Overoptimization

This article is currently unfinished.

Maybe it's a holdover from when I less-critically accepted Primitivist viewpoints, but I can't help but notice when people get too good at things. As in, they become so adapted to dealing with a particular situation that they actively become worse at dealing with anything else. There are two specific instances of this that have been on my mind recently, and I felt the need to write about them for a bit.

It's become something of a meme at this point, but left-handedness is well-known to be correlated with certain medical phenomena. Let's start with the good: left-handed people are overrepresented in high-IQ groups. There have been a few possible explanations for this, usually involving the rewiring of the brain inherent to left-handedness. Possibly related to this is the noted tendency for left-handed people to have better musical memory.

Now for what could be called "neutral" correlations: left-handed people are overrepresented in the LGBT community. I call this "neutral" because being LGBT does not inherently provide any sort of advantage in society, so it is not positive. However, the reason I don't call it negative is unrelated to the contemporary Western rejection of classifying these conditions as diseases. (Further thoughts on this matter will come later.)

Lastly, we have the definitively negative correlations: left-handedness is correlated with anxiety, autism, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. As for more physical diseases: cancer, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, and cardiovascular disease are also associated with left-handedness. Here's where it gets interesting: contrary to my positive example, left-handed people are also overrepresented among low-IQ groups. This should come as a surprise, because if left-handedness is correlated with various medical conditions, then there must be a mechanism causing both. How is it that a single trait is correlated with two opposite phenomena?

As it turns out, astute readers might have noticed that this is not isolated: I casually claimed that left-handedness is correlated with both autism and schizophrenia, but this is actually significant. Despite autism classically being considered as a type of schizophrenia, it has since been found that the two are inversely correlated with one another. Genetic studies on the two have found that genes associated with autism are less-frequently expressed in schizophrenics, and vice versa. This lines up nicely with the hypothesis that autism and schizophrenia are two different types of impairments in creating mental models of novel phenomena.

So, we can see that left-handedness isn't just correlated with a wide array of illnesses, but it is even capable of correlation with opposite illnesses. What can we then say about the simultaneous correlation with high IQ and low IQ? What I have concluded might be a bit controversial: Having too high an IQ is inherently a mental illness.

This necessarily leads us to the question of what IQ actually represents. If you didn't already know, IQ is basically a bullshit statistic. The way it's calculated is that you take a test, and your performance on the test compared to the rest of the population determines your IQ. The basic assumption at play is that someone who is more intelligent will perform better during the test. Let's assume that this is true, for simplicity. Even assuming this, what follows is inherently flawed: the basic assumption is then inverted and put into practice. Instead of merely asserting that more intelligent people do better on the test, it is asserted that doing better on the test implies being more intelligent. This is not a reasonable assumption to make; the only thing that doing better on the test indicates is that you are better at taking the test. A person who cannot even perform basic tasks, yet is exceptionally skilled at taking a specific test, should never be considered intelligent.

This, of course, ties in with the correlation between autism and IQ. While far from guaranteed, autism is stereotypically associated with high IQ. Autism is typically considered a mental illness, though this claim has been challenged in recent years by reclassifying it as a "neurodivergent" phenomenon. As someone who could be considered a "high-functioning autist," I have some amount of authority to say that this is dangerously wrong. There is no way that having difficulty recognizing social cues or falling into strange habits can ever not be considered negative. Anyone who tells you otherwise has fallen for a bunch of bullshit liberal feelgood propaganda. Accepting this, it seems likely that the one "positive" thing associated with a mental illness might be a sign of mental illness in and of itself. Not only is autism correlated with higher IQs, having a higher IQ is in and of itself associated with multiple other mental illnesses. Of course, having a low enough IQ is also correlated with mental illnesses, so it's not like I'm some sort of "imbecile supremacist" or something. (Again, more specific comments on autism and IQ will come later.)

With the notion of IQ as mental illness in mind, it should be concerning that there has been a rise in global IQ scores over much of recent history. Here's the other factor that makes IQ a bullshit statistic: it is constantly redefined so that it always remains close to a bell curve. Aside from being completely arbitrary, this masks trends in how IQ evolves over time. I had mentioned that IQ has tended to rise over time, and this is well-known, to the point that it has it's own name: the Flynn effect. This sounds great until you actually consider the implications. Remember that the threshold for being legally considered retarded is having an IQ below 70. If we convert older IQ scores to the newer units, a significant proportion of those populations would be considered retarded by today's standards. Except, this is clearly a ridiculous statement. It can't possibly be that your average guy living 100 years ago was mentally disabled. What we can instead conclude is that we have changed from what should be the typical human.

