Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Giving more power to entropy in its endless war against order

Merit and competence is often hard to measure. Give a bureaucracy some simpler metric (say, diversity points) and it will grasp it with all its tentacles. The resulting "boiling frog" decline in competence is too slow and removed to override the ease and short-term benefit of the simpler metric. Until the crash, or crashes even. (Another triumph of entropy over order.)

When progressives take over an institution, there is a strong tendency for the institution to slowly decline. First, because progressives typically do not take the problems of achieving and maintaining order seriously. (Hard for them to do so, because that would tend to make them conservatives.)

Second, because they are cognitively intolerant, tending to deem contrary ideas as evil and/or stupid. This creates a double-bubble. A bubble of like-minded people, as they drive away or refuse to hire those who do not ideologically conform (or, at least, appear to do so). A bubble of conformist thought, because contrary ideas are often simply blocked from consideration.

So, when things start to go wrong, they are only really left with doubling down on the original set of presumptions. Which speeds up the decline rather than reverses it. Helped by the fact that the decline often does not contravene their markers of wrongness but doing something effective about it is somewhat likely to.

Iowahawk expresses the above ideas much more pithily.
This somewhat harrowing description of the experience of teaching in the New York public school system shows what working inside the decline feels like. Basically, progressive ideology (particularly identity politics) + soviet mode of production => bad public schools.

Progressive ideology does, after all, tend to create simple metrics for bureaucracies to follow.

ADDENDA: But increased accountability, openness to innovation and a systematised pragmatic concern with what works can turn schools and school systems around.