About the Abusive Ape Theory

That is not going to be the final name for this idea – but maybe. It does put me ahead of the Aquatic Ape Theory in the dictionary of good ideas that got ignored, so there’s that. The one I really like is Murphy’s Law of Nature, but I’m saving the filename and the title for when I finally get it down in a form that works for anybody. I still like Antisocialization Theory, too – I swear to you, this idea works in all jargons and disciplines, but the Abusive Ape Theory might be the label that most hints at the idea within.

Quite a few of the primates abuse each other, of course. I heard Sapolsky say he would never choose baboons for friends, that they are total jerks, and chimpanzees show the same sort of hierarchical structures with structured lines of abuse to match. Other social predators seem to do this, lions and hyenas and wolves – these self-abusing species are a fearsome list indeed! It may be too soon to suggest it about dolphins and crows perhaps, but there are hints that these creatures may have a dark side for one another too. I can’t speak to social insects, or fish, but folks are studying them, perhaps we will see. I think it’s safe to say that the species who treat one another with violence are not otherwise or generally docile, with the possible exception of the Tasmanian devil, which apparently when plucked from the melee for tagging and health checks by researchers are calm and easily handled. There’s always one, isn’t there? Well, scavengers, not predators, maybe, the devils, but there are probably some social hunters that break my rule.

I don’t care. Rules are rules, the fact that it is possible to break them doesn’t invalidate rules generally, despite what the NRA trolls would have us think. The rule: nasty, dangerous, aggressive social creatures are nasty, dangerous, and aggressive to each other, too.

It would appear the two go together in social animals, predation and abuse. Certainly they both employ the same skillsets and share many of the same rules, and fighting is fighting – and this is where the Abusive Ape Theory would like to direct your attention: abuse is not “prosocial behaviour practiced on in-group members” as opposed to the antisocial behaviours we use on the out-group. Abuse is antisocial behaviours practised on the in-group. Saying, “well, at least you’re not dead,” while it does make the experience of abuse sound relatively benign from some scientific distance, calling a beating “prosocial” is not explanatory. These are antisocial forces at play here.

This is an argument against any who still hold with ideas about group dynamics, that we treat the out-group and strangers badly and treat the in-group well – that is going too far. It may sound like opposites, but this is only a fixed disparity and not an inverse proportion. We treat the in-group badly and the out-group very badly – that is the truth of the function, and those two boats rise and fall together on the same tides. The harder things are at the border, the harder things are at home, and vice versa. This because as all of us good scientists know, this is not Psychology Today after all, there is no nurture; this because as we all know but somehow cannot process, there is abuse.

I expect this line of talk finds some resonance among the psychology-minded people – but I am coming to believe that the evolutionary scientists are blind to it. Punishment is a conscious selective pressure we apply to reach our conscious goals, they say, it wouldn’t be pressure if it didn’t hurt – but I don’t hear any more about the hurt, same as when talking to a parent about spanking. They only care when the hurt is avoided, when the deterrent works and the behaviour is modified – they can’t seem to care about the hurt. This is technology, applied science: the by-products do not interest them.

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

It is exactly this non-caring that abuse has been proven repeatedly to produce, basically the most replicable finding in social science – blind to it, completely. I swear, I have asked a few real luminaries, famous science authors, what about the pain, the trauma, and they appear to not understand the question and direct me to read their explanations about modifying behaviour, like any hockey mom. We shouldn’t be allowed to do anything in the world until we’ve had our psychotherapy, and maybe especially we shouldn’t be allowed to direct humanity’s accumulation of knowledge, either as a parent, pundit, or world-changing scientist.

Really, we can bring this conversation right home, right back to the farm where we grew up or the one on television where we think we did, it’s a straight up, old time cliché gender role thing: Mom says you need to learn something, but when Dad is giving it to you in the woodshed, he confides that everything may not be not right about that, but that this will toughen you up.

From what I have been able to glean, biologists are on the Mom side of this ideological rift, behaviour regulation and ignoring the collateral damage, and I am your Dad, telling you the awful truth.

I won’t hit you, though!

Just because it’s the truth doesn’t mean I endorse it. Awful truths need to be changed or destroyed. As I told you all a few weeks ago, you are tough enough, by an order of magnitude. I don’t want to be thickening your calluses or pissing you off any further.

There is an irony, sort of, or it would be if that isn’t just exactly how these things work, that Mom is about the world of surfaces and things, conscious behaviours in this conversation, while Dad is about the psychology, the nurturing, the changing of personalities, whereas in an adult secular conversation we associate nurturing and psychology more with the ladies’ side of life and men with things, money, cars and footballs.

This, I guess, because among the uninitiated, there is nurture, so everything is backwards.

The Abusive Ape Theory is about your Dad’s truth, and it will take up between a quarter and a half of every pie chart showing our knowledge about ourselves, when we get one right, because, one more time, as I said a year ago in one of my favourites,

Abuse is in our DNA.

Maybe that’s the label I’m looking for.

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

That old fave: https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/07/03/biology-buries-the-lead/

I know. I spelled it right in the text, LOL

Original Piety

As opposed to original sin, I mean. It’s not about piousness.

Fight or flight is an important choice, clearly important enough to find a central place and a lot of real estate in the decision-making organ.

It occurred to me today, that whatever decision we make when faced with this choice, we hope we are clever and make the smart choice, the right choice, and when we have made it through the crisis, then we know that we indeed have – I mean in a biological conversation. Perhaps if we find ourselves alive after a battle but regret perhaps having killed many folks to insure it, perhaps we suspect moral issues, but if our grandchildren are discussing it, at least they know we made the “right” choice, or this conversation doesn’t happen.

For good or ill, there is a lot of wiggle room when you’re talking about binary judgments like good and bad, right and wrong, all four of those words can mean almost anything. Goose VS Gander, Us VS Them, Friends not Food . . . indeed these value words can mean their own very opposites and we know that and we don’t even blink; we navigate, somehow. That’s exactly where I see trouble, and exactly what I am hoping clear up a little.

OK.

A creature that more often hangs back, or runs, we call cautious.

One that more often fights, we call aggressive.

This was today’s idea: a cautious creature values caution as wisdom, and if you ask an aggressive creature what constitutes wisdom or intelligence, he will tell you, “aggression.” I’ve said it elsewhere, as creatures, we exist in the second category.

I am, however, no determinist!

Behaviour is not a gene, and aggression, I repeat, is a choice, and we choose to encourage aggression, we are that aggressive creature who says that, “aggression is the smart choice.” The best defense is a good offense, right? Wait!

This is not a purely Nurture argument.

We encourage it in Nature, in our hardware.

Punishments, pain, deprivations, inequalities of stress and work . . . these sorts of abuse are not Nurture, not “just talk,” just data, none of that. They operate on our bodies and on our genomes. I’m saying, even as they find genes “strongly correlated” with aggression, that these alleles are not as God created them six thousand years ago, there is no hardware aside from behaviour and choice, “Nurture” changes our Natures.

We have some leverage on our Natures.

Maybe I can guess your loudest objection: there is no damned Nurture. Right? Nurture  all you like, our nasty Natures remain as they are, right?

Fine.

