Tag Archives: todo

On Chesterton’s fence

Chesterton’s fence does not necessarily mean that a social norm implies a process of deliberate engineering toward that norm in order to solve or prevent a specific problem — though sometimes it may, as with the Catholic Church’s engineering of norms against close cousin marriage.

Notes toward similar concepts to Chesterton’s fence — perhaps drawing on some level from Steve Sailer’s ideas about the British, emergence, and evolution (and golf):

1) Civilizations are rare. Why? If civilizations arise wherever the resources exist — but can this explain civilizational cycles within the same area? If civilizations arise wherever there is a great leader to unify the people and found an empire — but why did some empires collapse shortly after their founding? Korea demonstrates the importance of social technology in civilizational maintenance/flourishing; certain other areas may also, like southern Italy, but then there’s IQ as a confounding factor. (But how do those areas compare to others of similar IQs?) hbdchick makes a good case that a certain type of social norm (marriage patterns) has far-reaching effects; if there’s one, there’s likely to be others. This field isn’t well-understood at all, but its importance should be obvious, since the collapse of empires is well-attested in the historical record. And if norms play a significant role in the maintenance of civilizations, isn’t the existence of a norm in a successful civilization evidence (weak but existent) that the norm is important? (That’s a question — I don’t know, but it seems like it. There are probably statistical methods for dealing with this sort of thing, but I don’t know them.)

2) Norms can emerge organically through mass responses to obvious conditions, without deliberate engineering of the sort likely to leave easily-noticed written records.

3) Human universals or near-universals: what is the reason for their existence? There are imaginable ways of organizing society that aren’t seen in the world; is this due to pure historical chance, or? Since they exist, it’s probably a bad idea to devote resources to them without at least trying to figure out why the fence is there.


03:27 < nydwracu> “i liked being able to countersignal with this but now liking it is only signaling so i have to find something else to countersignal with against that”
03:28 < nydwracu> in this sense, hipster identity is fundamentally defined in terms of opposition
03:28 < nydwracu> the plus side of this is that it incentivizes a great deal of innovation
03:31 < nydwracu> but the oppositional mode leads to [and could be caused by] the political positioning-against that contributes to cthulhu’s leftward drift and the colonial-officer mentality of the demographic from which hipsters are drawn
03:32 < nydwracu> “my thede has no characteristics and in fact is not a thede at all, it’s just further along on the unidirectional and universal Progression of History”
03:32 < nydwracu> my thede defines itself musically in no terms at all and in fact there’s no such thing as a hipster and i’m not one


02:01 < nydwracu> you know that there are certain identities available to you to identify with
02:01 < nydwracu> and you know that some of those identities can provide certain benefits
02:02 < nydwracu> you adopt an identity based on the benefits it can provide
02:02 < nydwracu> and start to identify with it
02:02 < nydwracu> which means that certain things start to register as thede-relevant
02:02 < nydwracu> you want to promote memes that benefit your identity
02:03 < nydwracu> because that means they benefit the thede, and you’re a part of that
02:03 < nydwracu> and you want to oppose memes that don’t benefit your identity, for the same reason

Of course, this doesn’t happen consciously — visceral feelings of being justified/attacked, etc.

There’s something going on here…

…but I don’t have the words for it yet. Pulling my comment from here.

This may be so, but all languages will adopt all the color names when they need to do photorealistic painting, for the purpose of identifying the different shades in that art.

There are languages with larger color name inventories than English.

Of course, this is all about basic color names — there can be non-basic color names (blue-green, dark red, etc. — I think gold and silver aren’t considered basic color names, though I’m not sure why), and between derivation and coining by analogy (see: ‘orange’), you end up with as much specificity as you’d need.

There’s something interesting going on here: on some level it’s all relative [and therefore seemingly random], but on another level, it’s shaped by certain societal forces, technological demands for specificity, etc.

So on the most primitive level, there’s a totally linear gradient from less to more developed, with the West (and especially England) being most developed of all; but on closer examination, this breaks down and it’s all random and relative once you get past colonialist ideology and Western supremacism and so on; but on even closer examination, societal and technological demands imply the existence of some sort of advancement-gradation, since advances in certain fields (which demand specificity of color-names) will end up creating a wider vocabulary of color-names…

…and then, on a fourth level, that can be attacked, since there are languages in Papua New Guinea where certain areas of the color spectrum aren’t lexicalized at all and colors are described by analogy, which presumably would allow at least as much specificity as the English derivation system, but investigation of color names is restricted to basic (i.e. neither derived [dark red is derived from red] nor reducible to a more basic color [maroon is a type of red, but red isn’t a type of anything else] — cf. vörös [ = dark red], which is neither derived from nor reducible to piros [ = red]) color names and that ignores the potential for derivation and analogy and there really ought to be terms for the things that are going on here but there aren’t…

Also on the list of unspeakable things going on:

  • Media becomes more real than reality. Analysis is done only with media-pushed input. GIGO, of course, but it’s more specific than that…
  • The failure of egalitarianism to deal with the large male status-differential. (And other failures of egalitarianism: remember that Pando article on Valleywag? That concept should be crystallized.)