« Response to comment on law firm hiring | Main | Waffle House »

August 31, 2011


Is it possible to live not caring what others think? People often say "who cares what others think?" But how does one just stop caring? Merely saying you don't care won't make it so. People often proclaim to transcend class and do whatever they want, but how true are they to themselves? I think people with higher IQs are better able to transcend class distinctions and be comfortable being what society deems as a loser. People with higher IQs know they are highly competent and capable in many areas of life. They also know they are more competent and capable than most people, which allows them to feel a lot more comfortable in their own skin. People with lower IQs often feel the need to have some outward display of class markers to compensate for their lack of competence and capabilities. A person with an IQ of 90 will have problems making lots of money and achieving their goals and will feel the need to acquire stuff to show the world they aren't a loser. A person with an IQ of 150 can set and achieve high goals with a good probability of achieving them; therefore, they do not feel the need to be outwardly ostentatious. Of course there are high IQ status whores and low IQ status neutrals, but higher IQ people are more able to willfully transcend class.

I've had access to the HRIS system at a bunch of different companies that I have worked for, it is GREAT knowing what everyone makes.

The internet has allowed people to cope with their cognitive dissonance of being a loser. Many online groups legitimize loserness to the point that people are proud of being a loser. If one is poor, one can socialize with frugal simple living folks. If one is asexual, one can meet up with other proud asexuals. Legitimizing loserness can be harmful by making people complacent. Instead of trying to not be a loser, they just remain a loser and proclaim to be proud of being one.

"knowing you are paid less than your coworkers actually gives you bargaining power to get a raise"

Depends on the economy. In boom years, that is true. Right now, the boss might just shrug at your efforts to bargain, knowing that you can't get a job anywhere else. Then you have to sit there and eat your liver because you're paid less than your coworkers and there's nothing you can do about it.

"But the reality is that knowing you are paid less than your coworkers actually gives you bargaining power to get a raise"

True for CEOs. Some pointy head academics convinced the SEC or whomever that executive compensation should be made public so shareholders would know and could push back on the Board of Directors. Well, shareholders never push back. So, the consequence of this policy is that CEO compensation took off as _everyone_, CEO's and the BoD's (who pay "their" CEO) alike, wanted to be above average.

[HS: Yes, people get paid more in fields where salary information is public knowledge. In addition to C-level managers, professional athletes also benefit from this. This is even true in the federal government where everyone knows everyone else's pay grade, and therefore it's not surprising that federal government workers make more money than the average worker.]

BMW = Brings Me Women


"And it occurred to me that one of the reasons why the taboo persists is because people fear that they might discover how big of a loser they are. But the reality is that knowing you are paid less than your coworkers actually gives you bargaining power to get a raise, so in trying to avoid learning about coworkers’ salaries, you harm your objective interests in favor of your self-esteem."

1) High salary people don't want lower salary people to know what they make, because then they might make additional salary demands and lower the pool available for their own compensation. Bosses are more willing to give raises to people who keep their mouths shut for this reason.

2) Low salary people don't want their peers to know they are paid less because they will lose respect and be treated poorly in social situations at work. In addition once you're the "cheap labor" that impression will stick with people.

3) People don't know where they stand and view the risks of revealing salary as greater then the benefits. This is especially true if they feel there is little they can do to change their salary if they get better information.

@Drole Prole

"I think people with higher IQs are better able to transcend class distinctions and be comfortable being what society deems as a loser."

Are you kidding? SWPLs and most above average IQ types are incredibly status conscious and neurotic. Just look at the site sponsor, his whole life is based on feeling like he's a loser.

Lower IQ types often don't even know what they are missing out on. I've met far more content working dudes then content status yuppies.

"A person with an IQ of 150 can set and achieve high goals with a good probability of achieving them"

The subset of IQ 150+ is so small its virtually irrelevant from a social context. In fact at that level of intelligence people can barely tolerate and interact with our society and often have all sorts of social problems.

"I have no idea why women buy BMWs"


Me either. My wife drives a Lexus sports coupe. When I asked her why, she said it's because she likes it. But as you say, their way of thinking is so alien that we'll never understand it. Go figure.

do you think it's possible to truly not care if you are a loser? can one do psychological and philosophical trickery to actually not care about being a loser? or is being a loser a feeling one cannot really shake off?

"For example, people from the true upper class don’t think that driving a BMW makes them not a loser. In fact, they generally think the opposite, that being too proud of one’s car is a lower class behavior."

