Recco List

  1. Kakistocracy
  2. Education and DeVos –
  3. Booklet App – Nice idea about summarizing non-fiction books as a series of Whatsapp messages. Book collection can be better.
  4. Interesting podcast, this and the next one –
  5. Amazing journalism about how the ISIS coordinates its attacks –
  6. Very valid points about immigration by Ayaan Hirsi Ali –
  7. Very true about innate merit, appearances and optics –
  8. Gut wrenching documentary about manual scavenging in Mumbai. –
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Is it always wrong to discriminate against culture?

Is it always wrong to discriminate against culture? by @jonathankdavis1

Answer by Jon Davis:

People will get pissed off by me saying this, but discrimination against culture is the only kind of discrimination we ought to practice.

Culture is not race, ethnicity, or gender. It also isn’t something as superficial as a brand of musical styles or a food. Nowhere in the world is worse off for having more variety in food. All these are the surface features that do not actually reflect what defines a culture. What does, are the fundamental underlying set of ideas which have become embedded in a people and define and direct the choices they make.

For example, a culture which has embraced philosophies of Karl Marx will behave much differently than one in the tradition of Edmund Burke. A nation which has shifted to secularism will have different values inherent to it than one which upholds Christian values, and both will be radically different from one of the Islamic tradition, or even one where Confucianism was once the norm. Moreso, each and every culture today exists in a very complicated state of conflict between many competing, and often contradictory, systems of ideas within themselves, yet to be fully resolved. In many, the conflict is ripping the cultures apart, while a few use the conflicts of competing ideology to rationalize new solutions, which themselves will cause more disruption once they spread. An example of this would be Europe, where a philosophy of openness and egalitarianism pervaded following a century of bloody wars. Those ideas are being challenged today by increased internal struggles with security and Islamic colonization which is proving more and more unable to adapt and become part of the greater European culture which surrounds it.

That said, the reality of this is that all ideas are not equal and all don’t work together in the same society. More than this, when certain ideas are placed together, they always lead to predictable outcomes. What’s important to note, is that absolutely no one in the history of mankind ever thought they were evil. Every dictator, despot, and murderer of millions was acting in accordance with what they believed to be the best form of governance according to what they believed was right. Every single one believed they were acting in a way consistent with what was the good and moral thing to do… every single one.

To be clear… there is such a thing as a bad culture.

In this example, the National Socialist Party of Germany circa the 1930’s had many economic policies which were very progressive for their day, and served well to elevate the everyday German out of the suffering they experienced following the First World War… but we don’t remember the National Socialist Party for their economic policies, do we? No, we remember the Holocaust, the Rape of Europa, lebensraum and the decimation of whole populations in systematic ethnic cleansing as their legacy. What is important to accept, is that the economic revolution they experienced was tied to the very same ideas which invariably led to the slaughter of over fifty million people. You simply couldn’t one in the way they did, without the other. Regardless, many Nazis lacked remorse for the collective actions of their party, because the ideas of Nazism were so ingrained in their moral rationality of the world, that they saw everything they did as good and necessary in the end. It is in this way that intentional famines were engineered in China, political purges in Soviet Russia, Colonialism from Europe, Baathism’s spread in the Middle East, and a regime of fanatical Islamists resurrected the Caliphate to the horror of the world. In every case, the leaders of the movements didn’t balk, because to them, they were never the bad guys.

Once we accept and acknowledge this, we have to realize that some cultures are simply better than others for the common good of not just the most people, but of everyone; and other culture’s ideas are not just good for everyone in their culture, but everyone in the world. We have to also accept that each culture can exist in a hierarchy of acceptability to the values we already have. Some cultures would easily be considered just and moral, others detestable. Once we accept all these things, we must accept that we are defined less by the collective color of our skins, and much, much more by the philosophies we hold in common, and then accept also that other philosophies and systems serve not only as contradictory to our own, but as destructive to other forms of thought, and in fact, are mutually exclusive to beliefs we hold dear. As I said, no one ever thought they were the bad guy.

It is for that reason that we have to rely on education about not just our own ideas, but the vetting of outside forms of thought without looking to the prophesied and preached utopias they claim to offer. Instead, we have to look to the historical record of what actually came about in their wake. In this way, it is the duty of every individual holding collective responsibility for the common good of others to discriminate against and reject certain cultures based on the historical record, and embrace others which improve our own.

This is the opposite view of Globalism and Multiculturalism. These ideas center on the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with systems in place today, particularly in Western Democracies, and that the only solution is the importing of new and different ideas with no true concern of what those ideas are. So long as it is different, exotic, and new, it must be an improvement upon the “status quo”. “Plant a garden of many flowers so that the brightest may bloom.” This idea only works in a world where some of the flowers do not actively seek to cannibalize and massacre the rest of the garden. It is a lazy philosophy and a naive one because it doesn’t seek to learn or understand a person’s culture, even while professing it’s value, only to feeling good about itself in the moment for its belief in its own altruism.

