Will the real Emil please stand up?
A brief summary of my political views for those who care. TL;DR libertarian (small l)
Since is there yet another character and cancellation attempt on me, I thought it might be useful to write a post about my actual politics, which could then stand in contrast to all the claims about my supposedly nefarious politics. I want to say at the outset that I don't really enjoy politics. I much prefer to stick to the Less Wrong-Rationalist sphere principle of Politics is the Mind-Killer (Yudkowsky 2007):
People go funny in the head when talking about politics. The evolutionary reasons for this are so obvious as to be worth belaboring: In the ancestral environment, politics was a matter of life and death. And sex, and wealth, and allies, and reputation . . . When, today, you get into an argument about whether “we” ought to raise the minimum wage, you’re executing adaptations for an ancestral environment where being on the wrong side of the argument could get you killed. Being on the right side of the argument could let you kill your hated rival!
If you want to make a point about science, or rationality, then my advice is to not choose a domain from contemporary politics if you can possibly avoid it. If your point is inherently about politics, then talk about Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality—but it’s a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.
My distaste for politics has strong intellectual roots. Although I never met him, fellow intelligence researcher Arthur Jensen made a great impact on me personally, reading his work and the treatment he had to endure. Here is what he said about his own politics:
My disinterest in political matters is probably considerably greater than that of most social scientists. If this is not a good thing, I'm sorry about it, but will just have to live with it. Perhaps I should apologize for this deficiency, and if I had been more typically sensitized to the political overtones of my interest in differential psychology and its relevance for educational theory and practice, I might have thought twice before publishing my Harvard Educational Review article when I did. Actually, the editors of the Harvard Educational Review specifically solicited an article on this topic from me. In retrospect, however, I would hope that I would not have changed a thing in that article, even if I had been able to imagine the supposed "storm" it caused. I will be ashamed the day I feel I should knuckle under to social-political pressures about issues and research I think are important for the advance of scientific knowledge. But the whole issue of suppressing scientific information is much too broad and multi-faceted for a proper discussion here. It should be enough for now to assure you that, whether anyone considers it shameful or not, political motives of any kind have not played any part in my thinking about the subjects we have been discussing. I'd have to invent some opinions along political lines if I'm required to have any. And they would be worthless, because as mere afterthoughts they wouldn't have played any part in explaining my thinking and motivation. It has been enough for me simply to try to get at the facts. I hate to sound so ludicrously sanctimonious about it, but as far as I can tell, my motivation and pleasure have been simply doing what I can for the scientific advancement of differential psychology. That's about it, along with a little good music. (Jensen interviewed in 2006)
I can't claim to this extreme disinterested stance, but I certainly lean in that direction. When on another occasion Jensen was asked to specify his politics, he identified as a small L libertarian (Miele conversation book, 2002). We might also call this a classical liberal, though since American English has perverted the meaning of liberal it may be wiser to refer to it as libertarianism. I broadly agree with this mindset, which I take to mean support for a small state and weak state insofar as interfering with ordinary citizens' lives is concerned. If you want to use a label for me, then call me a libertarian (yikes!).
But Jensen is also too extreme on the politics-science division. It is not possible, or even desirable, to entirely separate politics and science. After all, in an optimal world, political decisions are based on solid knowledge as well as the majorities' values. This of course requires a foundation of solid knowledge which can only come from science. So politics must be downstream of science in this system. First we get the facts, then we debate the best course of action. However, as we know, science and politics are really more intertwined because what one considers the optimal policy affects what science one carries out. This is not necessarily or even generally irrational in the typical confirmation bias sense. Confirmation bias from a Bayesian perspective is really quite sensible, even mandated. If one's prior is that educational interventions are likely to be effective in general, one should indeed be spending a lot of time reading about them and doing research on them as opposed to some other topic. One should even grant them the benefit of the doubt when evidence is ambiguous. That is what a prior does. Still, as Lee Jussim likes to point out, it is possible to have too strong priors and these fail to update towards the truth as they undermine new contrary evidence. Scott Alexander wrote about this in 2021.
