Human Autobiographies

Psychology should concern itself with pain. Wasn’t that the original idea, a specialty within medicine, an attempt to lessen pain and help people?

I ask, in all seriousness: this toxic Evolutionary Psychology I’m hearing about – is there any mention of suffering in it? I’m guessing not, that’s probably what’s so poisonous about it. But let’s back that up one step. This Evolution idea – same question: do pain or suffering have an appearance, a role?

I won’t make you wait. I can never write a novel or a textbook, I can’t keep a secret long enough to build tension or fill a book – in reality, pain and suffering are part of our evolving past and present, absolutely. It seems to be absent, however, I mean except as a spectre, a bogeyman, in the form of deterrents, from the usual tale of our group existence. Pain and suffering are the price for civilization, and civilization is life and security. That’s the role, yes, bogeyman, scare ourselves straight, I know how it works, I had parents, a children’s group, bosses, I know about deterrents. So that’s the role assigned to pain and abuse in our current understanding.

Like it doesn’t ever actually happen. Like whether it actually happens or not wouldn’t matter, the deterrent is the function.

That’s how evolution, and everything else in life works, right, nothing has to happen, it’s not things that happen that matter, only things that might happen, only threats of things happening that matter?

But this is our origin story, our social organization, and majority control of misbehavers, the employment of rules, laws and deterrents has had an effect on us – civilization – the idea of abuse and punishments has brought us all this way, but the reality of the abuse has had no measurable effect. We are different enough from everything else that walks the Earth for half of us to wonder if Earth is really where we’re from – from the threat, from the fear of abuse, but the reality of the abuse with such aversive power, the actuality of the abuse that has the whole species changing their behaviour to avoid it is apparently powerless.

If you get it, if you agree, say nothing!

I knew it.

The difference of treatment we enjoy within our groups as opposed to when we’re caught alone outside of them – this I see as a chicken or egg question or rather whether a zebra is a black horse with white stripes or the reverse, except that it matters.

The way I see it stated is usually some version of “prosocial at home, antisocial without,” and while it does describe the disparity we see and we would expect to see at the in-group boundary line, it seems to lack causality. I find there is plenty of stuff going on in the in-group that being “prosocial” does not explain.

OK, in brutal terms: if I would murder an out-group person for eyeing my wife, and only beat an in-group member unconscious for the same slight, then this framework has the beating as a prosocial, in-group behaviour, like I brought the fellow life. Now, if while I had him out and could indeed have dispatched him at little extra cost and didn’t, perhaps yes, he lives because of my prosocial choice about him – that doesn’t make this a story about friends giving life to one another.

It’s still a violent episode, with violent motivations, and ongoing effects of possibly adjusted hierarchies, possible physical injuries, possible further revenge scenarios – the lifegiving part of this story is not what drives the plot, is the point, in that I’m afraid I agree with the toxic evo-boys. To be fair, we’re talking about a story about toxic boys fighting over their women like they are property in this example, so it’s not prosocial things driving this story.

Not even in the long term, genetic terms!

In this story, I would execute a neighbor tribe’s possible rapist, but stay it for my in-group possible rapist, and breeding rapists is probably not easily explained as “prosocial” either, in the long run, is it? What more aggressive thing could a species do?

They say white folks see a white zebra with black stripes and black people the reverse (or the other way? I forget and it doesn’t matter), and if seeing the in-group as prosocial and suffering as accidental is like seeing a white horse with black accents, then I think this horse is black. Pain and suffering are the engine of the human in-group.

It’s our dark side, to be sure, unconscious. That doesn’t mean it’s the “small” half. With the preceding in mind, consider a high level result of this sort of error in our understanding: our wars are getting bigger and longer. We are far more violent and destructive than the chimpanzees, as well as presumably, than the creatures we and the chimpanzees descended from – so we are evolving in that direction, towards bigger, longer wars.

The normal conversation, repeated endlessly, because as you know, the obvious truth needs to be repeated endlessly, each of us to one another’s choirs, is that we are subject to these “outbursts” of violence because we still have the ancient chimpanzee within us and to that I snort and scoff and fart in your general direction!

So then, we were like this five million years ago? One long, never-ending chain of world wars going back to the ancient Congo, where, somehow the modern chimpanzees have today managed to keep it down to a dull roar? Even if our story were true, it’s clearly the chimpanzees who have slowed the fighting in it, it’s their success story, not ours. If it were true.

Where is the Evolution in this story?

We’ve changed, we’ve evolved, replaced some of the old, wild genes with newer, softer ones, but every now and then, all that evolution just resets to a fictional period five million years ago when apparently every ape used to have huge wars all the time? WTF?

We’ve changed, we are changing, and our wars are getting worse and there is evolution and genetics and for God’s sake, put it together, will you? We are selecting ourselves for this. What else? I mean what else, with Evolution?

Microphone drop, that sounds like an ending, except one, it’s not Sunday yet, and two, there’s something looming, some existential threat to my whole thing that I am going to have to at least have one look at before I decide to either take it on or just give up and run. Wrangham hinted at it in interviews, I expect he laid it out in his latest with a lot of support: capital punishment of tyrannical alphas, that makes sense, that sounds like civilization to me too. But any lesser punishment, by my own reckoning, while deterrents exist and a more prosocial cost benefit analysis may result, other things happen, the more basic, low level things happen. The subject has bad feelings, perhaps unfairness and anger, perhaps sadness, and more basic, pain has its own immediate negativity and those feelings are responses to that more elemental feeling.

This is exploratory, I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but this image keeps coming up, that we are trying to extract the good side of life from the whole savage garden experience, like taking the metal from the ore, breaking down complex things to take only the best bits and that is never alchemical magic but only an industrializable chemical reaction with a very real and unmagical accumulation of by-product that goes along with it.

I worry that in order to improve ourselves, that we have split instead, polarized, and while there is a better looking version of ourselves to talk about, there is also our Mr. Hyde, and maybe he’s in the basement and suffering, but he doesn’t seem to be safely chained up. This conversation goes to our supposed self-domestication, and it seems obvious to me that we cannot be the tame horse unless we are also the cruel master that breaks him.

I worry that by trying to make a conscious change, we have created a monster and if the whole idea of punishing is the problem, that my idea is only another form of it, and doomed before it can ever begin, like if the problem is what we’re trying to do and not just how we try to do it. I worry about stuff no-one else knows is going on.

To be continued, that theme.

There is a lot of complicated thought to take us from Wrangham’s capital punishment to non-lethal punishment, to us being generally a lot less violent than the apes (by murders per population measures. I don’t argue that; I argue that huge wars also exist, that in times and places, our murderousness outstrips peak chimpanzee murderousness by orders of magnitude) but it’s all quite unnecessary. All that is really required is to turn the causality upside down and ask, either like I did, “what is punishment?,” or like this: how have we evolved to have world wars? If the question is “why is our murder rate better than the chimpanzees over the long term?,” then sure, maybe some answer that starts with in-group love.

But if the question is “How was World War II possible?,” then telling me “because we’ve found a way to make ourselves more prosocial” isn’t going to cut it, and again, in your general direction, Sir. For that answer, you have to say, this is an ability we are growing, a genetic effect we are selecting for. And again, all that is required is a different view, like I don’t know what you’d call it, what discipline concerns itself with people who are damaged by abuse, but some of these Evolutionary Biological Theorists sure could use a little of it! Some field of study that tries to help people by making things they’re unconscious of conscious, to give them choices where they didn’t think they had them . . . something like that would be great for this.

