Transcript of EP 237 – Simon DeDeo on the Odds of Major Civil Unrest

The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Simon DeDeo. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.

Jim: Today’s guest is Simon DeDeo. He’s an associate professor in Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon, Carnegie Mellon University that is. An external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Simon’s a returning guest, he was actually on episode number one, the Evolution of Consciousness, and it is a very interesting episode. So you want to hear more about Simon? Check that one out. He was also the number one in our current series, Currents OO1 on University Censorship. And then he came back again for Currents 028 on explaining explanation. That was another really good episode. So want to hear more from Simon? Check him out. Welcome back, Simon.

Simon: Thanks Jim. It’s very good to be back.

Jim: Well, I love talking to Simon, whether it’s on the air or off the air or over lunch or what have you. Always have some great conversations. But today we’re actually going to talk about something that’s at least fairly close to his professional interests. Let me read this right off his website. At the Laboratory for Social Minds, we undertake empirical investigations and build mathematical theories of both historical and contemporary phenomena. We range from the century-long timescales of cultural evolution to the second-by-second emergence of social hierarchy in the non-human animals. From the editors of Wikipedia to the French Revolution to gas stations in Indiana, we create synthetic deep-time accounts of major transitions in political order with the goal of predicting and understanding our species future. Is that what you do?

Simon: Just about, Jim, yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Pretty cool. So anyway, so it turns out he just wasn’t making this shit up. But anyway, he actually knows about some of this stuff. Unlike me, he was just sort of a general-purpose intellectual flaneur who looks into all the picture windows and grabs one here and grabs one there. It turned out it was last May, I think it was, Simon came over and we were chatting and I was ranting and pontificating about war, right motherfucker? And he Simon was going. So I said, all right, let’s put our money to where our mouth is. So I proposed a wager, after we went back and forth of course. This is what we’re going to talk about today, is this wager and where we think we are on it.

So the wager was, Jim says there’s a 20% probability that within 10 years, and I went back and looked at the date, it was May 28 2023, so that’s May 28 2023, at least 350,000 Americans will die due to civil war and civil disturbance. And because I said 20%, the way we cast it as a bet is that 5X odds. So if Simon wins I.E 350,000 don’t die, he gets a hundred dollars. On the other hand, if I win, I.E 350,000 or more die, I get $500. So that was the wager.

Simon: Yeah. To be clear, I’m on the no death, no Civil War side on this one, Jim. And I think this is an easy bet. It’s maybe not an easy bet to convince people of, I’m not saving up too hard to make the downside on this one.

Jim: Oh, what’s that can back there behind you? Isn’t that where you put your extra pennies so you can pay off when you lose?

Simon: In the Background here, what I got in the background, I have a photograph of JFK announcing the moon landing.

Jim: That’s the other side.

Simon: We’re all American optimists out here at CMU.

Jim: Well, here’s how I got to, and I was actually doing a little Googling while Simon and I were sparring a little bit, which is when I think about things like this, I try to be somewhat qualitative first. If you fall into the numbers first, it’s easy to make some mistakes. So I said, what kind of inflection do I think might have a 20% chance of happening in the next 10 years? And by the way, for regular listeners, we’ve been talking about the next 10 years with Neil Howe, and the fourth turning is here. We had Peter Turchin on.

Simon: Oh wow.

Jim: We talked about all his ideas and all these generational change dudes are saying, no, this going to come down around 2028, 2029, or tomorrow afternoon or something. So these thinkers at least think that we’re in for hot times. So anyway, back to the qualitative, I Googled two numbers. What was the population of France in 1789? Turned out it was 29 million and how many people were thought to have died in the French Revolution and numbers ranged from 30,000 to a hundred thousand. So I said, let’s take the lower end of that. I then did the per capita calculation in my head. I’m not yet totally decrepit and came up with the number. Well, to scale the French Revolution up to the current USA size would be 350,000 deaths. So I said, could we have something as big as the French Revolution in America in the next 10 years? And I go, yeah, 20% chance sounds good. So we did the bet.

Then after he left, I was nervous as shit about this. Did I make a bad bet? So I went and said, what’s another similar sized inflection, but from the other side? So we think of the French Revolution as vaguely left wing, what’s a right wing equivalent? And I said, Pinochet, how many did Pinochet kill? And the answer was about 5,000. And what was the population of Chile at the time? About 5 million. So it turns out both, if you take the conservative number for the French Revolution killed about one 10th of 1% of their populations. So that’s how I got to my number.

Simon: I mean, this is good, Jim, I’m thrilled that you talked to Peter on this question, Peter Turchin, because Peter’s probably one of the greats at this point, at this kind of intersection. He’s got these amazing quantitative skills, but he’s also somebody who has a sense of the human, has a sense of the qualitative. So good. I think we have some good orders of magnitude, and I think I’m in agreement on a lot of it.

Jim: So therefore, you must agree that you made a bad bet.

Simon: Well, I find it amusing that you’re worried that you’re going to lose a hundred dollars, Jim.

Jim: Hey, my father said you watch after your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Simon: I also got a little worried, Jim. I think there’s no question that we can certainly imagine something happening. There’s no question. And you and I were talking right before we started, Alex Garland’s new movie, civil War has just come out. I was just watching the trailer, and we see this in the news in the Middle East right now. A technological power decides to go to war against people within its own borders. It is incredibly easy to kill 30,000, 300,000. I mean, the technological power to do this is certainly present. And maybe because we have television, we have the live recording of every cell phone, maybe because of that, it’s really accessible. It’s really accessible to our imagination. So I got worried, and I think Peter Turchin makes these incredibly good arguments for why we should expect large scale disorder.

And Maybe because, I mean, both Peter and I teach at universities, so we’re in constant contact with the next generation of elites. Turchin’s theory of elite competition, overproduction. I mean, you can see it, right? You can see the psychological effects of some of the large scale demographic institutional changes that are happening. So I also got worried. Fortunately I have a colleague here, one of our few political scientists at CMU, Jonathan Serves, and he brought Sam Wang around. So I don’t know if you know Sam.

Jim: I do not.

Simon: Sam is great. So Sam is a Princeton neuroscientist. He did the Nate Silver thing before Nate Silver.

Jim: Oh, I remember. That Sam Wag. Oh yes.

Simon: That Sam.

Jim: He was really famous before Nate Silver stole his franchise.

Simon: Well, it’s AOL and CompuServe, right? It’s funny, what I remember about Sam, he said a very elegant way to do some of the probabilistic calculations for the Kerry election, the John Kerry election. So we sat down, I said, look, you guys have to help me. I’m talking to Jim, right? We talked quite a bit. And so at the end, I came out the other side feeling pretty comfortable on this one. I’m feeling pretty comfortable. There was no escrow here, so I’m not losing any interest. So I feel pretty comfortable about collecting a hundred dollars in 10 years, and we should have done it in Bitcoin, Jim, is what we should have done. And I think then if we had given equal odds on Bitcoin, if you were right, the relative price would go up. So I think actually we could sort of maybe arbitrage this a bit.

Jim: That would’ve been kind of an interesting, too bad we didn’t do that. So tell us what Sam and you cooked up when you were pondering this question.

Simon: Well, so let’s begin with the qualitative, right? Because really accessible. We can certainly see people being very willing to use violence, and that’s an American. We’re only talking about America, Americans are weird, but there are enough of them we should probably make sense of this meta culture we have. We’re a pretty violent country, the threat of interpersonal violence is just a constant experience for anybody given who I am, given my age. I’m a guy, I’m white, I’m the least subject to this of all. And I ride my bike to work every morning, and sometimes I’m going to throw my bike through someone’s windshield and sometimes I’m going to end up crushed on someone’s windshield. I mean, that happens in London, but only by accident. In America, this is part of our negotiation culture.

Jim: And particularly places that have a significant part of southern culture in them. The so-called honor culture.

Simon: We have honor culture. I mean, we have honor. I mean, maybe Cambridge Massachusetts, it doesn’t, right? But South Boston does, right?

Jim: And about Pittsburgh, it’s always important to remember Pittsburgh bills itself, but not with the intellectuals, as the Paris of Appalachia, right?

Simon: The Paris of Appalachia. I mean, we’re actually many European cities of Appalachia because there aren’t that many out here. Wheeling, I guess is the Vienna. We’re a violent culture. We’re far more comfortable with physical intimidation. We’re far more comfortable having the submerged threat of violence just floating around. And even if it’s not an omnipresent part of your daily life, I think most Americans have some sense, can handle those kinds of situations pretty well. Trying to think of a good example, and maybe I shouldn’t give too many personal examples, but there’s something odd about us. There’s something unique. In one sense, we are the weirdest country, western, industrialized, educated, rich, democratic. But in another sense, we are a meta culture that has this far more anarchic. And individualistic is not quite the right word. When push comes to shove, push comes to shove for us.

There’s something in our water, right? Steven Pinker obviously has written a great deal about this. I teach the civilizing process in my undergraduate course, and it’s like, why is Canada so different? The Mounties got to Vancouver before the people did. Gun ownership in Colorado through the roof. Colorado in one sense, one of the most liberal states. Culturally, in some ways more liberal than fancy parts of London. So Islington versus Boulder, I’m not sure. The threat of violence is just something that Americans understand really deeply. And we see this with college students, not here at CMU, but certainly we see this at the elite universities, and I’m sure Peter has some good thoughts about why some of the people who are poised to enter the American elite Ivy League University students are also quite happy to rough it up with local police. And that’s again, we saw that in 68 when the students occupied the university buildings there.

