Updated! AST and Child Sexual Abuse

I hate paedophilia, and that is the name for the human practice of adults having sex with children. I know a bunch of victims, some very close to me. When I say something like “sex is nicer than violence,” I don’t mean for human children, and if I say “sex is nicer than violence for children,” then I am talking about bonobos and chimpanzees, or about our own deep, deep past, barely more recently the time when we and the chimpanzees were the same creature. This is about origins. I have a certain insight, that we do what we do for biological reasons, but that the way we understand those reasons, and the way we talk about why we do what we do is upside down and backwards in some very important ways. In fact, I think we are subject to a kind of ‘false national narrative’ at the species level and our origin story needs a closer look. I imagine there are some smart scientists who are far ahead of me here, but generally, humanity at large speaks with a single voice.

 

I followed a train of thought about punishment. I wasn’t really looking to analyze child sexual abuse, kind of the opposite! I was running from thinking about that for personal childhood reasons, pleased to meet you.

 

The theory I came up with seems to explain a lot, though, antisocialization theory, or AST. For one, it gives a new angle from which to view our taboo regarding paedophilia. With it’s focus on punishment and abuse in human life, AST considers humanism to be new and only making a faltering start so that the safety and protection of children only works as the driver of the taboo if the taboo is also new in the world. If the taboo has deeper roots, then humanism is not likely to be the reason for it. If the biologist’s explanation about genetic addition of disease risks is the main reason, then our biology can find other answers too, and doesn’t require that we talk about it, but we do. Of course, our biology doesn’t require that we know everything about our behaviour, only that we do it – but society’s a different story. That’s where what we think about our biology matters also, what we think about our behaviour affects our choices, our policies, public and private.

 

I think our origin story has us at an impasse on both huge issues, the physical punishment and abuse of children and child sexual abuse, and AST can break us out of it. A brief definition is coming up soon.

 

I think probably AST and the associated book is the place to say that humans fuck their kids just like the chimps and bonobos do – I mean, a lot of them – sorry, us, I mean, a lot of us (I’m still running). Enough of us do that if we saw that that percentage of elephants were fucking their kids, there would be no debate, it would simply be listed as an elephant behaviour. Of course, it’s not acceptable human behaviour – but it’s human behaviour. That is not to excuse anything, quite the opposite: if it is not a human behaviour then it may follow that there aren’t victims. It absolutely is and there absolutely are, way too many, so to all the victims yes, this is a human behaviour, this happened and this happens. To make it clear for everyone else: paedophilia and incest are not nearly rare enough to be outside of the ‘normal’ fields of study and they’re not rare enough to be only a ‘personal’ issue. This is a human behaviour, a human problem, and one that we have not yet addressed in such a way as to change much about it.

 

That is true, and true things require some logic to drive them, so there will be some logic to work out here, what effect our modern situation has had on that, how we have somehow turned an act of monkey love into a powerful antisocializing force. Wait for it . . . the definition:

 

Antisocialization theory has it that abuse contributes in a powerful way to the antisocial side of our socialization, that the pain, confusion, and powerlessness associated with abuse and punishment create antisocial feelings and ideation to some degree in those who experience them. AST postulates that a more antisocial member of the troop is a more effective soldier, self motivated and tough, and that perhaps human or proto human troops that did not go to lengths to antisocialize their children were out-competed in battle. This article is not intended to be anyone’s introduction to AST, but this short version is what’s important in AST regarding child sexual abuse: punishment, violence and abuse are antisocializing factors, designed to make us crazy, angry, and violent beyond perhaps what we may have been without them.

 

Perhaps if at some point if we knew, if we were aware that we were perhaps easily killing off the less antisocial apes, or perhaps the more prosocial apes around us, and so if we had instituted a program of abuse for its effects (if we were beating our children to toughen them up and make better troop soldiers), if we were all in for making war and not love so much, then it makes sense that we would certainly also probably put the kibosh on much of our prosocializing.

 

Looking at the bonobos as a view perhaps beyond our early human past, we do indeed see that sex is a powerful prosocializing force in their lives, and as ubiquitous for them as perhaps authority, hierarchy and punishment are in ours, and the young are not left out of the never-ending orgy. It appears that adult bonobos are not antisocialized from their experience, that, in their primate life, sex exists on the positive side of the social ledger.

