Unrelatedness Theory

Unrelatedness Theory

 

It’s something I hadn’t considered, not really breaking one of my rules to miss it, but definitely failing to apply a test I often brag about – flipping an idea upside-down, learn what it is better by seeing its reverse. My theoretical reader must know all the names I’ve been using, AST, Murphy’s Law of Nature, ‘the whip and the human response to it’ in the latest – well, this title is only saying, maybe all I’ve got is existing theory in reverse language? Self doubt is good for folks who are trying to pass themselves off as “thinkers.”

If relatedness theory is how altruistic behaviour decreases with genetic distance like light in spatial distance, then unrelatedness theory would be how antisocial behaviour increases with genetic distance, same, same?

Except at first glance, that creature looks very different on its back!

First of all, it’s true enough in its most extreme terms, lethal conflict, it’s mostly the unrelated we hunt and kill, sure.

Second, though, it rings a lot less . . . obvious. In negative relief, we are talking about causative things: antisocial behaviour is a powerful thing in the world whereas “prosocial behaviour” is mostly only the absence of hurting and killing behaviour. Psychologically, again, this from The Nurture Assumption, which, I know, but that was supposed to be a compendium, socialization researchers have failed to find much evidence in development for prosocial nurturing.

Further to this, the world could be full of unrelated people that never know about or feel our antisociality, while our closest relatives do indeed feel it, right? In this sense, in my usual immature accept nothing until I figure it out myself way, I submit relatedness theory is descriptive, but sort of avoids the negative causality, AST says it’s the antisocial stuff that is what explains what’s going on. I mean, I assume relatedness theory doesn’t talk about it, because I have yet to hear my AST idea echoed back to me from literally anywhere (and also I bounced the kernel of my theory, abuse for war, off of Bob and he didn’t respond with any familiarity about it). In the starkest terms, I think the prosocial fact that your mother didn’t eat you explains your existence; I don’t think it explains who you are. It’s the nasty stuff that happened to you that explains who you are, the antisocial stuff and your response to it.

Close relatives are proscribed from lethal aggression, mostly, that’s relatedness theory in extreme and we will risk or spend for others based on their share of our genes, that’s it among the living. I think there is a suggestion or more that beyond a certain distance, that is not your tribe, somebody thinks a natural village extends to third, maybe fourth cousins, and some number, a hundred, a hundred and sixty? I think this means the arithmetic doesn’t add up to enough interest beyond that, eighths or sixteenth shares aren’t detectable enough or something, family resemblances disappear? No, just the other family’s traits dominate, I guess.

Caveat – I probably picked most of that up in the Blank Slate, and while I was savvy to any obvious political crap from Pinker, I may have been fooled about more scientific-sounding stuff. Half of the above paragraph was in the form of a question because it does sound a bit male-shady.

So I keep coming across the idea of the residential schools, and of less genocidal boarding schools, and I’d decided that they are a workaround, a place for children to abuse one another and/or be abused – all by unrelated people, all bussed or flown in from all over, a workaround that defeats relatedness’ protections to allow for some serious abuse in the name of a larger than the aboriginal’s relatedness limited size group’s interests and conformity. If we didn’t know what resulted from this already, we could simply process the ingredients, what might we expect from a population engaged in self abuse sort of thing, and then perhaps begin to guess what that society’s interests are.

My guess isn’t different from the mainstream’s guess, competition, conflict, war. Listening to some stuff about Foucault lately and I will say that I wish to show this fight to be contingent and not universal, our fighting natures to be a matter of free will and not any iteration of an innate limitation. So, not necessarily and inevitably, but this large group social abuse serves a lifestyle of conflict, it seems to be the point of it.

I think in words. Not pictures (I wish), and not numbers (I also wish) – I literally had a recurring nightmare as a child of numbers, single digits, flying at me out of the dark and it terrified me! But I had this idea when the Covington kids got famous, in words, and it just struck me today, this aspect of AST probably has exactly the same arithmetic in inverse, the law of inverse squares – the more stranger genes you have, the more available you are for use and abuse, for obey or die authority, the bigger your share of stranger genes from mine, the less your individual value. The more all your value is your group value – in its purest form, conform or die, what use is a non-conformist with none of your genes? Did I just explain racism, like a real explanation of why we would want to be that way? Again, not just because we don’t feel “prosocial” towards others, but because our entire lifestyle is predicated on the existence of a vast unrelated pool of humanity to use and abuse and so keep the nation ready for war?

I think so, but I must be mad if I think that wasn’t already explained?