So there is that and that ability to use violence is pervasive. It’s in the elites remarkably enough. We don’t have the dueling culture of Germany, the 18th century Germany, but our elites are pretty open with their willingness to resort to violence. And then of course, we have it in the wider public. So when I taught, I taught for a while at Indiana University, one of the jewels of the Midwest, I want to say more Nobel prizes than many European countries. And within a two mile radius of my house, we had great coffee. We had the Lilly Library, one of the most remarkable public libraries or public university libraries in the country. But if you went 10 miles out from my house, you entered a very different world. And in fact, one that was even more comfortable with violence than I would say New York City and negotiations about getting your house fixed in Indiana were negotiations that involved quite a bit more of honor culture and honor culture in the end always backed up by physical force.

This is not content rationality. In the end, our honor is backed up by the ability to control somebody else’s body by force. And so conversations about my roof is not fixed, fix my roof, go down a very different path than they might with a landlord in New York. So the entire country, top to bottom, we’re really comfortable with that. That’s one thing. It’s one of the intuitions. And I think watching the trailers for Civil war, the moments they excerpt, half of these moments are moments of technological destruction that we’re familiar with from the high tech wars that are happening right now elsewhere. And the other half are these little vignettes of conversations that are backed up by physical violence. The tension and the drama there comes from the fact that we know that basically any American might lose it at any point.

So I think there’s a real strong sense that we are a violent country and we are also… So, okay, what’s the movement from violence to political violence? I think that’s the transition we’re talking about. The French Revolution was an outbreak of political violence. Pinochet an outbreak of political violence. What I like, Jim, I really like this. You’re like, I ran the numbers. A 10th of 1% of the country will die in political violence. That sort of seems to be the alpha that comes out of it. What would actually get Americans organized enough to kill 350,000 people? And 350,000 is a lot, right? That’s a lot of people. If you look in the history of war, I mean, first of all, humans are very hard to kill. One way to realize, suicide statistics, most suicides are unsuccessful.

Jim: I always complain, I’m one of these people that butches watching movies about unrealism, right? And someone gets stabbed once in the gut and they’re dead 20 seconds later. No, not going to happen. Most people stabbed in the gut live for days and could even actually fight for quite a while. So you are punching someone and they’re knocked out, all bullshit. Humans are quite a bit tougher than they show us on TV and in the movies.

Simon: Yeah, you can reduce someone’s life expectancy, but that distribution is, yeah, exactly. It’s not as it’s portrayed. I mean, the most horrifying versions of this are during the Nazi regime in Europe and the Holocaust, right? Turns out it’s actually really hard to kill people.

Jim: And they actually had to build factories to do it at scale, which is the most demented thing in the history of humanity. It’s what puts Nazism, I mean, I hate to say things that are unique, but to have industrialized the mass murder of people by the millions, and to literally built factories, called in industrialists to design them. If that’s not the most depraved thing in human history, I don’t know what is.

Simon: Well, I mean, this is a separate question. I mean, as I age through the biological time span, my questions get more and more basic. And one question I remember asking an old friend of mine who’s a Contean, a scholar of Conte, I said, Nick, this is such a dumb question, but these guys listened to Beethoven and they did this, I don’t get, how is this possible? And this of course is the most obvious dumb question that you’re meant to contemplate in high school. And actually that’s an interesting way in. And so I asked, this is Nick Stanks, professor at University of Toronto, philosopher, also maybe a Heidegger scholar. I make fun of Nick a lot. How could you read the question concerning technology and then be surprised when the black books come out?

I mean, give me a break, right? What Nick said about this, I mean, this is just off the cuff, this is not his scholarly passion, but he said they saw themselves like the Roman Empire. They said, yeah, we’re doing really awful things. It’s really hard to shoot a town of a hundred people. That’s actually turns out to be a really difficult task, and we’re doing really awful things. And in a thousand years, everybody will have forgotten and forgiven us. And of course, this is what we do to the Romans. I want to go back to Rome. Rome’s amazing. It’s great. But crucifixion was one of the sickest things that was ever invented, right? I mean, crucifixion, how do you die in crucifixion? You suffocate.

Jim: After a day or two often if they do it right? They didn’t do a good job on JC. It only lasted three hours. But a professionally done crucifixion by an expert back in the home country, two or three days, you’re hanging there.

Simon: I mean, deeply sick behavior. But you take, let’s say, and again, the Nazis being the most extreme version of this, they had a view, they had a vision, they had an ideology. And so this is I think where my optimism comes back. And I think my main argument to you, Jim, about why you’re going to lose this bet, right? Americans are fundamentally, I say Americans, I haven’t really thought about the rest of the world. The rest of the world’s a very diverse place. Fukuyama was wrong on this one, but at least what we know about American political behavior, we know about how Americans reason we’re extraordinarily high-dimensional people. And I’ll tell you why I think this matters. So first of all, what do I mean by high-dimensional? I’m not Jewish. I went to college with many, many of my friends were, and there’s an old joke when my friend said, two Jews, three views.

And I think this is an American universal. We are not a culture that organizes along a line. We’re not a culture that organizes along a particular axis, not an ethnic axis. And if you look in the sort of history here, not an ethnic axis, not a class axis, not an ideological axis. And we have pretty good evidence for this. I think the standard story, and there’s a lot of funding floating around if you’re an academic who wants to study this. Standard story is we are a polarized country, and you certainly see this in our representatives. And great work came out of Santa Fe Institute. Cleo Andres was involved in some of this as a postdoc overlapped with me at SFI.

Jim: You look at voting records, absolutely.

Simon: Right. Our representatives are far less likely to cross party lines, the fingerprint of a Democratic representative versus a Republican representative. These fingerprints are increasingly distinguishable. We’ve radically simplified ourselves at the highest levels

Jim: I think by 2010, there was essentially no overlap in Congress between the most liberal Republicans say Susan Collins and the most conservative Democrat, Joe Manchin, in the Senate did not overlap at all in these calculations of the American Conservative Union and whatever the left version is.

Simon: Sure. I mean, even Susan Collins. Actually I did not know that about Collins.

Jim: And so they don’t overlap at all. Those two actually touch, but they don’t overlap. Well, if you go back to 1964, people don’t remember that more Republican senators than Democratic senators voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964, probably the greatest piece of post-World War II legislation. And there were quite liberal Republicans and quite conservative Democrats, certainly well up into the eighties. And there were some still surviving into the nineties. But by got time you got to the double odds, at least at the level of our representation, which was your point, the separation is pretty much now total.

Simon: Yeah. I remember I was sent to DC as a high school student for some science prize thing, and we saw Strom Thurmond in the elevator. So it’s like this piece of history descending into the sky. So at that high level, yes, and I think Turchin Peter has great insight into why the elite leadership, 50 people in the Senate, that sort of thing, why our elite leadership has become one dimensional. What does that mean? It means you tell me how this guy voted on one thing. I’ll tell you every one of his other votes. I just need essentially one bit of information, and I know everything. And I think this is a malfunction at the highest levels. Practically the way we’ve gotten around this is the administrative state. So as we swing back and forth what has affectionately been called the deep state provides the nuance and the inertia that actually makes things run day to day.

At the elite level, yes, absolutely. And of course, this is what we’re exposed to on CNN, for example. We watch the news, we read the New York Times. So at that level, we are a very one-dimensional world. And I’ll give you three dimensions, two dimensions, right? Maybe there’s some abortion access here, maybe we’ll see some libertarian spirit in the Republicans. Maybe we’ll see some kind of old time conservativism, who knows, right? Maybe a second axis will open up. When you’re living in a low dimensional world, in a social system like ours, you’re on a landscape. You’re sitting at a peak, you’re walking into a valley. And this characteristic phenomenon in low dimensional systems is that you get trapped. And what I mean by that is, let’s say you’re trying to find the lowest ground. You walk downhill until you reach a valley. You walk down the valley till you reach where it puddles. And you’re done and you’re trapped in this little valley.

The system that you’re a part of is organized around a certain notion of stability. Everyone’s sitting there. You’re in a basin and a basin of attraction. I mean, again, the insights we got from dynamical systems. The insights we got from complex systems tell us that you end up in a rugged landscape. And this is something that shows up over and over again. We find a configuration that works, and every direction we go, it makes it worse. So we just sit where we are. We talk about the French Revolution, roughly speaking, this is the Ancien regime. It’s not great, but where are you going to go? We don’t like these guys. They’re kind of drunks. Some of them are even perverts, but it’s not like we don’t see any incremental improvement in the system.

Jim: Or at least it’s worth the cost. The cost to get out of the basin, big cost to get out of the basin, right?

Simon: And I mean, the ideological entrepreneurs are always saying, look, we could get out of this basin or if we killed a bunch of guys, we could walk out of this basin with whoever the guys you need to kill are. We can walk out of the basin, right? We’re stuck here. This is the way society is looking. And I mean, every decade someone’s got a new pamphlet, right? These pamphlets go nowhere, right? Until there’s some external stressor, right? Money in the case of the French, right? They overspent on us, Jim, they ran out of money. And we have some bad decisions made by the king. Don’t bring the lawyers and the college professors and the writers into Paris and have them discuss, a terrible idea. And the landscape can change and it can change very suddenly. And all of a sudden, what was a stable basin is no longer stable. Some hill disappears, gets flattened, and everything flows, and it flows very rapidly.

Jim: As I often describe this in some of the work I do on our game beat-

Simon: … Flows, and it flows very rapidly.

Jim: As I often describe this in some of the work I do on our game B projects, is the basins have ridges, but you can carve channels through the ridges. And they may start just a slight little dimple on the ridge. Then it gets a little bigger, and some rain goes down the other side, until next thing you know, it’s all the way down where it captures a river and the river starts to flow, erodes the thing like crazy. Game over.

