Optimization is irrational sentimentalism

November 15, 2015 § 44 Comments

[36] For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? [37] Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  — Mark 8:36-37

I’ve written before that optimization of our actions in pursuit of some proximate material goal is inherently evil, because the set of all good and evil options includes all of the good options, plus the evil ones to boot. Morality constrains action: the man willing to do both good and evil has more options than the man only willing to do good.

In the comments below Mike T observes:

I can imagine most of our domestic torture apologists condemning the Russians stridently, which would be ironic since by our own apologists’ logic what the Russians did was sound. In fact, by their logic the Russians actually have the moral high ground because in one act of torture they permanently convinced Hezbollah to check passports for Russian nationality before kidnapping.

… but what I find interesting about the Russians versus our own apologists is the fact that the Russians, in their total lack of sentimentality about what they are doing, actually ended up using far less evil to accomplish their goals. Still gravely evil, but by going forth and sinning boldly they finished in one act what takes us possibly hundreds of acts of brutality.

Hrodgar replies with one of those comments I find that I wish I had written myself:

If they actually had a total lack of sentimentality, then reason would teach them that no temporal benefit, however great, is worth any eternal loss, however small. Immorality is not an indicator of a LACK of sentimentality. Rather the reverse if anything.

Holiness, as it turns out, is the only thing objectively worth optimizing.  Evil is always insane. Longer time preferences and greater objectivity seem less sentimental than shorter time preferences and lesser objectivity.  They still terminate in Hell though.  The most rational time preference is eternal, and the most objective frame of reference is the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

§ 44 Responses to Optimization is irrational sentimentalism

  • Mike T says:

    They were KGB, which means that they were almost invariably staunch atheists, so the eternal really didn’t mean much to them.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    … which means they were disconnected from objective reality.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    Did you mean that any attempt to improve towards ‘optimal’ is inherently evil? or did you mean that fully-optimizing towards any “proximate material goal” is evil? Because I tend to use the word ‘optimization’ to mean ‘improvement’ and tend to qualify truly optimal if I know something could not in any way be improved.

  • Zippy says:

    Kidd Cudi:

    Achieving a goal involves making a series of choices. The optimal series of choices is the most effective series of choices for achieving a particular goal. Optimization is a process wherein we search for that optimal series of choices, remaining unsettled and unsatisfied as long as things remain suboptimal.

    For any sufficiently interesting proximate material goal there will generally be series’ of choices which involve evil shortcuts, which achieve that goal more effectively than series’ of choices which do not involve evil shortcuts. A man unwilling to do evil will be constrained from taking those shortcuts. Therefore his solutions to any given material problem will be suboptimal compared to the solutions of the man who is willing to do evil.

    In a toy simplified scenario where the optimal path involves no evil choices, the effectiveness of the man willing to do evil will equal the effectiveness of the man who is unwilling. In all other scenarios the man willing to do evil will be more effective than the man who is unwilling to do evil. Examples abound: nuke Hiroshima to end the war is a favorite of consequentialists everywhere. Killing the innocent relatives of terrorists is another. People are drawn to these solutions because they work.

    It follows that, generally speaking, optimization means becoming a man who is willing to do evil.

    Unless, of course, the goal just is doing good for its own sake.

  • CJ says:

    Let’s not forget Uncle Screwtape’s lesson. What’s even better than gaining the whole world and losing your soul? Losing your soul and getting nothing in return.

    People get led to hell by thinking that ruthlessness is a silver bullet. But the Nazis lost even though they were willing to put people in ovens. The Soviets got their asses handed to them in Afghanistan before their empire collapsed altogether. There’s research that shows torture is far less effective than building a rapport with the prisoner. And yet we still have people lionizing the likes of Breivik or looking forward to the day when the French authorities might once again handcuff people and throw them into the Seine.

  • Zippy says:

    Aye CJ. Optimization is wickedness, but wickedness is not optimization.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    I think this will naturally lead to a discussion about proving that God and eternal life are objective reality.

  • Mike T says:

    The utilitarian argument against torture in the Bush years was that our reputation as being strongly opposed to torture as a formal policy lead to large numbers of Iraqi troops surrendering in the first war without much opposition. They knew the worst that would happen is getting disarmed, thrown in the back of a transport and held as a prisoner until cessation of hostilities. Hell, the food would probably be superior if not halal to what Saddam gave them.

