Shoutout to Baba Ram Dass. RIP.
Read this like Be Here Now.
Why You Shouldn’t Spank – the Antisocialization Theory of War
One – A new Genesis Chapter, #1 Introduction
We are born good and turned bad, just like the French fellow said.
Most of the world doesn’t think so – save your protests, I didn’t ask. I say you don’t think so, I’ll back it up soon enough. I’m from colonizer world, I’m a white north American male, so I’m a cultural Christian and around here we don’t think so as much as anybody, so I have decided that this culture needs a new Genesis chapter.
In the beginning was the Word.
This is not an endorsement, and any philosopher will tell you, words are not things, that this is gaslighting, and this narrative says the gaslighting was there from the very start, before you were, before anything. It was there already, waiting to tell you what things are, even before there were things. Not an endorsement, I don’t think that is any way to start something! The primacy of the Word, and the submission everything else, of the entire world to it is the problem, and what do we expect, starting from such an obvious lie, that the label precedes the thing?
The Word, to my mind, to be clear, is not the Gift of God, but a command, an order, the voice of authority. That’s right, straight up anarchy. Follow the truth and you lose organization immediately, he says, setting the tone and making the excuse for his drop of water on a hot griddle writing style straight away.
There was something before words; that was not the beginning, and whoever said it was not being entirely straight with us, as I’ve said. If God said it, I hope it isn’t news to you that God hasn’t been entirely straight with us – strange and mysterious ways being sort of a theme with Him. Don’t ask Job, though – he found out what’s there behind the strange and mysterious stuff. I say if the Truth is the truth, it will survive an audit.
We can ask what came before the Word!
We can ask why things get said. It is a certain scientific discipline’s job to do it and they’re not though, so it’s down to us. OK, me.
Again, don’t ask that Job fellow, he didn’t have much luck – I hope to do better, but truth to tell, I am already a few miles down that road. Frankly, I can’t stand for what He did to that guy, I’m here for justice. No need to announce it with this opponent, no need for tragic stupid bravado, the ending is pre-ordained. I’m going to do the only thing I can do, passive resistance, make Him do it to me too, because that wasn’t right. Sometimes you have to express yourself even if no-one listens and sometimes you have to fight even when you won’t win.
So don’t spank.
There, done, expressed.
Well, that was easy. How bad could the fight be?
The Book of Job is the triumph of the Word, sometime after we came along and started asking questions, the victory of authority over all else, over life, over humanity, over all reason, and in this book it is made clear that the Word is a command, an order, and a demand for an utterly unearned fealty. In the beginning was the Word – and that is all you need to know.
You have your orders. Wait – kiss me first.
For my purposes here, it seems all part of a single mythological moment, the pre-existence of the Word and Job’s and reality’s denouement, and since that mythological event it has only been a matter of time until we bring about the end of the world, as others have said. Again, what else might we expect after giving our lies primacy in the world? We stopped giving reality a chance, we stopped checking in at all.
The triumph of the Word over reality is the triumph of social things over real things, our mad behaviour that we will destroy or create real things because someone told us to.
Ironic, I suppose, that the Word, in this sense, the incorruptible Word stands in opposition to reason, which could as easily have been the Word, reason before things, I understand that this is a way to read the philosophy of this excerpt, some analogue to the Greeks’ “forms,” or maybe a more direct stoic commitment to reason in words – but this is not what either the Bible, or the Word, the voice of authority is in the world, it is more the argument against reason, more the voice of the one who tamed the leviathan and who tortured poor old Job. I’m not talking about the words of the Bible, the text, this is not belief you’re seeing, I don’t mean any primacy of the Bible’s words, I hope that’s clear, I mean that the Bible gave that primacy to all of our human words, that religion positions humanity above the world and what we think about the world is more important to us than the actual world itself. A large part of that disregarded world is also in fact us, people. Most of the evil done in the world is done because the Word, someone’s orders, took priority over some functioning reality of the world. Often some living, breathing reality of the world.
See, that’s not just Bible people. Everyone clearly has that in their setup, human supremacy over the world. Same with Christian Original Sin, all humans have some analogue for that meme also; all measures of humility are promoted by most of the world’s religions and so most cultures, which, humility means not thinking too highly of yourself, which may be close enough to the born bad assumption to point to its presence. I believe eastern religions have it that if we were sinless we wouldn’t have to be here anymore.
Mostly I think we all have it because we all have the associated behaviour.
The Bible is one expression of the human mind, which is an expression of the genome, and probably all humans have some version of the genetic sequence and the resulting brain circuitry that produces original sin or some other cultural interpretation or expression of the same thing. This idea will be a theme. In fact let’s look at it before we try to continue.
Two – Circuitry
I’ve said it before, and I expect I will again, that evolution is the new creation. Creation is what that circuit in your brain is called, it’s what has history and prehistory, what evolved in every culture ever, so if you are a human, evolution becomes nothing but the new way we were “created,” the past tense being no accident. The rest of them are always getting new names too: sin is now self-interest in 2020, original sin is now our bestial “genetic heritage,” and military style primate troops are now “cooperative social groups.”
We use the Creation neural circuit when we talk about origins, will you allow it?
We try to make it new, but we know, change is difficult, and this is a big reason why: every new idea some person has does not indicate some new evolved brain circuit, perhaps – and I put no stock in this – perhaps a new thought only indicates a new synapse or several – but more the point I think is that all of our thoughts are interpretations of neural circuits, not the circuits themselves. We are a long way from matching thoughts to hardware – honestly, I don’t know how real my “circuits” or pathways in this theory are and how much it’s only metaphor.
They seem to me to be extremely useful thought experiments, though.
The effect is, as I said with some snark off the top, that a new theory is in danger of disappearing into the old one, because mostly, we’re engaging the same old, well traveled neural pathways and we can slide the new word into the same old conversations pretty seamlessly. As a personal aside, this is a constant battle for me, in trying to roll out my particular vision of the world in a way that doesn’t also depend ultimately on the creation circuit, it is exactly what this idea has to do all day, and the editing never ends, I am forever seeing another way in which my new thought wasn’t new after all and having to try again. I see this all day long; it’s exactly what I’m fighting.
That was an accusation of a personal failing in the past, “evolution is the new creation,” but now I guess it’s a universal of human evolution! I suppose if modern science and evolution is trying to occupy the same space religion and creation did, then it is going to have the same shape and it’s going to have to answer the same questions, and if it walks like a duck and all of that, then you must expect people to treat it like a duck, throwing bread and lead at it and such, stuffing it with dried fruit – all the usual stuff, is what I’m saying.
No-one has to change a thing, is what I’m saying. Specifically, keep on spanking, it’s not sin in there, it’s that “genetic heritage” now, but it still needs to be controlled, doesn’t it.
I think there’s one for that, for human nature and social control. Is it the nurture one? Do we all think we have a circuit for that? What else?
I have argued that nurture is real, the nurture that works, the nurture that shows up in the lab: abuse. So, yes, a real thing in every society on Earth, a logic all seem to follow – that’s one of my pathways. Applying a stimulus and getting an effect – antisocialization, or “goodness,” either way – that would be the circuit I am trying to interpret, or reinterpret, I think. What else? I have this idea, that since we have a dearth of detail about these circuits, that perhaps we can simply think it in either way, frontwards or backwards, sort of thing, inherent evil and punishing being one way around and so it’s see something, do something, or read the other way, it’s inherent weakness and discipline, still see something, do something, same behaviour.
Alternatively, I was thinking a nurture pathway and an inverter circuit, another circuit evolved to turn good old literal nurturing upside down into rough social control.
Invert the circuit, you reverse your output, like if you thought it was cold, so you turned up the heat, that’s an inversion or a reversal if it was actually too warm in the first place. The inverter circuit is the one that tells you all that heat you’re experiencing has other sources, that it’s not just you, messing with the thermostat. Ah – it fouls the input, mis-reports the temperature outside, gives a false Word, causing us to respond backwards to the reality, doing exactly the wrong thing. I’m just saying.
Our creation story and our assumption of inherent evil, these act as the inverter? This is not all something I’m inventing, it’s not up to me. I see a thing, I am trying to describe it and if it’s true it’s true and in a very real way that doesn’t really have anything to do with me. I’m not sure that’s what I’m looking at, I’m still trying to work it out. I won’t lie to you, I think so, but I don’t want to overstep and tell you I know so. That would work against me in the long run, some fuzziness is important when you’re talking about such inherently fuzzy things. I would have nothing without it.
And maybe I think this was the new thing 300,000 years ago? An inverter circuit? It feels to me in this moment like the closest thing to explaining the human difference. I’ve decided there is a circuit for this assumption of inherent evil, perhaps the nurture circuit, perhaps something else, this inverter idea, perhaps the negative assumption is its own circuit. We think it’s a Christian thing, we think Paul or Augustine invented it or something, but it’s not just words, not just a slogan, it’s got some measure of that universality. Try writing a new one, if you think it’s just words, see what kinda traction you get – that’s what I am trying to do!
Check my follower count. Seven years of parenting stuff and four years of this, I’m not getting any traction. “Traction” sounds like sarcasm, I am invisible. Not for no reason, but for many reasons, many sorts of reasons, I know. I’m the only one on this side of this new argument I’ve invented, I’ve got no-one to talk to over here.
I’ve been saying it’s “biology,” which, yes it’s something living things do, that’s not very descriptive. A lot of folks like “cultural” – if you mean cultural, as in a step above bodily functions but still biology based, OK, we can talk. If you mean cultural as opposed to biology or nature, then no, not “just” cultural. Like I say, try to make a new one. Fashion doesn’t touch these sorts of things, they never go out of style.
Well, not until now, maybe.
Unfortunately, it’s a protected thing, we only talk about this circuit or function by its Christian name, I don’t think there is a science term for this assumption of innate evil or violence, is there? There must be, but it hasn’t found me yet. We talk about it like it’s only Catholics that try to beat the devil out of their kids, but I think if we look, it will be a human universal. Wait, checking Brown’s list – I don’t think I found punishment on it before, so I’m not hopeful.
Yeah, none of it. But they should be, these things, and if you ever heard of me, they are going to be, punishment and the assumption of innate evil that drives it, by a better name. Brown and I have a problem, for sure, at this point he’s another brick in the wall.
Introduction Part #2
In the modern world, it was here before us and we made the words, of course. If words were here first, what’s next, any words we want “came first?” Our mistakes and failings and crimes were all here first too, just waiting for us to show up and take them on? Oh, wait, lookie there.
Is that why the Word is first, so anything can be said about us before we even got here to be described? We say this is how it is, so this is how it is, because what we say wins, please refer back to Rule #1? Who you gonna believe, the Word or your own eyes? Again, we are a part of that reality that we have stopped checking in with, our ideas about ourselves are also apparently more important to us than our actual selves. I think it’s more than just the Bible people who have been told that their own evil and inadequacy were pre-ordained, that evil was always going to be a part of them. It seems a prerequisite for our troubles.
So it’s the problem and it’s what needs to change. I checked in, we are not looking so well. And it can. Things are definitely not what they seem in this conversation. Time to get clear on what “built in” means, or we are going to derail before we get up to speed.
Three – Innateness
It’s a relative matter. We don’t talk about it like it is, we talk about it like it’s either learned or innate, either you already have it or you don’t, like it’s a matter of one absolute or another, or perhaps a combination, this much was absolutely built in and that much was learned, but if we look at it, we’ll see it’s not so straightforward. I mean, how innate, exactly? In theory there was a time before all life when zero traits were innate, and in theory, species come and go and their traits come and go even faster – what was innate about people before there were people? When there were first people, at the very start, what was innate, how many generations makes an innate?
Innateness is creationism, apparently, it obviously references some “always” meme, otherwise what power would it have around the kitchen table, some relative, malleable innateness to combat its natural enemy . . . checking my notes . . . malleability?
I don’t see a creation moment, but I’m not blind to a relative kind of innateness, I mean that’s the magic of genetics, a thing can be alien and not innate, and then add evolution, meaning time and a changing environment and it can become a regular part of that creature’s life, so, innateness at our timescale seems to be a thing, but at evolutionary time scale, innateness’ material form, gene activation, alleles, even genes, come and go – innate to you, kind of thing again. It might not mean innate to the species at all times, it may be a thing that is coming on, or on its way out.
Depending on whether or not the species has a reason to select for it, right?
I worry that they are formative, ideas about human nature, self-fulfilling things, meaning if you think it, then that trait, that thought is coming on, that we have a reason to select for it, or of course, that we at least think we have a reason to select for it – that we are, wittingly or not, selecting for it, somehow. Well, now, it’s sort of sad when I want to be off in the clouds, in outer space, discussing lofty matters like creation and such and what I run into is apparently simple gaslighting by force, that whatever we want today, that if we are still making the same choices today, then that is what is what we are going to say is innate, again, innate for you.
The innateness meme is something between a simple preference and an unconscious drive, it seems. What is innate is what we think needs to be. We only think we’re awful because it’s expedient to think so, and if you believe in evolution then you can just please stop talking about innateness, the concept is only useful as an adaptive fiction – plenty later on this. In evolution, nothing is innate. I know, same circuit, creation, that’s where innateness comes from. It’s not simple.
I must say, I am not comfortable with this thought experiment at this moment, it’s hard to see any help in it, at this point it looks like some long range hope but not for us living folks, same as everyone else, doesn’t it? Again, we think we have a reason to select for it, and I think we have an established and evolved neural pathway for that – but that isn’t all, there is something else, the inverter function, or the fact that a circuit can simply be read the other way about. Perhaps.
The noun, “It’s his medulla oblongata,” or rather, my “nurture circuit,” that sort of Word, that’s the existing story, and the existing story isn’t really evolution. That circuit is part of it, it’s not the end. Never fear. If this thing is in your hands, it’s because I found the hope. I wouldn’t just add to the problem now that I think I’ve seen it, don’t worry.
Introduction Part #3
If there were no conflict, if the Word were true, if our words represented the real world, if there were a match, primacy wouldn’t be an issue, the Word and the World would be one. Primacy is for lying, for making your own phony truths.
Our story doesn’t satisfy.
It never has, and as I grow and learn and see things differently, it still never does, from any angle I have ever approached it from, religious or scientific, high or sober, happy or sad, young or old – it just doesn’t. I just read a brand new EP book and all it had was angst, the tiniest silver lining felt like a fictive editorial enhancement. I hear it resolves at the very end, not talking about the book. The book definitely did not ask “why?” of the Word. Our orders were the explanation for everything and you could hear both Job’s and the leviathan’s cries for mercy in the background. I am not with those guys.
It’s not just me either. You can tell it doesn’t satisfy anyone, even the wise old souls telling us about it, they’re quick to tell you there is nothing satisfying about it, most of what they’re doing is debunking pseudoscience and managing our expectations. We’re already doing what we can, maybe things will get better. That’s some micro-management when our expectations are reduced to almost zero.