Simon: This is a good metaphor. I don’t know how vivid this is.

Jim: We talk about it a lot on the Jim Rudd Show a fair bit. So this is not alien.

Simon: Good, Jim, good, good. I was like, I don’t know, is this Joe Rogan enough? Should we make it dumb? But no, this is it. So that’s how it works in a low-dimensional system. And from 1789, even the intellectuals are sitting there being like, “You know, it would be nice to have a constitutional monarchy. The British across the river, they’re doing pretty good. That seems like a wise idea.” Four years later, it’s the reign of terror. The Vendee, they’ve massacred a bunch of conservatives out in the west. That’s rapid in timescales. And so in human history, we’re used to long periods of stasis punctuated by enormous rapid and violent change. And so now I got the number, Jim, I could tell you what happens when you’ve been stuck in a valley, you’ve been stuck in a basin, and external circumstances move that rage out of the way, and all of a sudden, you can flow somewhere else. What happens when that sudden violent shift happens? Well, yeah, 0.1% of the country ends up dead.

Jim: Yeah. Let’s add another one of our Santa Fe Institute ideas, which I also use on the show a lot, which I actually used while thinking about our little wager on the fly.

Simon: Very good, yeah.

Jim: 0.1%. Now, in reality, as we know from works of Libby Wood and others, things like violence and all kinds of social phenomenon tend to be power law distributed, which is that they have thicker tails than you’d think. So if there’s 0.1% deaths, there’s also 0.09% deaths. So there’s a whole series of curves. And then there’s ones up the curve. And they’re all thicker than you’d expect if your default state is to think Gaussian or bell curve.

And so there are all kinds of scenarios that could kill less than 350, but there’s also a lot of scenarios that could kill more than 350, and a lot more. The things tend to get pretty steep pretty quickly. You get up to the 1%, it’s probably not that much less likely than the 0.1%. We look to human history. What kinds of fluctuations just in the 20th century have killed more than 1%? Most of the communist revolutions killed more than 1%. In fact, on average, a communist revolution killed 10%, which is an amazing thing to think about. The Nazis certainly killed more than 1%, even of just the Germans and such. So a 1% fluctuation, which is 10X what we’re talking about here, is certainly not a black swan, it’s at best a gray swan. And so I figured, that’s part of my portfolio of bets. It’s not just 0.1, it’s 0.1 and greater.

Simon: That’s funny. I’m talking to Sam Wang about this. He’s like, “It sounds like you guys are doing the Drake equation for mass death.” We’re multiplying a bunch of unknowns. And I’ve been thinking quite seriously, Jim, about, okay, I don’t want to get into a particular scenario. And we will, and it’ll be fun because it’s always just like the film, this is a Civil War film coming out. It is fun. We are narrative species. We love telling stories, and we’ll tell some stories. But take another person. I don’t know if we’ve ever had them at the Institute, Taleb, Nassim Taleb. And Taleb is a good point. There is tail risk. What’s the chance that the number of people killed in terrorist attacks will be 10X next year? Compare that to what’s the chance that the number of people who drown in their bathtubs will be 10X next year? The first one is higher than the second. 10X people are not going to die in their bathtubs.

Jim: It’s almost as likely all the air in the room will collect in the corner.

Simon: Exactly.

Jim: Thermodynamically possible, but exceedingly unlikely.

Simon: Right. Here’s another example. We have great civil engineering. Heroes of America, civil engineers rebuild buildings that don’t fall down. What’s the chance that 10,000 people will be killed in building collapses in Pittsburgh? Like zero. Go to Turkey, very different. Structurally, very different buildings for all sorts of reasons. And so one question is, what’s the cultural and political health of our country? Are we built like Pittsburgh or are we built like a poor suburb outside of Istanbul? So this idea, and you could say each of these revolutions, you type in. Causes of the Civil War, causes of the French Revolution. And it’s forever. Adam ate the apple. That’s the problem. But when you ask for the proximal causes, that’s where it gets interesting because the proximal causes are usually clues to that sudden basin rearrangement. Some hill disappears, and wham, you flow out. That rugged landscape story, it’s really familiar to statisticians, really familiar to physicists.

That is, I think, a characteristic of the world before now. The world before now was low dimensional. Some parts of the world are still, the history is not evenly distributed or the future is not evenly distributed. Some parts of the world are still in this place. There is an axis along which you can basically predict people’s beliefs, people’s attitudes, people’s utility functions, people’s desires. And maybe there’s one, maybe there’s two. But these worlds are low dimensional worlds. They are ethnic conflicts, like Rwanda, for example, to take another insane case of political violence percentage-wise, far worse than what you and I are talking about, that if we lived in that world, Jim, I would be really worried. If we lived in a world in which the political beliefs, the needs, the desires of Americans could be easily predicted by two, three variables, I would be worried, because I think at that point, Turchin’s got a lot going for his argument.

You need some crazy people. We are certainly in a position where some of the elites can be crazy. There are not enough faculty positions, seats in Senate and seats on the board to satisfy every single graduate of the top 50 universities. So some people are going to be over-educated, over-promised, and willing to invoke their American right to go crazy and violent. But what you need for large-scale political fight is you need normal people. You need ordinary people to do that. And so what gets people to organize on that scale? What gets, for example, the National Guard to fire on civilians, not in an isolated event, but in a systematic large scale fashion? What gets a pseudo National Guard to do the same? Those phenomena only emerge when you have this sudden, physics, we call this first-order phase transition, where there is a basin, we were sitting here, here’s a structure that works. The landscape has changed, some external event, a pandemic, a economic crisis, a invasion, whatever it might be, that drops one of the things that find our system in its space. All of a sudden, there’s a new place.

As we flow, that energy, that chaos that’s unleashed is what drives it. I was recently teaching Rene Girard’s theory of Memetic desire, which is another great example. And one of the things Girard talks about, he’s like, “Every time you read about a plague in the Annals of Pagan history, when it’s like, ah, there was a plague that visited this time,” he’s like, “It’s not a plague. It’s not like an actual Black Death bubonic plague. It is a story about the breakdown of society. And when society breaks down, people die of sickness. But what a story of a plague is is usually a confluence of these events, it’s not like a modern day virus.”

So then the question is, well, why are we different? What’s the claim here? Why are we different? And at this point, I want to appeal to your intuition, which is two Americans, three views. We are actually a far more diverse group of people than we can possibly imagine. Let me put it this way, Jim, how far apart are you and I politically? The question is almost meaningless. It was not meaningless in the French Revolution. We get left versus right from the assembly. Literally, they were sitting in a line, and there was people on the left and people on the right. There were the super crazy left-wingers, which were called La Montagne, which for some reason, we never got to keep that one.

Jim: Yeah, the mountain, the Robespierre.

Simon: The mountain. Bernie Sanders. Oh, he’s real Montaney, right? No. For some reason, we don’t say Montaney.

Jim: Why don’t we make that our task for 2024 is to bring that one back?

Simon: Bring that one back? But there it was. And Robespierre, being no fool, sharpened this distinction as much as he could. We sometimes talk about centrists. And Robespierre’s goal was there are no centrists. And I should be careful here. Have I read every passage by Robespierre? No, we ran it through a machine. But the notion that the political viewpoints of the people running that show could be put on a line, that makes sense in that case. But to say, Jim, you and I politically, how close are we? We would have to talk a very long time, Jim, before we even understood each other well enough to figure out where we differed, where we agreed. And I don’t mean even on an intellectual level. Yeah, sure, we can talk about politics forever. We can talk about society and the meaning of life forever. But even if we were just throwing out our signals, we were just laying down our allegiances as playing cards, we would be here for a long time.

Jim: I don’t know about that. I suspect if we did 10, we would have a fairly good idea of what our Euclidean distance was.

Simon: Well, 10? That’s a good one. See, funnily enough, at some point, I think we would do the friend-enemy thing, which we’re dealing down cards. And at some point we’re like, does this matter, friend and enemy? And Jim, we’re friends. So in the end, we’re dealing out the cards. At some point, it becomes a parlor game. It’s fun. And I think this is maybe one way to put this is, okay, we’re laying down these cards. At some point, we’re laying down so many. It’s like Christ, if that’s what it takes for us to be friends versus enemies, no. It’s a simpler case. Actually no, I’m not going to throw my bike through your windshield. I think that’s the question of which way this is driving is maybe relevant here.

Jim: We should do this though, as a parlor game. If we manage to find our calendars this week and go out and do lunch or something, each of our exercise will be to find five questions which we think does the biggest distinguishing amongst us. And then we will actually calculate a simple-minded integer Euclidean distance.

Simon: Well, so here’s one way to put it. How many cards does your garbage man have to lay down before he decides if he’s going to pick up your trash? Zero. Zero or a hundred. And what I mean by that is zero because hey, it’s fine, or a hundred because it’s America, we’re all equals, let’s have a conversation, sure. And that conversation is going to go for a long time. And this is one of the joys, at least of some parts of the country. Maybe not the Upper East Side, but most of the country, we do have this strong egalitarianism, which says everyone gets a conversation with you. But one thing we’ve learned, Jim, when you get high enough in dimensionality, these landscapes become really different.

Jim: And that’s of course how deep learning works. It turns out that you get the dimensionality high enough, there’s always a path down.