    “The less optimal route” in interrogations actually lead to a moral optimal outcome in the greater conflict. Faced with a choice of being slaughtered by superior American military forces or just surrendering to them and being treated well enough, many Iraqis just threw down their weapons. It saved lives on both sides, saved us money on weapons we didn’t need to use and humiliated the Iraqi government. The restraint on our interrogators lead to a much more optimal outcome for war planners on our side, so I think even what is optimal is mostly a matter of opinion and perspective.

    That should help us appreciate the eternal perspective more, but also give us a renewed perspective on temporal matters. It hits us in every respect, even on something as simple as a one night stand (and its impact on marriageability, to disease and risk of pregnancy) or risking a speeding ticket.

  • Mike T says:

    ** Not trying to downplay ONSes, but pointing out that even what society calls an innocuous single act of sexual sin can have far-reaching consequences.

  • Zippy says:

    It is a good discussion of the ‘head fake’ of wickedness, but I don’t want to lose sight of the main point.

    If we think of the most effective way to get from point A to point B as the shortest[1] path, there is only one (or, in a pathologically simplified graph, a very small number of) most effective way[s]. There can be an infinite number of suboptimal ways; but there is generally only one optimal way. A particular straight line connects two points by the shortest path, but there are an infinite number of not-straight curves which can connect those same two points by longer paths.

    Many of the suboptimal ways will also involve taking immoral shortcuts; or even immoral long-cuts that the acting subject mistakenly thinks are short cuts but really are not short cuts. Doing evil is ultimately stupid, and it is no surprise that people who make ultimately stupid choices will frequently also make proximately stupid choices.

    However, and this is the point, making a habit of optimizing for material outcomes will necessarily involve making a habit of choosing evil short cuts. The objectively optimal path given a sufficiently interesting material goal will always involve taking evil shortcuts. So you can be the smartest guy in the world who almost never makes mistakes and, given that you’ve decided to optimize your actions to achieve sufficiently interesting material goals[2], you will choose some evil shortcuts.

    [1] ‘Shortest’ can be a function of any combination of material factors: least resources, fastest time, maximum chance of success, fewest casualties; you name it. Any goals and measures other than doing good for its own sake will frequently give rise to situations where the optimal series of choices for achieving the goal involves evil short cuts.

    [2] This is itself a mistake, of course. But even if it is the only mistake that our genius optimizer makes, he will take evil shortcuts.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    Zippy’s point here is valid, but I also think it’s mostly irrelevant because most of the time, people are not making even close to optimal decisions in pursuit of their material goals. So optimizing within the bounds of morality can still put you miles ahead of most.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    @Kidd Cudi,

    Whether the majority is making optimal decisions or not is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Optimizing within the constraints of morality can put you ahead of most, but optimization in absolute terms (morality be damned) puts you ahead of everyone.

  • Zippy says:

    Kidd Cudi:

    I don’t usually write about things that I believe to be mostly irrelevant, and I’m not sure what universe you live in. But in the universe in which I live, consequentialist technocratic optimization is pervasive and is pervasively treated as just the way things have to be done.

    Under liberalism the ends are maximal political freedom and equality of rights for the superman; the means involve trampling the good, the true, and the beautiful under the jack boots of amoral technocratic optimization. Strip away the liberalism and modernity leaves you with consequentialist technocratic optimization seen as virtuous in pursuit of whatever goals the ex-liberal happens to have. So recent or young apostates from liberalism tend to start celebrating jack-booted thugs. Notice the applause and admiration directed Putin’s way by some reactionaries, from outright admiration to a more passive and effeminate ‘sure he’s a bad boy, but damn what he is doing is hawt’.

    The fact that most attempts at optimization fail is neither here nor there. Liberalism cannot even in principle achieve its goals, because they are rationally incoherent. It hardly follows that liberalism is therefore mostly irrelevant. Modernity’s means — consequentialist technocratic optimization — are just as dangerous and destructive as her ends.

