There’s one interesting apparent contradiction in my political views.
On one hand, I am almost an absolutist meritocrat, which implies extreme individualism to the point of negating any kind of collective identity. You are what you are, and no kind of identification with some group changes your essential nature.
On the other hand, I acknowledge the fact that when people identify with a certain group, or a belief system, they don’t really act as individuals, but as instruments of that group or a belief system. Essentially, mobs break shop windows, loot and set cars on fire. It’s not done by individuals. People essentially give up their personal identity in order to become a part of a bigger entity, a mob, or a cult, or a nation, and this bigger entity is, for all intents and purposes, the active party. ISIS is not merely a group of individuals, it’s an evil collective entity. I understand that the legal system recognizes only individual guilt. The karmic law is even more strict – like gravity, which functions on the level of massive particles, although it appears to function on the level of stellar bodies, the karmic law functions on the level of individual kalapas of spiritual substance, although it appears to function on the level of souls.
We have two major issues. First, how to handle the need to use statistics in order to evaluate broader sociological phenomena, with the need to evaluate individuals on the basis of their personal merit. For instance, if we encounter an individual who belongs to a statistical group that has certain unfavorable general characteristics, are we justified in applying negative general prejudice against that individual? For instance, if we are in the middle of the second world war, and we encounter a German, do we assume he is a Nazi? If we encounter an Asian, do we assume he’s an overachieving nerd with high proficiency in maths and science? If we encounter an African, do we assume he’s a low IQ person with inferior level of education but above average physical skills and strength? All those assessments are justified based on statistics. However, the problem with statistics is that it doesn’t give us a number, but a histogram. It gives us a statistical distribution of certain properties in a population. Speaking as a photographer, you can look at a certain population’s IQ histogram and see whether it’s “overexposed” or “underexposed”, basically by looking at the position and shape of the “bell”. However, there’s another important information you can get from the histogram, and those are the extreme extents of the information contained within the histogram, basically the datapoints containing the lowest and highest measurements. Herein lies our dilemma. If you have a population whose median IQ is 80, the lowest measuring individual has IQ of 50, and the highest measuring individual has an IQ of 150, what do you assume about the group in general? The leftist ideologues would have you believe that pointing out that IQ 150 individual is enough to negate everything else and is to force you to treat every individual in the group as someone who is potentially an IQ 150 person. The extreme racists would point out the lowest-measuring individual and try to make you believe that all members of the group should be treated as the potentially IQ 50 individuals. A realist would say that the realistic expected IQ for a random member of the group is most likely to be within one standard deviation of the median IQ, so it is best to expect normal values but be open to the exceptions; essentially, you have certain expectations but you give individuals a benefit of the doubt when you evaluate them on an individual basis.
The second major issue is that of prejudice. If prejudice about groups of people is based on some kind of evaluation of past experience, should we treat it as informative and trust it, or should we treat it as inherently limiting to our potential to fully experience an individual?
Those issues are something I was thinking about for quite some time, and I’m not sure I have a universal answer. I can only tell you how I deal with the issue.
I am aware of statistics, I am aware of the prejudice, and I use them as sources of information. If some social group is known for increased delinquency, and I see a member of this group sneaking around my property in the dark, and running away as he sees me approaching, I am going to assume he’s some kind of a thief, or worse. However, if a member of that same social group asks me to help him with his car because it broke down, and I have no reason to suspect deception in that particular case, I will help him in any way I can. If a member of that same social group, statistically notorious for low IQ and high criminality, asks me sophisticated questions about science, philosophy or religion, I will immediately assume that this person belongs to the extreme right part of his group’s histogram, and apply my other set of prejudice about extremely advanced non-typical individuals who are usually an exception to all statistical expectations and can be treated only on an individual basis. So, essentially, I always have informative prejudice, but I’m very flexible about choosing which set of prejudice to trust and in what circumstances, and the end-result looks very much like treating individuals in a completely fair and unbiased manner, based completely on their personal qualities. However, I get to this result based on my personal application of Bayesian weighing; it’s never that formal, of course, and it’s not like I explicitly award positive or negative points for each perceived quality and evaluate the person based on their sum, but the implicit process that I go through is essentially that: you get -50 points for your race, +200 points for your verbal expression, +500 points for the intellectual level of your question and +700 points for the spiritual context of the intellectual dilemma, bringing your final tally to 1350 points. Alternatively, you can get +50 points for your race, +25 points for your nationality, -500 points for your verbal expression and intellectual coherence, -700 points for the intellectual merits of your question and -1000 points for the spiritual context, bringing your final tally to -2125 points. Yes, I do evaluate race and ethnicity either positively or negatively, but as you can see, the value I award to those isn’t anywhere close to that which I award for anything within the individual’s personality traits, education and spiritual magnitude. There are certain properties that I would award the symbolic value of 10000 points (either positive or negative), which is sufficient to outweigh absolutely any number of other considerations combined, for instance if I sense evil darkness and a satanic presence from a person. I don’t care what the fuck that person thinks or believes, and other considerations are even less significant. Also, if I feel great spiritual magnitude and clarity from a person, a strong positive vector, this is going to outweigh all other considerations. Essentially, I’m going to rely on my prejudice for the first 100 Bayesian weighing points, but anything that a person can influence by providing direct feedback is going to award him at least thousand points, either positive or negative, and my inner spiritual compass is going to outweigh almost any kind of feedback from the person. For instance, Romana’s initial tally was like half a million positive points from my inner spiritual compass, and a few hundred negative points based on the content of her e-mail which was basically all the wrong shit. Biljana’s initial tally was also half a million positive points from the inner sense and almost nothing from anything else, because she didn’t really communicate anything informative. In Romana’s case, I actually thought she was intentionally testing me, because of the huge difference between the sensed spiritual magnitude and the negative intellectual and spiritual value of everything she said out loud. So, it’s not that I evaluate people only based on what they personally do – sometimes, it’s difficult for them to fuck up so much for it to even matter, if what I feel about them is strong enough. But if I get no spiritual inner feedback about a person, if I have no personal communication with the person that would help me get a good estimate of their personal merits, yes, I am going to rely on the stereotypes and prejudice that will guide that minimum of attention given to that person, which appears to be completely irrelevant to me in all meaningful ways. If you’re a Jew or an Asian, I will assume that you are educated, smart, hard working and competent in what you do. If you’re an African or a Gipsy (including Hindu lower castes), I will assume the worst about you until proven otherwise – I will assume that you’re uneducated, unintelligent, prone to criminality and deception, bound by malignant traditions and culture of your ethnic group, and incompetent in everything you do. If you’re of European origin, that will get you zero points, because I usually function among the white Europeans and this is a normal value that awards no additional points. I will also have expectations based on nationality – I would expect an Ukrainian to be a liar and a thief, a Serb to be a loud arrogant fuck, a Croat to be a backstabbing cunt, an American to be self-confident and ignorant, a Hindu to be traditional and to think in formulae, a German to be polite and civilized, an Italian to be loud and emotional, and so on. However, all those expectations, either positive or negative, will amount to one tenth of the impression created by the first sentence that you write.