As a Quaker, I was raised a conscientious objector to war and never said the pledge of allegiance in high school because nationalism and war are connected at the hip. But I still always hung a flag in my room in college.
Now that I understand the mathematics behind game theory, I understand that war is a prisoner's dilemma with no real solution, and it's put me into a quandary about nationalism itself. I still haven't tooled that out yet.
Nationalism, like most other isms, is an indoctrinated mindset promulgated through culture and its primary reason is to bake in a willingness to kill and die defending a piece of dirt, or in the honor of your piece of dirt dominating other pieces of dirt. I find that ethically horrible.
Here's the problem.
If nobody on your piece of dirt has the nationalism indoctrination, but everyone on the adjacent piece of dirt has it, then they get together with swords or guns, cross the imaginary boundary between the pieces of dirt, kill your men, fuck your women, and steal your shit. And then your culture that did not promulgate nationalism dies out and is replaced by theirs which did promulgate nationalism.
So it's a game theory problem inside Culture War. It's math. The Nash Equilibrium for the nationalism game is, at the minimum, war readiness. And for proper war readiness you need nationalism. Maybe not universal nationalism, but at least enough nationalism to run a first tier military.
So that's my intellectual struggle with this.
I think what you may need is just a more nuanced version of nationalism. Something more like what we had at the beginning. Personally, I think that we could implement the "don't let other people kill and rape us" layer just with large scale semi auto rifle ownership, for the most part. The bit that tips those scales though is foreign nuclear powers. An armed populace can defend against any sort of 3GW attack with really basic 4GW concepts (see Afghanistan) but if a foreign power got a bug up their ass to nuke us we'd have problems stopping that with guns.
Idle July 4th thoughts.
Handwaving Freakoutery (HWFO) began as a Medium publication in 2018 primarily geared toward mathematical analysis of gun violence in the USA, examining media narratives, disproving many popular ones, and offering alternatives. As we went down this journey together, we discovered that media falsehoods are driven largely not by shadowy actors attempting to manipulate the narrative, but by market forces requiring the media to adopt false narratives for profit, both inside and outside the gun space. We later began to understand that the media behavior is connected to the evolution of culture, so we developed a framework for speaking of cultures themselves, and examined how the internet is increasing the rate of cultural evolution, how the media is connected to this rate increase, how the divergent cultures themselves are fueling the culture war, and how all of this indicative of various doomsdays.
HWFO pivoted to Substack in 2021 because Substack is way cooler for various reasons. One of the things Substack is worse at, however, is having multiple tabs where I can index articles for prior reading, grouping them by topic. So we’ll do that here, and we’ll update this post once per month as I continue to migrate Medium material over to Substack, supplementing with new articles as I go.
This publication is and will always remain free to read, and any money earned through Substack subscriptions or Patreon will be dutifully spent on the author’s alcohol fund. But to give something back to the readers, anyone who does contribute to said alcohol fund will gain access to a private Slack server to discuss HWFO topics with other HWFO readers (and me) outside the public eye. Around 100 people are yammering away in there right now, and some of the article topics are born from these discussions. I’ll post an updated access link in a few days, as subscriber only content.
HWFO in Other Media – an index of podcast appearances, “TV” appearances, and publications outside of the Medium, Substack, and Open Source Defense umbrellas.
So Long Medium – where we talk about the pivot from Medium to Substack.
Beautiful Death - thoughts on the passing of my father.
She Did Not Go Gently - thoughts on the passing of my wife. (this was published on Quillette)
Things Jordan Peterson’s Rehab Taught Me - a comparison between how Jordan Peterson handled his wife’s cancer and how I handled mine, and the curious connections between them.
The Gun Solution - where we fix the entire gun problem in every way that it can be fixed.
Everybody’s Lying about the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide – where we tear apart the “more guns = more deaths” monkey business with mathematics.
The Left is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths – where we dive deep on the real problem with gun deaths, male suicide, and how we might fix that.
Geographic Evidence that Gun Deaths are Cultural – where we use GIS systems to show that almost everywhere where gun homicides are high, gun suicides are low, and visa versa, so “it’s the guns” is a very poor explanation of what’s going on.
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t – where we look at historical US homicide rates and show that we do not have an epidemic of gun homicides, we have an epidemic of media freakoutery about gun homicides.
The Magic Gun Evaporation Fairy – a dive into the literal impossibility of gun buybacks or gun confiscation.
Gun Buybacks Don’t Work if you Believe in Math – where we calculate how many guns you’d have to buy back to avert a homicide, and extrapolate the general case.
Real Talk about School Shootings – where we peel apart the school shooting numbers and explain how they’re a terrible thing around which to craft policy.
Doctors are Wrong about Firearm Effectiveness in Mass Shootings – where we explain that magically replacing all rifles with pistols would probably increase the body count of these things, so any focus on rifles in mass shooting policy is a red herring.
The “Sabika Sheikh Firearms Licensing and Registration Act” Fails Third Grade Math – where we perform some low effort mathematical dunking on a house rep, but raise the larger issue that the gun control crowd simply has no comprehension of how widespread gun ownership is.
Lying with Gun Data. Again. - where we dunk on some journalist who doesn’t know basic statistics.
Culture / Culture War
The Freakoutery about Kavanaugh is a Sociobiological Outburst - where we try to explain one of the most egregiously irrational culture war outbursts of 2018 using evo-psych adjacent theories.