I don't know. I guess it depends on how you define "too proud". A few folks in my building drive BMWs, but they don't stand around polishing them all day. And with respect to the upper class, the FT had an interview a few weeks ago with Diego Della Valle, the CEO of the Italian luxury group Tod's, who wasn't shy about mentioning the new Ferrari he had just bought: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/84721c1c-c33f-11e0-9109-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1WdZHnwEZ

Taboos against bragging are old. If someone brags about his salary he is trying to dominate: He could buy you, he owns you. They are saying: "anything you can afford to own is yours only because I didn't want it."

And those are 'em fighting words.

"harm your objective interests in favor of your self esteem?"
Objective interests? Status and the associated self esteem are the most important things. Ok, people do humiliate themselves to be relieved of pain or extreme hunger, but mostly the environment is social, not objective. Even the social reality isn't objective, it's not about how valuable you really are, but about how valuable you feel, self-esteem.

I'm surprised about this talk about objective interests. Organisms don't interact with objective environment, they react only to information relevant to them. And the social environment is the most relevant to humans. Self esteem is the most relevant projection of the social environment. Being a loser is like starving. When differences in salaries are not about starving, they are about subjective feelings of relative status.

Well, this is old hat. Remember "Doctors drive Buicks"?

On another note --
"Everyone Should Go to College"


"Everyone has the capacity to succeed at college and benefit from what it has to offer."

"all young people have knowledge-thirsty minds that can be awakened and encouraged to examine the world they inhabit"

"We may not all think the same way, but everyone has the aptitudes, innate and cultivated, needed for college-level learning. "

We do not need painters, landscapers, auto mechanics, or plumbers. We can all pontificate on the lint in our belly buttons all day long and the world will be a better place for it.

If everyone went to college it would be perfect for the education racket because then grad school would become the new undergrad since you would have to go to grad school to prove yourself. Of course then no further children would be born when everyone graduates at age 42 and Gaia could revert to her natural start devoid of the problem called humans.


"therefore it's not surprising that federal government workers make more money than the average worker."

That's only true at the low end HS. Anyone with a real degree/work experience would be taking a pay cut to be a civil servant at an important post. Usually the only reason anyone does it is as a stepping stone to those high profile private jobs.

This is where being unintelligent is a big plus in life. A truly intelligent person might very well walk around thinking, "I have no practical influence on anything, so I'm a loser even though I'm materially comfortable and am generally treated with respect by others." The dumb guy just goes, "I got a house, a beemer and a girlfriend, I ain't no loser." Raymond Chandler, who no one reads anymore, was a writer who was explicit about this subject. He would occasionally describe a character as "a small winner in life," implying that most people are overly satisfied with themselves.

Half Sigma,
you are 100% correct when you talk about the loser theory of human nature. And the biggest losers become anti semites.

Did you read the recent articles about the anti semite that kidnaps jews and tortures them in a home made torture chamber? This is the more extreme example of the anti semite type

Google it
HAMBURG, Germany -- German police were investigating Wednesday after a woman was apparently kidnapped in the northern city of Hamburg and kept captive in a homemade torture chamber.
The Israeli woman made a brave escape from the soundproofed cell, made from a converted telephone booth, in 30-year-old Thomas Fischer's ground floor apartment -- fleeing when her captor forgot to lock the door and diving to freedom through a barbed wire-covered window.

An abstract I lifte from wikipedia on the just world phenomenon:


Of course it's psychology and so bs, but the use of "we", "us", "our" is pervasive and has always seemed really weird to me. I guess I'm the weird one, but whenever I read we, us, our when the author is really referring to himself I think, what a f---ing idiot, doesn't he know that this way of speaking betrays a belief in the authority of the crowd?

Basically the study, if not entirely BS, confirms Marx's theory of ideolgy. Ideology isn't a conspiracy, it's human nature.

I was thinking along these lines recently when I got in a discussion with friends about the Old Dirty Bastard mega-hit from the late 90's "Baby I Got Your Money". After listening to the song a few times, I came to the conclusion that why the song stands out so much (and thus probably became so popular)was because ODB (or probably more accurately the character of ODB constructed in the song by little snippets the producers stuck together)so persuasively expresses the idea of 'I completely don't give a fuck what other people think' in the song.

This seems so liberating, especially to the white adolescents who buy most of the music in this culture and many of whom are so overwhelmed to the point of near paralysis by thoughts of what their peers will think of them,that the song couldn't help but be a hit.

And what caused ODB to develop in such a way that he was almost immune to concern about what others thought? Was it because of solely the artificial position he was thrust into by a society that was going to look down on him anyway no matter what he achieved or because he had genes that made him not care near as much as the norm in other ethnic groups? (I think the vast majority of people would agree that blacks tend to be way less self-conscious than other groups.)