I don’t want to get grandiose on you, but I know two sciences that could change the world if they would see that they belong together. I know, the pond’s been poisoned, but abuse is in our DNA and in our evolution which is the hard science that should be the foundation for the social sciences, instead of, what was it again?

Nothing?

Or the story debunked above?

Call me.

 

 

Jeff

November 2nd., 2019

Mirror Anal Glands

The title is so satisfying for my misanthropy, I hardly need to write the blog! Take that. Ha.

I understand “mirror neurons” have gone by the wayside, is that right?

I don’t remember the details, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case, maybe there are some, but the idea that they are a big thing in our world has been relegated to something like New Age or psychology (sorry), I think. The immediate allure of it was a phenomenon in itself, though, wasn’t it?

I think it seemed to answer some real question we all have, it seemed so understandable and to explain so much – like how emotions seemed to pass across the internet without any apparent biological connection, like pheromones, or actual threats and/or relationships . . . so, I got to thinking, same old neurons, but mirror pheromones? A scenario where we are reading or guessing someone’s emotions and so we produce those chemicals, or we name the distant other’s emotions, based on our own pheromonal response to it?

If I feel attacked, does my brain send attacker smells into the air so that even if I am unconscious, my organism senses trouble and initiates autonomic responses? Or do I have my response to the content of my senses OR my conscious, language centre, the fear, and then smell that and decide I am being attacked? I don’t suppose I’m even asking the right questions, but certainly a person sitting alone on social media having a bunch of feelings smells like they are having a bunch of feelings and if the only pheromones flying are ours, surely we wind up having emotional reactions to our own emotional reactions.

Obviously, while it may be important to smell a devious enemy’s aggression directly when they’re close, it seems most likely that we are usually reacting to our own emotional secretions, again, in order to have a system that operates on its own, regardless of where our consciousness is directed or misdirected. A bear’s breath should wake you up, but perhaps it is your sleeping body’s awareness that initiates the autonomic response, part of which is your own fear smell. It sounds like every emotion is a sort of runaway scenario, you feel it so you smell it so you feel it so you smell it . . .

Surely someone has done a lot of work around this stuff, testing smell-inhibited people and whatnot. I keep jumping ahead to some surely dumb idea about how peace talks need to happen with everybody’s noses turned off, somehow, teleconferences aren’t enough separation when we create all the problematic threat odours ourselves wherever we sit, unfortunate pun not intended but welcome. I suppose conference room chairs are some attempt to mitigate pheromone propagation, like a dog covering its glands by keeping its tail between its legs, chairs generally, sitting generally. (Of course “man-spreading” is an aggressive attempt to defeat this peacemaking technology.)

I make no effort to hide that I’m alone and I use the blog and social media along with TV to fake my organism out that I have people in my life, there are voices, and I get into conversations with authors on Twitter that they are not aware of or privy to, these authors are my fake friends, and this blog results from one such interaction. Over the last few days, I wrote a blog where I misread something, put way too much on one of these authors when most of what I was reacting to was from everywhere else in life except from them. You know, doing that ol’ hurt the ones you love, bite the hand that feeds thing. So I had a misunderstanding, a fight, an apology and an attempt at reconciliation – a social life!

And I could have read their book right in the first place, or I could have got it wrong a hundred different ways, and then I would have had a different emotional experience, from the very same book, the very same ideas, coming from an author who was feeling the same way the only time they strung together those same words. So how much of anyone’s social life is all between mostly us and our own stink glands?

Again, no-one but me in any of that drama, but I was feeling it, I am going with that, I had a social problem, I tried to solve it – just like a real boy. I felt like it, and I guarantee I smelt like it, I mean I hope so, it’s a biological solution required, not just the words around it.

 

Jeff

October 30th., 2019

Beyond Feminism

A land beyond feminism, somewhere over the rainbow, that’s where you’ll find me . . .

Kidding, of course.

I got into this in a recent one, the March of Science, I believe, about our human “meritocracies,” yes, sarcasm quotation marks. I am trying to make the point that despite human specialization and the existence of probably thousands of different human skills, there is mostly only one measure for competence in anything, and it is best summed up in the word “toughness.” Normal quotation marks.

I have made allusions at least, to the effect that this measure of violence, aggression and battle-competence colours many areas, and that it is basically another version of what feminists call the patriarchy. Not risking ant sort of quotation marks!

If we can break this down, just what is the patriarchy doing – violence, intimidation, mostly – well, rapists auto-selecting themselves for propagation also – then we have something we can work with, behaviours, education, laws, strategies. If we decide that’s just how men are – and basically allow us to let ourselves off the hook for it – then we are getting nowhere. Of course, nothing is “just how it is.”

I’m sorry.

I understand that every man you ever met was indeed like this. I understand that the only safe stance to have is that we are all like this and not be caught out alone. Of course I would never advise some stupid “trust us” line. We have to change. But that does mean people talking as though that were actually a thing, though, change. To say, “men gotta change” to fix things, and then turn around and say “but they can’t” is some awful bait and switch game that . . . well, how’s it working out so far? We’re not really telling the rapists no-one expects them to change, I hope? That doesn’t sound like the best idea, does it?

I mean if telling and expecting mean anything. That would be some form of nurture, I guess. If it does, then yes, this should be part of our nurturing, that rape has to be actually, functionally illegal!

Now, sex shouldn’t be illegal. Clearly, it’s the force, the intimidation, the stuff we cannot bring ourselves to outlaw about ourselves, gentlemen. That has to be wrong, actually wrong. Like, not, “OK, wrong, but we are your protectors, so you want this,” no, wrong, because this is what we need protection from! It is not better for your female friends, for your wife, mother, daughters, all of them, that a protector, “one of us” raped them and not some “other,” which is all this arrangement ensures, nothing but selecting our own criminals over criminals that belong to some “them.”

That sounds extreme in my dysphemistic way of talking but make no mistake: a common solution for in-group rape has always been marriage. The ladies hate it and rightly so, but apparently the people in charge think this is a preferable situation over women choosing their own lovers and so having the possibility of them choosing an other. In some places, the ladies who cannot tolerate this solution are killed – apparently the folks’ in charge’s less preferred “solution.”

Crimes are activities, not people. You have to agree, that if you use force, if you rape someone, that you should face the law. Do you?

Is whether or not you actually agree a matter of your father’s rapist or not genes?

Nature VS nurture again, really?

No, that wasn’t the point, right! Today’s topic is the ‘toughness is the only meritocracy’ meme. The patriarchy.

It’s exactly what the MRAs and the macho IDW types and the sexist children like Shapiro are stating is foundational, right? It’s also the unapologetic central meme of fascism, if you can, that is permission, might is right, and obviously, when you think that as a society, that’s what you get. But it’s exactly what I’m arguing about, it’s exactly what isn’t really true, at least not until some hammerhead points his gun at you and you must agree, yes, this mindless bullshit is true, not mentioning any names.

