The Brain Science of Not Grokking Evolution

How Thoughts are Formed:

For how things work, how thoughts are formed in the brain, we have some idea of the materials involved, much detail regarding chemical processes – and a lot of analogies.

In some contexts, the brain has pathways, in the context of depression and addiction, we speak of getting caught on a looping path, or of progressively falling into the same patterns of thought, thought to indicate the overuse of a single “pathway.” I have been trying to use this one lately, I have used it a fair bit, and I wanted to for the current blog, but you can’t prove anything starting with a single dubious analogy, can you, I need to at least diversify, if I can’t transcend it.

In Pinker’s brain science tomes, we have modules, or demons, little portions of thought, an addition demon, a subtraction one, one for fighting and one for flight, one for putting a thing on top of another thing, a lot of multipurpose generic thought segments or components that we string together to make a thought or a sentence or a life. He postulates that we also possess a completely unmoored “universal processing” module by which we are able to reason through new situations that our species has never evolved for, citing mathematics and such as evidence of its existence, but this as well as a million other less universal ones, not instead, I think. Perhaps we are born assuming it’s all the universal one, and perhaps we think much of our ideology comes from there, but I’m here to show a major way that this is not the case, that ideology is more basic, made up of simpler demons, using the modules of the brain in the same way everything else does.

I know Freud and other psychologists have their analogies as well, and some folks assign not only identities within the “personality,” as Freud did, but assign them voices too and speak of internal parliaments, but this is a different breakdown, each voice a whole person and we might still be left wondering how each of their thoughts are formed. It doesn’t map onto Pinker’s modules, which are functions, not whole voices. Too, we may wonder how the “ego,” forms its thoughts, etc. the same way.

I’m sorry – only two, modules and pathways?

“Pathways,” has a quirk, an understood one, I don’t think there is a cursor tracing thoughts from point A to point B, away from one ear and towards the other, if it’s a “path,” it’s not spatial but temporal, chemical processes happening over time to take us from one metaphorical “place,” to another. I think I was wrong to use this model so much, “module,” may serve my purposes better after all, but it isn’t a bit temporal, doesn’t seem to move at all!

Perhaps I will change it up, perhaps I’ll be as generic as possible, but you know what is a module of speech or thought that moves is Dawkins’ “meme,” and perhaps the meme is not the module or the pathway, but the product of that structure? The thing I am trying to name in the brain is the collection of cells and processes that produces a meme, say the addition meme, or the flight meme, or the “maybe it’s behind something,” meme – touch the module, it gives you a meme with which to build your thought or your sentence.

It’s difficult, all these things overlap, the modules analogy I’m making mirrors parts of speech, a sentence is a series of components, subjects and objects and verbs, and a thought is a series of modules or pathways mirroring subjects and objects and verbs. We can say, “the dog chased the cat,” and we have modules or some building block or other of thought for each thing, a brain part or process to match each of “dog,” “chased,” and “cat,” and these units can be refitted for wolves and sheep and even Russia and Crimea – analogies prove the point, that there are forms for things, one size fits all memes that we apply to many things and boiler plating these is how sentences and thoughts are created. Ah, here’s a thought, sometimes when a situation does seem new and we have to choose a meme to understand it, apply existing memes to a new thing, we make a poor choice, and that is not the best or most appropriate module for that situation.

This is the point here, however, so before I launch into it, I’d like to produce an example you already know. You know, so you don’t have to take my word for it.

And why stretch it? I’ve already invoked the dreaded wolves and sheep? – nah, no, that’s too fraught. A simple one – ah, “shark infested waters?” I think a lot of us have heard this one lately, that creatures do not “infest,” their own homes! That perhaps “infestation,” is the wrong meme to apply to this situation. Of course it’s  . . . interested. The person calls that an infestation is trying to say the ocean is their home, but the wrong, interested meme gets past us often enough, doesn’t it?

