Human Autobiographies

Psychology should concern itself with pain. Wasn’t that the original idea, a specialty within medicine, an attempt to lessen pain and help people?

I ask, in all seriousness: this toxic Evolutionary Psychology I’m hearing about – is there any mention of suffering in it? I’m guessing not, that’s probably what’s so poisonous about it. But let’s back that up one step. This Evolution idea – same question: do pain or suffering have an appearance, a role?

I won’t make you wait. I can never write a novel or a textbook, I can’t keep a secret long enough to build tension or fill a book – in reality, pain and suffering are part of our evolving past and present, absolutely. It seems to be absent, however, I mean except as a spectre, a bogeyman, in the form of deterrents, from the usual tale of our group existence. Pain and suffering are the price for civilization, and civilization is life and security. That’s the role, yes, bogeyman, scare ourselves straight, I know how it works, I had parents, a children’s group, bosses, I know about deterrents. So that’s the role assigned to pain and abuse in our current understanding.

Like it doesn’t ever actually happen. Like whether it actually happens or not wouldn’t matter, the deterrent is the function.

That’s how evolution, and everything else in life works, right, nothing has to happen, it’s not things that happen that matter, only things that might happen, only threats of things happening that matter?

But this is our origin story, our social organization, and majority control of misbehavers, the employment of rules, laws and deterrents has had an effect on us – civilization – the idea of abuse and punishments has brought us all this way, but the reality of the abuse has had no measurable effect. We are different enough from everything else that walks the Earth for half of us to wonder if Earth is really where we’re from – from the threat, from the fear of abuse, but the reality of the abuse with such aversive power, the actuality of the abuse that has the whole species changing their behaviour to avoid it is apparently powerless.

If you get it, if you agree, say nothing!

I knew it.

The difference of treatment we enjoy within our groups as opposed to when we’re caught alone outside of them – this I see as a chicken or egg question or rather whether a zebra is a black horse with white stripes or the reverse, except that it matters.

The way I see it stated is usually some version of “prosocial at home, antisocial without,” and while it does describe the disparity we see and we would expect to see at the in-group boundary line, it seems to lack causality. I find there is plenty of stuff going on in the in-group that being “prosocial” does not explain.

OK, in brutal terms: if I would murder an out-group person for eyeing my wife, and only beat an in-group member unconscious for the same slight, then this framework has the beating as a prosocial, in-group behaviour, like I brought the fellow life. Now, if while I had him out and could indeed have dispatched him at little extra cost and didn’t, perhaps yes, he lives because of my prosocial choice about him – that doesn’t make this a story about friends giving life to one another.

It’s still a violent episode, with violent motivations, and ongoing effects of possibly adjusted hierarchies, possible physical injuries, possible further revenge scenarios – the lifegiving part of this story is not what drives the plot, is the point, in that I’m afraid I agree with the toxic evo-boys. To be fair, we’re talking about a story about toxic boys fighting over their women like they are property in this example, so it’s not prosocial things driving this story.

Not even in the long term, genetic terms!

In this story, I would execute a neighbor tribe’s possible rapist, but stay it for my in-group possible rapist, and breeding rapists is probably not easily explained as “prosocial” either, in the long run, is it? What more aggressive thing could a species do?

They say white folks see a white zebra with black stripes and black people the reverse (or the other way? I forget and it doesn’t matter), and if seeing the in-group as prosocial and suffering as accidental is like seeing a white horse with black accents, then I think this horse is black. Pain and suffering are the engine of the human in-group.

It’s our dark side, to be sure, unconscious. That doesn’t mean it’s the “small” half. With the preceding in mind, consider a high level result of this sort of error in our understanding: our wars are getting bigger and longer. We are far more violent and destructive than the chimpanzees, as well as presumably, than the creatures we and the chimpanzees descended from – so we are evolving in that direction, towards bigger, longer wars.

The normal conversation, repeated endlessly, because as you know, the obvious truth needs to be repeated endlessly, each of us to one another’s choirs, is that we are subject to these “outbursts” of violence because we still have the ancient chimpanzee within us and to that I snort and scoff and fart in your general direction!

So then, we were like this five million years ago? One long, never-ending chain of world wars going back to the ancient Congo, where, somehow the modern chimpanzees have today managed to keep it down to a dull roar? Even if our story were true, it’s clearly the chimpanzees who have slowed the fighting in it, it’s their success story, not ours. If it were true.

Where is the Evolution in this story?

We’ve changed, we’ve evolved, replaced some of the old, wild genes with newer, softer ones, but every now and then, all that evolution just resets to a fictional period five million years ago when apparently every ape used to have huge wars all the time? WTF?

We’ve changed, we are changing, and our wars are getting worse and there is evolution and genetics and for God’s sake, put it together, will you? We are selecting ourselves for this. What else? I mean what else, with Evolution?

Microphone drop, that sounds like an ending, except one, it’s not Sunday yet, and two, there’s something looming, some existential threat to my whole thing that I am going to have to at least have one look at before I decide to either take it on or just give up and run. Wrangham hinted at it in interviews, I expect he laid it out in his latest with a lot of support: capital punishment of tyrannical alphas, that makes sense, that sounds like civilization to me too. But any lesser punishment, by my own reckoning, while deterrents exist and a more prosocial cost benefit analysis may result, other things happen, the more basic, low level things happen. The subject has bad feelings, perhaps unfairness and anger, perhaps sadness, and more basic, pain has its own immediate negativity and those feelings are responses to that more elemental feeling.

This is exploratory, I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but this image keeps coming up, that we are trying to extract the good side of life from the whole savage garden experience, like taking the metal from the ore, breaking down complex things to take only the best bits and that is never alchemical magic but only an industrializable chemical reaction with a very real and unmagical accumulation of by-product that goes along with it.

I worry that in order to improve ourselves, that we have split instead, polarized, and while there is a better looking version of ourselves to talk about, there is also our Mr. Hyde, and maybe he’s in the basement and suffering, but he doesn’t seem to be safely chained up. This conversation goes to our supposed self-domestication, and it seems obvious to me that we cannot be the tame horse unless we are also the cruel master that breaks him.

I worry that by trying to make a conscious change, we have created a monster and if the whole idea of punishing is the problem, that my idea is only another form of it, and doomed before it can ever begin, like if the problem is what we’re trying to do and not just how we try to do it. I worry about stuff no-one else knows is going on.

To be continued, that theme.