There isn’t in the positive way that modern liberal types might like, I’ll give you that. But let’s back up a step – I like doing that, it costs one a sense of progress, but it seems diligent, feels like building a solid base – and ask one more time, what is Nurture? For today’s talk I think it’s an attempt to direct – redirect, or misdirect, perhaps – our Natures. Is that fair? An attempt to teach something we’re doing, that perhaps isn’t simply in line with our Natures? Something we choose to add to our toolkit and our lives? Stuff we’re not born knowing?

Ooh, I feel really close to something.

I think that stuff is the mean and ugly and nasty and all those kinds of things, I think that is the stuff we’re not born knowing. For evidence, if not proof, I offer that Nurture exists just fine if you simply stop insisting that it must be something positive. If you doubt the power of Nurture, abuse some children and see how many are unaffected along a vector of mean and nasty and all that.

That makes for an aggressive creature.

Now this is all fun theory and all, I love to live thinking I’m negotiating with God about Life and figuring out what we are and what we’re up to, what could seem more important? I think this conversation is where the action is, and I pray that if I affect the world in any way that it is in this conversation right here. Having said that . . .

The Nurture I describe, this antisocialization, this negative Nurturing, this isn’t theoretical at all. This is the world, look around you. And so, this mean, nasty, ugly thing is not our Nature, but what is produced through the power of Nurturing, which has been defined as consisting of exactly that which is not in our Natures.

This is not us.

This is something we think we need to be, and evolution says that at some point, we really did need to be this, so we became it – but evolution and everything else says we need to be something different now. And we absolutely can, because as I’ve just shown, this is not our Natures, this mean, ugly, nasty father-raper is not us. Morally, it’s worse, of course! That we work so hard to become him, apparently by choice . . . morally, we are not looking good in my paradigm here.

But there is nothing determined about it; we never could have gotten here in a deterministic world, and that is where the most realistic hope for us and this world I have been able to find seems to be.

It’s all upside-down and backwards to everything we usually say on the subject, but human beings are upside-down and backwards and we require that sort of an explanation.

So there it is.

 

Jeff

Dec. 9th., 2018

Kissing Up to Bob

I lived, partially educated, happily deciding for myself how things worked, and then some alt-Right internet swine put me on to a couple of biology sorts of books and my mind exploded, I had an insight and a meltdown. A part of my dabbling in biology was that I learned that I was in interesting company for having had that experience, and maybe there’s a syndrome, but the person I heard it about and from was Robert Trivers. Of course nothing about me compares, except maybe the meltdown. I learned about him during that period, and not altogether in my right mind, I learned the great man had an email address, like a person.

That is Dr. Trivers, by all accounts, and I can corroborate: the most human of humans. He teased me a little, or at least gave me the leeway to tease myself, the first time I approached him it was late evening here on the west coast, so it was early morning on the other coast and he sounded a little intrigued by my idea, so I started talking to him, sending him updates and asking him questions, like I couldn’t figure out that there were a hundred tiers of learning between him and I. I sort of failed to notice he only answered the once. I should have moved on with my own learning and writing and just prayed for a chance to one day say to him, “Hey, I emailed you that one time, remember?”

But I was not well, I was manic and it seemed as though my dreams were coming true with his positive first hint. I forget how many things I sent him, blogs, partial blogs, looking for some feedback, somehow imagining his fan mail doesn’t arrive in truckloads, maybe half a dozen, maybe a dozen? Finally it was enough, he either felt the need to fend me off, or he saw my need, that’s more how he spoke, and he phoned me. He gave me solid, untheoretical advice on dealing with my mental struggles, and I did feel some real connection with that. He dismissed my insight in seven syllables, “Seems kinda wacky to me,” and if you’re talking to some nobody, that’s not saying anything, but when Bob says “to me,” then that’s a trip or several to the library. He’s already said it.

It’s not that I didn’t have the data, so much, it’s the usual, I just wasn’t processing it, and frankly, I’m a youngest, I may have a unique point of view, but I’m very much in the habit of asking for and getting help, if someone else knows, why don’t I just ask them and why don’t they just tell me? Again, I got grade twelve equivalency, and I’m going straight to the top, and the top can tell me, but I won’t get it, will I? I think I get it at the most basic level now. My theory is humans abuse their kids on purpose, that being a tough, capable troop defender is the very same thing as being as being a crazy, violent, asshole criminal, but I was talking about parents and children.

Basic social theory, social relatedness theory, has it that the person a child need fear the least is their parent, gene interest and all. Parents, in theory, would not threaten the lives of their own for conformity or such, that we all want our genes to survive and thrive. So I’m pestering Bob, ignorantly trying to refute his first theories, the ones that made him who he is, and who TF am I? (I wasn’t, I’m not refuting social relatedness theory, of course not. That just seemed to be blocking my refutation of child discipline and punishment in general.)

For one thing, I’m the same grandiose idiot I was two years ago, and also, not completely over my meltdown. So I think I have an answer!

My answer is, humans have “socialized” their child-rearing, child education.

We farm that shit out.

To less related adults in the modern world, or to less related children in the more aboriginal children’s group, thus working around social theory. Surely some later Trivers ideas are also involved, evolved deception and self-deception.

I’m not going to be looking Bob up again, I hear he’s out from Rutgers, where I had found him before, and I made a point of losing his phone number from when he called me, I didn’t want to have it if I was just going to keep getting crazier. I don’t think I am, and I’ve learned my lesson, but just in case . . . if anybody out there talks to him, maybe this response will be of interest . . . of course anyone else, perhaps from some tier between Trivers and my homegrown, daydreaming self, who would like to chime in, maybe correct me, maybe help me work this out . . .

 

Jeff

Oct. 31st., 2018

Human Morality – or You’re Making it Worse

Basically, stop it; you’re not helping.

It seems as though the people who explain war and game theory to us are advocating for it; I personally expect a call for a pre-emptive attack whenever I hear “game theory,” and it seems to me that scientific sounding talk about theory and conflict is usually offered in support of some sort of aggression. That’s not it, and that’s not me. We need to talk about this stuff and understand it in order to free ourselves from it. That’s my goal.

“Game theory” is frankly, too lofty a title for a science only employed at the team level anyways, privately in the locker room. When you’re doing that, you’re not a developer, engaged in scientific theorizing, you’re a player. And the “game” is war, so you’re a soldier. I’m not a soldier, inasmuch as I have any choice. I’m trying not to be.

I am a dangerous, dangerous peacenik. If I succeed, I’m probably going to get us all killed.

I understand the player’s, the warrior’s response to the protestor, I do. The unthinking peacenik thinks there isn’t a world of everybody else’s soldiers coming for him if his soldiers weren’t out there. He doesn’t get it; the real choices are war or annihilation here on Earth in the real world.

Well, I exist in neither of these paradigms. I get it, but I’m still a peacenik. That really is the world today, and I see we’re doing what we can within those rules, but some of us hear “that’s just the way it is” and still aren’t happy, what can I say? If a player – someone participating in conflict as their answer rather than someone fighting against the conflict itself – says to me, “that’s the way it is,” and that’s the end of the conversation for him – well, he’s forgotten, or he never knew. It wasn’t always.

For a long time, and sure, I use the phrase “deep roots of war” endlessly, but, uh, science. But . . . evolution. Nothing “was always,” was it? There weren’t “always” humans, so there wasn’t “always” human behaviour, and so all of this has developed, over time, for specific reasons, right? If I agree somewhat, if I talk of war’s “deep roots,” and even go so far as to say, “this is who we are,” please, make no mistake. I’m no player, no warmonger, nothing is written in stone. This is who we have been, yes, but evolution, Baby, environmental control of gene expression. If we can realize the ways in which we are our environment – and stop saying things like “that’s just the way it is” about our own damned behaviour – then we will see that is who we wanted to be, who we needed to be, and so we created ourselves in that image, and that perhaps we can want and need to be something else if things change, if our solutions start to feel more like problems.