I understand we’ve had to abandon attempts at psychologizing our past selves because exactly these fools have commandeered the idea and turned into nothing but a simple machine game theory with no psychology provided or required, that we’ve had to cut off that arm of science to save the rest of the body. I finally get that, I am sorry if I sounded like I was on the wrong side of things. Honestly “evolutionary biological theory” is better anyway. I think somebody ran with calling it evolutionary “psychology” at the start with a view to removing it from science curricula and discrediting it and therefore science (I know, not intuitive, don’t believe me, but simply harping on the term “theory of evolution” has legs, so), generally, leveraging the division between “soft” and “hard” sciences, bring the biologists on board, but really as part of the general anti-intellectual, anti-science stuff. Then when these penis-centric idiots ran with it, everyone else let go and distanced themselves – with me last and lost, as usual.

Like I say, “evolutionary biological theory,” sounds better anyway, even if it does sort of imply the smaller version of “theory,” because in name or not, there is going to be a certain amount of psychology involved. We are trying to understand our clearly psychological selves.

Not a tangent. What I’m getting to is, it’s not foundational, toughness being all that matters and crime be damned, it’s a real part of the psychology, sure – but absolutely not foundational. It is a policy decision adopted to deal with foundational concerns, predation, group conflict, death, and this is exactly what policy is: a decision made earlier regarding foreseeable problems including basic ones, by the boss, maybe that’s you, maybe not – and a policy is not an environmental condition, not “foundational,” at least not to the boss. His option, your “foundation.” If you’re the boss, same – your option, that maybe you call your “foundation.” Policy, the prior decision, now the default stance, all meanings retained – a stance we took, a position we chose.

Choice. Now THAT sounds like psychology, doesn’t it?

This argument almost holds up for lions and tigers and bears, I mean couldn’t we just breed and run like everything else? But no, we wanted to settle down and hold our ground, surely there was a choice somewhere along that journey? But clearly when the threat is us that is our “foundation,” sorry, no choice? I am your threat, we have no choice? We’re back to nature and toxic game theory? No. That was a choice, right there, “I am your threat.” No, you could just run, like everything else. Usually I say “aggression” is a choice, a policy decision; same conversation – aggression is the name for a policy of fight over flight, so “having aggression” means you chose to have it.

This is the difference between natural disasters and human-made disasters: individually, we are as powerless against one as the other. But collectively, we cause one and not the other (OK, at least there are natural disasters we don’t cause, if not all of them).

Honestly, what good are nouns, attributes, “properties,” in Platonic terms?

Hey, there’s this problem I have, we can’t stop the violence. You want to figure that out for us?

Sure – ah, OK, here it is. See, what you got there is “aggression.”

Problem solved! I learned a new noun. Sorry – what was the problem again? Right, violence. And why? Right, aggression. OK, cool, here’s your money, thanks!

Say it again, add a word, can’t stop the male violence – see, what you got there is men.

Terrific, thanks again. The usual price? Automatic deposits alright?

You want to solve something, you look for thoughts, actions, something happening – a chance to possibly intervene. You want to protect something, it’s a noun: sorry, it exists. End of story. It’s another brick in the wall – “Men are aggressive, so you can’t have no rape! How can you have no rape if men are aggressive?”

Like I suggested earlier though, the hammerhead with the gun whose guiding light is violence, he creates this reality. If he and enough of his developmentally arrested friends decide that nothing else but toughness matters, then that signifies the peak of that civilization because almost every other skill humans have will have to be suppressed for the constant antisocialization required for the constant state of war that results. It’s a self-fulfilling policy that way – it’s true when they prove its true.

All I’m saying is, if we didn’t prove it, it wouldn’t be.

That’s our clue that we’re in social science territory, psychology territory, “truths” that must be proven constantly, minute by minute, these are only social truths, and that line is ruling all of our lives, always certainly, but today more clearly than ever, the rational versus the social. Perhaps all of our meritocracies are real, but only rational, and as such, taken with a large grain of salt, while the social meritocracies are few, but far more serious. I mean, sure ladies are clever enough to build you an atomic bomb – but are they crazy enough to deploy it? Or do the fairer sex simply lack the social skills for war?

If only male lions were aggressive, we would still find out how fast we can run every time we saw a cub or a lioness, because they all live together in social groups and the presence of cubs and lionesses means lions also and they would still be a species to avoid generally. Aggressive males means an aggressive species. I believe I’ve seen lionesses rejecting an incoming would-be alpha, I think if there are enough ladies in the pride, they get to select their males – and as things stand, the males are big, nasty bastards. That’s an aggressive species and if the ladies never let a claw out themselves, it would still be an aggressive species – which is maybe how this narrative about us is supposed to go, right? Aggression is the province of men, a property of maleness, not of humanness?

I suppose it would be completely true if all men are rapists, if a substantial portion of people are the children of rape, and so it is true to a degree, because there absolutely are rapists and their children. That’s a problem – I just worry it’s not the only problem, I worry, that not unlike the lions, when our ladies get a chance to practice some sexual selection, we still end up with big, nasty bastards (or little ones that make up for their size with extra nastiness). You don’t think? OK, here it is, at last.

The ’not all men’ urge was very strong with me, I got in trouble a few times on Twitter, trying to defend myself, trying to fight what I felt was the determinism in memes that say it is indeed all men, all men are rapists, all men supposedly agree with this latest disgusting ramping up of misogyny that came online along with Russia, and I lost, and I gave it up, telling myself it truly doesn’t matter if a few men abstain, does it, if they don’t or can’t stop it? But maybe I have a legitimate critique, the above thing:

When the problem is a noun, there is no solution, and no-one expects one, right?

If it’s “men,” all men, then what are we to do, eliminate them? So a feminism that actually believes in a solution, in  the possibility of change might not want to go with that, but the smart folks know that, it’s the other side of that coin that is pertinent today: evil trolls absolutely want that. Misogynist men absolutely want the problem to be a noun, even if that noun is them, because men are never going to implement a solution for that.

So stick to the script, behaviours, laws – rational things – and reject arguments about whole groups of people like “all men,” (and of course reject slander of more oppressed groups also) which is social and so serves the bad guys, who fear truth and rationality above all else.

 

 

 

 

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Workarounds

Not motivated today, this will be short and bitter.

(Update: motivation showed up to derail this. Now it’s middling long and bitter.)

Been reading or listening to Trivers talking about the awful issue of what are called “honour killings” of women in some cultures, families making examples of their own daughters to enforce family or sect marriage rules. This, at the very first glance seems counterintuitive to social theory and relatedness, parents killing their offspring, but he makes the case that the practice thrives where all the families and so daughters are so related to one another that relatedness rules are actually held, and parental genes are not actually lost, copies are everywhere and your nieces carry as many of your genes as your daughter. So one’s own children are discounted, to employ the evo/economic terms used in this awful sort of conversation, not worth more than the neighbors’ daughters, hereditarily speaking.

If the example works, then the kids marry the cousins like Dad says, and this genetic situation stays intact, and the Dads can maintain their dominance by the most brutal means, even over their own children, with “no genetic conflict.” Bob didn’t say anything that sounds so glib, I don’t think. He’s trying to help these women.

What he’s uncovered is a workaround, one of the human technologies for us implementing a system of ubiquitous abuse that no other creature seems to be trying, and if social relatedness theory is the “natural” order of things, then finding a workaround, evolving a way to abuse and even kill our own offspring – I know everything is “evolved,” everything is “natural,” but isn’t this a natural, evolved phenomenon that clearly works against nature, against a bigger, better nature?

A workaround, for nature?

That’s not different than saying a workaround for reality. You start creating workarounds for that, this is where you are going wrong! No?