There is a lot of complicated thought to take us from Wrangham’s capital punishment to non-lethal punishment, to us being generally a lot less violent than the apes (by murders per population measures. I don’t argue that; I argue that huge wars also exist, that in times and places, our murderousness outstrips peak chimpanzee murderousness by orders of magnitude) but it’s all quite unnecessary. All that is really required is to turn the causality upside down and ask, either like I did, “what is punishment?,” or like this: how have we evolved to have world wars? If the question is “why is our murder rate better than the chimpanzees over the long term?,” then sure, maybe some answer that starts with in-group love.

But if the question is “How was World War II possible?,” then telling me “because we’ve found a way to make ourselves more prosocial” isn’t going to cut it, and again, in your general direction, Sir. For that answer, you have to say, this is an ability we are growing, a genetic effect we are selecting for. And again, all that is required is a different view, like I don’t know what you’d call it, what discipline concerns itself with people who are damaged by abuse, but some of these Evolutionary Biological Theorists sure could use a little of it! Some field of study that tries to help people by making things they’re unconscious of conscious, to give them choices where they didn’t think they had them . . . something like that would be great for this.

I don’t want to get grandiose on you, but I know two sciences that could change the world if they would see that they belong together. I know, the pond’s been poisoned, but abuse is in our DNA and in our evolution which is the hard science that should be the foundation for the social sciences, instead of, what was it again?

Nothing?

Or the story debunked above?

Call me.

 

 

Jeff

November 2nd., 2019

Workarounds

Not motivated today, this will be short and bitter.

(Update: motivation showed up to derail this. Now it’s middling long and bitter.)

Been reading or listening to Trivers talking about the awful issue of what are called “honour killings” of women in some cultures, families making examples of their own daughters to enforce family or sect marriage rules. This, at the very first glance seems counterintuitive to social theory and relatedness, parents killing their offspring, but he makes the case that the practice thrives where all the families and so daughters are so related to one another that relatedness rules are actually held, and parental genes are not actually lost, copies are everywhere and your nieces carry as many of your genes as your daughter. So one’s own children are discounted, to employ the evo/economic terms used in this awful sort of conversation, not worth more than the neighbors’ daughters, hereditarily speaking.

If the example works, then the kids marry the cousins like Dad says, and this genetic situation stays intact, and the Dads can maintain their dominance by the most brutal means, even over their own children, with “no genetic conflict.” Bob didn’t say anything that sounds so glib, I don’t think. He’s trying to help these women.

What he’s uncovered is a workaround, one of the human technologies for us implementing a system of ubiquitous abuse that no other creature seems to be trying, and if social relatedness theory is the “natural” order of things, then finding a workaround, evolving a way to abuse and even kill our own offspring – I know everything is “evolved,” everything is “natural,” but isn’t this a natural, evolved phenomenon that clearly works against nature, against a bigger, better nature?

A workaround, for nature?

That’s not different than saying a workaround for reality. You start creating workarounds for that, this is where you are going wrong! No?

This is how social realities are our realities. We have worked around reality and nature so well that we are not safe around our parents – again, not a mainstream situation in nature, not the real nature. Real nature is more like Bambi, isn’t it? Mom loves you, never beats your ass (and dies young, predated)? I’m trying to imagine a backstory like that for myself, it would be a happy sort of memory. Ok, I did. I don’t remember Mom whooping me, but she was pretty normal, I’m sure the other kids got it. I do remember her walking away a couple of times, probably in the worst of circumstances.

Bob speaks my language.

I’m from Vancouver, and I like to half joke that I only feel at home when it rains, but somehow I feel closer to home when I’m reading Bob too. It’s workarounds I’ve been sorting through too, right? I harassed the poor man until he had to answer me, and when he asked for the short version, I said parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them, and he said “sounds whacky to me,” and I have since figured out he meant relatedness, and where I was maybe mostly wrong was I was missing the workaround.

It’s the children’s group, the teachers at the schools, other adults, the police . . . we have plenty of people to abuse, intimidate and maybe kill our children for us. Residential schools, boarding schools, military schools. In the aboriginal style village, maybe the children’s group has third and fourth cousins – and they can sure enough beat you into conformity if your parents won’t, but when communities get larger, opportunities multiply. In this way, our children can be toughened up, hardened and sharpened for war or crime without all of us having to deliver the beatings personally and suffer the relatedness conflict directly and personally. Of course, our antisocialization works better and is more thorough when it’s everyone in society getting their kicks in, and it’s not just some personal battle between you and Dad.

Having said all that, though – Dad is part of everyone, and it’s not whacky to say he’s getting his kicks in too, that there are clearly workarounds at the personal level too, so my time of chastisement about this is over, Bob. Maybe not all of them, but, yes, parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them. Not saying consciously.

Not saying they all join the army – many are gang soldiers of some sort, many are ruthless capitalists, there is no shortage of battles to join. I say this with more confidence now, knowing that conflicts with relatedness theory are not any sort of deal-breaker for Bob, that in fact, therein lie whole fields of study.

I will say, Antisocialization theory lacks the genetic clarity of the honour killing theory. Cloning all your tribe’s kids so you can make examples of a few and maintain a rule of terror, that’s got clarity, no kidding. If there are identifiable genetic pieces to my puzzle, evolved abuse, alleles that respond to an abusive environment, I sort of assume all humans have them; I don’t think there is going to be a breeding explanation.

I’m afraid it’s the war explanation, the damned game theory explanation: this is a group level phenomenon. We abuse for the dominance or survival of the group. It’s a trade-off, a workaround. We sacrifice everything, even our children, for the war effort. I’m talking about inter-group conflict, and we’ve seen it with the chimps and humans of all sorts, whole groups wiped out. If genes enjoy a greater survival among a group at all, then those genes’ existential threats are only threats to the whole group, why wouldn’t an adaptation exist for that survival critical problem, or any number of adaptations?

Our gene-groups are living in competition with one another, one on one at that level, so to speak, and we see one on one competition among large organisms producing all manner of weaponry and defense and adaptations, some creatures grow enormous during these tournaments, some quick and devious – evolution produces variety.

So why not one mammal that has developed a workaround for mammalian nurturing to enhance its weaponry?

There is some love, something that brings a social animal together, some safety that we assume starts or keeps group creatures in their groups, some prosocial benefit, safety from predators mostly, to be sure – but there is some hate, something that limits group size and stops the growth of the prosocial network – I’ve just learned in Folly of Fools that xenophobia looks like an adaptation for parasites, that every region, maybe every group has its parasites and its adaptations to them, its immunities, and it doesn’t have them for the parasites a distant stranger carries with them, so no strangers!

