The Knowledge of Evil

Every now and then I think I can get it all down in a quick, clear and understandable form. I’m caught in a time loop. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work this time either. But the title is true, that’s the topic.

I’ve sent the question out to the Oracle a few times now, and even classicists and ancient language experts can’t seem to comment, so in a healthy bit of self-affirmation I’m going to stop asking and tell you, this is how it is: the biblical English “knowledge of good and evil” phrase does not indicate awareness of our evil, it is not an expression of Christian Original Sin, or any other name for it. It is, rather, like most human knowledge.

You could say the knowledge of wood and fire, knowledge of land and crops. It means how to make one from the other.

It’s in the first few pages, well within the introduction for most books, often the part where the authors are telling you what the book is about, what you’re going to learn, and I’m not saying human life began with the bible, I’m just saying religion serves our biology, and our sacred texts either reflect our default core beliefs or perhaps they write them into our hearts, I’m saying the bible basically codifies default human life, so to talk about its tenets is to talk about basic human tenets. Wait – the bible is full of world domination stuff, discrete, nasty instructions I do not think are good and correct or are even our core beliefs– I mean its unconscious tenets are our human unconscious tenets. In this book, one could read it, you will learn the alchemic trick of starting with good and creating evil, turning that raw material into something someone can use.

And then, I guess, I don’t know – awaaaayee we go!

Into endless stories of what happens when a people refuses to follow the authority of God and doubly endless lists of how things must be and exactly what sorts of hurts to hand out for each transgression, and of course, not all just straight up exposition like that, but in story after story after story, you know – with feeling. As well as in interminable exposition, of course!

So, already a recap, because this is day two of this one:

A book, “knowledge,” ostensibly, about, in theory, “good and evil” – first, is this not the very First Sin you read from every Sunday, then? Do we not eat the forbidden fruit and cast ourselves out freshly every time we pick it up? OK, pointing out contradictions in the bible, there’s a worthy thing for a nearly sixty year old man to do! Ahem. Moving on.

. . . no sorry, what an annoying trick, second time now, I’m sorry, not moving on. This is how I think, I don’t figure it out ahead and then come write it down, the written page is my brain’s working space, I could never keep track of this train of thought and develop it all up in my head, I need to see it to remember it and to just plain see my own thoughts, know what I’m putting together. If you don’t write, you should try it. I often follow some thought that I thought was as good as any other and I end up backspacing over several paragraphs, and accidentally learn or unlearn something, either about the world or about myself. I’ve come to believe that a thought isn’t real until we say it out loud or write it down, most of our thought is free-floating crap that wouldn’t survive the audit of writing it down and reading it back to ourselves, and we know it, and we don’t commit to most of it – but it’s really powerful to write it, say it, put it into the world where you can see it. Then we can tell the wheat from the chaff.

So, not moving on, let’s run with that for bit, that first teenage atheist complaint – I’m not one, really, I don’t mind some high concept God stuff – knowledge of good and evil got us punted out of paradise and created the twelve hour work day, so you should come to church every Sunday and gain some more of this knowledge of good and evil – we got a full time staff to explain it to you . . . none of this makes any sense if we thought the knowledge of good and evil was against God’s rules and caused the Fall and all of our existential trouble forever, does it? Like, remotely?

Brother, how many times have you read the book of knowledge of good and evil?

How it makes sense is my crazy, outlandish theory here. It’s a how to manual.

Knowledge of ore and steel, knowledge of good and evil.

We don’t think we’ve been cast out and lost paradise, do we? Is it part of that meme that when we had our Fall, the rest of nasty old nature all changed character too? It used to be safe in nature? You want your paradise back, drop everything and walk out on the Mara Plain, enjoy. Do we assume that the humans closer to it thought that? Only in our current delusion!

Clearly, we like our knowledge and are glad to be indoors, safely cast out of such a paradise as is full of lions and tigers and bears and invisible death from mosquitos. So, despite the absolutely everything else, we think knowledge about only this stuff, good and evil, is bad? So we keep hearing and learning about it every Sunday long after all other school has ended for most people?

Or . . . despite the opening premise, really, this is a book, and you should read it for the knowledge therein. You may have the knowledge of many things, perhaps you are a master of one or more of them, the aforementioned knowledge of land and crops, of flint and fire, ore and metal – sound and music. The true story is that the knowledge of good and evil delivered Adam and Eve from this “paradise,” – and now you can have this knowledge too, dear purchaser of the Book. Read on!

