right. So we agree on the basic point and we’re just quibbling about where the line is. (“We’re just haggling over the price,” as the old joke has it.) (1)

145 million divided by 2.2 million equals about 66. We don’t have to ensure that we take casualties at a ratio less than 1-to-1. We could take casualties at a ratio of 23 to 1… and still have 100 million of us left when the military has literally run out of soldiers! We could take casualties at 46 to 1 and still have 50 million of us left when the military is gone!

But of course even this take is absurdly pessimistic, since a large fraction of the soldiers – probably a majority – are not going to participate in a genocide of incorrect Americans and would in fact fight it. The notion that white army guys are going to round up white Americans and genocide them is fucking ridiculous on its face.

By the way, the military has a dictum for officers: “Never give an order that won’t be obeyed.” Obviously the existence of this dictum implies that orders are disobeyed sometimes. And the dictum is a response to disobedience of orders that fall well short of “genocide all politically incorrect people.”

Yes, you in the back, what’s your question? “Dude, what about the officer purge that the Biden Administration is trying to do right now?!” That’s the officers, not the guys with guns.

Most people who have thought seriously about this danger, e.g. the commentariat at Eric Raymond’s blog, including the ex-mil people, have always said the citizens would win. I mention Raymond’s blog for no particular reason, except that IIRC it’s where an ex-mil guy once weighed in with this fact: When the US military runs war games for this scenario the US civilian population always wins.

Yes it’s outrageous that they’d run such war games, but the results are encouraging.

I also think the pessimists and I have different goals in mind. My victory is preventing genocide, not to personally survive. I mean, I want to survive, of course, but my main concern is that the good guys prevail in the end. I get the sense that the “Waaaaah, we can’t win” crowd is actually thinking, “There’s no guarantee of a victory in which I, personally, am not injured or killed.” Of course there isn’t. We are contemplating total war. The question is which side is going to win, not whether one side is going to win without suffering so much as a scratch.

If you’re hoping for a victory in which you have no danger, I’ll just remind you that these are basically Communists straight out of the twentieth century: The first thing they’ll do if we don’t resist them will be to genocide us. Keep that in mind and let it stiffen your resolve. I get the sense that a lot of the “Wah, it’s no use fighting” crowd (wussies) are too young to actually remember the Cold War, the reality of the Soviet Union. They really will kill you. It’s the first thing they’ll do if they have the power to do it. In the last century they murdered as many as 100 million people all over the world. The first sign that the hard left has taken over a nation is mass-scale slaughter. So firm up your spine, because we have nothing to lose by, um, vigorously resisting them if and when they come for us.

How did 20th-century governments accomplish such megadeath? Lots of disarmed populations and, I think more importantly, the fact that people simply couldn’t believe that they’d do it. We have like 400 million firearms, and the history of the twentieth century. When the Sargent says to his soldiers, “Round these people up into the cattle cars for relocation,” both the soldiers and the people they’re ordered to round up know what it means: Take them to death camps for genocide. The soldiers will mostly disobey, and the people will resist because they know they’ll be murdered if they don’t.

We know that left-wing governments really will genocide their own populations. Attempts to do this can no longer be protected by the population’s sheer disbelief that a government would do such a thing.

It’s the same situation if they’re “only” coming to take your guns. They’re re-branded 20th century communists: Why do you think they want to disarm you?

Another thought: Unlike the goal of people like e.g. the Jimmists, my goal is not to take control of the government, nice though that would be. It’s to avoid being genocided. To do that we don’t actually need to get Chuck Schumer out of the Senate, etc. We just need to become a sufficiently hard target so that the bad guys with guns stop trying to kill us.

It won’t be long before all of their guys with guns just refuse to continue the attempted slaughter. After the people they try to slaughter have taken down say a third of them, I’m pretty sure the remaining two thirds will suddenly find a lack of interest in obeying orders to attack. Cops and Antifa shock troops will start calling in sick on those days, or they will simply flat-out refuse to follow such orders. What’s Pelosi going to do about it when she orders a bunch of Washington cops to (try to) assassinate some right-wingers and the cops say “No”?

Such outright refusals have happened lots of times, including recently. After one of the BLM episodes in Atlanta in 2020, cops in Atlanta started calling in sick/resigning. Good guy cops in Michigan refused to enforce at least one of Iron Dingbat Whitmer’s orders. And note that the Second Amendment sanctuary town, county, and state idea is spreading, with sheriffs flat-out announcing that they won’t enforce or allow the enforcement of unconstitutional disarmament measures. On the other end, lots of Trump’s Executive Orders, etc, were flat-out defiantly ignored by many people in the executive branch.

