Safety Blanket Theory

For all their angry rhetoric and now, overtly political violence, I maintain that it is the right wing that is profoundly insecure, anxious, and in need of soothing. They are panicking at the idea that the world can possibly change without their approval, and deprive them of their stolen superiority — they do not want the party to end for white male dominance of this entire planet.

Right-wing authoritarian adults latch on to symbols and ideologies and demagogues as “surrogates” for the childhood safety blanket they once needed — these are the “adult-acceptable” pablum substitutes.

Core Timeline v0.1

YearEventRegionThemeDomain
-250000Modern humans emerge in Africa.AfricaAncient HistoryScience
-120000Earliest cave paintings we know of are located in a South African cave.AfricaAncient HistoryArts
-100000Modern humans migrate to the Middle East.Middle EastAncient HistoryHuman History
-75000Modern humans arrive in Southeast Asia and China.AsiaAncient HistoryHuman History
-40000Modern humans arrive in Europe, living alongside Neanderthals. The earliest European cave paintings are from around this time in Spain.EuropeAncient HistoryHuman History
-28000The Neanderthals go extinct.EuropeAncient HistoryHuman History
-16000Humans cross the Bering Strait to Alaska over a land bridge exposed by the warming planetNorth AmericaAncient HistoryHuman History
-15000The ice age ends, and global temperatures rise by 15 degrees C.GlobalAncient HistoryScience
-14000Modern humans reach South AmericaSouth AmericaAncient HistoryHuman History
-10000First human settlements begin in the North American Great Plains, modern-day Syria, and in the Yellow River Valley region of China.GlobalAncient HistoryHuman History
-7000Invention of textiles in EgyptAfrica, Middle EastMan vs. NatureTechnology
-5000Cultivation of tin as a metal resourceAncient HistoryTechnology
-4241The Egyptians begin using the 365 day calendarAfricaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
-3800Bronze Age beginsGlobalAncient HistoryTechnology
-3500Mesopotamian cities Ur, Uruk, and others have emerged in and around modern-day IraqMiddle EastAncient HistoryPolitics
-2980The Great Pyramid of Zoser is built in EgyptAfrica, Middle EastAncient HistoryArchitecture
-2000The last woolly mammoths die out and the species go extinctGlobalMan vs. NatureScience
-2000Epic of Gilgamesh composedMiddle East, AfricaOur Place in the UniverseArts
-1792Hammurabi's Code of LawsMiddle EastDemocracy's StoryPolitics
-1200The Iron Age begins almost simultaneously around the world, in the Middle East, Europe, and IndiaMiddle East, Europe, GlobalMan vs. NatureTechnology
-800The city of Rome is founded by Romulus and RemusEuropeAncient HistoryPolitics
-560Siddharta Gautama born in India, later to become the Buddha; founder of BuddhismAsiaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
-530Greek tragedy is in full swing with contributions from Aeschylus, Thespis, soon Sophocles, and othersEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
-510Roman Republic formed when the citizens overthrew king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, aka Tarquin the ProudEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
-49Republic of Rome becomes the Roman Empire when Julius Caesar overthrows the RepublicEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
-27Julius Caesar Augustus becomes the first emperor of Rome, ruling for 45 yearsEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
79eruption of Mt. VesuviusEuropeMan vs. NatureScience
312New self-made Roman emperor Constantine converts to Christianity โ€” at least nominally; he makes the empire safe and welcoming to Christianity, while maintaining many of his old Roman beliefsEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
325Council of Nicaea called by Emperor Constantine; the adoption of the Nicene Creed establishes the empire's stance on the divinity of Jesus and establishes Christianity as the state religionEurope
476The last western Roman emperor , Romulus Augustinius, is deposed โ€” beginning the era of the Holy Roman Empire and marking the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle AgesEuropeAge of EmpiresTechnology
632Death of Muhammad leads much of the Middle East and North Africa to convert to IslamMiddle East, Africa, EuropeOur Place in the UniversePolitics
656The first battle between the Shia (followers of Ali) and the Sunnis (followers of Aisha) over the fate of Islam โ€” a war still raging to this dayMiddle East
900-1200the golden age of North African scienceAfricaOur Place in the UniverseScience
1000an Indian mathematician recognizes the power of zeroCentral Asia, AsiaOur Place in the UniverseScience
1040Movable type is invented in ChinaAsiaKnowing ThingsTechnology
1066Battle of Hastings โ€” France's William the Conqueror defeats the other claimant to the English throne Harold and is crowned the first Norman king of England.EuropeConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismPolitics
1073China invents an elaborate incense seal clockAsiaKnowing ThingsTechnology
1149Founding of Oxford University in EnglandEuropeKnowing ThingsKnowledge
1200Cambridge University founded in EnglandEuropeKnowing ThingsKnowledge
1265first Parliament elected in England, consisting mostly of feudal lords, knights, and wealthy aristocratsEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1271Venetian Marco Polo travels to China with his father at the age of 17; having been the first Europeans to visit the court of Kublai Khan over a 9-year stretch, the elder Nicolรฒ Polo brings his son with him on the return journey โ€” it will take them a trek of three and a half yearsEurope, AsiaAge of EmpiresKnowledge
1328The sawmill is inventedEuropeBusiness of the WorldTechnology
1330the hour becomes essentially our modern concept of hourGlobalMan vs. NatureTechnology
1347-1351Approximately 75 million people die from the Bubonic PlagueEurope, Africa, Middle EastMan vs. NatureScience
1399English poet Chaucer's The Canterbury TalesEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
1431Joan of Arc is burned at the stakeEuropeAge of EmpiresPolitics
1445Gutenberg invents the printing pressEuropeAttention Must be PaidTechnology
1492Christopher Columbus lands in the Americas, ushering in the age of Spanish Conquistadores and the colonial period โ€” first in the Bahamas, then Cuba, then Hispaniola before heading homeNorth AmericaConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismKnowledge
1517Martin Luther, a German monk, becomes disillusioned with the church's selling of indulgences to fund construction projects (and with Calvinism more generally). Submits his 95 theses to papal authority, and after various machinations is excommunicated for challenging the authority of the PopeEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1583Galileo dedicates himself to the study of mathematics and physicsEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1585Founding of the first American colony at Roanoke, in modern-day North CarolinaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1607Founding of the second American colony at Jamestown, in modern-day VirginiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1636Harvard University foundedNorth AmericaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1637the first American slave ship sets out on her maiden voyageNorth America, AfricaConquest, Imperialism, and ColonialismPolitics
1665Plague arrives in LondonEuropeMan vs. NatureScience
1688Glorious Revolution in England: Parliament invited Dutch William of Orange & his wife Mary, James's Protestant daughter, to replace JamesEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1701Yale College foundedNorth AmericaOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1760invention of the steam engine in England (James Watt)EuropeMan vs. NatureTechnology
1776U.S. Declaration of Independence is written in PhiladelphiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1787U.S. Constitution written in PhiladelphiaNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1789U.S. Constitution is ratifiedNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1799~10-year French Revolution overthrows the monarchyEuropeDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1839Louis Daguerre demonstrates the photographic technique he's developed: the cameraEuropeOur Place in the UniverseArts
1844The Associated Press foundedNorth AmericaAttention Must be PaidKnowledge
1859Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of the SpeciesEuropeOur Place in the UniverseKnowledge
1865U.S. Civil War endsNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1914WWI begins
1921Tulsa massacreNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1942Pearl Harbor
1945WWII ends
1949Formation of NATOEurope, North AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1953Korean War ends
1954Brown v. the Board of EducationNorth AmericaDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1961Stanley Milgram conducts his famous obedience studies showing how willing students are to give electric shocks to their peers if ordered to by authority figuresScience
1964Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights ActDemocracy's StoryPolitics
1975The Vietnam War ends
1980Election of former actor and PR agent Ronald Reagan as President of the United States
1984Breakup of the Bell system monopoly
1986Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine
1987Iran-Contra scandal wherein Reagan trades arms for hostages and lies about it
1989Berlin Wall falls
1990Tim Berners-Lee puts up the first web page
1991Soviet Union collapses
1998Microsoft monopoly broken up
2000Vladimir Putin becomes Russian President following Yeltsin's resignation
2007Apple announces the first iPhone; Google announces Android
2008Bitcoin and the blockchain invented
2010Citizens Unied ushers in the era of dark money in politics
2012Sandy Hook mass school shooting

๐ŸŽฏ Core Models and Concepts ๐ŸŽฏ

We all have learnings in our lives we consider more precious than others — explanations and predictions that endure and keep on giving, versus those that fade away. Our core models form the backbone of our thinking and decision-making throughout our lives; it’s our grab bag of problem solving tools — and we want to have a resilient Swiss Army Knife at the ready at all times. These mental models help us understand a complex world, and prepare for all the changes that are inevitably ahead.

This set of core models below is my personal “desert island” set of model thinking concepts. These are the ones I really wouldn’t want to be caught dead leaving the house without.

Once these are on lock, head over to the unabridged models section for more model thinking goodness!