Because they already feel like that to some of us.

It has been my contention – sorry, I’ve been on this train of thought forever, hard to remember I’m alone in it – my contention that the human discipline of children is a slave function to our game theory existence, our lives of group conflict. Honestly, it’s the common denominator for all of it. In Afghanistan, we beat you into a “good” Afghan, in China we’re beaten into “good” Chinese, and all over the world people are beaten Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and everything else, and the variance of these educations, the details, the different lists of rules are not the point of any of it when we see all humans employ the same methods and that all peoples are “strong” and no peoples are pushovers in conflict. Considering the personalities of many of these peoples, if you’re here, your people are tough enough.

Now, there are two ways to talk about this discipline thing, and the secret of this dichotomy is, they’re both right. One is all morality, uprightness, strength, and defense – us, as I said above, “needing to be this,” and two, power, violence, damage, hard feelings, and mental illness – us, maybe starting to see price of being this way. They’re both in play, both the same function – a “strong” group deters attack, and so does a crazy one, and maybe more so. It’s not always easy to differentiate the two today, strong VS crazy, so imagine telling the difference between them among the apes this sort of behaviour probably began with! – what I’m saying is, functionally, evolutionarily, there is no difference. I offer euphemisms and dysphemisms; the truth is between them, or it’s all of them at once.

Along those same dual lines, on the happy side, we explain our discipline as a rational function, we use punishments to teach particular, real world lessons, don’t throw dishes – but no-one has explained how not breaking dishes increases our genes’ odds for replication and immortality. The beating about the dishes, however, that has real world effects beyond the life of your dishes, well documented effects about life outcomes, about violence and crime, and the preponderance of this data says this is the true function. I’ll go out on a limb and say the biologists are finding real gene expression functions and physiological developmental functions around abuse, trauma, and violence, and not so much around dishes and house rules. Right?

So, again, one view is morality, along with the “strength,” or as a rider to it. This relationship as it is in our minds isn’t completely clear to me, and things not being clear around this is a feature, not a bug, but I think it’s fair to introduce that in reality, if this sort of abuse induced “strength” does somehow keep our genes’ march to immortality alive, if it keeps us from annihilation, then it really is “good,” no? I mean, unless we and our loved ones are somehow just plain “bad” in the first place. So, life is “morality,” I think, that’s how I understand it, the life and quality of life of my loved ones and myself, and acts that aid in that are moral acts, at the simplest level, of course. Having said that, logic and reality are not a game of “telephone,” we don’t ignore that the best defense is a good offense and we can’t say, “offense is defense, defense is life, life is morality, so offense is “good.”” To say the best defense is a good offense, is using the word/meme “good/best” in only a tactical sense, and not a moral one, obviously.

Game theory says truly, defense alone is doomed to lose, because if attacking us has no costs, they will continue until our defenses fail, and it’s only a matter of time – this little talk for the nice folks who don’t dabble in this awful sort of thinking – so the theory is we are safer when we impose a price on those that would attack us, in the jargon, when we present a credible threat of our own. Even the smallest man in our aboriginal village may have a level of safety if the big guys know he will ambush them in revenge, or cut their throats in their sleep, meaning if he engages in offense.

Moral theory says offense is a moral failing, that the acts of taking lives and protecting lives are more different than they are similar – at least my moral theory does. What the ancient texts our cultures hold dear is what I’m saying we’re stuck with in game theory, as players: killing your enemies is “good.”

I’m not sure, but I think the biologists and Richard Dawkins in particular say that your genes wish to be replicated into the future and do not give a damn about my moral theories, however, and that explains why here we are, living the morality of the players, in game theory, where offense is defense, and therefore “good.”

Sigh.

Those are the texts we go to for moral instruction, those scrolls, written in ancient team locker rooms, just before the game, instructions to the players. Don’t fight against the conflict; the conflict is your job.

This is attempt number twenty or something, of summing up my worldview as it relates to morality, of what I think are my not so common insights into these matters, this is the thing I’ve had in front of me for a year or two now, the thing I’ve been waiting to be able to put together. I feel I’ve had a bunch of thoughts, and there is some grand expression of them to be made, but the connections are difficult to show, difficult to see, and I’ve been letting my subconscious digest it and hoping it would wake me up with the answer eventually. That hasn’t really happened, but I’m writing again, for the first time in a long while, the longest while in a few years, and that feels better. For a long time, I’ve had a sense of the overview, that our ideas of “good” and “bad” are upside down and backwards, and so our morality is confusing and solving our troubles seemed impossible . . . it’s sort of what I’m after, that we want a certain kind of “good” in the world, but we’re stuck working for another kind altogether. I cannot escape an image I have, like a one-line poem more than logic, but I see our self-induced ferocity that keeps the Hun away from our door as mostly wandering our own streets, bringing those attitudes and skills evolved for the enemy to ourselves, to each other, our loved ones – and to be old fashioned – to our women and our children. Crime, as the trade-off for annihilation, I’d take it too, as we do, if I were as sure as our genes seem to be that there is no other way, but I’m not. Full disclosure – I think that may just be me.

Of course that’s what our genes think.

I’m not saying it much, but it’s all about group conflict, offense is life supporting and moral “for us,” for our group, those are the players in game theory, groups of humans, while our offense “appears” (LOL) life destroying and therefore immoral to the other groups. So now we have a game theory and we know they have one too, two identical theories in two identical frameworks, and within each group’s theory the central dogma that offense is the best defense is the pinnacle of the logic, and we know we all know it, but that’s the game.

Now, we are here, living in this group scenario for a long time, and we are absolutely talking about simple fighting and war, a basic, fundamental adaptation to group conflict (as well as perhaps discipline and antisocialization), meaning it’s undeniable that a violent response to violence is often necessary and it’s certainly an evolved and logical trait to fight. Never mind sometimes we can’t seem to communicate with our best friends, you can’t expect to converse with the human group coming over your walls, so game theory, conflict theory is fundamental, of course talking skills alone won’t guarantee your genes’ safety. But was it supposed to end there? There is fundamental and then there’s fundamental, isn’t there? Are group conflict and war really as intractable as the need for water and air?

Because therein lie all of our hopes and dreams, don’t they? In the space between those kinds of “fundamentals?”

All of our literature, all of our ponderings regarding our own natures and the nature of life, all of our struggles for good things take place in this space, all of this is an attempt to solve this puzzle of free will because we feel, we feel that we know there is a difference, that human enemies and droughts are different sorts of problems. We know the enemy is us and we are them, so it’s frustrating. Things are not so harsh all the time, so we know it doesn’t always have to be, and still, despite not having to be this way in as solid a manner as the needs for food, etc., it’s still always this way.