This is how social realities are our realities. We have worked around reality and nature so well that we are not safe around our parents – again, not a mainstream situation in nature, not the real nature. Real nature is more like Bambi, isn’t it? Mom loves you, never beats your ass (and dies young, predated)? I’m trying to imagine a backstory like that for myself, it would be a happy sort of memory. Ok, I did. I don’t remember Mom whooping me, but she was pretty normal, I’m sure the other kids got it. I do remember her walking away a couple of times, probably in the worst of circumstances.

Bob speaks my language.

I’m from Vancouver, and I like to half joke that I only feel at home when it rains, but somehow I feel closer to home when I’m reading Bob too. It’s workarounds I’ve been sorting through too, right? I harassed the poor man until he had to answer me, and when he asked for the short version, I said parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them, and he said “sounds whacky to me,” and I have since figured out he meant relatedness, and where I was maybe mostly wrong was I was missing the workaround.

It’s the children’s group, the teachers at the schools, other adults, the police . . . we have plenty of people to abuse, intimidate and maybe kill our children for us. Residential schools, boarding schools, military schools. In the aboriginal style village, maybe the children’s group has third and fourth cousins – and they can sure enough beat you into conformity if your parents won’t, but when communities get larger, opportunities multiply. In this way, our children can be toughened up, hardened and sharpened for war or crime without all of us having to deliver the beatings personally and suffer the relatedness conflict directly and personally. Of course, our antisocialization works better and is more thorough when it’s everyone in society getting their kicks in, and it’s not just some personal battle between you and Dad.

Having said all that, though – Dad is part of everyone, and it’s not whacky to say he’s getting his kicks in too, that there are clearly workarounds at the personal level too, so my time of chastisement about this is over, Bob. Maybe not all of them, but, yes, parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them. Not saying consciously.

Not saying they all join the army – many are gang soldiers of some sort, many are ruthless capitalists, there is no shortage of battles to join. I say this with more confidence now, knowing that conflicts with relatedness theory are not any sort of deal-breaker for Bob, that in fact, therein lie whole fields of study.

I will say, Antisocialization theory lacks the genetic clarity of the honour killing theory. Cloning all your tribe’s kids so you can make examples of a few and maintain a rule of terror, that’s got clarity, no kidding. If there are identifiable genetic pieces to my puzzle, evolved abuse, alleles that respond to an abusive environment, I sort of assume all humans have them; I don’t think there is going to be a breeding explanation.

I’m afraid it’s the war explanation, the damned game theory explanation: this is a group level phenomenon. We abuse for the dominance or survival of the group. It’s a trade-off, a workaround. We sacrifice everything, even our children, for the war effort. I’m talking about inter-group conflict, and we’ve seen it with the chimps and humans of all sorts, whole groups wiped out. If genes enjoy a greater survival among a group at all, then those genes’ existential threats are only threats to the whole group, why wouldn’t an adaptation exist for that survival critical problem, or any number of adaptations?

Our gene-groups are living in competition with one another, one on one at that level, so to speak, and we see one on one competition among large organisms producing all manner of weaponry and defense and adaptations, some creatures grow enormous during these tournaments, some quick and devious – evolution produces variety.

So why not one mammal that has developed a workaround for mammalian nurturing to enhance its weaponry?

There is some love, something that brings a social animal together, some safety that we assume starts or keeps group creatures in their groups, some prosocial benefit, safety from predators mostly, to be sure – but there is some hate, something that limits group size and stops the growth of the prosocial network – I’ve just learned in Folly of Fools that xenophobia looks like an adaptation for parasites, that every region, maybe every group has its parasites and its adaptations to them, its immunities, and it doesn’t have them for the parasites a distant stranger carries with them, so no strangers!

That seems reasonable, but avoidance would be the thing then, and perhaps not aggressively seeking these other-infected neighbors out, exposing ourselves to their blood and fluids – and eating their brains to gain their powers, LOL. Wait – double laugh maybe. If they have toxoplasmosis, maybe you really do gain their fearlessness doing that! Perhaps there is parasite avoidance along with parasite seeking. I mean, sexual attraction sure seems prone to be full of parasitic wishes, if it’s not what it’s for, well it sure works, boy howdy. So, no, xenophobia is not an adaptation for parasite avoidance – damn, I have to go back and check if that’s what he said or if I interjected that – but parasite preference. Again, avoidance would mean flight, not fights.

Fights would be more like parasite acquisition raids!

If that is a possibility, parasites both pushing us apart and pulling us together, then I’m going to imagine that as a lot of interesting detail that for all I know cancels out and my antisocialization adaptation probably still works with entirely different suites of parasites and human genes anyway. Microscopic stuff is interesting and important for how it affects us, but lots of stuff way up here at talking level affect us too, or we wouldn’t spend so much time talking about those dirty, infected neighbors.

Oh my God, he must have said that, I am busting my hero as an evil evo-bro. To be clear, the point he was making was different, it was that there is a direct correlation with parasite load and number of (isolationist?) religious sects, that in the tropics, where parasites are more numerous, so are religions, and I can’t complain about that – this generalization, xenophobia as an adaptation that perhaps was a more casual observation, and I’m going to read it again, but I’m not even sure he suggested that it works to keep away foreign parasites, only that perhaps it is why we try.

But again, surely, if xenophobia has you going to their land, seeking them out, drinking their blood, stealing their food, livestock, women and children and raping who you leave behind and alive – are you really trying to avoid their parasites? LOL. I suppose acquiring a new parasite and acquiring immunity to it happens together, if at different speeds, but if immunity  can be viewed as a “power,” then maybe there is something to this head-hunting ideology after all, eat them, gain their immunity. Aboriginal wisdom, Good Lord.

Busting your hero is supposed to be your bar mitzvah, right, a triumph, not a sadness? I know, a rare case, a casual lapse and not the point of the thesis. Low hanging fruit.

Impossible not to think of it as a Freudian slip, though, some sort of ugly bias. I may owe someone on Twitter a most humiliating apology. What was the previous theory?

Oh yes, human groups limited by the law of inverse squares, that beyond your third or fourth cousins, we stop recognizing our own genes and start seeing the majority other’s genes instead, that family resemblances fade as genetic interest fades. I seem to be missing the part where lack of interest becomes an intense interest in eating them, though, that “lack of interest” equals hostility, that is an unconscious bias I am trying to understand and combat – same one contained in the perceived slip discussed above.

So, back to my search. There is some hate also, that ensures our safe human group is not one safe, global human group, some trade-off we make for the group that makes it so that where the love isn’t, hate is. The safer we are within the group, the more dangerous it becomes to step outside of it, what seems a normal, perhaps infantile, prosocial desire for safety immediately becomes a murderous kind of security, a scorched earth sort of policy.

I don’t take it for granted. Brutal, violent nature is not obvious to me.

What has been granted? What is obvious? Anyone who has ever experienced ten minutes of peace with another human being knows that it’s possible, that conflict is not necessary and obvious. I am slowly asphyxiating, turning blue waiting for the oxygen of a science for which our initial condition is not one of senseless, automatic, unstoppable violence – one of Christian Original Sin, basically – some science where that perception warrants an explanation.

I mean, of course we think that’s the background for everything, we would think that, we’ve been antisocializing ourselves for maybe five million years, we’ve been making a point of nurturing and growing the genes that think exactly that – but intelligence doesn’t start with us. If you want to understand the world, you need to take a better perspective than yours! You have to imagine what would happen when the particles collide when you’re not watching, when you’re not part of the action.