Then, as I say, rules and punishments, obedience to a celestial being, or failing that, His Earthly representative. And that’s how you do it. Rules and punishments are the tools of the trade of the resource extraction industry of creating evil from a baby born to paradise. Straight up illicit abuse is even better of course, more isolating and such, but normalized, ubiquitous abuse is good too.

This is us, this is what I’m saying.

In biological terms, cruel, warlike humanity is not the default, natural state of this branch of the primate tree, this is not a past from which we strive to escape and are making any long term progress, this is still a choice we make every day and at least until very recently and we only hope it’s changing, our wars are still getting bigger. These are still choices we make every day or at least, in this conversation, every Sunday – knowledge of good and evil has separated us from God and made our life one of labour and strife – and now for today’s lesson, good and evil! Please open your Book to page two.

This is our goal, not our curse put upon us by the celestial being or nature. This isn’t easy, the “labour” part is no joke. We work hard to be like this, to be this, not so much the pious lover of God who fears nothing, yea, even in the Valley of Death because he trusts in God, but more the meanest SOB in the whole damned valley, that’s the truth of the matter. The competition requires that all trades be at their best, from farming to smithing, to the evil-making industries of child abuse and “moral systems” of punitive abuse generally.

Hmmm. This was to be more of an all-in-one blog.

The evil-making industry must work best in secret, I suppose, evil thrives in darkness, so it gets a makeover, a relabelling – and leaves us with this massive contradiction, knowledge of good and evil ruined our lives, so we clearly need more and more of it. You need to learn wrong from right, so I’m going to demonstrate, on you, how a full grown adult beats a small child. None of this makes any sense if good is good and bad is bad – again, the knowledge of good and evil is supposed to have been our mistake, the very thing caused our Fall, got us all this trouble – but without exception, every parent knows that children must be taught “wrong from right.”

We are far more committed to this war against God than this nominal atheist ever dreamed, ha! I kid, the point was our actions do not match our story. Ah, there it is.

We don’t teach our children wrong from right with the beating or any version of it. We make our children wrong from babies that had been right.

The knowledge of good and evil, if it means simply awareness of the two things, or less, awareness of our nakedness, is not the great sin they tell us it is, clearly, and in certain contexts, no-one argues this. We get used to religion sounding meaningless, no slag. I still find “taking the Lord’s name in vain” similarly indecipherable! (I’ve heard more than one reasonable take on it, but those few words aren’t much use, is my point.) Rather this knowledge is not simple awareness of the two words, but again, the relationship, one from the other, perhaps the translation could have been the technology of good and evil. One from the other.

And in this truer story, this knowledge is not only not a bad thing, but the point of the Book, a very good thing, in fact such a good thing that it must be forced upon every last human being in existence. Everyone must have the knowledge of good and evil, all must learn wrong from right. Everyone must have the scars to show they subscribe to someone’s “system of morals.”

 

Minus the sarcasm, this is the logic that makes sense of this biblical meme, not the one usually offered, this plot at least works.

Do you care if it works? If life has any logic to it?

Warning: it won’t make you “good,” not the popular kind of good. It’s a new kind of good some of us are looking for, a rational one, a good that makes some damned sense.

 

Jeff

October 9th., 2019

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Human Contact

I have a bad attitude, sure. There’s the waiver, and if you think that means I must be wrong, then move along, we’re not going to be able to actually communicate across that gulf. We live in different worlds.

You know I basically think it about those of you who stay, too. Sorry, Canadian “Aloha,” or “Shalom.” I am sorry, my sorry butt apologizes. If it helps, this one’s about me falling for positive nonsense too, most of the time. And I’m at the computer because I’m ready to fight back, I think I’ve got an answer, and yes, it’s sort of automatic at this point, much of this I don’t have to sit down and work through like arithmetic, it’s compulsive and these answers grab me when I’m pouring a cup of tea, or planning something else and they send me here in a hurry, like some sort of textual IBS.

(But then I get lost in the usual ten years and first page of preamble and often forget the insight and it’s back again next week. I don’t want to work myself out of a job, I guess.)

It’s all the same principle, but I seem to believe it and I’m engaged in an ongoing audit of what I used to think, what you all apparently think now, and this Murphy’s Law of Nature/Antisocialization Theory is slowly replacing everything it touches, like evolution audited and continues to audit the life sciences.