ConceptDateFieldPersonDefinition
absolute value1806MathJean-Robert ArgandThe value of x, regardless of its sign (or, its distance from zero).
activation energy1889ChemistrySvante ArrheniusThe amount of energy required to get two or more compounds to react, in chemistry or physics.
adverse selection1860sMoney
"All the world's a stageโ€œ1599ArtsWilliam ShakespeareShakespearean metaphor likening culture to a theatrical performance: "And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances ..."โ€”William Shakespeare, As You Like It
annuity1970sMoneyA series of payments made at equal intervals.
antifragile2012MathNassim TalebThings that can benefit from disorder, and grow stronger amidst chaos.
antimatter1928PhysicsPaul Dirac
appreciationMoney
a prioriStrategy
arrow of time1927PhysicsArthur Eddington
assetMoney
asymptoteMath
availability bias1973PsychologyKahneman and Tversky
averageMath
bank reservesMoney
Base Rate FallacyPsychology
Bayes' Theorem1763MathReverend Thomas BayesA mathematical method of determining the updated probability of a certain event or case, given new information
Big Bang1949PhysicsFred Hoyle
black holesPhysicsStephen Hawking
Black Swan2007MathNassim Taleb
blockchainMoney
boiling frog syndromePsychology
broken windows theoryPsychology
Butterfly Effect1963PhysicsEdward Lorenz
bystander effectPsychology
capital gainsMoney
carbon dating1940sPhysicsWillard LibbyA method of determining the age of an organic sample by radioactive decay.
carpe diemStrategy"Seize the day!"
catalystChemistry
cause and effect
caveat emptorStrategy
Central Limit Theorem1733MathAbraham de Moivre
ceteris paribusStrategy"all other things being equal"; holding the effects of other variables constant to determine the effects on a single variable of interest
Chesterton's Fence1929Strategy
chilling effect
compound interestMoney
Condorcet Jury Theorem1785MathMarquis de Condorcet
confirmation biasPsychology
consent of the governedPolitical philosophyConcept of political philosophy in which a government's legitimacy and right to use state power is only justified if consented to by the people over whom said power is wielded.
correlation is not causation
counterfactuals
creative destruction1942MoneyJoseph Shumpeter Economist Joseph Shumpeter's idea for how the business cycle works: by innovation disrupting established processes and industries and forcing change into markets, often destructively and swiftly
crossing the RubiconHistoryJulius CaesarMaking a decision from which there is no turning back; a reference to Julius Caesar's overthrow of the Roman republic to found the Roman Empire in 49 BCE
cryptocurrencyMoney
dark matterPhysics
dead hand of the pastPolitical philosophyThomas JeffersonProblem inherent in constitutional political philosophy, where eventually a people becomes ruled by "masters" no longer alive, who rule by "fiat" via a document, from beyond the grave.
decision treeStrategy
depreciationMoney
distributionMath
diversityStrategy
divident paymentsMoneyPeriodic, usually quarterly, payouts to stockholders of the company when posting profits. Along with capital gains, one of the 2 primary reasons to invest in stocks.
Doppler Effect1842PhysicsChristian Doppler
Drake Equation1961PhysicsFrank DrakeEstimation of the number of technological civilizations that might exist in the universe.
Dunbar Number1990sRobin Dunbar
Dunning-Kruger EffectA cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as higher than it actually is, because they cannot recognize their incompetence in comparison to others.
Duverger's Law1940sPolitical philosophyMaurice DuvergerHolds that plurality-rule elections within single member districts โ€” such as the structure found in the U.S. โ€” tend to favor two-party systems
edge case
elasticityMoneyThe ability of pricing mechanisms to respond quickly or less quickly to changes in prevailing conditions
electromagnetic spectrumPhysics
emperor's new clothesStrategy
entropy
equilibrium
event horizonPhysics
evolution
exit strategyStrategy
false negatives
false positives
falsifiabillity
fiduciary dutyEthics
fifth columnStrategyA group who unites in secret to undermine a larger group from within.
first mover advantageStrategy
force multiplierStrategy
fractals1975MathBenoit Mandelbrot
fractional lendingMoney
fundamental attribution error
general relativityAlbert Einstein
general willPolitical philosophyJean-Jacques Rousseau
Golden MeanMathAristotleAristotelian theory of an ideal balance point between the many extremes we face in life; he advocated harmony between the various spheres of life for an experience of happiness
Golden RuleEthicsAncient"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" is the essence of this ancient wisdom, often used as a shorthand version of Jesus's core teaching.
Goldilocks Zone
gravityPhysics
Heisenberg Uncertainty PrinciplePhysics----- Heisenberg
heuristicsPsychologyMental shortcuts that we do as a matter of routine, especially when we're stressed or under other types of cognitive constraints.
inflation
inflection point
intellectual propertyMoneyIP
iron law of ligarchyPolitical philosophyPolitical theory positing that no matter how democratic a group may start out, over time it will develop into a bureaucracy ruled by a small handful
keystone
Laffer curveMoney
Law of Large Numbers1713MathJacob BernoulliAs the number of coin tosses approaches infinity, the number of heads encountered will converge on 0.5; helpful in calculations of probability.
least-barricaded gateStrategyLeon TrotskyMetaphor about how social revolutions can take hold more easily in already weakened societies.
length contractionPhysics
lifeboat ethicsEthics
limiting factor
long tailMath
loss aversionPsychology
Lost EinsteinsMoney
map is not the territory
margin of errorMath
Maslow's PyramidPsychology---- Maslow
meanMath
medianMath
Median Voter Theorem
mens rea
Moore's Law
moral hazardMoney
Narcissus & Echo
Nash EquilibriumMath
natural selectionCharles Darwin
negative interest ratesMoney
Newton's Laws of MotionPhysics1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws
normal distributionMath
null hypothesis
observer effect
Occam's RazorStrategy
oligarchy
opportunity costMoneyWhat you miss out on by using a resource in a certain way -- what you would have done with the resource otherwise; what alternative use you would have put it to.
outlierMath
paradoxMath
Pareto PrincipleMoney----- Pareto
path dependentMath
Pavlov's dogsPsychology
pearls before swine
permutations
Peter Principle
phase shift
Plato's cavePhilosophyPlato
point of no returnStrategy
Polyanna PrinciplePsychologyTendency for people to remember pleasant events more accurately than unpleasant ones
Potemkin Village
Prisoner's DilemmaStrategy
probabilityMath
Procrustean BedStrategyProcrustes
proxy warStrategy
Pyrrhic VictoryStrategy
quantum physicsPhysics
quid pro quoStrategy
ReagonomicsMoney
received wisdom
red shiftPhysics
redundancyStrategy
resilienceStrategyAbility to bounce back into shape after having been pressed or stretched; elasticity. The capacity to recover quickly.
ripple effect
riskMoney
root cause
Rosetta Stone
roundingMath
rounding error
rule of law
Schrรถdinger's CatPhysics
selection biasPsychology
Single point of failure (SPoF)A part of a system that, when it fails, brings down the entire rest of the system or stops it from working properly.
singularity
six degrees of separation
skin in the gameEthics
social contractPolitical philosophyJean-Jacques Rousseau
social contractPolitical philosophyJohn Locke
Socratic methodSocrates
special relativityAlbert Einstein
speed of lightPhysicsApprox. 300 million meters per second
standard deviationMath
stare decisis"It has been decided" โ€” terminology used by a judge or court to indicate that the matter before them has already been decided by a previous ruling.
state of naturePolitical philosophyThomas Hobbes
status quo
Streisand Effect
supply and demandMoney
sword of Damocles
tabula rasaStrategyblank slate
tilting at windmillsStrategyMiguel de Cervantes
time dilationPhysics
tipping pointMath
Tit-for-TatStrategy
too many cooks in the kitchenStrategy
tragedy of the commons
trickle down economicsMoney
trolley problemEthics
turtles all the way down
twin paradoxPhysicsAlbert Einstein
tyranny of choice
usuryMoney
variance
veil of ignorance1971Political philosophyJohn Rawls
Venn diagramMath
vulnerabilityPsychologyBrene Brown
wave-particle duality
wisdom of crowdsStrategyDerived from the Diversity Prediction Theorem: the average prediction of a group of individuals will be more accurate than the prediction of one average member
wolves and sheepStrategy
worst case scenarioStrategy
zero sum gameStrategy

American Fascists and the Global Right ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

It feels like the 1930s all over again — and with good reason. The rise of right-wing extremism around the world has been a known trend for decades, and America’s past flirtations with fascism had been largely swept under the rug by the then fascists who tried to put a stop to FDR’s New Deal and prevent the U.S. from getting into World War II.

They fought against labor unions and labor organizers, often using private militia as henchmen to do their dirtywork with plausible deniability for themselves. The KKK was just one of many instruments put to use in service of plutocratic aims to quell any “communist awakening” amongst their workers, lest they get any uppity ideas for themselves. They fell for the popular conspiracy theories of their time, which included Hitler’s bogus assertion that Jewish bankers controlled the world and had to be stopped before they destroyed the white race.

Those fascists, butthurt over America’s overwhelmingly popular decision to enter the war and stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, seethed with jealousy at the post-war “liberal consensus” that flourished alongside the booming US economy, propelled first by the war effort and later by the peacetime success of the New Deal’s long shadow and the burgeoning of the American middle class.

They turned into the John Birch Society, and the McCarthyites, and the Libertarians, and the Moral Majority, and the Gingrich Revolution, and the Tea Party, and the MAGA / QAnon stew sloshing around mass media. The kooks on the far right — the kind of ilk so cray cray that even William F. Buckley excommunicates you from the Republican Party — have taken over the hen house now. Outrage sells, as Facebook well knows — and as two-bit dictators around the world have bribed Mark Zuckerberg to brainwash the masses using the most inanely illogical propaganda prolefeed, the world tilts dangerously towards authoritarianism and the end of our democracy as we know it. And with it, all hope for truth and light into the future for some time to come — the equivalent of a political meteor hitting the Earth.

The fascists are still around, and now they have tools of propaganda that Goebbels could never have even wet dreamed of. They’re more powerful and more well-connected — to other sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and other pathological cult-leader types who might be f transactional service to each other from time to time. We’d be wise to keep an eye on these folks.