 

 

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Human Origins

 

We have false national narratives, and we all know we do, because we sure know the other guy does, same as Dawkins’ argument about religion, we already don’t believe in all but one of them, so they’re a thing. I’m always getting lost, so if you don’t know the term, false national narrative, investigoogle, it’s an important one, but I’m going to move on, try to stay on track. We also have narratives regarding the origin of not just our own currently existing nations, but of the human species itself, a thousand mythological stories and a few somewhat more scientific guesses as well.

The one of those last that seems to be the most accessible or acceptable these days is a story about group cooperation morphing into altruism and group control of destructive individuals through instances of such cooperation . . . I want to believe it myself, but I don’t. I believe this is the same story that in the next step becomes civilization because of laws and such, a set of rules that protects some of us from our nastiest selves.

Here’s my version. Not so much laws, as what the laws prescribe: abuse, the major, most indispensable component of group control, I say this every blog . . . OK, my just-so-genesis.

Some accident of group conflict among apes five million years ago or so accidentally got us selecting for abuse, like child abuse and “moral” punitive abuse followed somewhere along the way, and this is what Bible people call the Fall, when we discovered the dark magic power of abusing our own to make a more aggressive troop and move us towards more entrenched warrior lifestyles.

What ensued seems to have been an ongoing tournament where all technologies were developed, including this social one, abuse to leverage genetic and psychological changes in the troop, and many whole species of hominid are now selected out as well as certainly many less divergent human groups as well. The dominant present ones all have elaborate systems of laws and punitive abuse.

This is the dark side of the usual human origin stories about morality and civilization, and I’ll grant the usual story isn’t untrue exactly, but it’s more like ten percent of the causation in our origin story, more like a side effect, while this take of mine is the main thing. I think. Surely both my readers know Star Wars? They touched on a truth there. The dark side is indeed where the power is, of course.

Once you’ve been where I am on this for long enough, you’ll hear them try to explain a WORLD WAR as some aftershock, some eruption from our un-buried past and not as a sign of a trait that is growing and getting worse, something we are nurturing, you’ll be amazed that anyone believes it.

Ridiculous.

Absurd on its face.

 

Jeff

Oct. 14th., 2019

The Knowledge of Evil

Every now and then I think I can get it all down in a quick, clear and understandable form. I’m caught in a time loop. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work this time either. But the title is true, that’s the topic.

I’ve sent the question out to the Oracle a few times now, and even classicists and ancient language experts can’t seem to comment, so in a healthy bit of self-affirmation I’m going to stop asking and tell you, this is how it is: the biblical English “knowledge of good and evil” phrase does not indicate awareness of our evil, it is not an expression of Christian Original Sin, or any other name for it. It is, rather, like most human knowledge.

You could say the knowledge of wood and fire, knowledge of land and crops. It means how to make one from the other.

It’s in the first few pages, well within the introduction for most books, often the part where the authors are telling you what the book is about, what you’re going to learn, and I’m not saying human life began with the bible, I’m just saying religion serves our biology, and our sacred texts either reflect our default core beliefs or perhaps they write them into our hearts, I’m saying the bible basically codifies default human life, so to talk about its tenets is to talk about basic human tenets. Wait – the bible is full of world domination stuff, discrete, nasty instructions I do not think are good and correct or are even our core beliefs– I mean its unconscious tenets are our human unconscious tenets. In this book, one could read it, you will learn the alchemic trick of starting with good and creating evil, turning that raw material into something someone can use.

And then, I guess, I don’t know – awaaaayee we go!

Into endless stories of what happens when a people refuses to follow the authority of God and doubly endless lists of how things must be and exactly what sorts of hurts to hand out for each transgression, and of course, not all just straight up exposition like that, but in story after story after story, you know – with feeling. As well as in interminable exposition, of course!

So, already a recap, because this is day two of this one:

A book, “knowledge,” ostensibly, about, in theory, “good and evil” – first, is this not the very First Sin you read from every Sunday, then? Do we not eat the forbidden fruit and cast ourselves out freshly every time we pick it up? OK, pointing out contradictions in the bible, there’s a worthy thing for a nearly sixty year old man to do! Ahem. Moving on.

. . . no sorry, what an annoying trick, second time now, I’m sorry, not moving on. This is how I think, I don’t figure it out ahead and then come write it down, the written page is my brain’s working space, I could never keep track of this train of thought and develop it all up in my head, I need to see it to remember it and to just plain see my own thoughts, know what I’m putting together. If you don’t write, you should try it. I often follow some thought that I thought was as good as any other and I end up backspacing over several paragraphs, and accidentally learn or unlearn something, either about the world or about myself. I’ve come to believe that a thought isn’t real until we say it out loud or write it down, most of our thought is free-floating crap that wouldn’t survive the audit of writing it down and reading it back to ourselves, and we know it, and we don’t commit to most of it – but it’s really powerful to write it, say it, put it into the world where you can see it. Then we can tell the wheat from the chaff.

So, not moving on, let’s run with that for bit, that first teenage atheist complaint – I’m not one, really, I don’t mind some high concept God stuff – knowledge of good and evil got us punted out of paradise and created the twelve hour work day, so you should come to church every Sunday and gain some more of this knowledge of good and evil – we got a full time staff to explain it to you . . . none of this makes any sense if we thought the knowledge of good and evil was against God’s rules and caused the Fall and all of our existential trouble forever, does it? Like, remotely?

Brother, how many times have you read the book of knowledge of good and evil?

How it makes sense is my crazy, outlandish theory here. It’s a how to manual.

Knowledge of ore and steel, knowledge of good and evil.

We don’t think we’ve been cast out and lost paradise, do we? Is it part of that meme that when we had our Fall, the rest of nasty old nature all changed character too? It used to be safe in nature? You want your paradise back, drop everything and walk out on the Mara Plain, enjoy. Do we assume that the humans closer to it thought that? Only in our current delusion!

Clearly, we like our knowledge and are glad to be indoors, safely cast out of such a paradise as is full of lions and tigers and bears and invisible death from mosquitos. So, despite the absolutely everything else, we think knowledge about only this stuff, good and evil, is bad? So we keep hearing and learning about it every Sunday long after all other school has ended for most people?

Or . . . despite the opening premise, really, this is a book, and you should read it for the knowledge therein. You may have the knowledge of many things, perhaps you are a master of one or more of them, the aforementioned knowledge of land and crops, of flint and fire, ore and metal – sound and music. The true story is that the knowledge of good and evil delivered Adam and Eve from this “paradise,” – and now you can have this knowledge too, dear purchaser of the Book. Read on!

Then, as I say, rules and punishments, obedience to a celestial being, or failing that, His Earthly representative. And that’s how you do it. Rules and punishments are the tools of the trade of the resource extraction industry of creating evil from a baby born to paradise. Straight up illicit abuse is even better of course, more isolating and such, but normalized, ubiquitous abuse is good too.

This is us, this is what I’m saying.

In biological terms, cruel, warlike humanity is not the default, natural state of this branch of the primate tree, this is not a past from which we strive to escape and are making any long term progress, this is still a choice we make every day and at least until very recently and we only hope it’s changing, our wars are still getting bigger. These are still choices we make every day or at least, in this conversation, every Sunday – knowledge of good and evil has separated us from God and made our life one of labour and strife – and now for today’s lesson, good and evil! Please open your Book to page two.