 

This is one way in which AST makes our previous understanding so clearly backwards: the taboo regarding sex with children, if it is as old as humankind, isn’t any sort of harm reduction strategy at all. The bonobos, they say, have very little violence and pleasure seems to be their social currency; their sex with their children looks like regular sex albeit with bonobos of all size and shape, voluntary and pleasurable. AST says human beings spend far more time punishing their children than pleasuring them (just saying, not arguing), at least today, and it’s my guess that we have made a choice.

 

We didn’t make a taboo of sex with children because sex hurts them – again, unless we only decided this recently. We did it for military reasons, because loving touch spoils soldiers. According to antisocialization theory, I mean. To put it another way, how long do we think there have been advocates for child abuse victims? Do we imagine the protection of children from sex was a cause that took over the world sometime in ancient history or prehistory when protecting them from violence remains a remote and unlikely goal today?

 

Our social injunction regarding incest is only part of the bigger, antisocialist injunction, not the proscription of harmful child rape, or of shallow gene pools, but rather the proscription of a prosocializing behaviour.

 

Of course, it didn’t stop child sexual abuse, and it’s something we will battle forever, probably, especially within the existing narrative about it. It’s a trauma for us, so how can we imagine we stopped it when it wasn’t a trauma, let alone because it wasn’t one? Despite that it looks nice when bonobos do it, when a human adult fucks a child, it is a bad scene, violent, criminal, abusive, ostracizing, all of it, so it’s hard to see the connection, but it’s there, buried somewhere in our past.

 

Trauma is not why we outlawed it in the first place, is all I’m saying, all antisocialization theory is saying. We can’t imagine ourselves making that sort of choice, but if we can look at the bonobos and imagine them making the choice to outlaw sex with their kids . . . then maybe for them, we can see that it would be an antisocial move. Just in case: I’m not advocating for humans to start living the bonobo life, I ain’t advocating for sex with children. My heart’s in the right place and my wick’s dry on this. I am not advocating and I ain’t asking for sex with kids. It’s just that I have a theory and it makes sense of things, that’s all, and that theory has brought me to where our outrage regarding paedophilia seems to be part and parcel of our love of violence. These are emotional, dangerous topics and perhaps that is in part because we don’t quite understand them yet – but AST can help.

 

Right, wrong, prosocial, antisocial, we outlawed child sexual abuse for antisocial reasons, not for prosocial ones, not to protect kids and not to avoid birth defects. At some point, we’ll have to tether ourselves to that reality, because this misunderstanding – that sexual activity, rather than violence, is somehow the greatest cause of evil in the world – simply fails to generate any real progress on either issue. To repeat: do we really think someone was advocating for the children and against child sexual abuse by adults for as long as we’ve been human, or for as long as we’ve been writing? Hardly! But we have been beating our children and so socially engineering ourselves for conflict and war that whole time. Humans have things to do, destinies to achieve, battles to fight, and we don’t really approve of those lazy bonobos just laying around playing swallow the leader all day. That’s the context in which that taboo came into existence and remains with us, as a part of the warrior code.

 

That’s the secret: sex makes you happy and peaceful, and we worry that we’re not mean enough to deal with the neighbors already, so it’s out, except for procreative sex. After all, the army needs soldiers.

 

That’s how taboos work. You’re not allowed to pick it up and turn it over, not allowed to see what’s underneath it. What’s under this one – surprise! – is violence, and our deep love of and identification with it. Not to minimize child sexual abuse, but the exposed core belief was the secret here, the thing that we have an opportunity to learn: our core belief is not a prosocial one. The truth, eventually, will set us free.

 

Jeff

Feb. 27th., 2017

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17 thoughts on “Updated! AST and Child Sexual Abuse

  1. February 27, 2017 / 8:15 am

    What do you think about Daniel Everett’s observations of the Piraha?

    They practice pedophilia as a normal part of their society with both adult men and women having sexual play with children. Yet Everett, who lived among them as an Evangelical missionary before becoming an atheist, noted that the Piraha don’t act sexually traumatized or traumatized in any kind of way.