    So I don’t think this can all be dismissed as mostly irrelevant. Part of unequivocally rejecting modernity is unequivocally rejecting modern attitudes toward optimization-for-desired-consequences.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    > But in the universe in which I live, consequentialist technocratic optimization is pervasive and is pervasively treated as just the way things have to be done.

    This is a prevailing mental attitude amongst my coworkers and bosses. However, in the universe in which I live, everyone (I have ever met) is terrible at follow through on this (immoral) attitude. Though they claim or desire to serve Mammon and his supposed nephew, Optimization, they actually are torn asunder by a pack of false idols attempting to enslave them.

    If modernity’s attempted optimization is a pathetic failure, I do not see how those means are as dangerous and destructive as her ends.

    > liberalism is therefore mostly irrelevant

    I did not make this claim. I think your point about how the optimal path is likely to contain evil actions, therefore making the process of optimization evil is irrelevant, because I do not believe that any significant number of people travel far enough down the road of optimization to need to make evil choices. This belief makes your point about optimization a true but practically irrelevant edge case.

    It just seems like nit-picking.

  • Zippy says:

    Kidd Cudi:

    I do not believe that any significant number of people travel far enough down the road of optimization to need to make [or formally cooperate in – Z] evil choices.

    Then – not to put too fine a point on it – you are as blind as a bat. Modern society runs on consequentialist technocratic optimization.

    Fortunately, readers can resolve our difference of views for themselves by looking at reality and taking in what they see.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    One thing I think is instructive of Zippy’s point is how intensive livestock farming is practiced in the USA. It is heavily subsidized by the government with the aim to maximize commercial availability and minimize price.

    The farming conditions take little regard to the cows’ health nor the health of the consumers. Horrid negative externalities are generated (pollution, habitat depletion) all in the name of the cheap hamburger.

    Now, I don’t think that food executives with twirly mustaches are actively plotting to make consumers fat, weak, poor and sick but in the name of their goals (availability and low price) they have to pursue options that just so happen to make consumers fat, weak, poor and sick.

    Then again, perhaps “optimization” is an inexact word since it usually doesn’t imply moral failure. I can optimize my car’s speed at the expense of my engine by redlining for some time. I suggest the term “Machiavellianism” as it usually is associated with sacrificing principles for gains.

  • Zippy says:

    I use the term “optimization” in the OP and related discussions precisely because sometimes it calls for a morally acceptable choice and other times it calls for a morally evil choice.

  • Zippy says:

    Suppose that accomplishing a particular material goal will take, for example, a hundred or so steps: a hundred different human choices are involved in bringing about the desired result. Some, at least a few, of those choices in the optimal solution w.r.t. bringing about the goal will be morally unacceptable. The theoretical but rare possibility of an optimal set of choices which does not involve any evil actions is the exception that proves the rule: in general, the pursuit of materially optimal solutions for achieving proximate material goals will result in making evil choices.

  • Peter Blood says:

    Re: consequentialist technocratic optimization. That’s libertarian monomania. I like the anecdote Russell Kirk told of a conversation between Wilhelm Roepke and Ludwig von Mises:
    Roepke told me once, apropos such alternative means of subsistence in industrial society, of an amusing exchange between himself and Ludwig von Mises – who, though agreeing with Roepke in a good many matters, was a disciple of Jeremy Bentham in his utilitarianism. During the Second World War, the city of Geneva had made available to its citizens plots of ground along the ring around the city where the ancient walls had stood. On these allotments, in time of scarcity of food, the people of Geneva, particularly the laboring folk, could cultivate vegetables for themselves. These allotments turned out to be so popular, both as recreation and as a source of supplementary food, that the city continued to make this land available to applicants after the war was over.

    Now Mises, who had been professor years before at the Geneva Institute of International Affairs, came to visit Roepke in Geneva, about 1947. Happy at the success of these garden allotments, Roepke took his guest to see Genevan working people digging and hoeing in their gardens. But Mises shook his head sadly: “A very inefficient way of producing foodstuffs!” he lamented. “Perhaps so,” Roepke replied. “But perhaps a very efficient way of producing human happiness.”

  • vishmehr24 says:

    An evil optimization may simply be a case of mistaken optimization function.
    That is, optimization means realization of a Good and in evil optimization, one’s notion of Good is mistaken.

