My Beautiful Mind, Part #1

AST is a beautiful idea.

I’ve been keeping that part a secret, I’m not sure why. Really, AST is beautiful, full of hope, a ray of light for the future where none was perhaps deemed possible, a truly unexpected miracle of light and hope in a dark world.

This is not easy for me.

I will rail all day on your corner about how the world is burning down but to offer hope, to say something positive? That seems to me to deserve the utmost care, that is not a thing to be undertaken lightly. But I think it’s time to start to roll that vision out and see what it looks like.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff on abusewithanexcuse.com – the “Better Metaphor” series, etc., it’s the foundation of my idea, but the language, the subject matter are all on the dark side of the human equation (that being central to the theory, that, just like with the fictional “Force,” the dark side of life is where the power is), which is kind of all stick and no carrot for the reader. It was a positive urge that began my search, and I really have found my answer, but the answer finally came to me during a very difficult time in my life. It’s my idea, and it has a big bright side, but I haven’t been able to see anything but darkness myself for this whole last year. My apologies and my praise for those few readers who have been able to follow me on this train of thought despite the thick pheromonal cloud of anger and sadness that surrounds me. Some small group of followers have been able to allow me to speak to them despite the cloud, which is something few manage in real life. Anonymous and theoretical as you are, I thank you, I needed that.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

So enough of rehashing the dark side again.

I repeat: AST, antisocialization theory is a beautiful idea. AST says that not only are we not born sinners, but that we do not even stand in judgment of ourselves as such. It says that we believe ourselves to be conceived sinless. Do you know, I used to hear talk like that and brush it off as either religion or psychology, and considered either vector for these sweetness and light sort of ideas to be baseless, simply wishful thoughts? I’m sure you do know, I imagine that is your present thought also. But it’s true. It’s the only belief of ours that can make sense of our behaviour.

Not only that, but AST is the only theory that explains the nurture assumption, the only idea that proves the power of the nurture side of the eternal argument. As such, AST has the potential to bring psychology back to science and to bring biology back to humanity. I know everyone shares this dream, that the caring basis of psychology not be left out of the exploding world of the bio-sciences. I don’t think we all want it this way, or from me – but we all want it, right?

AST has it that we are not eternally failing at controlling our base impulses for war and other violence – it says that we have succeeded in reinventing ourselves as this thing, this deep roots of war creature. It says that far from being helpless to our genes and our base natures, that we are in fact self-actualized creatures, that we possess the power to create ourselves in a vision of what we need to be, that we have done it already and so we can again. This is one hundred and eighty degrees away from where the life sciences appear to be taking us, but it’s not a conflict, only a misunderstanding. AST comes to this happy vision by finding room within a scientific look at human beings for choices, for free will, for our inner life. AST is empowering – not your usual scientific theory, to be sure.

. . . better?

Sorry, I’m a little stuck, not sure how to end it. Like I said, being positive, offering hope, this is hard for me. Offer doom and you’re wrong, great, but sell hope and something goes pear-shaped? Scary. But, if you have the cure, if you might have the cure, then I guess you’re stuck with it, take a chance or go to your grave wondering if you’ve let all of humanity down, those are a grandiose person’s choices. To put it out there is to invite exposure (and treatment), but to not is to protect one’s delusion, a comfortable, ineffectual madness that fears critique.

I’ll risk it, finding out I’m wrong, finding out I’m crazy, starting all over yet again, all of this I risk for you, for all of you but for no one or few of you, on the chance, on the small chance that I really have stumbled upon something that can make things better for all of us. God knows I’m trying, LOL.

 

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

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It’s a Child’s World

. . . yeah, I probably don’t mean that the way you’d think.

This isn’t that the children are our future, or that we are only renting here and giving up our damage deposit when that was supposed to be for them instead. I’m talking, as usual perhaps, about the Nurture Assumption, and today more about the book by Judith Rich Harris than the assumption itself.

Ms. Rich Harris has the most wonderful writing voice. I imagine any man or reasonably flexible woman who has read her has fallen in love; I certainly did. So, the nurture assumption, that we all assume that we mould our children somehow into acceptable adults is the primary proposition in the book, but it is perhaps the second largest point in it that it seems to be our childhood peer group that moulds our personalities instead. Now, I’m ignorantly arrogant and suspicious, so I haven’t quite made my mind up about that bit just yet, there may be more to it, but if it’s true, or mostly true – and it is, at least mostly – then human culture is children’s culture, right? Or rather, human culture is developmentally arrested at some point in childhood.

Ladies, I have to ask – does this strike a chord, a feminist chord? Haven’t you always known you’re up against grown men’s bodies inhabited by the souls of angry young boys?

The basic, aboriginal scenario she described (from many years of reading and writing textbooks on the subject) is a village of sixty to a hundred and sixty people, perhaps three main family lines, and mothers having babies every two or three years – at which point the previous child is weaned and let outside to join the children’s group. Here, we learn and grow, and graduate to have our own children. Adult personality testing shows our grown personalities to show far more conformity with the children’s peer group than with our parents.