How Thoughts are Protected:

Or, how language maps to thoughts: the word is not the meme.

The word is the label for the meme, in your language, and in your time and place. A rose by any other name. Every culture with a language that knows a rose has a different word, but the rose – and the mental meme – have their own reality beyond the word, and this is the point, if we re-named the rose something else, the flower and the mental meme would not change. Were we to learn that a rose is in fact not a plant but an alarmingly complicated chameleon, then perhaps the thing and the brain unit for “rose,” would have to change, but it doesn’t work the other way about, the word is only a label for the meme in your brain, which is only some bit of brain language for the object.

This is why new, politically correct language is not a meaningful endeavour: labels are not only not the thing, but they are not even the representation of the thing in your brain, only a label for that and changing the word does not, as we hope, change anything inside the brain, indeed, just as saying it in French would not. This argument goes to identities and genders and everything else we try to fix with new language, but I am not going to iterate all that, I am going to go to what I think is the mother of all the PC language failures, “consequences,” in childrearing, followed by perhaps the father, evolution.

This application of  . . . code, I guess, this level of interpretation protects evolved, inherited memes, after all the brain and the person must function in the absence of language too, the  brain couldn’t maintain anything if it could all simply be talked away. I guess where this is heading is if we want to change anything, we don’t change the part of the code everyone sees but leave the new symbols matched to the same old things, meaning use it in all the same places and sentences as the old word, you take control of the mapping – we don’t ask people who may still think of a shark’s existence as an infestation to learn to say “shark inhabited,” if we know they still want to kill them all, we work to educate, remove the fear, and the language follows. We would locate the error by which this person thinks they own the ocean, correct that, and they will stop saying “infested,” when they realize it’s not their kitchen and sharks are not cockroaches and they would apply a more appropriate meme, shark country, or something.

Again, unless someone has an interest in it, then sharks are cockroaches, or ants?

If you felt you had to be in the ocean, though, and had to be exactly where the sharks are hungriest and most numerous, though, perhaps you would say, “infested.” We apply the meme that brings us results, like survival (I don’t mean survival from sharks so directly, it’s not the sharks made this necessary for you, but your employers, I mean to say, “survival of our employment”). The wrong meme is probably not often an accident; you’d think natural selection would either select an accident or weed those out. It’s a form of tech, or engineering, manipulating this layer of thought and existence to our own ends. But it also keeps us at bay when we try to change language for some social improvement, lets us think we’re changing things while the brain keeps everything running to the evolved status quo.

It’s been a long time since I typed this one, about how we stopped saying “punishments” for children after Dr. Spock and started saying “consequences,” instead, and changed almost nothing, punishment already means consequences, it’s only a little more passively voiced this way, and of course, some huge percentage of people still self report spanking, eighty-five or something. Literally the same hands on the same bottoms, different code symbol, same mental meme, same external world and actions. Gentle parenting would have us move from the cause and artificial effect meme both the words reference and to a different function altogether with no contrived “effect,” at all and then neither word would apply.

A teaching meme, perhaps instead. D’ya think?

New words are a dodge, a trick played on us by our species’ memory, by the bureaucracy of biology, where we simply replace the puppet leader figure and none of the machines of state. We live life, thinking the code is the message, blissfully unaware of the formatting beneath, in the evolved memes.

OK, if that was the mother – fitting, I think – then evolution is perhaps not the father, but the great granddaddy of language to meme failures, at least today.

It doesn’t belong among the origin stories at all.

The Human Nature Meme:

The Human Nature idea, with it’s coresident one of creation, is an extension of to quote an archaic term, Man the Maker, or Bob the Builder, using a too-modern one: there isn’t a thing, you make the thing, now there’s a thing, generally with a made-for purpose. This is what we have applied to our species and to the world, we are here, so perhaps something made us, so perhaps we have a purpose (a single, specific purpose, like an axe) and we were made to be this and so we are this. You make an axe, it’s an axe until someone unmakes it. Tools would seem to be the meme for this single purpose, or “Nature,” idea, the Nature of an axe is such and such, and it goes to, “So Grasshopper, what is the Nature of you?”