Ah! If that seems wrong, if some of our very closest, our children are getting some of the worst abuse, maybe again, the causality is in the negative – my child may be my closest relative and my genetic future – but in some senses, maybe more recently than in the far past or something – in my family, in my tribe of only a very few individuals under this roof, my child is still not myself and still the furthest from me genetically that is on hand, and so the most available for use and abuse. We don’t all qualify to host foreign exchange students – bazinga.

Wow, ouch.

Tell me how the positively worded version explains that? I haven’t read it all, but my sense from life and everything I ever heard or read, I think our collective answer has been some version of original sin: without these “prosocial feelings” among our relations, all that war is . . . automatic. Right? This meme exists somewhere between ‘we all have it,’ and ‘it’s what the bad guys of the world want you to think, that’s for sure.’ A contingent, presented as a universal, but reinforced constantly, just in case.

That last bit was my clue.

OK, I know this, beating the snot out of you is indeed more prosocial and less antisocial than stuffing and roasting you – not untrue, but again, the entire world of living, as yet un-killed human beings’ suffering the antisocial side is left unexplained, unaccounted for, and the entire branch of science marches on pretending it never happened and never happens.

Then this “social science” stuff comes out of nowhere, unconnected to biology and “hard science” and with an entirely different set of rules and methods, unconnected, because the connection is this entire thing, a history of pain and abuse that we’ve labelled prosociality and even “altruism” – “self-domestication,” is the latest label. Of course systems of knowledge are also systems of denial. (Insert my usual meme that someone has hijacked the obvious link, “EP” to poison it and salt the academic Earth where it should be so that it can never grow again.)

It’s hard not to feel you’re right about something when the line of thinking keeps being productive, keeps overcoming apparent obstacles with some ease and explaining more and more, in a more consistent fashion than previous theories. Murphy’s law though, both ways removed – I wish it weren’t all true.

So this goes to my main project – curing human aggression and war, why not?

I assume, since I’m saying that humans use unrelated humans to antisocialize their children – OK, now I’m saying it – working around their natural tendency to not want to, then this must ramp up as a group grows and continues to grow beyond the usual, natural limiting factors of size. It seems there would be a formula for it, the percentage of the population of a given group that is beyond the natural protections of relatedness –  zero percent for a group alone on an island or something, whether two small groups merged, fifty percent, or whether this civilization has progressed to tens of thousands, something upwards of ninety percent?, perhaps some threshold between, with a knowable relation to a propensity to war?

The formula for human critical mass, of a sort?

I assume Bob has some arithmetic for this, in the positively expressed version, same related to unrelated ratio in a population sort of thing . . . ? All this arithmetic makes a case that the pressure of population drives us to war, and again, that may be familiar, but it’s not automatic, and exactly this equation points to us working to drive one another mad not merely by our presence, but by our intentional, if not fully conscious behaviour.

The existence of structures that function as pressure valves, the voyeuristic violence of sport and fiction, this does not prove that the pressure was organic or natural – in fact, most pressure valves are for artifacts, not natural phenomena. We say “opiate of the masses,” and yes, but there is amphetamine in the water: we create the pressure and control it, setting it just where we like for our lifestyle, at a level where we’re always ready to “defend” ourselves.

It seems so simple – if you can have the conversation at all, if you can make this possibly schizotypal leap with me, that abuse is a thing, a currency, an all consuming human technology that has brought us to the brink and probably beyond, not an accident, not “not what we meant to do, but thank goodness it doesn’t affect us,” no.

Not at all.

I think that makes nine this short month, a new record, and a bad sign.

 

 

Jeff, mostly from

Feb. 29th., 2020

 

So by flipping the causality upside down, by not obsessively focusing on the prosociality and looking instead at the antisocial treatment of non-enemies, what changes is rather than explaining large cities and large societies as some rollout of our good sides, we can sort of redefine what a society is.

In theory, we can stop fooling ourselves that the thousands and millions people in our modern groupings have been brought into our moral circles, surely the author and authors of relatedness theory weren’t ignoring that our moral circles end at around our fourth cousins, that was their contribution. This extrapolation from there to our society isn’t Bob’s, it’s probably just National Geographic’s or something, a social meme at this point, but I think the replacement idea in this blog is that we can call a modern large society an antisocial group and be a little closer to the truth than to call it a prosocial one.

The technical advance in it, the civilizational advance, do we say that? – is that we gained a usable, unrelated pool of humans, something between friends and enemies, for whatever purposes such a thing can be used – like to harden one another’s children for the never-ending war effort, and for war generally . . . OK, I need help. I’m trying to remember other reasons, think of other reasons we would like that, and I’ve been in this mode of thought too long, I can’t turn my imagination elsewhere.