    They are non-violent, non-authoritarian, and non-hierarchical. They don’t believe in parents punishing children or the community punishing individuals. They are friendly, happy, content, and carefree. They show no evidence of anxiety, depression, or suicidal tendencies.

    The Piraha aren’t sex-obsessed. It’s just that, like every other aspect of their lives, they are extremely laid back about it. Sexual play is normal to them. They have no negative feelings about it, no trauma or guilt. That seems to undermine and complicate everything modern Westerners think about sexuality and violence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 27, 2017 / 9:47 am

      I haven’t read anything long about them, just in the anthology type stuff I read, Steven Pinker, Rich Harris, so not from the source – but it sounds like they’re living the bonobo life that way. Damn, it is a fatal threat to my thesis, ’cause they also live in traditional tribal warfare, don’t they? Are they the very ones gave me this idea, or was it the Yanomami (spelling), where if a boy won’t fight, they torture him until he either fights or dies?
      .
      Hmmm . . . I guess it’s not, because there is a difference between traditional human existence and the antisocialized existence that grew out of it, where conflicts become wars and tribes become nations. I think rather, these folks make my point – where sex is a prosocial thing, armies do not grow and conflicts do not become empires?
      .

      It does hurt the dick theory, though! How well endowed are these folks? Full variability, probably, right? I’ll be taking that part of this blog out, it’s rubbish and unnecessary.
      .

      LOL – when reality ” . . . undermine(s) and complicate(s) everything modern Westerners think about sexuality and violence” then we need to rethink.

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      • February 27, 2017 / 1:33 pm

        The Piraha are a different tribe from the Yanomami. They aren’t related at all, as far as I know. But they both live in northern Brazil in the Amazonian region. Still, they live far apart from one another and so there is no contact or influence between them. They have separate cultures, languages, etc.

        The comparison of the two is fascinating for the fact that they share the same basic environmental conditions. It seems to show the power of culture in shaping human society, relationships, and behavior. The Piraha don’t punish, fight, start wars, etc. Yet the Yanomami are notorious for their violence.

        It is sort of like the comparison of bonobos and chimpanzees. The two species are extremely close genetically. They are only divided by a river. The social and behavioral differences, though, appear to be vast. It should be noted that humans are genetically closer to bonobos than chimpanzees, although we are genetically close to both.

        There is another interesting thing about the Piraha. They are open to sex with outsiders (what HBDers refer to as outbreeding), presumedly leading to greater genetic diversity. And they’ve assimilated foreign tribes. They are tribalistic in many ways. But they don’t have fear and hatred toward outsiders. They simply believe that Piraha lifestyle is good for Piraha and the non-Piraha lifestyle is good for non-Piraha, with no need for any sense of superiority.

        The Piraha are an extremely stable society. They don’t seem to have any major problems or conflicts. They are well adapted to their environment. Their lifestyle is fairly simply and easy. They do live in a dangerous environment because of predators, parasites, and diseases. And they have relatively short lives. But they don’t seem to have any fears about death nor any concerns (or even beliefs) about the afterlife. They don’t obsess over dead loved ones, without any elaborate burial practices and without any ancestor worship. Dead is dead and that is it. Living is for the living and life goes on.

        They don’t have any form of governance, community enforcement of standards, religion, public rituals, rites of passage into adulthood, etc. Everything about their society seems informal. They don’t have any permanent leaders. Only if some group activity needs to get done does an individual temporarily take a leadership role. They strongly dislike anyone telling anyone else what to do. You learn to be a Piraha by living among the Piraha. It isn’t something to be taught. Each generation just learns by osmosis and internalizes the skills and norms of Piraha society.

        The Piraha are extremely social, as is the norm of any tribe. They spend most of their time around Piraha. And there is little privacy or desire for privacy. They intentionally live close together.

        It really makes you wonder. How many hunter-gatherers were like this? We will never know because most tribal societies have been destroyed. And even most of the surviving tribes are living under stressful conditions dealing with encroachment and poaching, loss of natural resources and land, pollution and ecological destruction, introduced diseases, etc. It’s possible that there used to be a lot more tribes like the Piraha before so many of them were wiped out or forced to change to adapt to new conditions.