We need to spend a little time away from the battle, see if there’s any way to stop playing this stupid, lethal, forced game of murder ball, any way to support each of our lives and our life beyond simply threatening each other’s. I think “morality,” within our group, in the game theory paradigm, has too “good” a name, it’s describing saving ours and killing theirs – I’m sorry, missed a step, didn’t I? I mean saving ours and disciplining ours so that we can kill theirs when need arises – I think we can see that’s a rather limited morality, and best thought of as something else, simple survival, perhaps. Something I read in a novel about the Battle of Thermopylae said that to be ready for war, you must practice, that simply being prepared for an existential war means war is always your vocation, that you live with war always. It’s not true because that writer said it, but it’s true.

On maybe a purely aesthetic level, morality should serve as a goal, shouldn’t it? An ideal, not just an attribute we give to everyone in our group automatically, just for adhering to some group norm. Analogous to the widening of our moral circles meme, but perhaps more fundamentally progressive, I propose a wider moral goal for us, one above the level of our social groups, because I fear the expanding of our “moral circles” – who’s in and who’s out of the group – is doomed to failure since our brains and our societies are evolved for a much smaller group than any real group in today’s world.

The planet has gotten small and our social groups have gotten huge, we can start to imagine wanting a morality, a goal, that doesn’t require an “other,” at all – and I know freedom is the freedom to kill your enemies and what I’m suggesting is something like wildlife management of ourselves, population VS resources. Players, idealists, freedom lovers, a lot of folks aren’t going to like that idea, but I’m searching for a way to “be good” that doesn’t involve killing and war, some slightly more objective measure for what is morally “good” than whether the people we hurt are “our people” or “their people,” you know? Some moral concept that at least takes the “good” people off of the battlefield. The existence of vast amounts of a military sort of “good” available today doesn’t seem to be a solution for the collateral damage, for victims of violence away from the front lines, and this can be seen as the present, probably eternal political divisions we all live with, the hawks that promote the eternal “solution” at the borders and abroad, and the doves that complain about the violence abroad and at home. Also, all this military “good” isn’t changing, isn’t evolving, isn’t growing up. Morally, this is our upper limit, this game theory crap, and we’ve plateaued.

What makes the world seem so much less clear and understandable than this rather short assessment of mine is the connection between the two, the discipline.

That’s where bad becomes good, the magic trick. Our parental violence is “good” because if our young are strong (or better yet, crazy), then they are less likely to be attacked or exterminated and we are more likely to see those grandchildren, our genes are more likely to see the future. This is not news, anyone who has endured an old-fashioned trip to the woodshed has been told that at least some of the good that would come of it would be that they were tougher for it. That is a little bittersweet to me, a difficult thing to accept in all of this nasty talk, that the old-time patriarch types who understand the function are the ones who are very much into it, while the nice guys and the ladies who would oppose this lifestyle don’t seem to grasp it. Again, a lot of folks think being good is about not breaking dishes and such, but it doesn’t seem to be. Certainly that couldn’t be as important a way to be “good” as serving us all in conflict, a part of which is breaking the enemy’s dishes and a whole lot more than that.

So, to my mind, that’s our central conflict. Peace is “good,” the sort of “good” thing we want but being here to enjoy it seems to require that war be the mode of operation. Discipline is an inoculation, a vaccine against the existential threat of peace entering our hearts and minds, keeping us “strong” – while of course also working in the enemy’s camp, keeping him “strong.” If only we could talk to him – but again, not a system of talking. We’re having trouble reaching our own young men with talk, aren’t we? This strength that makes the international neighbors think twice, so “good” in it’s deterrent and defensive properties, is all things bad and immoral at home, the oppressive social structures, crime, violence, the whole suite. We pretend we’re “fighting crime” with our deterrents and our punishments, when those are in fact evolved behaviours that ramp up our aggression for our life of group conflict and war, and so we are hardened rather than softened by it.

So this is my take on our morality.

We’re only making it worse.

I don’t mean now, today, in modern times or anything, I mean eternally, or the evolutionary version of that. With our answer for misbehaviour and crime always being pain and deprivation, we harden ourselves as the neighbors do and no-one is soft, so that we have settled into a morality where our group gets preferential treatment, meaning a lot of well intended, mostly non-lethal punitive violence and some collateral damage from crime. It is a few steps better than it might be, I suppose.

But the empty talk, the rhetoric we hear about solving that damage within our own group, about “fighting” the crime! Understand, I don’t know if I’ve convinced anyone else – but I am convinced of what I’m saying here, discipline boosts aggression and so crime – and so the folks solving it are causing it. The folks talking about morality and punishments are advocating for abuse, which is the cause and not the cure for our madness and our aggression. I’m only asking one thing. Don’t change your ways today, just spread the word. We can’t change this by ourselves, at home, within our groups, this only helps if all nations learn this, the whole world. We need one of those hundredth monkey things – I know, they’re not a thing, it’s learning, social learning. It just looks like magic, right?

Just think about it, just talk about it.

There is a cloud over our minds about this, a great power suppressing this idea, it seems like survival itself, but things have changed, it might be survival itself if we don’t find a way to think about it.

Pithy ending, I’m sorry.

I think I may have finally gotten there, though.

 

Jeff

June 26th., 2018

“Navel-gazing”

Oh yes, I hate everything, I trust nothing and no-one, no doubt due to some seriously hard feelings – but I guess I must have opted to keep the hard feelings and jettison everything I had learned for the crucial first many years of my life instead. Probably the wrong way around in hindsight, but I was pretty young. Am I going to have to take responsibility for that decision, if that’s what it was? Before we’re done I think science may give me an excuse – but it’s certainly not appropriate to describe these sorts of internal events by way of Murphy’s Law, is it? I mean besides the fact that it’s borderline racist. Of course, that’s the nature of the beast, not just for me, hard feelings and little or no hard data. That’s all of us, and almost completely. I am either a fool or wise one, because it’s just that much more complete with me.

 

My point, the real point of this fantasy is this, though: everyone who remembers their childhoods, everyone with a “normal” pattern of life and learning “just knows” how to raise their children, and few question the system they were brought up in, other than in terms of degree of ‘strictness.’

 

I think I forgot my indoctrination, somehow brainwashed myself. I forgot how to raise kids, something we’ve all seen our entire lives, all day long.

 

My super power is that my mutation makes me something other than human, so that I can study humans. It’s hard to get a clear view of yourself, so the universe has created me, your dark, magic mirror, with a simple tweak of the ol’ DNA along with the abusively engineered life to epigenetically activate it, starting with my drop-date – double Scorpio. Ha.

 

The DNA tweak is part of the metaphor, of course – but not perhaps all a joke, either. Mom was on some morning sickness drug or something I need to get the name of for you, it’s not Thalidomide, which I would remember. I can’t recall if it’s the same drug that was associated with my sisters’ adult cervical cysts and possible cancers. I wasn’t a flipper baby, but really, there was some deformity. My umbilical wouldn’t die and stop bleeding, so a surgery found it still completely hooked up to the bowel with some bit of intestine that is not supposed to be there. “Umbilical hernia” was the term, but I’m having trouble relating that to the longer description they gave us and I just gave you, so it’s not clear to me, like everything else about my past because I either flushed it or I never wanted to know. So, I’ve got that part of the science fiction/super hero back story going for me too.

 

“Affliction,” in the classical sense, I think. In Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, Stevenson invoked a ‘sense of deformity’ to repel and horrify us about his monster, and I remember that stung a bit, I took that sort of personally.