That seems reasonable, but avoidance would be the thing then, and perhaps not aggressively seeking these other-infected neighbors out, exposing ourselves to their blood and fluids – and eating their brains to gain their powers, LOL. Wait – double laugh maybe. If they have toxoplasmosis, maybe you really do gain their fearlessness doing that! Perhaps there is parasite avoidance along with parasite seeking. I mean, sexual attraction sure seems prone to be full of parasitic wishes, if it’s not what it’s for, well it sure works, boy howdy. So, no, xenophobia is not an adaptation for parasite avoidance – damn, I have to go back and check if that’s what he said or if I interjected that – but parasite preference. Again, avoidance would mean flight, not fights.

Fights would be more like parasite acquisition raids!

If that is a possibility, parasites both pushing us apart and pulling us together, then I’m going to imagine that as a lot of interesting detail that for all I know cancels out and my antisocialization adaptation probably still works with entirely different suites of parasites and human genes anyway. Microscopic stuff is interesting and important for how it affects us, but lots of stuff way up here at talking level affect us too, or we wouldn’t spend so much time talking about those dirty, infected neighbors.

Oh my God, he must have said that, I am busting my hero as an evil evo-bro. To be clear, the point he was making was different, it was that there is a direct correlation with parasite load and number of (isolationist?) religious sects, that in the tropics, where parasites are more numerous, so are religions, and I can’t complain about that – this generalization, xenophobia as an adaptation that perhaps was a more casual observation, and I’m going to read it again, but I’m not even sure he suggested that it works to keep away foreign parasites, only that perhaps it is why we try.

But again, surely, if xenophobia has you going to their land, seeking them out, drinking their blood, stealing their food, livestock, women and children and raping who you leave behind and alive – are you really trying to avoid their parasites? LOL. I suppose acquiring a new parasite and acquiring immunity to it happens together, if at different speeds, but if immunity  can be viewed as a “power,” then maybe there is something to this head-hunting ideology after all, eat them, gain their immunity. Aboriginal wisdom, Good Lord.

Busting your hero is supposed to be your bar mitzvah, right, a triumph, not a sadness? I know, a rare case, a casual lapse and not the point of the thesis. Low hanging fruit.

Impossible not to think of it as a Freudian slip, though, some sort of ugly bias. I may owe someone on Twitter a most humiliating apology. What was the previous theory?

Oh yes, human groups limited by the law of inverse squares, that beyond your third or fourth cousins, we stop recognizing our own genes and start seeing the majority other’s genes instead, that family resemblances fade as genetic interest fades. I seem to be missing the part where lack of interest becomes an intense interest in eating them, though, that “lack of interest” equals hostility, that is an unconscious bias I am trying to understand and combat – same one contained in the perceived slip discussed above.

So, back to my search. There is some hate also, that ensures our safe human group is not one safe, global human group, some trade-off we make for the group that makes it so that where the love isn’t, hate is. The safer we are within the group, the more dangerous it becomes to step outside of it, what seems a normal, perhaps infantile, prosocial desire for safety immediately becomes a murderous kind of security, a scorched earth sort of policy.

I don’t take it for granted. Brutal, violent nature is not obvious to me.

What has been granted? What is obvious? Anyone who has ever experienced ten minutes of peace with another human being knows that it’s possible, that conflict is not necessary and obvious. I am slowly asphyxiating, turning blue waiting for the oxygen of a science for which our initial condition is not one of senseless, automatic, unstoppable violence – one of Christian Original Sin, basically – some science where that perception warrants an explanation.

I mean, of course we think that’s the background for everything, we would think that, we’ve been antisocializing ourselves for maybe five million years, we’ve been making a point of nurturing and growing the genes that think exactly that – but intelligence doesn’t start with us. If you want to understand the world, you need to take a better perspective than yours! You have to imagine what would happen when the particles collide when you’re not watching, when you’re not part of the action.

 

 

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Human Origins

 

We have false national narratives, and we all know we do, because we sure know the other guy does, same as Dawkins’ argument about religion, we already don’t believe in all but one of them, so they’re a thing. I’m always getting lost, so if you don’t know the term, false national narrative, investigoogle, it’s an important one, but I’m going to move on, try to stay on track. We also have narratives regarding the origin of not just our own currently existing nations, but of the human species itself, a thousand mythological stories and a few somewhat more scientific guesses as well.

The one of those last that seems to be the most accessible or acceptable these days is a story about group cooperation morphing into altruism and group control of destructive individuals through instances of such cooperation . . . I want to believe it myself, but I don’t. I believe this is the same story that in the next step becomes civilization because of laws and such, a set of rules that protects some of us from our nastiest selves.

Here’s my version. Not so much laws, as what the laws prescribe: abuse, the major, most indispensable component of group control, I say this every blog . . . OK, my just-so-genesis.

Some accident of group conflict among apes five million years ago or so accidentally got us selecting for abuse, like child abuse and “moral” punitive abuse followed somewhere along the way, and this is what Bible people call the Fall, when we discovered the dark magic power of abusing our own to make a more aggressive troop and move us towards more entrenched warrior lifestyles.

What ensued seems to have been an ongoing tournament where all technologies were developed, including this social one, abuse to leverage genetic and psychological changes in the troop, and many whole species of hominid are now selected out as well as certainly many less divergent human groups as well. The dominant present ones all have elaborate systems of laws and punitive abuse.

This is the dark side of the usual human origin stories about morality and civilization, and I’ll grant the usual story isn’t untrue exactly, but it’s more like ten percent of the causation in our origin story, more like a side effect, while this take of mine is the main thing. I think. Surely both my readers know Star Wars? They touched on a truth there. The dark side is indeed where the power is, of course.

Once you’ve been where I am on this for long enough, you’ll hear them try to explain a WORLD WAR as some aftershock, some eruption from our un-buried past and not as a sign of a trait that is growing and getting worse, something we are nurturing, you’ll be amazed that anyone believes it.

Ridiculous.

Absurd on its face.

 

Jeff

Oct. 14th., 2019

The Sunny Side of Life

It’s waiting for us.

It’s out there, the utopia, Jesus’ heaven on Earth, a better way.

Enough of us seem to think so, that it seems we have a gene for that, to use a twentieth century expression, for thinking so, at least. Questions abound, always, what does this statement of biology indicate? That we think it can exist – or the other part, that we think it exists “out there,” forever? Is that idea, it’s out there, a condition or an ingredient for something, the main reaction itself, or the by-product, the residue of some other interaction?

If it’s the first thing, a beginning, or a place to start, what brain process is it working to enable, that is perhaps not quite happening? If it’s the last thing, well, wishing for a better place, that is the residue of abuse. What was the middle thing again? Oh, God forbid. If that is the function itself, just to have the thought and then get back to work, just a happy fantasy, provided by your genetics to balance out the apparent failings of this world here . . . if that’s all it is? Wait, “all?” What am I saying?

Sigh. Well then, I guess I’m happy to have it, aren’t I? Aren’t you?