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    • February 27, 2017 / 10:10 am

      ya got me worrying about the whole timeline of my theory now. Parts of my argument go back millions of years, to chimp behaviour and such, and I’m globalizing about humans, species wide – and yet, as you have pointed out here, traditional human life doesn’t appear to require this antisocialization business even up to today. Wait . . . these warrior boys, beating a passive boy until he either fights or dies, that is antisocialization, that was my initial clue. Difference is Rich Harris’ childrens’ group, the peer group does the antisocializing, not the adults. It was sort of important in my thinking that the grownups started it, but I’ll rethink that. Maybe the adults began it in past years or ages and it just keeps going on its own, if the kids do it thyemselves then the adults don’t have to. That’s the point to me, that we are self-antisocializing . . .
      .
      I can see I’m gonna have to read your guy.

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      • February 27, 2017 / 1:48 pm

        Related to this is Piraha parenting. As I said, children aren’t punished. Mothers do most of the caretaking, along with other women in the tribe. Mothers are extremely tolerant and permissive toward their children.

        They breastfeed for the first several years and the child has near ownership rights of the mother’s body, simply grabbing a breast whenever hungry, no matter what the mother is doing. But then after a few years, the mother simply cuts the child off. And the child basically belongs to the tribe from that point forward.

        The then autonomous child will often have a tantrum for a few days and then will simply join the rest of Piraha tribe in normal adult activities. Piraha never experience any transition period between childhood and adulthood and no period of teenage rebellion and angst. They simply become adults and act like adults, starting immediately after those first years of close relationship with their mothers.

        I have no idea how the Piraha may or may not fit into your own thinking. They are simply an interesting example of what is possible within human nature. We really have little clue what was the norm for most human societies prior to modern civilization. Our knowledge is so severely limited. The millions of tribal societies that once existed all over the world have rarely even left a trace of their existence. They are simply gone.

        Tribal societies that have survived likely aren’t representative of what once existed in the past. So, it’s hard to know what can be ascertained from studying a society like the Piraha. All that it shows us is that such a society is possible, which is important. Many have assumed that anything like that was impossible because it contradicted human nature itself, that we are inherently hierarchical and violent. If for nothing else, it is useful in showing that human potential is much more diverse than previously believed to be the case.

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        • February 27, 2017 / 4:01 pm

          must have been the Yanomami or someone else I read about in Rich Harris, I guess, because that story went, nursing, abruptly pulled off (usually at three years with the arrival of the next baby), the childrens’ group ’til puberty, I think, then adulthood. I don’t suppose there was as much difference between childrens’ group life and adult life as there is in industrialized societies, though, that might not look so very different.
          .
          Oh, OK – NOT at constant low grade war with their neighbors? That’s good, hurts my theory less, I guess.

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          • February 27, 2017 / 4:23 pm

            I just did a search in Harris’ books, The Nurture Assumption and No Two Alike. She doesn’t mention the Piraha at all. But she discusses the Yanomamo (her spelling) a fair bit.

            As I recall, Everett describes childhood transition as not necessarily that different. After the first few years, the child loses its relationship to the mother. The young children do socialize. But they also spend time with the adults in the tribe. From what I understand, there simply isn’t much difference between what adults do and what children do. Even children are expected to do adult activities and contribute to the community.

            Yep. There is no constant low grade war. I was thinking of one possible difference. The Piraha live in the interior of Brazil whereas the Yanomami/Yanoamo live in the border region of Brazil and Venezuela. Border people (e.g., Scots-Irish) tend to be more violent because borders are zones of violent conflict (often over centuries)… for that is how the border formed in the first place. Having to constantly defend a community from violent attack tends to make the people living there aggressively violent.

            Sometimes, explanations can be quite simple. This could relate to the differences of chimpanzees and bonobos. Chimpanzees live in an area where there has been much violent conflict involving human fighting, poaching, encroachment, etc. The behavior of these chimpanzees might not be normal, if the conditions aren’t normal.