 

I don’t mean to raise the issue of deformity in order to return to it later, I really am not planning a sci-fi or fantasy ending to this project! I offer it only in full disclosure, because to leave such a physical humiliation – I have never had a belly button, my scar was always a ‘zipper’ – out of the ‘outsider’ narrative I’m using as my biography would be to destroy the point. I’m simply leaving no embarrassment out, or I hope so anyway. It’s also bloody mythical, isn’t it? Having no navel makes you non-human, maybe not even mammalian. The symbolism of the lost connection is powerful. No?

 

The deformity thing is true. It’s the ‘visitor’ narrative that is the fantasy. Readers, you’re my double check for that. Someone let me know when I’ve let slip that I can no longer tell the difference, OK? That last story has me wondering a little. Wow. I need to let that sort of dissipate, catch my breath. That is fucking weird. Back in five.

 

That little insight sort of rocked my world, thirty, forty, fifty years late. I better check!

 

Yup, still the zipper. I should be relieved, right? Relax Jeff, you’re not completely delusional – just not apparently placental. Well, you can’t have everything, can you?

 

Further to the weirdness of my deformity, father in law had it too! Umbilical hernia they said, and he too, the zipper, the erasure of his placental origin, the sign! I see my future in this situation, my marriage in his, that in my wife’s family, the breeding males must have their primal connection wiped from history, the bridge between mother and child, between man and woman must be destroyed.  I fear I have inadvertently let myself glimpse the impossibility that my own demise could ever be a trauma to the women I’ve betrayed all my brothers for.

 

Where was I?

 

Continuing with the conscious part of the fantasy, I’m on the outside looking in at our species, at least as far as breeding goes. That is what will have to pass for my super power in this fantasy: I don’t “just know” a lot of regular stuff about “discipline” and I don’t trust another human to figure it out, so I have to do it from scratch. I know, not much of a super power at first glance, but it depends, doesn’t it? Mostly it depends on whether what everybody else knows is true or not. Short answer, yes . . .

 

Long answer?

 

No.

 

The long answer is this here blog.

 

Where everyone else saw some normal and proper version of childrearing in use, at least among the majority of their own peers, I saw chaos and a system designed not to help children develop normally through their growing years but to bend and break us all into the shape required for us to match the bent and broken shaped container our society and our families have made for us (Shout out to Takingthemaskoff, a powerful voice everyone needs to read). I saw madness calling itself reason and I saw a need for a new approach, because I either missed the lesson, never believed it enough to memorize it, or managed to un-learn it somehow, but where others saw parenting as a known and understood thing, I didn’t trust them and their system, I rejected authoritative parenting carte blanche. If what they said matched anything that the grownups in my life even might have said, then no, no, no!

 

Jeff

Aug/September 2016

2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

abusewithanexcuse.com, 2017 – “Antisocialization Theory,” – a Guide, Part #2

  1. 2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

 

 

Things started coming together in February of 2017. I mean, not for me personally, but for abusewithanexcuse.com, for my long search, the train of thought I’d been on consciously for twenty years and really struggling with all my life. This here is my personal favourite, probably of all time, and that thought comes with the idea that I’ll be surprised if anyone agrees with me about it, if it’s anyone else’s favourite. For me, this is the philosophical crux of the matter of child discipline, the pivot point for humankind generally. Long and short, I reject the biology-based idea of the Deep Roots of War Theory if it means it’s something we are, something outside of our control – but I’m all with it because it’s not what we are and only what we do. The Deep Roots of War is a behaviour, not a gene.

For me, there is deep beauty in this, our assessment of ourselves, if not maybe in our response to that assessment:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/human-nature-or-let-me-tell-you-what-we-think-of-us/

“Let Me Tell You” – LOL. I haven’t changed that much. Still. In March, seven more, that make this one a series, where I start to unravel the “Consequences Meme.” The links are in this first one. Two largish revelations in February, though, this one too, which I imagine to be dangerous and provocative:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/

One in the “personal” department from that time:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/22/youre-an-asocial-arent-you/

Here’s me responding to that fellow who put the barb in me at the start of my meltdown:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/06/15/critique-of-do-parents-really-matter/

 

 

I guess from there until now, it’s all new, it’s all what I think is some form of science, and I would have you, surprise, surprise, read it all! LOL. It is where I’m at right now, I look at it all as human society is warrior society, and for the moment at least, I’ve sort of lost interest in the details. I’ve sort of completed this train of thought, answered the questions I’ve had since the first time I saw my cousin getting the shit kicked out of him by his parents.

I have a half baked plan to write a book – would be my third now, hopefully the first good one – that sort of lays out how it operates, how the warrior society and our need for “security” drives all things human, and how most of what we think of as intelligence is simply aggression, but for now, having wrestled this problem to the ground in a mere fifty-seven years, I plan to take a break now, until the next thing comes along that gets under my skin.

 

Thanks for coming, Folks. I hope you found the grain of joy in it somewhere, I know it’s mostly one long accusation against us all, and I’m sorry for that. I think I’m a mutation, maybe. I hope I’m not the lethal sort so that the human organism has to select me out or anything, but it does sort of feel like that.

 

 

Jeff

September 11th., 2017

 

Whups, that was an ending, but this is probably Number Two for me, the second most eloquent argument I’ve made:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/07/03/biology-buries-the-lead/

Jeff

 2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” – a Guide

            2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” I guess

 

I’ve stepped through my blog chronologically and tried to organize the links into categories . . .

Favourites – mine, I mean:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/17/our-end-of-the-deal/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/06/09/state-funded-abuse-punishments-and-rewards-in-prison/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/30/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-6/ – a series I love

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/12/20/the-cruel-irony-of-deterrents/ – another series I still love

Here’s one for the vets, perhaps, it’s what Veterans’ (or Remembrance day here in Canada) day looks like when you start to see “legitimate” violence and criminal violence as all the same – sorry, when I started to see things this way –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/11/a-conflicted-society-when-its-your-job-to-die/

and that’s a segue to war from the same sort of long view –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/06/the-islamic-state-just-doesnt-get-it/

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/08/08/what-do-dolls-teach/ – an example of me posing questions three years ago that I now feel I can answer

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/09/01/punishment-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy-and-the-roots-of-institutionalized-racism/ – I think this is the sort of stuff Cortland enjoyed, police and public policy stuff, very much in line with the above link (and its linked links) . . . here’s more on that –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/11/shows-of-strength-and-presenting-a-united-front/

Man, I got a bunch on this, all inspired by American cops shooting unarmed black men and women. They’re all my favourites, I can’t stop. More:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/06/trading-up-moral-equivalence-bigger-crimes-for-smaller-ones/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/05/23/rebuilding-trust-a-rant-if-youre-going-to-lie-lie-big/  – really, one very close to my heart still.

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/03/ – I liked this whole month, a little of everything in there, some parenting stuff.

Hmm . . . I like everything in January and February of 2015 . . . and most of the stuff from April through November of 2015 – and that was when I started my Otezla prescription and lost my mind. My blog fades out with my groping with Nature VS Nurture stuff, with me beginning to read biology types like Pinker and Rich Harris, having been directed there by some biology types online. One of these folks posted an article, basically stating that it is biology’s and therefore science’s position that “Parenting Might Not Matter.” This challenge hooked me badly, and I felt I must answer or perish, I mean, get a new hobby – basically the same thing, in my mind. I was and am very invested that parenting matters. I found the answer, I think.