This is where I get lost, it has this aspect, for sure, the “Natures,” meme, of inferring a single vector, an essence, a single idea like a tool – but on the other hand, people reference if for anything and everything. This “essence,” apparently has the entire gamut of human behaviour in it, from the best to the worst . . . I can’t square it, clearly, “Natures,” are the wrong meme for a living, complex thing like us. Evolution is much better.

But it’s just a word, a symbol. If we just replace “creation,” and “Human Nature,” with “evolution,” we are not changing anything, even in our minds.

And I’m afraid we do. A lot.

For one thing, creation and human nature are old, who knows how old, maybe as old as humans. When we think about those things, existence even, these are the brain paths or modules we engage, when we think about why we are the way we are, we use the “what were we made for” meme and origins are presumed to explain why we are what we are now in this meme (paradigm), as opposed to what is making us this way right now, today.

Evolution answers that last question, not the first two.

Creation is an origins/purpose/Natures meme, the questions and the answers, and it follows the format of that brain module – but these are not the memes for living creatures. For that, we need memes of growth and change and environment and processes functioning right now. An example? Of Using “evolution” words but “creation,” memes – my usual: your “chimpanzee genetic legacy,” is a “Nature.”

We split from them five million years ago – does evolution not include change? History (and more specifically The Dawn of Everything) shows that things change a lot, much faster than that. Whole societies move in and out of “chimpanzee” aggression at merely historical speeds, and suggests, I’m sorry, that the entire primatology as proto-humans meme is nonsense, based in an all too common misunderstanding of deep time.

The Creation and Natures memes are old – but I don’t suppose the chimps have them. That’s probably a human development. Today’s problems have today causes in the meme of reality, of causes and natural effects, that is evolution. For God’s sake, people, humans have human problems. Perhaps you have noticed, no other animal does? Not chimpanzees either?

All is in motion in evolution; if we grokked it, we would stop searching for “initial conditions,” as there are none, or viewed another way, none that are still in effect or relevant. There are only “conditions,” and it matters what they are now, or a minute ago, not what they may have been a very long time ago. In the other meme, if we were created and had some “Nature,’ conditions may not matter at all, and having paved paradise after Darwin and Wallace’s deaths, it would seem that evolution has not revolutionized the world as it probably should. It is clear that we think we are somehow beyond all conditions. Evolution is self-evident in matters of living things, while creation is not evident in any way whatever.

But this fiction, this is the human disorder and the human magic, what makes us tragically different, and it is ingrained in our brains, this obsession with origins and justifying unnatural human practises with it, the denial of the self-evident change that occurs in the human world. It is less about some positive effect of a creationist belief, I’m thinking, and more about displacing the belief in change and growth, I fear, denying the damage we cause. Diverting thought away from evolution, our ongoing self-creation, and any damage we wreak upon one another. Of course it works, “Human Nature,” can be exactly all that damage, and when you show up twisted and broken, this will have always been your “Nature,” – and the innocence of your childhood was a lie: you were always this broken crime looking for a place to happen.

In this way, thoughts are protected, obvious fictions like creation remain in effect despite the truer thing having been discovered, the new idea is reduced to only being a new word for an old brain path, and we still use that circuit when we ponder ourselves. It is partially, hugely perhaps simple inertia, that the new idea’s word has to begin life trying to fit into the same conversations the old one did, but of course, the creation module in your brain evolved for a reason – not saying a “good,” reason, saying a reason we need to check – and it is protecting itself, like any living thing it is trying to grow and live and perhaps propagate.

So maybe it’s taking on more work than it should, or maybe we are diverting too much work there “on purpose,” not to say always consciously. Hey.

We’ve been making tools longer than cultivating, is this still true?