If our story were correct, it would satisfy, wouldn’t it, like if it were food we wouldn’t be hungry anymore? When you get the right answer, don’t things fall into place, hasn’t a problem been solved? Is that what talk of human nature feels like, like you had a problem and you found the answer and now you can relax and move on to the next one – or does it feel like you complained about a problem and were told to suck it up, why not you, same as Job?
We say it a lot nicer than Job’s attacker did, to be sure.
And isn’t it the end of the inquiry, where all science dies? Don’t most answers in the world produce more questions, endlessly, rather than bringing on an abashed silence?
With this story, this is always the format: questions and answers until we get to the part about needing to have known what we are, then “Bah! Human nature . . . ” then some silence, then we talk about something else. If it doesn’t bring questions with it, if we can’t play the three-year-olds’ endless “why?” game with it, it’s not a real thing, not in this world, not for these hyperactive monkeys. Right? Call me suspicious.
If it doesn’t satisfy, if it wasn’t what we asked for; that’s not our fault. If the Word or the story don’t work for us, it’s not we that are in error, we are not words but real things, so they must adjust their truth. Not what happens, because the Word comes first, but that is what I’m aiming at, that is not an intractable fact of the world but only an error of the human mind and a problem that we not only can solve but are obligated to. I know, anarchy, maybe communism.
I think we need to work it out down here in our origin story first, though. I don’t see political solutions if we still have the bad attitude about ourselves. I think this explains communism’s first attempt’s spectacular failure and why it went so quickly from collective back to authoritarian, why they all do, not because of “capitalism,” as such, it’s older and deeper than that, but because we have this bad assessment of ourselves and cannot trust each other, and again, nothing in words, our bodies have had it explained to them directly, in cortisol, bypassing our thoughts.
So don’t spank.
You destroy trust, people learn not to trust, and so not to expect good things from other people. It tilts the field away from collectivism, formerly known as people living together. Authoritarianism in the home enables it at all levels and what is more authoritarian than forcing pain on a person?
I have a sense for these things, I have a sense for the thought behind the thought or the absence of one, where someone is coming from and that sense tells me that our origin story will never take us anywhere good and somebody needs to write a better one.
As a writer, I know that half the battle is always about what you don’t say, that omission is as powerful as inclusion. I gave up my dream of being a writer rather young, because I saw through myself, I saw the manipulativeness of the art and I moralistically let it go. It was clear to me that I had a knack for the simplest trickery, memorizing powerful clichés, winning word pairs and such and when I caught myself using such tricks, I felt dirty. Turns out, being a writer isn’t something you just turn off, and so I write, more and more, apparently, but I try not to self-promote, I try not to use trickery, I try to be straight, get out of the way and let the truth out.
Of course don’t they all. Mostly, I try to write stuff that no-one wants to hear, so that only the most stubborn folks get hurt, try to minimize the damage that way, ha, if I never get read, at least I’ll never get caught.
As I tear down the world to build a new one. It’s complicated. The point is, that the point of an idea is what it does in the world and some basic ones affect the whole world. At the end of all the art and/or trickery, if the message is something from the bad place, the bad attitude, then those were some dark arts. Most of it is like that, I fear.
I like to tell myself I can write now, because it is not coming from that place anymore, that I’ve found a different place to start from. Of course, I still worry.
Language is dangerous. To speak is a little like wielding a weapon and to sell a book is like spraying bullets into a huge crowd. Producing any world changing philosophy is like pushing the big button, there is some responsibility there. I have a fairly dark assessment of the world, I never wanted to be responsible for any of it, Good Lord, that the world goes on like it is and that I had some part in ensuring it did, this is Hell for me, that this world be my fault. There’s a thing, like a moral rule about it not being your fault as long as you never touched it, it makes it difficult to try to change things. You broke it, you bought it, I want to try to fix humanity, I don’t really want to own it. But you know what? It was broken before I got here, you can see the wear at the cracks. It’s been broken for quite a while.
To Hell with it, let’s have a go.
There is a world of literature in the space between sticking to your point and flat out omission and there are many ways to misdirect but none bigger than false, erroneous, or untestable initial conditions like “human nature,” the perfect catch-all excuse for any dark horrible crap anyone might want to promote.
The point of this document will be to revive Rousseau and goodness and not only that, to make them better than before, stronger, smarter, and scientifically accurate. The six million dollar flower-child, that’s me.
To vanquish their enemies, this is my quest.
The bad guys don’t get to own science. I think it’s more gaslighting that there is this eternal binary, Rousseau VS the world, this duality. Rousseau is for armchair pundits like me and his opponents aren’t pausing to check themselves, they are out there busily destroying the world, because after all, they weren’t made for anything else, were they. They have their get out of jail free card.
In more practical terms, there is Team Rousseau and then there is Team Science, the debate is not happening “within” science. They’re not having this endless debate, either team! They dispensed with it like their hat, on the way to their desks. In science world, Rousseau is in quarantine where he can’t be infecting anyone.
Maybe it’s true that over here in psychology world we would like very much to do the same with Paul and Hobbes and the lot, but we haven’t managed it. We live in their world – our abusers, our caregivers, anyone that left us with pain or questions, at some point they becomes nouns, nothing to be done. It’s not healthy for me to psychologize much about my abuser, any empathy spent on them comes from what little was coming in for me, and I need that, so it’s . . . human nature again, at some point. When the questions end, when we reach a mind we won’t sympathize with to psychologize, when a person becomes a bad noun, we are in Hobbes’ world after all.
In a little bubble of Rousseauvian psychology afloat in a Hobbesian sea. Psychology comes out of Rousseau and folks like him, and the hard science denies the provenance, leaving the social sciences in a state of semi-validation, as semi-science inasmuch as it is not authoritarian, inasmuch as it attempts to treat the damage. Again, a sore point with me, one branch of psychology lines up with the Word nicely, and it seems to count as proper science, as long as it all starts with the alpha or the elders.
My goal is to lift the veil off of the Rousseauvian world. Honestly, I haven’t read him, I may refute him to do it for all I know – but take, it, JJ, it’s good for you. Your comeback will be the biggest thing since . . . Darwin, I guess. I’m not saying he was right about everything, so far, as far as I can see, no-one’s been right about things yet – except for what we all know, his conclusion, or his starting point – probably the same thing, it was for me – the basic, single data point: we are born good. By the end, I promise I will give you an opportunity to believe it.
I have the sense that all the good folks like the idea that we’re good to start, but I do not have the sense that Rousseau convinced anyone, that he made a case for just how we are turned bad, “culture,” is all I’ve heard. I assume if he had made a good case that I would have read of it by now? Ah, OK, I’ve read some. It wasn’t a bad case in the state of affairs we’re in about it, it was as good as we have nowadays, a top-down, forced culture, resulting of our argument with nature – like “culture” comes from somewhere besides us. Like I say, not bad, pretty normal, no more gormless then than now . . . not a bad case, just not a winning one, was it. I’m sorry. I’ve done better, is the good news! I have a sort of proof.
You don’t have to say it. I know it’s what you want.
I am looking at this world where it’s all Hobbes and Augustine except when we’re so broken we can’t work anymore, then we can have a little Rousseau and then back to work. Psychology and progressivism, these are seen as soft, as cultural, as inventions, while everything awful is scientific and real, and I’m saying no! I’m saying there is a world of science starting from the idea that we are born good also, not just poetry, not just mysticism!
In fact, it’s all right there, you know it all already, you’ve just been told it’s not real. In fact we have done most of the work, the thinking and such, it’s just been turned upside down on us, it’s all right there – just through the looking glass or something.
I am here to bring liberal science, progressive science, oh, these words won’t stay put! I am here to bring the science of “born good” into existence or move it forward if it was there already. The good folks of the world need science, not just music and wishes. Part of that will be to discover that social science and psychology can be science too. I know, I’m writing big cheques; go big or go Hobbes. Ha! Perhaps I should attempt an example.
In therapy, we find our father was unavailable and abusive, and we must learn to accept this fact and limit his access to us and hopefully any downstream effects my abuse has on the people I encounter afterwards. In treatment, I adjust my thinking, adapt to the reality of Dad, it was a problem in my mind, and I fixed it. Life is hard, people are bad, learn and adapt. This is our world now, I think. If it were my new world, if we didn’t expect people to be bad – Dad would be the one in treatment, his badness would be the obvious problem to all, not my reaction to it.
If Rousseau was right and I plan to prove he was, then Dad is the pathological one.
This is the dream I dream of giving you. Science to back up humanism. Dream it with me. Humanism has done surprisingly well flying solo with no science to hold it up, and that should tell us a couple of things, one, that all the science in the world on the other side can’t defeat it, and two, that if we were born bad this could just never be the case, could it, with both our natures and our nurturing either doing nothing or leaning the other way, according to the science folks’ own conclusions?
So don’t spank.
Your kid was good. You’re wrecking it.
That’s real. You can see it at a glance: the arithmetic doesn’t work, the couldn’t be simpler arithmetic of nature plus nurture, one plus one is not here, it’s something mad like one minus one equals one: your nature was bad, there is no mechanism to make people better, but one to make you worse – and you’re still pretty good! Not the proof, but a proof.
Clearly, it makes total sense if you were good to start with: your nature was good, we hurt you some, and you’re still pretty good, except for those wars – perfectly logical, again, except for the wars and don’t worry, I have those covered too, we’ll get there.
Imagine what humanism could do if we knew it was real and weren’t fooled that it was only the dream? There’s your carrot.
Sort of ironic, so difficult to express: we’re not bad, but thinking we are makes us bad – so we’re bad. Sure, as the old joke goes about logging the Sahara Forest. You mean the Sahara Desert? Oh sure – now! And still we look half good, even after we’ve decided we’re bad and so become that way. Sadly and with more irony, it is a Hobbesian world of science out there because it expects and so doesn’t look at much of the bad, and I am sorry that in order to make the case for our goodness, I have to take us to some awful places. It is not positive to ignore what is bad in the world, of course. I am going to drag you through the mud, but I promise to leave you clean and shiny in the sun at the end.
But not yet! More about trickery first.
Another way to obfuscate is to simply foul the grammar.
A diversion here, from the Word, to a class of words, to wit, the Noun.
As a not entirely unrelated example, take the “genes are traits” stuff, or the “genes are behaviours” meme that the science kids are championing. Besides anything deeper, right off the top, there appears to be something of a mismatch between the question and the answer: if the question was “what makes us who we are,” then the answer is likely to be a what also, meaning a thing, a noun, and there it is, “genes.” So what’s the long version – genes make us who we are? The word used may have been “what,” but that was a “why” question.
And that’s a source of dissatisfaction, isn’t it? It’s a certain take when nouns are provided as explanations, generally, or at least it’s a problem for me. It’s a one-step conversation, like human nature: here’s the thing; end of story, sort of. What part of “genes” did you not understand? It’s not wrong, as such, but it is surely not enough to help anything. OK then, we’ll just get rid of them genes then, huh.
We used to say in the business telephone business, the ABC method of training. A, here’s your phone. B, here’s the manual. C, you later.
You have the noun, ‘bye. Like that.
When we search for an answer, it’s a cause for something that we want – and we might think a cause would be something that happens in this living, moving world, not so much something that simply exists – but often what is given is only a thing. If it fails to illuminate, sometimes it can mean that we don’t yet understand a new, complex noun, even to the point that we maybe missed the shift and don’t understand that it is a noun we’ve been given, that the answer we are offered is not a verb, not an action, a motion, or a process at all, but only the existence of some offending thing.
It turns causality sideways, somehow, but mostly it just puts an end to it.
The world has always been full of lying nouns, coined for the purpose of shutting you up and having their way, history has a list of such things, notorious to our modern atheist, scientific minds, and they include royalty, divinity, infallibility, destiny, fate . . . religious sorts of “things” like that. Closer to today, one might list soul, self, mind, morality, freedom . . . all nouns, all things, with little descriptiveness of what’s happening – punishment. Control, like that. It seems a noun is like a period, you can stop there, if you take my meaning, nouns are less inviting to questions than verbs. It’s easy to see it in that the older list of words, isn’t it?
“Genes,” as an answer, shares this property. Seems to put an end to the “why?” game. Not for this fifty-seven years old three-year-old, though!
“Consciousness,” is one such noun also, we’re supposed to have that thing – wait, I think this is something that touches on how folks are talking about this stuff nowadays, in 2020. I think I need to talk about the answer folks already think they have.
Four – Evolutionary Psychology that Isn’t
I had exhausted this subject with myself, or so I thought, but in real time, not the version you’ll see, it keeps coming up, I keep finding myself with a reason to take another shot at it. This document has been full of little passive aggressive outbursts directed at evolutionary psychology, not the generic term like it sounds, but because it isn’t what it sounds like and it’s occupying the place in human knowledge where actual psychology needs to be.
I can’t let it go; it’s what this project is about because from the newest iteration, “conscious evolution,” through EP, back through social Darwinism, it’s all the same, competition and authority and it is no way a different function or neural pathway from creation and original sin and changes absolutely nothing and helps no-one – except authority.
OK, this is the book, I have to say it all, no matter how obvious: same as economics. Helping authority doesn’t help humanity, only a tiny few of them. Trickle down theory is just as poor sociology as it is economics.
Shall I continue with the insults I shouldn’t have to say? I’m afraid I must. It’s the same old deal, same circuit with a new word, and not only that, but the function itself, the bad assumption and the response to it, these are hardly conscious things to begin with. So your new name “conscious evolution” is an ironic joke, it only buries the reality under another layer of denial.
It’s competition, which is all the bad stuff, social Darwinism, because no-one is stupid or primitive or evil or not God’s chosen people – they just couldn’t compete is all! Sorry, about that, old Chap, good game, though!
Time for something real.
In the latest version we see a change of focus, from EP’s competition as a driver, from group conflict looking like brutal competition at the borders, to focussing instead upon the cooperation within the group, choosing to emphasize the cooperation at home that makes for a more competitive group. The nicest meme is that the more cooperative groups internally are better at war, more competitive at the group level, and so the more cooperative groups have taken over the world. Good news, everyone!
I am being unfair here only in that I said, “focus,” and “emphasize,” I think; I suppose they think it’s more. Perhaps they figure they’ve changed the driving factor to cooperation, I can’t imagine how, but it’s sort of the same error all the way through, the psychology never looks up, we’re not supposed to notice that competition is still cooperation’s master in the new version.
If that is conscious evolution’s story, cooperators compete better, this meme’s analogue from EP was prosocial at home, antisocial at the border, and I don’t know how the social Darwinists said it, but they probably did, and here’s the point.
It’s rubbish, Good Lord.
I don’t have their educations, but I read H.G. Wells and how we used to talk about conflict was tough peoples conquer and rule soft peoples, that the process of civilization and the rise of cities was towns popping up and people dedicating their lives to agriculture and new trades and jobs and not being professional soldiers and so being rolled over by wave after wave of tough warrior nomads from the steppes, who then settled into the towns, learned the new way of life, got soft and were sitting ducks for the next wave.