The pressure for positivity is constant.

I’ve always felt it, always sort of railed against it – but don’t listen to me, I have “depression.” It used to mean sad for no reason, pathological, and I railed against it then. These days it means sad when you have to go to work, no matter what the reason. Imagine how much I like that sort of talk now. OK, on with it, sort of.

You know, my whole focus, my “theory,” basically to talk about stuff everyone knows and no-one considers worth talking about, it’s all about us messing with one another, about us hurting one another, reinforcing one another’s anger and madness, basically being bad influences upon each other, much of it done for reasons, good, inescapable reasons, if you believe what humans say on the subject, and Good Lord, see paragraph one.

When I first cracked Trivers’ book on deception and self deception, I was beyond excited, I was scared, not kidding. My inner life is my life, yours isn’t? How are you supposed to think about self-deception, like with your own brain? Learning about learning, thinking about thinking, that’s taking the editor to you operating code, isn’t it? OK, it isn’t, or maybe not for everyone, but it sounded like it. When he opened with his self-effacing story about his own thieving left hand apparently operating autonomously, that didn’t exactly put me at ease. I almost went to “what kind of monster thinks he can write this book?”

But mostly I just thought how is it possible?

I didn’t assume he’d miss it and it would suck. I suppose it could be “positivity,” and I try to shoot my own sacred cows if I see them, but the idea that Bob is smarter than me is one such cow I have not yet considered shooting, that and death. Taxes, well that’s a political lie. Of course some folks escape taxes.

Well, he didn’t completely turn his whole brain inside out, not permanently, or mine either, thank goodness. It was the Nurture Assumption did that! And for opposite reasons. That one was a right-wing lie, a status quo tome marketed as a revolution. From my POV now, it exposed a deep human truth as a foundationless lie we all live with for no apparent reason. It gave me my insight though, inspiringly offensive, that was! I loved her voice, she’s a real pro writer, and it doesn’t seem malicious – just misguided. Her guide, on the other hand, he seems to not mind being associated with the wrong sorts of people.

The Folly of Fools, on the other hand, is a level up in one’s understanding, a maturation all around.

Nothing to fear but fear itself! It’s all just electrons moving around in the end, same as the computer, right? Happiness is resilience, I do better when I think I’m learning, even if it’s nasty old nature stuff.

Man, I wasn’t kidding! What was today’s topic again?

(Scrolling up . . . ah yes! That’s why the hurry. Sometimes if I pick a meaningful title and get it down fast, that helps.)

Human contact, social connections – first, on a personal note, that’s YOU for me. YOU could interact a little, just saying. I don’t think it’s a coincidence I am left alone to my thoughts and feelings so utterly and then when I try to talk, I call you all dumb, violent apes. Chicken or egg deal, but I wasn’t always alone, I’ve been thoroughly dumped, so I’m going with “egg.”(I do anyway in that riddle, for real. Evolution means that the first chicken egg did indeed not issue from a chicken, but from some ancestor because there weren’t always chickens because there wasn’t always everything just as God made it, world without beginning or end. Because that. Riddles show your paradigm to be past its usefulness.) OK, to business, you trapped and used and wishing for better dumb, violent apes with dreams!

Any better? I said I was sorry.

You need your human contact, everyone says it, and frankly, we are not such an agreeable species that consensuses like these should not be viewed with the utmost cynicism. Everybody always says things that are clearly true all day long, right, because we all somehow intuit that only we can see this obvious truth? Truths that everyone knows and agree with always require constant vocalization and support, right? Call me paranoid; it doesn’t matter. I know you’re one of them, ha.

To repeat, my whole idea is that humans spend a whole lot of time bashing each other into line and brutalizing one another’s feelings in endless cycles of abuse that add up to any other nation would be insane to invade us, because we are wild, crazy, uncontrollable armed  . . . I am trying not to swear. Have I already? No? Good for me! Armed . . . good ol’ boys, then, I guess. This is my narrative, my EP, which I set against the world of illusion story about how this abusive control of one another has made us good, kind, cooperative, empathetic – sorry to repeat a recent blog, but, this sure is a lovely list of words, isn’t it?