Sometimes if we’ve only just heard this, I imagine it takes a second to sink in, but another way to state the scenario Rich Harris describes (I don’t think she put it this way), is this: we are somehow immune to intergenerational learning and we mostly don’t know a thing that every child doesn’t know. Maybe we can learn throughout our lives (I hope so, I’m about to retire and planning to keep trying), but our ability to pass it on to children is severely impeded once we are of breeding age ourselves!

Now, I think that’s a sort of an argument for a general cause to support some vague idea of our adult “children’s culture,” but I have something of my own to add, namely that the means and ways of this “influence” and “socialization” that happens in the children’s group happen to be the same ways and means that parents are so valiantly trying to justify with the nurture assumption: abuse. Abuse in a generic sort of sense, sure, but in all senses.

We can say that parents use rough methods at home and that the children perhaps emulate, or we can say that the parents have only just exited the children’s group where that was the way of life as well, the ways and means of conformity and organization, and that they simply carry on as they always have in the group, albeit with younger children for perhaps the first time. It’s a circle of life sort of thing. Personally, I have chosen to blame the parents for this vicious cycle, because for the most part they are older and closer to some definition of legal responsibility – but also, because we have been trying to get the kids to stop hitting each other for years already and that just isn’t working out! I think we should try stopping the adults, see if that works better.

That was a bit of me, but really, that is the implication of the children’s peer group, has to be, right? That the social pressure during our formative years, that the society this testing shows we conform to is the society of pre-pubescents. There’s a nibble for the biologists in it, too. Part of the theory is that your parents aren’t so likely to beat you to death as the peer group is, because the gene relation is closer, so that we conform to the bigger threat, the more realistic threat. The Nurture Assumption spelled it out graphically in terms of hunter-gatherer warrior societies, where if a boy won’t fight, he is tormented until he either fights back or is killed. One presumes there are very few adult pacifists.

Perhaps it’s not so sad that we are living a life designed and enforced by children because of their inexperience, but rather that the structure of our society is formed from experience that includes a lot of boyish competition and violence. I’m not sure about that, and this is absolutely a thought in progress . . . I’m postulating this, the eternal children’s group and the associated adult “children’s culture” – and a different, first generation adult culture in every generation? Again, we can learn, it’s only that adults can’t teach kids, at least not social things. But the eternal, timeless children’s culture of might is right (and sex doesn’t matter?), the unconscious side of our culture, and the adult side where things change and evolve . . . ?

I think I’ve taken this as far as I can . . .

Cheers, folks.

Thoughts?

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

Next Question?

            Next Question?

 

The last one took me something more than fifty years, admittedly. I am a moron, no two ways about it. But I got there, and frankly, I’m, well . . . proud might be a bridge too far, and happy isn’t it either, but I’m . . . satisfied. In that sense, I declare myself to be a scientist, albeit a moron. It’s not about my emotional needs or pride, it really is about the question. The question for me, since I was a toddler or something, was “what is punishment?”

I’ve answered that to my own satisfaction, and it’s in my blog, the stuff from this year, 2017. Unfortunately, figuring something out about ourselves and being able to do anything about it are very different propositions. The solution seems to be locked away, hidden behind the dynamics of stress, and for a change, before I try to work through it in the privacy of my own mind and blog with a view to figuring it out in my final fifty years from nothing, I thought I’d better stop and read Sapolsky’s book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”

He’s brought us a nasty little maxim, that stress results from taking a beating and is released by giving one. Again, I am a moron with no sense of my own limitations, so I don’t understand “maxim.” I see that label, “maxim,” (I don’t think he’s called it that) and double Scorpio that I am or whatever, I say to myself, it is up to me to solve this puzzle. I don’t know why, it’s to avoid thinking about my personal self and problems, of course, but I can’t get around it. I would rather think I’m trying to save the world and solve the human condition than that I’m doing something smaller and more doable and ignoring the big, universal problems. I’m living a big, public life, at least in my own mind.

So, I’ll be reading for a bit, trying to learn instead of talking for a bit. Dr. Robert Sapolsky is sure to have something to inform my search. He’s terrific on video too, I recommend him as highly as possible, as does everyone, from a moron like me all the way up to the very best and brightest. I’ll be checking in, but I see my views have stopped. I don’t have the heart to keep promoting on Twitter, punishing my few followers by spamming them with the same blogs for months on end with nothing new, so that will be sporadic unless I think I’ve had another epiphany or something.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff, the “Better Metaphor” series, etc.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

I’ll be back, and dropping in, but I think I’ve kind of run out of things to say for a bit, this was it. I’m not some writer, some endless spout of verbiage, I’m just a guy with a minority POV and an idea I think will help us, so I write that. I swear to God, it’s not about me. It’s about us. It ain’t personal, it’s about all of us; it’s public.

Thanks for visiting, Folks. I wish I could know what anyone thinks, though.

 

Jeff

April 20th., 2017

AST as Morality

                Reciprocal altruism is supposed to be the origin of morality, but it’s sort of the opposite, it’s predicated on the out group, which is still what passes for morality although it’s the “morality” and “logic” of war and genocide (and abuse and antisocialization).