They got a little prosocial at home and got wiped out, over and over and over again.
I know that sounds like the world EP describes, but Wells didn’t try to tell you why. The violent model of EP is pretty close, but when it tries to make explanations, it winds up in our story, creation, where bad things are to be expected and are not required to be explained.
If there is something to learn from that old yarn about the Spartan mother whose son came home with a wound on his back so she killed him, it is that “prosocial at home” is rubbish, blatant, opposite day gaslighting nonsense.
Anybody out there have a military father? It seems really clear that the theorists of EP missed their tours in Afghanistan, that they do not understand anything about being a soldier. In every other conversation that ever happened, everyone on Earth except the practitioners of EP know that you don’t win wars with coddling and being prosocial, that to win the fights at the border, you practice at home. Were the Romans coddled? The German Nazis?
I think “cooperation” in their minds is orders, military hierarchy, the Word, doing what you are told, and again, I’m sorry I have to spell it out, but this is only cooperation from one side’s point of view, guess which side, sorry, no don’t – from authority’s side, obviously. I’ll state the correction: antisocial at home, antisocial at the border.
If we were “prosocial at home,” there wouldn’t be a border, would there? We’d be prosocial there too. I don’t think I’ve proved that here, don’t get me wrong. I just want you to have seen it once in your life before we carry on, I’ll try to make a case further on, but for now, I hope you see that only in the creation story would I even need to, that it ought to be obvious. In a better world or something, right?
I’m not saying there isn’t a difference, I know we’re not generally using our spears at home, my point is this: it is not a binary, not opposing forces, it is only a disparity, more prosocial at home, more antisocial out and about, this I would allow, as long as we can see the function of being antisocial at home, that’s all I want, and this soundbite sounds like the opposite. I know, you can’t fight “sounds like.” Another hint is the new wording, that cooperation rocks because it’s better at competition, they really are pushing this “good things cause wars” thing, the wars are great cooperative efforts, and that’s positive and progressive now, apparently.
The causality of antisocial at the border is antisocial at home and that’s what psychology is for, when your own people, the ones who love you are antisocial towards you. I had to say this early, I haven’t named my theory yet, but this is it, right here, that we do bad things at home and so things are always tense at the border. Telling me you’re being prosocial to me at home sounds a damned threat, you don’t like it? I’m treating you well now.
Gaslighting always has the threat, it never even tries to be believable, it doesn’t have to, the Word came first, it says.
Introduction Part #4
Self-consciousness perhaps is more malleable, you can be wrong and still be self-conscious. Self-consciousness, navel gazing, for these, the effort is the meaning, and it’s an effort that doesn’t end, we have not yet settled upon just what we are or just what it is we’re supposed to be doing.
It’s a question that there is no getting around. I think we all agree, determining what human nature is and the search for self- knowledge and consciousness are all the same thing. But you’re not conscious until you’ve got it right, and when your whole strategy is having it wrong and not even checking in, well. You’ve got a ways to go. We’re sort of consciously, pointedly unconscious – like I say, expedient. Selectable things happen for us by keeping these ideas, or did at some point.
We’re a social animal, I think I’ve said, a pathologically social animal, social beyond reason and reality, we make a lot of policy sort of decisions about one another, and so it matters we think our nature is. As it stands, what we think we are is the best we have to work with. To the degree that we behave consciously and rationally at least, we behave predicated on what it is we think we are. We behave largely biologically and tribally, and unconsciously to be sure, but to the extent that we plan our behaviour, to the creation and evolution of public policy, laws and institutions – and to the creation of parenting books – in that much, we base our conscious choices on what we think we are, on what we perceive to be human nature.
No surprises there, right? A table of sorts:
Some think we are as God made us, some as evolution has sculpted us, some think we are born loving and good, some that we are naturally selfish and aggressive, some that we are unformed until the world forms us. I believe the current scientific status of this is the second and fourth things with a sprinkle of the fifth, not an endorsement, and I guess the religious state of it is the first and fourth, same sprinkle of the fifth. One, two, three and five should be us Rousseauvians.
If I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m sorry.
My experience living and reading in the largely Christian West combined with my interest in punishment-free childrearing led me to think that the consensus in those regards was this: we think some dilute version of Christian original sin, or that evolution means children are untamed, and so we spend a great deal of energy controlling, deterring and punishing children in our efforts to “civilize” them. It was cultural, I thought; most folks have never heard of Augustine or original sin, but it was difficult for me to understand the control and punishment of human children without postulating some negative default condition that the adults were combatting, without thinking that the parents seemed to be postulating one – again, they say you have to teach them right from wrong, and they all say it, so they all think their kids are born not knowing right from wrong. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet and everyone being born amoral smells the same as Augustine’s breath. That idea satisfied me for a time, that it was the Church’s massive influence; it was true enough, close enough for what passed for psychology for me at the time.
It wasn’t close enough for science, though. And biology, that sort of top-down look is powerless. We made that bloody church, it didn’t make us.
Again, most Western folks don’t know or care for Augustine or Paul (neither do I, don’t get me wrong), and at any rate we were all sinners in the Old Testament as well, right from the start: God created the heavens, and saw that it was good, the earth, and saw that it was good, the beasts, birds and fishes and saw that they were good. Then God created man, woman and knowledge, and saw that it was not so good, for the rest of the book! My apologies if that is not funny . . . it only means that at least the Jews and the Muslims will have some version of ‘all humans are sinners’ in their lives too, not just the Christians.
All of our cultures are not so different in these matters, social control is everywhere, authority is everywhere.
Not gonna lie, I think it’s all of us.
Five – A new Genesis Chapter, #2 The Broken Story
We know the story isn’t supposed to “work,” I mean we know we’re not being literal when we talk about creation and such, even the badness assumption, when we’re talking about it directly and not just giving it a nod, we know it’s not “real,’ but what’s that called again, when your only information is your only information and you have to do what you can with it, even if you think it’s not true? Don’t tell me, I’ll throw it out again immediately, I always do, I have a blind spot there, the name for it probably rubs me the wrong way or something, but I do not deny its existence, not a bit, and despite that we know the myths are myths, they are still our myths nonetheless. We have hardware for them, or for something that underwrites them, apparently.
The story is not just not true, but not “sane” in the logical sense, not possibly true, and we don’t “believe it,” but we have no actual argument. This is why we always give a sigh when we must allow for it: we all know, deep down, that it’s not an answer but the absence of one. I know I’m talking like Ishmael, “our story,” it’s not an accident, all writers are all about stories, we believe in them or something, but I don’t want to mix the metaphors, let’s just assume Quinn agrees and keep trying to say it ourselves. Again, I hope to get further than Job or Ishmael did. Ended badly for them as I recall, and yes, we are not looking great, but we are not dead yet.
So the story. We are artifacts, we have a creator, we rebelled, we had a fall, we chose sin initially and it is our state forever, our punishment for the choice . . . bah, never mind. I mean, it’s rubbish, but a story is not right or wrong, I bet I could lay mine on top of it, shall we try?
We are artifacts, but also the creator, evolution, we are self-created beings, who is practising selection on us besides us? We rebelled?
Against ourselves, and yes, this is the same meme again, we rebelled against our chimpanzee selves, didn’t we? Hey, so far so good!
Our rebellion caused the creator – us, or our former selves – to punish us and the world is now labour and pain, and our first evil error is always with us, we are always choosing the sin and we will never see paradise again notwithstanding divine intervention . . . OK this is too much fun, no way I stayed on the straight and narrow there, is there? Who punishes anyone in this universe, us included? Whose lives are labour other than digestion? And who always has a story about how evil he used to be to explain how bad he is now so that he never has to build the new paradise?
Too easy, almost, I sense a trap. Well, it’s not a trap, it’s just another version of the same story, and it’s not all correct, it’s not a rebellion; our former selves weren’t some authority, you don’t rebel against yourself, you just change. It was a bit of fun, though, wot?
Slow down there, Preacher!
I know. I’m what the kids call a hot mess, but hang in there, there is beauty here.
The fruit is the knowledge itself, of course, which I think is something about punishing, or abuse. Do the fruit or the knowledge ever reappear? Am I to understand we ate of it and we have it now, OK, yes, I remember, now we know good from evil . . . it’s just backwards. For being the creature that’s supposed to know the difference, we seem to prefer the evil.
I wonder if the lie was in the fruit, and that’s why we weren’t supposed to eat it, or if it was the truth and God didn’t want us to have it because he knew we’d get it all boxed up?
“Knowledge of” sounds like technology to me, I read that phrase as how to start with the raw material of one and turn it into the other, like “the knowledge of rock and iron,” or of “soil and crops.” We have technology to start with rock and make metal, methods to start with soil and grow food – and a way to start with good and create evil. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most of the book is about rules and punishments, and I agree, that’s how it’s done.
So don’t spank.
It’s how we teach evil, and it’s not just a teach, it’s a demonstration, and it feels like proof. If it’s done exactly “right,” at exactly the “right” time, it is a kind of proof and changes us for life. Of course, “spanking” only occurs at the right time, childhood, while our genes are sorting themselves out, setting your operating mode for life. That’s probably exactly why spanking has its own word, it’s a special sort of attack.
These word games are terribly tempting and I can’t resist them on the theory that word games are interpretations of real brain games. The parenting maxim that would seem to spring directly from the bad assumption, “You have to teach them right from wrong,” it’s another one, I can’t help but get word-literal about it and read it as an explanation of the origin of “right,” that it comes “from” wrong! That’s just silly, but that is punishment, in our minds, isn’t it? Threaten something wrong in an effort to get something right?
This kind of stuff hurts my case, like I don’t want to be taken seriously, I know it and I can’t stop, I feel a need to give the reader a way out, otherwise I’m destroying your world and not even being funny about it. Everyone is wrong about everything, is there a gentle enough way to say that, is there enough self-deprecation in the world to get that by anyone?
That universal saying shows that we assume that wrong is at least as good as right for a human being until someone teaches it otherwise. It shows we consider good and bad, morality to be an invention, taught and learned here, in this life, person to person. At this point, I am not arguing yet, that much seems fine, that could come from a blank slate mindset. I think good and bad are properties of the world, with or without human authorization, I think pain is bad and love and mercy are good among the birds and the beasts too, but it’s OK. We’re just talking, it’s all good.
Until we’re not and then it’s not, until we start taking action. There is this upshot, the possibly universal human truth we say to one another, you have to teach them right from wrong, and there is the behaviour that such memes support.
This is where the story falls apart, where fiction meets stubborn old reality. If we can get clear on what we need out here in life, it may be a simple matter to write a new fable that supports that and I hope to make the case that what we needed the old story for no longer applies, or rather, that it can’t apply anymore, that what it did for us is now more of a problem than the solution it must once have been. That, hopefully will get a little more informative than Ishmael – it’s about our story, but it’s more than stories. We do not learn this upshot from a book, but from pain.
So don’t spank.
Spanking is like torture, you can make any lie into some kind of inescapable truth. They will believe anything to make it stop.
It’s not even a secret, what sort of a society wrote that story or why such a people would, but apparently it’s a secret that we are still that kind of society, despite the fact that we still carry that same story.
We know that most violence is moral, but that is a meme with the words arranged in the least powerful way possible – what those folks are trying to say, whether they agree or not, is morality is violence, morality is a violent response to unwanted behaviour. That’s the truth that is trying to express itself through these folks who are all starting from the wrong place, the ones who maybe just expect violence and are surprised by morality.
We fight evil. We can’t figure out that the fight is the evil, and so we see something bad and we try to do something about it, we try to fight it. I’m talking about social control, about creating negative consequences, about punishment and discipline, about law and order, about morality, talking about it like the biologists do for a moment, with aggression as a noun and a prime mover. We have nothing to fight evil with but a fight and so what is bad is met with an attack, I suppose. It’s a way to look at it, some do, I think. Something about our story says that the initial crime was bad, but that the resulting attack is not. If it’s bad, we are to do our best or worst to fight it, and our worst in this context is exempt, it’s not supposed to also be a bad thing someone is supposed to fight, I don’t know why, I guess it has to stop somewhere . . . it stops, of course at the Word, at authority.
So don’t spank.
It’s just a fight, really, and fighting is one of those inconvenient things you were supposedly trying to stop, wasn’t it? You can’t teach not fighting that way, your words get prioritized down to nothing when something real like a fight is going on. In fact, you devalue words to nothing yourself, when you spank, we may as well tell them never to listen, only to respond to threats. It’s no contest, which is why you do it, and also why they never heard a word you said.
Perhaps the worst that we do to combat it is exempt because of something we’ve talked about in another context – its object was already broken anyway? I mean it was malfunctioning. The assumption of “broken” sounds like another expression of the same neural pathway as original sin. The upshot of this is, we think we can reduce evil and increase good by fighting with it, by beating it up. We’re born bad, apparently, but we think there’s something we can do about it. This is our story, and I’m not buying it, don’t get me wrong. Here’s the trick of it all here.
Six – Mimic Memes, the Adaptive Fiction
Born bad but manageable or reparable – that’s only what we think we think, and we’re wrong about how we think about ourselves; really, deep down, we know we don’t think we’re so bad. If we did, if we really thought we were as bad as all that we’d walk off a cliff. Again, that’s what we think we think, born bad but under control, but we really don’t believe that – it’s what is called an adaptive fiction, meaning the reason we do it – the reason we think we’re born bad, in this case -isn’t real, it’s not that we’ve proved it or anything, but something else happens when we think it, so the thought is selected for and we keep on thinking it or at least behaving like we do.
So don’t spank.
It’s a scam! Your kid gets worse.
Remember, “selected for” isn’t necessarily good, everything is selected for and the world contains plenty of bad things. Let’s back that up: so, if we did think that, if we did think that evil was intimidatable, and so we try to discourage it with deterrents and punishments, then there may be more to discover about that narrative.
Spoiler alert, there isn’t – but that’s still us learning something.
First, if that’s what we think, then when did we start to think it, and why?
When was probably just always, if it’s a unique human feature, then it is probably bound up with every other unique human feature. Or maybe something ramped up thirty thousand years ago, or maybe again or maybe just ten thousand years back, with the Neolithic revolution. There are clues in the fossil record that something changed at those points, our skeletons made leaps towards this domesticated frame at those times. Wrangham, in his latest said that we were selecting out certain types, certain genes from our very start, that we were attempting to select or engineer ourselves from the start, so maybe that’s when, always, and always for humans means 300,000 years these days and seems likely to stay there.
Like many guesses about the past, it’s bound to be a chicken and egg kind of a thing: does this story have us as an ape that discovered punishment and social control, evolving with time and becoming human? Not a secret, that’s the story they teach in school, I think, and it suggests the above, the full human species lifespan. Or in some other sense, do we postulate a sort of reverse evolution, where we found ourselves evolved, super-complex human adults with dangerous technology whose babies and neighbors still appeared to be nasty apes and so needed to be civilized individually, by force if necessary? Inasmuch as anyone thinks this ever, it sounds like we must think the social control is recent.