Simon: Right. And so this is my value add for the Jim Rudd show is to just tell people this thing which we started to notice in the 2010s. I didn’t believe this for a long time. You’re like, “Oh, you’re fitting a neural network with 10,000 parameters. It’s not going to work. Or million parameters, it’s not going to work. You’re just going to get stuck in a local minima, and you’re going to iterate forever, and you’re not going to get out. And okay, fine, you’re going to add a little randomness to get out, but then you’ll just get lost.” And I was like, this is not going to work. And I don’t know how it’s working, it just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t explain it to people because when I show people how to fit a model with 10 parameters, yeah, you’re going to get stuck in all of these local maxima. But when you get to high enough dimension, there’s always a path.

And what we realize is that we’re living in a system that we’re never in equilibrium. When the dimensionality of people’s beliefs are high enough, you think about a society, the space here is all the relevant variables that define how we interact with each other. There’s too many. And at that point, I want to say, no, we’re not like the Auxiliary regime. We’re not sitting in some stable basin that we’ve been sitting in for a hundred years, 200 years waiting for the crisis, all of the variables to coincide, the rise of the middle class, the economic crisis, the American Revolution. We’re not waiting here for this hillock to erode, and all of a sudden, we’ll flow. We’re in constant motion.

Jim: Let me throw out a counter example.

Simon: Okay, go for it, Jim, yeah.

Jim: First, before I do that, let me re-summarize what I think you’re saying here for the audience’s sake, which is that contemporary America, maybe unlike sometimes in the past, is sufficiently high dimensional at how we deal with each other that it’s hard to see us polarizing into small integer number of camps that could go to war with each other.

Simon: I think that’s fair, yeah. We’re in a situation where the way we organize ourselves is fundamentally a non-equilibrium, constantly flowing case. We have not built up our potential energy here that is waiting to be released in an orgy of violence.

Jim: Okay. So I’ve at least, if not steel manned your argument, at least Iron Manned your argument. So now let me give you the counter, the counter-argument.

Simon: Okay.

Jim: Which is polling data shows that for the first time in a long time, the number of parents that would be upset if their children married a member of the opposite political party is greater than if they married somebody of a different religion or a different race. Now, some of it is those two have come down, but politics has gone way up. I can also say anecdotally, if you look at the popular press and dating advice, this, that, and the other damn thing, it’s a no-go. “I’d never go out with a Democrat or I’d never go out with a Republican.” And apparently, this is part of the dance these days now. As a guy who’s been happily married 43 years, I don’t know about the ins and outs of that. But I can tell you this, back in the seventies, my wife and I got together.

We literally never had a political discussion. I didn’t even know what our political views were until we’d been going out for about two years and had been living together for three months. And we discovered, all right, me at the time was a Goldwater Republican. Her at the time was a Sam Nun, i.e, conservative Democrat, and whatever. I truly don’t even know how she voted in the first presidential election after we started living together. It didn’t even come close to trumping the personal. All the other dimensions of our interrelationship were vastly more powerful than the fairly banal dimension of politics. But that’s not what it seems like today. And what’s really pretty ironic about that is at that time, I would argue the stakes were way higher. It was basically communism versus freedom. This is real stakes. As a Goldwater Republican, “Those God damn democrats go to [inaudible 00:40:31] down the river to the carnage.”

Simon: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, Jim.

Jim: Yes, yes. And moderation in the defense of liberty is no virtue.

Simon: I actually played the Kennedy, I think it was the Kennedy ad, the famous Daisy ad to my students.

Jim: It was LBJ, yeah.

Simon: LBJ, thank you. Sorry. The most unhinged. Actually, if you look at the data, American political speeches, there’s this spike in the Goldwater election. And I’m like, “Okay gang, does anyone know what this is?” And no one knows. My department chair was in the room, and she’s like, “Simon, I wasn’t around for that one either.” And I was like, “Well, this is Goldwater.” “Who’s Goldwater?” And I play them the Daisy ad.

Jim: It was God damn commies versus freedom. Big, big, big stakes. Today, it’s trans bathrooms in North Carolina, or what do we think about the family feud amongst the Semites in the Middle East? On the scale of things, relatively modest. These are not world historical questions today. And yet the salience, the social salience is gigantic. If I don’t even know what my wife’s politics are for two years, that shows you how salient politics was for us as young adults in the seventies versus today. “Well, I’m not going to date somebody that’s of that other party.” It’s just a very different world.

So I think that soft data, and it’s back polling, anecdotal, etc, would seem to indicate maybe you’re wrong. Maybe that something is going on, that something, and it may be social media, it may be the rise of alternative media, something is going on that is producing stronger, and church and others talk about, tribalization going on around stupid ass red blue politics at the present time. And others talk about, “It’s polarized. It’s been since 1861.” And for you kids out there with bad educations, which is a lot of you, 1861 was the start of the US Civil War.

Simon: I think you’re proving my point on this one, Jim, and let me say why I think this. One thing I will say is the stakes are low, let’s say, in some sense, but they’re also high. The Middle East, what’s happening right now is I would say moral emergency. We’re not going down that road in this conversation, moral emergency. But you are also right that these events are not directly affecting Americans. They’re affecting Americans emotionally. They’re affecting Americans psychologically. But this is not Vietnam where if you fail out of school, you’re going to be on a nineteen-hour flight to Southeast Asia. This is a very different situation for Americans to be in than we’ve had previously. And so the practical stakes are very low. And I would say even an ordinary life. If you have a trans person in your life, you have a gay friend, whatever, it’s fine. It doesn’t actually affect an individual, even when they’re encountering these culture war battles. Friends of mine who are parents encounter them a little bit more. And this is partly the way we negotiate child-rearing, always an intense topic that we have.

Jim: It seems more intense right now. The amount of white-knuckle parenting right now seems to be out of fucking control.

Simon: We don’t have the data on it. One thing I’d say, this goes right way back to the beginning of the conversation, narratives are really tricky, because, and I tell my students, my undergraduates do empirical research for our undergraduate class, and they always come in and they tell me what they’re going to find. And they’re like, “We’re going to find that, it’s not that interesting.” And I’m like, “Well, first of all, look man, just check it out.”

Jim: You might be wrong.

Simon: You might be wrong. And they’re like, “No, no, no.” I’m like, “Welcome to science. This is science, it’s going to be really fun.” Even if you’re sure it’s true, go check it out and pretend you weren’t so sure, and now you’ve discovered something. But actually by and large, every time you actually try to test your empirical intuitions about society, certainly, things flip. One example I had is I had students many years ago did a project to study who holds doors open for who on college campuses? Just sit somewhere, just take the data. And they said, and I was absolutely right, their assumption was men we’re going to hold doors for women. And they go take the data. And so the answer is actually no. Men hold doors for men. And once you learn this, it makes total sense. You’re like, of course. I can explain that, just as I could explain the other way, I can explain that-

Jim: Just so story.

Simon: Just so sorry. It’s like a lot of male bonding. If you actually watch, and now, because I was [inaudible 00:45:07].

Jim: Well, here’s the rut just so story, the male-female door thing is now politically and philosophically fraught. So nobody does it. But a dude holding the door for another dude is male bonding.

Simon: I certainly agree with you on the male bonding. And I told a story. Look, this is a highly heterosexual culture. Men, compared to Europe, for example, we don’t have ways to show affection to friends. Men don’t have ways to affection to other men without there being some kind of weirdness about it. But door holding? Yes, I can do this. And then the flip side is holding manhood, it’s a little cringe, bro. You can understand. You can explain it a different way. But of course, the result completely flips. Jonathan Haidt’s book came out about the role of social media. I think we have to be really careful about these because these stories make a lot of sense, but I think we need to take a step back a little bit because they make a little too much sense, maybe is one way to put it.

We just had data, for example, a Norwegian study about social media and depression gave Jonathan Haidt results. Without throwing shade on this group, I will say, you look at the P values on this data, and all these P values are right up against 0.05. Again, no shade on this group because I haven’t looked into it. But in many cases, naughty social scientists will look for effects they expect to find and try the variables until they get it. So I’ll put that to one side.

One way to think about what’s happening with this phenomenon you’re describing, people don’t want to date somebody of the opposite political orientation, that sort of thing. First of all, I would say, I want to see that data. I want to see exactly what’s going on. Yes, maybe on Tinder, I don’t know if you specify your politics on Tinder, but it’s presumably pretty easy to show them. Maybe on Tinder. Maybe a 17-year-old. But when I was 17, one way to kill your chances of getting a date is to be really into Billy Joel. That’s a real buzzkill. And so one way to say this is the stakes are actually low for Americans. And what we’re seeing is politics is becoming peacock feathers. This is a signaling system. It’s a way for people to self-assort, but without any underlying meaning to it, without any actual reality to that feather display.

Jim: So what you’re saying is that even though we are fighting about lots of things, and it’s ferocious, it’s for display purposes, and signaling to basically produce sigma genesis to use a fancy word. But at the end of the day, we aren’t willing to kill anybody about it. We’re not willing to kill anybody about trans bathrooms. We’re not willing to kill anybody about what tribe in the Middle East is slaughtering who this week, they’ve been doing it for 3000 years. Fuck all that shit. Actually, push comes to shove. And so that the stakes on these things, while we are ferocious about it and perform the two-

Jim: Things, while we are ferocious about it and performative about it, aren’t high enough for us to actually go to war about.

Simon: I want to go even beyond that and say it’s not just that the stakes aren’t high enough, like no one is going to go to war over Billy Joel. It’s also that the greatness of human cognitive diversity is that we will keep inventing more signals. And sexual signaling is a great example. The ways that humans do this, the way that humans go about doing this, even within Pittsburgh, they’re not one-dimensional signaling systems. They’re extraordinarily high dimensional, the way in which people show themselves politically, socially, there are a huge number of axes that you’re lying on. We see this. You can a look at conspiracy theory groups, take a look at the extreme right, which we’ve done some work on. You get a bunch of extreme right guys in the same room and instantaneously they start fighting with each other. It’s the same thing you see on the left. It’s the old Life of Brian Parody, right?