NameTypeLocationKnown for
Roman AbramovichForeign agentRussian oligarch close to both Putin and Trump
ACU Strategic PartnersForeign agentA company seeking to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with a sanctioned Russia company; Mike Flynn was working for them without having disclosed it to the US government as required.
Sheldon AdelsonBusinesspersonLas Vegas, NVCEO billionaire of the Sands Corp casino empire (died, 2021)
AggregateIQCorporation
Todd AkinPoliticianMissouriPolitician who lost his Senate race to Clairse McCaskill in 2012 when he made the comment on TV about women having a way to "shut the whole thing down" to avoid becoming pregnant if raped.
American Energy AllianceNon-profitA tax-exempt nonprofit that advocated for corporate-friendly energy policies. Koch's Freedom Partners donated $1.5 million in 2012.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)Non-profitCorporate-funded nonprofit that writes legislation for Republican legislatures, including spearheading the efforts to wrest partisan control over election results in 49 states.
Americans for ProsperityPACThe Koch Brothers' Libertarian political advocacy arm
Philip AnschutzColoradoCO oil and entertainment billionaire and founder of Qwest Communications
Lee Atwater
Michele Bachman
Steve BannonMedia personality
William Barr
Andy BiggsPoliticianAZHouse Republican
Black LegionExtremistMichiganSecret society of black-hooded terrorists working in MI against labor unions and labor organizers in the 1930s. Legionnaires talked of staging a coup to oust FDR and imposing a fascist regime in the United States
David BogatinOligarchNYCA top figure in the Russian mafia who bought 5 luxury condos in Trump Tower to launder money, he admitted in 1987.
Jacob BogatinOligarchDavid Bogatin's brother, and a partner of notorious Russian mob moss Semion Mogilevich
Harry and Lynde BradleyKochtopusMidwesterners who built their wealth on defense contracts
Andrew BreitbartMedia personalityFounded both Brietbart and the Huffington Post
Ruby Bridges
Mo BrooksPolitician
Brother's CircleCriminalOrganized crime gang pursued by then-FBI head Robert Mueller circa 2011
Michael BrownFerguson, MOUnarmed black man killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking a series of riots in the city.
Pat Buchanan
William F. Buckley JrMedia personality
Doug BurleyFounding and leading both The Family and the National Prayer Breakfast of right-wing power brokers
Cambridge Analytica
Tucker CarlsonMedia personality
Doug CaseyAyn Rand devotee and "anarcho-capitalist" who specializes in how to profit from turmoil
Michael CatanzaroLobbyistPartner at the CGCN Group lobbying firm who headed "energy independence" for the Trump transition team.
Madison Cawthorn
Center to Protect Patient RightsDark money group funded by the Kochs to attack the ACA with fearmongering and vitriol
Mike CernovichMedia personality
CGCN GroupLobbyistLobbyist for the Koch brothers
James ChaneyActivistNeshoba County, MSOne of 3 civil rights activists murdered by local white supremacists when engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, along with Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman
Chris ChristiePoliticianGovernor of NJ
Michael CohenBusinesspersonDonald Trump's personal lawyer, sentenced to 3 years in federal prison for felony crimes, including campaign finance crimes
Steven A. CohenFinance (SAC Capital Advisors)
Roy Cohn
Competitive Enterprise InstituteThink TankA Washington think tank that had been bankrolled by fossil fuel industries, particularly the Kochs.
Continental ResourcesCorporationOklahomaOK-based shale oil company with a large and profitable fracking operation
Coors brewing familyKoch InvestorColorado
Ted CruzPoliticianTexas
Kim DavisPublic SectorKentucky
Devos familyKoch InvestorFounders of the Amway marketing empire; Betsy DuVos is the Secretary of Education under Trump
Amadou DialloNew Yorka West African immigrant mowed down by 41 shots from police when leaving his apartment on February 4, 1999.
James DobsonMedia personalityconservative talk-show host
Chester DolesFormer KKK leader who runs the white supremacist American Patriots USA. Nearly beat a Black man to death in 1993. Marched in 2017 in Charlottesville.
Dinesh D'SouzaConservative gadly who alleged that Obama was "African" in outlook rather than American, absorbing his "radical" views from his Kenyan father
Doug Ducey
David DukeWhite Supremacist
John EastmanRan against Kamala Harris in 2010 for California AG, then showed back up in 2020 to write an outrageous op-ed that Newsweek for some reason actually published, that claimed that she was "secretly" not a US resident and therefore not eligible to be the VP! Now the Kamala Harris birther
Myron EbellOutspoken climate change skeptic, who headed the Trump transition team for the EPA
Election Integrity Project CaliforniaExtremistElection fraud group working with Leonard Leo
Cassandra Fairbanks
Jerry Falwell, JrTelevangelist
The FamilyLobbyistShadowy DC group with tremendous sway in Congress and around the world, following a distorted "strongman Jesus" version of Christianity.
The Federalist SocietyExtremist
Scott FitzgeraldPoliticianWIHouse Republican
Michael FlynnLobbyist
For AmericaPAC
Fox NewsCorporation
Freedom PartnersKochtopusThe Koch Brothers' secretive donor club.
FreedomWorksExtremist
Kevin GentryVP of Special Projects and VP of the Koch Foundation
Greg GianfortePoliticianbody-slamming Guardian reported Ben Jacobs while running for a GOP House seat in Montana
Newt GingrichMedia personality
Tim "Baked Alaska" GionetWhite Supremacist
Rudy GiulianiPoliticianNYC
GiveSendGo"Christian" donation platform
Barry GoldwaterPoliticianAZ
Chuck GrassleyPoliticianSenator
The Great Awakening
Marjorie Taylor GreeneQAnonGA
Eric Greitens
Harold HammKochtopusBillionaire founder of Continental Resources, an OK-based shale company with large fracking business & one of the charter members of the Kochs' donor circle.
Orrin HatchPoliticianSen. Orrin Hatch raised concerns about funding certain entitlement programs. โ€œI have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who wonโ€™t help themselves, wonโ€™t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything,โ€ he said.
Josh Hawley
Jesse Helms
Leona Helmsley
Diane HendricksThe wealthiest woman in Wisconsin at $3.6 billion
Heritage FoundationThink TankWashington, DC
Honest Elections ProjectExtremistA conservative legal organization connected to Leonard Leo that files legal briefs to SCOTUS opposing mail-in ballots and other voting reforms that help more people to vote,
Andrew JacksonPoliticianUS President
John Birch SocietyExtremist
Andrew JohnsonPoliticianUS President
Chuck JohnsonMedia personalityAlt-right super troll
Alex JonesMedia personalityHost of InfoWars, the 9/11 conspiracy show that put the genre on the map
Jim JordanPoliticianOHA long-time Tea Party hyena, the Congressman known as Gym once helped his buddy cover up decades of sexual abuse of young wrestlers in their care.
Judicial Education ProjectExtremistA legal group tied to Leonard Leo, working to advance conservative takeover of the judiciary.
Islam KarimovOligarchUzbekistanFormer Communist official who became the first president of Uzbekistan in 1991, and remained the country's dictator until his death in 2016.
Brett KavanaughJudge
Dr. D. James Kennedycreating a Dominionist "conversion" playbook
John F. KennedyPolitician
Robert F. KennedyPolitician
Martin Luther KingActivistCivil Rights leader in the 1960s, and enemy of Southern politicians
Charlie KirkMedia personality
KKKWhite Supremacist
Bill KochBusinessperson
Charles KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc.
David KochKochtopusKansasindustries: pipelines, oil refineries, lumber and paper, coal, chemicals, commodity futures, etc. (now deceased)
Fred KochKochtopusKansasFather of Charles and David, Fred Koch was an early and fervent acolyte in the ultra-conservative John Birch Society
Frederick KochBusinesspersonNew York
Ku Klux Klan (see KKK)White Supremacist
Ken LangoneBusinesspersonFounder of Home Depot
Lyndon LaRoucheCult Leader
Robert LeFevreKochtopusCharles Koch's mentor, a quasi-anarchist, who said, "government is a disease masquerading as its own cure"
Leonard LeoExtremistChairman of the Federalist Society, a legal organization working to pack the courts with conservative judges.
Liberty CounselChristian special rights group
William S. Lind
Kelly LoefflerPoliticianGeorgiaInsider trading immediately upon arriving at her unelected Senate seat when her husband, President of the NYSE, found a way to have some money arrive at Brian Kemp, the Governor, who appointed her.
Dana LoeschMedia personalityNRA spokeswoman
Paul ManafortLobbyist
John McAfeeBusinessperson
Michael McKennaKochtopusLobbyist and President of MWR Strategies lobbying firm, who have the Koch brothers as clients
Rebekah MercerOligarchDaughter of NY hedge fund manager Robert Mercer; she helped guide the Trump transition team following the 2016 election
Robert MercerOligarch
MicroChipPro-Trump bot-king
Michael Milken
Semion MogilevichCriminalNotorious Russian mob boss
Stefan MolyneuxMedia personalityAlt-right troll
Sun Myung MoonCult LeaderLeader of the Moonie cult and self-proclaimed deity, Mr Moon served time in federal prison for tax fraud, among other charges.
Roy MoorePoliticianTrump-backed politician and pedophile who narrowly lost the Alabama Senate race to Doug Jones in 2018.
MWR StrategiesKochtopusLobbying firm for the Koch brothers
neo-NazisExtremist
Ralph NormanPoliticianHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
NRAExtremistNational Rifle Association
NYPDPublic SectorNew York Police Department
Barack ObamaPoliticianChicago, DC, Los AngelesThe 44th President of the United States, and the first black person to hold the job. He was widely loathed by the Right despite his positive record.
John M. OlinKochtopusChemical and munitions company titan
Norman Vincent PealeBusinesspersonChristianity as a business man's religion
Mike PenceMedia personality
Rick PerryPolitician
Scott PerryHouse Republican who skirted the metal detectors to enter the House floor after the January 6 insurrection
Jordan B PetersonAcademic
Mike PompeoPublic SectorSec of State after the firing of Rex Tillerson; former CIA Director; former Republican congressman from KS and largest recipient of Koch campaign funds in all of Congress
Jack PosobiecMedia personality
Lewis Powell
Sydney PowellAlso Associates with UFO believers and anti-vaxxers
Proud Boys
Thomas Pylepresident of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and the Kochs
QAnon
Nancy Reagan
Ronald ReaganPolitician
Pat RobertsonTelevangelist
George Romney
Mitt RomneyPolitician
Richard Mellon ScaifeKoch InvestorHeir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes, and Koch donor
David Schnare"Free-market environmentalist" who accused the EPA of having blood on its hands, who joined climate change denier Myron Ebell on the Trump transition team for the EPA
Stephen SchwarzmanFinance
Rick Scott
Jeff Sessions
Marc ShortRan the Koch Brothers' secretive donor club, Freedom Partners, before becoming Mike Pence's senior advisor during the 2016 presidential transition
Sinclair Broadcasting GroupCorporation
Paul SingerKoch InvestorFinance (Elliott Management hedge fund). Supported Rudy Giuliani.
SNCCNon-profit
Richard SpencerMedia personality
State Policy NetworkFunded in part by the Kochs
Roger StoneLobbyist
Richard StrongStrong Capital Management Mutual Fund
Tea PartyIntensely antitax group
Peter ThielBusinessperson
Three Percenters
Turning Point USA
Unification Church
Unite the RightActivist
University of Texas at Austin
Ricky Vaughn
George WallacePoliticianAlabama
Joe Walsh
Kelli WardPoliticianAZGOP Chair
Ron WatkinsIdentified as the most likely suspect to be Q
WeevWhite SupremacistAndrew "Weev" Auernheimer
Paul WeyrichWhite Supremacist
Darren WilsonPolice officer who brutally killed a Black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO in 2014.
WikiLeaksForeign agent
Milo Yiannopoulos
TYPE (raw)Typepivot
BusinesspersonAcademic
BusinesspersonActivistTYPE (raw)
BusinesspersonBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCorporationBusinessperson
BusinesspersonCriminalCorporation
BusinesspersonCult LeaderKoch Investor
BusinesspersonExtremistLobbyist
BusinesspersonForeign agentMedia personality
BusinesspersonJudgenon-profit
CorporationKochtopusPolitician
CorporationLobbyistPublic Sector
CorporationMedia personalityThink Tank
Koch InvestorNon-profitType
Koch InvestorOligarchGrand Total
Koch InvestorPAC
Koch InvestorPolitician
Koch InvestorPublic Sector
Koch InvestorQAnon
Koch InvestorTelevangelist
Koch InvestorThink Tank
Koch InvestorWhite Supremacist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Lobbyist
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
Media personality
non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Non-profit
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Politician
Public Sector
Public Sector
Think Tank
Think Tank
Type