Both sounds reasonable, it’s what made us, some change we undertook, and it’s growing with time and it has recent aspects. I am quietly nurturing a theory that our self-creation began as Wrangham said, with selection, but that as time goes by, we execute less and less and punish more and more, that our self-sculpting is evolving also, and that some of what look like binary things we must choose from are in fact more of a then and now situation.
Is it fair to suggest that the current state of our origin story uses elements of both too? Fair, schmair, it’s what I see. We do credit the social control with creating civilization, not the other way around, and we also ride our children and our criminals hard as though evolution never happened and they’d missed it all and were threatening to tear it all down or something. I’m saying there is some assumption that if we didn’t control them, less objectionable regarding criminals than children, to be sure, that if we left them alone, they wouldn’t be right.
Like I say, not sure it’s a human universal, but every one of them I ever met says you have to teach your kids and crooks right from wrong, and they don’t say it but it means they think the kids are not born knowing it and the criminals haven’t learned it either, doesn’t it? So, like I say, we don’t know Hobbes, we don’t know Paul or Augustine, we don’t “believe in Christian Original Sin” – but we are all adherents nonetheless. By default. Apparently.
When we can pull either answer out! I like the “started at the start but more and more” idea, then any place any person chooses is fine, I can talk to them. When is complicated.
So, why, though? If we did think that evil was intimidatable, and so we try to fight it and discourage it with deterrents and punishments, where did we get such an idea, how did we get the idea, why does this meme and its associated neural pathway exist if it didn’t before at some point?
Primatology and EP provide some elements, that’s the trouble with them, you can’t fault all the data, it’s all in interpretation where it’s all gone sideways.
There certainly seems to be an entrenched system of abuse that creates and supports primate social structure and hierarchy usually; clearly primate abuse predates humanity. Most people don’t know much about that, though, same as they don’t know Paul, so although it may be part of a scientific explanation, it probably has no bearing on what human parents or police generally think. If we don’t know or wonder when it began, perhaps that is a clue that our punishing ways, the control, are a behaviour we rationalize from our cultural selves, perhaps we are lazily falling into seeing our child-rearing or our social control from the religious POV where it didn’t begin, it simply is, as though it always was. I think we do think of it as cultural, and in fact every person, every group seems to think they are the only ones who thought of it! Apparently we have a rule in our heads to think that social control is anything but a human universal.
So don’t spank.
It makes you the same as everybody else, they all do. Their problems are not because they never heard of telling their kids what to do and making it happen, they do, same as you. And you got problems too, even though you theoretically know all about it.
Wrangham suggested that we are a species because we began selecting some individuals out and that behavioural rules were set and enforced by the elders and that all conformity followed that . . . that doesn’t give us much of a when still, as before, our whole existence, I guess, and the why – because the elders said so? I’m afraid Wrangham and EP got here after the Word, the elders’ word is their First Cause. The elders were the new thing, the new hazard: the switch from alpha to the elders meant group inequality, there was some mention of it, I think. That’s probably the reason human children need to be controlled, inasmuch as the reasons are all conscious like that. Any ideas of hazards mean nothing , there were always leopards and lions, the new thing, the new hazard that called for a new adaptation was this, inequality and the authority that creates it. I think. It’s not hard to imagine how it grew out of normal primate hierarchy and alpha privilege.
So don’t spank.
It helps your boss more than it helps you. The conditioning you provide, someone else will profit from, someone who hasn’t got any genetic interest in your kids’ welfare and won’t have even your restraint with them.
The evolutionists as parents, it may look counter-intuitive if they seem to spank their kids and call the police as though they were Christian ascetics and believed it all, but again, evolution is the new creation, our genetic heritage is the new original sin, and the researchers are the new . . . Hebrews, I guess. They think they are contending with their children’s wild and primal natures, I suppose.
So, as to why did we begin to think it?
I’m afraid it’s stumped me within this paradigm, and like it or not why is all twisted around when. If it was the day we left our chimpanzee cousins in the woods and stepped out onto the plain, then I think this is sort of reasonable, some adaptation that made us able to not get slaughtered out on the plain, in the open – or culturally, if it’s modern, then it’s mythology, when your people’s Giver of Laws told you to, I don’t know. Maybe it’s been growing for a long time; it does seem to have ramped up when everything else about us did, maybe, since we started keeping track of ourselves, which is one of the intuitive clues I followed, that it has some of the signs of a positive feedback loop.
I mean, hurt makes hurt, violence breeds violence, that sort of feedback loop. We could, in theory, take a person, ask them what they think of human nature, then beat them every day and ask them again at the end of every day, most folks are not Victor Frankl. It’s not a guarantee, but big data and statistics, if you do it to a thousand people, the number of folks who seem to have had the matter proven to them and start to talk like Hobbesians is going to rise daily, towards the total.
So don’t spank.
You’re giving us all a bad attitude.
For the “why,” because I am not satisfied with the Word, we must examine the other side of the coin. A discussion of what we think our natures are perhaps requires some look into the other concept, what we think nurture is, because the idea seems to all hang together, appears to be the product of a single function, probably a single pathway or circuit in the brain. Why did we begin to think there was something bad about us, and what made us think we could change it?
First of all, it’s a positive sounding word, nurture, but that isn’t the only meaning. We think nurture is best stated as the software side of our house, that it isn’t concerned with hardware and biology but thought and speech, with what we think and what we do. To what extent our lives and inner lives affect us and our choices: that, we think, is the nurture principle, at least the version of nurture that seems to be opposed to any notions of hardwired traits and behaviours in the classic old debate. It’s a little jarring to say and hear, but when we are beating our children, we think we are operating in the nurture sphere, hoping to change minds and therefore behaviour.
We’re wrong, but that’s how we talk about it. It was my naïve belief when I first penned that paragraph in another context, coming from the bad place and damaging my arguments, in the time between my insight and my slowly starting to understand it. Also why we’re here.
No? The science kids are saying there’s no such thing, parenting doesn’t actually matter.
Of course, biology, there really is no division to be made between our hardware platforms and our software, turns out, thought, speech, emotions – these are all physical phenomena, neurochemistry. That slides the entire nurture world back under the “nature”’ umbrella and nurture is just post-birth nature, meaning the environment or just simply the world, but it’s still a useful distinction in one small way: at least we’re highlighting the difference between the things we do and the things we’re consciously trying to do. We can still talk about it.
The nurturing idea, as it applies to childrearing is deeply set. I find myself casting about for a better, more manipulative way to say this, so I’d better go the other direction and de-fang it instead: I have the sense that we must have felt like we proved it to ourselves at some point, and we seem, as Judith Rich Harris said, unable to seriously question it. I do this, perhaps it works against me: I think my case is so strong that its weakest arguments should be enough, delivered quietly. If you can’t refute them, it’s like a first round knockout and I’m going home early, unscathed.
If the nurture assumption is hard to shake, if it seems self-evident or we have the sense I suggest, that it’s been proved already, then the narrative, our story should account for it. How do we imagine we proved it?
I mean, nurture generally, not a question. I think we’ve all told our kids not to leap into traffic and most of them didn’t, so it’s case closed, great job. I’m looking for something more specific, though, something that would cause this division in our minds, some experience of ours that places nurture somehow in opposition to our natures, or nature generally, perhaps – at least something to justify this endless, insoluble argument. Plus, of course, I’m talking about childrearing, our guesses about our own natures and how those impact our childrearing. That aspect of nurture, literal nurturing, childrearing, complete with deterrents and punishments seems to be something we don’t ponder, something we consider time-honoured and proven, so again: proven how?
Well, to back up again just a little, what have we proven today regarding parenting? Amazing to me that any answer this short could be true: nothing good, literally.
As so lengthily and painfully pointed out by Rich Harris and others, parental influence is impossible to detect in people’s adult personalities. We think that half of the variability of our traits is genetic and about half cultural or environmental, but that almost none of the environmental side is attributable to parents or parental efforts. I have questions, like is it personality parents affect or something else, but for now, I’ll go with it: ongoing and historical efforts to demonstrate parents’ influence have turned up squat. We keep trying, because as I pointed out before the nurture principle can’t be non-existent, but so far it hasn’t worked out, there is zero scientific evidence for parental influence.
So don’t spank.
There is no documented upside to parenting at all, let alone to parental violence. There are also reams of proof of the damages of when spanking goes too far, so it’s a game with no winning, only different levels of loss.
There’s a secret though, and all the Rousseauvians should know it, but I don’t think they do! Are you ready? Those serious fools, the Rousseauvians and the Hobbesians both – they were looking for something positive.
They never had a chance.
Fair enough, I suppose. One assumes that parental efforts are for positive things, though, so perhaps it’s fair to say that those positive, conscious parental influences haven’t shown up in the lab.
Negative influences from parents, however, the effects of abuse or neglect, that is another matter, there are mountains of evidence for that. So not only do we have no evidence for anything good our parents do for us, but a world of proof for the bad. The evidences for negative outcomes correlated with physical punishment and abuse are myriad and robust – and it’s mostly family stuff, so we even have decades of genetic data, it’s not going to be useless for the lack of that either.
So don’t spank.
There is no winning, and many levels of loss in the game involve the police and the government and some measure of shame and loss.
So: zero proof of positive influence from anything parents do, deterrents, etc., included, as contrasted with all of the evidence pointing to the negative environmental power of some of those same things when “taken too far,” perhaps simply when followed through upon. There are a lot of genuinely nice parents out there – and no evidence of their good influence, only of the damages incurred by the less nice parts of the children’s lives. So perhaps we ask ourselves this regarding the plot we are pitching ourselves.
If we’re telling ourselves that we believe that without our nurturing, our children will be bad or wild, then how do we continue to believe it when we see that the science says all we can do is harm them further? It seems pretty counter-intuitive; I mean, what kind of idiots do we take ourselves for? How do we explain it to ourselves except by using the obvious strategy of simple cognitive dissonance, I mean, of course? I realize, what else can we do with that information but ignore it, live with the conflict pending further discovery?
Yeah, I don’t do well with that; cognitive dissonance is fine for other people, but I am going to fix it, if I can, die trying, no doubt. It’s glare, is what it is, and it’s driving me nuts. I can’t see anything.
Seven – A new Genesis Chapter, #3 Core Beliefs
What was the question? Oh yes, why would we think that we think people are default some sort of bad and that we can fix it?
I’ve tried to make the point that this proposition is part and parcel of the self-evident nurture idea, and that the nurture assumption is so strong, that we must think we proved it. I then wondered how so, and stated that we have not, even today proved it in a positive sense, but that we see the proof daily of the negative power of what adults and parents can do. Interestingly, today, this proof of the negative power of parenting is split off, and it’s become a popular meme for the biologists to say that parenting doesn’t matter. Tell that to abuse victims, is my answer. But still, somehow, this proof is not a proof today. “Parenting” is defined as a positive influence – but stubbornly refuses to show up like that in the testing.
This very phenomenon, abuse and damage was our proof of the nurture principle in parenting in the beginning, though.
Perhaps there was a time when beating our children or letting them beat one another was new or rare, and it was these real-world effects that proved to us that what we do matters. I have an idea, learned in grade school, that the most beaten of the children are out there beating the crap out of the less beaten ones, and I don’t think that needs a lot of mental lawyering to reconcile with the statistics of abuse. I didn’t see the advantage of it, my naïve self figured they’d all wind up in prison, live short, thug lives – maybe in a more primal, aboriginal situation though, you want your family group to be the ones who win the fights around the neighborhood. (And maybe the children of those bullies in school run the city now, shows what I knew.)
So don’t spank.
It’s why “you don’t think it’s your kid who’s a bully,” but it is, because extreme abuse is not required to produce bad behaviour. Despite the special name, spanking is enough and people get hurt within the law too. Spanking is bullying in every way except that it’s authorized.
If so, if this was perhaps the first thing we ever tried to beat our children into doing – going out and terrorizing the neighbors – that works! The statistics of abuse tell us that that is the one thing that beatings do succeed at teaching, so if that was our maiden voyage into child-sculpting, then the first test worked perfectly . . . perhaps that was our proof. And – fair enough, sort of. That may place the timing of the development of this behaviour before modern times because we have wiped out at least four other homos in the last fifty thousand years and those are only the ones where we’ve found the bodies. I assume that the last man standing was probably the meanest one, the one who had survived the toughest life.
So, with that perspective, let’s review that sentence, where I almost gave it away:
Why would we think that we think people are default some sort of bad and that we can do what we do to make them some sort of better?
Just a few more little tweaks: it turns out that the sort of bad that makes sense of it is sociability, that what we do is abuse one another far more regularly than the other animals, and the sort of better we’re talking about is meaner, tougher, being the sort that wins fights. So again, one more time:
Why would we think people are nice and sweet (which is a sort of bad in a competitive sort of environment) and so we abuse them (which humans do a lot) to make them tough, mean and nasty (a sort of better in a competitive world of male-bonded primate troops like traditional human societies)?
Because that doesn’t clash with everything else we know about violence and abuse today, for starters. Because human and all mammal babies are clearly sweet and loving, for good reasons, they’re helpless. Because isn’t that what your dad told you behind the shed? He was toughening you up, and Dad was a lot closer to the aboriginal, biological truth than the authors of parenting books.
So don’t spank.
Because we know all this already.
I see another truth table of sorts.
Again, I think whichever way we read it, the “born bad” circuit, if we call it that has us trying to punish ourselves good, to solve the circuit’s problem, or if we rename it the “born good” circuit, then we find ourselves abusing ourselves to toughen ourselves up, solving the problem.
Bad + punishment = good – this is our story now, the one that says two wrongs make a right, hurt a bad thing to make it good, shake my head. How hard do they have to beat you to make you believe that?
Good + abuse = bad – this is my new story of humanity, it says when you have a broken thing and you know you broke it, that it wasn’t probably broken before.
– we’ll try to get back to this.
Tomayto, tomahto, we’re all the same on the inside, we are all still firing that same bunch of neurons and these are interpretations all, none probably right on the money, brain circuits don’t probably speak English or any language as such. The same magic goes on here as between our genes and our lives, what goes in changes what comes out but we don’t know exactly how.
So don’t spank.
It does something, changes something, and it’s a mystery what changes we make when we mess with ourselves, except that a hundred years of socialization research has shown that the one change it does not make is that your kid turns out the way you want it to.
I’m renaming my circuit, because the function the second scenario describes is the more dependable one, the not completely illogical one, probably the real reason behind the adaptive fiction, this was my original insight, although it was pretty garbled at the time: judging by the fix, our original sin was we are too nice. And yes, this is still very much with us today, not to say forever, we still think we are overly nice and ought to be stronger. Apparently.
This is my answer, my cure for the glare, the polarization I require to make sense of it all, again that judging by the fix, our original sin was we get along too well and chimpanzees are just sadly inadequate for the job of throwing a proper war or something. If it’s the other way about, if we are an improvement upon the chimpanzee and wars don’t happen or have no worldly causation we can affect, I can’t see a thing.