So the toolmaker’s creation myth is a little older than evolution – which I suppose might be the farmer’s “myth?”

As I said, there are better memes with which to understand and explain ourselves, ones of change and growth and environmental interactions, they exist, but which memes we use for what, this is perhaps a way to see the problem. Again, the choice is interested generally, but that way lies the truth, interested for what, why, now we’re chasing some knowledge. An administration problem, perhaps a corrupt administration problem, from a modern, can we stop the end of the world perspective. It’s easy to make the case in text though, hard to effect any real change, how could we hope to give that work, pondering whys and wherefores to the correct department in the brain? Why would the world reward and maintain its going to the wrong one?

Again, I’m sorry, guesses and analogies may be all we have.

My answer to this is Antisocialization Theory, of course, like Chagnon’s warrior society (except that the elite white obviously play too, or how are they winning), or Yellowbeard’s admonishment to his goody two shoes son that you’ll never get any killing done if you go about thinking all the time. That, I’m afraid is the interest we have to expose.

I think I can give up on solving the whole world with this one too, I guess I can stop now. I hope there was something in it for y’all. Be careful out there.


April 28th., 2023


That’s what I’m calling you, I guess. That’s Antisocialization Theory.

Like a rubber band airplane. Your momma winds you up, and your lieutenant sets you free. Then you go off and do the predictable thing, what you’re designed and built to do, spending the energy they put into you.


Apr 14th., 2023

Internalized AST

That will be ableism, to you, internalized ableism. Perhaps internalized racism, internalized sexism, internalized “gender-ignorance,” internalized hetero-neuro-normative whatever, you name it, I feel my marginalization as an Autist, so I’ll say ableism. It’s not a huge point, because my point that it’s not about any particular marginalized group, we are not responsible for our own disenfranchisement – and words like “ableism,” always name the hate after the victim.

“Anti-Asian hate,” a year or two ago, it’s all-victim, perpetrator-free crime. The news won’t even tell Asians who to watch out for, just don’t be Asian. But ableism.

Thinking ableism is “about” disabled people is agreeing with your enemies.

I know; “about,” and “because,” are complex, and the limitations of language hinder us, I’m trying to solve some of that.

Abuse “because,” we’re disabled, that’s their line – and it’s internalized ableism if it’s ours. It’s not because of us.

Having to abuse everything and everyone, this is some “them,” we’re talking about, a trait of some “theirs,” not everyone except theirs. It’s not like the haters single out your marginalized group, it’s obviously the other way about, they single out one group to keep and marginalize the rest with one broad stroke.

The community on Twitter is forever saying, “nothing about us without us,” and that’s great – but to the haters, it was never “about” us in the first place, they don’t know who we are. We say, they need to start seeing/thinking something about us, but again, they don’t know what we are and they don’t much care, they do it to everyone, it’s a function that really doesn’t look past “Other,” it really doesn’t spend any cognitive energy on things with that designation (what does @autismsupsoc call that, fast and dirty Allistic processing?). That would seem to be the point of the designation, no processing resources for you.

Black people wonder, “what’s wrong with being black?” and the LGBTQ+ community wonders, “what’s so wrong with not breeding?” and the ND community wonders, “what’s so wrong with thinking differently?” and of course the answer always, collectively and individually, is nothing!

Of course, nothing!

I mean, everything has its upsides and downsides, I guess, but nothing, nothing about any of these labels is something anybody needs to bloody do anything about! This trait of wanting to do something about people, though, can we please, before the end of eternity, talk about that? Obviously, that is a problem.

Black and brown folks talk about white people, the Non-Binary talk about cis people, the ND talk about the “neurotypical,” which describes nothing but their perceived numbers, and I don’t deny the Venn diagram is basically one big circle for all of those things, especially around here, but it’s just not the point.