Dunning-Kruger Effect

A strong and prevalent cognitive bias that causes a large majority of people to rate themselves more highly and more skilled than statistically possible. Lack of self-awareness can cause us to overestimate our knowledge or ability in a given area, and this phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Posited in 1999 by two Cornell psychologists, Professors Dunning and Kruger also found that low-skilled people often have a double bind: they think of themselves as very skilled, but the lack even the basic level of skill that would allow them to detect and learn from their mistakes to get better. It’s very difficult for them to get out of the “trap” of perceiving themselves as superior, thus obviating any need to continue effort at improvements.

They also found that individuals of high skill levels also suffer from a sort of “lensing effect” (now dubbed the Dunning-Kruger Effect accordingly) in terms of their own self-assessment, but in the other direction — they are not generally aware of the rarity of their gifts. They assume most other people have the same kinds of knowledge and critical thinking skills that they do. In other words, careful study of our images of ourselves found us all to be living in a bubble of inaccurate self-perception, on both ends.

How to counteract the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

  • Ask for feedback from other people, and listen to it honestly.
  • Keep learning and gather knowledge and improving your skills.

Top Mental Models for Thinkers

Mental models are different ways of mapping or viewing a system or a problem. They are frameworks that help explain what’s going on, and predict what’s likely to happen next.

Model thinking is an excellent way of improving our cognition and decision making abilities. Thinking in models helps us understand how new concepts fit with older observations, and what theories and metaphors are likely to endure.

I will continue to add to this list over time as well as fill in the number of holes that remain in the set. Learning about new mental models is one of my favorite activities — it’s the closest thing to a superpower I can think of.