In reality, there are very few ideas which will improve upon Western style democracy in regard to what Westerners claim to value: personal liberty, moral equality, both upward and downward social and economic mobility, representative government. These ideas have done more to create wealth and ensure the prosperity, dignity, and potential for greatness of even its least members than has any other collective system of thought in the history of mankind. More so than this, it is those systems of thought prevailing in the last half of the 20th century which led to fewer deaths worldwide from war and disease, and a greater acceptance and proliferation of technology and education than at any time in history… even extending very far beyond the places which created it. Very few parts of the world have ideas which improve upon that tradition, and the inclusion of many would (and are) working to dismantle the progress it has made. So the real truth is that much of the rest of the world needs the ideas of Western democracy more than the west needs new ideas.

The rational, predictable consequence of this idea? That while an individual should not be discriminated against for their faith, skin color, gender, or ethnicity, but to acknowledge that individuals are the bearers of their culture. While individuals are not responsible for a whole culture, it is individuals that spread culture, and individuals that are changed by new ideas. Each person, upon entering a new culture experiences the shock of radical differences with the one which you left. This is because we carry with us ideas we inherited which are often inconsistent with our new realities.

A prime example are the Indians. In their tradition is a deep seated tradition of classism because of the castes which existed in their culture for many, many years and continues in some forms today. This is antithetical to Western values, but what isn’t is the hard work and tradition of intellectualism also a part of many parts of the Indian people. For that reason, our system can accept only so many Indian immigrants and in such volumes as that their inclusion does not create cultural conflict. There must be only so many as that that the parts of their culture which cannot integrate within the western value system will fade with time, and not take root. It would be a radical regression to revert to something like the caste. But enough must be allowed in to so that the parts which can integrate well with our values, such as their work ethic and intellectual rigor, will be reinforced and, in fact, spread out into and improve our own culture over a number of generations as they acclimate to their new culture.

What this means is that a culture must protect and nurture itself through firm and immigration policies, intellectual integrity, and an eye towards what lies beyond its borders, both good and bad. These policies need to be made with the acknowledgment that cultures are different, some cultures align more to our own, and some are worse. Some, even, are directly contradictory to our way of life. A nation’s immigration policy must be porous enough to allow a number of high achieving individuals in who would better their own culture once they acclimate to it, but not so much as to create a system of cultural colonization. That is why, once we allow someone in through a throughout vetting process, we must welcome them happily, to show them the greatness of our own cultures and to learn best what they have to offer. So can we, as individuals, discriminate against other cultures? No, we shouldn’t, but the state absolutely should be aware of what is going on outside its borders. So long as the state is doing its job, we can be as warm and welcoming as we want to be. This will both improve acclimation and prevent conflict. What we can’t do, is have an open door policy to every bad idea in the world because having that standard might appear to some to be racist, intolerant, or mean.

Thanks for reading!

For more answers like this check out An Elephant in the Room and follow my blog Jon’s Deep Thoughts for more new content. Everything I write is completely independent research and is supported by fan and follower pledges. Please consider showing your support directly by visiting my Patreon support page here: Help Jon Davis in writing Military Novels, Articles, and Essays.

Is it always wrong to discriminate against culture?


On a related note this is a brilliant article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Trump’s recent Immigration related executive order –

And I think that if they are really trying to curb radical Islam, then not including Saudi Arabia in the list of countries to watch for does not make sense. Of course it does not make much sense to expect honesty and intelligence from Donald Trump.

Posted in Opinion, Politics, Quora | 1 Comment

Republic Day Thoughts

Reading list for the republic day –

  1. A fascinating artistic perspective of our constitution –
  2. Transcript from the debates of our Constituent Assembly when the Preamble was being decided –
  3. The Directive principles advises the protection of cows and calves as part of promoting animal husbandry, which probably forms the basis for the asinine beef ban that is happening around the country. The directive principles probably requires a serious relook.
  4. This is a brilliant podcast by Sidin Vadukut about the Indian constitution –

This is an excerpt from the above transcript which wisely opposes the use of the word ‘Socialist’ from the preamble of the constitution.

Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment of Prof. K. T. Shah. My objections, stated briefly are two. In the first place the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism where by particular members or particular parties are installed in office. What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves. This is one reason why the amendment should be opposed.

The second reason is that the amendment is purely superfluous. My Honourable friend, Prof. Shah, does not seem to have taken into account the fact that apart from the Fundamental Rights, which we have embodied in the Constitution, we have also introduced other sections which deal with directive principles of state policy. If my honourable friend were to read the Articles contained in Part IV, he will find that both the Legislature as well as the Executive have been placed by this Constitution under certain definite obligations as to the form of their policy.

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What one sentence can change the world if every human being would live by it?

Answer by Anirudh Acharya:

“There is no free lunch”. Nothing is free of cost.

