Monday, February 21, 2011

Solutions that don't scale: The Decline of Marriage in the West

Several of my favorite bloggers have been writing lately about the unravelling of the institution of marriage in the US.

I really do have a lot of sympathy for men younger than myself contemplating whether to seek a marriage partner (I'm pushing 40 these days with a wife and two children so far). They are quite correct in their complaints that the institution has been distorted such that it is, rationally speaking, a very bad deal for men in a distressingly large fraction of cases. The conservative then typically replies something to the effect that 'Not all women are like that'. I am NOT a conservative. It's probably far more accurate to say that I am a reactionary, and perhaps even a counter-revolutionary. But let's give the conservatives their due. It is true that Not all women are like that (NAWALT is the popular acronym in such circles). Unfortunately a large fraction, probably a majority are, because, as several of my favorite bloggers love to point out---Incentives Matter. What's worse, women by and large are wired such that they become unhappier when they perceive themselves to have the upper hand in a relationship. This isn't a new observation. A careful study of the Book of Genesis will tell you this. The problem is that the future belongs to those who show up for it----childlessness is metadeath. Put another way, God may or may not hate homosexuals, but Darwin most assuredly hates those without offspring.

So what the young man looking for a suitable wife needs are some recommendations for separating the sheep from the goats, or whatever metaphor he prefers. This solution DOES NOT SCALE. The reasons why should become clear very shortly.

1. Get a wife who is hardcore religious. The rational incentives working to slant the relationship (and, in particular, its dissolution and the rules governing same) are pretty strong---there is a strong legal and cultural headwind--so you need God on your side in a big way. You want a woman who's genuinely religious and not merely socially or culturally so. My recommendation is to get one that actually tithes. That's rare enough (average charitable contributions in the US are on the order of 2%) to be a high-information costly signal of piety. It even has Scriptural support (where your treasure is, your heart will be there also), if that means anything to you. If she takes that difficult aspect of her faith seriously enough to obey, she'll probably take the whole honor, respect, and obey part reasonably seriously also.
2. Make sure she lives within her means. Key indicators are very little debt (and none on depreciating assets) and a strong credit rating. This typically means two things: She's less materialistic than average, probably due to lower saturation with bad cultural messages and she's conscientious about money. Coupled with the tithing in 1) and you're decidedly unlikely to have significant financial issues in marriage---a key contributor to divorce. BTW, you CAN and many do have serious financial problems in ordinary circumstances even when both partners work and make more than 100k each.
3. Make sure she has a very short sexual history. Ideally nobody but you. A well known country music singer sings about a young man's first experience with an older woman
"And I have rarely held another when I haven't seen her face" (Garth Brooks)
Human beings tend to bond with those they have sex with---it's the nature of the beast--and that is significantly more intense for women than for men. Our friends in the blogosphere have ample evidence of the escalating probability of divorce as the length of sexual history increases if you don't choose to believe me.
4. You should know about how attractive the opposite sex considers you by now. Aim for your counterpart. If you're 80th percentile attractive to women, it's reasonable for you to aim for a woman in that same general area. It's probably also wise for you to get a woman 3-6 years younger than you or thereabouts.
5. If you're a guy, and at least moderately religious, Eharmony is actually a pretty good deal. Their touchy-feely survey heavy approach with a somewhat opaque matching algorithm seems to appeal to women pretty strongly. This is to say, you'll likely be issued more matches who are at least vaguely plausible mates than a similarly situated woman would. This is opposite the usual trends online. Yes, the surveys, ads, and such probably grate on your nerves. But that's the price you'll pay for a favorable gender ratio.
6. When seeking a church---look for one that is close to 50-50 in gender balance. Large numbers of single women with children or married women where the husband is never there is a red flag. You really don't want a church that systemically undermines your prospective position as the head of your household. The beauty though is that very little investigation is needed to determine if a given church is properly orthodox in that respect. Men will go where they're wanted and stay where they're well treated. If you see a church with nearly 50% men in attendance, it's probably a good place for you to be. The only exception category I've seen are churches with lots of widows but an otherwise even gender balance. Women tend to live a fair bit longer than men, and are often married younger than their husbands. This isn't their church's fault.