Thank Darwin! How hard would life suck without that? Eesh!

Tease me, please! All the mercies are not small. Hope, built-in with your DNA is no small thing, and give it up at your peril! The road to Why Bother is littered with the most miserable of corpses. I’ve always tried to prepare myself, always tried to be open to the idea that it’s possible that there is no better way, or that we’ll never find it if there is, but I am not “open” to knowing that for sure!

What’s the point in that?

I, were I your intelligent designer, have just worked out that you need this possibility in your programming, and I would not cut that corner: that’s yours, you keep that. I’m keeping mine, is the point, it’s one of my sacred cows, a premise for me.

If it’s not the case, well, science requires proving the obvious too. There’s still value in it. If it’s silly and we would be further ahead to grant the point and do the serious work of care and treatment in this nasty old world, well, I don’t think I’m taking a lot of people away from that, and anyway, you can still think this and do that. But granted, someone else is going to have to do any thinking involved in that, I’m off on this other thing.

But the dream is not the end, take heart! Yes, I’ve made an old time philosophical case to show we have the thought, that we would need it, true or otherwise, but that does not prove the reality cannot be, same as paranoia is not proof of safety. Just because we need the thought whether it’s true or not doesn’t prove it’s not. In fact – if we have a built-in meme that doesn’t care whether it’s true or not, if that’s true and necessary, then that suggests a function that must operate at all times, or under all circumstances, doesn’t it? In either condition! We need to think the better way is out there, even if it really is, because, well, what’s the point in an interactive world if you don’t know it is, or rather, we use deception sure, but the basic function of this organ is to perceive the world at least in some of the ways that it really is, and it wouldn’t what’s the word, exist, if it didn’t succeed at it to some degree.

Seems that change and hope are not always apparent looking outward, and that would be enough to give the idea of a better world an evolved reason to be. I’m just saying, if it’s true, if things really can be better, that doesn’t making thinking so dangerous or costly, matching thought to reality, that’s still the plan most of the time for an organism that enjoys viability! Of course, the basic version of this gene is, you need to think it to get you out of bed or get you in there not alone, to keep the ol’ genes alive and marching into the future and wow, put it that way, it doesn’t sound less deterministic and humancentric than the Bible, does it? Never mind!

Focus.

Anyhow, even the conservatives, even the Bible people, even those apparently committed to a static world as God made it and denying our power to affect things such as climate or war, even they have this meme, a utopia, even a sort of a map. Crazy as it is. Either there are many versions of the allele for what the utopia looks like, or there is no specific utopia allele at all, just the feeling that it’s out there and the urge to invent it.

Warning: employ some of your evolved, built-in hope: “not impossible” is likely to be as positive as it gets. I’ll try, but I’d have to be fooling myself, I think.

And again, take the mercies, none of which are small when you need them. If I prove to myself the utopia really is impossible, you won’t see this blog and this conversation never happened! Couldn’t hurt to have a go, right? Can’t dance and too fat to fly, as Mom used to say. I loved Mom, but she used to say some awful stuff, don’t we all.

OK, to it, what brings me here today.

So we have the gene for the urge. Do we have the genes for the utopia?

My entire blog has been an exercise in turning that question upside-down and saying: we have the genes for Nineteen Eighty-Four and we should stop selecting for them and activating them, and that feels like an answer to me, but I’ll grant it doesn’t to everybody. If you read me, you know, I think my version is the question we have in front of us now, and if we answer that, then maybe we’ll be in a better position to take the next step and start talking about positive things. But I suppose I should have a foray down that road, see if we can see around the first corner.

I always liked the following Tom Waits lyric –

Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk?

But it seems my philosophy has taken me the other direction, it seems I see a world where there ain’t no God, just the Devil when he’s feeling sorry. Ah! There’s my way out of this!

Of course, we created both those entities. That is entirely up to us. I love Tom, but I’m tired of that world, his God must be wasted twenty-four seven. What, prithee, is the upside of assuming only good things about people or gods and then spending all your time trying to explain the discrepancies? Some folks are always selling, always spending their time on polish, improving the appearance of things that maybe require real, deep repair work. I don’t mean Waits, it’s just a meme. I mean the thought he voiced, not the particular individual voicing it, I mean something rational, thought-related, word-based . . . don’t get social on me now!

Sorry, the current pet peeve, taking me like a seizure. It’s not the person, it’s the thought. Don’t be listening to the mob, talking about people, specific people or groups of people! Don’t you know crowds are famously stupid? Find the smart few and listen to them talk about ideas, you know, like school and church – teachers, readers! Not your crowd of friends, talking about people! You know this, but we manage not to, but you know this and when you talk to me, I am going to hold you to it: crowds are stupid, yours too. Of course! A committee is a creature with six or more legs and no brain – so how smart is your crowd? How smart are the millions on social media, then?

You know this. You owe humankind that you act like it.

“Social” isn’t open-ended, it isn’t global. When you allow your people to talk such rubbish, when you go with the local flow, you are being social, prosocial with the folks around you and antisocial with the folks around you, and antisocial is where the power is because as I say every week, we have abuse-controlled genes – again, sort of assuming we don’t have the equal and opposite ones, because, well, empirical and anecdotal observation over six decades almost, I won’t lie. But maybe they’re in there. Maybe there are other reasons things appear, uh, one sided.

Wait – is my “genes for” meme wrong? Is it more like versions of genes, meaning we activate the mean version of a bunch of genes, that genes have two sides? If this is how things are, then there is no search to make, they’re right here, or right here buried, and if we managed to create an environment that touched those genes the other direction, then perhaps I would be having to wonder if it were possible to ruin a person instead of wondering if it’s possible not to.

Ouch. The truth hurts, so I guess that’s the case, or at least it’s my belief that it is.

Hey – do I do writing backwards?

Isn’t Hemmingway laying down a lot of personal pain and experience and it works because we all have those feelings . . . and aren’t I laying down global truths and having personal feelings about those instead? Trying, I mean, trying for truths and trying for universality . . . trying to be . . . “global-social?” Trying to transcend groupness, trying to find a “social” that isn’t largely antisocial. I don’t say “them” or “they” much, do I? I’ll plan to do so less, whatever that answer is. I know it’s usually “us” or “you” . . . hmm. OK. Maybe when I say “you” I’m often only addressing some version of “my people,” some group I feel I have a right to talk to or criticize. I’ll try to be more aware of that, I bet I’m failing that way. It’s supposed to be the universal “you,” but I suppose I complain about memes from here, about Christianity when a global version would be “religion,” like that. It’s xenophobia to specify some distant group when I need to talk about a group, though, so it’s not clear how I’m going to change that. Groupless language doesn’t exist, that’s one way to express our whole problem.