  • Alex says:

    Zippy, you say that morality constrain actions. And I get where you are coming from, looking at it “mathematically” with a set of all possible actions. But I also understand, and it makes for an interesting contrast, that morality when seen from the point of view of each individual, is actually about freedom, and not constraint.

    A slothful person can only work by great effort. A coward can’t help but flee when he feels threatened. A glutton can only ration his food by being constantly vigilant with himself.

  • Zippy says:

    Alex:

    morality when seen from the point of view of each individual, is actually about freedom, and not constraint.

    No it isn’t. Being the best person you can be involves choosing the good path to the exclusion of all other possible paths. The way is narrow, while the road to Hell is wide and smooth.

    A lot of sophistical words are spilled to try to save modernity’s worship of freedom. But lack of constraint is not good in itself. A good man perceives himself as free precisely because he prefers to do what he ought; but his subjective perception does not change the fact that objectively, morality constrains action.

  • Alex says:

    “Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

    I don’t disagree with you that we must choose the narrow path in order to be moral. However, as I understand things, a moral person could always choose to be immoral. He would, of course end up becoming a less moral person, until he was completely immoral, but he could. However, an immoral person can’t choose a moral action, even if he wants!

    As far as I understand, immorality leads us to be unable to control our passions, but rather be ruled by them. And while this might be called subjective, because it happens inside the soul, it is also inside the soul that our free-will exists, and it being impaired is an objective fact, independent of the person in question acknowledging it or not. Which is, in part, why the sacrament of penance is so important.

  • Zippy says:

    Alex:

    However, an immoral person can’t choose a moral action, even if he wants!

    That’s just false, and is typical tangled thinking aimed at ‘saving’ lack of constraint, a.k.a. freedom. In fact it is quite commonplace to sin in choosing the right action for the wrong reason, and it is also common for men who are willing to do evil to nevertheless sometimes choose good action. A man who is unwilling to do evil is, objectively and obviously, more constrained – with respect to any proximate material goal, as opposed to doing good for its own sake – than a man who is willing to do evil.

    How each man feels subjectively is a different question; and it shifts the goal posts to observe that if the man had greater objectivity and longer time preferences he would choose differently. That is the very point of the OP: that the only truly objective view is the good/true/beautiful for their own sake, and the only truly rational time preference is eternal.

  • Kidd Cudi says:

    I recognize that we probably just have an unbridgeable gap in perception of the world here, but I’m compelled to explain my “blindness.”

    To use your analogy: to achieve goal X will take 100 steps. The optimal path has say 5 immoral actions and 4 questionable ones. The optimal-within-morality path results in an X that is 5% less than the truly optimal path. Most people, companies, organizations take a path (moral or not) that is extremely sub-optimal. X is 30-50% less than perfect in their decision tree. Optimizing towards the limit of morality is still a huge gain and worth doing.

    I don’t know. Obviously this description of reality varies widely by situation and industry. I’m a young guy and I haven’t seen the whole world. But the parts I’ve seen fit my description.

  • Alex says:

    Zippy, I Think the issue here might be my sloppy language, or perhaps we disagree on a more fundamental level.

    I don’t disagree with you that people can sin by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. However, my view is that people sin not only because they can’t see what is good, true and beautiful, but also because of their passions and vices.

    This has little to do with freedom as understood as the lack of obligations to do anything, like the sexual revolution tried to convince people that family commitments were separated from sex. That kind of freedom is indeed contrary to being moral. However, the freedom of being able to order your own passions according to your own will, well that freedom is crucial in order to be moral. And that isn’t subjective, I think, because a man could believe himself free while being a slave of his vices, like the “I can stop whenever I want” smokers.

  • Zippy says:

    Kidd Cudi:

    In modern industry, 5% suboptimality is an enormous number. Productivity of capital is optimized using basis points.

  • Zippy says:

    Alex:

    As far as I can tell, you aren’t actually talking about the subject of the OP nor are you addressing any of the substantive points I’ve actually made. It is valid enough to say that freedom from your own passions is a kind of freedom, although it might better be termed self-mastery to distinguish it from other things that people label freedom. Freedom generally connotes lack of externally imposed constraint, so in the interest of clarity in our current cultural-linguistic context people should just say self-mastery when they mean self-mastery.