Jim: Yeah. The famous circular firing squad on the left, right?

Simon: And that was, turns out, this is the instinct everywhere. It turns out the right is just as good at this. And when we say right versus left, okay, are we saying we’re one-dimensional? No. These are one projection down. Take classic case like Adam Tate, this Manosphere guy you would traditionally associate with a hardcore libertarian, atheistic, misogynistic worldview. Andrew Tate is now a Muslim. I don’t even know what’s going on. He’s now signed up for [inaudible 00:49:33]. And why? Because, well, one thing, these people’s psychologies are very strange, but when that signaling system gets squeezed, people pop out in another direction.

Jim: I imagine with him, when I heard about that, I said, “Oh, it’s all got to be because of the righteousness of oppressing women.” That’s much more tolerated today in the Islamic world than it would be in the West.

Simon: If we go to the abstract case, this is a very high-dimensional landscape, and Tate has flowed down-

Jim: [inaudible 00:50:00].

Simon: I feel like we didn’t notice.

Jim: Interesting. One of the interesting things about peacock feathers, my friend Brett Weinstein uses this in his example, is one of the things about peacock feathers is they’re optional. And during tough times, peacock males do not produce the big feathers. And so you actually have a built-in reserve that most animals don’t have because you don’t need to actually do that for performativity when there’s a horrible drought and there’s no bugs to eat. So I suppose to take the Dayo formulation of peacock feathers as performative politics, if the aliens showed up from Alpha Centura, we could drop all that shit and just get to work beating the aliens.

Simon: I think we’d molt pretty quick. Yeah, I think that’s a nice way to put it. We have truly democratized. We’ve democratized not just our material world imperfectly, let’s say, but we’ve democratized our cognitive world, and so there is just more diversity than anybody could handle. The first thing a large-scale political movement needs to do is enforce ideological conformity. And you see that with the Soviet system. You see the Nazi system. That conformity is required to make the system run and we can’t enforce it anymore.

Jim: Well, they’re trying with cancel culture on the woke left. That’s the closest thing to conformity that I can think of currently. It’s not succeeding too much, but…

Simon: I don’t interact with the Ivy elite system so much. Most college professors, none of us see… I mean, we have our complaints. We don’t like grade inflation, we have issues.

Jim: Don’t like student reviews.

Simon: High student reviews maybe. It’s such a niche subject. It almost feels like somebody has just snuck in, taken a picture and used it in their signaling game that actually is not even occurring on our campus. I think there’s an unreality to that. We love to talk about all these issues. We love to get upset about them, but-

Jim: Will we kill for them? That’s the bottom line on this wager.

Simon: Well, Jim, I just can’t… This is America. We’re not fools.

Jim: Yes. Would they kill somebody because somebody dead names somebody else to talk about-

Simon: Well, no. And it’s like-

Jim: I think it’s interesting. I like this perspective of yours.

Simon: I think it’s fair. It’s like, “Look, don’t do it. It’s an asshole move, at least in some rooms, don’t be an asshole.

Jim: In most places. Yeah, don’t be an asshole. Treat people the way they want to be treated in general, right?

Simon: Exactly. It’s like it’s Kant’s rules for dinner party. You be a little gracious, show a little class. If you don’t, well, we’ll ask you to leave the dinner party, but-

Jim: Probably won’t shoot you.

Simon: Well, they’ll ask you to leave the bar and if you stick around, you might get beaten, but you can always leave the bar.

Jim: Okay, let’s stop right here. I’m now going to take that point, which is sort of accident contingency, et cetera, and how you stumble into things. But before we do that, I’m going to do a little bit of shameless self-promotion and talk about some relevant episodes people can check out Peter Turchin on Clio Dynamics and End Times EP 190 back last August, I think it was. Simon mentioned weird people, meaning us, Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic.

Simon: Yes.

Jim: We had Joe Henrich on back in EP 104.

Simon: Oh, wow.

Jim: We talked about his book about weirds. We had James Lindsay, we had back in EP 230 where we talked about an essay he wrote called The National Divorce, which was the Civil War. But surprisingly for Lindsay, he was taking the anti-divorce side saying it would be a horrific mistake for America to go down that road. But he did acknowledge that the chance was not a zero, but he strongly argued that if it started to happen, it would end up in a horrible mess and lots of people would die. So those episodes seem relevant. So now let’s move from high dimensionality, peacocks’ feathers. This shit ain’t worth fighting about. Certainly not worth killing. It might be worth fighting about, but it’s not worth killing about. To another line of argument, which of course all I have to do is win on one of these.

I have many lottery tickets. I’ve bought a thousand lottery tickets here. And in fact, on this side of the line, God knows how many lottery tickets. And that is, a lot of things don’t necessarily happen for the big causes, at least the trigger isn’t that. The most famous example is World War I and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a Serbian separatist, as I believe it was.

One goddam thing led to another next thing. 10 million people were dead in world history had been changed in probably the most solid way in centuries. The biggest inflection in human history for centuries was caused by one guy getting lucky with one shot or one shot, yeah, the bomb didn’t do it. Yeah. So now let’s think about combination of Turchin and some of the things we started talking about first and think about America as a forest where the dead underbrush has not been cleared out in a long while, the overproduction of elites, one that we didn’t talk about, the fact that we have more guns than people. Holy shit. And these days, a lot of them high capacity, semi-automatic pistols, military rifles, nutso drum magazine machine guns, all kinds of stuff. In fact, I have fair numbers of these kinds of things.

Simon: You do, Jim, yes.

Jim: Yes I do. Yes I do. As I said, you come up to Rutt house, you better call first, probably a good idea unless you got about an inch of steel fucking plate in your car. So here all this brush fire is building up and things like, “Ugh you married a damn Democrat, you married a Republican.” All this stuff is adding up, adding up and adding. And let’s stipulate that for once Simon is right and that none of these issues are such that any sane person would fight a civil war and kill 0.1%, or not even a civil war. You get a civil war, you’re talking multiple percent. US Civil War, 2.5% of the population died approximately, and it could have easily been worse. Very surprising for such an intense and vicious war. It was thought maybe a thousand civilians were killed accidentally. They went out of their way not to kill civilians.

The Battle of Gettysburg, which I know a tremendous amount about the most intense battle ever fought on American soil, no civilians were killed in the whole Gettysburg campaign. Compare that to Syria or Gaza or Ukraine, where the modern warfare, they just don’t give a fuck. So war, they were still sort of gentlemen about the whole thing. Stipulate no sensible first person would fall into a 350,000 person conflict. But we have a woods full of underbrush that hasn’t been cleared in 20 years, 50 years, 100 years let’s say, since World War II, shit’s been building up of all sorts and just something happens. And I actually put together a few scenarios. This is where we can get into scenarios.

Simon: Okay, good. Here we go. Let’s do them. Yeah.

Jim: It’s always fun. So one, I think a lot of it will depend on who’s the president at the time. If it’s a Democratic president, and at this point I’m calling 2024, a coin flip, could go either way. I see very little data and I actually have access to more data than most because as listeners know, I was a delegate to the No Labels Effort and have been involved in the No Labels Effort a fair bit. And I have all access to all their internal polling and all that stuff. And without us in the race, it looks like a fucking coin flip.

Simon: Do you have money in the prediction markets? I guess not if it’s 50/50 for you.

Jim: No, no, no. It’s probably some kind of fancy straddle I could do, but I can’t, if it’s 50, it’s hard to do. But no, so I don’t have any money in. I got to tell you, I always like to tell war stories. The only time I ever made any significant money on an election bet was when John McCain, who was running way behind Obama, appointed Sarah Palin as his vice president. He shot up to just above 50%. It was 51%. And I called a friend of mine in England and told him to put 25 grand down for me on Obama. I said, “This is a fucking overlay. Palin’s a fucking idiot. This is going to explode. No way McCain’s going to win.” And sure enough, almost exactly even money, because it was right at that point. I said, “I bet on McCain at even money. That’s an overlay. That’s a winner.”

And I won and he wired me the money and all. It was good. So anyway, let’s think of some scenarios that accidentally ignites enough of this brush to produce a 0.1% death rate over a year or something. If there’s a Democratic president, I think one of the more obvious scenarios is some horrific mass murder/domestic terror event occurs using guns. And if there’s any hot issue in rural America, at least it’s guns. The precinct I live in, very, very rural Virginia, voted 83% for Trump, believe it or not. And 20 years ago, that precinct would’ve gone about 67% for the dem, two-thirds for the Republican, one-third for the dam. So it’s shifted far to the right. There’s only now just quite few of us nuts that don’t drink the MAGA bathwater in the Bull Pasture River Valley. Guns is the issue.

It is the equivalent of trans or abortion on the other side where the stakes are not all that high substantively. There’s almost no crime. Well, why would there be any crime? Everybody’s armed to the teeth. But nonetheless, the people who take it as a fundamental attack on their culture. And our county declared itself a Second Amendment Enclave County and all this stuff. There was a short period in Virginia where the Democrat governor and both houses legislature for two years and they passed all kinds of gun control and the county was ready to revolt literally. And if they had passed the assault weapons ban, which fortunately two rural democratic senators refused to go along with it. What are the chances? But you were getting close enough that I wouldn’t want to have been there. So let’s imagine some horrific mass murder where a thousand innocent people are killed by a hundred neo-Nazis with assault rifles and president Harris after Biden has croaked in office issues a illegal, probably, but arguable confiscation of all assault rifles. What happens? There’s a scenario.