So, I haven’t gotten anywhere here, spent fifteen hundred words setting it up, then an obvious, single paragraph answer that adds up to my usual prescription, stop activating the worst versions exclusively, then maybe we’ll be able to stop fighting and talk about some positive future . . .

Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just Darwin when he’s abused?

That’s better. Like I said, if I had proven there is no God, just the Devil hung over, we never would have had this talk. The versions of genes thing certainly echoes any psychological take on the situation, that when you take one option, the road not taken disappears, that I feel a need to search, because it is my cover-up in the first place, the answer I seek is written on a post-it note on my forehead, never to be seen looking outward. We have turned off our better natures, the genes we seek are the ones we have made invisible.

But it does mean they’re there!

Right?

It’s not no hope, right?

 

Jeff

September 29th., 2019

AST and the Ape with Two Brains

Can’t use the guy’s title in my title, can I?

I like the Steve Martin reference anyway, because, well, I’m not right, am I? What the Hell has that got to do with anything?

I was already in a state, either some medicinal cock-up, toxoplasmosis, or just the three-year anniversary of losing my life coming around, but I’ve been having short nights and day naps and way too much fun talking to myself until I’m really not and I’m writing all day and night . . . and again, when I’m in this suggestible condition, some clever idea comes along and takes me away.

It’s this Iain McGilchrist dude and his Divided Brain idea.

It’s not a revolution for me, I wasn’t walking about invested in some meme about a single, integrated brain or consciousness, nothing like that. OK, wait, maybe I was, but that was the project, the plan, not my assessment of the current state of affairs. Not sure I had settled on such a clear statement of exactly two, mind you, horrible and honest to say, I was till sort of coming from the old ghost in the machine idea, I wasn’t trying to match the divisions in everything to any physiology, taking the I’m not a physiologist sort of stance – ha! That’s the politician “I’m not a scientist” stance – so reality doesn’t matter! Good Lord.

Iain knows this.

As a television watching member of the great unwashed, I hadn’t heard anything about the hemispheres since it was calculation vs emotion either, just as he said – this is frustrating. I mean it’s fun at times like these, when we get the next sensational update – but every update means we’ve all been stagnant, left behind and stupid for much of the recent past. Not to mention the guy bringing us the update is all pissy about it  like it’s our fault! Get over it, Man. You’re happy now, the headlines and the money are flowing, your department are the ones reaped the benefit of that stupid press last time, not the public.

That’s your deal with the Devil, don’t blame us!

I should talk, my pissiness is bloody boundless. Anyway.

No, not “anyway.” Let’s go with that. A great source of irritation for me has just been made clear by Iain, a great deal of the wind I try to blow against is just this situation, maybe. I don’t want to say “for me,” that is arrogant and braggadocious, and certainly we all suffer this – when our right brain has worked out something complex, like it does, a flood of human left-brained minutiae rubbish shows up to argue about it.

Right?

We need a safe gun policy!

No, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” and it’s modeled after the M-16, but it has . . . irrelevant minutiae doesn’t even address the question – this is standard fare on social media, not one of the logical fallacies that show up from time to time. The bread and butter.

Do not elect these fascists!

Actually, America is a republic, and the current policy is crypto/pseudo/post modern . . . starts with a simple binary choice and now there are a hundred versions, and if I sound like I meant the wrong one, then they win or something.

Our left brains are trolls!

Trolling is an exercise in pushing left-brain dominance – and yes, look at the disintegration.

I noticed early on that the people around me weren’t synthesizing things like I was, that they didn’t seem bothered by dissonance, that they carry around conflicting ideas and principles and don’t seem to mind, when one fails, they put it away and pull out another one. Country music on my mind, so

Some folks leave church all buyin’ in and tryin’.

And some folks shake it off!

We ain’t in church Son, just you get the rope.

Extreme, click-bait example, way to build bridges there, Mate. But this was supposed to be me, discussing something within my scope – me.

I don’t enjoy the dissonance I have, it’s awful to come up against it, I understand we spend our lives running from that, and no kidding, “you’ve always been wrong about everything, or at least half” – that doesn’t just hurt, it takes the point and the motivation out of you, that’s like “how do I go on?” Or worse, depending, it’s brain stuff, maybe it’s “how would I even know if am ‘going on?’”

Debilitating, that is.

No doubt, we will move Heaven and Earth, make a million angels dance on a pinhead (is that a description of a microprocessor or what, shut up, focus)  and utterly ignore the bounds of truth to escape it. Knowing that, the conscious work would seem to be looking for a real way out of it first, because you are going to pick one anyway, real or not. Where is the harm in taking a shot at reality in that scenario?

Sure we say we won’t know it when we find it, but how would we know?

So I try. I learn something new, job one is do I have a place to put this? Does if it fit, does it clash? If it fits, if it has to fit, what previous idea is now defunct and has to go? I know I’m sure to be full of undiscovered inconsistencies in my mind, but I am trying not to add any new ones. New popular science memes and such, any new thing should go through this curation process, and I try, and I’m sorry, but, I’ve always been a little lonely, feeling like I’m the only one I know who tries very hard.

If it doesn’t fit, ridicule it and back burner it, I guess that’s my way.

Brain hemispheres didn’t not fit, I was just ignoring it – the calculation vs emotion meme didn’t seem to bear on my abuse focus anyhow, for me the abuse hurts both of that anyhow, you feelings and your IQ, so drawing that line didn’t come to bear on anything I was holding dear. But this new take bears!

It’s more small picture vs big picture, apparently, left vs right brain, like, hard little facts vs higher levels of complexity – there was an elegant little test with pigeons, by covering one eye at a time, it seems that one side of the pigeon’s brain finds tiny food among tiny non-food items, seeds in the dirt, while the other side of the brain sees the larger world around, the lay of the land, watches for hawks – bigger picture.

I have a small concern there, very small, but still: pigeons are fearless. I’ve watched them not avoid predation at all on my TV (huge catfish were one such predator). I hear the ring-necked doves on the mainland take to the sky in a lightning storm in some mad game of chicken! Perhaps you saw the Facebook video a few years back of that toddler grabbing a pigeon by the head and taking its cracker? Did you notice, the bird is utterly untraumatized and doesn’t even walk away?

LOL – it doesn’t hurt the theory, just that the hawk example may not actually work for this exact creature, and I don’t assume McGilchrist is a pigeon biologist. This right brained “big picture” is unhurt by one small left-brain detail example being off – but. Ha.

