Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The "Cecil Effect" at work

Hwange National Park to Slaughter African Lions Due to Lack of Hunters

The fees paid by well-to-do hunters to kill game in Africa is a major source of funding for conservation efforts there. Now, because of the "Cecil Effect", the conservancy managers will have to pay someone to come in and kill up to 200 lions to bring the population back into balance.

A permit to kill a male lion, typically, costs about $20,000 USD. A lioness runs about $8,000. That is over-and-above the cost of lodging, a guide and transportation. Those two hundred lions represents over $2 million USD. That is just the loss from the lions. The fees for other dangerous game are similar. Now, $2 million may not be much to a self-righteous liberal asshole but in a dirt-poor, third word country like Zimbabwe is is a fortune. Losing that income means not just imperiling the preserve but also means fewer schools, clinics and, in some districts, no more meat to donate for the local human population.

Actions have consequences. Stupid actions usually lead to bad consequences.

Donald Trump as a Product of System 1 thinking.

I rarely delve into electoral politics but a recent essay I read on Facebook (of all places) started me thinking about the current election cycle.

In his book entitled Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes two modes of thinking in the human mind. He gives these modes the the innocuous names of "System 1" and System 2". System 1 is the fast, intuitive, and emotional side whereas System 2 is more deliberative, logical and slower.

The two systems as Kahneman describe them, make perfect sense in an evolutionary context. I recall reading that a human neuron has a clock speed of about 15 Hz to 20 Hz. That means human reaction times are, at best, measured in tenths of a second. In a world where threats and opportunities happen unexpectedly, a system for selecting quickly from the available alternatives was necessary for survival. The System 1 we inherited from our ancestors was refined by millennia of a brutally efficient system of natural selection and it works very well for what it evolved for. By contrast, the more deliberative System 2 was patched on top of the older intuitive System 1 and is heavily influenced by it.

So, what does this a have do with Trump? Well, first politics is the real mind-killer. It may be an important aspect of life and we should certainly apply our individual rationality to it. However, it is an awful place to learn to be rational. To have a rational political discussion, all sides must first be rational. Trump, I think, represents the triumph of our atavistic evolutionary nature over the much more recent and less well proven rationality. He is in effect a super politician when seen through the filter of intuition and emotion. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing only time can tell

Which brings me to the essay. Like Mr. Yudkowsky I do not agree with everything Mr. Monroe wrote but the following does have a good exposition as to how a man like Trump can rise toward political power in a manner that appears nearly inevitable. The fault is not in our stars but in our genes.

Read it here. This is a Facebook post so it may not be visible to everyone.

Never go full Retard

Apparently that warning does not apply in California.

The California Legislature continues its headlong race to full retard with its latest gun control bills. I wonder how they will try to top this. Perhaps a permanent vegetative state would be the appropriate endgame.

ALERT: Assembly Public Safety Committee Passes 2 Anti-Gun Bills, Makes One Far Worse Than Before