Engineering Matchism

As part of the design process for a way to do things that does not require turning control over to SDAPs we must develop a new form of engineering, one that will be used to design political, economic, and cultural systems that work even though humans have not been designed (or evolved) to fit in them. One component of this new form of engineering has been popularly maligned as “social engineering”, a concept we must attempt to rehabilitate, starting with the fact that it doesn’t mean what most people seem to think it does. The use of laws and policies to coerce individuals into performing (or ceasing) certain actions even when it is not in their own or even society’s best interests isn’t social engineering, it’s just behavioral engineering. A structural engineer doesn’t try to change the “behavior” of steel or concrete, nor does an electronic engineer try to change the behavior of electronic components like capacitors or resistors. Instead, they are required to use these components as they exist to engineer systems that achieve some performance goal. So it must be with the social engineering aspect of Matchism, which will require the design of systems that will leverage the strengths of human beings while simultaneously providing support such that their weaknesses don’t cause failures.

We’ve lived without this specialty for far too long. What we are living with now, from the external sources of our moral codes (“bibles”) to our laws to our political systems, from an engineering perspective, are systems composed mostly of “kludges”. In the software business, they would be called “hacks”, in the marine business “jury rigs”, and in roofing business “patches”. In home and auto repair, it’s the realm of chewing gum and baling wire. They are systems that were never engineered nor even designed to look or work the way they do now, they instead just grew organically, with problems addressed by making small fixes in limited areas with no attempt to look at whether the systems as a whole need to be upgraded. The source documents for our moral codes in particular were devised and refined by leaders who not only lacked the necessary skill and knowledge to be competent social engineers, but also had conflicting motives: Although social harmony was certainly one of their goals, providing methods of controlling their subjects and maintaining their status above them surely had an equal or even higher priority, Exhibit A being that the first four of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments are claims to power rather than anything to do with social behavior.

It is as if we all had no choice but to buy new cars with their side mirrors attached with duct tape. But it’s worse than that: The people who are selling us these cars are in the duct tape business and want us to have to buy new tape every time our mirrors fall off. That is, while the primary purpose of our current systems may have been to promote social harmony, the minority SDAPs who developed them have a secondary motivation: To keep themselves in charge and to do things the way they want them to be done, not necessarily the most rational or efficient way, let alone the way that is most beneficial to the majority neurotypicals. Now that we recognize that this is what has happened it would seem that we have the obligation to take another look at the situation, and this time use what we’ve learned over the past few thousand years to engineer our social, political, and economic systems. This time, we must choose which aspects of our instinctive natures we are going to harness and encourage, and which aspects we must suppress with individual effort and through the design of these systems.

For example, as it turns out there are good tools that we can use to compensate for the most problematic aspects of SDAP behavior, many of which Pleistocene Epoch humans had at their disposal but have been lost as populations and government have grown larger, more complex, and more subject to SDAP control . The first is complete information on what the SDAPs are planning to do. Back in the day it would have been extremely difficult for SDAPs to hatch a plot to attack the neighboring band (or even one of their own bandmembers) without everyone else in the band hearing about it. The modern equivalent of that are disclosure laws (e.g., the US Freedom of Information Act) which are unfortunately only marginally effective tools for ensuring neurotypicals have the information they need to monitor and intervene as necessary necessary (e.g., the FOIA only applies to the executive branch of the Federal government, not to the Federal legislative branch let alone states/counties/cities, and the Obama administration denied a record 77% of FOIA requests in 2015, and rejected a total of over 600,000 requests during his term in office).

The second is a structured way for the neurotypicals to publicly identify dangerous SDAP behavior and take action to override it when necessary. Sure, nowadays if the offense is particularly egregious there will be protests in the street, and maybe if it doesn’t warrant a full-on protest a few neurotypicals will write a letter to the editor for the local newspaper. But mostly these things just result in a little grousing among friends and family and swearing to work to throw the offending SDAPs out of office at the very earliest opportunity, which won’t be until the next election which will be years later and by then the promise will have been long forgotten. Clearly a more direct system is required.

Unfortunately that more direct route runs squarely into the issue of “Political Correctness”, a social value that began developing around the same time as the research into Authoritarianism by Altemeyer and others finally began to gain some traction. Because analysis of authoritarian behavior as a problematic personality characteristic goes against the equality-uber-alles values embodied in the politically-correct zeitgeist, it has become extremely unpopular to propose singling out any group (even SDAPs) for special blame or treatment. For example, Waller’s 2002 Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing attempts to portray genocides as acts that most or all of a population are involved in committing when even the eyewitness accounts he cites clearly show that there are large differences in the participation rates among individuals. Even in Milgram’s experiments (an extensive review of which can be found in Altemeyer 2006) almost 40% of test subjects refused to administer the highest voltage shocks. So there are clear (and replicable!) differences in the willingness of individuals to commit immoral acts against others, political correctness that this is a universal human characteristic notwithstanding. And even a single individual can have a tremendous impact on authoritarian behavior if positioned correctly (e.g., Mohandas Gandhi).

In addition to accepting that social engineering is a legitimate tool for correcting our current civilization’s deficiencies, we will also require the kinds of data collection and analysis that make up the bulk of what engineers in other fields do all day long. For example, if you were tasked with the job of creating a universal health care system for a country, how would you go about it? Would you take a poll of all the citizens to see what they thought they wanted and implement that? Or would you only poll the current elected representatives and the corporations who finance their campaigns to see what they would be willing to support? Or would you design several systems, build simulations and prototypes of them to see how well they work and how much they’d cost and then present the results of this analysis to the public and ask them to choose? Unfortunately the Obama administration chose the second of these, which is clearly the worst of the three options from an engineering perspective, and the resulting system has several times the overhead (parasitic insurance companies) as a government-run system would have and yet has done nothing to improve competition at the service-provider level. Matchism is about doing it the third way: Using technology to facilitate collaborative efforts to engineer social and political systems and then asking The People to select which ones they want to implement.

Next: On Social Engineering