Does the prevailing narrative address this? Why did we bunch up into such huge groups, what am I saying of course they did, but never mind. It’s no doubt war anyway, but just without any choice on our part and without any talk of child abuse or any abuse. For animals, there is prosocial and there is dead, mostly. They fight, of course, but the losers of the fights are often not long for this world, I do not see a plan for sustained abuse there – of course to agree, you’d have to agree with me that we in fact have such a plan, and that’s too close to a circle for an idea that doesn’t already enjoy some popularity, I won’t press it. AST is a mode of thought, like evolution, like a school of psychology or something.

Trying to say, living, breeding victims of violence are what we’re studying when we look at human beings and to trace their development to a simple binary condition, live or dead, existing and breeding or selected out is to miss the entire subject.

The evolution of abuse and of humanity under abuse.

That’s where it’s at. Come on.

 

Jeff, extended and updated

March 9th., 2020

Jesus Complex

Sure, I got that. I’m going to say “Jesus,” rather than “messiah complex,” because messiah complex to me would mean warrior dreams, it was a general sent from God they were asking for when the ancient Hebrews coined the term, probably more like Netanyahu than the John Lennon type we hear about with Jesus. Hey, they got him, so this is the Jewish Millennium? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I mean compared to other, competitive ethnic empires, American century, China rules the world, ants rule the world . . . it’s everybody’s glory days!

That was just a bit of delayed learning on my part, I get used to things in certain contexts, modern Israel I think more about in terms of American myths, the End of Days. I forgot Israel figures there’s a thousand years of glorious history coming before the End. Is this common knowledge, is it even knowledge? I must have gotten it from the Pesher Technique, it was supposed to be the Jewish myth then, in classical times and before, the messiah, the millennium, and then a reunion with God? Like the Rapture?

No, I got the hippy dippy Jesus complex. It’s not about saving a nation by arms, it’s about saving the whole world, and not by conquest but by pacifying and so saving their souls.

Someone on Twitter said they wished that our inner scars were visible, and then we would stop being so mean to one another, and I get that image, but I replied with what I think and that is that the meanness is the scar, the scar hides in plain sight. Meanness is visible, right, well, audible – detectable by your senses, let’s say? Meanness, aggression, it’s sort of a known response to poor treatment, right, a thing you would certainly expect along with the scars? It fits, it’s a scar, it’s damage and rough repair.

The thing is, this meanness, it’s not that difficult to trace its origins . . . but it’s not exactly endearing, is it?

I can see some causes, I can be understanding, I can feel for the victim of abuse – but when his symptom is being nasty, how do I approach him, how do I want to, how do I sympathize?

It’s that seed of fate, the over before you knew there was a game thing, like classical theatre, some feckless god decided that abuse should drive us rabid and when we begged the god for a weapon against it, he gave us a bludgeon. Fate, ouroboros, our central conundrum since we accepted the weapon. You can use it, and it sort of works – but it makes more.

Somebody please tell me which three myths I’m mixing up, please. (Honestly, while I’m sure that is the truth, that I’m putting myths in a blender together here, full disclosure, I believe AST, Murphy’s Law of Nature, the response and the bludgeon, to be likely as yet unrepresented in classical myth, I believe them to be . . . unrevealed. I think it’s a secret, a lie to ourselves and not the sort of thing every classical scholar knows. But I’m extrapolating from a mad insight, I could well be shown otherwise – again, please.)

So along comes me, saying, OK, the god put the response inside us, we may be stuck with that – but he’s only handed us the weapon. That’s free will when we use it.  We don’t have to.

In fact it looks to me like our temptation, our test that we’re failing, us always falling for the short term, roughest solution. Ha! You know I’m talking about punishment, so this is perhaps rich – forty days in the desert of newborn sleep deprivation and all western parents take the bribe, “power over all this.”

No?

A case can be made that Jesus shared my mad, absolutist idea about simply not punishing, the Cast the First Stone story as well as the Prodigal Son tales can be looked at that way – I’m no scholar, are there more? Not punishing, it’s not a great leap from the message of forgiveness, but of course punishing didn’t end, and forgiveness is a commodity in this punishing world.

If I may add some snide insult to this injury, I will say that we remember him, and an echo of the message, and we still tell those two stories, listening like dogs with our heads on sideways trying to glean the meaning, a meditative mystery, like one hand clapping – it means don’t punish, Rover!

I know – “Ruh?”

It’s a tough concept.

But we remember he tried, right, tried . . . ruh, again? We’re not sure, but he forgave folks, that’s nice. That is my complex, my delusional dream right there, to have said this, and to be remembered as having said it – don’t punish.