It does sort of suggest he hasn’t talked to Bob Trivers, who was indeed a pigeon biologist, and that’s never an endorsement in my mind! I sent Iain an email suggesting just that, got a polite answer from a student or someone. Ha, boy I’m having some fun here. Again, not a criticism, would be an appeal to authority anyway, and again, this pigeon detail doesn’t matter, pigeons surely have a big picture whether being preyed upon is part of it or not – and I know, it’s bizarre if it’s not, but it seems that way with them!

I’m just saying, dating service to the intellectuals, you two boys complement each other nicely, I plan to read McGilchrist, but it’s taken me three years, the last book, I’m having issues, so I’ll watch the films and project, conjecture, “extrapolate” I’ll say, if it looks good! Please let me stop having so much fun sometime soon. Here’s the thing.

Trivers’ Folly of Fools, the deception stuff, and the interpretive function suggested for the right brain by McGilchrist et al., I assume he’s not alone, that seems all one to me – and if right brain damage is truly a legitimate way to think about it, then maybe I am the third leg of that table, and it’s abuse causing it, right?

I jump ahead, part of the process for me, go too far and then see if it’s supportable, but stuff comes to me as one liners sometimes and I have to catch up –

Left brain dominance is a right brained idea that says “hey, we should listen to left brain” when we’re stressed, in the ol’ fight or fly debate.

OK, bloody obvious, you put it that way. All part of the what’s the word, the autonomic response? – no research required.

Stress makes you fast and stupid? No excrement, Einstein! No dung, Dirac. But OMG, is it that easy to shut down our higher processing? I mean, is it really half shut down all the time? The audit is proceeding at quite a pace.

He talked about “peaks of civilization,” Homeric age Greece, classical times, the renaissance – another foible, I think, classic European ignoring of Babylon and such, but again, not a deal breaker – he said they rose and fell on a crest of left brain dominance I think – rose on it? I think? – but his point was fell from it, and I see a crack for me to slide into there, too, my general split from the whole civilization meme. He said our attempts to control one another – civilization – is what stresses us out and leaves the right brain out of the loop, and yeah, sure. He even pointed to my cause – these ostensibly legitimate attempts!

Hey, there’s one out there like me!

I’m dropping the microphone.

That was the eureka moment, right there.

See you in ten minutes, probably.

 

 

Jeff

Sept. 24th., 2019

The Twin Studies Got it So Wrong

Sometimes, when you learn a new thing, a new principle, a new scientific principle, some of your existing “knowledge” needs auditing, updating.

A classic case in point pretty recently, is the Rat Park story, where the classic study showed rats to be subject to addiction and opiates to be addictive to some huge percentage of them – but that on a more recent re-visit to the study, the basic environment was considered, the bare, concrete and steel sterile environment the original test was run in proved to be a large part of the puzzle, that when the rats had the semblance of a better life, the drug’s addictive power was lessened.

I’m a classic crackpot, a one trick pony. I have a single new principle I spend all my time on, Murphy’s Law of Nature – the idea that Nurture is real, it’s just not positive. The idea that abuse is a form of Nurture that has always and forever produced actual results. The idea it audits today is the twin studies, and the apparent victory of Nature over Nurture that they have been touted as.

Spectacular phenotypic results, right?

Separated twins, raised thousands of miles apart having very specific common behaviours, magic! Beware of magical results in science. Multiple Personality Disorder you would only believe if you believed in magic, in the transmigration of souls – what were all the “personalities” supposed to be? What I want to say about the reported results of the twin studies is this: it is absolutely first year biology that phenotype is genes AND environment, simple arithmetic, that the folks writing these studies up swept under the rug – yes, two and two equal four, and here’s your four – but one of the twos was really a one, or a three!

You can tell me the different household was a different environment, but four minus two equals two. You had another two there, your “different environments” weren’t, not in a way that actually affects what you are testing for later, period. Science troll boys – save your breath, I won’t be turned from this. You got it completely backwards, in the most basic sense.

But you have proved something we need to know, exactly that, that human child-rearing is the same, the world over! All the differences we argue about don’t add up to anything! If there’s anything good about it, we all do it – but, Murphy’s Law of Nature, there really isn’t, it’s the bad stuff that matters – and if there’s something bad about it, we all do it. This is what I’m always trying to say.

 

Jeff

Sept. 15th., 2019

Your Outsize Cranium

I believe the usual theory about why humans are so different goes to this outsize brain, isn’t that right? I’m going to talk about that although David Suzuki made a point in the Nature documentary about the latest Tyrannosaurus data that bird brains are very dense with neurons compared to ours and that the amount of real estate your brain occupies may not be as indicative of processing power as we think. He said birds are very smart, and the apparently small-brained dinosaurs, especially predators, were likely also quick on the draw. But we aren’t suggesting we outsmarted birds or lizards, just the other ancient chimps, so the volume of sand your cranium can hold is probably meaningful. I guess.

The theory of that, as I understand it, at least in our current, rather male and war-centric origin story is that the selective pressure for that brain to grow so was nothing other than us, other people, or other groups of people, and our conflicts with one another. A Red Queen’s game to be sure, all of us driving up our hat sizes to stay competitive, just to stay in the race, running in place.

So what comes next is a dualism.

On the one hand, our conflicts are sort of boundless, everything is in play, so to speak, and so these expensive organs have adapted to use everything, meaning, as Steven Pinker points out (within his job description, I think) that we have a sort of any purpose processor, we can plug many sorts of problems into it and work on them – in theory, even if said problems are not specifically evolved for, like all the new things we have brought into the world, for better and worse. It ain’t universal, of course, but somewhere on the path to that. Perhaps all the real estate is for that module, as Pinker put it, but I don’t think he said so specifically, I don’t think we know that. Do we assume it? I guess.

On the other hand, fighting is fighting. On the other hand, if conflict grew this thing, then maybe that’s all the damned thing does. That’s what selected it, that’s what grew it, fine, that’s all in the past, we say, Pinker says, maybe.

But surely that’s not what the bloody thing is for! Is it?

What I’m saying, what I’m always trying to say is, if it is, if that’s what it’s for, then we need to know that and factor that awful setup into our thinking. Conflict isn’t what is going to get us out of the present mess and it’s never going to get us to a better way of life, not the first tiny step towards the utopia if we just keep letting it do what it was made to do, if that’s what it was made to do. Plus –

What if, and this does seem the most likely, what if they’re both true?

What if all that real estate is the free-floating, general purpose processor, and it’s just us choosing to use it for almost nothing but our fights?

Wouldn’t that be a sad state of affairs. Well, wouldn’t that have been a sad state of affairs, I mean. But what if we had the choice?

 

Jeff

Sept. 15th., 2019

 

If that were what it was for, or if we believed that, if that was all we used it for, then I suppose intelligence and fighting skills would all look the same to us, aggression might appear intelligent, duplicity might, treachery might – anything that wins a fight would be “smart.” Of course anything that didn’t would be “stupid.”