Given the above, I grant that science and politics must exist in an uneasy relationship. We are only humans, our biases will affect our science. Some people are more affected by this than others. These people are called low decouplers. They easily get emotional about discussion of matters they hold strong opinions about. The opposite are the high decouplers. This is really more of a re-description of scientific autism. What institutionalized science needs is a system that is relatively resistant to the biases of humans. That's what Stuart Ritchie recently argued in a blogpost, well worth reading. The human biases will in general push us away from the truth, and the goal of science is finding out truth. The whole point of having standards of evidence is to limit the human biases from influencing the results. Biases are not necessarily a big problem in science though, it is only when they point in the same direction they cause severe issues. However, as we know, institutionalized science is now overwhelmingly dominated by one ideology, that of American style Woke leftism. Consequently, science is heavily politically biased, and more so in the social sciences.
These initial remarks aside, what are my actual politics? Based on the usual 10-item quiz for the 2-dimensional model (note that they change the questions over the years, so scores are not entirely comparable):
It seems about right. Since I don't intend to write a full manifesto, they are just given in short form below. They are not given in any particular order other than what I thought of while writing them. Note that since I am Danish, my policy preferences are related to this country and may not be applicable to your country.
We should have less of it. Most higher education is socially wasteful and harmful to other human interests. Education is wildly overrated as a cause of good things. More education does not promote economic growth. Forcing children to stay in school longer does not notably improve their life outcomes. My views are very much with those set out by Bryan Caplan in his excellent book The Case Against Education.
The education system is dominated by members of one political ideology, the leftists, and this is socially harmful. I don't know what the best solution is to restore balance because explicitly doing political litmus tests for these jobs is rather distasteful. Ideas are welcome, but at the very least, we should somehow foster a culture of openness to political disagreement. Insofar as universities are publicly funded, funding should be withdrawn from universities that fail to accept intellectual diversity (e.g. fire scholars after political pressure, disinvite speakers, fail to prosecute campus terrorism). Private universities can do whatever they want.
I am a free speech proponent in the strict American sense of allowing most things that aren't "imminent lawless action" type talk (really, see the link for various other obvious exceptions such as medical confidentiality). So I am in favor of repealing 'hate speech' laws of which Denmark has one. These laws are really just used to suppress the majorities from saying mean or true things about various minorities, who are suspiciously chosen to be exactly those that vote mostly left-wing. This is by design.
I think academic freedom should be protected. In America this is done using their tenure system, other countries don't have it, but may also lack a tradition of firing professors who say dissident things. I don't know what the right approach is to protect academic freedom, but some kind of legal protection of academic freedom seems a good idea.
Self-determination, ethnic or not
I think ethnic groups should be governed by those they want to. I support decentralization and regionalism, and thus also separatist movements. For me it is not about whether these movements are left-wing or conservative. I am equally happy to support Catalan independence, Basque independence, North Italian independence, Scottish independence, and so on.
In this sense, I am in favor of universal ethno-nationalism, in the same way that Dalai Lama described it. The Lama sees it well because China is currently taking over his homeland by settling it with Chinese people (I support Tibetan separatism, of course). This kind of settler slow-invasion strategy is of course well known in history (e.g. German version).
I am generally on the Ukrainian side, which is to say that I am opposed to the Russian invasion and other Russian imperialist ideas, say, potential plans to invade Estonia or Finland. I am not really outspoken about this because I think it is cringe to signal the current thing. This even led another academic to call me out as insufficiently pro-Ukraine for being interested in the immigration outcomes (David Hugh-Jones on Twitter but it appears the tweet was deleted). That said, my pro-separatism means that I am also in favor of Russian Crimea and probably Russian Donetsk/Luhansk, as these are majority ethnic Russian at least in some areas. I don't have any particularly strong opinions about what should be done about this conflict, but perhaps some kind of peace treaty with some land transfer to Russia, and a population exchange to reduce future ethnic conflict. There is historical precedent for this kind of thing, e.g. Greece and Turkey.
Taxes and government
I am in favor of smaller government because I think markets are more efficiently able to solve problems than governments. Many people attack markets for being biased. No one claims markets are perfect, indeed the conditions for this state of affairs are impossible. However, the real political question is whether central planning and regulations are less biased. I submit that in general they are more biased.