This is our goal, not our curse put upon us by the celestial being or nature. This isn’t easy, the “labour” part is no joke. We work hard to be like this, to be this, not so much the pious lover of God who fears nothing, yea, even in the Valley of Death because he trusts in God, but more the meanest SOB in the whole damned valley, that’s the truth of the matter. The competition requires that all trades be at their best, from farming to smithing, to the evil-making industries of child abuse and “moral systems” of punitive abuse generally.

Hmmm. This was to be more of an all-in-one blog.

The evil-making industry must work best in secret, I suppose, evil thrives in darkness, so it gets a makeover, a relabelling – and leaves us with this massive contradiction, knowledge of good and evil ruined our lives, so we clearly need more and more of it. You need to learn wrong from right, so I’m going to demonstrate, on you, how a full grown adult beats a small child. None of this makes any sense if good is good and bad is bad – again, the knowledge of good and evil is supposed to have been our mistake, the very thing caused our Fall, got us all this trouble – but without exception, every parent knows that children must be taught “wrong from right.”

We are far more committed to this war against God than this nominal atheist ever dreamed, ha! I kid, the point was our actions do not match our story. Ah, there it is.

We don’t teach our children wrong from right with the beating or any version of it. We make our children wrong from babies that had been right.

The knowledge of good and evil, if it means simply awareness of the two things, or less, awareness of our nakedness, is not the great sin they tell us it is, clearly, and in certain contexts, no-one argues this. We get used to religion sounding meaningless, no slag. I still find “taking the Lord’s name in vain” similarly indecipherable! (I’ve heard more than one reasonable take on it, but those few words aren’t much use, is my point.) Rather this knowledge is not simple awareness of the two words, but again, the relationship, one from the other, perhaps the translation could have been the technology of good and evil. One from the other.

And in this truer story, this knowledge is not only not a bad thing, but the point of the Book, a very good thing, in fact such a good thing that it must be forced upon every last human being in existence. Everyone must have the knowledge of good and evil, all must learn wrong from right. Everyone must have the scars to show they subscribe to someone’s “system of morals.”

 

Minus the sarcasm, this is the logic that makes sense of this biblical meme, not the one usually offered, this plot at least works.

Do you care if it works? If life has any logic to it?

Warning: it won’t make you “good,” not the popular kind of good. It’s a new kind of good some of us are looking for, a rational one, a good that makes some damned sense.

 

Jeff

October 9th., 2019

The 2/35 Ladies of Rainy Days

It sounded real good at the time, the fix that was actually possible. Also, collectivist, egalitarian, all that great stuff that looked popular back then, and all of this good stuff over and above the joke, which, the second meaning, well, I never found it easy to argue with that either! It seemed pretty airtight.

Of course everybody must get stoned!

All my life, I figured, cantankerous as he may be, Bob was on my side with that one. But I have switched sides, or rather, I have found a line that separates me from the meme in that song. I’ve seen that Bob was on the usual side of some lines there after all. The cantankerous side, of course.

The fighting side.

The theory at the time, for me at least, was that some folks are getting off easy, that the rich and powerful aren’t taking their share of the stones, and, yes, in a sense, but no, and not ‘no’ in the sense that they’re not winning the game, only in the sense that no-one wins this game because they are unabused and happy. That, to use a popular expression these days, is not how any of this works.

Put yourself in Barron’s shoes, for instance.

The guy who insisted that Puerto Rico receive no help and gets no power, so that many brown coloured people die, three thousand or so, they are saying, that maybe the last thousand would have died anyway or something. Now imagine it is that guy who is telling you brush your teeth and go to bed, or else. That guy inspecting your report card.

Anybody jealous?

Not the point, at some point Barron grows up enough to be the problem and not the victim, and that is Donald, and I am not sympathetic to Donald, I’m just saying, everybody is already getting stoned and that is the human problem, not the adjectival solution. And I don’t mean to single out the Trumps. Your dad’s plant explodes, killing half the town and he walks, your parents have half a million employees all in poverty on minimum wage and part time work, and he thinks you had better eat the damned carrots . . . this is the same conversation I have about the origins of “morality.” The in-group is already getting stoned, in-group prosocial behaviour is a measured dose of abuse – well, measured when in public, anyway.

Again, not a bid for sympathy, this is not “leave the rich alone, they’re suffering too,” this is “they are not the evil parasites they are because someone loved them too much and didn’t beat them enough.” Again, not how any of this life stuff works. Bob put his finger on it, though! Voiced the unconscious directive all humans are instilled with deeply, and by force, early in life: everybody must get hurt!

 

Bob never gave a damn about the revolution, did he? I kid, I’m sure he did, he’s just sort of emotional, and well, it’s feelings troubadours sell, isn’t it, and I understand the feeling in that song, as I said, no doubt.

We need better feelings is all.

The revolution always fails immediately when the new boss and the old boss agree, though, that violence is any sort of solution and they only disagree about to whom it is to be applied.

 

Jeff

October 1st., 2019

The Sunny Side of Life

It’s waiting for us.

It’s out there, the utopia, Jesus’ heaven on Earth, a better way.

Enough of us seem to think so, that it seems we have a gene for that, to use a twentieth century expression, for thinking so, at least. Questions abound, always, what does this statement of biology indicate? That we think it can exist – or the other part, that we think it exists “out there,” forever? Is that idea, it’s out there, a condition or an ingredient for something, the main reaction itself, or the by-product, the residue of some other interaction?

If it’s the first thing, a beginning, or a place to start, what brain process is it working to enable, that is perhaps not quite happening? If it’s the last thing, well, wishing for a better place, that is the residue of abuse. What was the middle thing again? Oh, God forbid. If that is the function itself, just to have the thought and then get back to work, just a happy fantasy, provided by your genetics to balance out the apparent failings of this world here . . . if that’s all it is? Wait, “all?” What am I saying?

Sigh. Well then, I guess I’m happy to have it, aren’t I? Aren’t you?

Thank Darwin! How hard would life suck without that? Eesh!

Tease me, please! All the mercies are not small. Hope, built-in with your DNA is no small thing, and give it up at your peril! The road to Why Bother is littered with the most miserable of corpses. I’ve always tried to prepare myself, always tried to be open to the idea that it’s possible that there is no better way, or that we’ll never find it if there is, but I am not “open” to knowing that for sure!

What’s the point in that?

I, were I your intelligent designer, have just worked out that you need this possibility in your programming, and I would not cut that corner: that’s yours, you keep that. I’m keeping mine, is the point, it’s one of my sacred cows, a premise for me.

If it’s not the case, well, science requires proving the obvious too. There’s still value in it. If it’s silly and we would be further ahead to grant the point and do the serious work of care and treatment in this nasty old world, well, I don’t think I’m taking a lot of people away from that, and anyway, you can still think this and do that. But granted, someone else is going to have to do any thinking involved in that, I’m off on this other thing.

But the dream is not the end, take heart! Yes, I’ve made an old time philosophical case to show we have the thought, that we would need it, true or otherwise, but that does not prove the reality cannot be, same as paranoia is not proof of safety. Just because we need the thought whether it’s true or not doesn’t prove it’s not. In fact – if we have a built-in meme that doesn’t care whether it’s true or not, if that’s true and necessary, then that suggests a function that must operate at all times, or under all circumstances, doesn’t it? In either condition! We need to think the better way is out there, even if it really is, because, well, what’s the point in an interactive world if you don’t know it is, or rather, we use deception sure, but the basic function of this organ is to perceive the world at least in some of the ways that it really is, and it wouldn’t what’s the word, exist, if it didn’t succeed at it to some degree.