I get it. Letting yourself be killed probably counts as stupid.

Problem is, all peace is in that category. Peace is going to require some surgery, we have to separate your libido from your amygdala – and your aggression from your intelligence.

 

Jeff

In the Beginning

A neat little “just so” package that couldn’t possibly be true, except . . .

I think AST may have a suggestion as to how we began, how we got on this path to what we’re calling civilization, between three elements, the organization of group animals into hierarchies with the dominance of the alphas, AST, which describes the technology of abuse (including the technology of punishment and the human “moral” framework), and finally, perhaps a foundational case of Trivers’ evolved self deception.

The primate alpha starts the abuse, to establish his privilege, and his victims, stressed, hurting, or simply hurting socially, turn and take their hurt on someone they can, and so the abuse, like the stuff of plumbing problems, flows downhill in a champagne fountain of cortisol – I believe this is Sapolsky’s description of the average baboon troop, in my own words, of course. I think we see similar stuff in the chimpanzees and I think most folks think that was us at some point – even those who don’t think it’s still us today, that is – so that was the first condition and the first bit of science, biological dominance behaviours and deflection, and the resulting abuse-sharing pyramid scheme.

At some point, the champagne fountain of stress and pain becomes entrenched, and this is where maybe we engage the rationalizations, the self deception – “I meant to do that,” kind of thing. “No, I didn’t beat your ass because I’m a subordinate and the boss beat mine! I did it because I’m the alpha in our relationship and I say it’s good for you.” You know, prepare you for adulthood, when the boss’s kids do this to you – “my” idea, not clearly the boss’ agenda. And then this whole, species-wide crap about how it’s good for you, how you’re “spoiled” without it. So, that was the third condition, us lying to ourselves, and maybe the effect among these causes, to some degree, the baboon volcano of fear and violence that encompasses us all and starts with some alpha swine over-prioritizing himself and ends with us all explaining to our kids, “no, this was my idea, and this is good for you.”

I meant to do that.

Despite the lies we tell regarding why we do what we do and what effects our actions can have, though, there is and clearly has to be an actual reason or several that we do these things, a powerful reason this behaviour took our species over and won’t let go, and I have ranted almost endlessly trying to make the point that we antisocialize ourselves in service of conflict, of crappy old game theory. And I’m agin’ it. Whenever I’m reading some description of nasty old nature, I always think I’m hearing approval, advocacy for violent selection processes – not what I’m trying to do at all, I think I’m describing hidden, secret nasty old nature, not to say roll with it, but to say this is the trap here, the invisible fence, this is what we need to break out of.

Which comes first, the selection for abuse, or the cover story, I can’t tell. One would think they happen together, but perhaps there have been and still are places where no pretense of “good for you” is even made, times and/or places where “good for me” was all you got. So I think, in terms of causality and history, the deceit is the latest element, the modern, perhaps liberal adaptation we apply over our antisocialization – making people “good,” teaching them “right from wrong.” Surely your liberals beat their children to make them non-violent, at least that’s supposed to be the plan. So now they think that what was always a single purpose technology – violence and desensitization in service of the troop’s warrior goals – now they think it’s a magic wand, violence and desensitization in service of whatever we say! Nothing simple and understandable here, cause matched to an effect, no – we apply a single stimulus and get whatever result we wanted, is this a great country or what.

I liked Wrangham’s synopsis of capital punishment as an evolved way to deal with tyrants – we should try it sometime.

I mean it sounds great, but I’m not sure we ever did, not regularly, at least. The alpha sets the tone and it permeates everything in our lives, this human lifestyle is his. There have almost certainly been some shining examples, but the mainstream evolution thread here is the dark side, I think we should admit that before it’s all over, any minute now. Warrior society is where we all have Stockholm Syndrome and appear to love the randomly violent alpha (a predator of sorts) and if a bunch of reasonable men want to kill him, they’re going to have the whole world to go through first.

All I’m saying, and I can’t believe it’s taking me so long, and why it seems so strange from my angle or something, is that the baboon pyramid of abuse is very much still in effect, and it is still the major cause and effect loop in human society. The punishment/morality function we insist upon is a minor thread, as lovely and as fictional as Wrangham’s control of tyrants by majority action. Understandable sort of error, we’re trying to make the best of a bad situation, trying to salvage some good from the trauma. By the by, the only example that comes to mind is Julius Caesar, maybe the French Revolution – how many alphas have been taken down by their lessers in history? That’s the next alpha’s job, isn’t it?

My idea to call AST a condition, the second in our list, goes like this: AST is the practice of physical and social abuse in order to activate physiological and psychological genetic changes towards aggression. This I believe to be a species-wide phenomenon that supports our lifestyle of group conflict, making us all mean enough to defend the homeland and crazy enough to attack the enemy’s homeland. It is therefore, at present, a Red Queen’s race, with every human group basically as tough and murderous as the next, but one for survival, and therefore an important evolved function which manifests as systems of crime and punishment, rules and penalties – naughty steps, timeout rooms, prisons . . . hey.

It’s good for you – I mean if being tough is good for you, if life is a fight and only the tough survive, then some abuse is good for you, some practice at least, some practical knowledge, knowing how to fight – but it’s not all good, is it? I wouldn’t object to simply knowing how to fight, being able, I sort of hoped my kids would take an interest for their self-defence but they had zero interest, maybe because I tried not to abuse them or even punish them. I think though, antisocialization is an emotional process, a “strong” fellow who can fight and defend is generally one who started by wanting to hurt people, a trait perhaps present in us all by default, but certainly mostly enhanced by pain and abuse. My point here though, is this is what “good” means in contexts of child-rearing or adult attempts at behaviour modification, in conversations about law and order, crime and punishment –  antisocial, wanting to, able to fight. It’s what “spoiled” means – an early childhood free of abuse means that kid will never be the willing, driven, snarling soldier he might have been. Some things you just can’t teach.

This is what it means in reality, I mean, whether we know it or not. We punish someone – apply some legal and scientifically defined abuse as a deterrent – and they get “better.” They don’t always get better in a good way, don’t always stop breaking rules and such – but they get better the other way, desensitized, tough.

OK, I’ve lost track, giving my usual definitions, where were we?

It starts with random violence, maybe random alpha violence, then to deflection, and then to the straight up leveraging of abuse to produce aggressive soldiers, and finally to some upside down situation where we’re still employing that technology, still leveraging abuse to toughen our kids and criminals – but all this pre-existing structure is at odds with our modern, so far only ostensible desire for peace on Earth – so we just say “makes you good” – a word with no content whatsoever, a simple value judgement with no references to the how or why of the situation. Don’t worry, it’ll be “good.” You’re going to “love” this.

