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Neo-reactionaries, why are you neo-reactionary?

Years before I read any Moldbug, I became fascinated with the way that sacredness affects social life and cognition even in ostensibly non-religious groups. Since my work challenged the sacredness of life, I was able to notice how that particular sacredness was (non-rationally) socially supported against challenges, and this helped me to see the same patterns in other areas of thought. Human cognition and behavior only make sense when analyzed religiously, and the neoreactionary idea of "The Cathedral" is one of several fruitful analyses along those lines, along with, say, the ideas of Emile Durkheim, Jonathan Haidt, and Roy Baumeister. Human institutions and behavior must be analyzed religiously and folklorically. I'm more interested in human flourishing, ritual, and cultural evolution than regular politics, but the neoreactosphere has been extremely friendly to these kinds of discussions.

My family and most of my friends are extremely liberal and I was a good liberal for most of my life.

If you don't mind my asking, when you ask "what led you to accept the basic premises of the movement," what do you see as its basic premises, and what causes you to describe it as a "movement"?

Crossing the History-Lessons Threshold

From Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms:

"The intervening factor that kept [Roman] Egyptian birth rates lower than we would expect was again social custom. In northwestern Europe younger widows commonly remarried, but not in Roman Egypt. Furthermore, divorce was possible in Egypt. But while divorced husbands commonly remarried younger women, divorced women typically did not remarry. Thus while in Egypt almost all the women got married, the proportion still married fell steadily from age 20. Consequently women surviving to age 50 typically gave birth to only 6 children rather than 8."

A "Holy Grail" Humor Theory in One Page.

I highly recommend Daniel Dennett's (and a couple other guys') Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-engineer the Mind (MIT Press 2011).

Hurley, Dennett, & Adams argue that humor is not coterminous with laughter, and is very much post-verbal and inextricably connected with the human faculty for abstraction and imagination. In short, the authors propose that humor is a reward mechanism for catching errors in abstractions imagined and projected by the mind. We have become connoisseurs of this reward our brains give us for a necessary cognitive cleaning function. Hurley et al. are the ones to beat and if you haven't read the book you definitely should.

Is it immoral to have children?

Actually, the first happiness studies that found that having children massively decreases happiness were using involuntarily infertile couples, not voluntarily childfree folks, as their comparison group; the authors were very surprised that involuntarily infertile childless couples were happier than their child-having peers!

A few of these early studies: Glenn, N.D., & McLanahan, S. (1982) Children and marital happiness: A further specification of the relationship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 63-72 (great quote: negative effect of offspring on both marital and global happiness of parents "is not absolutely conclusive, of course, but it is perhaps about as nearly conclusive as social scientific evidence on any topic ever is."

Anderson, S.A., Russell, C.S., & Schumm, W.R. (1983). Perceived marital quality and family life-cycle categories: A further analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 127-139.

Bernard, J. (1982). The Future of Marriage. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Campbell, A., Converse, P.E., & Rodgers, W.L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.

Campbell, A. (1981). The sense of well-being in America. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Elderly childfree are happy too: Rempel, J. (1985). Childless elderly: What are they missing? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 343-348.

On private marriage contracts

Possibly more realistically, the person may realize - from observing the world - that the only way he or she will be able to maintain monogamy is through social (not just government) enforcement of the marriage contract - not that his or her life literally depends on it, but that his or her social death will result from violation of the contract. And people care a whole lot about social death. This aspect of social support of marriage is already gone from all but a few recent immigrant communities in the United States. Even if marriage were government-enforced for reals, collusion (pretending grounds for divorce existed) and stretched notions of "cruelty" were already common before no-fault swept the nation. The government maybe slowly changes its enforcement toward the enforcement of whatever limping modern non-tribal community happens to exist.

Anyway. People are sometimes harmed by getting extra choices. And people are sometimes harmed by losing choices.

On private marriage contracts

Re: "prenups": did you happen to read Konkvistador's links and the other comments explicitly discussing, with citations, the (lack of) enforceability of such premarital agreements? I.e., citation needed. ;)

On private marriage contracts

Traditionally, "divorce" was a cause of action with a plaintiff and a defendant - a winner and a loser, an aggressor and a victim - and alimony (in the form of cash payments) was the prize the victim/winner won for proving one of the limited grounds for divorce (generally desertion, adultery, or cruelty).

Link: Toward Non-Stupid, Non-Blank-Slatey Polyandry

Changed it to link to the Google Books result for "cuckold" within the Billion Wicked Thoughts book: http://books.google.com/books?id=jwU8_m8y5X0C&q=cuckold#v=snippet&q=cuckold&f=false

As far as I know, the book is the only place the data are reported, sadly. I agree, it's juicy if true!

The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world?

In grade school we learn that "X is like Y" is a simile, and "X is Y" is a metaphor, and that there is some crucial difference between the two. Perhaps there is, but I haven't seen an argument to that effect. Mainly, we call both of these "analogy" or "metaphor."

So the argument for tabooing The Worst Argument in the World is that, since many analogies are unusually powerful and people may not recognize that they're analogies rather than perhaps identities, every analogy is The Worst Argument in the World. Even though many analogies are admittedly productive, the class of argument is tabooed because many of its members are problematic.

Doesn't that make the taboo on The Worst Argument in the World itself a species of The Worst Argument in the World?

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