TermTypeTopicDefinition
80/20 ruleModelEconomicsAlso known as a power law, or the Pareto Principle
absolute advantage
absolute valueTermMaththe value of a function irrespective of its sign (positive or negative)
accessibilityPsychologyHow easy something is to call to mind
acquittalLegal precedent
activation energyTermScienceA chemistry term that describes the minimum energy required for a chemical system to react
adverse selection
a fortiori
akrasiaTermA state of mind where someone acts against their own better judgment due to weakness of will.
alea iacta estMetaphorMetaphorIn Latin, "the die is cast" -- attributed to Julius Caesar as he crossed the river Rubicon, leading an attack on Rome: a metaphor for a point of no return
allocationMethodEconomics
"All the world's a stageโ€œMetaphorArtsShakespearean metaphor likening culture to a theatrical performance: "And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances ..."โ€”William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Amara's LawTheoryScience & TechnologyWe tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run
annuityTermEconomicsa series of regular payments
antifragilityModelEconomicswhen something grows stronger under stress; when there is more upside to downside of experiencing a shock to the system
antimatterTheoryScience & Technology
a prioriPhilosophy
arbitrageModelEconomics
archetypesSymbolPhilosophyAn ideal type; a model after which others are fashioned.
arrow of timeScience & Technology
artificia docuit famesAncient WisdomPhilosophyLatin saying meaning, "sophistication is born out of hunger" -- a metaphor for innovation and genius being awakened by challenge, difficulty, and constraints
ASCIITermScience & TechnologyAmerican Standard Code for Information Interchange: a standard character translation table used by computers to convert numerical representations into printable characters
asking a fish about waterMetaphorMetaphor
astroturfingMethod
asymmetric encryptionTerm
asymptotesTermMathA line is approaching a limit, but never quite reaches it.
autophagy
availability biasModelPsychology
averagesMethodMatha measure of central tendency of a set of data, whether the mean, media, or mode
balance sheetMethodEconomics
balancing loopSystems theory
Baldwin EffectModelScience & TechnologyAs organisms learn to shape their environment, they can alter the path of evolution. For example, with the advent of dairy farming, selection pressures began favoring lactose absorption genes in humans.
bank reservesEconomics
bank runEconomics
base conversionMath
Base Rate FallacyPsychology
base weighting
Bayes' TheoremMethodMathan algebraic method of determining the updated probability of a certain event or case, given new information
bend the kneeMetaphorSocial psychology
betaEconomicsIn finance, a term that refers to investments tracking the broad market performance of an exchange or industry sector
The Big BangTermScience & TechnologyThe massive explosion which spawned our entire universe, back at the beginning of time.
The Big CrunchTheory
binary numbersTermMath
binomial distributionTermStatistics
Binomial TheoremTheoryMath
black holeTheoryPhysics
Black-Scholes modelModelEconomics
Black SwanModelEconomics
blockchainTermScience & Technology
boiling frogMetaphorPhilosophyA metaphor for the common occurence of slow, gradual changes over time not being noticed, like the (contested) legend of a scienfitic experiment that boileg a frog alive by starting with tepid water and slowly turning up the temperature.
bondEconomics
Boyle's Law
boundary object
bounded rationalityPsychologyA central challenge to the c. 1776 ideas of Adam Smith regarding the Invisible Hand of markets, this 20th c. psychological theory posits that rather than making optimized rational decisions, at most times the average person is "satisficing" or making the most expedient choice under considerable constraints and lack of available information
bricolageMethodArtsCombination of many types and forms into one piece; a pastiche or mashup of style and cultural referents
broken windows theoryTheoryLaw
Butterfly EffectModelScience & Technology
bystander effectSocial psychology
cadenceArts
camel's nosePhilosophya metaphor describing how allowing a smaller innocuous act may lead to larger acts that are undesirable
capital gainsEconomicsMoney that is earned as a result of a stock investment appreciating in value โ€” the capital "gains in value"
capital requirementsEconomicsActual cash on hand for banks to theoretically offer at a given time, with the rest lended out as leverage
carbon-14Science & Technology
carbon datingScience & TechnologyA way to scientifically determine the age of an object
carpe diemPhilosophyin Latin, "seize the day" -- a reference often used to motivate oneself and others to act boldly and live vigorously in the moment
cartelEconomics
catalystScience & Technology
categorical dataStatistics
causa-sui projectPsychology
cellular automataMath
central limit theoremStatistics
central tendencyStatistics a measure of the midpoint of a data set; includes mean, median, and mode
ceteris paribusEconomics"all other things being equal"; holding the effects of other variables constant to determine the effects on a single variable of interest
charge preservationScience & Technology
charlatanPsychologyone who aspires to wealth &/or fame through trickery and deception
Chesterton's FenceMetaphor
chilling effectHistory
cognitive biasPsychology
collapseSystems theory
comparative advantageEconomics
composite eventsStatisticsin probability
compound interestEconomics
conditionalsMath
Condorcet Jury TheoremStatistics
confidence intervalStatisticsthe range of values over which a predicted outcome may lie; the amount of certainty one has about the predicted value falling within the estimated range
confirmation biasPsychology
conflationPsychology
consent of the governedPoliticsConcept of political philosophy in which a government's legitimacy and right to use state power is only justified if consented to by the people over whom said power is wielded.
consequentialismPhilosophy
constraintsMath
Consumer Sentiment IndexEconomics
continuous vs. discrete variablesStatistics
Copernican theory of the solar systemScience & Technology
correlationStatistics
correlation coefficientStatistics
cosineMath
counterfactual
countervailing powerEconomicsEconomist John Kenneth Galbraith's concept for how collective worker power is needed to balance against growing corporatism in the economy
creative destructionEconomics Economist Joseph Shumpeter's idea for how the business cycle works: by innovation disrupting established processes and industries and forcing change into markets, often destructively and swiftly
credo quia absurdum"I believe because it is absurd" โ€” Tertullian's defense of belief in the miracles attributed to Christ
critical massScience & Technology
crossing the RubiconMetaphorHistoryMaking a decision from which there is no turning back; a reference to Julius Caesar's overthrow of the Roman republic to found the Roman Empire in 49 BCE
cross-sectional dataMath
crowdfundingEconomics
crowdsourcingSystems theory
cryptocurrencyEconomics
dead hand of the pastHistoryProblem inherent in constitutional political philosophy, where eventually a people becomes ruled by "masters" no longer alive, who rule by "fiat" via a document, from beyond the grave (Thomas Jefferson's concept)
death spiral
decision theorySystems theory
decision treeSystems theory
de minimisLaw
depreciationEconomics
derivativesMath
diminshing marginal utility (DMU)Economics
directory structureComputers
dispersionStatisticsthe amount of variation within a set of data; how spread out the data points are from each other
distributionsStatistics
divergent thinkingPsychology
diversity
Diversity Prediction Theorem
dividend paymentsEconomicsPeriodic, usually quarterly, payouts to stockholders of the company when posting profits. Along with capital gains, one of the 2 primary reasons to invest in stocks.
Dodd-Frank Act of 2010Economicsdefinitive financial regulation of the financial industry following the 2007-8 financial crisis
domain dependence
double helix
doxaSocial psychologycommon belief or opinion
Drake EquationScience & Technology1961 estimation of the number of technological civilizations that might exist in the universe, conceived by Dr. Frank Drake
dualismPhilosophy
Dunbar numberPsychology
Dunning-Kruger EffectPsychologyA cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as higher than it actually is, because they cannot recognize their incompetence in comparison to others.
Duverger's LawPoliticsHolds that plurality-rule elections within single member districts โ€” such as the structure found in the U.S. โ€” tend to favor two-party systems
economies of scaleEconomics
edge case
elasticity; price elasticityEconomicsthe ability of pricing mechanisms to respond quickly or less quickly to changes in prevailing conditions
elasticity of demand
elasticity of supply
electromagnetic spectrumScience & Technology
electron cloudScience & Technologyrefers to the true nature of an electron's existence around an atom, wherein its location in space is not a definite point, but a fuzzy region of probable occurence
elephants and fliesEconomicssales concept to quickly segment leads into size buckets, from elephants > deers > rabbits > mice > flies
elephant and riderPsychology psychological idea about how our unconscious and semi-conscious desires dominate us, but can be directed by reason (Jonathan Haidt et al)
embargo
emperor's new clothes
encryptionMath
ensemble learningScience & Technology
epistemologyPhilosophy
e pluribus unumPoliticsLatin: "one out of many" โ€” one of several phrases on the American dollar bill, it refers to the unity of the nation as made up of its many peoples and as such, signifies the republic.
equilibriumScience & Technology
equityEconomics
equity crowdfundingEconomics
error-embracingPsychology
event horizonPhysics
exception handling
exchange ratesEconomicsThe value of one country's currency as measured against another
existentialism
exit strategyEconomics
externalitiesEconomics
extrapolationStatistics
factorialMath
factum tacendo, crimen facias acriusPhilosophyHe who does not stop a crime is an accomplice.
fact /value problemPhilosophy
fake newsMedia
false positivesScience & Technology
false consensus effectSocial psychology
falsifiabilityScience & Technologyability to be proven untrue; a requirement for a theory to be called scientific
Feynman TechniqueScience & TechnologyA method of learning and remembering difficult concepts by simplifying them until you can explain it to a new student or layperson who knows nothing about that concept.
fiat money
fiduciary dutyEconomics
fifth columnPoliticsa group who unites in secret to undermine a larger group from within
file systemMetaphorComputers
filter bubbleMetaphorSocial psychology
first principlesPhilosophy
fishing expeditionMetaphor
fitness functionTermScience & Technologyin AI, refers to a set of selection criteria applied to a set of potential solutions to a problem to allow only the better candidates to survive to the next generation
flรขneurTermArts
force multiplierScience & Technology
fractalsMath
fractional reserve bankingMethodEconomics
fractionsTermMath
fragilityPhilosophy
framingPsychology
free tradeMethodEconomics
free willPhilosophyPhilosophy
freshwater vs. saltwater economistsEconomics
Friend of the Court filingLaw
FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt)Social psychology
fundamental attribution errorPsychology
future valueEconomics
gainTermArtsin audio recording, a control that allows more or less of the source sound into the channel being recorded
game theoryMath
Gates' LawTheoryPhilosophythe idea that software development speed halves every 18 months, negating the acceleratory effects of Moore's Law and preventing computing from leaping greatly forward
Gaussian distributionTermStatisticsthe Normal distribution
GDP (Gross Domestic Product)ModelEconomicsthe sum of all public and private goods produced within a given period; a measure of a country's economic health
generalists and specialistsPhilosophy
genetic algorithmsScience & Technologyan approach to AI based on evolutionary models, in which multiple candidate solutions to a problem are generated randomly by mutation and recombination, then iterated over thousands of generations through fitness functions to weed out the best of each generation
Gettier problemPhilosophy
GOFAIScience & Technology"Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence" โ€” reference to the style and general algorithmic approach of early artificial intelligence work, which fell out of popularity over the decades in favor of more organic neural net and evolutionary approaches
Golden calf
Golden MeanTheoryPhilosophyAristotelian theory of an ideal balance point between the many extremes we face in life; he advocated harmony between the various spheres of life for an experience of happiness
Golden RuleAncient Wisdom"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you" is the essence of this ancient wisdom, often used as a shorthand version of Jesus's core teaching.
Goldilocks ZoneModel
gold standardLegal precedent
gravity wavesPhysics
habeas corpusLegal precedentLaw
habitusSocial psychology
Hanlon's RazorModelPhilosophynever attribute to malice what is adequately described by carelessness
hard determinismPhilosophy
harmonicsArts
hearts and mindsPolitics
hedge fundsEconomics
hedonismPhilosophyPhilosophy
Heisenberg Uncertainty PrincipleTheoryScience & Technology
hexadecimal numbersTermMathbase 6
heuristicsPsychologyMental shortcuts that we do as a matter of routine, especially when we're stressed or under other types of cognitive constraints.
hormesisScience & TechnologyWhen a small dose of a toxic substance is actually beneficial to the living thing that ingests it
hydraMetaphor
iatrogenicsHealthharm done by the healer
ice core datingScience & Technology
id, ego, superegoModelPsychologyFreud's psychological model of the conscious and unconscious mind.
implicit costEconomics
Imposter SyndromeModelPsychologyA psychological pattern in which one doubts their own accomplishments and has a generalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.
index number; indexingStatistics
inferior goodsEconomics
inflationEconomics
inflection pointMathThe point of a curve at which a change in the direction of the curve occurs.
interestEconomics
interest rateEconomics
internal rate of return (IRR)Economics
Internet of Things (IoT)TermScience & Technology
intersectionMath
interventionismSocial psychology
IP addressesTermScience & Technology
iron law of oligarchyTheoryPoliticsPolitical theory positing that no matter how democratic a group may start out, over time it will develop into a bureaucracy ruled by a small handful
It from BitTheoryPhysicsJohn Wheeler's theory about the fundamental informational nature of the universe
Keynesian economicsTheoryEconomics
Keynesian PutModelEconomics