And maybe it starts out slowly, embarrassed, persecuted people getting together to not bully each other in basements and grottoes, and to raise their kids away from the Old Testament world, or perhaps that’s only the story the world makes up looking back from some future about it, but if things were going to improve for this species and its environment, for that future to be we need to pass the test and put down the club.

I wouldn’t mind being remembered as one of the people who told you this, but mostly only because that means you remember somebody told you this. Credit would nice of course, then I could flex on Jesus because I think the only person on Earth gives him credit for saying “don’t punish” (unqualified like that, global) so far is me. I heard you, Buddy! What hoops do the priests jump through to say it’s right not to punish adulteresses and sons who go walkabout (crimes at the time and in that place, I guess) but still wrong not to punish every petty thief and curious toddler?

We forgot about Dre’d on poor Jesus. Love the beat, Man. Oh, were you saying something?

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 26th., 2020

Primal Dream

 

I just cherry-picked another conclusion from Sapolsky’s work.

The Keekorok troop, the one who lost it’s male leaders and lost the alpha structure and became more prosocial – and importantly, converted incoming single males to this affiliative mode – I was going with the first impression, that it’s possible, but there’s more.

It shows how it’s accomplished – accidental Russian or French Revolution for these baboons, the alpha and wannabe alphas were all killed, leaving a group of more affiliative folks in charge, and the group did not fall to a single incomer with dreams of leadership, group versus individual, group wins, just like we like to say. That was off the cuff though, the thing that got me typing was that it sort of proves how rarely we have managed that trick.

Where can a human male go, be welcomed and talked out of his violent, competitive dreams? Where on Earth is there not some evil ladder for him to climb? The aforementioned revolutions installed new hierarchies, but hierarchies nonetheless, leaders, citizens and intermediaries. Of course, the human home is also that model.

 

Jeff

Feb. 23rd., 2020

Primal Scream

I know it’s infantile. This is not me, blindly immature, refusing to accept the fact of the world, it’s me, cognizantly immature . . . and refusing to accept the fact of the world.

I know it’s genderless (which, being fair, comes free with infantile) when I’m singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” That is not me, blindly in the closet, “accidentally” liking a female song, complete with the at the time most common euphemism for the female orgasm for a title and a chorus. That is me, acknowledging both women as well as my own feminine side – I know, I don’t look it while in my Dockers and band T-shirt, partially bearded. Having already lived a fairly full cis life and been driven mad with boredom by it, I’ve decided I belong with the freaks – no slight intended – but I’m sort of undemonstrative. The man costume doesn’t give exactly the right impression, but I’m trying not to be too hung up on costume and impressions. I always do something, weird haircut, some bright jacket no-one would touch, to give the clue.

These days, I’ve quit cutting my hair, I’m retired/unemployed, may as well let my freak flag fly, and it’s sort of genderless, long hair. I’m straight, I’m just not militant about it, genderless needs space.

I look pretty straight, if not at all tough. You’d think I have negative opinions about non-straight or non-white people, but I don’t, I so don’t. I’ve been bullied and terrorized by straight white males too, in my life that’s where all the trouble comes from too.

I expect I look more like a grownup than I feel also – but again, not blindly. Infantile is a conscious choice – I mean as well as a psychological disorder, it’s my disorder of choice, because “mature” means hard, mature means antisocial, mature means killed feelings and going about the business of killing things. You being mature means you do not care when I cry, or worse, you prefer that. You and me, Ma, still in that standoff, no I won’t fucking “self-soothe,” that is your job.

The crying will continue until treatment improves.

I know it’s still that baby cry I’m making every time I dissent, every time I fight something in life that most folks don’t object to – I know it internally, I mean every time I cry out, part of it is that I am still waiting for an answer to the first scream, that I look at it like if I never stop crying and if someone comes to see what’s wrong, ever, then I was heard eventually and not permanently ignored. I haven’t lost hope, you see, you all still have a chance to make this right! I mean, Mom’s gone, but you still can! Maybe you see this and think I don’t, but I see it:

I think growing up means giving up, of course I do.

Perhaps when I was young I had less of an idea of giving up on what exactly, but I think that what I’ve been  looking at, putting off, is giving up on is you, people. I suppose that was always it, but I’m here working through this because something has finally budged, something in this is moving for me a little and it’s not that I’m giving up now and the struggle is over, at least it doesn’t feel like that bad ending I’ve been fearing. Maybe I can give up without it being the end of the world, is what it’s whispering to me today.

Maybe writing y’all off isn’t the end. I’m still here, after all.

