Are You A Social Contrarian?

I’m curious to hear what my readers think of the various concepts and theories that frequently come up on this blog, and of the key assumptions underlying the Karlinist Weltanschauung.


Very quick n’ dirty summaries of terms and their discontents:

Peak oil: Oil is limited in quantity, and at some point its production will inevitably decline – with severe repercussions for the economy; but can also be shorthand for more general problems of declining EROEI and resource depletion. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it; Serious People usually dismiss it.

AGW: The world is warming, and human activities are largely responsible for it. Mainstream conservatives, polluters, big business hate it.

Limits to growth: Unsustainable trends in resource consumption and pollution set the world up for a severe socio-economic collapse in the 21st century. Serious People usually dismiss it; mainstream conservatives hate it.

Intelligence theory: Individual life outcomes are significantly dependent on IQ (i.e. wealth, risk of criminality, etc), while the rate of development significantly depends on the national level of human capital. Universal taboo.

HBD: A significant proportion of the differences between human groups (or races) can be attributed to differences in genotypes, which express themselves in areas such as IQ, physical abilities, character, etc. Universal super-taboo.

Game: Chicks respect alphas and despise betas; nice guys don’t get laid. At the macro level, the combination of female hypergamy and sexual revolution has led to a kind of “soft polygamy” in the US. Great for alphas, but life for sexless betas is ever more hellish. Universal taboo.

Low-carb diet: The typical US high carb diet has greatly contributed to huge obesity rates; paleo, Atkins, 4HB-type diets are the way to go. Lazy fat people who want to rationalize and excuse their own obesity tend to hate it, as do many vegetarians with their misplaced empathy.

80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law: You accomplish 80% of things in 20% of the time, but unfortunately work expands to fill up all the time available for it – but it is possible to find one’s way out of limbo (e.g. muses/location-independent revenue streams; aggressive outsourcing; mini-retirements). Lazy people / office plankton who worship their jobs and don’t want to take a risk make fun of and dismiss this.

Transhumanism: Human enhancements, e.g. cognitive (ranging from nootropics to chip implants if the technology appears for it) and especially longevity (e.g. SENS). Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

Technological singularity: This quote by John Good encapsulated it: “The first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.” Technophobes are against this, i.e. most people.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. georgesdelatour says

    Anatoly – I think most of us have more nuanced opinions than a poll can show.

    1. Peak Oil – true (sort of). Depends when we hit the point of decline, where most of the remaining oil is, and the politics of those countries. I’d love the Saudis to run out of oil completely tomorrow: they’ve used the money to spread their rebarbative version of Islam far and wide. I can’t imagine an oil-rich Brazil will be as anything like as bad. I’ll take carnival and samba over burqas and decapitation, thanks.

    2. AGW – true (sort of). Depends what the climate sensitivity to CO2 is. I suspect it’s lower than the IPCC three degrees, and there’s more chaotic natural variability in the climate system than we’ve allowed for. On the other hand, methane release could accelerate warming more than predicted.

    (My big problem with some CAGW advocates is, they’re “deniers” about energy science – about the fundamental facts of energy density and the energy needs of modern societies.)

    3. Limits to Growth – true (sort of). Rare earth metals etc are “a” limit, but they’re not “the” limit. If we’re clever enough we can substitute, recycle, mine the moon and asteroids…

    • You are FOR or TRUE on all three of those.

      For instance, in most circles the very notion of PO or LTG is so radical that anyone who believes the theories are valid, no matter how many nuances or caveats they attach to them, should count them as FOR/TRUE for the purpose of this poll.

      Said caveats and nuances are for the comments. 🙂 The poll is because I am genuinely interested in the views of my readers.

  2. Wow, I actually agree with every thing except skeptism about global warming.

    • So if you don’t agree with skepticism about AGW, then… you agree with AGW? Well, then you agree with everything on that list then!

      (I consider AGW both valid and a serious long-term threat to stability).

  3. One thing which strikes me is that most of these ideas (at least as currently packaged – some have been around forever in some guise or other) appear to be products of the Internet age. Given the taboo or polarizing nature of many of them, traditional media shy away from discussion, which creates a gap filled by Internet sites and commenters.

  4. Dear Anatoly,

    I have voted for all except the Limits of Growth and the Technological Singularity. I am not sure I quite understand what the last means. Does it mean that once a machine with actual cognitive intelligence is developed humanity will become superfluous?

    By the way on the subject of Game I have experience of its truth. As a weedy and bespectacled youth I had great difficulty getting girls to take me seriously. By contrast classic Alpha males amongst my peers seemed to have no such difficulty. However I would say in fairness that things did improve in later life but then my appearance also changed. In my opinion women are as affected by manner and appearance in men as men are (and why shouldn’t they be?).