But I had to dive into that biology to do it. I think making that switch, from social science to biology breaks your brain and you pretty much rebuild from scratch. Ask Robert Trivers, the guy’s had several world-changing theories and the first famously came with a breakdown – I don’t know about the rest. I feel bad for making the jump, like I’ve crossed the floor of the senate or something, but truth at all cost, I guess. I kid myself I’m Bob Dylan, not Trivers, that I’m plugging in and saying goodbye to the ladies of psychology and folk music and moving on to the rock’n’roll world of hard science, LOL.

I’m no joiner, though. From what I’ve seen, the bio folks are as blind to the problems I see as anyone else. I see a need for a new discipline, one that bridges and connects the two, as you’d think EP might. Hard science on the microscope side doesn’t translate to social understanding or policy any better than blank slate social science ever did. Mostly, at least online what I see from the biologists are the deep roots of war and to be frank, the bloody Alt-Right. “Genetic differences,” being the connective tissue, apparently. I plan to go to war against all of them, soft and hard science alike. Of course, just like Nature VS Nurture, the truth is it’s both. In December 2015 and again in April, 2016, there’s one little blog each, of me trying to think my way around these biologists, starting to find my position against this seemingly new attack on Nurture from the Nature side of the old dialogue. The April one remains a fave:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/04/05/the-new-naturists/

LOL – “My Position.” Shout out to HST (and hubris).

Basically, nothing until where I’m going to start calling it the New Thing, for me, maybe abusewithareason.com or something, where I feel I’ve answered my own questions and that challenge from the internet as well. That will start after the “Religion” section, a few pages down.

 

 

 

 

            Addiction-adjacent:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/28/selling-harm/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/10/from-an-offline-conversation-part-2-regarding-addiction/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/23/punishment-and-teaching/ – I’m afraid I don’t have much on addiction, so I’m going to stretch this section. This is adjacent, it’s about rebellion.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/19/whats-up-with-the-lethal-injection-drug-shortage/ – again, a stretch. More like Capital Punishment.

 

 

Parenting:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/26/punishment-of-children-as-domestic-abuse/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/27/most-parenting-books/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/06/the-punishment-trap-1-rules/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/01/27/antiparenting/

I’d forgotten these two, and I love them, but the “favourites” section is getting too big. It’s sick, how I seem to love my own voice.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/10/dont-we-think-our-parents-did-their-best/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/05/our-parents-did-their-best-didnt-they/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/01/16/moms-such-a-martyr-parental-sacrifice-and-the-six-year-challenge/

 

 

 

            Philosophy:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/12/27/abuse-punishment-and-intentions/ – an example of what I was writing in 2013/2014, technical sounding stuff, I was trying to pick things apart from my chair, felt I was following “reason,” making some sort of a case . . . it doesn’t sound wrong to me as such, but it’s very dry, and it probably falls into the category of just making stuff up, Freud style. I do have a bit of an 18th., century tone sometimes, which, some folks still like to read that stuff, I guess.

 

 

 

Personal:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/10/03/more-than-not-punishing/ – I’ve got a bunch of this bragging sort of stuff in the blog, but I won’t be adding to it, we’ve all had a massive falling out, starting with a medication-fuelled breakdown on my part. I ain’t nearly as confident anymore as I was when I was writing that stuff, or happy either. Here’s my biography, written then, while I was still bragging:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/24/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-1/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/25/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-2/

I do have big plans to update my bio with all the embarrassing details, if I ever get to the end of this present, very bad phase of my life. I still insist it must be interesting, I mean, scientifically, sort of.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/04/21/dont-turn-your-back-on-your-childhood-self/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/15/my-kids-eminems-mom-and-who-to-trust-2/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/01/shes-leaving-home-not-entirely-unrelated-title/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/02/stressed-out-all-my-life/

 

 

            Miscellaneous:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/28/good-violence-bad-violence/  – the first thing I ever wrote on the subject, probably twenty years ago, and it shows. “Hear me, People!,” LOL

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/07/first-do-no-harm/ – me trying to get poetic about it

 

 

 

 

            Religion:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/christianity-the-revolution-that-never-happened/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/he-who-is-without-sin-may-punish/

The Civilizing Meme

I need to apologize right now. This is not likely to stand on its own, and I am sure to publish it before I complete the thought, that seems to be how I work these days. This is for those who are familiar with me, for people who have been following me on this train of thought already. For the rest, I promise to create a longer version eventually, one that places this in some context. I’ll set the scene in a form of shorthand here, but the setup needs to be longer than a blog, so that’s what I’m sorry for, the format, that it means to get me, you’ve got to read more than one, that I’m stuck trying to force you to read regularly. You have my empathy; I don’t love being subject to that sort of marketing bullshit either.

Having said that, I’ve had another tiny insight regarding what I’m terming the “consequences meme,” the story we tell ourselves about why we owe our children the consequences of their mistakes and transgressions. My proposition has been that the consequences (punishments, aversives – often beatings) create our antisocialization, not any “positive” socialization, that our consequences make us crazy and violent, the “deep roots of war” creature, as opposed to the idea that the consequences civilize us by a form of aversion therapy. Sorry again: that was the background section. Pinker’s right, once you know something, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it would take to learn it from scratch. It’s in my blog, though, in long form, me figuring it out.

Today’s idea is just the other side of one I’ve been going on about. I’ve said many times that evidence for the civilizing effects of our consequences is lacking while evidence for the effects of abuse are myriad – but that was always a one generation conversation. It has occurred to me that second generation evidence is also lacking and that is suggestive of no epigenetic response to match with this civilizing idea.

I’ve said so often I’m starting to lose trust in it, is the idea of the unevolved beast within, that evolution bears Christian original sin out, the idea that we are animals and need to be civilized, hands on, one at a time – this shows up as support for the consequences meme. To be clear, I do not find these ideas to be causative of our child-rearing behaviours, I find them to be effects also, and the common cause of them all to be our need, or our perceived need to raise our children with a bad attitude, as soldiers for our group, always ready to offend or defend.

Now, during all those years that we were laughing at Lamarck, this appeared to skewer him, that we have beaten our children for millennia and still, they never started showing up pre-civilized. Clearly, nothing we did cradle to grave, other than choosing our mates, changed the genome in that scenario. (This idea has been slated for decommissioning, but these things take time.) Of course,  Lamarck is getting his comeuppance now, turns out he was right – not regarding everything, I mean every trait, but he was right about some stuff, so he was right, at least in terms of a few generations. I don’t think he declared it worked with everything, did he? The language has changed, of course, and today’s answers aren’t necessarily matched to yesterday’s questions. I also don’t suppose Lamarck ever said beating children civilized them, probably not explicitly anyhow, but that seems to be what people think, so that’s the environment he was wrong in.