Simon: Let me just play this one out, Jim. We’re going to war game this one. I think this is an easy one, and this is talking to Sam and Jonathan. One of their questions was, it’s like, “Look, what are these conflicts about?” The question is, who rules you? Well, so this very… Hagel didn’t have anything on us. We many. We are a long time span. We have a family, we have a county, we have a state, we have a government, we have a federal government, and it’s pretty easy to war game this one. Let’s say President Harris says, “By order of the federal government, there’s some interstate commerce reason here. These guys are trafficked from another state. We’re confiscating them under…” I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer. “So by this order, all police forces are ordered to confiscate all assault rifles in their district.” What’s going to happen, Jim? They’ll get three rifles in Boston and your county is going to disobey that order.

Jim: The sheriff will say, “I ain’t doing it, and if you send any feds, I’m going to arrest them.”

Simon: Right.

Jim: Then does she send the feds?

Simon: Well, there’s a lot of counties.

Jim: There are a lot of counties.

Simon: So this is fair. Could this escalate. So she picks one county, the troops come into that one county.

Jim: It’s probably not the troops first. It’s probably the US Marshals and the FBI.

Simon: Right. Well, this is a Ruby Ridge thing, which we’ve had.

Jim: Now what happens, dude, and the locals try to arrest them. Do they submit to being arrested? Probably not. Is there a gunfight? May well be.

Simon: Yeah. I think what you’re really asking, Jim, is to what extent would members of the American military go along with shooting other Americans?

Jim: Not yet. So I’m not yet saying mass slaughter.

Simon: Right. But even it’s like you’ve got two guys and they’re both wearing American uniforms or one’s-

Jim: One’s local law enforcement, the other’s federal law enforcement.

Simon: Exactly, right.

Jim: And the county is really quite adamant that this could actually happen in our county, that the sheriff declares, “Second Amendment rules here. Anything that usurps that, whether it’s the state or the federal, we’re not enforcing it. Anyone comes in here, tries to enforce that we’re going to arrest them.”

Simon: I’m going to be the contrast here briefly, Jim. What you’ve done is you’ve described a situation in which the dimensionality of your county has now collapsed.

Jim: On this issue, yes.

Simon: On this issue. And this becomes the overriding issue, right?

Jim: Well, not the overriding issue, but this is to my point, all it takes is one trigger point. They don’t all have to fire.

Simon: It’s one issue. But here’s what’s happened. Instead of dealing out 10 cards to figure out what your neighbor’s doing, you’re now dealing one card. Hey Jim, you got a lot of guns in your house. I got a lot of guns in my house. The marshals are coming. Show me your card. Are you going to shoot at them or are you going to shoot with them? You’ve crunched that dimensionality down. And what we’ve done is describe a scenario in which the diversity of Americans collapses suddenly by an eruptive event at the very highest level.

Jim: Some massive stochastic terrorism occurred, which caused a reaction by the government, which was overreach, probably illegal, but arguable enough to at least begin to enforce it because it’s going to take the courts a few months to rule against you. And let’s say she just picks one county to make an example of. And at this point, you’re rolling dice. How hardcore is that sheriff? How incensed is the posse he rounds up? I’d say in our county, he easily rounds up a few hundred people to go with him and man the borders of the county.

Simon: We’re telling the story. First of all, great movie premise. Absolutely a hundred percent great movie premise. I could even see it. You’ve got the bridge to West Virginia. I’ve driven over. You could just imagine the standoff here ,reminds me a little bit of what we saw in the sixties in school integration. We’ve set up the scenario where we have somehow potentially collapsed the viewpoint down to this single axis. And also, I’ll say the other thing, Jim, you’ve done, which is in this story, is you’ve accelerated this timescale. So this is 48 hours, 24 hours. It’s not six months.

Jim: For the first spark.

Simon: For the first spark, yeah.

Jim: This is a woods full of tinder. And all it takes is a spark. We are not saying it’s the US Civil War. It’s a small spark which then spreads.

Simon: Like this is October 7th, right? Something crazy happens. Hundreds of people. So is it plausible? Let’s grant all that. So we’re already there. People are standing each other, facing each other. What happens next? And I want to argue that they will not shoot. Neither side will shoot.

Jim: And I’d say that that’s the way to bet, but the probability isn’t zero.

Simon: The probability is never zero, right?

Jim: It’s not even below 10% or maybe not below 20% because it’s so dependent on the individuals.

Simon: Well, so this is where it does become interesting, Jim. And again, just trying to give value out of the Jim Rutt show. What do we know about political extremism, political violence? What we know is most people don’t. So even when you look at groups, when you look at extremist groups, 99% of the people are complete dilettantes.

Jim: Or they’re there to get laid or something, right?

Simon: Well, exactly. They’re bored. Mostly, to be honest. Modern abundance life is boring. Until you have kids, you got a lot of free time. So then you’re at the 1%. Now, in that 1% of hardcore folks, I would say, and this now I’m making up the numbers, but let’s say 99% of the 1% are actually grifters. Then you’ve got your 0.1% remaining. So this is a hardcore group. This is the group that shot up the Tree of Life Synagogue, for example, in Pittsburgh.

Jim: The Weatherman’s, a good example from the sixties. People forget there was a bombing every day for three years in the late sixties and early seventies. These suckers, they weren’t grifters. They were doing this at great expense to themselves, mostly upper middle class kids, often from good colleges. They actually believed this stuff.

Simon: Well, I think at this point, the Tree of Life case, for example, this was an uneducated person.

Jim: It was a demented dude with just weird ass ideas.

Simon: Well, and I think this is important. This is a mental illness. Now we’re at the state, which of these people is under the grip of a psychotic delusion, an intense personality disorder, antisocial personality, things that these are very off the norm?

Jim: So let’s figure the baseline. Approximately 1% of Americans are schizophrenic, 1% of Americans are sociopaths, which is worth knowing. And there’s very little correlation between the two, fortunately. So you have to put those in the mix as well.

Simon: And I would say, and by the way, for schizophrenia, I should speak up on this, it’s of that fraction who is not getting treatment, these are manageable diseases.

Jim: I don’t think schizophrenia is really relevant here. Sociopathy is probably more relevant.

Simon: Well, there’s something here. There’s something that’s off. And so these are the people who conduct, at least in our experience in the United States, these are the people who conduct-

Jim: Lone wolf terrorism. But this is not this. Let me work my scenario here to show you why this [inaudible 01:08:05]-

Simon: Yes, good. Okay.

Jim: This is a perfectly mentally normal sheriff, but-

Simon: They’re not going to do it. That sheriff is not going to do it.

Jim: But he’s got 170 guys from the populace that are all riled up-

Simon: Not going to do it.

Jim: And they’ve been riling each other up and they are close to a hair trigger.

Simon: Yeah, I can imagine a little property destruction. This is really important. The reason I bring up what we know about the lone wolf types, that’s what it takes to actually kill somebody for ideological reasons. And in this case, I just don’t see it. With all due respect to the folks who pile up a bunch of assault rifles, Jim, this is under a mentally healthy calculus. This is not worth dying for.

Jim: Not objectively worth dying for, but in the moment what happens?

Simon: Okay, so now you’re saying… Okay, good. The guy is mentally normal, so he knows this, but crank up the pressure.

Jim: It’s 170 guys cheering and yelling at the feds. And then of course, a lot of it depends on what’s the mental state on the other side? Do the feds-

Simon: Do you have a psychopath on the other side?

Jim: Yeah. Or a marchinette, a very rigid person who’s the leader who not want to be seen being weak because one side or the other has got a blink. Or the best, of course is to find a way for both to blink and maintain their face. But this is where it comes a very weird game theory thing. Does the FBI, the guy that’s leading the federal law enforcement, and by the way, I know a lot about federal law enforcement. My brother 30 years, very senior guy in federal law enforcement, and we talk constantly about this shit. He forbid his unit to participate in Waco, they wanted to bring his unit in as part of the Waco thing. And he said no, he was not going to let his whole agency participate in the Waco thing and they were in Texas.

Simon: This is great. What I like about this, I think we’ve granted each other a bunch of points here. You need to crush this dimensionality down.

Jim: Event that causes it to collapse to one dimension.

Simon: Exactly. All our feathers fall off. We got one card left. And this is in the Civil War trailer. It’s like, “We’re Americans.” What kind of American are you? This is which kind. Show me your card. And it’s one card. If you’re dealing cards out, it’s not going to happen. Because every guy in your unit’s got a different set. So one side’s got one card, the other side’s got the card of the opposite denomination. Well, you’ve also granted that you need to crank up the heat here psychologically. Your sheriff, I don’t know this guy. I’m sure he is a great guy. You don’t get elected to sheriff if you’re a hot trigger guy.

Jim: Well, sometimes you do, but this case he’s not.

Simon: All right. But here we are. He’s not mentally ill. We do have, there are psychopaths and sociopaths everywhere, including law enforcement. No question. So we’ve cranked up the heat here in such a way that it’s psychologically plausible that even this sheriff is going to act as if he’s under the grip of a mental delusion.

Jim: Or at least he will not back down. Let’s actually make this into our little movie scenario. The sheriff and his five deputies are sitting on the bridge on both sides of the bridge in the hills above the bridge in the bush where they can’t see them too well, but you can tell they’re there are 170 guys with a mix of deer rifles and assault rifles, and there’s 10 federal law enforcement guys on the other side of the bridge. And the leader of the federal law enforcement guys with his two lieutenants starts walking across the bridge saying he’s come to arrest the sheriff. What happened?