    • The best “manifesto” of the TS is probably Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near (that link, and the WIki article on the TS, are both informative).

      The basic idea is that:
      (1) Evolution now predominantly occurs on the cognitive realm (the “noosphere), as opposed to biology.
      (2) This evolution is progressing at an exponential rate (the well-known Moore’s Law is but one reflection of this).
      (3) Human brains can in theory be computationally modeled, and in practice they will eventually be “augmented” (creating cyborgs), or uploaded entirely onto silicon subtrates (human-machine mergence).
      (4) At some point, machine (or cyborg) intelligence will reach a critical mass, such that it takes over as the driver of technological development. Unimproved humans will be passive and bewildered observations, much like the animal kingdom in relation to industrial civilization.
      (5) The pace of this development will be far faster than now, as machines will be able to improve themselves in a recursive loop – though eventually, expansion will likely hit upon some hard universal limits.

      So yes, humanity will become superfluous according to TS theorists. But this is of now concern as it’s just a continuation of evolution, and in any case, humans can choose to join the party or not.

      My own view is that many TS concepts are valid, but I am skeptical of the unbounded technoutopianism that permeates the movement. They tend to dismiss stuff like PO, AGW, and LTG on the basis that technology will solve all problems anyway, and their predictions have tended to be more optimistic than not on timescales (e.g. Kurzweil predicted eyeglasses with full-immersion audio-visual virtual reality by 2010, whereas in fact 2015-2020 is looking likelier).

      As regards conventional game theory, one of the key lessons is that for guys, manners (as in character) massively trump looks almost every time. The reverse isn’t the case: Guys judge chicks on their looks, regardless of any platitudes to the contrary (this BTW is why obesity is inestimably worse for women than for men in social terms).

  5. Dear Anatoly,

    On a wholly unconnected subject, is that Pobedonostsev whose picture is appearing on your Facebook page?

  6. Problem with HBD is that real world numbers don’t show it. Take for instance Koreans. North & South should have the same intelligence and Japanese Koreans should be smarter than both because of selection effects. But in the real world South Koreans are a lot smarter than North or Japanese Koreans.

    • A statistical correlation between mean IQ and GDP has been shown. That’s not the same as an absolute law of nature. Nobody is claiming that the correlation coefficient is 1. Life is complicated. Lots of factors besides IQ affect GDP. But yes, data shows that mean IQ is one of the factors that’s correlated with GDP in a statistically-significant way.

      In regards to North Korea: how’s that Sudanese nuclear weapons program coming along? Any 100-story hotels put up with the help of local engineering talent? Come to think of it, did even any of Dubai’s high-rise projects use local engineering talent? If the US government ever became so displeased with Congo-Brazzaville as to wish to contain it, how many troops would it need to use? 400? 4,000? 40,000? How long would they have to stay? How much money would have to be spent on this?

      • North Korea is indeed a perfect illustration that no matter how fucked up a political/economic system you have, the genetic component will still make itself very strongly felt.

        Ironically, had Koreans been less intelligent and/or less socially conformist, the regime would have probably long since disintegrated from total collapse of basic infrastructure and discipline.

        • Korean system wasn’t that fucked up (see Zaire for a really fucked up system). But you simply can beat the network effect. And if you loose your network than you are fucked up.

          But AK, please explain why Japanese Koreans have a lower IQ than South Koreans or even Japanese.

          • This sounds to pro North Korean. What i wanted to say is that it was an average Comecon country which lost its network with the collapse of communism. It at least seems to be ruled with the intention to develop the country, unlike for example Zaire.

            One can argue that the country would develop better with another government because than the embargo would be lifted but i will not hold that against any government as self preservation is always the primary directive of states

  7. Jennifer Hor says

    Agreed with PO (@ Georges de La Tour: the Saudis have been pumping sea water into al Ghawar oil field for a few years now so they are panicking), AGW, LTG, Intelligence Theory, Low-carb diet, Transhumanism and 80/20 principle / Parkinson’s Law. There’s a corollary of Parkinson’s Law called Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. This says time spent on debating and deciding on an issue is in inverse proportion to the expense (and maybe also the technical issues) involved. So we not only stretch work out but most of that work isn’t even that important in the first place.

    Agree with Charly that HBD is not that important and as for Technological Singularity, that quote from John Good reminds me of stories about the IBM Chariman Thomas Watson who in 1943 said that there would be a world market for five computers, and Bill Gates who said in 1981 that 640K ought to be enough for anyone.