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            • March 3, 2017 / 11:34 pm

              pretty sure Rich Harris laid that warrior-boy business as typical of the aboriginal societies that had been studied too, right? I think your Piraha’s way of life is kinda rare. Not minimizing. Have we talked about Sapolsky”s Keekorok baboon troop? It was actually human encroachment that caused the accident that left that troop affiliative and alpha-free for years, just an anecdote, I guess. Your theory’s still good, war zone antisocialization, I like it.

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            • March 4, 2017 / 9:12 am

              I don’t know if we talked about Sapolsky”s Keekorok baboon troop. You say that, “human encroachment that caused the accident that left that troop affiliative and alpha-free for years.” But it also might have been human encroachment that created the kind of alpha males that had dominated before then. It could be generations or even centuries of diverse impacts that created conditions that were far different from the preceding conditions for most of evolution. We simply don’t know.

              I’m always reluctant to make generalizations about all humanity on a small percentage of human societies that remain in the modern world. I doubt there has been any tribal society in recent history that has survived uninfluenced by civilization, since many of the tribes we see today are the descendants of refugees from collapsed ancient civilizations. But such impact doesn’t require refugee crises or a warzone or even direct contact in any form, as civilizations has cascading effects on all surrounding populations and environments.

              In scientific research, to test a hypothesis, a control group is needed. But we have no control group. Even if warrior boy traditions are common, they might have taken forms in the distant past in ways we can’t imagine. I do know that much of Western social science research has been proven wrong or limited once studies began being done with non-Western societies.

              I always return to the fact that what we know is miniscule in comparison to what we don’t know. We occasionally get glimpses, though, that show what we don’t know. History is useful for this, as we can probe back to what societies were like before modern civilization.

              I’ve been reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets. Much of the book is about how much society has changed over the centuries and millennia. She mentions an example of an ancient society where the population would erupt into seemingly random mass dancing and revelry. And there has been much debate and little disagreement violence peace in the ancient world. There is no evidence of major warfare in northern Europe until around the time of the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations.

              So, I don’t know. What seems clear to me is that there is immense diversity in human societies ever since humans began forming societies. But it’s hard to see that in a monocultural age as we live in where most of the diversity has been eliminated. We lack the experience and framework to comprehend societies fundamentally different from our what we know. I’m a big fan of simply stating my ignorance.

              There is just a lot of interesting info out there, limited as it is, that can be put together in various ways to form different pictures of our human nature or even to question that there is a singular human nature. I always end on a note of curiosity, combined with some frustration and dissatisfaction. We inevitably fall back on speculation, our desire to know leading us to imagine what is beyond what we know.

              https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/building-and-battling-in-ancient-europe/

              Then something happened to bring it all crashing down. War ravaged societies, refugees fled in every direction, and sea marauders appeared as if out of nowhere. Most of the civilizations collapsed and trade ended. That is the infamous 1177 BC.

              As another archaeological site shows, this violent chaos also made its way to Northern Europe. There was a battle as never seen before in the region, probably involving thousands of warriors and leaving behind hundreds of dead. The evidence offers a “picture of Bronze Age sophistication, pointing to the existence of a trained warrior class and suggesting that people from across Europe joined the bloody fray.” Something had changed, but the cause remains uncertain.

              “But why did so much military force converge on a narrow river valley in northern Germany? Kristiansen says this period seems to have been an era of significant upheaval from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. In Greece, the sophisticated Mycenaean civilization collapsed around the time of the Tollense battle; in Egypt, pharaohs boasted of besting the “Sea People,” marauders from far-off lands who toppled the neighboring Hittites. And not long after Tollense, the scattered farmsteads of northern Europe gave way to concentrated, heavily fortified settlements, once seen only to the south. “Around 1200 B.C.E. there’s a radical change in the direction societies and cultures are heading,” Vandkilde says. “Tollense fits into a period when we have increased warfare everywhere.”

              “Tollense looks like a first step toward a way of life that is with us still. From the scale and brutality of the battle to the presence of a warrior class wielding sophisticated weapons, the events of that long-ago day are linked to more familiar and recent conflicts. “It could be the first evidence of a turning point in social organization and warfare in Europe,” Vandkilde says.”