Simon: This is the end of season one, Jim, right?

Jim: Exactly.

Simon: End of season one.

Jim: Exactly. Feed to black about two thirds of the way across the bridge.

Simon: Well, because I think this really hammers the point. I think it’s a beautiful moment, right? Because we’ve set this up and I think there are two outs here. One is, yes, people die. That is one out. Ruby Ridge, those situations we had mentally ill people on one side. This case, we’ve set it up so these are psychologically normal people.

Jim: Probably not at Ruby Ridge. Those guys at Ruby Ridge…

Simon: These are psychologically normal people.

Jim: Probably not at Ruby Ridge. Those guys at Ruby Ridge, while hardcore ideologues, were not mentally ill.

Simon: We’ve set this scenario up so that everybody, ahead of time, is mentally normal. You and I are not talking about some kind of rogue agent, right? These are mentally normal people.

Jim: We’re not depending on psychological abnormality for the forces to do their thing.

Simon: Exactly, right? They show up there. Now, we’ve structured this around… We’ve basically replicated a big chunk of European history, right? We’ve put these people on the ground, a little bit like the beginning of World War I, and what are they going to do next, right?

Now, one answer is that, fundamentally, Americans are… And I’ll say this is an odd way to say it, fundamentally, Americans are pre-World War I aristocrats. Their identity is so tied to a certain worldview, right, that’s now been dimensionally reduced, right? In Europe, every country had… You were French, you were not. Right? They had a huge investment in that identity. I mean, that’s World War I, right? The underlying structure there is a prewar world.

Would the Americans ever replicate that scenario, where they were so tied to these identities, right, that they could be pushed over the edge into a shooting? And I’m trying to stay out of… I bet you not, right, because this is a reason-giving system here.

Jim: We’ve made our bet, we’re just analyzing the quality of our bets here.

Simon: We’re just analyzing the quality. Like, I’m going to try and sell shares in this bet, right?

Jim: We’re going to syndicate our bets here now, in the back [inaudible 01:13:31].

Simon: Exactly. I need to raise $100 pretty quick, I’m going to see if I can sell this to folks. No, I think, I mean, at that point, the question is, psychologically, what happens, right? Are those people… Is someone going to shoot, or are these two guys meeting on this bridge, are they going to negotiate? Jim, I can’t see anything other than negotiation at that point.

Jim: Yep. I would say what probably actually happens, knowing a bit about federal law enforcement, is once they saw they’re outgunned, the feds probably leave.

Simon: It’s like, you know what? Like, “Oh, phone call, there’s something, something, we’ll be back in three months.”

Jim: Or, “We’re outgunned here, if you want to go forward with this, you better call in the army,” right? Something like that.

Simon: Yeah. Okay.

Jim: So now, we just did a mini scenario; could go wrong, based on the personalities of the people. Here’s the real world for you. The sheriff is rock solid. He’s not going to let anything happen, right? And the federal law enforcement guy, he’s going to go out there and he’s going to jaw with the sheriff, but he’s decided if the sheriff’s not going to be willing to be arrested, he’s going to turn around and leave, and he’s going to lose a little face, but better than killing somebody.

One of the yahoos up on the ridge shoots one of the federal law enforcement guys. Then, what happens? I can tell you exactly what will happen. Federal law enforcement guys are trained to immediately return fire with overwhelming force. So, they will all pull out their long guns and let fly, and then the other side will let fly and there’ll be a fucking slaughter, that’s what will happen. All caused by… We had 170, we stipulated 170. And 170, better than 50/50 chance one of them’s a sociopath.

Simon: Yeah, that’s fair, that’s fair. Even in your lovely county, Jim. Right?

Jim: Yeah, even our lovely county.

Simon: You might… Yeah.

Jim: People are very nice, I really love the people there. But you can just count on any group of humans, one in 100 approximately is a sociopath, except for senior level executives, in which case it’s 10%. So, the Rutt-ian eyeballing of that community. Anyway, so now, then we’ll step this up. Okay. So, here’s one micro scenario. Now, let’s imagine that this happens in 300 counties around the United States, simultaneously.

Simon: Hang on. That’s exponentially suppressed, right? We have a probability of…

Jim: Keep the original premise. There’s a horrific mass murder, terrorism event, which causes President Harris to order the federal law enforcement agencies, orders all police to confiscate guns in 300 counties out of the, whatever it is, 11,000 counties.

Simon: Sure, sure, okay. All right. I’ll grant you something like this happens 300 times.

Jim: In parallel. In parallel.

Simon: In parallel. Yeah.

Jim: One of them’s going to go wrong, I guarantee you. Okay, so we got to that point. And then the question is, does the tinder ignite? So, let’s leave that one aside. So, I think there’s some fair chance the tinder ignites. Now, here’s the Republican version of that. Some president, who’s been painted orange for God knows what reason.

Simon: President Trump, yeah.

Jim: President Trump, to name a name. The king asshole, the father of lies, gets elected and turns out not actually to be a grifter after all, in discourse maybe. I think he’s a fucking grifter myself, a cross between a grifter and a narcissist. But the narcissist might be enough for him to do this. And he actually does do what he says he’s going to do, which is, “On day one, I’m going to order the largest law enforcement action in American history to round up every illegal alien in the United States and forcibly deport them.” Suppose he actually tries to do that; of course, he can’t actually do it. But let’s say he does a… Of course, typical limp dick, small hands Trump version, he does a miniature version of it and declares it to being the whole thing. So, let’s say he sends out 10,000 federal law enforcement people to arrest 500 illegal aliens.

Simon: In the same city, or different places?

Jim: Yeah, I think for logistical reasons, he does it in the same city. Let’s say it’s LA, right? With lots of…

Simon: I was going to say take LA. Great.

Jim: Lots of illegal aliens, et cetera, and lots of allies, right? Lots of people who highly sympathize with the illegal aliens, and just good old-fashioned Libertarian Americans who see a law enforcement maneuver of this sort with no legal basis whatsoever and are going to resist it on those terms. Now, this is not… At least, that I can’t in my head quite draw the movie scene quite as vividly as the county… Probably because I don’t know LA that well. But one could see some group of people resisting and the other people coming to their aid. And again, it’s spinning up and spinning up, and then the MAGA people form their own militias and come marching in from Orange County or whatever.

Simon: This Netflix series I couldn’t sell.

Jim: This one isn’t as good as the other one.

Simon: I’ll tell you, Jim, I mean, there’s a couple of things here. One is, I mean, having lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a while, there’s not a clear line between legal and illegal. And our lives are completely inter-mashed, right? So, this is not a question of they’re rounding up some foreigners that we haven’t seen before, right? This is everybody in that community is one, at most two degrees away from somebody who would be picked up.

Jim: Exactly. That’s my point, is that this community is going to resist. They’re not going to allow this to happen.

Simon: So, at that point, so if it’s a totally external event, you’re either in two situations. You’re either at the same case we have before, where you have the local police saying no, right? In which case, now you have a…

Jim: Okay, yeah, let’s go down that route.

Simon: Now, we’ve just replicated Virginia, except it’s urban warfare.

Jim: And instead of 170 versus 20, it’s 3,000 versus 10,000. Holy fuck!

Simon: 3,000 versus 10,000. But I mean, in that case, Jim, this is the funny thing, right? People get shot in LA all the time, right? So, you say an accidental shot goes off in Virginia that ignites a war. LA, the shot goes off, you don’t know if it’s just some random gang warfare happening somewhere else. So, I think the drama level here is lower, right?

Jim: Hmm, well, keep in mind the way police are trained. If shot at, shoot back with overwhelming force.

Simon: Well, you hear a gunshot, right? That’s a different scenario, right?

Jim: That’s true, if you hear one. But…

Simon: I think that seems less plausible, because what you’re describing in this case, this is more like rounding up the Jews, right?

Jim: Yeah, it’s almost exactly the same. Very similar.

Simon: Yeah. In this case, it’s very hard for me to see the American military going… It’s very hard for me to see either side going along with this one.

Jim: I do believe the upstream probability of just people refusing to execute the order is higher here than it would be in the previous [inaudible 01:20:01].

Simon: Yeah. So, your family’s law enforcement, but my uncles… One’s gone from us, the other is retired now, they were cops. They were state troopers in Pennsylvania.

Jim: My dad was a DC cop for 20 years.

Simon: Jesus, Jim. All right, so there you go.

Jim: I know my cops now.

Simon: Like, okay, “You want to go bust the drug den?” “No, thank you.” Right?

Jim: Yeah.

Simon: So, you tell a bunch of guys, “Hey, you want to go bust the largest drug den you’ve ever seen?” So, it’s not a drug den, it’s actually people, and…

Jim: It’s a whole neighborhood, right?

Simon: No one’s going in, right? No one… I don’t think these guys are going in.

Jim: Hmm. Maybe I buy upstream, but maybe not, I don’t know.

Simon: In that case, I don’t think either side wants it, right?

Jim: And here’s the third one. Let me give the third one.

Simon: Yeah, third one. Hit me.

Jim: And then we’re out on scenarios, unless you have some, which I’m happy to entertain. Which is, let’s say something like a Black Lives Matter, George Floyd event occurs again. Certainly possible, right? There’s rioting every night in 30 or 40 cities, et cetera. But this time, under the influence of the Trumpian polarization and the MAGA identity, there actually do arise counterstrike militias. And maybe it’s just in one city the first night, where 200 rednecks come roaring into Portland from eastern Oregon in pickup trucks full of guys with assault rifles and kill 500 BLM 2.0 demonstrators. What happens then?