When that’s all there was, I couldn’t.
I am sorry to suggest that you couldn’t either.
Again, this is a conversation with too many layers: I’m not saying we just aren’t mean enough by default for life on this planet, only that we think so, and so because this is our core belief, we beat ourselves to make sure we’re as mean and tough as the neighbors, who we assume are beating themselves too – I mean we’re not wrong about that, are we. I think it’s a weapon, another weapon for our group conflicts, a belief that makes us tougher . . . but again, not just a belief. We don’t just tell each other about it, we prove to our cells, make ourselves know it, be it true or not, because in the beginning . . . our Word about it is what matters. I know; that was an “in the end” sort of sentence. And the Word as I’ve set it up is rather mute and just hits you.
But you know what I mean, right? Authority.
I really am not certain how much damage this attitude does or how much nicer we might look if we changed it. I mean, in my own mind I get pretty grandiose, but I don’t want to project or guess. I am saying what direction it would move us though, and isn’t that what we’re supposed to want, ostensibly, isn’t that what all the discipline was supposed to do, make us nicer . . . apologies, this is rhetoric, I can’t use what I am refuting, that’s one of those dirty tricks, use something I don’t believe for my argument because I think you believe it, how shady can you get? Back to reality, if we all wanted this, we could have had it at any time, we don’t, we are in the other story, where the neighbors are monsters so we must be too, and vice versa. But we would like to want this, I think.
If we tweak our story, if we turn that first corner, then we are closer to being the people who really do want that. That’s my plan. Again, not sure how much nicer we would be, but we would surely be nicer, which is sort of another proof that the point of the whole other mode of life must be to become less nice. Circular, I guess, but that’s the whole deal, human nature ideas are circular by their very nature, so to speak.
So don’t spank.
It tilts what we think what human nature is, so spanking is also circular. Your own mother spanking you, or not protecting you from the older kids, that is a most convincing argument. If that never happened, you would be clearer to judge it all yourself, you would carry less bias into it all.
Rousseau was correct in his grand conclusions, but he missed it with the noble savages, the default good human being has yet to make an appearance, and so we don’t know what one might look like. I like to imagine it doesn’t wear war paint, but I don’t want to make his mistake and describe the thing no-one has witnessed, finding out what that might look like is a great pleasure I would love to have, but I’m not going to assume that I, modern, antisocialized thing that I am, could design it. Rousseau’s error was right there in his catchphrase, nobility is hardly docility.
I suspect that life in the noble savages’ children’s group was tough, same as everywhere and at all times, probably.
I am saying that our behaviour, the abuse, reveals a core belief, that we think we are nicer than we need to be, because the behaviour has the effect of creating that change. Plus I’m saying that this story’s genesis chapter seems to provide the proof that the nurture side of the old argument has been lacking in the minds of the biologists, because it is nothing to show that the power of a parent to alter a child is undeniable on the dark side of the parenting coin.
The trick is convincing anyone it matters, apparently.
Our true natures, though?
Good, proven by the logic of what we attempt to do about it and what we get after the process. Evolution means the nature, the core we are looking for isn’t going to be what we were looking for before though, from the created world. In that conversation, in this world, in our minds today, I say, human nature is good, we are born good, again by the logic of what we do about it and what we become from that. We’ll get to the more evolved question and answer further on, perhaps only at the end.
I think we’ve been looking at it all upside down since perhaps sometime in the middle ages and sideways since there have been some number of comfortable, secure (OK, rich) people, like since ownership and possessions that some have and some do not, and so I think we haven’t had much of a chance at this puzzle, in fact, we probably haven’t made a true start yet. I suspect it is just this, possessions and inequality that our social control was always about, just like it looks today, modern police mostly protecting possessions and the folks with the most of them.
With this better first guess about our natures, however, I’m hoping we can make a better start. There is a ton of epigenetic information becoming known, much of it regarding abuse, and I think this better autobiography may help us to give it all another level of meaning, yes, one that questions authority, if that’s what is required to get to what is true, because I think we are all going to die like all the other species if we keeping living on useful lies – adaptive fictions – and never face the truth. If the boss’ Word is always first, our search for the truth is dead in the water.
Finding the circuit that we call original sin, or the scientists call maximizing your resources or whatever, doesn’t mean we’re uncovering a core belief of ours that is objectively true, only that this is what we think is true. An interpretation of a neural pathway requires more than proving the pathway exists, you have to make a case for what it’s doing, which end is the input and which the output.
So don’t spank.
That is the input, and war and constant strife are the output. It is clear we are an aggressive species, which means biased towards offence, and I am telling you, this is why. It’s what we figured out that stopped us being chimpanzees, and it must have helped and we select for it, but we need to make other selections, and that is not determinist, what is determinist about telling you your choices matter and begging you to make different ones?
Free will is one of those concepts, if you take it, you have it and if you don’t you don’t.
The difference, stated once before in that short truth table above, is our response to the first perceived problem of our default nastiness – the dishing out of punishments to change it, makes no sense because we know abuse enhances nastiness, while our response to the second perceived problem, meaning our perceived lack of aggression – the dishing out of punishments and other abuse, makes perfect sense and is corroborated in every way in many other contexts. I don’t hope that everyone will find this as revelatory as I do, but there are a few implications.
It suggests we could be reading the product of that circuit backwards., that we don’t think we’re inherently bad, but overly good, that in fact, we structure our entire lives around a core belief that we are loving and friendly by default and we spend our lives trying to rectify that perceived situation. If punitive abuse actually makes you meaner, and punitive abuse is practised, still practised and taught, well then meaner was what you were after wasn’t it?
Like Dad said, tougher.
So don’t spank.
We need to stay good now, bad has gone too far, the fight worked, we’re all wiped out and we destroyed the Earth we were fighting on and no amount of strength or toughness is going to turn that around, our always strategy, our aggressive bias cannot win this one. This no enemy anybody evolved for. It is time to evolve consciously or crash and burn, but that doesn’t mean anything except this, stop spanking, stop hurting everyone and everything, surprise, it’s not helping, hurting just hurts and I’m sorry about whoever lied to you that hurting is helping in the first place and especially so if they told you this lie with the wooden spoon or worse.
With all this mad, modern culture around us, we may think we have to guess or deduce our natures, or even discover our core beliefs regarding our natures, and this has been the answer we tell one another, or at least this is the answer I was born into, among the great unwashed of poor white North American culture in the latter half of the twentieth century, this opaque, plausibly deniable sort of Christian original sin. It’s going to be more difficult to picture how we could make such an unconscious error in a more primal state, so much closer to or still in the natural state, predators all around . . . if beatings calmed and civilized our children, one would think that would be a deadly mutation in rough, violent nature and would be quickly selected out.
That is a proof of something.
So don’t spank.
You’ve seen the proof now. You know, and of course we always did, in other contexts, we know, but it’s the bias, isn’t it? The bad assumption, and that comes from spanking.
I’m only saying why I can’t imagine our usual narrative playing out at all, so that as far as I can see there just may be no sensible when or why to it. Of course it was never the quality of the tale, but what it produced, and I say we are drowning in what that one has produced, we gotta get into some new stuff.
That answer again, in quainter terms – that we figure we’re born uncivilized and they try to beat the culture into us, masks the true one, the deeper and nastier one, that it is the damaging effect of our punishments and abuse that we experience, and these actual effects that make it a selected for behaviour. Making us “good” was the adaptive fiction, but making us bad is the awful, hidden truth of the matter.
I miss my own term from before I learned that one, “mimic meme.” It made it all sound alive. The toxicity of EP has made “adaptive” a dirty word, because it has us all adapting, ultimately, to the Word, and just using it makes me look like I’m one of them and so I say again, I am not with those guys.
The truth table again, this logic makes this deeper core belief at least sane if not correct, because it describes a true function with expected results. The core belief we thought we had, some form of original sin is not our true belief, and neither is it objectively true, while the core belief exposed here – that we could be meaner – is borne out by all the evidence of abuse’s negative outcomes, ‘meanness’ and violence being the point of half of them.
I’ve said perhaps three times now that the behaviour with which we respond to our perceived natures makes a world more sense if we are actually trying to create a hard, nasty world where only the tough survive than if we were trying to make anyone nicer or more affiliative – but I haven’t talked much about the power of these ideas and the potential power of a reinterpretation of the function, have I?
Well, I mentioned that abusive fathers would be in treatment having their minds changed instead – OK, as well. If he got you, you need some too, we’re not wrong that victims need it – we’re just so very wrong that abusers don’t. I know, pretty totalitarian, it’s our choice, treatment. Yeah, well, abusers don’t really get to talk about personal freedom and choice, not in my brave new world. Rather, talk, talk it out, let’s work this crap out of your system, in therapy, where you keep your belt in your pants.
Victims need treatment, for abusers it’s a personal choice.
Why don’t abusers apparently need it? Why don’t they feel sick?
Sapolsky saw it all day with his baboons and he mapped their behaviour against their feelings by way of measuring hormone levels: the stress of abuse is lessened, your cortisol production slows when you pass it on, when you abuse someone. I’m not sure he said it quite so starkly. I think for him it was his conclusion, sort of, and it wasn’t what he was looking for, I don’t think that like me, he wanted to draw attention to this awful factoid. Felt a little like he was confessing, honestly, and soft-soaping it, but he was right and I am absolutely no-one to say this, but I will try to take it, that little bit of his world changing body of work, from here and run, me and a million others.
You were your dad’s treatment, is what that was.
So don’t spank.
Unless that’s your plan too.
He’ll still be able to bring home the bacon and keep the lawn mowed if you’ll only let him deflect, he won’t have to start drinking first thing in the morning. This is how we’re managing, how we’re surviving. So how was your session today? Great, Mom, thanks. I’m trying to say that this is more than a personal problem, it’s a system and an unconscious one, I’m saying your dad’s boss’ mom makes exactly the same speech, and his boss’ mom too. Almost nobody is having as good a time as they might and we have no-one to blame but ourselves and our system, so.
Again, this pyramid of deflection, that’s as good as it gets for those poor baboons, hand-me-down abuse for everyone. So sad. Do you suppose they all think they deserve no better life?
Perhaps we have grown and maybe reinterpreted that function through our evolution and the changes we made – directedness, for starters. We deflect, and we get our laundry done – the changes we made to it are what made us to some degree – and this is what I would hope for, that we can do it again, re-interpret that function and that circuit again and take another step forward, perhaps maybe leaving our abusive baboon behind. Again, it’s all a matter of point of view, does language and knowledge all belong to some cabal of leaders? I would never take away your only salve, this deflection, the deflective abuse, as long as it continues to rain down from above – that’s what authority does now, exactly what it does now. I would take it away from the top down, try to give you nothing to deflect.
So don’t spank.
Give your kids nothing to have to deflect. Interrupt and reinterpret the circuit.
All of the available evidence points to the truth of that, that we could be meaner, who hasn’t watched people grow up and get meaner as they do? That’s called normal development and if it were some other creature and not ourselves, we would assume they meant to do that, ha. In the other sense, however, as in ‘I could lose a few pounds,’ that we should be meaner, perhaps half of us can’t imagine thinking about our babies today in that way, but many absolutely do and anyway I don’t think we really could see ourselves the other way either, believing that beige sort of original sin and that violence was the cure for it. I wouldn’t have pegged you for that type either. It all seems rather strange, doesn’t it? Barely conscious, I suppose.
So don’t spank.
We really aren’t in our right minds about it.
It makes for a bit of irony. If you’ve come this far, you may as well follow me all the way to farce: what we have here, what we are, is an adult that tells himself he thinks his children are born to be bad, so he beats the sweet, helpless little dears until they are violent enough to function as an effective soldier for the troop while telling himself he’s the agent of all that’s good and proper, the defender of civilization . . . ! Again though, sort of true, defense has been necessary and if you need soldiers, babies are maybe a “bad” choice. Ha.
It’s pretty much that we’ve just gotten “good” and “bad” all mixed up, all switched around. I hope that this is a step towards an improvement in our self-awareness, that the “good” we create with our discipline is perhaps not the sort of good we’re all looking for anymore, that antisocial is only an improvement when you’ve given up and settled into a life of endless war. If we want to make the move to peace, we’re going to have to acknowledge this behaviour in order to cut back on it. This is what I would have you take away.
A note here, it seems we are cutting back on it, and I too cannot deny the sense of progress, but there seems to be some ebb and flow in history about it, comes and goes with war, to some extent. I worry that we assume progress when the principle has not changed, when our story has not changed, that it can often look like progress but if we don’t know why, if we can’t just make it happen when we want, then it is ephemeral, if we can’t get our hands on it, then how do we keep it?
In many ways, evolved behaviours don’t care what we think. It’s still working, the bad assumption, like it must have since it began: we beat our children or they do each other, and we win every conflict we enter into, at least some human does, and it doesn’t matter in that function whether we know why we do it or not. All that talk about why we got whooped, that was for the other narrative, the false one. Really, it’s to make berserkers of us.
Literally all of the evidence says so.
I have named this function, this human nature and what we do about it thing, well, many times, truth to tell, but I’ve settled on one. I call it Antisocialization Theory. It’s just what it sounds like, the science of pissing you off, of making you antisocial.
Eight – Antisocialization Theory
Just like I decided we needed a new Genesis, I’ve decided we need a new psychology too, one that doesn’t start from the Word but does its job and psychologizes the speaker of the Word, one that thinks the damage rained down by authority might actually be the very damages they’ve been looking for and Holy Moley, anarchism really ties this thing together! We need a psychology with which we can repair the boss, not just be forever up to our asses in victims, trying to repair them instead, while he keeps cranking them out as fast as he can. I want to take the thorn out of the lion’s paw.
This is Antisocialization Theory, or AST, because that is an awfully long word to type a million times: first, it’s become not just one theory for me, but a sort of an environment of theories, like evolution if not on that scale, a school of thought, a point of view – so there are many definitions, or the definition comes in many forms. It is many things, that’s the cliché!
I tried to use a term that would at least try to explain itself, I tried not to invent a whole new word. Antisocialization is a straight mashup of “antisocial” and “socialization;” it’s our antisocial socialization (awful to even say, worse to type), the dark side of our socialization, which is us adapting to our society. Antisocialization is learning to hate, what and who to hate, and how. I had hoped that a psychologist would see it and understand it instantly. I sort of assumed it was already a word.
I suppose it wouldn’t be a thing if you were sure you were already born that way, you’d probably think you didn’t have to learn it – and you probably wouldn’t think you were teaching it either, since it was already there.
But it’s a thing and you do. Like you don’t know that abuse hurts and angers you, personally? It does everyone, and that makes it science, damnit. You’re not some one-off freak about that, you’re not alone. We all feel it.
It’s more than learning, really, because antisocial “learning” alone would be euphemistic and we are antisocialized with more than words. Antisocialization is hurt. Rather, hurt is antisocializing – it’s a little more self-explanatory that way around, isn’t it? There is a big component of desensitization in it, hurt reduces our sensitivity, a thing we know already in many conversations.