This, from punishment, which, I am going to swear, I am going to scream, which shut up and don’t argue, I’m sorry, this is why no-one engages, I know, good, civilized punishment and discipline are composed mostly of abuse, it’s the obvious major component. You’ve told me a million times, everyone always, and again messaging you can never escape must be true, right, but tell me how, tell me why that’s supposed to be “good” for you?

So you’re lying about even believing that the bad, illegal stuff is actually “bad” for you with this line of reasoning? This one hundred percent pure alcohol is poison, but this ninety present stuff will restore your health? I’m saying, if you drink the ninety percent stuff, you don’t really believe it’s good for you. If you drink the ninety percent stuff, you know every morning that the truth is the other way around.

OK, I have been beating that drum forever now, websites have been born and died while I screamed that same, seems to me simple bit of logic. Humour me for a moment, assume it’s true yourself, just a little thought experiment:

If it’s true, how is this other meme true, we all need social connections, we die without them? Isn’t it just saying again, what humans have for you, that’s good for you, like no matter what the . . oops, no matter what that may be? Again, blanket statements everyone is compelled to make at one another all day long, I don’t think Bob spent a lot of time on that, but that’s what I got out of it – of course those must be true!

I was in a very bad way when I first began my new life alone, and I bought in, I had had a breakdown, I was alone for the first time, I was terrified, and Facebook over that first Christmas was torture. Remember folks, while you’re celebrating, to reach out to those less fortunate, some folks in your life are having a hard time, people need people, it’s hormones, science . . .

I’ve been dumped, I’m alone and what am I doing, that’s dangerous, you fool! You need those connections, you are at risk!

I bought in, scared me more, it’s science, right? Who am I to argue?

Well, therein lies another joke, another upside-down thing in the world: who is this particular would be writer if I don’t? That’s pretty much my gender and my identity. Sorry. You’re reading me online, so you know. Some things can’t be unseen. Even unseen things, oddly enough.

I know, complain about Facebook, fine, but that’s actual science, from folks I am still impressed by, too, Trivers, Sapolsky. Not to forget Alice Miller and psychology either, I know, so there is truth, we need the eggs. All I’m saying is that that truth will have to coexist with AST, with me and Murphy’s Law of Nature. It’s true, sure it’s true – but it’s a social lie that it carries along with it that it’s the only thing that’s true.

And that is clearly not the case.

The ubiquity of the message, that everyone gives it, that it leaves no room for anything else . . . a fourth time, these are not the hallmarks of veracity.

If it were even the majority truth, that human contact is good for you, then we would get more and more passive with population pressure, wouldn’t we? Your kid would slowly get nicer at school and if human contact makes us better, then what monsters were we when we were born to have been molded and nurtured by all this healthy contact for twenty years and turn out as a standard, no frills, twenty-year-old man?

Do I need to spell that out?

All that nice psychology and science on Facebook (and everywhere else, of course) supports the warrior society status quo, of course, if you know me, of course that’s what’s going on, what the ladies call “the patriarchy,” and honestly, that’s close enough for me, it’s a world closer than the stupid origin story the boys tell about war and civilization. It hasn’t been easy for me to separate this patriarchy talk, to stop defending my own penis, but this is the truth, we are close, Ladies, two orders of magnitude closer to one another than I am to the boys in this conversation. I would hand you the world right now; it couldn’t hurt. Hoit, I mean. Sorry, Bugs, I don’t mean to steal without citation.

Basically, this society’s consensus when you’re alone is you need to get up and back into the battle, some battle. That’s why a testosterone supplement gets as much respect as therapy. And maybe it’s all true, God forbid, but I’m too dumb to be afraid to ask the question: what if that’s true, what if I need the contact, the oxytocin or whatever and if I have to join the war, well, soldiers really do make big, important social connections, right, brothers in arms? It’s possible that is also a description of what Facebook and Sapolsky are telling us, isn’t it?

(Gawd, he must be a sad one. He’s been thirty years ahead of me on this, he’s been here forever, poor bastard, to put it in Hunter S. Thompson terms.)

Well, that’s the part of the story I wanted to make sure you don’t escape anyway. We will be, I’m tired of this meme, subject to our unconscious biology forever if we can only think that single step ahead, like “you need social connections,” like, your social connections are problematic.

We have to grow up and start to ask, sure human contact, but to what end?

What is it they do when they get together?