The second kind of overoptimization on my mind is economic overoptimization. Let me shift back in time a bit and paint a picture. On December 10th, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The vast majority of then-member countries (a relatively small amount, numbering 48 out of a mere 58) voted in favor of adoption. Ten countries did not do so. No country voted against it (that would be an international embarrassment), but there were eight countries that actively abstained, as well as two countries that failed to cast any vote at all.

As for the countries which did not vote in favor, the majority of them were communist. These countries were the USSR (plus the Ukrainian and Byelorussian SSRs as independent members), Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Officially, this was because the Declaration was too passive with regards to condemning fascism, though it's widely believed that this was a façade. Western observers claim that it was because the communist regimes realized that they would be violating human rights according to Declaration's articles, and while I agree verbatum, I have some distaste for the attached implication that the regimes in question were ruled by uniquely evil people, as opposed to merely being ruled by strongmen, like any self-respecting countries are. Here's a much more likely explanation: The communist countries realized that the Declaration was another round of Wilsonian Idealism, and was designed to have communist countries violate it. It was nothing more than an update to Wilson's Fourteen Points, which were secretly designed to make Bolshevism unappealing to the world's peoples. Of course, these countries couldn't just state this outright, so they had to employ the façade of the failure to condemn fascism.

What's perhaps more interesting in this case is the remaining group of countries, the ones for whom the Declaration was not designed for. These fall into two groups: Saudi Arabia and Yemen are Muslim countries, while South Africa and Honduras were emblems of colonialism. (Perhaps it should be noted that, while Canada voted in favor of the Declaration, for a while they also considered abstaining.) Like with the communist countries, these countries realized that the Declaration would implicate them in the violation of human rights. Unlike those, however, these countries were much closer to the NATO camp at the time. Of note is that Saudi Arabia explicitly criticized the declaration as being incompatible with Sharia. Contrary to this position, most of the Muslim countries voted in favor of the Declaration at the time, countering that it was compatible with Islam. That said, there has been a gradual reversal of opinion on this matter over the decades, with the 1990 Cairo Declaration intended as a counterweight.

You know what else happened in 1990? The Cold War was won, with Leninism either overthrown or in the process of being otherthrown in many countries. The USSR was on the verge of collapse, Germany was reunified, and it appeared that the peoples of the Warsaw Pact had been peacefully liberated. Of course, "peaceful" isn't exactly an accurate description. For one, Romania descended into violence, blatantly breaking the pattern of supposed pacifism. There is also the fact that Yugoslavia was on the brink of ethnic civil war, which would become one of the most infamous conflicts of the 1990s. Even ignoring these cases, the so-called "peaceful" transitions wreaked economic havoc on the populations of these countries. The greatest emblem of this was the formation of the National Salvation Front in Russia, a bizarre alliance of communists with Russian nationalists. Boris Yeltsin was so disgusting that Soviet-era dissidents, who had spent many of their years actively combating the communist government, felt the need to ally themselves with their once-arch-nemsis, because the alternative of submitting to Yeltsinism was infinitely worse. The major exception to the fall of communism was China, which by this point had already undergone the transformations brought forth by Deng Xiaoping.

This necessarily leads us to the question of whether the fall of the Iron Curtain was inevitable or if it was actively brought about. In one respect, we can say that, if left to their own devices, the Curtain was more likely to have fallen than to have not fallen. The USSR was a genuinely powerful competitor on the global state, but it is undeniable that it was plagued with internal contradictions. They may have sent the first man into space, but there were also long periods where regular people struggled to survive. Given the state of the most powerful of these countries, it is not surprising that its satellites also struggled. However, this should not erase the fact that there was an active attempt to overthrow the ruling systems of these countries. For one, the US government was prolific in this regard, especially under Reagan. (His since-declassified KGB file proves that this was so.) However, it is important to not collapse these efforts into "Reagan did it." Private actors played a significant role. George Soros and his propping up of NGOs behind the Iron Curtain is the reason why people blame him for everything, after all.

It is here that we arrive at one of the greatest coincidences of the 1990s: near-simultaneously to the fall of communism, Apartheid was being abolished. For decades, the white minority government managed to stay in power despite the majority of the population having reason to overthrow it. Again, the Cold War is relevant here: South Africa was a Western-aligned power, while many of the anticolonial movements were Soviet-backed. Therefore, despite plenty of foreign opposition to Apartheid, it also had enough foreign backing to stay afloat. However, by the 1980s, there had been a notable shift in public opinion in the West, where South Africa had become a stain on the Western world. By proxy, Apartheid had not only become embarrassing to most of the world, but had made those governments that assisted it embarrassing as well. Eventually, Apartheid was officially abolished in 1991 (the same year that the USSR was abolished), and the first multiracial elections were held in 1994.