    But – whatever one thinks of my recommendations on the use of language – self mastery is an entirely different subject from the point made in the OP, which is that a man who is willing to make both good and evil choices in the pursuit of some specific proximate material goal objectively has greater ability to optimize the achievement of that proximate material goal than a man who is willing to make only good choices. Changing the subject doesn’t change the facticity of my claim.

  • Alex says:

    Apologies, Zippy. I wasn’t trying to argue that you were wrong. I just thought those two different ideas of freedom made a nice contrast.

  • Zippy says:

    Fair enough Alex, pax. I do prefer “self mastery” to disambiguate control of the passions versus freedom from extrinsic constraint. But it is true enough that the virtuous man feels free from extrinsic constraint, precisely because he desires to do what he ought. His willed path coincides with the narrow path prescribed by morality.

  • vishmehr24 says:

    Mathematics of infinitely-dimensioned spaces may be counter-intutive and much more so, when the space is not even formalizable as in the question of human acts. Thus, appeal to visual imagery as Zippy is doing may well mislead.

    Lots of actions are not open to the evil-minded man-he simply can not conceive of them. His optimization proceeds with a defective optimization function while the good man optimizes gracefully.

    The Proverbs do promise worldly success to the good man. Surely they are not false.

  • Mike T says:

    However, an immoral person can’t choose a moral action, even if he wants!

    Even Calvinists don’t believe this to be true because even they believe an evil man can choose to do something good despite his whole nature being against it. The question is really not whether an immoral man can choose a moral action, but to what extent he can align the subjective and objective aspects of it in a fully moral and licit fashion.

  • Zippy says:

    vishmehr24:

    No one has suggested that a holy man (a man unwilling to do evil) cannot accomplish any proximate material goals at all.

    Suppose the proximate material goal is “acquire $100,000”. The worldly man (the man willing to take evil short cuts) has many more ways to accomplish this than the holy man. So in general, the worldly man will be empowered – via his willingness to take evil short cuts – to optimize the achievement of material goals, versus the holy man who will not. The holy man may be able to achieve some of the same proximate material goals, but he will generally do so via a narrower, more difficult, less effective and efficient path than the worldly man. His path will be sub optimal when evaluated in terms of accomplishment of the specific goal.

    This is I think quite manifest, but human beings are certainly capable of rejecting and denying even manifest truths. Usually they do so because the manifest truth in question comes into conflict with prior ideological or metaphysical commitments.

    Also, this observation pertains to man’s powers to accomplish specific material goals himself, and says nothing about luck, Providence, etc, where fortunate things happen which were not brought about through a man’s personal plans and causal powers. So bringing up Providence (for example) or making the pedestrian observation that sometimes good people have good fortune doesn’t really address the subject at hand.

  • Johannes says:

    It doesn’t seem to me that “self-mastery” is a substitute for “freedom”. Sure, there is the modern freedom-from-restraint mania, but true freedom isn’t hooked on that at all and is far more positive (not just “control of the passions”), is social, and open to the cooperation with grace. “Self-mastery” just doesn’t seem to have the capacity of the original term.

    Just a few Catechism quotes:

    Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude (1731)

    Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings (1738).

    ” . . . the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world. . . .(1742)

  • Zippy says:

    Johannes:

    It doesn’t seem to me that “self-mastery” is a substitute for “freedom”.

    Free will, self mastery, and lack of constraint are all distinct. That they become conflated in everyday language is a linguistic bug, not a feature.

  • Zippy says:

    Modern people, and especially modern Catholics, tend to go on and on about authentic freedom. That – the constant appeal to authenticity – is a telltale sign that multiple terms should be used for different concepts which are being conflated together under the one term.

    Men have free will, and when men train the will in virtue they become accustomed to constraining their actions to only what is objectively good. Once accustomed to choosing only the good, a man feels free when he chooses the good: he isn’t being influenced or constrained to choose something other than what he would choose ‘on his own’, freely. But ‘what he would choose on his own freely’ remains only what is objectively good: it does not include all the additional myriad possible evil shortcuts which can be taken, by men who have free will, in pursuing proximate material goals.