              In the centuries following, such things as the violent Greek epics would be produced.

              https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/beyond-that-there-is-only-awe/

              We moderns love certainty. And it’s true we possess more knowledge than any civilization before has accumulated. Yet we’ve partly made the unfamiliar into familiar by remaking the world in our own image. There is no place on earth that remains entirely untouched. Only a couple hundred small isolated tribes are still uncontacted, representing foreign worldviews not known or studied, but even they live under unnatural conditions of stress as the larger world closes in on them. Most of the ecological and cultural diversity that once existed has been obliterated from the face of the earth, most of it having left not a single trace or record, just simply gone. Populations beyond count have faced extermination by outside influences and forces before they ever got a chance to meet an outsider. Plagues, environmental destruction, and societal collapse wiped them out often in short periods of time.

              Those other cultures might have gifted us with insights about our humanity that now are lost forever, just as extinct species might have held answers to questions not yet asked and medicines for diseases not yet understood. Almost all that now is left is a nearly complete monoculture with the differences ever shrinking into the constraints of capitalist realism. If not for scientific studies done on the last of isolated tribal people, we would never know how much diversity exists within human nature. Many of the conclusions that earlier social scientists had made were based mostly on studies involving white, middle class college kids in Western countries, what some have called the WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. But many of those conclusions have since proven wrong, biased, or limited. […]

              In Monoculture, F. S. Michaels writes (pp. 1-2):

              “THE HISTORY OF HOW we think and act, said twentieth-century philosopher Isaiah Berlin, is, for the most part, a history of dominant ideas. Some subject rises to the top of our awareness, grabs hold of our imagination for a generation or two, and shapes our entire lives. If you look at any civilization, Berlin said, you will find a particular pattern of life that shows up again and again, that rules the age. Because of that pattern, certain ideas become popular and others fall out of favor. If you can isolate the governing pattern that a culture obeys, he believed, you can explain and understand the world that shapes how people think, feel and act at a distinct time in history.1

              “The governing pattern that a culture obeys is a master story — one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture. When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things. That’s the power of the monoculture; it’s able to direct us without us knowing too much about it.

              “Over time, the monoculture evolves into a nearly invisible foundation that structures and shapes our lives, giving us our sense of how the world works. It shapes our ideas about what’s normal and what we can expect from life. It channels our lives in a certain direction, setting out strict boundaries that we unconsciously learn to live inside. It teaches us to fear and distrust other stories; other stories challenge the monoculture simply by existing, by representing alternate possibilities.”

              https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/human-nature-categories-biases/

              [A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind by Robert Burton] (p. 105-7):

              “Heinrich’s team showed the illusion to members of sixteen different social groups including fourteen from small-scale societies such as native African tribes. To see how strong the illusion was in each of these groups, they determined how much longer the “shorter” line needed to be for the observer to conclude that the two lines were equal. (You can test yourself at this website— http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/sze_muelue/index.html.) By measuring the amount of lengthening necessary for the illusion to disappear, they were able to chart differences between various societies. At the far end of the spectrum— those requiring the greatest degree of lengthening in order to perceive the two lines as equal (20 percent lengthening)— were American college undergraduates, followed by the South African European sample from Johannesburg. At the other end of the spectrum were members of a Kalahari Desert tribe, the San foragers. For the San tribe members, the lines looked equal; no line adjustment was necessary, as they experienced no sense of illusion. The authors’ conclusion: “This work suggests that even a process as apparently basic as visual perception can show substantial variation across populations. If visual perception can vary, what kind of psychological processes can we be sure will not vary?” 14

              “Challenging the entire field of psychology, Heinrich and colleagues have come to some profoundly disquieting conclusions. Lifelong members of societies that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic (the authors coined the acronym WEIRD) reacted differently from others in experiment after experiment involving measures of fairness, antisocial punishment, and cooperation, as well as when responding to visual illusions and questions of individualism and conformity. “The fact that WEIRD people are the outliers in so many key domains of the behavioral sciences may render them one of the worst subpopulations one could study for generalizing about Homo sapiens.” The researchers found that 96 percent of behavioral science experiment subjects are from Western industrialized countries, even though those countries have just 12 percent of the world’s population, and that 68 percent of all subjects are Americans.