Simon: I don’t think you can get 200… See, no, these 200 guys driving in from…

Jim: Make it 20. Let’s make it 20. 20 guys could kill a few hundred.

Simon: 20, okay. 200, no. 20, I think it’s touch and go. It’s tough to get 20 mentally ill people to do the same thing at the same time, because those 20 people would know exactly what was going to happen if they did that.

Jim: I’m going to stipulate, they’re not mentally ill. They’re more like the Ruby Ridge guys than they are the… Very strong ideologues, you know? The Proud Boys.

Simon: But if they’re coming in carrying, they know that they’re going to kill people. And I don’t think… It’s tough to get 20 mentally ill people to get in the back of a couple trucks and drive two hours to kill people. I think that’s a tough one, right? And cults try this, right? I’m playing that movie in my head, and that one doesn’t get off the ground because I just don’t see… I can see one guy, maybe two, in which case you’ve got your garden variety terrorist attack, right?

Jim: Yeah. Lone wolf, or two. A fair number of the lone wolf’s attacks are actually two-people attacks. It was like 15% of them.

Simon: Well, exactly. There’s usually… There’s the dom and the sub in a lot of these ones, right? I’m really going back to the idea that, in order to generate this level of political violence, you need to collapse that dimensionality. So, one way to do that is stress, the other way to do that is psychosis. You need to get a lot of people doing it simultaneously, right?

Jim: Though keep in mind, we’re talking here about, again, this is not the fire nationwide, thousands of people slaughtering. This is the first spark.

Simon: The first spark, right. We sort of ran this scenario where we’re like, “What happens if we burn a police station in Minneapolis? Okay, let’s just make sure we’ve run this experiment correctly, let’s do Portland as well,” right? And in the end, a couple guys showed up carrying rifles. We had a criminal trial on one of them. And by and large, it didn’t happen. I mean, if at any point in time… Now, again, this is maybe probabilities. Maybe this is a 0.01% thing and we just roll the dice and we came up okay, right?

Jim: Sooner or later, it comes up.

Simon: Well, I mean, sooner or later, this building is going to collapse, right? But it’s probably not, and it’s not something that occupies the mind, right? It is certainly possible to tell a story. But I think there’s a lot of pieces here.

Your first scenario is probably the best scenario. And by the way, I think the first scenario, why it’s working for me, Jim, is we’ve created a stage. It’s isolated, it’s rural. The part of what is generating our diversity of signals, our diversity of identities, is this urban environment, right? It’s probably the most… And the most shocking experience for me was living in Bloomington, southern Indiana, where you suddenly entered a different universe. Whereas, in New York, you’re constantly moving between universes. You cross three streets, you’re in a different universe.

Jim: Everything is…

Simon: The spatial segregation there is maybe one of the things that it argues most forcibly for this kind of event, but the spatial segregation has this opposite effect as well, which is that who rules you is different, right? You’re spatially segregated. So, Eastern Oregon is ruled differently from Portland. And so, now you really need to be looking for trouble. It’s not as if Portland is attempting to impose this. Now, this is what you got in the Virginia case, right? You actually have an imposition of alien rule. Our system is so federalized. It’s so federalized that it is very difficult to see how you would arrange it such that Portland, in the day-to-day life, actually ruled Eastern Oregon.

Jim: I like that analysis, which is essentially, in the Virginia scenario, or the mountain scenario, nobody has to leave their home turf to find a fight. The fight comes to them.

Simon: The fight is brought to them, yeah.

Jim: Well, in this case, people have to be so activated that they are willing to invade somebody else’s space, which is a bigger jump up in activation.

Simon: And for what point, right? Eastern Oregon is running itself. I mean, this is a very simple case, right? The way we enforce license plate registration, let’s just say it varies, Jim. Let’s say if I park my car in New York City with expired tags, I’m going to get a ticket. I don’t know if you’ve renewed your tags out there.

Jim: Well, I sometimes forget to get an inspection sticker.

Simon: There you go, right? And different parts of Western Pennsylvania, different levels of enforcement. We kind of rule ourselves the way we would like to be ruled. Some of the suburbs will enforce; other parts of our fair city and state won’t. The British don’t play that game, right? The British, they want to run that whole country, and they do.

Jim: Or the French.

Simon: Right, or the French. Right.

Jim: The French as well.

Simon: But it’s partly an honor culture thing, it’s partly the way in which we’ve devolved power is such that, yeah, Eastern Oregon, if the state of Oregon passes a law that says you have to put a Satanic symbol on your license plate, there’s going to be a lot of cars without license plates in Eastern Oregon, and no one is going to stop them.

Jim: If we get to that scenario, then the governor sends in the state police, and then we’re back to the Virginia scenario.

Simon: Right. And this is an insight I think that Sam Wang has, right? Who rules you is the real question. The American Civil War, okay, this really was a question of people. The original one was a who rules you question, and that’s why it came in the end to blows. We had that case, we had cognitive diversity, certainly, the Republicans of their time. Very diverse, right? There was John Brown types and there was some pretty normal types. What would it take for this building to fall down, right? Too many things would have to be different about this building to give me a 0.1% chance. So, the Civil War movie, which I guess I got to watch it. I’ll go to our local theater tonight. The Civil War movie, the criticism that’s come up about it is that it’s not actually a movie about the Civil War, about a civil war.

Jim: They don’t tell you the premise or what caused it, and the alliances-

Simon: There’s no premise.

Jim: They seem very improbable. Texas and California are on the same side, what the hell’s up with that, right?

Simon: I mean, it’s actually… It’s great.

Jim: I think he did that intentionally to make it so that it didn’t appeal to one side or the other.

Simon: Well, I think Garland was smart. I mean, he’s a good guy, right? Because he realizes if you make it vaguely plausible, then your person having a psychotic episode is going to watch that movie and shoot someone. And he’s smart. He’s a good man on that too.

Jim: Or just more pragmatically, if one side looks like the bad guys and the other guy looks like the good guys, you just lost half your audience.

Simon: This is true, yeah.

Jim: Just from a pure business perspective.

Simon: Yeah. No, I think… But the criticism that’s been leveled about this movie is that Alex Garland really is a man who likes to make movies about women, right? You see it in Annihilation, you see it in Ex Machina, you see it in Devs. These are great films. The criticism of Civil War is, actually, there’s not really anything credible about a potential American Civil War in this. Really, this is a story about Kirsten Dunst learning to be a photojournalist, and it’s a coming-of-age story. I don’t know if Dunst plays it, or whoever. It’s actually a story about a young woman who’s learning to be a photojournalist and taking pictures of war.

Jim: This is just a framing device.

Simon: This is a framing device. And in a funny way, I think Garland’s actually satirized… Not satirized, but he’s basically told us what this is actually about, right? Which is, you and I here, lovely conversation, are telling stories about America, learning about ourselves, you and I learning about each other more, Jim, right? This is an occasion for us to tell stories. And this is a young woman watching a imaginary story take place around her. Now, it’s framed as real, obviously. But this is, I think, why we want to talk about this right now. Yeah, we are trying to make sense of a post-ideological world. Fukuyama said it was going to be post-ideological world because there was no alternative, we just go to sort of liberalism democracy markets.

Jim: Oops, wrong about that one.

Simon: Well, he was wrong, but he was right about something, which is we’re not fighting Communists versus capitalists anymore. We’re not fighting white versus Black. We’re not fighting north versus south. We don’t really know what we’re doing. It’s a strange moment. We thought we would all stop fighting because we agreed. We’ve stopped fighting and we don’t agree, and what the hell’s going on? For the longest period of history, when we didn’t agree, we fought. And we don’t agree, and it’s all kind of rubbing along. And so, there’s two stories. One is, it’s common, right? The brush is piled up, right?

Jim: That’s the Turchin version of the story. And let’s say Steven Pinker would be your side of the story, which is that we’re on a long-term secular trend where we do violence less and less every year. And we’re now down in the regime where it would take something really weird to happen for us to start fighting.

Simon: Well, in America, right? The Americans.

Jim: In America. In the current time, with the economy still working reasonably well, et cetera.

Simon: I mean, this is four time zones, no enemies on the border, right? Canada’s lovely, Mexicans are great, right?

Jim: 2,000 nukes. No one’s fucking with us, right?

Simon: Well, exactly. Here’s the moonshot photo, right? I mean, we can see what’s happening in Gaza. This is the case where you just show one card, right? That’s where it can happen, and you have one axis, one card. It’s a nightmare. One card, and who rules you?

Jim: Who rules you. Okay, this is good. This is very useful, I think, for us all to reach this, and saying thanks to Sam if he helped contribute this.

Simon: Well done, Sam. Well done, Jonathan. Yeah.

Jim: And Simon. Simon, you certainly participated in the conversation as well. I really enjoyed it, as always, made me think. And anybody want to buy my side? No. Actually, I’m still holding tight with my potential $500.

Simon: You wanted to buy some insurance, I’m happy to sell you the insurance.

Jim: I think I’m standing pat. One last thing, a little more shameless self-promotion. Simon mentioned the famous attack on the Minneapolis Police Department. In Currents 007, John Robb, a regular commentator on The Jim Rutt Show, who’s a fairly well-known strategist and military analyst and anti-terrorism guy, we dissect that event at great length. I don’t know how long it was, 45 minutes probably, we actually go through the whole thing in great detail, based on a report by one of the perpetrators who actually wrote it up in great detail. So, check out Currents 005 if you want to have a blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute description of what happened on the assault on the Minneapolis Police Station.

Simon: Jim, thank you again. I’ll have to look that one up. I mean, I would be very curious to learn his analysis of that scenario.

Jim: Okay. Very good.