OK, that was almost an ending, but I should try to make a case, maybe a personal one. I reacted badly, I admit it, and honestly, I did so, almost consciously, or at least I’m believing my own “I meant to do that” story now. I reacted badly to my ousting and divorce, and I can’t imagine how I wouldn’t have chosen the same again if I could have again. It was high time for me to react, period, somehow, to something, and maybe a good reaction wouldn’t have satisfied.

This has felt like trauma happening to me from external sources, but I know I’m the one making the following choices, even if I still think there weren’t other options: once I lost my ladies, I shed everyone else too, and I have failed to make new friends, some online folks being the exceptions. But at least some I cannot regret.

One fellow was a real bro type, a Trumpie type, a soldier. I parted with him over Roy Moore and him calling Moore’s accusers “fake.” This fellow’s best friend half his life was exactly a Roy Moore type, and everyone knew it, forever. Must be fake, right?

One was a cocaine addict who would call having fronted to get high and needed money to keep him out of the harbour. Those were my last two male friends within a thousand miles, Trumpie misogynist and an addict with enforcers in tow – do I need those connections? What if I’m a believer, I think I need connections, and that’s all that’s available?

Then Facebook and science and the whole world is advising me, it’s a matter of life and death!

To be fair, none of them say “even when they’re this bad,” but they don’t not say it either. Aren’t we all sinners, deserve a chance and need the connections – even guys with guy problems like that? That’s the message and it works for the never-ending warrior society. I felt the pressure.

But I’m feeling much better now, ha.

 

Jeff,

Sept. 21st., 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

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

Abuse, Driver of Inequality

School: Children’s Boot Camp

 

I was powerfully moved by the description I read in the Nurture Assumption of what Rich Harris termed something like the “eternal children’s group” and especially by the description of the Yanomamo children’s group, described by an anthropologist – Mead? Or maybe the fellow who has come under such scrutiny lately about it? – the description being that in a little hunter/gatherer/warrior group, the boys teach each other to fight, and the boys who don’t or won’t fight are abused until they do or until they are killed. Even under the shadow of the general bad attitude anthropology has sometimes had, I’ve been to school: this may have been cherrypicked, but it’s not outlandish. Perhaps the scandal is in labelling some group of brown folks in this way – I don’t mean to say all hunter/gatherers are warriors, I only mean to reference the ones that are. Of course the point is us, Canada has a military.

I grew up in the context-free West, west of west in white Canada all the way out on the Pacific, and I thought parents raised children in some way, certainly most of us do and as parents we try, but this is a fairly new bunch of ideas, childhood and parents spending a great deal of time administrating this childhood. It seems this children’s group may be the more aboriginal and evolved situation, and so it seems we learn our important lessons from one another in childhood, not so much from Ma and Pa – and we are abused, usually in the same sphere.

This makes some sense by social relatedness theory, your tribal cousins will have more leeway to abuse you for their warrior ends than your parents, who are presumed to protect their genetic progeny, not aggress against it. Interestingly, if in the industrial world, adults are taking a bigger hand in trying to direct childhoods, some of the discipline and indeed over-discipline we see would seem to indicate an ability to work around our feelings of relatedness and what it entails. I hope it’s not indicative of any sort of genetic shift, not a capability we are selecting for, but perhaps. The usual workaround we have employed, prior to adjusting our natures about it, perhaps has been simply to punt the kids back into the children’s group, send them off to school. Then the boys can teach one another to fight as always, and failing that, should it be necessary for the adults to intervene, they are unrelated professionals, also not biologically worried about hurting our kids.

In this way, we learn to fight, in this way we are harmed, scarred, and hardened for battle. Antisocialized.

There are class implications in the other sense too, rich and poor.

The kids sent the furthest, into the hands of the least caring, are the children of the richest and the poorest, aren’t they? Boarding schools in other countries for the richest and “Residential Schools” for the poorest, the north American aboriginals, sent a million miles from their families and culture. (If the phrase “Residential Schools” doesn’t register, Google it along with “Canada.”) The social science results are already in about the difference between being rich and “having problems” (generic “being antisocialized”) and being poor with problems. The rich have resources, buffers. A rich antisocialized criminal may get a friendly judge, a rehab program. A wealthy destroyed child can be hidden in the basement, whereas a poor one needs to get out there and get a job and find a whole lot more trouble.