It’s a moral capitulation for me. I’m infantile, I know it, but I’m not a child. When I decide at nearly sixty that the rest of you are swine and not worth talking to until you prove otherwise, that is not going to pass as infantile, preverbal rage, is it? (Do you see it? I’d better cop first – I think that’s a lot of peoples’ true excuse for the same decision, that they made at the more appropriate time, like early childhood.) It was never my way to disregard someone, never the plan. I lived, heart on my sleeve, trying hard not to be defensively protecting myself from the people in my life, immediately either bringing them into my moral circle and trying to understand them or simply running away from them, not having them in my life. I don’t want to fight.

A lot of folks didn’t think so, because I like to talk and debate and philosophize and psychologize, but that is central to my dilemma here, I was treating them all as peers and equals and worth talking to and giving my honest thoughts and feelings . . . I think this is “regard,” me caring what you think, wanting to know what it is and sharing any information I think I have that I think you may not. I give any little wisdom I have away for free and if anyone would listen I would hold nothing back, talk myself straight out of a job, empty myself completely.

I wasn’t able to lie, protect myself that way, I was bad at keeping secrets, because I keep almost none of my own, I am always offering my privacy and my foibles in trade, hoping for some honesty and intimacy in return, TMI is my middle name. This I see as my function in the world, lead by example, be vulnerable, be embarrassed, don’t fear judgement and don’t judge, share the knowledge.

I lack boundaries.

But I find myself trying to remember if my honesty and humility ever did bring any reciprocation, and I can’t think of a single instance. I may have gotten a reputation for being “nice,” which in the words of Lone Watie, Chief Dan George’s character in the Outlaw Josey Wales, “I think it means we’re easy to sneak up on.” Beware of people who compliment you for simple honesty and then complain that you talk too much. Also old men who want to teach you the thing they could never learn!

That’s called “mansplaining,” a sub-category of the Dunning Kruger effect.

Sorry about that. Come back and read that to me tomorrow and every day for the rest of my life, would you mind?

Anyway, enough about my sainthood and how I can’t ever learn to hate, the point is, I think I may have found a way after all, I think I may finally see a crack in it, I think I may be able to separate things ever so slightly, have a boundary without having to start a war. I mean, not for what I would call a good reason, I just think I’ve finally been hurt enough to get it. This infantile, naive fearlessness crap will get you killed.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 22nd., 2020

Bubble Wrap

Not sure where to put this, it’s a random thought I want to not forget – bird brains are denser with neurons than ours, of course, mass and weight matter for birds – so perhaps much of the mass and weight of the prodigious human organ isn’t doing cognition or other brain things, if some very clever birds can live without it?

Perhaps it’s a lot of swelling from the beatings and punch-ups, or a lot of padding evolved to lessen brain injury during those events?

Pending annoying and elusive things like evidence, I think it fits AST and maybe the larger narrative too!  The plasticity phenomenon – brain maps exist, but portions can be reallocated, functions can be relearned when the mapped area is damaged – does suggest other sorts of redundancy in the brain, other sorts of injury mitigation strategies, not saying I’m the one to ask, but I’ve heard of the circle of Willis, a blood vessel that seems to have that plan. They say human craniums are getting thinner, though, which I assume is involved, but I don’t assume how – there are head-bashing birds, after all. I need to check out woodpeckers and such. Something to keep an ear on for me.

Oh, Hell, theories! This was supposed to be a sideline, not a full-time distraction. Oh well, here goes: cranial size being limited by mom’s pelvis size, perhaps the growth of the brain took the inner thickness from the skull, what it could, from where it could, without growing the outer dimensions beyond that limit? Perhaps brain mass, either for cognition or for cushioning, was more important than helmet thickness – hmm, especially considering we developed technology to smash skulls somewhere along the way? I suppose skull thickness got outstripped, less useful against stone weapons (like stones) than smarts or padding? (Or both, of course?)

I need to learn the timeline – has it simply been a steady thinning over a few million years, or did it thicken first and thin out later? I don’t know, but I just read something that sold me that we haven’t been boxing the entire few million years, perhaps boxing is no use unless your opponent has a thin skull or something, but I also got an idea that abuse doesn’t form or malform your bones so much as your brain. Of course the science is bone-centric, that’s what we have.

Sort of my whole thing.

I’ve happened here upon an insight I know I’ve heard of other folks having – lighter bones, thinner skulls, the idea that these indicate a less violent life, the position of the self-domestication idea . . . not necessarily the case is it, by the argument I made, weapons technology could explain that with no break in the action. Thickness of your bones helps you survive a punch up with your mates, maybe hunting injuries, it doesn’t change the spear’s ability to violate your softer parts?