    As for “Game”, to me that’s part of Intelligence Theory. It may be possible to teach or persuade most young women through education or alternative forms of pop cultural brainwashing that beta males are better than alpha males.

  8. Peak oil: I don’t know enough to say anything intelligent about it, but will say stuff anyway. I started reading newspapers and magazines sometime in the mid-1980s. Peak oil (though not under that name, not in Russian anyway) was already a big topic then. I remember reading as a kid, considerably more than 15 years ago, that there was 15 years’ worth of oil left in the world. I also remember seeing a collection of quotes, one from every decade of the 20th century, about the impending end of oil. I don’t know how widespread this idea was in the 1910s though – it would be interesting to find this out. All I know for sure is that it was about as widespread in the 1980s, 90s and the 00s as it is in this decade. In general people have always loved impending-disaster ideas. The end is coming. Of course it still could be. I don’t know anything about geology, so who am I to say?

    AGW: The world is warming, but why? There have been bigger upswings and downswings in the past. Again, I don’t know the details, so I can imagine the AGW enthusiasts being right. Or wrong.

    Limits to growth: more end-of-the-world stuff. I’m suspicious of it in general. People obviously want it to be true. If you take religion from a man, he’ll reinvent it in every little particular under other names. Humanity has sinned and must repent! Of course even a broken clock can yadda yadda yadda.

    Intelligence theory: I do know enough about this to judge, and yes, it’s all true.

    HBD: same thing.

    Game: same thing.

    Low-carb diet: don’t know enough to judge.

    80/20 principle/ Parkinson’s Law: seems reasonable.

    Transhumanism: not in our lifetimes, don’t know if ever. The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it. Forget about the brain, the most complicated mechanism ever observed – they don’t even know what to do with the common cold or male pattern baldness. The following has been generally true in my experience: if a 10-year-old won’t understand the mechqanisms involved (I’m thinking of anything more complicated than setting bones or picking out glasses), the medical profession won’t understand it either. Sure, there are some exceptions. But it’s a good rule of thumb to have in mind.

    Technological singularity: not in our lifetimes, not 10 generations after us either. 100 generations? Don’t know.

    • “The more I deal with medicine, the more shocked I am about how little useful knowledge there is in it” – My experiences with doctors (and what I’ve heard from others) has convinced me that doctors are to be avoided if at all possible. They’re good for certain things, like setting broken bones or other “mechanical repair” type of work, but most of them are clueless dealing with anything chronic or ambiguous.

  9. ironrailsironweights says

    Game is losing its effectiveness because more and more women have caught onto it. When a man starts negging a woman in a nightclub the chances are very good that she knows exactly what he’s doing.

    • Only as long as they’re not the obvious Straussian ones about the wiggling nose or the nice fake nails.

      • ironrailsironweights says

        In last night’s episode of Girls on HBO a wealthy venture capitalist tried to use Game on one of the titular characters and failed miserably.

  10. Foobarovich says

    Peak oil — agree, also peak coal.

    AGW — agree with the latest scientific consensus on this issue

    Limits to growth — I don’t know about the collapse, but there is going to be some kind of friction at least.

    Intelligence theory — disagree. True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests. Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy.

    HBD — disagree. I reject scientific materialism as a worldview, so genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it’s at. Not your meat.

    Game — this is a gross simplification. Women are individuals and they don’t all prize the same quality in men. Some like the so-called alpha men, some don’t. And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character. Men are more complex than such naive categorization would suggest.

    Low-carb diet — obesity is a problem, but I don’t believe carb content is a strong determinant. Instead it’s the activity level, the sitting lifestyle, and the total consumption level. So if you eat 5 burgers a day but you’re a lumber jack, you won’t be fat. But if you sit in a cubicle all day and you eat as if you were a lumber jack, you’ll need to be forklifted out of your home one day.

    80/20 principle/Parkinson’s Law — not sure what this is all about. But I believe we do waste a lot of time at work. We don’t have to work 40 hours a week to be properly productive.

    Transhumanism — neutral. If there is a safe way to implant something, why not? The problem is I don’t foresee any safe implants any time soon. As for vitamins and other bullshit like that to extend life, good luck with that. Life length is determined by something deeper than the flesh (like I said before, I reject scientific materialism). But I am not against experimenting. If some things are found to extend life, we’ll need to lower our birth rates to compensate. And if this isn’t done in a way that’s socially fair, it will be explosive.

    Technological singularity — hype. AI will never happen. Currently Marvin Minsky at MIT AI Lab can’t even formulate a working definition of intelligence. It’s going nowhere.

    • “I reject scientific materialism as a worldview…”

      Then how can you say that you “agree with the latest scientific consensus” on AGW?