Could this almost biological urge to try to impress other people be one of the underpinnings of more advanced civilizations?

BMWW = Big Money Waster.

@Black Death,

Women are engaged in a status competition with other women, not to attract men but to make each other jealous. Men are accessories just like a BMW or a purse, a way to make other women feel jealous.

Men are in a status competition with other men because they need pussy.

Of the two, I find the latter much purer. At least they are after a primal need that can be objectively satisfied, rather then a never ending status competition based on jealousy.

There are less winner/loser oriented cultures than modern america. Think about the amish. People have more or less status but are in a strong unavoidable network of social relations that being a loser isn't so bad. They also elect leaders through lottery and greatly restrict possible possessions. Pretty sweet if you are a loser.

"Also, and this is something that Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert pointed out once in a cartoon, a lot of people pretend to enjoy their jobs as a strategy to convince themselves they are not losers. It’s easier to believe they work in a low-paying job because they like the job than to believe they work in a low-paying job because they are too much of a loser to find a better job."

If people can convince themselves they're better off than they *objectively* are, then it is an effective strategy.

HS spends alot of time talking about high teir law jobs. These are only available to, what, like 2% of the population, if that? For most of humanity, most of the time, trying to appreciate your humble lot is a better move than hating your job and constantly job hopping around in search of some perfect gig.

The really desperate people are the ones still hoping to get something out of law school at tier 50 or whatever.

Probably in the ancestral environment, being perceived as a "loser" dramatically decreased your chances of successfully reproducing.

"Have you ever considered any real freedoms? Freedom from the opinions of others...even the opinions of yourself?"

Caring about your vehicle and talking about salary or money is in poor taste and manners, hence many well off individuals will avoid the topic. I'm assuming this type of behavior was passed down from the elites to upper crust, then to middle to lower and now a socially accepted norm.

There is a huge disparity in vehicle taste between old money and nouveau riche. The former personally drive inherited classic cars like Jaguars, Aston Martins or get chauffeured in Mercedes, Lincolns, and Bentleies.

Nouveau riche prefer brand new sports cars usually Italian or German and even preole drift to procure Detroit muscle.

If salary transparency is bad for workers, then why do managers generally fight tooth and nail against it? I worked at a large company that forced workers to sign a ridiculously vague and broad "confidentiality agreement" (strange to call it an "agreement" when one side has no bargaining power) that forbade workers from discussing "compensation" which is a right protected by labor law and therefore can't be legally signed away.


Managers are prone to lecturing workers about the awful consequences of salary gossip. Workers don't know all the factors, it's too complicated for them to understand, blah blah blah. Of course, these same managers are more than happy to entrust workers with the keys to the kingdom at the physical plant, databases etc.

Having status means knowing the right kind of sensitive information. The kind that reinforces your sense of control. Not the kind that will subject you to panicked calls at 3 a.m.

"Having status means knowing the right kind of sensitive information"

It was already pointed out by Ben Franklin that greatest money is made using asymmetry of information.

Women drive BMW's for the same reasons that men drive them - A BMW is a high status vehicle.

A high status man is attractive to women due to his high status.
Our culture has designated BMW's as being high status vehicles, women are attracted to status.

They buy BMW's for the same reason they buy Gucci purses - Both high status items and people are attractive to women.

Sabril comment from August 31 is probably the best. Because it gets backs to the real reason why we seek status- reproductive fitness. Of course, status seeking helps makes sure that we can obtain the resources necessary to survive. But since most people in the modern world really don't have to worry about survival, ultimately all status seeking nowadays comes down to finding the best mate.

Dostoyevsky was explicit about it two. I really enjoyed this from the idiot:

There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly good family, pleasing presence, average education, to be "not stupid," kind-hearted, and yet to have no talent at all, no originality, not a single idea of one's own—to be, in fact, "just like everyone else."

Of such people there are countless numbers in this world—far more even than appear. They can be divided into two classes as all men can—that is, those of limited intellect, and those who are much cleverer. The former of these classes is the happier.

To a commonplace man of limited intellect, for instance, nothing is simpler than to imagine himself an original character, and to revel in that belief without the slightest misgiving.

"I have no idea why women buy BMWs. Their way of thinking is so alien."

Steve Sailer wrote in June:

"...but expenditures on cars have relatively low marginal returns for young women in the mating market versus spending money on their personal looks. (The main exception might be the very expensive car that sends the message to guys, 'I'm out of your league, so don't waste my time.')"

The comments to this entry are closed.