Kronos EffectModelEconomicsthe tendency of a successful corporation to seek to acquire and/or drive its upstart competitors out of business
Laffer CurveTheoryEconomics
law of excluded middle
Law of Large NumbersScientific LawMathAs the number of coin tosses approaches infinity, the number of heads encountered will converge on 0.5; helpful in calculations of probability.
least-barricaded gateMetaphorPoliticsTrotsky's metaphor of how social revolutions can take hold more easily in already weakened societies
lecturing birds how to flyMetaphorMetaphor
length contractionModelPhysics
less is morePhilosophyMetaphor
L'etat c'est moiPhilosophyPolitics"I am the stateโ€œ
leverageEconomics
lifeboat ethicsPhilosophyPhilosophy
light-weight processComputers
limit of a functionTermMath if the graph of an equation seems to approach a numerical value but never quite reaches it, we say that number is the limit of the function (approaching from the negative or positive direction; sometimes directionality is important)
limiting factorSystems theory
linear regressionMethodMath
liquidityEconomics
local minModelSystems theoryidea that to grow out of a stasis or plateau, you likely have to endure a period of "setback" that is a lower dip or minimum value from where you are now, but is what's required to get over the activation energy to reach the next level
logarithmMath
logical fallaciesPhilosophy
long tailTheoryStatisticsIn a power law distribution (of population, ages, items, etc.), the region of the graph that tapers off quickly after the initial segment of high data points
loss aversionPsychology
Lost EinsteinsTheoryhttp://doctorparadox.net/models/lost-einsteins/
loyalists and mercenariesSystems theory
maker's time and manager's timeModelSystems theory
M1Economics
M2Economics
mandalaReligion
ManichaeanPhilosophya narrowly-defined dualistic worldview of good against evil
map is not the territoryMetaphorMetaphor
margin of errorStatistics
marginal benefitEconomics
marginal costEconomics
marginal returnsEconomics
marginal utilityEconomics
market shareEconomics
Markov chainTermMath
Maslow's Hierarchy of needsModelPsychology
meanTermStatisticsthe average value of the numbers in a data set; take the sum of all values and divide by the total number of values in the set
medianTermStatistics
Median Voter TheoremTheoryPolitics
megalopsychonPhilosophyPhilosophyConcept in Aristotelian ethics of living with grandeur and taking risks with dignity; being nonsmall
mens reaLegal precedentLaw"guilty mind" โ€” establishing the intent of a perp can help to establish criminal liability
mercantilismTheoryEconomics
meritocracyModelSystems theory
metaphysicsPhilosophyPhilosophy
mirror neurons
modeTermStatistics
monopolyEconomicsMarket condition in which there exists only one seller of a resource
monopsonyEconomicsMarket condition in which there exists only one buyer of a resource
Moore's LawTheoryScience & TechnologyNamed after Gordon Moore, the model predicts the doubling of transistors on a circuit of equivalent size every 18 months to 2 years. This has many consequences for both technology and economics, including the predictable drop in price of generating the same amount of computing power each period.
moral hazardEconomicswhen one party takes on additional risk, knowing that other parties will bear the brunt of the risk in event of a loss
Moravec's Paradox
MVP (minimum viable product)TermEconomics
naive cynicismPsychologyState of mind in which people believe others to have more egocentric bias than is warranted or is actually the case.
Nash EquilibriumTheoryMath
nasty, brutish, and shortAncient WisdomPhilosophy
natural lawsScience & Technology
natural selectionScientific LawScience & Technology
necessity is the mother of inventionCommon WisdomMyth/Metaphor
negative externalitiesEconomics
neomaniaSocial psychologylove of the modern for its own sake
neural netTermScience & Technology
net present value (NPV)ModelEconomics
neuroplasticityScience & Technology
Newton's first lawScientific LawPhysicsan object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by a force
Newton's second lawScientific LawPhysicsF = ma, or an object of mass m feeling a force F will accelerate by an amount a
nodesTermMath
noosphereData scienceSphere of human thought โ€” all interacting minds on earth. An early 1900s concept from Teilhard de Chardin
nominal figuresEconomics
nonlinearityMath
Normal distributionScientific LawStatistics
normal goodsEconomics
normalized weighted averageStatistics
normative and descriptivePhilosophy
noumenaPhilosophy
novus ordo seclorumSymbolGovernmentA new order for the ages; Latin phrase seen on the dollar bill
null hypothesisMethodScience
observer effectScience
Ockham's RazorTheoryPhilosophyA philosophical rule of thumb that favors the simplest explanation. Also known as the "law of parsimony"
octal numbersMathbase 8
oligopolyEconomics
omphalosPolitics
opportunity costModelEconomicsWhat you miss out on by using a resource in a certain way -- what you would have done with the resource otherwise; what alternative use you would have put it to.
optionsEconomics
orders of magnitudeScientific LawMath
ordinally ranked dataStatistics
organizational debtEconomics
oscillationsScience
out-group biasSocial psychology
outlierModelStatistics
paradoxModel
paragonModelCultureA standard against which something can be judged โ€” an exemplar example of a thing
path dependent
pax RomanaHistory
pearls before swineMetaphorMyth/Metaphor
P/E RatioEconomicsPrice to earnings ratio: standard measure of relative stock performance
permutationsMath
Peter PrincipleTheorySystems theory
phase shiftScience
philosopher kings
Philosopher's StoneUnsolved Mystery
phonemes
plant a seedMetaphor
Platonic forms
PlatonicityPhilosophyadherence to crisp abstract theory & forms that blind us to the mess of actual reality
Plato's CaveModelPhilosophyallegory in The Republic about a cave dweller whose only picture of reality is the shadow on the cave wall thrown by the fire
pluralismGovernment
point of no returnMyth/Metaphor
pollingStatistics
Pollyanna PrincipleModelPsychologytendency for people to remember pleasant events more accurately than unpleasant ones
populismGovernment
positronPhysicsan antimatter electron
Potemkin Village EffectModelSystems theorytendency of systems to create the appearance of functioning normally โ€” to appease the operators who wish it so โ€” even when they are not
precisionMath
present valueEconomicsthe expected current value of an income stream
price ceilingEconomics
price floorEconomics
prima facie
principle of indifferenceStatisticsin probability, when there is no basis to choose some outcomes as more likely than others, they are given equal weight (1/2 chance of a particular side of a coin, 1/52 to get a particular card from a deck, etc.)
prisoner's dilemmaMath
private equity (PE)Economics
probabilityMath
probability distributionStatistics
Procrustean bedPhilosophy
profitEconomics
propagandaSocial psychologyoriginally, a way to "propagate" any idea; used by both sides in WWI, it thereafter took on a sinister connotation when American & British citizens felt hoodwinked by their govt's use of it
proper framePhysicsin physics, the frame of reference that accelerates with you and determines your age
proportionalityMath
prospect theoryPsychology
proximate cause
proxy warPolitics
pseudoscience
PTSDPsychology
punctuated equilibriumScience & Technology
Pygmalian EffectSocial psychology
Pyrrhic victoryMyth/Metaphor
quantum computingScience
qubitScience
quid pro quoLaw
quota
random walksMath
rangeStatisticsin a set of numbers, the difference between the highest value and the lowest value in the data set
rara avisMyth/Metaphor"rare bird" in Latin
rate of returnEconomics
realismPhilosophy
recursionMath
red shiftPhysics
reductio ad absurdoPhilosophycollapsing things too far, in a way that destroys real significance
reductio ad finemPhilosophyTo analyze to the end โ€” break the concept down into its conponent parts.
redundancySystems theoryhaving multiple pathways within a system to accomplish the same task or achieve the same objective
reference framePhysicsa frame that does not accelerate; also known as a Lorentz frame
regnat populus
regression analysisStatistics
reincarnationReligion
reinforcing loopSystems theory
relativityPhysicsEinstein's central insight that the experience or perceived passage of time depends greatly on the conditions of the observer, particularly with respect to velocity and gravity
resilienceSystems theoryability to bounce back into shape after having been pressed or stretched; elasticity. The ability to recover quickly.
respice finem"consider that you will die" โ€” i.e. live life as you would in order to be proud of it by the time it's over
res publicaGovernmentpertaining to the state
retrodiction
revenueEconomics
riskEconomics
risk-weighted assets (RWAs)Economics
root cause
roundingMath
rounding errorMath
run on the bank
samplingStatistics
samsaraReligion
scarcityEconomics
Schelling's Tipping Model
search intentMedia
second-order thinking
selection biasPsychology
self-governance
set theoryMath
ship of TheseusMyth/Metaphor
SIFIEconomicssystemically important financial institution; post-2008 financial crisis designation for banks deemed "too big to fail" (currently, firms holding more than $50b in assets)
sigmaStatisticsstandard deviation, named for the Greek letter denoting the statistical term
signal pathPhysics
significant figuresMathaka "sig figs"
simulationPhilosophy
sineTermMath
sine waveTermPhysics
singularityTheoryPhysics
SIR modelSciencecontagious disease modelling based on possible patient states (susceptible, infected, recovered)
site navigationMethodMedia
six degrees of separationTheoryStatistics
six sigmaMethodMotorola-originated concept of ensuring quality control to a very fine point, by ensuring that parts or other production outputs are manufactured to be within a certain quality range up to 6 times the standard deviation.
situational preparedness
squaring the circleUnsolved MysteryA notorious philosophical problem first posed by Plato, the phrase has come to be used to allude to the grandiosity and infeasibility of someone's plans.
skewStatistics
skin in the gameEconomics
slope of a lineMath
social contractPhilosophyProfoundly impactful document in political philosophy from Jean Jacques Rousseau in 18th c. France, refuting the rights of monarchs to rule the people
Socratic methodMethodPhilosophyTechnique of instruction or conversation where the teacher or moderator proceeds by asking the student or pupil a serious of questions, enticing her or him to come up with their own answers to the issues related to the subject at hand.
solipsism
sortingMath
speech act theoryTheoryPhilosophyBritish philosopher J.L.Austin's concept that all uses of speech carry a performative aspect
speed of light (c)Physicsapprox. 300 million meters per second
Single point of failure (SPoF)TermA part of a system that, when it fails, brings down the entire rest of the system or stops it from working properly
spreadStatistics
standard deviationStatistics
standing wavesTerm
stare decisisLegal precedentLaw"it has been decided" โ€” terminology used by a judge or court to indicate that the matter before them has already been decided by a previous ruling
status quoCulture
stochastic terrorismTermSocial psychology
stocks and flowsModelSystems theory
StoicismAncient WisdomPhilosophy
Streisand EffectMetaphorSocial psychologywhen the act of attempting to hide information only makes it more prominently spread, especially via the Internet
strict liabilityLawcrimes which have no mens rea requirement, such as rear-ending of another vehicle (where it is always the rear-enders' fault no matter what the circumstances
subsidyEconomics
success to the successfulSystems theoryreinforcing loop within complex system โ€” especially economies โ€” wherein the spoils of victory include the means to alter the rules of the game further in the favor of the previous winners
summum malumAncient WisdomPoliticsultimate evil โ€” some posit cruelty as this ultimate evil
supply and demandModelEconomics
supply chainTermEconomics
sword of DamoclesMetaphor
symmetric encryptionTerm
tabula rasaBlank slate
tachyonPhysicshypothetical particle that travels faster than the speed of light
tangentMath
tariff
tempus edax rerumAncient WisdomArts"Time devours everything." โ€” Ovid
tempus fugitAncient WisdomTime flies
tempus neminem manetAncient Wisdomtime waits for no man
Third StoryPhilosophythe story an impartial third-party observer might tell; a version of events any unbiased person could agree on
Thucydides Trap
tilting at windmillsMetaphorArtsA reference to the novel Don Quixote, denoting the ongoing pursuit of useless attacks against an implacable enemy
time dilationThought ExperimentPhysics
time series dataStatistics
time value of moneyTheoryEconomics
tipping pointModelSystems theory
too many cooks in the kitchenMetaphor
touchstoneMetaphorMyth/MetaphorA black stone once used to judge the purity of gold or silver โ€” now signifying a standard against which something should be judged.
trade-offsModelEconomics
tragedy of the commonsTheorySystems theory
transitivityTermMath
trolly problemThought ExperimentPhilosophy
turtles all the way downTheoryPhilosophy
twin paradoxThought ExperimentPhysics
tyranny of choiceTheorySystems theory
UnicodeTermComputers
unionTermMath
universal lawPhilosophyPhilosophy
usuryTermEconomicsthe act of charging interest on borrowed money; for thousands of years there have been religous proscriptions against lending money with interest in various societies
utilityPhilosophy
varianceTermStatistics
Veil of IgnoranceModelPhilosophyPhilosopher John Rawls' model for making better ethical decisions, in which the decider chooses a course of action based on the predicate that s/he will not know which of the groups or persons affected by the decision they personally would be. This method creates natural incentives to find the fairest outcome for all groups, since the decider doesn't know which group they will "end up in" on the other side of the decision.
Venn diagramModelStatistics
via negativaPhilosophyindirect description of a thing by describing what that thing is not
Volcker ruleLegal precedentEconomicsfinancial rule preventing consumer lending banks from speculative trading in securities for their own profit
wave functionPhysics
wave-particle dualityTheoryPhysics
wheel of lifeSymbolReligion
when life gives you lemonsMetaphorPhilosophyYou try to make lemonade! Another way of saying, "let's try and make the best of this unfortunate situation."
winner-take-all marketEconomics
wisdom of crowdsModelSocial psychologyderived from the Diversity Prediction Theorem: the average prediction of a group of individuals will be more accurate than the prediction of one average member
wolves and sheepMetaphorPhilosophy
wormholeTheoryPhysics
worst case scenarioModelMyth/Metaphor
zero sum gameModelMath
z scoreTermStatistics

