Whom fortune wishes to destroy, she first makes mad.
Consensus leads to the madness of crowds, not the wisdom of crowds. As we move to a government ruled by consensus, and intrusively pervading every aspect of society with its power, madness and evil prevails.
The wisdom of crowds happens when you collect people’s guesses or estimates for some fact, without them consulting each other, without them forming consensus first.
The opening anecdote of the book “The wisdom of crowds” relates Francis Galton’s surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts)
But the book also has many examples of the madness of crowds. The book tells us, when members of the crowd consult each other first, when they influence each other’s opinions, when they update their Bayesian priors from the priors of those around them, the crowd becomes markedly less wise, often becomes insane.
The crowd, he tells us, goes mad when the members of the crowd are too conscious of the opinions of others and began to emulate each other and conform rather than think differently.
In other words, consensus is apt to be madness.
And now I depart from the book, and tell you my own observations on my own authority, not that of James Surowiecki.
Our communications skills were evolved for the hunt and for war, where groups were small and feedback from the environment was strong, immediate, and impossible to ignore. Ignore it, you would soon get hurt.
Humans are not well adapted to the mental life of large groups, to “the life of the mind”, meaning life without forceful feedback from the senses, feedback that is frequently accompanied by physical pain to force us to pay attention.
With larger groups, more feedback from people and less feedback from the environment, consensus building is apt to go into positive feedback loops, even without deliberate manipulation by the insane and the evil.
A bubble is a manifestation of a spontaneous positive feedback loop by the sane.
Add the evil and insane to the mix, and consensus will reliably go wrong. The sane update their views from the consensus, the insane do not update so the consensus moves towards the insane, the evil lie and manipulate the Overton window, so the consensus moves towards what the evil purport to believe.
Linguistics theory, Chomsky’s universal grammar, is best understood as grantsmanship (the evil), an effort by academics who did not know or care much about foreign languages to take control of a juicy chunk of academia from polylingual language geeks. The lies about language continually and radically changed, reflecting not the pressure from the sane, nor updates on the basis of information, but, like the abruptly changing Soviet line, moves in a struggle over grants and power. Global Warming is similarly a combination of grantsmanship (the evil) with the death-to-humankind greenies (evil and insane).
Anti dietary fat science is primarily the insane dominating the consensus (greenies and animal rights activists who are entirely unmoved by either evidence or the opinions of the sane).
The financial crisis is a combination of bubble (the sane are apt to spontaneously go off the rails by paying too much attention to each other and not enough to external reality) with evil (political loan allocation) and with the evil and insane (affirmative action going ever lefter than thou.)
The destruction of fatherhood, the financial crisis, and lots of others, including global warming, are all manifestations of the left singularity. Lefter than thou is the way to power, so whatever direction the consensus tends to move, whether spontaneously as in a bubble or through madness, becomes a path for the evil to gain power, (“Hey, we are all agreed on X, so we need to enforce X”) so whatever the direction that the consensus happens to be moving defines leftism, whereupon the evil push it ever further in that direction. (“We need to enforce X even more than it is already being enforced. Grant all power to us, and we will take care of X”)
Thus in the left singularity evil and madness invariably ally, to pursue ever escalating heights of madness.
The scientific method, (short form: “take no ones word for it”) was a conscious effort to be mindful of this flaw in our natures, and socially enforce behavior that protects the group from it. The scientific method is replication. He who invokes “consensus” preaches not science, but authority and faith.
The twinkle up, twinkle down consensus building behavior of OWS, on the contrary, is an effort to socially and coercively enforce this flaw in our nature, from which the evil and the insane benefit.
The corporate form is also an effort to protect us from this flaw in our nature. The board appoints the CEO, and monitors him, but is not supposed to second guess him and direct him. Consensus is socially prohibited. The board chooses one guy, and goes with what he thinks. If they don’t like it, they choose another, but they are not supposed to switch too often, and not supposed to meddle. When the board meddles, people in the investor class tend to view this as improper and corrupt. They are supposed to look over his shoulder and keep an eye on what he is doing, but are not supposed to second guess him, short of firing him.
The reason that rentacops were so effective in dealing with OWS is the corporate form:
The shareholders theoretically appoint the board (though more commonly it appoints itself, and subsequently perpetuates itself). The board appoints the CEO, and delegates to him full power over the assets of the firm. He is not supposed to suffer any interference from the board, short of being suddenly fired, and mostly he does not.
He in turn delegates the full power of the property owner down the line (or at least he is supposed to), and in the case of security, delegates to the guys in each building. Thus, when OWS attempted to occupy, the security guards did not need to consult with a bunch of suits, who would in turn consult with a bunch of lawyers, who would consult with … instead the security guards had all necessary authority to act ex tempore without consulting anyone, to exercise the sort of power over trespassers that a private owner would. When dealing with outside intrusion, some poorly paid guy was able to speak with the full authority of the owners, the shareholders, since the shareholders had granted full authority to the board, the board to the CEO, and the CEO … all the way down to some poorly paid guy who has a stungun and pepper spray in his desk. When the security guys decide to throw out some unwanted visitors, that is usually morally and legally the same as if they personally owned the building, for those who actually do own the building fully delegated that moral and legal authority to them.
Of course, just as it all too frequently happens that board does meddle, it also all too frequently happens that corporate decisions are made by committees, but it is not supposed to happen. Committee management and matrix management is a manifestation of the mid level management hugging power to themselves. One is likely to see a meeting of twenty high status people, and one lower status person who does not speak much, the lower status person being the one who actually knows the matter being discussed, the one who is actually responsible for giving effect to the supposed consensus of the meeting. But corporations are not supposed to make decisions by meetings and consensus, and mostly they do not. To the extent that they do, they deservedly suffer ridicule.