An antisocialized would-be warrior who is poor and bound for gang life and prison perhaps, lives his life out in the subordinate social group, his antisocial crimes generally harming poor folks and not tolerated by the dominants and their police, while an antisocialized would-be warrior from a wealthy family may simply carry on his family’s predatory capitalism, even wars, and his crimes maintain his social group at the top of the order. Abuse all, inequality grows. All are abused, all are miserable – but some get to drive the bus and some do not. All are tossed into the sea; the rich can purchase water-wings.

 

Jeff

April 27th., 2019

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

AST and Me, an Introduction

I have no education, high school and reading. My family was very into popular psychology and self-help stuff, Alice Miller was all the rage in the years before I had my kids, childhood abuse stuff. We had plenty of abuse ourselves, sexual stuff.

The psychology wasn’t enough for me, I felt like things were simpler or maybe just worse than that mindset seemed to think. I saw no clear line between “punishment” and “abuse” is the main thing; I had an insight, that if they look the same, maybe they are the same, despite that the person doing it said they were completely distinct. Don’t they all, right?

I went into marriage and child-rearing with just that simple view and determined I would not punish or discipline and therefore would not be revisiting my abuse on anyone. It looked very good, for a very long time, it really did seem that things were backwards from the way people talk, that whooping your kids causes the bad behaviour and not the other way around. It was exhausting having toddlers and never taking the short cut of hurting or scaring them, but things only got easier after that and we had no behaviour issues at all. Life looked idyllic.

(Things went bad for me when they were grown, but I think that is a personal psychodrama, stuff aside from discipline or the lack of it.)

When my youngest of the two daughters was seventeen, I read a few Pinker books, the Nurture Assumption, and the Sapolsky book, the Zebra one, basically discovered biology, and it blew my mind, as it can do, as it famously did to Trivers, I like to think. I also like to think, ‘like Einstein,’ I had two streams of info that needed to be reconciled, ‘Blank Slate’ psychology and biology, nurture and nature.

I had spent years defending my ultimately coddling child-rearing and was amazed at how my ideas weren’t getting through to the people around me and the parents online, amazed at how what looked identical to me – discipline and abuse – couldn’t apparently be seen by most people, at all. I argued, don’t do that, because it damages them . . . and at some point, it struck me.

The damage is the point.

What we call crimes and misbehaviours are basically just war behaviours, and all the “negative outcomes” associated with “abuse” would be positives in a war situation. Violence, mostly. You want that in your soldiers. (I don’t want that. Those books were mostly ones that the alt-Right love. I am not with them.)

From a parenting POV, from psychology, all the negative outcomes of abuse are accidents or something, people “losing control,” “going too far,” while the good outcomes are supposed to be from conscious, controlled discipline. Well, the kids can’t always tell the difference, and my biology insight was, their genes and their hormones probably can’t either, and so biologically there is no difference.

So now I think the abuse, and the effects of abuse are the true function, and all the “discipline” talk is one of Trivers’ self deceptions.

We discipline our children, to damage and desensitize them, to make troopers of them. The “accidental” negative outcomes are our biologically evolved strategy to make ourselves tougher, in the arms race of our group conflict. At the extreme end, we abuse and torment to make amok men and berserkers, and at the invisible end, we beat our future accountants to make sure they vote for a “strong” leader.

The biology, of course is our responses to abuse, in real time, as well as some Lamarckian evolution, that we have alleles triggered by abuse – and we pull those triggers ourselves. We also select for them.

So this is my global, grandiose thing.

The damage IS the function, in fact Murphy’s law applies, right? Do something sweet for kids, they won’t grow up how you want, but abuse them, and you will see changes. “Nurture” as a real function, is damage. We can change people – but only in one direction. It’s only positive nurturing that no-one has been able to find.

I’m grandiose, I feel I’ve found nurture when no-one else has, and I feel that if this Murphy’s law of nature is true, then it sort of proves our “innate” selves to be good and kind and our nastiness to be an overlay we apply almost consciously. Or at least enhance almost consciously.

My detail arguments aren’t comprehensive, I know, I only have answers for stuff that was in the Nurture Assumption or such. It’s this overview I feel is something. I have tried to be honest, tried to account for everything I’m aware of in the world, and I think this idea fits into the world generally, I don’t think there are famous scientific principles I’m violating with it . . . on the other hand, such a sweeping thing becomes unprovable for all sorts of other reasons . . .