I try to always say “children and criminals,” “child-rearing and social control,” but there may be places where the adults are left out of my arguments and that’s because the environmental control of our genes sorts itself out in childhood. AST says these nasty humans have figured out that there is such a thing and structured its life in such a way as to ensure that humans get the “strong” genes activated, and that is why all children need to learn right from wrong, to activate the abuse genes.
Antisocialization is being hurt and learning to hate and to hurt. It is also being pre-programmed for life, AST is genetics.
So don’t spank.
You’re tilting your kids mind, pre-configuring them for a life of conflict, including with their own, you’re likely pre-spanking their kids and their kids’ kids, etc.
I must have said thinking you are bad makes you bad earlier – it wasn’t metaphor. Thinking we’re bad lets us be rough with each other and roughness in childhood makes you tough for life “because genes” – oops. Maybe worth saying more than once too, that if you are using those genes, ensuring their activation, you are probably selecting them, growing them. It’s only an intuition, but my guess is that doesn’t mean we’re getting badder with each generation, but I think it means it’s getting easier to make us bad with each generation, like we are growing the genes that respond to abuse – like Wrangham said, in a way, the reactive gene that has chimpanzees not taking crap and orders, we are working that out of our system, growing its opposite instead. The logic may be there.
I hate to think about what thing is, no word sounds any good. OK, “cooperation” sounds good – just too good to be true.
“Socialization,” is generic, right, all of it, good and bad, that’s Psych 101, I think. “Prosocialization” would be learning who and what to love and how. It is more though, same for same, because we learn love with more than words too, in theory, love comes with real benefits – food mostly, shelter, so life, growth, health. Antisocialization is the same, taught with real things, pain, deprivation, damage – AST is the theory that these real world things have real world effects, that they are not merely “deterrents,” which designation seems to label them as virtual or something, and seems to let the eggheads off the hook to study or explain them.
When we follow through on our deterrents, science seems to treat that as accidental, as somehow irrelevant to the sciences of life and they keep talking about the deterred – we do not display the horrors, the failed experiments, do we? They’re kept way down in the basement somewhere. It’s glaring enough when flat out criminal abuse is treated this way, as awful but rather expected and not apparently needing an explanation, let alone that we fail to account for the causality of the negative stimuli that is official and above board and we are actually trying to create.
So don’t spank.
No-one even knows how much damage you’re doing.
In some sense, socialization is the entire business of the social sciences. Antisocialization should be most of that, psychology was conceived as medicine for mental pain after all, but it is not, the abuse and such of legitimate social control are un-treated by the existing ideologies, abuse is accidental, hurt is somehow not relevant to science and evolution, selection seems to be their only concern. Whether you are here or not is their only worry, how you feel isn’t apparently a part of reality worth looking at. All of science is as blind as any parent, saying we can treat one another as badly as we can imagine and that’s not supposed to have anything to do with who they are afterwards, as long you don’t kill them before they breed – a catchphrase of mine these days, “I hit him, but it doesn’t hurt him.” Science has taken “deterrents” and run, but missed the reality, the hurt because AST works always, especially in early childhood when your genes are still sorting themselves out, even before school . . . and so they were never going to look for it.
The Word got to them first.
I don’t know why I looked, I just could not reconcile myself to the explanations, but a lot of us might say as much, I don’t know why I thought I could do better, that just seems crazy. Again, though, I wasn’t satisfied, the explanation didn’t seem worth a damn, there was no loss in my view, only a long shot opportunity to solve something that needed solving.
It presented as child abuse! I’m supposed to respect a system that looks like child abuse, not question it, not try? It’s easy to point at my life history, easy to say, “Well, if those folks in his family explained child-rearing to him and they were uneducated abusive hillbillies, no wonder he doesn’t believe it,” and you’d even be right, except I’ve read parenting books, psychology books, popular science books – they all agree with my idiot relatives in all the basics, parents need to be in charge, kids need to be taught right from wrong, limits must be set, etc., Socialization is what it is, it’s not good or bad, it’s just adapt or not, right? We use the catch-all term, the word for all of it euphemistically, saying “socialization” is pointedly not saying antisocialization, avoiding the difficult stuff, the dark side.
I suspect the low quality of the folks that first explained it to me gave me clarity, that if they were better educated, I may not have seen the lie – they aren’t stupid. I’m the dumb one in my family. This is not a poor people problem either. I’m not sure today that I’m glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t unsee it, not for real money. Truth above all.
Still, evidence in hand that there is no other way, that this is what it is, that the intelligentsia did not offer a qualitatively better answer than the adults in my tiny childhood world did, still, I persist. Crazy. I don’t care that there is no way out, that you all think this way, I have even discovered that it’s as close to innate as anything, possibly a human universal, and I still don’t like you all messing with me and one another, and feelings are evolved things, they are there for a reason, I assume my response to this glare saves my eyes, so I’m following it. Shoutout to Dr. Wrangham again – I think I may have the reactive aggression you say we selected out, it’s back, or it never left: to Hell with all of you!
Ockham’s razor, however unlikely, I’m sorry, all of you must be wrong! Crazy, at least in a technical sense, as a matter of numbers, of course. Only that, I promise! OK, I hope. I hope it’s all of you that are crazy instead because I have a prescription for you and yours doesn’t work for me.
So don’t spank.
That’s mine. Also, eschew strength; strength is bad, strength is violence. Please stop fighting fire with fire, the whole world is burning and most of it is self-inflicted.
I think the big half of the social sciences and maybe even a large chunk of the life sciences are completely missing from the world, and that I need to explain this word sort of proves it. We know socialization, we know what antisocial means, but we do not have the mechanism to join them? It was quite a leap for me, this whole idea, but now, from here, that there is the entirety of social things, made up of prosocial and antisocial things seems logical, almost mathematical, the good kind plus the bad kind makes all of it, all very logical, a disinterested observer might think . . . but the idea that we are made antisocial, that is . . . new? Not available or something?
Again, if you knew that we were all born antisocial, if you already had that answer labeled and filed, this idea might not be all that necessary and so not all that visible to you.
It’s offensive, by the responses I have gotten in the past.
Of course the whole apparatus rings as me being defensive, you made me this way, kind of thing, I am rebuilding the tree of knowledge, disrespecting the whole world for an excuse, to explain my own disgruntlement, how nothing is my own fault!
Ha – all true enough, but not a refutation of anything.
Is the math wrong?
Are you so satisfied with my opponent’s, Augustine’s motivations?
I make no bones about it. This is a victim’s philosophy through and through. You don’t think this if you never lived on the receiving end. On the other hand, the Word, the philosophy of non-victims is the whole problem, the dominants cannot be expected to regulate themselves, philosophically or otherwise. Spray it on the subway walls.
Antisocialization appears to be a blind spot of science, both life sciences and the social ones, the missing link between social science and biology. We all seem to agree that to talk about abuse is fine, on a personal belief level, abuse is thought of like astrology or religion, but it never makes the leap to more than “personal,” it always presents as a personal problem. AST is the science of hurt, as opposed to the science of everything except hurt, AST thinks hurt is a legitimate phenomenon for study, not a meaningless side effect. AST doesn’t think any of us are “just whiners,” AST says the crybabies have a point, that the strong of the world treat the weak as though they were “wrong” or something, but it is not the weak out there killing people and getting rich raping the Earth to death, in human society the weak may be the “wrong,” ones, but in the real world outside of the human mind it is the “strong” humans who are doing everything wrong.
So don’t spank.
It creates a violent strength at the expense of reason, violence has been the more important selection. That’s why the human mind has diverged from reality. We have managed to evolve a response to a threat from ourselves, is that a way to describe this strategy, self-antisocialization? No wonder it’s confusing!
The stronger a human being is, the more of a problem it is and the less rational.
No-one is liberal or progressive enough for AST!
Back to definitions:
Antisocialization Theory is the fact that I may or may not learn my simplistic lesson about theft or whatever, but I will surely be hurt and angry about my punishment – this is the one that suggests I call it Murphy’s Law of Nature instead, the good thing may or may not happen, but the bad thing is dependable. AST takes the attitude that your punishment of me has a greater effect towards anarchy and violence and war than my theft did. AST is me holding onto my anger and being that much more dangerous for it afterwards. Of course, straight-up criminal abuse doesn’t feel good either, and generally we must hold that hurt also, and not seek our own justice.
Meaning, the victim of my theft is also further antisocialized by the loss, as I am by my punishments. Antisocialization is easily accomplished, far too easily, and it seems the same easy negative thing is achieved on both sides of the law, the victim hurt and angered by the loss, and the guilty party hurt also, by his captivity or whatever. What I hope to draw your attention to is the theft is an antisocializing crime and the cure is an antisocializing legal action, and in the real world, outside of the broken human mind, that is the very same function and drives both humans involved towards whatever bad feelings drive us to, same for same. Biology doesn’t read your laws, and two bads don’t make a good.
So don’t spank.
It’s a crime, same as the rest. And it matters, it’s hurt, the same as illicit, improper hurt, and it all does the same thing, it makes us dangerous.
AST is the theory that doing something more is not reducing its frequency or its impact. Call me crazy.
We have actually increased the general harm, but you are a more useful soldier for the group if you are charged up, carrying a load of resentment. That is AST.
At the very top of the theory, where I’ve only maybe gotten this year, is this:
Nine – The Antisocialization Theory of War
AST is a system of the creation of bad (aggressive) feelings through social control and abuse and the repression and storage of these feelings for use by the group, proactively, when “required,” i.e. during conflict and war. Alternatively, we punish and hope to make evil go away, but our bad feelings, the threat and the pain of punitive abuse pile up without our knowledge and when they have reached some critical mass, we explode into war.
So don’t spank.
Every punishment brings the next war a little closer. Every spanking moves your kid a little closer to being in some enemy’s sights, because you are not the only nation that thought of it. Your strength is not the deterrent, it is not virtual, it is real and it is the driver of all this madness.
Potayto, potahto. These are two ways to express the same dynamic, the same situation. I lean towards the first myself, because we work incredibly hard at social control, all day, every day, it really doesn’t look like an accident to me.
Part of it is that the children are pre-configured for toughness by activating their fighting genes and that tilts their view in the here and now, but part of it is you can’t activate genes that aren’t there, we are selecting for them, and we’re using them, they aren’t going to attrite, in fact – mustn’t it be the case that we are growing them, that this function is probably growing, becoming more and more of our lives? I said earlier, if we think it more than we think the opposite, then we are choosing, growing it. I mentioned some dates in passing, from Wrangham, ten and thirty thousand years back, he says our skeletons made leaps towards this domesticated frame that carries us around these days around those times, that the fossils we find get suddenly less robust then.
His take is a thick skull indicates a thing you can’t mess with that is always ready to fight or already fighting, and that a thinning means less fighting and more getting along . . . less reactive aggression, and I can see it, with a little twist, that the thin skull indicates when we stopped fighting back, started taking our abuse and saving our reactiveness for a rainy day. Maybe it comes on in leaps and bounds, but the point is, this strategy of ours, this unconscious strategy we have is growing, and it’s probably getting worse, which is why wars keep getting bigger.
AST is the human choice, the human difference, it’s what the animals have not learned to use, although maybe those awful wolves and lions show it to us in its simplest forms, it does strike an emotional note to see them sometimes, doesn’t it? See, I try, but it goes from definitions to arguments, it’s a big thing to define and sometimes it seems the whole world is working to hide it from us. It seems to me that it’s all existing words and existing knowledge, just a change in perspective, that the definition is already there but that arguments are required to make it matter or something.
So don’t spank.
No words matter compared to that, that was one of the things that jumped out at me and started me down this train of thought, that when new parents see their words are not “working,” that they abandon speech altogether and get physical and then they spend the rest of their lives complaining that their kids don’t listen. Why would they, when you don’t believe in your own words to do anything, that you often don’t even try words twice? If we wanted words to matter, we would let them work or not, allow their consequences to occur and matter. Down into the mud for an example?
You tell your kid, don’t touch the hot stove, this is a classic, parents love this one. The child isn’t listening, he’s heading for the stove, the parent slaps the kid’s hand and the moral is, better a red hand for a minute than for a month, lesser of two evils. It’s an extreme example, like the road or the river, and even today, if I had no other option and slap would save them, I would do it too. Today I would find other options, but for the purposes of this example, fine. During that minute, though, the kid learned that talk is rubbish. His hand hurts and you’re telling him you stopped the hurt instead, they probably think you’re lying, and they never learned that your talk about the stove was good and true either, not then and there, and when they learn it later, it’s not with the same power or at the same powerful time.
In this way, we undermine all of our own arguments, all human thought, mere words are second class things in a world that is selecting for violence.
As far as I am aware, AST is the only theory out there that postulates an actual cause for war and doesn’t simply shrug and tell us there’s nothing for it.
My prescription again? Stop punishing, stop hurting people to make them good: you are the cause. My slogan again? Stop loving “strength.” Strength is the bad stuff, violence.
Ten – Antisocialization Theory Part #2
And now we just descend into arguments, random soundbites, more slogans, a shotgun approach, I am going to try to impress you with a straight up preponderance of truth bombs.
The truth is out there, just . . . fragmented. Some fragments:
“The cruelty is the point”
– this is AST. Technically, our reaction to the cruelty is the point, but same.
“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”
– This is AST, I could hardly make it clearer. Clearly the thing that “didn’t kill you” hurt you, so “stronger” means hurt and desensitized, broken. Stronger means hurt and hurt means broken. Generally speaking, anything that came anywhere near killing you leaves you literally weaker, we all know “strength” in this context is not literal.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke
– this is AST, or it is because of AST that one side of this binary – good and bad, peace and fighting – always seems to us to be the big half, the default half, the inevitable half. Abuse tips this balance. Ask a happy, unabused animal whether his species are good or bad, one might expect an even split, or maybe all good – but ask an abuse victim that question, AST predicts a response upwards of 50% for “bad.”
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that way, and again, our victim doesn’t just “think” so, somebody proved it to him, physically, bypassed him and proved it directly to his genes. I think we have been and still are growing some genetic response that is making it easier and easier to push us to that conclusion.
Abuse tips all such judgements this way, tips our assessment of ourselves this way, it always has, so that the bad attitude, evil violent human nature has ruled our self image forever. It’s nearly impossible to argue on empirical bases, and the field is tilted in the realm of logic, by the abusive life histories of the logicians. All part of AST, at least to my mind.
So don’t spank.
Logicians should be unbiased. It’s a negative prejudice, the creation myth.
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
– this is AST, but it’s hard to see. This quote simply states a thing, doesn’t offer explanations. The reasons, I assume, are Sapolsky’s deflection. “As long as I can pass my pain on to someone else, I can live,” sort of thing, and that’s how we participate even unwillingly in the champagne fountain of abuse that is human life and that I call AST. AST says racism is learned, mostly because the conflict that underlies it is apparently forced and learned, AST suggests hate itself is learned.