The OWS model would have the shareholders gather in a crowd, and twinkle up and twinkle down at each other. In the corporate model, the poorly paid guy with a stungun in his desk is the avatar for the shareholders. He is the property owner, in their place, exercising their full authority to deal with unwanted visitors. He does not file a report to the shareholders proposing courses of action and wait for them to twinkle the various courses of action up or down.
Regulation, however, interferes with the corporate model. To do something that is regulated, the corporation finds it has to get buy in from dozens, perhaps hundreds, sometimes thousands, of meddlesome people.
In regulation, the evil and insane, which is to say the consensus, prohibit the sane (the corporate form) from acting, and even from sanity. In the banking crisis, they demanded conformity not only in action, but in thought.
Markets are also a way of avoiding consensus, since each participant in the market is expected to outsmart all the others, thus as in science, replicate the research of each of the others. The laws against “insider trading” attempt to prohibit this, but do not have the effect of enforcing consensus. Price control and rationing does have the effect, but we are not getting that problem.
The corporate form is mostly sane because consensus is socially discouraged, replaced by delegating concentrated power freely, and concentrating power as much as practical. The scientific method is sane, if actually followed, though markedly slower and less efficient than the corporate form, because consensus is discouraged for replication (“take no one’s word for it”). The market is mostly sane, because market participants are supposed to strive to each be smarter than the rest, rather than to conform. Corporations exist because markets require more decision making by more smart people, because markets replicate decision making. Corporations economize on decision making, by telling people what to do.
Since committee decision making is expensive, as well as tending to madness, a corporation that finds itself holding meetings to make decisions should consider outsourcing the activities that are causing this problem to the market.
Peer review enforces consensus in science, as regulation enforces it against corporations. And so the the insane take over the asylum.
Why has science stopped progressing?
Peer review came into broad application around 1942 or so, and that is pretty much when science stopped progressing. Technology continued to progress until 1972, and some areas of technology continue to progress today, but large areas stopped progressing in 1972, and many additional areas of have very recently stopped progressing, at least in the West.
Because of peer review, Einstein’s special relativity paper would not be publishable today. Any paper that is publishable today has lots and lots of citations to prove it is in line with the consensus. Einstein’s paper conspicuously lacked citations, because it was not in line with the consensus. Einstein was not an academic, and not a PhD, his paper had few or no citations, and radically up ended existing physics.
When I was taught special relativity, they did not tell us Einstein was right because the holy consensus tells us so, they had us replicate the calculations and review the evidence that Einstein presented in “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” just as if Einstein was some patent clerk with neither PhD nor academic position.
Einstein attempted to present special relativity as his dissertation, and it was rejected. If rejected as his dissertation, would surely have been rejected had it ever been submitted to peer review. So instead he submitted for his dissertation a don’t-rock-the-boat paper that contained nothing very new or interesting.
Each person replicating the research of each of the others can be costly. A corporation reduces the cost of this, enabling the employment of people who are not bright, by telling them what to do. Externally a corporation is market oriented, each corporation replicating the research of all the other corporations in the market, but though externally a corporation is market oriented, internally, a corporation is socialism, but what people fail to notice is that internally it is socialism on the pattern of the Nazis, the socialism of the Führerprinzip, not the socialism of the modern left whose massive dysfunction we see on display at Occupy Wall Street.
This sounds like corporations are oppressive, and they are, but in practice it means that a low pay low IQ security guy does not need to hold a meeting, nor wire the board for instructions, when a bunch of bad guys attempt to occupy the office. Full concentration of power to the CEO is supposed to be accompanied by full delegation of power from the CEO, and usually it is.
The Führerprinzip is that you don’t have committees and you don’t have votes and you don’t have consensus. Each leader (Führer in German) is delegated full authority in his own area by his leader.
According to allied propaganda, the Führerprinzip is that the Führer is above the law and incarnates the German people, but rather, the Führerprinzip is more the common sense observation that committees are dreadfully bad at making decisions, and you should appoint a smart guy with full authority to deal with X, and hold him fully responsible for any foul ups in X.
This maximizes the capability of hierarchical organizations to get lots of stupid people to perform functions that would require smart people, were they a multitude of independent operators in the market, and lowers the high cost of figuring out what to do.
In contrast, organizations that have lots of committees tend to be horribly Dilbertesque. In practice, the socialism intended by the modern left is markedly worse than the socialism practiced by Hitler, in roughly the same proportion as the socialism practiced by the communists murdered more people than the socialism practiced by Hitler. Rather than people being empowered by participation, they are oppressed by meetings that they do not want to go to, and strangled by red tape.
Leftists want to slice power into lots and lots of tiny little slices, and share that power out between lots and lots of people, but this in practice is horribly disfunctional. What it does is not empower people but instead ensure that decisions are evil and insane, in other words, ensure that decisions are left wing. It also increases the cost of decision making. If a decision is sufficiently important that it is worth spending the time of a lot of important people on it, then it should be made by the market, or by the scientific method, not by consensus.
Because the socialism of the Nazis was inherently saner than the socialism of the modern left, it was inherently less left wing, hence its markedly lower murder rate. And thus the modern left, which is to say the modern state, reaches into science, markets, and corporations to remake them all into its own image, which is to say, make them all inherently evil and insane.