Again, it’s all good as long as we need these tough little psychopaths to protect us from all those tough little psychopaths, I guess. We have been stuck in this game forever, and despite that humankind is starting to have higher goals, this layer of self deception, this widespread conflation of what “good” we achieve with our morality of pain and coercion keeps us at the warrior society stage forever.

 

 

Jeff

Aug. 31st., 2019

Your Biological Goals

Some thing I keep losing, the thought I never get around to somehow, is this, for the warriors, for the Nazis: what I’m saying, AST, the conflicts, the wars – these are the goals, the goals of your biology, they are not a means to any end, the journey is the destination, the middle of the war is the victory this function seeks. The goal isn’t racial purity – who needs a Nazi soldier in a pure world? Then who would you kill?

The goal is the fight, eternally.

Many of us already grasp that one of Nature’s goals is not ours: maximizing your breeding. Many humans find their lives improved by getting free of that primate drive to whatever degree they can, I certainly have, and getting free of that will take some reason to exist away from the warriors of the world – but why can’t we see that’s the attitude to take with our natural urge to conflict as well? I mean, we think we do, and we do have some little success at it from time to time – but this is where I come in, where Antisocialization Theory comes in, what do we try to stop the fighting, punishments and abuse? And when that’s not working, then what, more of it?

I am objecting to this idea of morality as I acknowledge it: this is the stupid, violent behaviour we have that we have been calling morality forever. It doesn’t stop the fighting; it is the fighting.

Racial purity is the most impossible, most evolutionary uninformed concept ever voiced, the opposite of evolution, which is variation – so it’s an adaptive fiction, just keeps us in the fight. The purple ones hate the orange ones and the orange ones persecute the green ones  – the point isn’t which colour is better, even for the racists. The point of the ideology is life is a fight, we need to be fighting and killing somebody, and skin colour is such obvious and easy criteria, like God gave us team uniforms.

They want to choose their victims by race, we say “racist.”

They want to persecute LGBTQ folks, “homophobic.” (I have issues with aggression labelled as fear, seems the homophobes chose their label themselves, but it makes the list with its Newspeak name.)

I swear to God, maybe y’all don’t see it – but you are arguing about who we should persecute and kill all day long and the selection process is not the point, the point is by doing so you’re still allowing that we must kill somebody, like the haters are allowed to hate, they’re allowed to go on their rabble-rousing missions until we all decide, wait, no – save those folks. We like them.

You wanna be a wild, snarling animal like you portray your targets, fine, but don’t pretend there’s any end to justify the means – the means are the end, warrior life is a warrior’s goal. You blaming some “them” for the wars as you sneak off to your secret Nazi terrorist training camp? Biology fools us all.

You hear it all day long from the bad guys, we “don’t like,” “the bible says don’t” – and apparently for them, the rest doesn’t need to be said. Of course if you “don’t like” someone you have to kill them! This is what a core belief is, the one everyone has so you can never even know it’s there. We just argue about who gets the treatment, and honestly most of it is “my group shouldn’t get the treatment.”

No-one needs the treatment. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a coalition of everyone not white and male among the resistance, among the complainers of the world, but as usual, AST brings answers where other theories obfuscate: we all think someone needs to be killed, so no-one is arguing against that, as such. No argument against war and genocide on principle, just who shall it be next? For instance, a lot of decent folks think that’s the solution for Nazis, I mean you can’t talk to the bastards – yes, I’m trying anyway. But seriously, even the nicest of us must hold this belief, because I don’t ever see anyone saying don’t ever kill anyone, ever, for nuthin’.

The real war is the struggle between the war and peace crowds and as long as we’re at war, the soldiers are winning against their own peaceful people. Admit it. If you’ve ever thought that far ahead, you know your war isn’t ever supposed to end. A nation built on war doesn’t retire and live in peace.

 

Jeff

Aug. 29th., 2019

Why Biology Blows Minds

I learned some biology, read a few biology books after I turned fifty, and promptly suffered a medication-assisted mental breakdown that jettisoned me out of my life. A famous leading biologist suffered such crises while learning biology and while developing some huge theories (meant in the grander sense, not of guesses). Two fellows, that is hardly a trend, but this is only my knowledge, and honestly, I haven’t checked for a larger trend. Even if it’s only the two of us, it’s worth a look, considering one of them is me.

This was three years ago for me now, and of course learning the truth about the biological world probably wasn’t the problem, the problem must be the setup of an early life without biological knowledge. Learning something that you never knew before, that you knew nothing about before, that’s one thing, but if you learn something and it breaks you, then you were thinking something blatantly wrong about it and you didn’t probably even know you were thinking it.

That sentence could be a synopsis of The Blank Slate, and perhaps that’s part of it, it did help me see that I had some version of the ghost in the machine going on, that I thought of “the mind” as something ethereal, but really, these discrete, blatant conversations about invisible things or not, these we litigate out loud, we’re not shaken by questions of materialism anymore. I’m not, I don’t think. It’s got to be something less conscious than that, less debatable than that to break people.

So, you all know how this goes, now I have to finagle it so that it’s seeing, or nearly seeing my antisocialization thing that does it to us, I mean probably. I’ve come to expect it, it’s gotten to where I expect that every honest exploration is going to take me there – but I must say, it’s not obvious to me at the moment, not like the rest of these angles I’ve thought I had it rather easy with. That answer is what came along with the crisis I had, but I don’t think it caused it – although I should stop just before that and recuse myself. That was a trauma. If anyone is in a position not to properly analyze it, I suppose everybody else knows that would be me. There was a ramping up of trouble though, with this insight at the peak, not at the start . . . still.

Of course, the other fellow didn’t have my insight at all, few have, he had his own, many of them, and many proven and accepted and now a big part of the world of real knowledge. Wait – was the first one relatedness theory? Because that might read as a rather cold, brutal refutation of the loving world someone may have been selling us, that love and family really is a function of our microscopic parts and described with some arithmetic. That might hurt a sensitive person, it’s the same sort of emotional kick in the gonads as my idea, maybe. Ouch.

I think this one stops here for awhile, I think long and slow, and this is sort of news for me at the moment, that it’s not only me and my idea that . . . offend, when we learn deeper truths about the world. Big words exist for this, deconstructionism, decolonizing your mind, but that’s not how I talk, not how I need things spelled out for me. I’m rather taken with the other fellow’s language, deception, self-deception, and maybe it’s not even the clash of the lie with the new truth that hurts so much as all that, but rather that we fight these battles alone and the prize for victory is also solitude.

Wow, that got awkward quickly.

 

Jeff

June 2nd., 2019