Seems that change and hope are not always apparent looking outward, and that would be enough to give the idea of a better world an evolved reason to be. I’m just saying, if it’s true, if things really can be better, that doesn’t making thinking so dangerous or costly, matching thought to reality, that’s still the plan most of the time for an organism that enjoys viability! Of course, the basic version of this gene is, you need to think it to get you out of bed or get you in there not alone, to keep the ol’ genes alive and marching into the future and wow, put it that way, it doesn’t sound less deterministic and humancentric than the Bible, does it? Never mind!

Focus.

Anyhow, even the conservatives, even the Bible people, even those apparently committed to a static world as God made it and denying our power to affect things such as climate or war, even they have this meme, a utopia, even a sort of a map. Crazy as it is. Either there are many versions of the allele for what the utopia looks like, or there is no specific utopia allele at all, just the feeling that it’s out there and the urge to invent it.

Warning: employ some of your evolved, built-in hope: “not impossible” is likely to be as positive as it gets. I’ll try, but I’d have to be fooling myself, I think.

And again, take the mercies, none of which are small when you need them. If I prove to myself the utopia really is impossible, you won’t see this blog and this conversation never happened! Couldn’t hurt to have a go, right? Can’t dance and too fat to fly, as Mom used to say. I loved Mom, but she used to say some awful stuff, don’t we all.

OK, to it, what brings me here today.

So we have the gene for the urge. Do we have the genes for the utopia?

My entire blog has been an exercise in turning that question upside-down and saying: we have the genes for Nineteen Eighty-Four and we should stop selecting for them and activating them, and that feels like an answer to me, but I’ll grant it doesn’t to everybody. If you read me, you know, I think my version is the question we have in front of us now, and if we answer that, then maybe we’ll be in a better position to take the next step and start talking about positive things. But I suppose I should have a foray down that road, see if we can see around the first corner.

I always liked the following Tom Waits lyric –

Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk?

But it seems my philosophy has taken me the other direction, it seems I see a world where there ain’t no God, just the Devil when he’s feeling sorry. Ah! There’s my way out of this!

Of course, we created both those entities. That is entirely up to us. I love Tom, but I’m tired of that world, his God must be wasted twenty-four seven. What, prithee, is the upside of assuming only good things about people or gods and then spending all your time trying to explain the discrepancies? Some folks are always selling, always spending their time on polish, improving the appearance of things that maybe require real, deep repair work. I don’t mean Waits, it’s just a meme. I mean the thought he voiced, not the particular individual voicing it, I mean something rational, thought-related, word-based . . . don’t get social on me now!

Sorry, the current pet peeve, taking me like a seizure. It’s not the person, it’s the thought. Don’t be listening to the mob, talking about people, specific people or groups of people! Don’t you know crowds are famously stupid? Find the smart few and listen to them talk about ideas, you know, like school and church – teachers, readers! Not your crowd of friends, talking about people! You know this, but we manage not to, but you know this and when you talk to me, I am going to hold you to it: crowds are stupid, yours too. Of course! A committee is a creature with six or more legs and no brain – so how smart is your crowd? How smart are the millions on social media, then?

You know this. You owe humankind that you act like it.

“Social” isn’t open-ended, it isn’t global. When you allow your people to talk such rubbish, when you go with the local flow, you are being social, prosocial with the folks around you and antisocial with the folks around you, and antisocial is where the power is because as I say every week, we have abuse-controlled genes – again, sort of assuming we don’t have the equal and opposite ones, because, well, empirical and anecdotal observation over six decades almost, I won’t lie. But maybe they’re in there. Maybe there are other reasons things appear, uh, one sided.

Wait – is my “genes for” meme wrong? Is it more like versions of genes, meaning we activate the mean version of a bunch of genes, that genes have two sides? If this is how things are, then there is no search to make, they’re right here, or right here buried, and if we managed to create an environment that touched those genes the other direction, then perhaps I would be having to wonder if it were possible to ruin a person instead of wondering if it’s possible not to.

Ouch. The truth hurts, so I guess that’s the case, or at least it’s my belief that it is.

Hey – do I do writing backwards?

Isn’t Hemmingway laying down a lot of personal pain and experience and it works because we all have those feelings . . . and aren’t I laying down global truths and having personal feelings about those instead? Trying, I mean, trying for truths and trying for universality . . . trying to be . . . “global-social?” Trying to transcend groupness, trying to find a “social” that isn’t largely antisocial. I don’t say “them” or “they” much, do I? I’ll plan to do so less, whatever that answer is. I know it’s usually “us” or “you” . . . hmm. OK. Maybe when I say “you” I’m often only addressing some version of “my people,” some group I feel I have a right to talk to or criticize. I’ll try to be more aware of that, I bet I’m failing that way. It’s supposed to be the universal “you,” but I suppose I complain about memes from here, about Christianity when a global version would be “religion,” like that. It’s xenophobia to specify some distant group when I need to talk about a group, though, so it’s not clear how I’m going to change that. Groupless language doesn’t exist, that’s one way to express our whole problem.

So, I haven’t gotten anywhere here, spent fifteen hundred words setting it up, then an obvious, single paragraph answer that adds up to my usual prescription, stop activating the worst versions exclusively, then maybe we’ll be able to stop fighting and talk about some positive future . . .

Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just Darwin when he’s abused?

That’s better. Like I said, if I had proven there is no God, just the Devil hung over, we never would have had this talk. The versions of genes thing certainly echoes any psychological take on the situation, that when you take one option, the road not taken disappears, that I feel a need to search, because it is my cover-up in the first place, the answer I seek is written on a post-it note on my forehead, never to be seen looking outward. We have turned off our better natures, the genes we seek are the ones we have made invisible.

But it does mean they’re there!

Right?

It’s not no hope, right?

 

Jeff

September 29th., 2019

Oh, Twitter

– banned this morning.

First it was me calling someone a “shizo,” and fair enough, my bad, removed. So it’s restricted features – but the best ones, I’m talking to friend in DMs when suddenly I’m gone again.

Same message, some restricted features, DMs with your friends, except no, they are not letting me in at all. Sorry, Sue! Find me here if you want, I guess!

All I can imagine is somebody finally heard something I said, I guess!

I expect I’ve been targeted by some evil army of cat lovers or some militant quilting group or other.

I suppose I’ll sign in again for three minutes in the ten hours or so they say they’re giving me until they do it again. I feel seen!

Finally.

 

Jeff

Sept. 25th., 2019

AST and the Ape with Two Brains

Can’t use the guy’s title in my title, can I?

I like the Steve Martin reference anyway, because, well, I’m not right, am I? What the Hell has that got to do with anything?

I was already in a state, either some medicinal cock-up, toxoplasmosis, or just the three-year anniversary of losing my life coming around, but I’ve been having short nights and day naps and way too much fun talking to myself until I’m really not and I’m writing all day and night . . . and again, when I’m in this suggestible condition, some clever idea comes along and takes me away.

It’s this Iain McGilchrist dude and his Divided Brain idea.