It’s not AST, but skin colour racism is not evolved, blacks and whites did not evolve sharing a border. AST says we are abused until we want an enemy and skin colour is just the easiest thing in the world today for picking teams.
So don’t spank.
Folks are out there hunting for people to deflect onto and any excuse will do. Violent racism is exactly AST in action, white people raised violently by their white caregivers and oppressed by their white leaders and rich people, and sent out hunting for some enemy that never was coming for them, expediently, because it is their lifestyle to have an enemy and so a purpose and to deflect the abuse coming from all the white people over them in the world. Last time it was Jews; here, this time it’s blacks, for a completely different set of excuses, proving the mere, squalid expedience of the entire enterprise for some organizational principle or something.
So for nothing. I don’t see organization. OK, it’s a form of organization, but it’s a form we had better lose.
“Opiate of the masses” – Karl Marx
– This is AST, because AST says you weren’t all wound up and needing sedation just naturally, but that your volatility is something controlled, that we are abused nearly to the point of mass violence, so that we are always ready for action. Pressure release valves like sport and liquor are real things, but the pressure they regulate is manufactured. In this way we keep ourselves ready for the worst.
So don’t spank.
Your kid shouldn’t be an outlet, and your frustration is real and probably belongs elsewhere. The revolution is not the answer, it’s just another fight, but if we find the answer, I guess there is going to be one. It’s not the endgame for me just now, survival is, same as for Quinn, but if the revolution is required for that, if our leaders will not do anything to stop the end, then so be it. It’s not going to be anything to do with me when it comes to it, animals will fight to survive.
AST is the patriarchy, because the patriarchy is authoritarian and where abuse is the rule, the biggest are the best. I don’t dislike most men because of their genitals but because of their stupid “strength,” their violence. I do not expect that I would enjoy this violence more if it came from women instead, except inasmuch as average physical strength would be a factor.
So don’t spank.
It makes everybody mean, it makes it all a fight and a tournament and when you can see it just looking at a creature, this is a life based in trouble. I worry that with the ofttimes division of labour that we see, when the females raise the kids, that all of our spankings came from Mom and this can’t be unrelated to patriarchy and misogyny can it, first, from the top, that the men make the women beat the kids and second, that all people have some pain memory involving women, maybe some resentment?
Interestingly, that is misogyny, if child abuse is normal, I hate women if I’m angry at them for that, for just doing the good work of teaching us all right from wrong! I don’t. You’re not bad, you were born good and all of our efforts failed to wipe most of that away and you’re still fair to middling. You’re good, it’s just your behaviour that’s bad. It’s the spanking.
Eleven – AST is Warrior Society
This is the only benefit I’ve been able to imagine from it, the obvious one, that if we abuse ourselves, we will be a more dangerous bunch, that “toughening you up,” is especially good in this context, group conflict. As far as I can see, AST is the only theory that makes a dent in either racism or war – again, because AST finds hate to be a legitimate phenomenon for study and not something either too sacred or too basic to ponder.
One of those group benefits, then.
Let’s look at it, if it’s a benefit, see what that might have looed like. Africa, sometime between ten and three hundred thousand BCE., early humans, living in their troops, getting territorial, I mean I suppose they always were, whatever they were before too, but living in family groups and maybe breeding until there is just not quite enough resources for them all and they are living in some competition with each other for them. We assume the breeding continues and the competition is chronic. Like the chimpanzees, they start to see each other as an impediment to food and life and take to opportunistically thinning the other groups’ ranks and one assumes that strong groups flourish and grow and weak ones wither and die and that any group with longevity has learned how to be strong.
An abusive culture arose in one group and that culture won the battles and it spread, like ice-9? I think it would, this is the formula: abuse your own, harden them, desensitize them, make their life generally worse so that there is less to lose and more to gain in battle, the people whose own people fight them from the day they were born, these are the toughest people. To win the fights at the border, win the fights at home first, that is the winning formula of antisocialization in a competitive sort of a world.
This is sort of the opposite of how science has been talking about this, and tell you what, you guys do that, prosocial at home and we’ll do this antisocialization business instead and let’s see who wins, OK? Antisocialization is the weaponization of human beings, another weapon in our arsenal.
I’m guessing, to be sure, but I think this is the scenario in which this strategy was selected for, something like this.
This formula, it’s not working, don’t get me wrong! That’s why it isn’t obvious to everyone, I guess.
I’m not describing this to say, sorry, can’t be helped, just be happy we’re keeping the Hun at bay, not at all! This abuse your own to be competitive in war, this is not a functioning, necessary evil, that’s not what I’m saying – that’s what they want you to think, and maybe it was once, as I said but this function has grown beyond all reason and functionality, the salient groups are not the sorts of groups that evolved this way and your leader is not your grandfather. Modern war is between a nation’s rulers and its own ruled as much as it is between nations, the preparation part, our antisocialization and the war itself have merged or something, where this war antisocializes us all for the next one – the warmongers know what I’m trying to tell the good folks: it’s all one, all the same thing.
So don’t spank.
The group advantage isn’t one, it’s just war, modern, pointless war. Ask anyone who’s done it.
Well, it’s “working.” Except “working” means keeping us strong and fighting and probably more miserable generally that any creature that ever existed.
Not only that, but in a battle for survival, which we have apparently chosen to make our lives, everything gets recycled for the war effort, we have melted down the whole world for the fight. There is no environmentalism in warrior society, there can’t be, when it’s back to whalebone arrows the last whale had better be fast. I know, a made up tech, I think. I didn’t want to single any aboriginal group out.
There will be no group rule if every household is an authoritarian structure that antisocializes, it will forever be the tournament. Again, AST as a strategy sort of “worked,” for each little human group, but now it is cumulatively going to kill us all, is what I am trying to say. Even if it doesn’t, even if we make it through the coming times, the life ahead for humanity in front of us isn’t any better than the one behind us until we stop thinking that it’s good and moral, obligatory to hurt one another, for whatever reason. Reasons don’t erase the hurt, they only hide it, and these particular reasons don’t have the power to stop the warring.
So don’t spank.
The world cannot sustain any more of our deflection.
Alice Miller’s, Nietzsche’s, EP’s, everyone’s “need for power” is an effect of the abuse, not a cause – the Word is a cry of pain first and foremost. AST would like to explain authoritarianism, which is going to mean understanding how pain drives it, so it doesn’t start from it, like they all do, like the book of Job does. That seems to be the point of Job, to show us our minds on one side of something and authority on the other, doesn’t it? It’s not true, authority has a mind, and a responsibility to change it once in a while, meaning not just a moral imperative, but simply that authority’s brain is also subject to evolution and not created by some ultimate authority.
AST sees us doing it. I don’t offer direct causality, I don’t think I need to: we have a hate problem and we seem to be hurting our kids and our hungry, the circumstantial case is completely overwhelming. If we could stop, maybe we’d all learn something, but if we think hate and violence are prime causes rather than effects – AST predicts that we would have a lot of wars and such and that we would not be able to find our way out of them. And that we aren’t going to stop, not automatically, not by pursuing what we pursued to get here.
So don’t spank.
It sounds sort of trivial, but it’s really not, really, not spanking is applying the brakes, hard. Spanking is where this unconscious monster shows itself, the only place where we can get our hands on it. The apparent triviality is a camouflage, like carrying your Hasselblad around in an old diaper bag so no-one thinks to steal it.
Twelve – My Beautiful Mind
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 hate everything. Somebody that knows me hears me talking like this, they are dialling 911, I must be stroking out. My messiah complex has been something of a secret, an embarrassing mental problem I don’t share much.
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. I talked about the responsibility of writing earlier, it’s a little bit of on the terrifying side – see? Like that, I love the stronger word, the dysphemism if I can get it – not coming from the bad place, trying to shine a light on the bad place, but still. I’m always talking about the bad place. Sweetness and light, I imagine folks don’t think that’s my bag, and fair enough, it hasn’t been and if it’s been showing up it’s been sneaky about it.
By being stingy with the hope, however, I think I just come out looking like the rest of the EP crowd, and that’s not it, not at all. I think it’s time to start to roll my vision out and see what it looks like. First of course, a trip through the mud.
I started about parenting and damage, just arguing “I hit him but it doesn’t hurt him” on its face – yes it does, it hurts him! Stop!– so it’s always been hurt and damage, parents look like criminals, it’s child abuse. From there, things only got darker – oh, it’s on purpose, now I’ve got one of these evolutionary biological theories about it, it’s science that we are child abusers. All this under the heading “EP,” so that whatever you say, it sounds like you approve!
Just roll with it, Babe, it’s what you were made for.
Do you know, I used to hear “born good” and brush it off as either religion or psychology and worse, and considered any vector for these sweetness and light sort of ideas to be baseless, simply wishful thoughts, not worth a deep look? I’m sure you do know, I imagine that is some folks’ present thought also. But it’s not true. I mean, if this is a debate between Rousseau and I merely telling you we’re born good and your caregivers and all of society treating all your life with more than words as though they all knew you were born bad and they seemed to have no worry about making you worse, OK, they are going to win the argument. They’re still wrong, is all I’m saying. They win the argument in the broken social world of the human mind, but we can see which side of the argument lines up with the real world with reason, if we start from the right place. Religious scholars the world over are smart people and apply ruthless logic to their scriptures, but they all agree that all but themselves proceed from false premises. Logic needs a fair start, it can’t proceed from . . . imperatives.
It can’t proceed from even biological imperatives if the environment is sufficiently changed, if it starts to look like a behaviour that is going to get us selected out. I feel the authors of popular science books and I differ on this point, amazingly, like they’d rather drive off the cliff than evolve.
So don’t spank.
It’s making us stupid, even the intelligentsia. A falling tide lowers all boats.
Meaning, these shrugs from the men of science aren’t good enough. Who is paying them for no solution? Ah, well, I just bought a book, didn’t I.
That’s what they say logic is, right, a system of biological imperatives – and that is some schizoid stuff right there, living at the university and telling us that the logical structure of the world outside of the bent human mind doesn’t exist or something. I said, right? The Word, the imperative means our social reality trumps actual reality. Here’s science telling you to get used to it. What about physics and math? This logic, these things are biological imperatives? Who are these “hard science” biology fantasists laughing at Rousseau? I assume the physicists of the world are having a great laugh at them!
Logic may exist in the universe, but not for you, not for human matters? We’re living with our genetic heritages, our reason derives from our emotions and so I guess mathematics isn’t real, same as social science? This is new and fun! Logic follows emotion, there is no logic, and why the human world is this way is because forget you, you damned, dirty ape, that’s why – and that works both ways, both as their explanation and as the fact of the matter, because that is their explanation. But look at us fly to the moon!
It cannot proceed simply because the Hun exists in some form – “because insert noun here” – that doesn’t matter, I’m talking to the Hun too, obviously. They are people, not things, same as you, and they can’t carry on this way just because of us, either. Our tribal skirmishes are destroying all of our homelands in one foul swoop. The Earth is dying, and if you’re not sure this is true today, please believe Quinn and I, we are headed there and on this course we will surely get there and much of the world is already there just waiting for rich folks to catch up.
AST can make sense of our behaviour. And it’s here now.
So don’t spank.
I’m taking your excuse away. I see you.
I am not a researcher. I have not uncovered a revolutionary bunch of new facts that suggest a different view of life, I used all the same facts everyone else uses, it’s all right there, and if Quinn might tell you the existing creation story makes it invisible, I might qualify that and add a step and say the bloody glare caused by the existing story’s falsehood makes everything hard to see.
It’s not some new, fictional, wished for world that AST addresses, it’s this one. AST is just a beautiful interpretation and a rational one, a worldview that hasn’t taken its beatings and learned its gaslighting lessons and is still able to imagine life beyond a fight. It’s the next step towards consciousness, it has to be, because declaring your own behaviour beyond your control is the definition of not having consciousness. Keep denying this, your future galactic empires won’t convince the average vervet monkey you are conscious, if you are still writing vast novels about how life is Hell and nobody knows why. Not a mentor of mine, but Pinker gave this nice analogy, he said learning language is a sort of magic trick of the brain, of juggling a million balls until they all find the right place to fall at once, something like that, I like the image.
That’s what AST was like, like a million balls all in the air, all “the world’s problems,” and there it was, from child abuse to world wars, one fractal kernel that described it all. Inasmuch as any painter spends their life trying to perfect one image, or a novelist keeps telling the same story in better and better ways, I am spending my remaining days trying to elucidate this, trying to make all the balls fall together for you too. The analogy is good for the difficulty of it, the unlikelihood of it, but not only that, it was the same, like language; I couldn’t understand a thing the grown-ups were talking about and now since all those balls dropped into place, I feel I can.
I don’t have a new story, I hope I haven’t said that, it’s been tempting, my childhood writer self hears that soundbite screaming to be used, “my new story,” and I’ll double check my text but even if it’s not there, I feel a little guilty, like it is, like maybe I’m acting like it’s there and I’m just being coy – but I’d be lying. I don’t have the new one, all I have is the awful truth about the old one – we already put my words in the old story, and it is not good news that they all fit right in! Maybe I have a new theme, that we are self-created. Interesting that more would have to change, in that exercise, the only change was us as creator and it didn’t change the creator’s role or the plot.
Of course it’s the story’s tense, isn’t it, it’s placement in time, in the past, it’s not going to matter who the creator is, if creation remains some event in the past. Current, ongoing self-creation is the point, my new theme. We’re still here, is the point of self-creation, we are still “active in the world.”
So don’t spank.
You’re the only one doing anything. It can’t be anyone’s fault but yours.
Evolution has that. It does not have unwanted genetic heritages. It’s not supposed to, I mean. Isn’t the harmful, unwanted stuff selected out? Isn’t that the whole point? Society is narcissistic, uses any new word, doesn’t care for words – you’re still a chimpanzee “because evolution.” Completely backwards.
I’m not cold about it; that makes me angry.
So evolution is what I am at the worst: just a refutation of the creation story, but no new one? It’s all an accident, that’s not a story. It says “not created,” and finds itself absorbed by the creation story, as I’ve said, it’s an old, evolved neural pathway it’s still got to use and all the words fall into old definitions, old roles in the existing story – ah. The creation circuit clearly evolved in a world where we probably had no more access to the creator than we do today, it evolved in the absence of one, so saying there isn’t one – it won that fight before already, at the start. That isn’t going to change anything, as we see it has not.
So don’t spank.
It’s not some new smart thing.
It’s a little bit funny in a pathetic sort of way, if that’s our “work we didn’t show,” some unexamined idea like we used to believe in God because there used to be one or something, I mean, that He used to be active in the world.
I think a more thorough read of evolution would have all creatures as self-created, we all survived, so we actively chose survival, actively chose the new, evolving trait in any given problem situation. The way we talk about it, it’s like we think the desert-adapted animal wasn’t actively looking for a way to survive when the water ran out. Of course it was, and so it found it and what active, living thing in all of it was trying to do anything but it? “Evolution?” “Natural selection?” In this position, they are Intelligent Design, aren’t they, that wasn’t so far a leap. Our magical, adaptive genes are tools we living creatures use, not rules laid out for us by the creator, and AST is a flowering, a maturation of evolution to make this case.