A long process of lightening may not indicate less violence, only a more technical violence? Just a thought, needs to be slept on. Again though, bones.

I think I have a brain puzzle that needs attention in the ramble above.

The intelligence of some smallish creatures and the flight-ready configuration of some very good bird brains (and a suggestion that those sorts of brains served dinosaurs for millions as many years as we can claim), contrasted with the relative bulk and weight of our own. It’s not subtle – the math doesn’t work, we are not that much smarter, we are on the same scale for intelligence, while the mass and volume is an order of magnitude different.

It’s not even linear, comparing the size of your brain with your dog’s, compared to the intelligence gap, or with a rat’s. I’m guessing this apparent disparity is a known question with a name, like Pascal’s Wager or some such, that we’re twice as clever, but with a brain ten times the size.

In the plasticity book, The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge’s work,  he makes the case that we do not need all of that mass to function, he cites a normal functioning hydroencephalytic with water where ninety percent of that mass is supposed to be! Volume is not smarts, not in any simple, must be sort of a way.

So I’m back to most of it being bubble wrap.

That’s my rap all day long.

 

 

Jeff

February 15th., 2020

LOL – it’s better than my previous theory, believe me

https://neighsayersotherstuff.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/85-of-the-human-brain-is-just-filler/

😉

This is Your Life Or The Problem of Consciousness

It’s nothing less than a revolution that’s required, of course.

I’ve worked it out, and things are not really so different from what the scientists are telling you, that’s pretty much the situation, we’re made to fight one another and the only answer is not to lose, except for one large, fundamental difference: it’s bloody optional. The way we talk about game theory or conflict theory, you’d think it was this way for everything that lives, necessarily this way. It’s not.

Actually more importantly, whether it is or not, it simply can’t be – and can’t be, can’t be anymore, what’s the difference? If we want any sort of a life we have to make it not. It’s unsustainable, look out your window, if you have one.

Evolution says we’re never finished being made for anything anyway, we’re always still in the process of being made, so nobody gets to say “this is just how I am,” the real question is how you are trying to be. Well OK, bears, beetles and such do, but nobody who talks to me gets to say that! If you are some unconscious, instinctive animal, you don’t get to use that as a defense, if you can’t be responsible for yourself, you don’t get to make a defense, you don’t get to speak. Even, especially, your hired spokespeople don’t get to speak, I don’t care if they do wear glasses and a lab coat! If that’s the description of us, the verdict, an aggressive primate with an intractable penchant for group conflict, I’ll be jiggered if I’m taking it from you. You ‘I’m aggressive, deal with it’ types always have some nefarious agenda, in my experience! If you are coming to me, mouth flapping and canines bared, you need to be conscious and self-aware, not making some excuse about how your behaviour is hard tied to your existence with no wiggle room.

Why would I converse with that creature? What’s the point? It’s clearly going to do whatever it’s going to do, no matter what I say – even no matter what it says. We already have its terms. It’s going to do what it has to do, and it just told us it has to fight.

But, wiggle room – that’s consciousness, isn’t it? I thought we liked that!

I have always been more than a little suspicious of the way we talk about consciousness, and the way we slander the creatures we say don’t have it. I am sure, yes, from nothing but my own esteem of my own experience and general knowledge, that the “awareness of our own death” trope is rubbish and that all creatures have it. Predator or prey, it’s your business all day long, isn’t it? One step further I will say that awareness of your own death is perhaps only the very first baby-step of consciousness.

One great leap further, perhaps a very important one, would be to have some awareness of what is going on while we yet live, I mean to ask, yes, death is the end of life – but does consciousness apply to our life? Are we aware of what we do with our life, what we spend it at? We are “the conscious animal” because we’ve figured out the time limit we’re under, but it would be a better definition if we actually had consciousness regarding our lifestyle – if most of us didn’t live according to forces beyond our own understanding or control, is what I’m trying to say. That’s sort of the definition of unconscious.

If you’re conscious, then tell me – what is the stated goal of your life? What’s the plan? Survive? Breed? Fight for the right to do so, if necessary? I suppose “digest” is also one your clever, conscious plans!

Feeling especially mean today. To be fair, I have concrete, conscious plans to digest today as well. But you know what I mean, tell ourselves we’re conscious all we like, we are achieving a destruction of our environment no-one wants to take credit for having done consciously, right? All our hopes and dreams, most of the good stuff dies with us, but much of the waste and damage accumulates. I have a rather grim view of us, but even I do not think this was planned. Not consciously planned.

