Saturday, April 11, 2015

Differential Diagnosis, Economics, and Running Game

2016 Election Season draws near. Every morning my smartphone's warm glow shows another preliminary poll, another electoral move, another exploratory committee, another announcement, another scandal. Then a "what does this mean?!" segment fills some morning NPR air, months before we can even seriously discuss the Iowa Caucus. 

Who really cares? No matter the issue, no matter the cycle, Democrats and Republicans strike the same notes. Either the rich have stuck a siphon into the economy's coffers and drain daily millions of dollars from the wealth of the righteous peasant, or we need broad-based tax cuts to lower the cost of business and create a New Renaissance. No matter the issue, no matter the state of the economy, both parties offer their textbook solutions, couched in the same over-hyped rhetoric.

When someone sells you the same solution for everything? They sell snake oil. Economy in the gutter? Snake oil. Iranian nuclear weapons? Snake oil. Bugs in your house? Snake oil. In the real world, there's no policy proposal, not one, that can fix everything, or is even appropriate for all situations.

Since every crisis bears a character unique to itself, just like every man bears a unique fingerprint, every policy proposal needs nuance.

Unfortunately, politicians are not at fault for this. No, our human brains, in the hunt for simplicity and on the run from hard work, tend to generalize solutions across all ranges of problems. This is why, on every forum, I see people harkening the lessons of Munich when dealing with Iran. Or pointing to the example of Iraq. People of all rank, station, and intellect fall prey to this fallacy.

This line of thinking came up in the recent Tyler Cowen/Jeffrey Sachs discussion. For those not familiar with Jeffrey Sachs, a brief introduction may be in order. Sachs was the youngest economics professor ever to achieve tenure in the United States. A prodigy in almost every conceivable metric, many governments called on him when the Berlin Wall fell, so that the Eastern European economies could develop quickly and freely. He is greatly responsible for the "Shock Therapy" transition from Communist Central Planning to Market Economics.

But, Shock Therapy proved too simple, too universal a concept. You cannot treat Russia, Poland, China, Chile, and Bolivia the same. Sachs, crisis champion extraordinaire,  maintained this was his greatest lesson. Each nation, with its own unique history, and with its own unique advantages, requires unique solutions. There can be similarities in prescription, of course: every nation needs schools. But, still, attention to details defines ultimate success or failure.

Sachs drew an analogy to his Wife, a pediatrician. In the medical field, they use a practice called differential diagnosis. Essentially, this is a line of questioning designed to determine what ails you when your symptoms resemble numerous conditions. Or....if you show up with a headache, a million different things could be wrong with you. How do we determine what is actually the problem, and rule out other conditions?

If you showed up to a doctor's office with a headache, and he prescribed chemotherapy because you MIGHT have a tumor, how would you react, as a civilized and learned man?

The same situation applies to any failing economy. India and North Korea and Egypt all have failing economies: What is your solution? If you propose the same solution in every single instance, with no adjustment for nuance, we can simply rule out your opinion. Or at least judge it incomplete, and in need of substantial revision before roll-out.

Based on what we just talked about above, do you think this is good advice?

Neo-Masculinity routinely sustains attacks for simplifying categories and providing false, one-size fits all advice. It is suggested that we never pay attention to individual situations, that we twist facts to suit theories. It is strongly suggested this indicates a failed ideology, lacking vision or honest prescriptive remedy.

But just look at that Blue Pill nonsense! This is the garbage we were told on a daily basis for years, given new packaging today with terms like "authenticity" and "vulnerability." Yet, this fundamental advice, if you can call one-line sound bytes advice, bears in every respect total similarity to the propaganda practices of the major political parties.

Essentially, if anyone is telling you to "Just Be Yourself," they are selling you snake-oil.

Blue Pill attraction theories are based almost entirely on JBY, along with healthy doses of "magic," "chemistry," and "It Just Happened."

Contrast that with the Neo-Masculine Community. We have Cocky-Funny game. We have Day Game. We have Night Game. We have SNAG Game. We have Beta Game. We have Guitar Game. We have....

The list goes on and on.

The Neo-Masculine movement, far from embracing one-size fits all solutions, games out hundreds, if not thousands of scenarios, and applies lessons from the collective fieldwork of thousands of men. This is not simplification, but deep thought.

Hell, just read one of Roosh's books. These are not one-size fits all guides, but comprehensive analysis of entire nations, with deep understanding of cultures, multiple suggestions for different strengths, etc. That's the point of going international, even! Women are not all the same. Women are different in every culture. You must adapt to maximize your romantic prospects. 

It's even okay to be Beta!

On the other hand, Blue Pill strategies revolve entirely around "magic" and "just be yourself." This is not advice. This is snake oil. If someone peddles snake oil, you can be sure they are trying to make a quick buck, at your expense.

But why all the emphasis on Alpha and Beta?! Isn't that a simplification.


But let's examine why this works, by making a comparison to a different field.

Why do we teach Supply and Demand? Supply and Demand, especially in what we call Perfect Competition, does not exist in the real world. If this dynamic does not exist in the real world, ever, at all, why bother teaching this? That remains a fundamental critique of economics education, despite the fact that every undergrad class I attended started and ended the same way with supply curves and demand curves.

The reason we teach Supply and Demand is to clarify thinking for new students, even if this might lead to simplified conclusions. We compare costs to benefits, and teach young adults to think at the margins. We tell them to think about trade-offs, and how interconnected networks interact with each other. We hope our students will make more informed decisions in the future, and based on the post-war economic boom, I'd say we've done an alright job. 

A good example of economic analysis is why water is less expensive than gold, despite being more important to life. There's a lot more of water than there is of gold, so it's not worth a whole hell of a lot. This also means, on the margin, putting more of your investment into gold than water supplies, will make people happier.

Economics is a difficult subject to learn. Hell, Jeff Sachs is a genius, and he learned the same way all the rest of us did: making mistakes over the course of decades. That does not mean his entire model needs disposal, or that he knows no more than the bum on the street.

This analogy applies to simplified discussions Alpha v. Beta. We are stuck with young men who have absolutely no knowledge of human attraction. Worse, they have negative knowledge, since society jams a decade of filth into their mind before we even start our education. Much of what we do involves unlearning, before we can even begin the process of real education.

Because of that, we talk about simplified Alpha vs. Beta, in the Nice Guy vs. Jerk dichotomy most young men have seen first-hand. We focus on the trade-offs women make, the contradictions they speak, and  the negative aspects of their personality. 

That's not an attack on women. We love women. But we need to teach men not to pedestalize women, as they have been trained to do, often for decades before we can reach them. We teach them to treat women as real, fallible beings, not as morally pure Madonnas.

We teach them that there is nothing magical about attraction, that it is the result of a series of factors. We teach them that there are certain things men can do to demonstrate high value, like playing guitar or telling funny jokes or being tall. We tell them a coherent story (that may or may not be true) of how this is the result of women's biological programming, over millions of years of evolution, that this is hard-wired and women cannot change.

We teach them that women have been socialized differently and often think differently than men. We can look at the same social situation, and see entirely different mechanics at work, and draw different conclusions. This is not meant to attack women: this meant to teach men the feminine point of view,  and the strengths and weaknesses thereof.

From there, we can start getting into more specific details, like the behavior of women and men given different life experiences, different environments, etc.

But we need some sort of simplified intellectual basis, or else we cannot lead our wayward sons from their mental prisons.

No comments:

Post a Comment