It must be emphasized that, contrary to its presentation, the abolition of Apartheid was not some pure grassroots movement led by South Africans. Its most potent advocates were, in fact, foreigners who placed pressure on the South African government. While most countries that belonged to the Second or Third Worlds were openly opposed to it, the actually effective opposition came from the First World. The countries that were the most intimately linked economically with South Africa caused the most damage by placing sanctions on the country. Again, the role of NGOs in influencing foreign politics must be emphasized. (George Soros, again rearing his head, set up shop in South Africa right after Apartheid was abolished, so perhaps one could connect the dots.) The mechanism for ending Apartheid was also telling: actual progress towards its abolition only began in 1985, when the Afrikaner Broederbond, the secret society that controlled the country's government, had one-on-one talks with Thabo Mbeki, after they had realized that the system was not sustainable.

The comparison of these events is notable, because it lets us reinterpret the true rationale for overthrowing communism. Obviously, there are plenty of people who are simultaneously anti-communist and anti-Apartheid, and you'll find people who support one yet not the other, but with the possible exception of some niche Internet communities, you will never find anyone who is both pro-communist and pro-Apartheid. Likewise, we cannot try and claim that there was some sort of secret Boer-Soviet alliance that NATO was fighting against, because all evidence is contrary. However, unlike in the case of everyday people, we cannot claim that Western forces were morally opposed to either of communism and Apartheid. In fact, this is very blatantly not the case. I have already discussed how the fall of the Iron Curtain had overt negative consequences for everyday people. When examining the case of Apartheid, we see that once it was formally abolished, most foreign interest in South Africa completely waned. This meant that the anti-Apartheid forces struggled to keep up the momentum that they held during the 1980s. We also see that, despite the objectively major gain for the nonwhite population that multiracial democracy entailed, it is also true that the economic situation for many South Africans did not significantly improve. As for the government, the ANC just morphed into a second iteration of the National Party, a fact formalized by the ANC eventually absorbing it. Meanwhile, the South African deep state was similarly preserved, only instead of the Afrikaner Broederbond, it was led by the Gupta family.

The motives for NATO-aligned governments to combat the Warsaw Pact are clear as day, but what of the private actors? Why did the forces who aligned so closely with the US government on the Soviet issue simultaneously go against their interests with respect to Apartheid? The answer is that both were cutting off their respective countries from the market. Of course, the Cold War prevented the penetration of Western financial forces through the Iron Curtain, but the case of South Africa is less obvious. Here's perhaps the single most illustrative example of Boer protectionism: South Africa didn't get television until 1976. For a country as developed as South Africa was at the time, this is an unusually late starting date. As it turns out, the country had been considering adopting TV since the 1950s, but it had been consistently held back by the Afrikaner Broederbond. Why? They claimed that it would lead to the destruction of traditional Afrikaner culture. Believe it or not, this wasn't just a euphemism for Apartheid, thought that certainly played a large role in the decision. Rather, the Broderbond was concerned about the imposition of international, English-speaking culture on younger generations of Boers. It must be emphasized that the Broederbond held genuinely fervent feelings of Afrikaner nationalism. Ergo, the free market was out of the question. Once Apartheid was abolished, though, the floodgates were open, and foreign capital roamed relatively freely. (This is also when the Guptas come into play.)

In short: South Africa was too insulated for the market's liking because it wanted to remain a racist state. The racism of Apartheid would do anything to keep Boers in power, as opposed to the hyperracism of the market, which could use nonwhites as vessels. Unfortunately for the Boers, they wanted to be racist while also wanting to minimize the rate at which profit declines, but these goals conflict. We have seen evidence of this tendency before, where South African mining companies, who had previously implemented the Mines and Works Act to prevent nonwhites from obtaining high-paying mining jobs, intentionally weakened the Colour Bar in the wake of the Rand Rebellion, because hiring nonwhite workers while also lowering wages allowed them to cut their losses.

I have twice now mentioned George Soros by name, for two reasons: first, he is known for funding NGOs that align with his political interests. However, the second aspect is perhaps more important: Soros has given an explicit economic argument in favor of the movements that he supports. His conception of reflexivity, derived from Karl Popper (his professor at the London School of Economics), justifies everything that he does.

This article is currently unfinished.