A Theory of Pervasive Error

by Zack_M_Davis1 min read26th Nov 20196 comments

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Politics
Personal Blog

(Content warning: politics. Read with caution, as always.)

Curtis Yarvin, a computer programmer perhaps most famous as the principal author of the Urbit decentralized server platform, expounds on a theory of how false beliefs can persist in Society, in a work of what the English philosopher N. Land characterizes as "political epistemology". Yarvin argues that the Darwinian "marketplace of ideas" in liberal democracies selects for æsthetic appeal as well as truth: in particular, the æsthetics of ambition and loyalty grant a selective advantage in memetic competition to ideas that align with state power, resulting in a potentially severe distortionary effect on Society's collective epistemology despite the lack of a centralized censor. Watch for the shout-out to Effective Altruism! (November 2019, ~8000 words)

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Curtis Yarvin, a computer programmer perhaps most famous as the principal author of the Urbit

More famous than as the co-father of neoreaction? (Along with the N Land also referenced in the paragraph.)

I said "perhaps"!

... okay, more seriously, I'm glad you mentioned that, because it gives me an affordance to explain that very deliberate editorial choice on my part.

It's written with two audiences in mind: for readers already familiar with Yarvin/Moldug and who regard his political writing as the most salient thing about him, the choice of Urbit as the claim-to-fame to mention has the potential to register as humorous, for reasons analogous to why the "Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking" TV Trope is funny. (At least, I thought it was hilarious.)

Secondly, I didn't want to bring up the "neoreaction" marketing keyword if I didn't have to, in order to avoid unnecessarily spooking potential readers whose fear of catching right-wing Bad Guy cooties would prevent them from clicking the link, possibly reading the essay (if it looked interesting to them), and evaluating the arguments therein on the merits just as they would with any other random internet link. I was actually a little bit worried that someone would accuse me of dishonesty for not mentioning NRx in my summary, but ultimately decided I would be prepared to defend the stance that the "Content notice" at the top was enough to satisfy the demands of our local anti-politics norms.

Am I overthinking it?

the father of NRx is actually Mencius Moldbug (I see people (co-)attributing it to Land, but in fact he just did a lot of reinterpretation on some of Moldbug's themes)

Depends what you care about.

despite the lack of a centralized censor.

Whether or not there is a centralized censor.