      “Other qualities are also important for success, such as tenacity and fearlessness, or alternatively tact and keeping a low profile, lack of ego, depending on the strategy.”

      These qualities are much more difficult to measure than IQ. How are you going to measure tenacity? By asking people how tenacious they are? A lot of them will lie. But if a person can find the right answers to a bunch of logical problems, he’s showing us something real, a real ability. That’s useful data. The qualities you listed ARE important. I think that the best way to study them is by looking at ethnic stereotypes, i.e. folk wisdom. But people are often selectively blinded by nationalisms, liberalism and other ideologies. All surveys of opinions have problems of a type that IQ tests lack. The reason why you hear more about IQ gaps than about honesty or egoism gaps is that it’s much easier to get good data on IQ than on egoism, ability to work hard, etc. Either the subject can solve a problem or he cannot. Opinions, desires, egos, ideologies – all that squishy stuff becomes irrelevant.

      “True Intelligence is extremely complex and cannot be rightly measured by IQ tests.”

      IQ tests measure the main outward manifestation of intelligence – the ability to solve problems. I can come up with lots of other examples where a very complex system has outward manifestations that are easy to measure. Atmospheric temperature, a human being’s pulse rate, etc. Yes, understanding the inner workings of the brain will be difficult. But giving people brain teasers and tabulating the results isn’t. And yet, just like atmospheric temp measurements, this activity gives us useful info.

      “genotype is not of much importance to me. Beliefs, esp. core beliefs, and psychological programming is where it’s at.”

      How do you know that? What are your arguments for that view?

      “Women are individuals and they don’t all prize the same quality in men.”

      There is much, much less variability in women than in men. Nature makes almost all of its experiments on males because each individual male is more expendable in the evolutionary sense than each individual female. So most morons, geniuses, weirdos, heroes, victims of birth defects, etc. are men. Also, women are far more conformist than men. They want to do what they see others do to a much greater extent than men. This has been true in all time periods and in all cultures that I am aware of. Because of these two things – less biological variability and more conformity – generalizations about women are much more likely to be true than generalizations about men.

      “And dividing men into alphas and betas is a gross simplification of human character.”

      Is dividing all colors into blue, green, red, yellow, etc. a gross simplification of the color spectrum? Sure. But it’s still useful.

  11. Let me take issue with this *game* based solely on my personal observations from secondary school.

    Beta guys can only blame themselves for failing to get laid in high school – they pay attention to looks but not to objective beauty – rather they tend to notice only those girls who are very girly (makeup, short skirts) and confident (imo confidence in own sexappeal increases desirability by 100%), Thus, they overlooks a lot of girls who are not extroverted and/or just don’t dress like barbies – “nice girls” in favour of pursuing femma fatalle “bad girls” and failing miserably.

    Evidence – apart from my own observations many beta guys I know admit that they could have start having sex much earlier if only they didn’t deliberately ignore girls that seemed to be interested in them (because women do notice character ) but weren’t “girly” enough.

  12. A few of the positions you name are contrarian, but others are epathicaly not, but are in fact conformist, still others can’t really be positioned as contrarian/non-contrarian. What they all have in common is that either they are natively elitist or that you put an elitist spin on them. Eg Multhusianism, AGW and peak oil all tie into the growth-hating sustainable development eco-crap much loved by the self-important chattering classes of the middle class who alternate between preaching to the working class from high on and wishing for it to stop breathing already. I don’t need to spend time on the elitism of your biology stuff. Low-carb diet is a worthwile thing, but you manage to twist around what we learn from it just so you can feel superior to fat people. Actually fat people don’t hate low-carb, they’ve never heard of it. Also the reason they’re fat isn’t that they’re lazy, but that they’re told the way they will lose weight is if they lower their fat intake and increase their carb intake, which is actually impossible to result in a weight loss. So it isn’t for lack of effort or determination, but for investing effort and determination in exactly the wrong method as advised by the medical establishment.

    You may be a fat-people despising green racialist, all consequence of your apparent superiority complex, but a contrarian you surely aren’t.

    AK: You’re not allowed to insult me, freak. Do it once more and you’re banned.

    • Fat people are not only lazy but apparently stupid for not doing their own research on their affliction. Not that I dispute that. Obesity is indeed highly correlated to IQ. Thanks for making my point for me!

      Also, a necessary correction: I don’t despise fat people. I lament the amount of fat chicks who are younger than 30 for the eminently rational reason that they have a negative impact on my life quality. The people I actually are those feminists and fat apologist trolls who enable this dystopia as well as their pathetic loser beta male orbiters (like yourself most probably) who are their enablers.