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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

A society spinning down into a shrug

04 12 10 - 15:38

One of you loyal readers forwarded this little gem to me, an article about the irony of symbols for selves:


"The more diverse naming styles become, the more we are going to read into somebody's name," Wattenberg said. She analyzed baby name statistics from the U.S. Social Security Administration to calculate a measure called "Shannon entropy" from the field of information theory. This measure is used to describe the information contained in a message — in this case, how much is communicated by the choice of a name.

The concept of entropy is associated with the disorder and chaos in a system (the second law of thermodynamics states that a closed system will always move toward higher entropy). Shannon entropy describes the relationship between how much disorder or uncertainty is associated with a certain variable, and how much information is stored in a message. The more diverse and uncertain the field of possible messages, the more information the message will contain.

Wattenberg calculated a sharp rise in name entropy over time. She found that this measure of the information carried by names has risen as much in the past 25 years as it did in the full century before that.

That means that meeting a baby named Mary today tells you a lot more about the girl's parents than meeting a baby with the same name 50 years ago would have. - MSN


Without a social order to give context, each thing we do reflects on us personally. That sounds empowering until you realize that you've just made ever mundane aspect of life a competitive requirement, in which you either show off or lose social status. This causes people to stop believing in anything but themselves, so they no longer work toward a happy society. They work toward whatever benefits them at the moment, and shrug off the rest.

This means that we become public citizens whose choices are used to judge us, where previously, a social role would have explained both what we could expect and limits on what was expected of us:


Figlio got names from millions of birth certificates, and then broke down each name into more than a thousand phonemic components. He analyzed the names for letter combinations, complexity and other factors, and then used a statistical analysis to figure out the probability that the name belonged to someone of low socioeconomic status.

"Kids who have names [that] from a linguistic perspective are likely to be given by poorly educated parents, those kids ended up being treated differently," Figlio said. "They do worse in school and are less likely to be recommended for gifted [classes] and more likely to be classified as learning disabled." - LiveScience.


You are your lifestyle, your possessions, your name, and your job. Because you sense you might be able to gain some importance from those, you like that idea. If you act like a billionaire, maybe you'll become one (most likely not). But in the meantime, chaos reigns because there is no check on bad judgment, which prompts more of the shrug-and-ignore-it approach to social decay.

One such story, from The Empire of the Shrug, which since 1222 has demonstrated vastly inferior capabilities of reasoning to both Europe and China, its genetic originators:


Infidelity in Moscow has become "a way of life," as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.

...

But by 1998, a study showed that Russian men and women led their peers in 24 other countries in their willingness to engage in and approve of extramarital affairs.

...

When Christianity arrived here, in the 10th century, it landed in a peasant, agrarian culture that treated sex as a natural barnyard phenomenon. Russia's expanse was notoriously hard for the already disorganized church to govern, and so, when it came to sex, a sort of dichotomy of word and deed persisted well into the 19th century, more than in the West.

...

This was the perfectly explosive mix that greeted the overnight arrival of market capitalism and the oil boom of the last decade. Suddenly, there was no one to forbid anything or to admonish anyone. Everything that could be had, was; one needed only the will to acquire it. All of this has thrown Moscow into a consumer-driven hedonism that would make an American mall rat blush. Everything is available and everything is for sale. Sex is just another pleasure product, like a bottle of Moet.

...

Accepting infidelity doesn't neutralize the harm it can do, however. Three of my Russian girlfriends, all attractive women under 30, are caught up in the attendant misery. One friend has a boyfriend who has lived with her but vacationed with his wife and kids for years. When she first found out he was married, he proposed divorcing his wife and marrying her. He didn't do it. When she brought up the subject, he said he'd been joking. Years later, she has given up on kicking him out or fighting with him. "I don't even know what I want anymore," she told me. Another friend dated a man for months who said he was single. When she discovered he was married, he too said he'd get a divorce. This time, the guy meant it, but my friend soon found out that he was getting remarried in two days' time to a different woman. - Slate


What an awesome future this portends: no faithfulness, no social order, just the individual trying to socially climb by picking the best meme. It sounds like some kind of video game, but for morons.

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