There just aren’t that many cops/mils who genuinely want to genocide people of incorrect skin color… let alone want to do it enough to risk death for it!

And cops who aren’t even willing to risk their pensions are not going to risk their lives.

So then what happens? One possibility is a palace coup in which the military or law enforcement guys with guns get pissed at the ridiculous orders to risk themselves for leftists’ genocide fantasy, and take out the leftist government. Then we have a military junta government, which compared to off-the-leash leftism is heaven on earth.

Another possibility is this: When the mil and cops stop obeying orders to round us up and kill us, we eventually realize that they’ve stopped and the enforcement mechanism for less extreme leftist edicts is also gone. The federal government becomes ineffectual. Lo, many an edict issues forth from the marble-lined sewer halls of Washington D.C., but the edicts are ignored. This will be an amusing (if you can ignore all the bloodshed that precedes it) new equilibrium: The President, House, and Senate continue to go through exactly the same Executive Orders and “passing of laws” and whatnot that they do today. And the laws are solemnly written into the Congressional Record. And nothing else happens. Joe Senator feels great because the New York Times continues to report, in a serious tone, on the bill he co-sponsored becoming law. And since nothing ever comes of that, except some ink is applied to some paper in Washington, everyone else is happy too.

We’ll have reached the state of Government as LARP.

In other words, we become like tons of other governments in the world. Consider some of the governments in the Americas, for example. Or this delightful factoid I heard about France years ago: Apparently in the early years of this century, some whackjobs in France decided to pass a law banning smoking in restaurants and cafes! (In France!) A few years later, the records for Paris showed that not one, not a single, ticket had been issued to anyone under this law. Enforcement was literally zero.(2) I’m sure that you, dear reader, can think of many examples like this from all over the world.

So in 2023 President Harris signs into law a requirement that every person, upon arriving to school or work in the morning, shout “I love transgenders!” three times. The law is written into the Congressional Record and is never heard from again.

Of course, SJWs will shriek with rage at the lack of compliance. That’s fine. Normal people are happy because it’s not enforced, and SJWs are happy because they have something about which they can shriek with pretend rage. Everybody wins!

(1) Another take on the point that quantity matters: If it doesn’t, then if you’re a right-leaning reader, why are you worried about immigration?

(2) And no, it wasn’t because compliance was 100%, duh. This is France. Glenn Reynolds (or someone) passed along an anecdote in which a guy was smoking in a café and serenely ignoring a French Karen who was telling him she was outraged at him. “You’re outraged,” he repeated blithely, continuing to smoke.

Though I am curious about what they used for lube in Mississippi in the 1800s

Here are some quotes from the USA Today article “5 books not to miss”, January 2, 2021. I present the entire list of books from the article with some of its commentary on the books, and the whole fucking thing is leftist cultural propaganda. You’d think that a tiny saving grace would be that, every once in a while, leftists would get bored of constantly spewing propaganda. Nnnnnnnope. They fucking love it!

  1. “The Prophets,” by Robert Jones Jr.

What it’s about: Jones’ powerful debut novel centers on a forbidden love between two enslaved gay men on an antebellum Mississippi plantation.

The buzz: Kirkus Reviews calls it an “ambitious, imaginative, and important tale of Black queerness through history.”

So two men fuck each other in the ass. Yeah, so?

  1. “Outlawed,” by Anna North

What it’s about: It’s 1894, and Ada is an outlaw. After a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town that hangs barren women as witches, the teenage wife joins the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a new safe haven for outcast women.

The buzz: “It’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ meets ‘True Grit’ in the best sense…”

  1. “A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself,” by Peter Ho Davies.

What it’s about: A family has a child after terminating an earlier pregnancy that yielded catastrophic test results and grapples with the decision made and the unending work of parenting.

  1. “Bone Canyon,” by Lee Goldberg

What it’s about: Eve Ronin, the youngest female homicide detective in LA, always feels like she has something to prove, but especially when a cold case heats up…

  1. “The Push,” by Ashley Audrain

What it’s about: Blythe never wanted to be a mother but changes her mind for a man she loves. But motherhood turns out to be everything she feared and her conviction that there is something deeply wrong with her daughter tears her family apart.

Summarizing: “Black queerness through history” plus “slavery!” (the Emacipation Proclamation was in 1863, more than 150 years ago) plus “Yay, abortion!” plus other forms of anti-natalism (“the unending work of parenting”) plus “women, oppressed by the Patriarchy as they are, have something to prove.”

Apropos of nothing, here’s a quote from Orwell’s 1984:

Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.