              “Jonathan Haidt, University of Virginia psychologist and prepublication reviewer of the article, has said that Heinrich’s study “confirms something that many researchers knew all along but didn’t want to admit or acknowledge because its implications are so troublesome.” 15 Heinrich feels that either many behavioral psychology studies have to be redone on a far wider range of cultural groups— a daunting proposition— or they must be understood to offer insight only into the minds of rich, educated Westerners.

              “Results of a scientific study that offer universal claims about human nature should be independent of location, cultural factors, and any outside influences. Indeed, one of the prerequisites of such a study would be to test the physical principles under a variety of situations and circumstances. And yet, much of what we know or believe we know about human behavior has been extrapolated from the study of a small subsection of the world’s population known to have different perceptions in such disparate domains as fairness, moral choice, even what we think about sharing. 16 If we look beyond the usual accusations and justifications— from the ease of inexpensively studying undergraduates to career-augmenting shortcuts— we are back at the recurrent problem of a unique self-contained mind dictating how it should study itself.”

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              • March 4, 2017 / 10:12 am

                I know aboriginal lifestyles are dosappearing, and I also know what you said is true, there is probably no population of humans on Earth that has really simply evolved in place from forest-dwelling apes to forest-dwelling humans and not been up and down the civilization curve repeatedly themselves, or at least their neighbors have. That anyone has simply grown up or grown human in the wild, that is not seeing things from a realistic time frame, I agree. That is something we need to just accept, that simply cataloguing empirical observations of seemingly aboriginal peoples isn’t going to produce an understanding. We’re stuck second guessing ourselves, theories and slow scientific method are going to be the only way we make sense of ourselves. Do I appear to be making “universal claims about human nature?” I’ll have to be more careful.

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                • March 4, 2017 / 10:19 am

                  I don’t know that you’ve made any universal claims. I was speaking more broadly. It’s just something that has been increasingly on my mind. I’ve grown wary to an extreme degree. The more I learn the more I realize how ignorant and clueless I am about so much. I’ve become hyper-sensitive to even a hint of universal claims.

                  Yet at the same time I completely understand the appeal of universal claims, as they are often heavily informed by Enlightenment idealism. I feel like we are a society lost in stories we like to tell ourselves and I don’t know how we see past the stories we’ve internalized. The reason certain ideas and frames dominate our society is because they are so powerfully compelling. They offer a sense of meaning and certainty, what humans crave.

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                  • March 5, 2017 / 1:21 pm

                    I’ve gotta go through your comment before last more closely, but for this one – I really think our two pet theories are compatible, plus I really think mine is a good, concrete example of yours. As to your idea here, your complaint, that we are lost in our stories, I totally agree we are, but I think my theory will be a great example of comparing stories and auditing the two stories with some better assumptions than we ever do when we’re stuck inside a single one. I think if there’s anything you haven’t heard yet about it, it’s coming, you’ll have to wait until I write it new. I wrote it into a terrible, 100,000 word book last year, but it’s just a chronicle of a breakdown. The theory doesn’t require that long to say, I’m weeding out the crap.

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  2. March 4, 2017 / 12:07 am

    This is a really interesting topic. I usually re-read over to really grasp what you’re saying but my eye issues won’t let me I’m afraid. Benjamin’s comments were also really interesting. I’ll have to come back on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 21, 2017 / 11:11 am

    Don’t get me wrong, folks, the bigger point is we humans do all we can do to antisocialize ourselves. In our hands, even love and sex can become a weapon and a trauma, and it surely has. Sex is prosocializing for bonobos, is what I said, human adults sexing kids is traumatic, antisocializing, just one more way we drive ourselves mad.

    Like

    • May 8, 2017 / 7:21 pm

      The issue is context…

      What are the Bonobo studies you’re referencing??

      Like

      • May 8, 2017 / 11:23 pm

        Oh, nothing. Television, YouTube, maybe a TED talk in there . . .

        Like

      • May 8, 2017 / 11:43 pm

        there was some TED talk, I think, where they didn’t video the video part of the talk for the content, bonobos, uh, recreating. 🙂

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