How many of us can or do declare (I do declayuh!) at the end of our lives looking back, that we were conscious, how many get to say, “I meant to do that?” I personally have lived half a life of utterly blind self-deception since the first time I said that! There was something I was meaning to do, I swear, while I thought I alone was living intentionally at all, but that’s not what happened, so that’s not what it was. Forces beyond my understanding and control, I assume.

Failing that so far, or in our attempts to understand, we have zeroed in on what takes so much of our time and energy, the conflicts. It’s what grew this large brain, we say, and in this evolution-as-explanation paradigm, that is us, it’s what your meat-bag was made for. That’s what your massive brain is for, fighting these clever aggressive humans – never mind you put it that way, the logic sounds a little circular? Yes, not so much circular logic as a biological feedback being described, I know. So, the good minded folks think about restraint and containment, what with all that grey matter being bent on a fight. We are trying to escape that brutal past. Right?

I mean, except for most of what we do. If control was not also a fight, perhaps.

I mean, except for soldiers. Or street soldiers and other criminals. Or criminal justice. Or anyone in politics or competitive sports. Even competitive figure skating, you ask some people! Those folks need to use that evolution, don’t they? In fact, we all do, because those folks are everywhere. There is no life for a rabbit among the foxes. This is your life. Stay strong or it will be either a bad one, a short one, or both.

Again, I am not happy to be described that way by some violent creature who can fight well enough to kill whole planets but can’t think his way out of a simple damned if you do, damned if you don’t bind like this. If it’s not smart enough to see the trap, then it’s not smart enough to be giving lectures.

I am certainly not happy to be given my marching papers by this ape who introduces himself this way, as possessed of a debatable portion of free will in matters of violence. This is the guy telling us who we are. Really?

“This is your life.”

The Hell you say, Sir.

It’s a nasty little irony that one thing we may count as a sure sign of consciousness is lying. Not sure, I mean, I know what they mean, but people lie to accomplish some less than conscious goals also, so lying while unconscious is hardly rare. In fact, it’s not impossible to argue that inasmuch as deceit has a purpose, then unconsciousness also has a purpose. No point in a lie if everyone’s walking about fully conscious of everything, who are you fooling? It takes two for a deceit to function, one to tell the lie and one to not know it.

I write every week about the lie, about just what it is we do that feeds this evil wolf within us despite our denials, but not so much today. Today, I want to start something. I’ve told you that I find this view of us offensive and unproductive – did I? I meant to. I mean unproductive of peace and progress, of course. My entire thesis is that it’s productive of just the situation it declares to pre-exist – but today I want to ask you.

Are you happy with this state of affairs? With this description of yourself and with the life before you in this view? This is what you were made for, here’s your rifle, good luck out there? Moreover – do you feel conscious about it? Like you had some choice in the matter? Or does it maybe feel like if there is a greater share of consciousness out there somewhere, that the powers are keeping it to themselves? Or perhaps that there just isn’t, and they’re keeping only that data point, that atom of awareness to themselves, for what advantage that may give?

Mic drop, end of blog, pithy and bitter, as usual.

Or . . .

. . . or we could choose not to simply declare ourselves conscious in this unconscious state and make the effort. I don’t expect everyone to suddenly agree with me and change their minds, but I’m asking for our scientists to revolt, to distress their parents and their churches and their donors and bosses, by not rubber stamping the status quo as the way it is and the only way it can be, to rebel by not projecting our guessed at past onto the future, but to find the next move, the way forward and to life, to a future.

You’re the brain with the pocket protector, you’re supposed to find the solutions, not tell us there are none. Figure stuff out, don’t be happy to merely describe the end of the world, like the media does, don’t just narrate and watch!

Simply describing yourself as aggressive and saying, “watch out for me,” is a very low level of consciousness indeed, hardly worthy of science. And did no-one ever tell you that you’re not supposed to tell a kid he is bad, only that he’s doing bad things, and why? That’s what I’m talking about here, you are telling more than kids exactly that. Of course, that’s what the Koch Foundation is paying for.

Chin up! Be brave – and follow me. I’m a philosopher by nature, I can figure this stuff out in English, in words, but this needs scientists, proof and publishing, chemistry and math, all of that – let’s get something started. Or, you know. Planet of the Apes.

Whatever.

 

 

Jeff

February 14th., 2020

Inobut – the Crackpot’s Dilemma

Believe it or not, I have some crude idea of my chances of being right about antisocialization theory.

Can we just say, “not good,” spare my ego a little?