Completing Your Thoughts, was another possible title for the conclusions chapter.
We made ourselves this awful thing, and we can make ourselves something else . . . we just have to try, stop making the old thing, start trying to make the new one. Our social control is not that effort, but the very opposite, the problem, our social control is the old story and the old creature, we need to let it go.
So don’t spank.
In practical terms. Also, don’t jail, don’t punish generally. Start cutting back.
I said before, it is hard to deny that there is progress, another Pinker point, I’m afraid, and I said that I worry we still don’t know why there would be and so it’s not secure, but I suppose a bit of hope is probably what he talked about – afraid I sort of fell out with him before Angels of our Better Nature, so I’m guessing – that even if the story has not yet changed, the evidence of its failings are starting to pile up, that despite some resistance even to the point of declaring it all foundationless, social science is having some success and the outright and unconscious creationists can’t make it go away.
So don’t spank.
Let’s get this ball rolling.
Not enough to calm my fears, empiricism, but something, and it all adds up to inertia or momentum, it’s not all black and white, a tilted playing field is enough to change the world given time, that’s evolution.
Maybe a word about beliefs existing to fill needs.
Look at the world this way and it’s not a happy vision, the old world through the eyes of the new, seeing the awful truth – but it makes sense. It offends the heart and the soul and it hurts to see it – but it is not chaos and it is not insoluble. Reason and science have a chance to help change things from the new view, because they won’t be solely working for the bad guys from Quinn’s bad story. We can turn our minds to solving the problem instead of creating it and explaining to the people, sorry, there’s nothing for it. If we just see that we were born good, that we weren’t bad until we made sure we would be, basically if we just believed our childhood selves that stop, Mom, it hurts and never let ourselves get forced into believing that was “good.”
So don’t spank.
Don’t make your kid swallow that lie.
I’m suggesting if you need a quick fix, a fast happiness, maybe go for religion or something, but if you need sense to be happy, here’s your realism, and I wouldn’t give you negative realism. If I lived thinking happy thoughts were silly, I didn’t assume dark ones were true, that’s the same mistake. The truth is not bad or good, it is equally both, and that surely is what self-creation is, it says oh my God, what have we done, but it also says hey, kids, what do you want to do today?
I repeat: AST, antisocialization theory is a beautiful idea.
AST says that we not born sinners, and that we don’t actually believe we were because if we were and we aren’t happy about it, why is the entire business of life geared to increase it? It says that our true core belief is that we are conceived sinless, again, because antisocializing us is the result of much of what people do all day long and we wouldn’t do that if we really thought we were so bad from the start. If we really thought it already we wouldn’t be all our lives struggling to make it worse, would we?
AST believes you were good and thinks this proves it. Not born sinners, and we don’t really judge ourselves that way either, because honestly, we may not know what else to do, but no-one really believes you can make a person better with a club, either. Not really. Not in other conversations.
So don’t spank.
You know better. You just think there is nothing else for this problem, the problem of evil, or of misbehaviour, and you’re making do, but it’s more, it’s worse, it’s not just a solution that doesn’t work, it’s actually the damned cause of the problem in the first place.
AST has it that we are not eternally failing at controlling our base impulses for war and other violence as the other stories do – it says that we have succeeded in reinventing ourselves as this thing, even if it is this this deep roots of war creature, from our former state as something probably very like a modern chimpanzee, meaning from a creature living in balance with the rest of them, meaning from a creature that didn’t appear to be about to destroy the whole world. Apologies, more mud, sort of.
AST says that this is an awful state of affairs that we have come to, but that it is not an accident but an accomplishment, an amazing feat of destruction that no-one would have dreamed any species capable of a hundred years ago and many still can’t believe it now.
AST says we are veritable gods among beasts with only the qualification that Death is a god too. Horrible, sure – but not an accident, not inevitable, but in fact the direct results of our focussed efforts, isn’t it? That is amazing, the power we have to . . . to what? I’ll repeat a nasty soundbite. To weaponize ourselves, to turn ourselves into the creature that did that, that created this nightmare from paradise. Sounds like the mud, I know, but this is actually good news.
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 think we need to be, that that is what we did when we became human, war and all.
AST thinks that proves we can do it again.
So don’t spank.
That would be turning around and going the other direction, that would be a real change of stimuli.
AST takes this evolution stuff seriously and thinks that a lot of folks learned it second, after Sunday school, but that all that is required is to complete the thought of evolution. AST says the last piece of that puzzle is self-creation, that we will have that dreamed of consciousness to a much greater degree when we admit the truth of this.
That we can re-make ourselves, this is one hundred and eighty degrees away from where the life sciences appear to be taking us, the determinism they insist is not there but that they know they must continually defend against, but it’s not a conflict, only a misunderstanding, again it’s the same function.
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, because AST says that choices we make matter, that when we choose to hurt one another, that it matters, that in fact there is a cause for our troubles and it’s in our hands. AST is empowering. It says our genes are a clay we manipulate, not some awful load of evil we carry around from our pasts.
Ha – I just mis-typed “the shame circuit,” and maybe that’s a way to look it, for certain breeds of popular psychology.
AST is not your usual scientific theory, and I apologize for my apparent inability to make it sound like one. I suppose I should say that at the start.
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 is not left out of the exploding world of the bio-sciences. I don’t think we all want it this way, having to re-think everything, or that anyone wanted it from me – but we all want it, right?
So don’t spank.
It drives a wedge between us and our understanding, it harms science, where all things need to be connected just as they are out here in the world.
Here’s a difficulty I had better get familiar with before anyone destroys me with it. In the Nurture Assumption, Rich Harris said all people believe in this (positive) nurture and it’s false, no such thing, parents have no leverage to form personalities, but it seems crazy if she identified a human universal, only to tell us it’s wrong and not to think it. I took off from there, I solved that by finding negative nurturing to be very real indeed . . . but I have pretty much also decided that it’s a human universal. It’s going to be asked, if anyone ever bothers, am I saying the same thing, just “stop that human universal?”
And isn’t it equally crazy and more to the point, equally powerless?
Short answer, yes, I guess.
Long answer, I see a few small advantages she didn’t have, I think the playing field levelling effect of epigenetics might immediately begin to tip back in our direction if it were to be only a debate and not a physical fight, see what I did there, as they say? The short answer is the short term answer and the long one the long term one, isn’t that convenient, or rather, I might be tempted to say elegant, if I were writing my own reviews under an assumed name or something.
Anything we do to make everyone’s lives better tilts the field our way a little, and I would like to say that in an unqualified way, but I must emphasize the “everyone.” It’s not even a part of the same thing if we only make some lives better and not others. That much we are doing now, and even the other guys will tell you, that is no miracle but inherently the problem. I’ll tell you, it means we still like that “good” evil, choosing who not to help, it’s a form of social control. Not an endorsement.
I fell for Ms. Rich Harris a little, it was a vulnerable time when I read it, and she has written more than anyone, her voice was wonderful, so it’s hard for me to shoot her down, but it must be done, that lovely woman will be gummin’ up the whole human project if we let her. She didn’t address the behaviour or the question of good or bad natures, so it was as I said earlier, parenting doesn’t matter, carry on spanking. She didn’t address human nature, but it’s clear which side of the debate you’re on if parenting, with all its negative power, doesn’t matter. I don’t mean to single her out for that, all the voices of biology that have found their way to me say the same thing. I think it’s time for a digression and it’s what I do best anyway.
Thirteen – The Quiet Part
Rich Harris’ anti-parenting point was that the parents aren’t as formative to the kids because they’re not as brutal about it as the other kids are, and this makes sense. They sold that book to a lot of parents who wanted to know that everything wasn’t their fault, I guess, but this fits other, well accepted ideas like social relativeness theory, that others would be rougher on a creature than its own parents. I don’t think it makes the parents innocent in it all, I mean unless the adults would lose a war with the children they are still in charge, letting the children’s gangs happen. Unless children suddenly have a full share of human rights and autonomy, then blaming even their own abuse of one another on them alone is parental, authoritarian gaslighting.
So don’t spank.
And don’t just make them do it to each other either. Protect your kids.
Like its only a problem if we caught Ms. Rich Harris beating her kids up and as long as some other kid it instead, it’s all good. Anywhere where I talk about parents and kids, if it’s the kids doing the dirty work it doesn’t matter, bruises are bruises, cortisol is cortisol and the formative years are the formative years. Sure, I guess, not the grown-ups fault if they retire in adulthood and let human culture carry on as some violent children’s culture, let the little animals show each other how it’s done well before puberty – this, to my mind explains human violence, the culture is pre-pubescent, it propagates in childhood and hasn’t yet found sex and love. Not what I’m after here, though.
The point of that is she and her readers only seem concerned in their own culpability and do not seem to be all fired up about stopping those nasty kids, when parents are generally very fired up about stopping all sorts of childhood activities usually. The abuse, the pain is invisible, because like the air, we’re dependent on it, not somehow, but specifically to make us strong and nasty and so deter or outfight all those other nasty humans who are doing all the same evil nonsense. I forget what Quinn said was the nasty thought that drives us but the trouble is we all have it and the answer is we all lose it and that may sound, what did Trevanian say, maximally difficult, but do we really think that if we all just reach that next level of “strength,” that that is going to solve anything? So, Ockham’s razor, we need a new thought, however unlikely.
So don’t spank.
That’s a new thought no matter how many times we say it.
I keep losing track of this digression. The point was, the abuse is invisible, we don’t mind it, we think we need it . . . and it is a growing cancer in us. Our humanism is doubling back on us and we are answering every abuse with more abuse, it’s not apparently going away, because it’s a feedback loop, a self-fulfilling and sustaining thing, do something evil, evil consequences multiply. I said elsewhere, it’s way too easy. Any brutish moron can use this dark magic, it’s not brain surgery – wait, it is brain surgery, that’s exactly what I’m saying, any brute can change your mind with his fists. And he’ll have won that argument being wrong and he wins and the world is wrong – if only half the people didn’t think that brute was a good guy, doing hard but “good” things. The point of this sub-rant, I’m afraid I can’t go through with it.
It was to express some nostalgia for the idea of selecting the bad guys out, executions, not abusive prison terms that only make them angrier – but of course, only some antisocial beast would promote such a thing, I’m not happy that I am sometimes OK with the idea of murder, and not more happy if it’s not just me.
So don’t spank.
I didn’t have it worse than most and I’ve been trying to find peace in my thinking my whole life, and still, look at me! Still looking for violent solutions behind my own back.
Sigh. Don’t kill them. Maybe, though, don’t aggravate them either? Nothing is probably best, in most cases. In the event that we must put someone apart to keep people safe, prison should be a five star hotel, don’t abuse them, don’t give them any more reasons to hate us all, they’ve had enough. We don’t actually require a replacement solution for bad behaviour; it isn’t a solution we have now, it’s a problem. All we have to do is stop. Missed it again, I’ll be honest, I was trying to get to my new, creeping theory that we are making some trade, selection for abuse, that as killing decreases, abuse is on the rise.
I’m going to give it up for now. Today I woke with a bit of an insight that the control and the abuse is pretty old, at least as old as writing, it’s probably the first nonsense anyone ever wrote down, in fact, and so that if such a trade-off has occurred it was somewhere in the past and that conversation has ended.
Fourteen – My Beautiful Mind Part #2
The world doesn’t change just because the child abuse is legal, in fact that’s the whole thing, it’s warrior society and peace will never be more than a dream because warrior society runs on child abuse and tends not to pursue laws that contradict its own motivations. Still, we have more to fight abuse with than Rich Harris had to fight attempted parenting with! Humanism exists, somehow, psychology exists, somehow, we are making a start, we have begun. I mean, we have always begun and we never finish, but some of us are trying, there are institutions already, structures made for this, despite the overall flow of warrior society – again, somehow. I want us all to have a good, solid how and why to it and then I think we could see the proportions reversed, a world of harm management with little pockets of violent anarchy instead of the other way about, if only we didn’t think bad made good.
Sorry, I’m a little stuck. 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, but to not is to protect one’s delusion, a comfortable, ineffectual madness that fears critique. I fear I have that anyway, because I’ve made up my mind to try, but I cannot seem to get it out there, and the effect seems to be the same, I am unrequited, unexpressed.
So don’t spank.
I need an audience. I want to write, but I have seen this thing and I cannot write violent hero stories or stories set against some bad or uncaring universe or stories with some awful human nature as the protagonist. I’m down to this, one trick pony.
I’ll try, 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 – the oldest one in the book, but they wrote that one for me.
If you’ll allow me.
We are self actualized, and in control of what we make of ourselves, is that all?
No, as a matter of my new facts, it’s not. Have we forgotten the AST theory of war? AST says the less you spank, the less we’ll war, it puts war in our hands, same as it puts our natures under our control, and I feel I need to say this, even to myself: and it does so with logic, reason, and science, not religion or positive thinking.
OK, there’s sympathy too. These things are not mutually exclusive. AST considers that the abuse of human society, starting with the alphas or the elders on down is a response to pain. AST would treat the pain, AST wants to take the thorn out of authority’s paw.
So don’t spank.
Even you, the Queen or whatever. Leave those princesses alone. Especially you.
Sure, I have the messiah complex, sure I would love for it to be me who solved for war and such, but that’s not the point is it, isn’t the point that somebody does it, anybody? You’re not going to not do it just to spite me, are you? Where is God with why not you now, when it might be something good?
I kid; of course you are.
All part of AST, by me.
Fifteen – My Beautiful Mind, Part #3
Human nature is not a state, but rather a direction, because in evolution, nature is not a state but a mechanism for change.
I looked for human nature, like so many other white idiots with too much time on their hands, and of course I didn’t find some natural state, what I found was that it had been the wrong question, and in evolution the question isn’t what are you, but what are you trying to be, what adaptations are you making and where might they take you and I’m afraid I’ve found us all pulling in the direction of child abuse and war, trying to get stronger, hoping that if we are stronger we’ll be safe or something.
Of course that is an abuse victim’s rather predictable dream.
Your nature, in evolution, would be whatever you are selecting for right now, whatever strategy you are bringing to a problem, this would be the measure of your nature in relation to a given environment. I think maybe that’s as close to a definition as I’m going to get, the best soundbite for human nature I can believe is “abuse victim,” because we appear powerless against the onslaught, we don’t seem to even dream it may ever end, and we’re down to just wishing we were tough enough to survive it and doubling down on the effort.
If I managed to express myself here, then I think I’ve proven that the onslaught is not a fact of the universe, but only a product of the human mind, the human lifestyle, and that this fact alone proves we have the power do it all, anything we want, including stop the abuse, which means yes, even stopping the wars.
For the record, I never dreamed either, an answer was a total surprise to me too.
Aug. 28th., 2020