It's pretty obvious now why this isn't scaleable, isn't it? Probably less than 10% of all of the women in the US are good marriage risks. The good news for you though is that generally you don't have to pay a significant sexual/marriage market value premium to attract and woo a woman from this subset of the population. Since my blog is a fairly botique operation, it's unlikely that this post will change that appreciably.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Existential conflict means golden opportunities for those without a dog in the fight

One of the lines I push strongly here is that Demographic Hegemony is an Existential Issue. As usual, those passing by are welcome to appropriate any insights they find useful, even to the extent of implicitly claiming them as their own original thoughts. Hopefully most of my readers agree with that thesis. Today's post though is a bit of outreach.

When a significantly sized group views a concern as being genuinely existential, this creates a golden opportunity for other groups in society that don't feel themselves to have a dog in that particular fight. You see, when something is actually existential to you, you are extremely willing to deal on issues you view as non-existential in return for reliable support on the existential one. Even, or perhaps especially, in cases where you have little love for the group you're dealing with. This is because most of the groups that you actually like are likely to at least tacitly support you eventually.

The ideal groups to make use of this are groups that have significant numbers but a serious deficit of organization and low status in society. Significant numbers is a given---why would I be willing to bend over backwards to get a tiny group like, say, the Discordians to rally to my cause? Deficit of organization means that you're not already bought & paid for and are thus 'in play', and low status in society means you've little to lose by disrupting the status quo. The two groups I see with this opportunity are drug users/supporters of drug legalization and smokers. Plenty of numbers, piss poor to no organization, and most assuredly low status in society. Plus, I don't like you guys, nor do most of the people on my side in this existential conflict. But, as I said before, that fact is in fact a plus. Here's what you need to do:

1. Form an organization---it can be a pretty loose one, hell, even a facebook group or the like. Pledge to each other to bind your votes in all elections to the choice of the group. If you decide you need more of a force multiplier than voting (e.g. boycotts, demonstrations, etc), you're going to need to get some physical organization eventually to augment your virtual organization. Decide firmly that you're willing to trade faithfully AND wholesale with any group not totally antithetical to your aims to accomplish your goals---and, oh yes, decide what victory looks like. Your reputation for being able to deliver your X votes without fail is your greatest asset.

2. Once you've done this, identify other groups which either exist already or have done step 1 in response to seeing your group doing so. Make your alliances. The less overlap between your 2 groups the better. For instance---say the smokers wanted to stop being everyone's bitch in the public square. They want an end to the use of the law to persecute and disproportionately tax them and they want bars to be allowed to be smoking or nonsmoking at the discretion of the individual bar owner. I'm not personally in favor of this agenda, but I could get behind it if you were bringing me tons of votes towards my concern. In fact, I believe that an alliance composed of the following groups would be able to make Congress its plaything:
Smokers, gun rights types, drug legalization advocates/drug users, pro lifers, and demographic hegemony voters.

What say you? You have nothing to lose but your powerlessness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too bad Americans of Euro extraction don't have a charity like this one

Basically, it's like a Pregnancy Resource Center targetted exclusively at Jewish children, combining a pro-life stance with a concern to the maintenance of demographic hegemony. What's not to like? I'm currently a contributor to several Pregnancy Resource Center type organizations through my charitable giving, but if an analogous organization appeared in the US, I'd probably switch all my pro-life giving towards it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Peer Review, what it is and isn't

I've been there and done that on both sides of the 'Peer Review' process. Many in the public square like to point to something as having been 'peer reviewed' as being the gold standard of scientific righteousness. Here's my experience---and I did my publications and peer reviews in a discipline that is not terribly politicized, in others I suspect it is far worse.:
1) Nobody generally does even a back of a napkin recomputation during a peer review--a gut check at most is the norm. Most assuredly nobody will rerun the code, simulations, or experiments in question. What they will do is
2) Look to place the work in the context of existing scholarship, especially with an eye to making certain that their own work is cited if even vaguely related. This is because most departments have tenure metrics that work based off 'academic impact', which is to say how many publications you've written and had accepted to a journal of at least Nth tier and how many times said publications have been cited by other publications. Think we don't game the system?

I've also quite a bit of experience in industry, where the equivalent is called a technical review group (often abbreviated TRG). Such groups actually generally DO examine the math, the assumptions, the code, and the results in general for correctness. Their incentives are to make certain that whatever is being reviewed actually works, because they have the figurative small amount of skin in the game. My impression is that a lot of people speaking of peer reviewed science actually have something akin to a TRG in their mind, and that is far from the truth. Only in a very few fields where there is strong hostility towards certain types of research but insufficient hostility to prevent publication and scientific discourse (Psychometrics comes to mind) do you occasionally see something like an open field TRG in the peer review process.