Tulsa Race Massacre

On May 31, 1921, a mob of murderous whites descended on the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma dubbed Black Wall Street, and razed it to the ground. They dropped homemade bombs in the first ever domestic aerial attack on American soil, during the Tulsa Race Massacre following the end of World War I.

Over three hundred Blacks were murdered and hastily buried or burned. Police and other state officials were complicit; no one was ever charged for the crimes and insurance companies refused to honor Black business owner’s claims from the destruction of their livelihood and senseless slaughter of their friends, families, and community. A generation of wealth was wiped out overnight, with deep economic repercussions passing down to ensuing descendants.

Whitewashing, literally

The Confederates managed to memory hole the Tulsa Race Massacre event clean out of history for the most part, until the 100-year anniversary of the event — arriving at a time of perhaps maximum racial polarization and most extreme partisanship in this country since the civil rights era. Nor is it the only example of mass murder and destruction of Black property and assets — there are plenty others we’ve never heard about in school. That’s why it’s so important to bear witness, and to remember, and to tell and retell the stories of our past — even the painful ones. Especially the painful ones.

Lost Cause religion

The whitewashing of the Civil War to assuage white Southern guilt, Lost Cause refers to the historical gaslighting of the former Confederates. New mythology reinvented our nation’s greatest internal conflict as if it had been more of a technocratic war over states’ rights and the limits of federal power, instead of the truth — which is that the seditionists first seceded, then started a war against the northern states, to preserve their right to own human beings as slaves.

When they lost the war, they never accepted defeat, or put down their conviction that white people (conveniently, them) ought to “naturally” rule over the dark people (conveniently, not them) because, you know, God said so. It is known. Many people are saying.

The Ghost Confederacy

Nevertheless, the South did have to put up with the ignomy of federal occupation for several years before they were able to expel the godless globalists and return to their safe, secure, sadistic ways of slavering. It sent the Confederates’ sense of wounded pride soaring when they could finally recreate slavery under other names, after the short-lived era of Reconstruction gave way to the terrifying age of southern Redemption.

Peonage, convict leasing, sharecropping, and other forms of neoslavery persisted all the way through at least 1954, when the Sumter slavery case was one of the last judicial prosecutions of involuntary servitude in the United States.

1954.

The Confederacy, and with it the idea of Black servitude, stayed alive in the hearts and minds of the former Confederates — many of whom were pardoned and later went on to sit in Congress making decisions about the direction of the “union,” all the while harboring seditious views, biding their time, and awaiting the next opportunity to viciously strike. This sort of “fantasy football” fanfic version of a hallucinatory alternate history where the South won the Civil War is not just alarming, but very very dangerous.

That the Confederates were given only light slaps on the wrist before being allowed to reassume the mantle of legitimate power is bad enough. But worse — they lashed white supremacy to the mast of white southern Christianity in efforts to shore them both up, forever interweaving and corrupting a certain strain of red state Evangelical zealotry into something consciously or unconsciously celebrating white supremacy and harboring fever dreams of a white theocracy in America.

DADA vs. MAGA: How to deal with bullies

Defense Against the Dark Arts was like the women’s self-defense class of Hogwarts — it taught you how to prepare yourself for the evil that was out there lurking and waiting for you out there. This course of DADA will follow suit, aiming to offer ways to detect, defend, and defeat the cultism rising in America and beyond.

It will be a work in progress over time, so please bear with me as I assemble learnings from a number of sources.

Red Flags: Traits to watch out for

  • evasiveness
    • vagueness
    • slipperiness
    • can’t be pinned down
    • won’t answer straightforward questions
  • denialism
  • cognitive dissonance
    • doublespeak
    • paleologic

Proteanism vs. cultism: The battle between open and closed societies

  • proteanism is Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of a model for the self that could serve as an aspirational escape hatch from the clutches of cultism, which is otherwise always happening
  • cultism (i.e. “losing reality“) is what happens “by default” if effort is not made to form and maintain healthy cultures
  • cultism is what most individuals devolve to or maintain throughout their lives, if they lack proteanism
  • I believe professor Lifton is onto something real in this particular interpretation of our Manichaean struggle — in which the political left and the right have self-sorted into separate clusters with wildly disparate interpretations of reality
  • the cultists are dying (quite literally) for the words of a delusional sociopath who swept them out of power with his spew of thinly veiled white supremacy and gold veneer charm
    • they want the apocalypse to come
    • The oil preachers have brainwashed the masses into believing climate change is The Rapture — they want climate change. They think it’s God’s plan.

Cultism as a kind of collective personality disorder

  • we all get stuck in our own mental loops sometimes. Some people are exclusively stuck in their own mental loops — most are disregarded, but some achieve wide notoriety, wealth, and sometimes political power.
  • Some nefarious mental predators thrive on getting other people stuck in *their* loops — everyone from garden variety abusers to cult leaders take this general approach to convincing others to abandon their own ways of thinking and spend all their time consumed with thoughts of The Authority’s Philosophy. Some individuals with an authoritarian worldview willingly submit to a strongman and abdicate decision-making to untrustworthy others.
  • Charismatic leaders have ruled over human groups since the dawn of humanity itself, but only in the past century with the invention of mass media technologies and techniques have demagogues been able to achieve a kind of totalist saturation of the common space and common understanding — giving them an ability to spin the entire agenda in their favor, and in turn, effectively “own reality”
  • When a leader with a personality disorder achieves power, he draws the other antisocial sleeper cells out of hiding for the coming feast.
  • The leader installs his cronies into positions of power and corrupts the institutions that are meant to safeguard democracy. Instead of acting as a bulwark against nefarious intent, these agencies begin to look the other way against crimes committed by the leader and his buddies — and later, will directly participate and optimize their contributions.

The enemy at the gates is us

  • Cultism can be induced very simply, by stressing a population. That’s it — that’s all it takes, for people to turn inward, become suspicious, and react with excessive fear in the face of gnawing uncertainty.
  • It takes strong character to resist the siren songs of disinformation and spoon-fed flattery
  • Building strong character is hard work. Much much harder than most people are interested in putting in — or even capable of
  • Consequently, many people of weak character are easily taken in by con men, grifters, and slick talkers of all stripes.
  • However, these con artists are very good at one thing: convincing people of weak character that specific enemies are to blame for all their troubles, and getting them to give money or take action against these Satanic Democratic pedophiles who want to ruin the world with their Leftist Apocalypse, instead of ruining the world with the proper Rightist Apocalypse and Rapturing all the evil elites away!
  • These pawns, peons, and proles will dutifully go looking over hill and dale, under Pelosi’s chair for the violent Antifa socialists who want to take over the government
  • They want to build a physical border wall to keep out poor, bedraggled refugees while allowing foreign bidders to pay pennies on the dollar to buy political influence through Facebook, Google, and other unregulated new media platforms
  • It’s McCarthyism turned on its head — but since we’ve already cried wolf once, no one will really believe that Russians pulled off the greatest psyops campaign of all time
proteanismcultism
seeks expansion of event horizonradical reduction of the "size of the universe" and human potential
open systemclosed system
personal growthstagnation; stasis
Bayesian logicmotivated reasoning
collects dataselective exposure
positive disintegrationimmaturity
questions authorityfollows orders
new ideasold dogma
improvisationalritual
iterativerecursive
expansivelimited
motivated by lovemotivated by fear
generativedestructive

paleologic

In paleologic thinking, logical arguments flow from a false premise. Typically this premise is something emotional, religious, and/or mythical, and believed very strongly by their ingroup.

The logic goes, “because I feel strongly about this, it must be true” — which, of course, can lead one down any number of rabbit holes or garden paths.

It relates closely to magical thinking, where the childlike sense of imagination carries darkly into adulthood to fester Machiavellian dreams of power and revenge.

Paleologic in politics

Professor Jerrold Post wrote about the paleologic of the paranoid personality disordered in his 1997 book, Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred. The nature of paranoia itself lends greatly to its role in American politics over the centuries — profound social distrust is simply bad for the fabric of a nation.

Our country has been under the fraying sway of distrust and bitter partisanship for so long. One way to avoid going further over the edge is to find a way to reduce the temperature, and commit to self-examination of our society, our culture, and our language along with our laws and our lawmakers.

brainwashing

A technique of torture and compliance, brainwashing is used in many contexts to control victims. From personal relationships and marriage to cults, all the way up to the scale of nation-states, removing or reducing independent thinking and action in a person or population gives the brainwasher enormous power and advantage.

The word’s origin is from a Chinese term meaning “forcible indoctrination to induce somebody to give up basic religious, social, or political beliefs and attitudes in favor of a belief system imposed by the brainwasher.” It’s also been referred to as mind control, thought reform, undue influence, or coercive persuasion — and is a form of highly unethical emotional and psychological manipulation.

Thought reform

Brainwashing is essentially a method of inducing a false personality into a target, after breaking them down psychologically. There are many different methods and techniques employed, from disinformation and sleep deprivation to hypnosis to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The goal of this “thought reform” project is to remove the individual’s agency and train them to follow the orders of the cult or high-demand group.

Seemingly normal, totally “average” people can fall under the sway of brainwashing techniques in use by cults much more easily than one might think. Cults and abusive organizations prey on people at vulnerable times in their lives, when they are most suggestible and least likely to mount an opposition. People who have gone through a loss, or a major life change, or are feeling particularly adrift may be lured by the sway of a deceptive organization. It can be very exhilarating to feel plugged in to an intense community after going through a period of grief or anxiety — almost irresistable, to some.