I think Denmark would be better off using a public-private hybrid healthcare system like that Germany uses.
I am not an anarcho-capitalist or other sort of extreme libertarian. I don't think we should privatize roads, electricity grids, the police or fire departments, or other such basic infrastructure. We should privatize the railroad companies (DSB), national TV stations (Danmarks Radio), airlines (SAS) and some other things like that.
Immigration is extremely costly to Western countries, the evidence on this matter is very clear. Immigration is beneficial to immigrants, but not to natives (e.g. Mexicans coming illegally to America earn more money, but at the expense of Americans). Indeed, natives have been consistently opposed to immigration for decades in most western countries, but the mainstream political parties, media, and academics keep pushing for this outcome for a variety of reasons (including, ironically, capitalist reasons of cheaper labor). I think immigration policies should be restrictive and skills based. I think immigration levels should be quite low, so that Denmark remains Danish. There cannot be a Denmark without Danes. Culture and ethnicity are inherently intertwined.
It's a murky question about what to do with the immigrants already settled in many countries, as many of these are now second or third generation. I don't know what the right policy is. I generally support policies that pay them to leave. Recent immigrants who came as refugees should be sent home after their home troubles are over e.g. Syrian civil war/ISIL. In fact, they shouldn't be in Denmark to begin with. We should have guarded the borders with military if necessary. Denmark should support relief measures in this conflict by funding refugee camps away from the war zones. This is a far more effective solution to protecting civilizations.
The evidence is overwhelming that we face dysgenics and have faced this for decades. Ironically, my attacker Abdel Abdellaoui himself has published the best recent evidence on this topic. This lead many Wokes to call him and his co-author eugenicists. His own tweets on the topic suggest that label is probably accurate. There is no need to feel bad about this label. The list of historical persons supporting eugenics is long: Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Margaret Sanger,
John Rawls, George Bernard Shaw, Harold Laski, Marie Stopes, J.B.S. Haldane and John Maynard Keynes and so on.
That aside, the politics of eugenics and fertility are hard! There's no known effective way to increase birthrates that is compatible with typical Western style countries. I am NOT in favor of early 1900s style coercive eugenics. In Nordic countries these policies were implemented by the Social Democrats, which is historically ironic considering who complains about eugenics in the current times. My general reason for being against state coercive eugenics is the same as the other libertarian policies above, in that I don't think the state is competent for this job. My opinion is thus about the same as that of Razib Khan (2016).
What about modern eugenics? This is really just applied biotech. I made a long video on this topic. I think we should unabashedly pursue this technology. Indeed, we are already, as IVF rates keep rising and there's perhaps already 5 companies in the world offering or on their way to offer embryo selection. I think we should also be doing embryo genetic modification (genetic editing/CRISPR). I think the public of the West will move towards my position in the coming decades, in the same way they did for regular IVF technology. With regards to what to select for, we should let would be parents choose what they think is right.
I think policies that reduce higher education would boost fertility rates in the West, as these seem to be mainly due to women spending their 20s in higher education instead of doing families. So maybe we don't need to do anything else here than reducing higher education (in women AND men).
I am pro-choice for the usual utilitarian reasons, but I also agree with the Supreme Court that Roe vs. Wade was wrong. I thought my opinion was somewhat unusual, but actually it was the plurality (46%) among my Twitter voters. They are of course not representative but still, there were about 5000 votes, so this severely limits how self-selected they can be. Per my decentralization policies above, I am hostile to judicial activism. I think local political authorities -- e.g. US states -- should decide how to deal with this difficult issue in the same way they deal with e.g. alcohol sales.
I support liberal democracy over authoritarian regimes, so I am opposed to Nazism, Fascism, Marxism/Socialism, Monarchism and so on. I don't know what the optimal set-up of democracy is, but I like the Danish model of having a very low election threshold, 2%, which prevents established parties from easily preventing new parties from reforming the political representation available to voters.
With regards to the Nazis. I am sorry to disappoint. I am very hostile to this ideology. Being Danish, German Nazis invaded my country, killed our policemen in concentration camps and so on. My own paternal grandfather was forced to flee to Sweden due to his anti-Nazi activism. To be fair, he also has some Jewish ancestry which I share. So when Woke activists label me a Neo-Nazi it is pretty offensive considering my country's history, my family history, my Jewish ancestry, and my Jewish friends and coauthors. Denmark is famous for saving the Jews after all (99% survived World War 2).