    This in no way calls into question what I have actually contended in the slightest: that, objectively, morality constrains action; and that therefore, optimization of a man’s actions for the achievement of any proximate material goal is wickedness. The holy man (who is unwilling to do objective evil) may sometimes accomplish some of the same proximate material goals as the worldly man (who is willing to take objectively evil shortcuts); but he will do so sub optimally, with respect to the goal itself, compared to the worldly man.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Zippy:

    This in no way calls into question what I have actually contended in the slightest: that, objectively, morality constrains action; and that therefore, optimization of a man’s actions for the achievement of any proximate material goal is wickedness.

    Statements like this are–in one way–a clear line between your worldview and mine. In another way and despite the clearness of the line, I lack the faculty to describe the difference. But I can give an example from the words that follow your quote:

    The holy man (who is unwilling to do objective evil) may sometimes accomplish some of the same proximate material goals as the worldly man (who is willing to take objectively evil shortcuts); but he will do so sub optimally, with respect to the goal itself, compared to the worldly man.

    Let’s scrape off a bit more of the faux neutrality and see if this sentence makes any sense to us by using real people as examples.

    Jesus (who is unwilling to do objective evil) may sometimes accomplish some of the same proximate material goals as Adam (who is willing to take objectively evil shortcuts); but he will do so sub optimally, with respect to the goal itself, compared to the worldly man.

    Is that what you mean to say?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    Mostly you beg the question, because Jesus is God and has greater material capacity than Adam, and both qua men come at any given goal from radically different starting places even if they pursue the same one. In general, commenters miss the point here because they get distracted by their own tendency to, um, move the goal posts.

    It would be less distracting to frame it as a question about the very same man, given a specific material goal (say ‘acquire $100,000’).

    Compare the case when that man is holy (unwilling to do evil) to the case when that man is worldly (willing to do evil).

    Suppose Cane Caldo decided to pursue the goal of acquiring $100,000. Suppose he was willing to take some evil shortcuts in the pursuit of that goal. Compare that to the case where he is not willing to take any evil shortcuts to pursue that goal.

    Optimizing his pursuit of that goal – making it happen more quickly, with less risk, with less effort, etc – involves taking evil shortcuts. So holy-Cane’s pursuit of proximate material goals will be sub optimal, with respect to those specific goals, compared to worldly-Cane’s.

    Now step back and apply this observation to all pursuit of material goals by all persons, to see how optimization relates to worldliness/holiness.

  • Zippy says:

    (This by the way ought to be especially obvious to a guy who has taken on a financially sub optimal situation for the sake of holiness).

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Zippy:

    LOL. I get it.

    In general, commenters miss the point here because they get distracted by their own tendency to, um, move the goal posts.

    Possibly.

    In what way is this idea:

    “[O]ptimization of our actions in pursuit of some proximate material goal is inherently evil, because the set of all good and evil options includes all of the good options, plus the evil ones to boot. Morality constrains action: the man willing to do both good and evil has more options than the man only willing to do good.”,

    different from this idea:

    “You have to keep your priorities straight.”?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    Sure, that, or basically “we must never do even the tiniest evil in order that even tremendous good may come of it”, stated in a way which directly assaults modern pieties about efficiency, etc.

    I find that modern religious people try to say in effect that crime doesn’t pay, and that is the reason we shouldn’t commit crime. Material prosperity is the reward for personal holiness. Joel Osteen represents this sort of thinking taken to its absurd limits, but as is often the case he just represents the logical conclusion of what everyone is thinking, including people who consider themselves hard nosed realists and hold Osteen in contempt.

    Crime often does pay, at least from any perspective other than eternity. That is its appeal. From any perspective other than eternity crime can pay better than good behavior, as long as the criminal doesn’t screw up.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Zippy:

    Superb.

    Joel Osteen represents this sort of thinking taken to its absurd limits, but as is often the case he just represents the logical conclusion of what everyone is thinking, including people who consider themselves hard nosed realists and hold Osteen in contempt.

    “God made masculinity and women, so Game works because God made chicks to like masculinity…”

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