Cue the waiter sketch from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” – “That’s why I became a blogger! I know it’s not much of a philosophie, but, well . . . “

I’ll stop there and say instead – but what if? Wait –

In these darkening times, I keep seeing “The Mote in God’s Eye” every time I close my eyes, a science fiction popular novel – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle. There’s a planet, populated by primate-like creatures, from civilized sorts on down, but when our people start doing some archaeology there, what they find is disturbing, it’s just layer upon layer of ruins, stretching back as deep as they can dig, showing a history of civilization and collapse, a simple life cycle, repeating forever – and you know books are really about us.

In real life, we and our planet are in all sorts of trouble, but all signs are we are simply not up to turning ourselves around. More importantly to my mind, the things we do attempt, the only efforts we seem able to make amount to a fight, over what’s left, over how to respond, over who is causing more harm. Capitalism is a fight, money is a fight, everything is a fight. We try to stop the petrostate, they fight back, because fighting is our one size fits all answer for everything. This state of affairs, that the oil CEO sees a fight before him rather than the world dying under him, this bias, this prioritization, this is how you bake a lasagna of dead civilizations for future alien archaeologists’ core samples.

We’re an overly social species. We force the prioritization of human concerns over all else, over reason. In fact, it is my contention that the two are opposites, social and rational. The human difference is this magic trick, that we are able to create irrationality, force one another to do the impossible and unthinkable.

So, that’s what I worry about, that’s what I’m trying to solve.

Taking it head on, if I may mention, macho bloody mountain of intellectual pursuits! Nothing but the very top for me, saving the world. If I may also mention, I’m alone up here, me and some hippie Sherpas; the nabobs of human origins won’t even comment. Like any parent, like anybody really, they are very invested in punishment and do not wish to discuss that punishment is made of abuse.

Back to the point, I know it’s a long shot that I alone have happened upon it, of course it is. I squeaked into Mensa, but I am the lowest of the Mensans, nothing about me suggests I should figure out something the Einstein types, the world’s geniuses haven’t. All I can say is, if I think I’m right about my AST, I can only say it was a confluence of accidents, some rare alignment of the stars; perhaps I have a genetic mutation that makes it possible to worry about it for decades, that may be one of the stars – but what if?

The thing is, having this anomaly, or having been on this train of thought for long enough, I feel I’m at that stage of the investigation, that having eliminated other possibilities, what remains must be the answer, however apparently unlikely.

Are there competitive theories?

What other ideas are on offer to save the world?

Granting for the moment that my diagnosis is right, that it’s the fighting that needs to stop, what other suggestions are being made to address the fighting that have any hope compared to us moving a great deal of the hurt out of the “Pro” column for the very first time?

You know, an early impression in all this for me was that the idea of capital punishment hurt my feelings, my hope for us, to think that the good folks were willing to break the first commandment, and if so, what did we expect of any bad ones?

Religion has hopes for divine intervention, but it seems the fight has infected their efforts in the real world, I think anyone but any particular church’s adherents would say, that on balance, religion serves the fighting, that the basic biology of human group conflict is mostly what is happening there, religion is a group identifier more than a pacifier.

Secular progressivism seems good, but while we learn more and more about how we are destroying things, the powers that be are apparently refusing to learn and carrying on despite public opinion – even apparently hurrying the process, it looks like. Modern progressives have good opinions, good ideas, and they always have had, and here we are, nonetheless. Mostly, it’s another fight to join, just a better one, a more moral one, but another battle, like all things. How do I also complain that we’re not winning, if I’m supposed to not be endorsing the fight?

I don’t think we ever “win” this bigger threat, the end of the environment, by winning any fights. My conclusions, unlikely in the extreme, I know, but what are yours, are that the only way we have a future is we somehow eventually convince ourselves that the fight is the problem. We have to learn to not want to fight. It means we have to start setting things up differently.

It means when the next generation complains about a violent world, you don’t take them to the gym and teach them how to box.

It means when your toddler hits its sibling, you don’t say, “No, child, little people don’t hit each other, big people hit little ones. Like this, see?”

It means lots of things that are unlikely in the extreme! Of course, our interest is that our kids can fight – just not that everyone else’s can, and, relatedness, I know. Of course the world runs how on the powerful like it, not how on peers work things out, so the parental lesson is real world education, right?

But “everyone else” fighting includes some very bad stuff, oil CEOs, soldiers of all sorts, crime. So, what if?

What if there were some way, some highly dubious way that may not be a magic bullet (and rejects bullet metaphors!) to fix everything immediately but would possibly begin to turn things around very soon and show us the way? What if it seemed like the only way?

Wouldn’t you try?

 

 

Jeff

February 2nd., 2020