7 brainwashing tactics

  1. isolation — separating you from family and friends, or any kind of support network who may provide alternative and negative views of the abuser
  2. monopolization of attention — they seek to have the target orient their entire world around the abuser, leaving them little time to think about anything else
  3. weaken your resistance — wearing down your defenses over time, so their messages take firmer hold
  4. give occasional indulgences — providing temporary relief or even pleasure contributes to the overall program of intermittent reinforcement, to induce dependency on the abuser for stimulation of any kind
  5. demonstrates “all-knowingness” — becomes an absurd moral authority on your entire life, presenting the truth about your inner self and past history with more omniscience than you yourself possess. They know you better than you know yourself — and you believe them!
  6. destroy all sources of joy — the brainwasher needs to ensure that they are the sole source of pleasure and pain, for complete operant conditioning control over the target. All other pleasures in life are eradicated or eroded.
  7. degradation and humiliation — if the target gets close to figuring out the truth about the power imbalance and impropriety of the abuser’s behavior, the abuser will immediately begin a scathing shame campaign to punish the temerity of daring to stand meekly on one’s own

Brainwashing in politics and religion

Use of brainwashing by communist officials in China, Korea, and Vietnam gained attention in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. The brainwashing technique is also used by gangs, cults, and organized crime networks to control both members and outgroups.

Perhaps most commonly it is associated with fringe religious groups like the Peoples Temple, Unification Church (or Moonies), Children of God, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, The Manson Family, and thousands of other cults less well known. Sometimes the brainwashing is intended to limit the followers’ access to the outside world, and sometimes it is about grooming them to perform criminal acts from financial crimes to murder to starting a race war.

Important research

Many interdisciplinary minds across multiple fields have studied the topic of brainwashing and undue influence, or have contributed significantly to our understanding of behavioral influence. Here are some highly consequential thinkers, researchers, and experiments on the subject:

Related to:

  • Mao Zedong
  • Nazis
  • Moscow Trials
  • Jim Jones
  • David Koresh

See also:

  • undue influence
  • thought reform
  • mental predation
  • indoctrination
  • hypnosis
  • Stockholm Syndrome

Integrative complexity

Integrative complexity is a statistical measure of how much a person’s thinking and reasoning involves the incorporation of multiple perspectives and potential outcomes, along with the related precursors to acquiring them. Its score reflects the structure of an individual’s thoughts, and the richness of their problem-solving and decision making abilities.

The integrative complexity measurement has two components:

  1. Evaluative differentiation — Ability to acknowledge that reasonable people may have different beliefs, and that making decisions collectively will involve balancing competing interests.
  2. Conceptual integration — Skill at giving context to others’ points of view, and/or coming up with ideas for compromise that two (or more) opposing sides might come to the table on.

Relation to:

Values of the Left and the Right: Liberal vs. Authoritarian Worldviews

The following list must be prefaced with some caveats about painting with broad strokes, and acknowledging everything is a distribution and Not All Republicans espouse all of these things to the same degree or even at all. Nevertheless, both the extremism and the polarization in our political system is the highest in recent memory — certainly in the totality of my Generation X memory, and by all accounts the highest since the 1930s. Extremism is high on both the Left and the Right, but research shows it’s been growing much more extreme on the Right.

And in many ways it feels like we are living through something akin to the 1930s, again. The rise in authoritarian regimes and totalist thought and linguistic patterns is troubling and dangerous. The United States never had an armed insurrection take over the Capitol building prior to January 6, 2021. America has had many periods of brutality in its past and present, but historically speaking nothing like the recent decades of escalating mass shooter events.

What can explain the religious devotion to a failed businessman and failed President on the Right? Loathe him through we might on the Left, Trump is revered on the Right for espousing the “virtues” of a traditional hierarchical society, and for giving coded approval to America’s most shadowy extremist groups that he would be finding excuses to look the other way if they chose to strike. They both held up their ends of the bargain, with would-be assassins in tactical gear assaulting the nation’s lawmakers as they certified the 2020 election results as mandated by the Constitution, and paid puppets in the Senate letting them all off the hook… technically speaking, that is.

Trump looked the other way, but only for another 14 days — until Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. With a new sheriff Merrick Garland in town, all bets are off regarding leniency for the nation’s most vile and seditious lot who stormed the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in US history — a sad day for the country and its venerable history of managing to keep the republic.

This will be a work in progress, as usual. And a tool for discussion — we’re going to need it for the coming years.

Liberal ValuesAuthoritarian Values
EqualityHierarchy
JusticeForce
LibertyControl
Popular sovereigntyUnpopular rule
Common goodPrivatization
LogicMagical Thinking
ReasonPower
TruthPropaganda
HistoryMyth
RealityFantasy
ResponsibilityEscapism
RationalityIrrationality
IntegrityHypocrisy
CharacterCharacter disorder
WisdomIgnorance
GenerosityGreed
HonestyDeception
EarnestnessCynicism
SkepticismLoyalty
CuriosityBoredom
CompassionContempt
EmpathySadism
Driven by careDriven by fear
MoralityNihilism
TransparencySecrecy
ConsiderationCallousness
PatienceImpatience
MaturityImmaturity
Emotional intelligenceEmotional manipulation
WholeheartednessCognitive dissonance
VulnerabilityDefensiveness
AuthenticityMimicry
DeliberationAct without thinking
De-escalationAggression
ConsciousUnconscious
Self-awareSelf-deception
EducationBrainwashing
DiversityConformity
CreativityDestruction
ArtisticFundamentalist
SolutionsGrievance
CommunityRugged individualism
TrustDistrust
GratitudeEnvy
RespectDisrespect
SustainabilityExtraction
Self-regardCathexis
SpiritualityReligiosity
Self-actualizationFollow the leader
Problem solvers"Tear it down"-ers

Unthinking

Unthinking is a kind of militant stance against thinking, for oneself and others. It goes beyond a simple distaste for or preference against thinking, and on into something of a dedication, mission, or serious zeal for anti-intellectualism. As well, the Unthinking mentality includes a sort of reverence for instinctiveness and impulsiveness, and a distaste or contempt for “over-thinking” or being “overly sensitive.”

Fascism and cults have a technique in common: “thought stopping.” In cults, followers will be directly taught to attack negative and critical thoughts from their minds via use of a mantra — this further insulates them from independent sources of information outside the cult and its belief systems. Under fascism, the tactics of this type of unthinking are more easily disguisable:

  • short, repetitive slogans (“Lock her up!” “Build the wall!”)
  • arouse fear — invent enemies, dramas with the enemies, and distrust of allies to sniff out disloyalty
  • create confusion — say one thing, then confidently say its opposite
  • sow doubt — plant rumours, falsehoods, and conspiracies amongst the people
  • intimidate — threaten, while pledging to rescue

Unthinking is a reactionary response to professionalization and globalization

Unthinking is the sinking feeling that perhaps more of Gustave Le Bon’s controversial 1895 Study of the Popular Mind is true than one might hope. Our willingness to trade away our independent, critical thinking faculties to follow orders from authorities has been well-documented — yet somehow we still struggle to wrap our minds around those folks who, well, don’t seem to be nearly as interested in wrapping their minds around stuff.

Those folks do exist, and they have no intention of coming in second place to the coastal brainiacs who manage to enjoy mental labor thank you very much. In the Trumpian world view, if you are at a deficit in the intellect department, you do not under any circumstances accept the intellectual authority of The Enemy as legitimate. You simply rebrand yourself as the “smartest guy in the world” no matter what the subject, and you say it confidently, no matter how absurdly false it is and no matter that all the people around you know it to be false. It is their compliance with your non-stop stream of lies that brands them as useful pawns and allows them to live another day under your beneficent gaze.

It’s the status, stupid

Much has been made about how the so-called “Hillbilly Elegy” types are actually a distribution that includes plenty of comfortable and well-off business owners and working professionals who are not struggling economically. While that is true, I think it’s still relevant to the upper-middle class whites who support Trump that they perceive themselves as having not done as well as their liberal Commie counterparts in big cities. They may not be hurting so much themselves in Barbara Eirenreich fashion, but they are “hurting” in terms of status wounds. They are not being recognized as much as they believe they are due.

And they know the reason they’re missing out on this entitlement is because some globalist scum outsmarted them. They know instinctively, whether consciously or unconsciously, that they cannot win in an intellectual battle with the Coastal Elite Enemies. This vulnerability is absolutely unforgiveable and can never be discovered by anyone — so they move the goalposts. They claim that intelligence is a worthless thing to have, and/or that if you have it you’ll be impure and no longer worthy of membership in the tribe. This anti-intellectual streak on the right is equal parts self-delusion (“smarts don’t matter!”) and hyper-competition — by discouraging potential rivals from becoming more educated than they are.

Unthinking is a reactionary response to secularization

The seemingly inexplicable Evangelical support for the violence of Trumpism can perhaps in part be explained by the great paranoia and growing existential fear of a secularizing nation. In a way, they’re not wrong to be foretelling of the End Times — most likely not the one they’re envisioning from the book of Revelations, but the one where Christianity dwindles from the landscape, leaving a roiling mass of American heathen liberal commies to eat babies at their pedo parties right out in the open.

That reality is happening before our eyes — the dwindling part, anyway, if not so much the rest (if anything, evidence so far has shown those pedo parties are on the Right…). Older believers are dying out, and new ones are not being formed fast enough to create a new base. You could look at this as a triumph of science over superstition, as liberals do — or, you could look at it as a threat to your way of life, as the Trumpists do.

It is highly problematic that there are not really many or even any replacements for religion and the church in terms of providing people a place and a platform for spirituality. As religious adherence continues to drop, this hunger for spiritual solidarity will only grow — many folks will seem as if hungry ghosts, gasping for a wisp of organized religion’s shared hivemind experiences.

Where else shall we get our sacred? What new institutions can we collectively devise, by which to safely explore the mystical unknowns of our most basic existence? How can we find, regain, or re-imagine a sense of shared togetherness and fellowship? How can we rebuild basic reciprocity?

It is urgent we find these answers, for the doomsday clock is running for American democracy.