What one sentence can change the world if every human being would live by it?

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I’m choosing between two PhD advisors. One of the projects is more interesting, but the other advisor is just plain nicer. Who should I p…

Question on @Quora: I’m choosing between two PhD advisors. One of the projects is more interesting, but the other a…

A is better funded and more reputable. I’m more attracted to A’s research. But A is a boss, not a mentor, and is insensitive to students’ personal lives. B is an incredible mentor and provides more academic freedom (important to me). B promotes a healthy lifestyle for his students.

I’m choosing between two PhD advisors. One of the projects is more interesting, but the other advisor is just plain nicer. Who should I p…

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Random Thoughts

I think I finally figured why I find John Oliver’s eccentricity/stupidity vaguely familiar. He resembles Pinky, from the cartoon Pinky and the Brain, to a great extent. I just picked a random image from the net for the comparison, but you could look at other pics too. The similarity in not just looks but also in speech and mannerism is eerie.

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A Conservation Law for Empathy?

Funny( especially the expected value of the KL divergence), interesting and mildly true.

Some Thoughts on a Mysterious Universe

Earlier this week I found myself in Rome in the morning with about 20 minutes to spare. Walking around the neighborhood I was staying in (Trastevere), I came across an elderly nun walking along one of the bigger, and more crowded, streets of Rome. As I waited for her to go through a narrow passage in the sea of people, a young woman pushing a stroller physically nudged her out of the way, using the stroller to deny the physical space in front of and adjacent to the older woman as she overtook her. The nun grimaced but seemed resigned to what happened. I saw this unfold despite having been out for only about ten minutes. In contrast, having walked US streets in San Francisco, Boston, and New York for over twenty years, I don’t recall seeing a similar situation happen even once. It follows that frequentist estimates of such…

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This is what I had written about demonetization back in 2011 when the not-so-good idea was broached by Baba Ramdev –

From all the stuff I read in the news, looks like the chaos I had anticipated was pretty accurate. I guess in the coming months, we will get to see if all the inconvenience was worth it and if the government was able to put a lid on the black transactions at least to a certain extent.

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Thoughts on the Proceedings at The Centre for Civil Society Conference

Almost a year back I had watched this video of Rajesh Jain and Atanu Dey proposing the idea of a new constitution for India, of course this was a continuation of the Mission 272 that got the BJP elected in 2014. Seeing that BJP was not doing much, I had rather liked the idea of radical changes to our existing constitution.


Here he argues for a new constitution and has come up with a draft of the new constitution. I understand that it might be a initial draft to get the conversation going , but I have a few things to say about them.

Like it – Article 7, Article 13, Article 6.

Needs more thought – Article 9a and 9b, Article 11a 11b and 11c, Article 15.

Not sure if it is right – Article 3a section 5.

Doubt if it is feasible – Article 6 section 5, Article 14.

I really liked reading the document, it gives a lot of food for thought, like solving a puzzle. Though in the long run I think it will be radically reforming the existing constitution rather than replacing the constitution that will work.

I will try to write more about it and post it as a comment on the original post, so I may get to know what the authors think of my comments.

It would be interesting to know what the others spoke about in the conference, hope they publish the proceedings. (The abstracts are here –


Update on 11/12/2016

Here is is what Jaithirth Rao spoke about – Why liberal parties fail at the hustings I think he raises very good points, also makes references to the founding of the Republican party in US under Lincoln and how BJP could be placed in a very similar situation in India in the near future, and the time may be right to bring in the essential fundamental changes in our constitution to reinstate property rights and have market based pricing of goods and services. Hopefully BJP uses its political capital in the right direction, they will need a combination of fighting caste and promoting economic growth.

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Charities and Causes

Following are some of the charities and causes I prefer to contribute to. They deal with either education or preserving the environment/wildlife, causes I care about. I try to contribute on the occasion of Yugadi and Deepawali. I am thinking I should make it thrice a year by including Sankranthi. The purpose of writing this post is to, in a way endorse the organizations and express trust in what they do. Hopefully in the long run I will be able to contribute more meaningfully rather than just donating money.

  • Anandwan – This is the organization started by Baba Amte. It is a bit sad that a selfless man like Baba Amte did not get the recognition he deserves.
  • Wikipedia – – Wikipedia is so brilliant and useful that it is worth it to keep it free.
  • Ramakrishna Mission – – Schools and Education institutes run by them are pretty good. I have known a couple of the alumni from these schools, and I have only heard good things about them.
  • Ekal Vidyalaya – It is an organization that provides education in remote and tribal areas. This is a worthy endeavor, and the organization, I think, is linked to the Sangh Parivar.
  • Chengeta Wildlife – by – These people fight poachers responsible for endangering elephants and rhinos in Africa. I have followed the activities and writings of Rory Young for more than a couple of years now, and I have nothing but respect for him. Sometimes they sell branded merchandise to raise funds.
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