Of course, epigenetic effects, environmental control of gene expressions, these are the environment he’s correct in, but there’s another thing: he couldn’t ever have been right in an environment where beatings civilize their recipients, because we have been testing that for a long time, maybe for as long as we’ve been human by most definitions. That isn’t really working out. Oh, I know, Angels of our Better Natures and all, we have made some improvements – but it probably wasn’t hundreds of generations of beatings that did it, considering what a single generation of beatings seems to do. This is my present proposition:

That if beatings civilized us, that would be an epigenetic effect, and we would expect some long-term evidence like the second-generation effects of things like the Dutch Hunger Winter babies and their offspring, some lingering “civilization” across a generation or three that without intervention would fade out to some primal brutality, but that wouldn’t require an initiation with every child in every generation, forever. Of course, that is the socialization researchers’ long, unproductive search, isn’t it? All the evidence is for the other side, abuse, rough treatment, and the rather dependable results those things bring. As to full blown Lamarckian evolution, the creation of permanent heritable traits, for that, I’ll defer to better minds. Have we gotten from epigenetics to permanence yet? Not that I’ve heard so far. So maybe the discipline we bring to our kids isn’t the full initiation. It’s probably more like maintenance, keeps us forever in the second generation, epigenetically biased for the consequences. (Forever in the second generation. See https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/04/28/its-a-childs-world/ )

Anecdotally, I’ve observed a sort of pendulum effect in parenting, some children of cruel parents swing to using a very light hand and some of us who were left on our own to a degree may wish to exercise more control as a response, with their own children, adding up to a possible generational see-saw along a spectrum of strictness or control, perhaps of violence. It may be possible to view first-generation gentle parents as having indeed been civilized by their rough parents if we can view the second or multi-generational rough or more controlling parents as having been antisocialized by their rough parents, and then the question is, what are the proportions? How many respond with tradition and how many rebel? This may tell us which is the more powerful operant, the civilizing one or the antisocializing force of the consequences. For a clue, something upwards of eighty-seven percent of American parents self-report the use of corporal punishment, specifically, spanking. Self-report.

The second proposition, already stated, is that there will then be some multi-generational effects to see from the true effect, that beatings enhance violence rather than attenuate it. I believe these Dutch Hunger Winter baby second and beyond generation sort of effects have indeed been documented with abuse. If there are epigenetic changes being made along these lines, and there are, then this also is an environment where Lamarck is correct, and the news isn’t only good for him. The man’s laughable at the time optimism, his pie in the sky suggestion, that we are self-actualized creatures, capable of directing our own evolution in ways, this is romantic crap when all children require to be beaten civilized, clearly. But in the real world?

Self-actualized is not just what we can be, but what we perhaps have always been. I mean, we could be better, but the good news is we really could; it’s in our power. In the real world where fathers beat their sons to toughen them up and the sons volunteer for the army, the actual world where abuse is causatively correlated with violent crime in the most robust way – this is proof that our natures are in our own power to change. In that world he’s right, intergenerationally, if not permanently.

Romantic optimism and all!

I know, I’m surprised too. I never dreamed I could talk myself into believing anything so potentially positive, but, well . . . there it is.

(I bring scientists and you bring a rock star. – “John Hammond,” Jurassic Park.)

 

 

 

Jeff

July 25th., 2017

HBD – Reframing the Problem

First, apologies for my first attempt at this. New thoughts and a terrible, incomplete presentation that can only destroy my case. I hope I can make more sense this time around.

Premise: liberalism is not denial of human nature, only the denial of the warrior culture. Secondary premise: Human Biology Denial, same deal.

I’ve had this insight, the Dark Matter analogy that we are antisocialized tenfold to how we are prosocialized, and that basically all human societies are warrior societies, and with that viewpoint, I’d like to weigh in, try to help resolve some stuff.

Safe to say, no organism that denies its biology lives to tell the tale; insofar as the HBD people and I overlap, we do not deny biology, we only deny what some people are saying our biology means. More, maybe only sixty percent accurate:

What I and the HBD folks are denying really, is the “deep roots of war” narrative.

Sixty percent is good in this business, right? The point I’m getting at here is, this is why you can’t make a dent with them (and only a small one with me) when you spell out your theory and your method over and over, because you’ve decided what they don’t like is being told they’re animals and you’re not addressing the real, emotional issue, the “deep roots of war” problem. I think that problem is that we don’t all like the picture of never-ending war – or worse, one that finally does end it all – and there is some unspoken shared social belief that the “deep roots of war” are all that any of this science can show us. It seems that, at least in the minds of the geneticists in my Twitter feed, that us being animals and the “deep roots of war” narrative are inseparable. I’m here to try to tell you, not the case.

I know about the evidences, I know about our long existence as a group creature in competition, and I have some common sense about how our group dynamics affect everything in our lives . . . you know, frankly, my theory has our warring selves as having some deep roots too. What I do not accept is that all that nasty stuff somehow happens “in biology,” that we don’t think it over and decide. Proof that we do it, proof that we did it, proof that we’ve done it for a very long time – you say yourselves, genetics is not determinism, don’t you? None of it proves we aren’t making choices, that we aren’t responsible for the world we make, or that we couldn’t operate differently. There are not two worlds, a biological one where it’s all unconscious and instinctive and another where we can talk and reason. Our reason supports our biology, any other condition would be a fatal mutation. Who do we think is foisting this warring life onto humanity besides us? We talk as though we’re trying our best to be good but you know, whaddayagonnado?

I’ve been working through the logic, and I’ve come to see that all (don’t hold me to 100%, exceptions won’t disprove the rule) human societies are warrior societies. It’s a long story, and I’ve been writing it all down, it’s all in my blog, my entire learning curve that started with not wanting to spank my children twenty-five years ago and has me applying to go to school in my retirement, starting in 2018. The Twitter version, probably only helpful for people who have either been reading me or who are already in the conversation, is that I tried to figure out what “punishment” really was, because the explanations I’d always heard didn’t satisfy me. I had an insight that “discipline” and abuse had a way of looking identical.

When I read of the socialization researchers’ long failure to find evidence that kids become anything their parents wanted (in the Nurture Assumption) it became clear that the evidence for damage and abuse seemed to be the better-established phenomenon, and it wasn’t far from there to wonder what evolutionary advantage abuse could bring us. The overlap appears to be along a vector of “increased incidence of violence,” that function being well understood in both contexts, evolutionary psychology and the old, Leftist regular psychology. That looks like a powerful biological/evolutionary explanation for the human practice of the punishment of children to me, but even if it’s why half of our fathers gave us the consequences, society doesn’t allow that it’s why we do it. We have these stories why we’d be some sort of “bad” without the discipline, and “society’s” idea about it (and Mom’s) is that our discipline makes us more civilized, less violent.

That brings me to the mimic meme.

This belief, this meme, that our kids will be some kind of “bad” without the consequences, this is why we say we do it, but the evidence is all to the contrary. Why we do it is to create the “deep roots of war” ape that we are. Remember, game theory applies: if there is a human warrior society on the planet, then they all are or most must on their way to being selected out. If you believe there is one, you must allow that there are many, that they all are, else how do those peaceful societies defend? Even if you don’t see that as self-evident today, consider our long aboriginal hunter-gatherer past, the situation we evolved in and for. Damn.

That was the Twitter version.

Robert Trivers told me any decent theory can be stated in three or four sentences, and I know I could take a lot out of the above, and I’m sorry to disagree with the genius, but not everything in life is that simple! LOL. The things you get to say when you’re alone, talking to yourself! So, liberalism.

In some sense, we can apply the ubiquitous dichotomy of our politics to any debate, and as such, if conservatism is about what it sounds like, keeping what you have, supporting institutions and such, then we must allow that a nation at war’s conservatives wish to conserve that situation too. And fair enough, in a defensive sense. We are indeed at war, and that is not a good time for getting less warlike. Of course, that’s always the case, it’s never a good time, is it? This is an attribute of warrior society. So, along this vector, what is liberalism?