I think voting rights should be more limited, so that we have less populist democracy. This is similar to what economist Garett Jones argues in his recent book 10% Less Democracy. I don't have any particular favorite approach to this, but for instance, we might give more votes to parents of nuclear families. These families have a real stake in the future of the country for their children to grow up in, so naturally it makes more sense they get more of a say. Many countries already bar criminals from voting, and I think this is very sensible.
Pedophilia, child pornography
It's a touchy subject many have trouble thinking about in non-emotional ways. My beliefs are however quite normal. I don't think we should legalize this sexual perversion, nor the possession of child pornography, nor change the laws regarding age of consent. In Denmark the age is 15, it may be something else in your country. This topic does not usually come up in Denmark, which I take to be a sign that our current law is working to most people's satisfaction.
The various quotes you see thrown around about these matters are brought forward by the malicious stalker Oliver D. Smith. They consist of very old, and deliberately misrepresentatively quoted out of context passages. I have an entire page about this boring affair.
Social media censorship
I think the ability of social media to circumvent the usual laws of public debate are very harmful to humanity, but I don't know exactly how one should improve on this situation. It is not generally possible to rely upon the usual market solution, i.e., wait for someone to make a better competitor, as the other Woke organizations team up cartel style to prevent newcomers (e.g. Amazon will shut down your servers, Paypal will shut down your accounts), and in any case, network effects are probably too strong that one cannot win in a fair competition. So I agree there is a big problem and I don't have any particular solution aside from vaguely being in favor of decentralized alternatives.
Individuals vs. groups, 'civil rights'
In general, I think one should treat people as individuals insofar as this is possible. It is not entirely possible, or even rational to do this, and of course that is part of life. I made a video about this, when another Twitter person made some extreme claims about me (again, false!). We are not all unique snowflakes, humanity can be grouped in various ways for statistical purposes.
That said, laws that try to deal with these things are even worse than a freedom. Civil rights legislation is the legal foundation of the Woke takeover, Richard Hanania wrote about this at length, and I agree. These laws should be removed, and the entire legal machinery removed as well. This is not to say that that I support e.g. the strict racial separatism of the American south (Jim Crow). I think in general that markets tend to remove arbitrary discrimination because it is uneconomical. If Christian bakers don't want to bake cakes for Muslims or homosexuals, that is fine. It is also fine if homosexual designers refuse to sell clothes to Christians. It is fine if swinger clubs have entrance fees for men but not women (believe it or not, they were given fines in Denmark for gender discrimination). It is fine if hairdressers charge more money for cutting women's hair than men's. I don't think the state should be in the business of micromanaging these kind of things.
I think increased use of electronic tagging (angle GPS monitors) is a sensible alternative to prison time. The goal is to keep people integrated in society while still having a punitive effect. The exact details are up for debate, but I think it is clear that serious violent crimes should lead to prison time for the protection of other people.
I think we should reevaluate public humiliation as a method of punishment. It is very cheap, and has no particular drawback that I can think of. Why was this discontinued? Let people convicted criminals clean the streets in orange jumpsuits labeled "public servant".
I favor legalized prostitution on the usual utilitarian grounds. Denmark already has this, but bans brothels (in a wide sense, even driving prostitutes around in a car is considering guilty, or picking up their phones for them). This is something that the actual sex workers oppose. I think we should legalize brothels, as they are in e.g. Germany.
I think we should legalize cannabis, and many other popular banned drugs. On the usual utilitarian grounds, I think the drug war cure is worse than dealing with addictions in other ways. Certainly, the American drug war is the worst policy for Latin America in recent history, fueling cartels and gangs in numerous countries, resulting in sky-high homicide rates.
I oppose various attack wars designed to coup regimes we don't like. I opposed the Afghan war, the Iraq war, and so on.
That's it! I can't think of any other major policies I have given some thought. So if you want to do some hit piece on me in the future regarding my supposedly nefarious politics, then please quote some of these actual views.