It’s not a revolution for me, I wasn’t walking about invested in some meme about a single, integrated brain or consciousness, nothing like that. OK, wait, maybe I was, but that was the project, the plan, not my assessment of the current state of affairs. Not sure I had settled on such a clear statement of exactly two, mind you, horrible and honest to say, I was till sort of coming from the old ghost in the machine idea, I wasn’t trying to match the divisions in everything to any physiology, taking the I’m not a physiologist sort of stance – ha! That’s the politician “I’m not a scientist” stance – so reality doesn’t matter! Good Lord.

Iain knows this.

As a television watching member of the great unwashed, I hadn’t heard anything about the hemispheres since it was calculation vs emotion either, just as he said – this is frustrating. I mean it’s fun at times like these, when we get the next sensational update – but every update means we’ve all been stagnant, left behind and stupid for much of the recent past. Not to mention the guy bringing us the update is all pissy about it  like it’s our fault! Get over it, Man. You’re happy now, the headlines and the money are flowing, your department are the ones reaped the benefit of that stupid press last time, not the public.

That’s your deal with the Devil, don’t blame us!

I should talk, my pissiness is bloody boundless. Anyway.

No, not “anyway.” Let’s go with that. A great source of irritation for me has just been made clear by Iain, a great deal of the wind I try to blow against is just this situation, maybe. I don’t want to say “for me,” that is arrogant and braggadocious, and certainly we all suffer this – when our right brain has worked out something complex, like it does, a flood of human left-brained minutiae rubbish shows up to argue about it.

Right?

We need a safe gun policy!

No, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” and it’s modeled after the M-16, but it has . . . irrelevant minutiae doesn’t even address the question – this is standard fare on social media, not one of the logical fallacies that show up from time to time. The bread and butter.

Do not elect these fascists!

Actually, America is a republic, and the current policy is crypto/pseudo/post modern . . . starts with a simple binary choice and now there are a hundred versions, and if I sound like I meant the wrong one, then they win or something.

Our left brains are trolls!

Trolling is an exercise in pushing left-brain dominance – and yes, look at the disintegration.

I noticed early on that the people around me weren’t synthesizing things like I was, that they didn’t seem bothered by dissonance, that they carry around conflicting ideas and principles and don’t seem to mind, when one fails, they put it away and pull out another one. Country music on my mind, so

Some folks leave church all buyin’ in and tryin’.

And some folks shake it off!

We ain’t in church Son, just you get the rope.

Extreme, click-bait example, way to build bridges there, Mate. But this was supposed to be me, discussing something within my scope – me.

I don’t enjoy the dissonance I have, it’s awful to come up against it, I understand we spend our lives running from that, and no kidding, “you’ve always been wrong about everything, or at least half” – that doesn’t just hurt, it takes the point and the motivation out of you, that’s like “how do I go on?” Or worse, depending, it’s brain stuff, maybe it’s “how would I even know if am ‘going on?’”

Debilitating, that is.

No doubt, we will move Heaven and Earth, make a million angels dance on a pinhead (is that a description of a microprocessor or what, shut up, focus)  and utterly ignore the bounds of truth to escape it. Knowing that, the conscious work would seem to be looking for a real way out of it first, because you are going to pick one anyway, real or not. Where is the harm in taking a shot at reality in that scenario?

Sure we say we won’t know it when we find it, but how would we know?

So I try. I learn something new, job one is do I have a place to put this? Does if it fit, does it clash? If it fits, if it has to fit, what previous idea is now defunct and has to go? I know I’m sure to be full of undiscovered inconsistencies in my mind, but I am trying not to add any new ones. New popular science memes and such, any new thing should go through this curation process, and I try, and I’m sorry, but, I’ve always been a little lonely, feeling like I’m the only one I know who tries very hard.

If it doesn’t fit, ridicule it and back burner it, I guess that’s my way.

Brain hemispheres didn’t not fit, I was just ignoring it – the calculation vs emotion meme didn’t seem to bear on my abuse focus anyhow, for me the abuse hurts both of that anyhow, you feelings and your IQ, so drawing that line didn’t come to bear on anything I was holding dear. But this new take bears!

It’s more small picture vs big picture, apparently, left vs right brain, like, hard little facts vs higher levels of complexity – there was an elegant little test with pigeons, by covering one eye at a time, it seems that one side of the pigeon’s brain finds tiny food among tiny non-food items, seeds in the dirt, while the other side of the brain sees the larger world around, the lay of the land, watches for hawks – bigger picture.

I have a small concern there, very small, but still: pigeons are fearless. I’ve watched them not avoid predation at all on my TV (huge catfish were one such predator). I hear the ring-necked doves on the mainland take to the sky in a lightning storm in some mad game of chicken! Perhaps you saw the Facebook video a few years back of that toddler grabbing a pigeon by the head and taking its cracker? Did you notice, the bird is utterly untraumatized and doesn’t even walk away?

LOL – it doesn’t hurt the theory, just that the hawk example may not actually work for this exact creature, and I don’t assume McGilchrist is a pigeon biologist. This right brained “big picture” is unhurt by one small left-brain detail example being off – but. Ha.

It does sort of suggest he hasn’t talked to Bob Trivers, who was indeed a pigeon biologist, and that’s never an endorsement in my mind! I sent Iain an email suggesting just that, got a polite answer from a student or someone. Ha, boy I’m having some fun here. Again, not a criticism, would be an appeal to authority anyway, and again, this pigeon detail doesn’t matter, pigeons surely have a big picture whether being preyed upon is part of it or not – and I know, it’s bizarre if it’s not, but it seems that way with them!

I’m just saying, dating service to the intellectuals, you two boys complement each other nicely, I plan to read McGilchrist, but it’s taken me three years, the last book, I’m having issues, so I’ll watch the films and project, conjecture, “extrapolate” I’ll say, if it looks good! Please let me stop having so much fun sometime soon. Here’s the thing.

Trivers’ Folly of Fools, the deception stuff, and the interpretive function suggested for the right brain by McGilchrist et al., I assume he’s not alone, that seems all one to me – and if right brain damage is truly a legitimate way to think about it, then maybe I am the third leg of that table, and it’s abuse causing it, right?

I jump ahead, part of the process for me, go too far and then see if it’s supportable, but stuff comes to me as one liners sometimes and I have to catch up –

Left brain dominance is a right brained idea that says “hey, we should listen to left brain” when we’re stressed, in the ol’ fight or fly debate.

OK, bloody obvious, you put it that way. All part of the what’s the word, the autonomic response? – no research required.

Stress makes you fast and stupid? No excrement, Einstein! No dung, Dirac. But OMG, is it that easy to shut down our higher processing? I mean, is it really half shut down all the time? The audit is proceeding at quite a pace.

He talked about “peaks of civilization,” Homeric age Greece, classical times, the renaissance – another foible, I think, classic European ignoring of Babylon and such, but again, not a deal breaker – he said they rose and fell on a crest of left brain dominance I think – rose on it? I think? – but his point was fell from it, and I see a crack for me to slide into there, too, my general split from the whole civilization meme. He said our attempts to control one another – civilization – is what stresses us out and leaves the right brain out of the loop, and yeah, sure. He even pointed to my cause – these ostensibly legitimate attempts!

Hey, there’s one out there like me!

I’m dropping the microphone.

That was the eureka moment, right there.

See you in ten minutes, probably.

 

 

Jeff

Sept. 24th., 2019