It’s not white peoples’ skin colour that’s the problem any more than it is anyone’s skin colour, is it, and it’s not cis peoples’ breeding habits and it’s not “neurotypical” peoples’ commonness, is it? The hate isn’t “because,” of diverse types of people – and so it’s not “because,” of the simple existence of the haters either, something has gone terribly wrong with them, of course, this is what I’m saying too, but I can’t abide ending the conversation there, naming and blaming isn’t enough.

That we have already been trying for some generations already, the Good Fight is keeping us morally occupied but it’s not solving the problems. Anyway, to say it’s because of who they are, their natures or some such, that’s their crime and their error, isn’t it?

Can we not escape the same lethal ideology of the worst human sorts?

I won’t be caught parroting that, and I’m here to beg you not to be either. There are real world reasons for things, not natures, and the more people insist upon these natures, the worse those people behave.

As I said, there are reasons, there have to be – sometimes I think it is not in my Autistic neurology to accept a noun as an answer to “why” anything, and “because they are, racist, haters, Nazis, white, cis, NT, all these are nouns – and because they simply are doesn’t satisfy me. Nouns are “whats,” and this Autistic needs a verb.

“Why,” is an action question, you “neurotypical” weirdos. Not only is “because those people,” wrong, it’s not even grammatically sane, you couldn’t be right no matter who you named. “Why,” demands a verb.

Of course I had to make my own, it’s “antisocialize.”

The extreme antisocial nature of racism, sexism, etc., this is a noun we all know, hate, but creating hate requires action, a verb, despite what they told us in Sunday school, and despite what your high school science teachers who also attended your Sunday school told you too. You weren’t conceived with a load of hate already on board. They, we, are making the hate.

The noun that refers to knowing this function I have designated Antisocialization Theory, or AST for short, and the dominant folks of this world have it the worst, but most of us have it. It’s what is internalized, AST, the hurt and the need, the hurt from people hurting one another when they think someone needs it and the belief, born of the need, that someone does. Rather, AST describes the process of internalizing negativity generally, regardless of the flavour, and how it changes us, antisocialization is the process of acquiring our internalized hate – I mean the feeling of hate.


The specifics, who we’re to hate, and the whys and wherefores of our applied hate, these are perhaps merely informational, a part of our general socialization, certainly they would be considered to be, if we felt that all people have enemies and conflict were inevitable – but the emotional effect, antisocialization, this sets that default. If you were spanked, hate is natural and inevitable to you, and you’ll need to know where to put it.

The same logical structure exists in the positive, your prosocialization would derive from your emotional experience of feeling loved, and so being loved would be natural and necessary for you, but the general socialization of your society and environs likely specifies who and what to love . . . ah, something sort of new, isn’t it.

I’ve been calling “socialization” a general, inclusive heading, the name for all of it and saying it’s made up of positive, neutral and negative socialization – now maybe classic “socialization,” can just mean informational, period, who and what – but the pro- and anti- versions mean something else, something emotional, antecedent to any specifics, the template, the blank forms, so to speak.

Wow, I do believe something moved there.

If only anyone knew, huh.

So the theory is, if you want your kids to experience love, love them and they’ll want that, and if you think you need them to hate, hate on them a little, beat on them a little, and they will want that too, and we know they will find their own people and things to love – and that is the AST theory of racism, etc., that they will find their own things and people to hate too, society provides mates and enemies.

You can “teach,” racism, but you don’t have to. Spank them, show them the systemic racism, and they’ll figure it out, their hate will find its niche. Same for ableism, sexism, too, spanked people and relatively consequence-free targets for them.

This is AST, and this is what we need to fight and to change, that second thing, the “hating on your kids a little,” meme. All of our disenfranchised identities can lobby to be on the “prosocialized for,” list alone, in competition for this decade’s entry, or we can try to solve the problem at its root, with simply deciding we don’t need that, we would rather our kids weren’t hate-ready before they can even speak.

That’s the battle, and it’s the same battle, no matter who you are, stop the spanking, stop the hate.


Jeff April 9th., 2023