Clearly it is, it would be the start, include your family, then your tribe, then your nation or race . . . it looks like an arithmetic progression, then on to us all, right? That’s what I thought, that’s what I thought “liberals” thought . . . but we’re stuck here, at the race or nation level, aren’t we? And it’s because this morality requires an enemy, an out group, and therefore, maybe ‘reciprocal altruism’ is a name with some possible misleading connotations, and it’s not so much that the first half negates the second. It’s that there are people left out of the deal, that it’s a competitive strategy. Competitive strategies are fine, of course. I don’t have a problem with them until they try to pass themselves off as “morality” because when implemented, these strategies mean war, and frankly, that our bad guys and our good guys are all ultimately pulling for war I find a little depressing.

Of course, reciprocal altruism is the goal of all our group bonding, with shared goals, we gain power and hope to gain security, but it is the goal of anyone’s racism and xenophobia too. The very expression, “humanism” also displays the limitation; this being the goal, it means all of us, but it still means us against every other living thing present and future. This would seem to be a foundational sort of thing. Set up this way by evolution and God, what is reciprocal altruism if there is no competitor to stand against, no out group? How is an all-inclusive sort of morality “morality” if no-one fails the code and is left out of this reciprocal arrangement? It would seem to be these loose connections, this logic that somehow conflates our morality with our group interests, which is the first step in our morality never getting to the next level. What would seem to be the generic moral act, the humanist one – helping the non-Samaritan, for instance – conflicts with the Samaritans’ interests, and our social groupness means not only that our group interests must take priority, but that this priority be “moral.”

Any cultural Christian (and I imagine any cultural Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or anything else) has been given to understand that morality is not our personal interest, rather it’s closer to the opposite, and at that level, group interests are one step better, but group interests are the personal interests in the larger, global moral conversation. They are the problem, not the solution, they are all the deadly sins. If one of our group sins and we are loyal to him, we are all complicit and all sinners indeed.

Just a reminder, folks.

It’s clear from what I see on social media, that many of us have confused our personal and group interests with morality, and I want you all to know: I see you. Stand up for what you can get, sure, but spare me your claims that God or morality are on your side. Save your Holy War talk for those who are dumb enough or just self-interested enough to believe oxymorons like that, who believe in moral mass murder.

And if your church didn’t tell you this, you need a new church.

 

Jeff

April 3rd., 2017

Twin Studies and AST

Pulled from Google:

phe·no·type

ˈfēnəˌtīp/

noun

BIOLOGY

  1. the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

___________________________________________________

If I may, to state the simplest form of Nature plus Nurture above in an even shorter way –

Genes + Environment = Phenotype

– right? That’s the basis of it, isn’t it, and so the basis of the famous and never-ending twin studies? The opportunity to move genes around to different environments and see what changes and what stays the same?

Now, I’m not the first to point out that adoptable homes in adoption-capable countries are largely selected for similar socially acceptable reasons, but that’s just not clear enough; the problem is even more basic, and it’s in the definition above. The amazing, specific identical things that some of the separated twins showed that seemed to give all the power to the genetic side of the argument do the very opposite with more logic, prove the opposite.

These amazing parallels defy the phenotype equation, for starters. Either some of these behaviours and propensities are purely genetic, unaffected or unaffectable by environment, or the very impressiveness of the phenotypal match proves that there was no difference in the environment, at least no difference that would or could change that trait. Empirically. The same phenotype means same (relevant) genes and same relevant environment, by definition.

To my untutored mind, that looks like a huge fail. I’m sure the biologists have some long-assed answer that I’d need to be a geneticist or a statistician to argue with, but if they don’t have something to explain away the first rule, the basic syllogism, then . . . on the other hand, though, it’s an understandable conclusion, considering the setup. They move genes to new homes and hope they’ve made an environmental change, but really, we don’t know what it is that might have changed, do we? We’re black-boxing this “home environment” thing, we look at what we put in and what comes out as a sort of high level troubleshooting method, like how it’s done in electronic systems, when we can’t know the inner workings of some device. We really haven’t worked out what about the home environment does what . . . well, hadn’t, I mean. AST has, possibly.

The evidence has been right in front of us the whole time. There is no evidence for all the details of parenting styles, for anything “positive.” The evidence is for abuse, so that’s the environment factor that when we change it, we’ll see statistical results, changes in incidence of all that correlates with abuse, meaning problems. That is possibly the upshot of the adoptable home criteria as well: socially acceptable levels of structure, discipline, control, and abuse. When all that varies only within a narrow range, then it’s not going to matter how widely less important things vary.

Biologists, you want to convince us that parenting doesn’t matter? Change your test twins’ environment in a meaningful way, and there’s only one, level of abuse. You can’t arrange to have one tortured, so all you can do is try to raise some separated twins without discipline and punishment, that’s legal, I think.

Either that, or you’re going to have to explain to us how all the experiments that you say proved the power of our genes seem to disprove your most basic rule.

I don’t know why people never understand me in this way: this is a question, I have posed a problem here, and I’m looking for an answer, an explanation, an argument, something. Silence indicates assent and submission in court, but I don’t think I can make that conclusion here on the interwebs.

LOL.

 

Jeff

April 1st., 2017