Progressivism on a Precipice? - where we read the tea leaves of 21st Century indoctrination path strength to predict how the winds will blow in the next few years.
Not your Imagination - Society Is Going Insane and I Can Prove It - where we use the example of the Aztecs to frame a definition of ‘insanity’ that is tied to cultural relativism, and show how the USA today is a nested layer of micro-insanities.
Playbook to Fight Woke School Board Takeovers - I was asked this question too many times in too short a time span, so I laid out the architecture of how to win a school board fight against a woke insurgency in article format so I wouldn’t have to keep typing it. Good luck, I moved instead.
A Detailed Look at Woke Update Mechanics - where we use the Dolezal Affair and the cancellation of Richard Dawkins to explain the most unique, intriguing, and dangerous element of the Woke program.
Social Justice is a Crowdsourced Religion - where we explain the Woke engine to nonwokes and offer some ideas the wokes could use to fix what’s broken about it.
Game Theory on the Second Civil War - where we generally work towards a way to avoid violent conflict using math and stuff.
Real Talk About Meritocracy - where we break down the ways in which the USA is, and isn’t meritocratic, while also differentiating between “meritocratic” and “fair.”
Science Says Sam Harris is Alt-Right – where we take a deep dive into how all prior political axes are being collapsed into a purely woke/antiwoke band, buttressed by a deep explainer on wokeness itself.
The Two Confusing Definitions of Racism – where we explain how difficult conversations about racism are literally impossible to have, because different groups are defining the term differently.
Explaining the Social Justice “Woke Anti-Semitism” Paradox – where we unpack certain popular Woke narratives and show that they combine to produce anti-Semitic behavior. This same analysis could be used for Asians, and explains why they’re getting a raw deal in liberal zones in 2021.
Spot the True Believer – where we use Eric Hoffer’s “mass movement” framework to explain MAGA and Woke.
Modeling the Socioeconomic Future with Dungeons and Dragons – where we use the DND character building model to explain bell curves, Charles Murray, automation, and silicon valley’s obsession with UBI.
Conversations with Black Folks about Cops – where we examine the police brutality problem from the perspective of someone on the street, instead of someone in a Critical Race Theory academy.
Stop Calling it a “Coup” – where we show how the “capital insurrection” was nothing more than a continuation of 2020 behavior, and what that portends.
Deplatforming, Sargon, MAGA Hat Kids, and the Kulturkampf – where we compare our modern culture war to prior culture wars and discover this is new dog old tricks.
Rape Math – where we try to back-calculate what the numbers probably are for use in the “not all men” discussion.
Don’t Read This – where we make mid 2020 election prognostications that turned out to be pretty on point.
The Purge Will End in Violence – where we discuss the early 2021 tech purge and what it portends in the long game.
Facebook is Shiri’s Scissor - A very deep dive into how human social media is analogous to artificial neural networks in computing, how someone evil might develop such a network in order to destabilize the world, and how we’ve basically already done that by accident.
The Social Media Catastrophe - where we explain how the media is trapped in a tragedy of the commons situation which forces them to drive smartphone users insane for clicks.
The Media Engine of Chaos – where we use HWFO gun article traffic numbers from Medium to explain the root cause of all these shitty gun articles in the media, and by extension, all the other shitty articles too.
I Just Made $100 off Some Dead Kids, and That’s the Problem – where we drill even deeper into the media incentives for mass shooting coverage, and how they literally increase the odds of more mass shootings, to make them even more money.
The Long Problem – where we use the Atlanta Spa Shooter as a case study about how flawed media incentives lead to incorrect narratives.
The Vaccine Might Kill You and That’s Fine - where we examine the incentives behind official messaging, taking the case that VAERS is underreporting by a factor of five and examining why even if they’re lying the vaccine might be worth it.
HWFO Covid-19 After Action Report - where we dunk on everyone because of how right we were.
Want a Vaccine? Elect a Nationalist - where we explain how “me first” nationalism beats globalist cooperation within the game theory of international relations, using Covid vaccination rates as our case study.
Does the USA have the Worst Covid-19 Response? Not at All – where we compare the USA to other similar countries and discover we’re sort of middle of the road in how we’ve handled it.
Covid-19 Stands to be Done by the Summer – where we use infection rates from prisons which achieved herd immunity the hard way to predict when we’ll be done with this stuff.
Open Source Defense
I also write for OSD about guns, and some of those are worth bookmarking as well.
Gun Policy Needs a “Decision Support System” – where we mathematically determine exactly how many homicide and suicide victims the modern gun control policies would actually avert, and use that model to determine a true gun control policy compromise that includes giving back the stuff that doesn’t work.
Letter to 2020’s New Gun Owners – where we do a point by point breakdown of the entire Biden gun control platform.
Collateral Damage, Race, and the Virginia Gun Control Bill – where we show how Virginia’s attempt at an assault weapons ban actually created the opposite effect, sanctuary counties, and how its implementation will be systemically racist by necessity.
Talk to Your Kids About Guns – where we add another rule to the four rules and discuss safe storage of firearms around children.
Generally speaking, if anyone likes anything I write about guns, you should go read all the rest of the material over on OSD as well. I’m definitely not the smartest guy in the room over there.