 

Liberalism appears to be an attempt by the non-warriors to create a new meme, to create a different sort of society. Sure, it’s the attempt of people within the society who have the comfort to consider it, the few who have gotten a glimpse of a life, at least a personal life without war, and sure, they were lucky. Liberals would like us all to share in that sort of luck – this has always been my own liberal mission statement at least, although I’m sure interpretations are legion. Perhaps liberalism is best encapsulated in the famous phrase that “the arc of the universe bends towards justice,” but I’m sorry. Warrior society says no.

The arc of the human social universe bends towards conflict.

The world described in that quote is the goal, not the present reality, but this is where this conversation turns, this is the pivot point.

This is the social world we’re talking about. The HBD movement is clearly grounded in and aligned with liberalism generally, and the mistake they make is just as the biologists say it is, they’re confusing the world they’re trying to create with the world in front of them – but they are not positioned against human nature. They are positioned against the warrior society. This seems to indicate that some geneticists, some biologists are not actually defending human nature, but possibly the warrior society, I mean if they think they are one and the same and they choose to defend one.

The deep roots of war and human nature, these are not the same things, this is the point and the news from antisocialization theory. There is a human nature, but the deep roots of war life we live is a response to our natures, a secondary effect.

This is the dividing line, and this is the obfuscation the New Atheists and the New Naturists are leveraging: if you’re against the warrior society in a particular aspect, if you think your children aren’t “born bad” and therefore are some sort of blank slates that don’t require discipline, then you’re against “human nature.” If you think crime is a social issue more than it’s an heredity issue because people are some sort of blank slates that can learn and change, then you’re against “human nature” and therefore you’re “against science.” There seems to be some conflation, some overlap between whether people accept a specific version of human nature and whether they accept any version of human nature. Clearly, many HBD people have a version of human nature in mind, not the blank slate at all, many have a rosy, hippy-dippy, sweetness and light version of human nature in their heads – but if they don’t share the New Naturists’ somewhat dark version they are blank slaters, Human Biology Deniers.

No, I’m sorry, the “deep roots of war” folks do not own the rights to human nature, not yet. We can believe in a human nature without having to accept your version, which by the way, smells of some bad attitude like Christian original sin, or some version of evolution infected with original sin, like we are 90% wild beast with a veneer of civilization. Nice try. That is not the only possible nature we may have, even if it gets an automatic pass at your bible college.

The warrior society, when threatened, fights like a cornered badger, again, sorry to complicate matters, that’s almost fair enough, the enemy really is at the gates, usually. So, let’s talk about a few of these New Naturists and see what this all means; again, I’ll start at the end: this logic has explained something to me this morning that I’d been having trouble understanding . . . well, three things. Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins.

There are no innocent voices in wartime. I’m tired of typing it, and of course, there are innocent voices every generation, young, inexperienced people pitching in where they think they’re needed. The point of the expression though, is that war co-opts everything. I’ve been frustrated, I‘d gotten used to the obnoxious attitudes of Maher, Harris, etc., but lately Richard Dawkins is tweeting about FGM and it challenged me to understand it. How can the brilliant Dawkins not know that to complain about reactionary Islamist practices in the middle of these wars only feeds the war? Does he imagine they will stop the bombing and build universities instead? During a time when the anti-Muslim talk in America and England is drowning out all other voices, how can he not know he’s adding to the chorus? Then it struck me.

This is not an HBD person, is it, Richard Dawkins, but perhaps he’s a liberal. As a liberal, perhaps he does not like to always remember that our countries are at war, because we liberals don’t like to think of humans that way . . . the arc of the universe, right? How to understand this common phenomenon though, other than to imagine that these advocates forget there’s a war on? How else to understand intellectuals talking about Afghanistan as though their public policy problems can be dealt with while the bombs are still flying? It’s the mimic meme. Folks like Dawkins want to chastise Islam, give them a little pain, motivate them to be “better,” and they seem not to notice that we’re already doing a whole lot more to them than that.

These folks, by conflating human nature with the warrior society, do science a disservice by aligning it with the warrior society – case in point, the vapid war rhetoric of Sam Harris disguised as philosophy (see featured image) – same as the Church always has, and against peace. I’m pro-science, and I agree with a lot of scientists about a lot of things, but good science is not what is making some of these names famous, it’s their cultural “contributions.” I know I have to spell it out.

 

War culture.

 

Jeff

July 14th., 2017

Biology Buries the Lede

They’ve found genes, alleles that are activated in response to adverse environments, and I think they’re finding epigenetic changes specific to abuse, that is, social abuse or abusive social environments as well as ones for drought, famine, cold, that sort of thing. I’ll try to find a few of these for examples, just to be sure I’m not assuming too much, but I don’t plan to get into biological detail at that level; first, I know nothing, and second, there are plenty of good folks doing that who do.

For me, the salient point is this: the environment is in our DNA. Our genes know about drought, famine, cold, UV light – milk – etc. – and abuse.

Abuse is in our DNA.

If having or developing the genes to lose melanin helped us to live in the snow and the cold, then we can express that as us, wanting to expand or remain when the weather moved over us, leveraging our genetic options for pigment, to better access that environment’s resources, right? Is that a valid evolutionary or biological way to view things? If you’ve read me this year, you know where this is going.

Abuse is in our DNA.

I don’t have the heart to bludgeon anyone with the ‘abuse’ side of that analogy. My whole thing is hostile enough with a light touch, and for that I’m sorry, but, truth if we can find it, I guess.

When some brilliant researcher identifies the AMYGDLAXXX#1 “warrior allele” (kidding, I hope that’s clear), and it makes the journals and National Geographic or something, that’s scientifically terrific. Maybe we ultra-liberals hear the voice of eugenics in it and we start to argue about determinism or some established debate, and sadly, the biologists I see are arguing back at nearly that level, like, ‘so what, “determinism,” this is science, it is what it is’ and so it is, we’ve buried the lede, which was far bigger than biology, bigger than either ‘side’ of this conversation. The lede, one more time,

Abuse is in our DNA.

That’s the headline. The meat of the paper needs to be that abuse is in our life, in our development, in our evolution. If there are ‘warrior alleles’ (and there are), then the associated behaviour, creating the abusive social environment that activates them is in our life’s DNA, our lifestyle’s DNA. This “environment” is us. We grew up with abuse, in the evolutionary sense, it’s part of us. So.

This is what it means to biologists: it counts. YOU came to US with this data, genes for abuse, this is the nature/nurture connection, this is how you fit behaviour into your worldview: alleles for abuse proves the existence of abuse, no? And the biological power of abuse, therefore the “power of nurture,” right?

This is what it means to social scientists and psychologists: it counts. Not in some cases, not in extreme cases. Abuse is the baseline for humans, there is no ‘normal human development’ path that doesn’t include abuse, abuse is “normal” for us, it’s not a pathological condition, unless we can think that we all have one. To assume some silent majority of unabused people as some ‘norm’ is missing the point entirely.

Biologists, you’ve found it, the Holy Grail, you just can’t seem to look up from your microscopes to see it! You proved nurture while trying to disprove it, built the bridge from social to biological science, but you seem to be protesting, telling us there’s no good reason to cross it. But that’s OK, that’s just your biology, the ol’ us and them mindset creeping in as it always does, no blame there. I basically have no ‘us,’ anymore, so . . .

I’ll take it from here, if no-one else will.

 

Jeff

July 3rd., 2017