Where I’m stuck is of course, what to do with this knowledge? It’s rather large to change. Any family that stops it is maybe going to see their kids chewed up and spit out. I am worried about my own kids this way. All I can seem to hope for is to get it out there and hope the world recognizes it and slowly all starts to change.

If it were possible to do anything about it, I would think this idea – I’ve been calling it Antisocialization Theory – would be the first best idea humanity has had, since ideas about evil human nature took hold, at least. I wonder if this isn’t the Fall right here, that we discovered the magic power of abuse.

Jeff

Feb. 3rd., 2019

 

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

Solving Nature VS Nurture

all published before in pieces, just putting this series together, <14,000 words

While the geneticists are telling us the old Nature/Nurture debate has been made obsolete or been solved, depending who you talk to, I just went ahead and solved it.

 

Now that’s a long title, but it’s a great Tweet, isn’t it?

This is convergence, this little essay, for me this is where all the major threads in my mind come together: the ancient classic dialogue, human behaviour, child discipline, and yes – even trolling.

OK, that wasn’t bad, but this is just the bullet point brainstorming stage right now.

  1. A note about “things”
  2. A note about the “Nature” thing
  3. Trolling and narrowing the argument
  4. The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
  5. Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation (too late, we already have several)
  6. Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints
  7. The “Deep Roots of War” thing
  8. Self-actualization

Whups, turned into a Table of Contents. Maybe that’ll work.

 

  1. A note about “things”

 

I’ve written this idea many times, the idea that there are two sorts of mindsets, corresponding loosely with many of life’s dichotomies, one that sees things and one that sees processes. It’s never grown wings before, so I won’t try to force it today, I’ll simply say that I see motion and processes and a mind that sees things as explanations I find completely alien, I can’t fathom it. Things are players, not the play, I say this as self-expression, it’s a fact to me; I understand it’s not to everyone, in fact only to about half of us. But when we ask for instance, “Why are men X?”, I do not feel satisfied with an answer like “testosterone.” I cannot, in good faith to my reason, sign off on all the things that must be presumed and assumed to fit that “thing” into a meaningful sentence that can even be an answer at all to a bottomless question like “why?”

I mean, from that noun as an answer we don’t even know if the noun is an actor or an inhibitor – OK, maybe you do. I have spent my adult life in this misunderstanding here, that when a paper says, “correlated with” or “associated with,” that I have simply dug my heels in and opined that it isn’t specific enough be worth saying, that it indicates obfuscation, some science version of name dropping. I’m distrustful; I have been given to understand it means positive correlation, the presence of the agent in question, it just doesn’t take. The young idiot I was who got it wrong the first time is still screaming “well, why don’t you spell it out?”

I think the reality in this case, is the presence of one hormone indicates the past action of another, it can be a by product and neither actor nor inhibitor.

Hormones have gone through a few roles because of that, because it was produced, because it got used, because it didn’t get taken up again, evolving positions about what its presence meant. Nouns as answers are never the end and never can be. The search goes on for the verbs, what are these things doing? It was a textbook sort of example, to be sure, but, happy accident, it’s turning out to be a good one.

If I ask, “Why are men X?” and someone answers with a noun, “testosterone,” then it’s not fair to say anyone nods and walks away smugly knowing they have the answer, as also anyone reacting like Socrates or Pyrrho, with “I still know nothing,” (like me) is a logical extreme and not a real-life case. In real life, though, most peoples’ reactions are going to have a considerable portion of at least one of those responses, and probably some portion of both – meaning they either feel like they know or they don’t, to some degree – the point being that neither result is optimal by a mind like mine, one seems like empty understanding, a name but no role, and the other like no understanding at all. I need verbs, Man! I know, scientists know it and they’re looking and succeeding, and just because all I’m picking up from my internet connection are these buzzwords, these nouns, doesn’t mean that’s all there is going on, labeling. The point of this, though, is that that is all half of us want is the labels, or all of us are half-satisfied with names. A massive portion of our knowledge is this sort of half-knowledge, a catalogue of labels, that we use like shorthand, and the data compression costs detail.

Wherein, we know, lies the truth. I know, human brains were designed for human goals and the capital “T” Truth was not one of them. It is now, though, right? Has anyone heard the folks telling us the first bit telling us the second? Again, I am a suspicious, twisted little man and I see the general trend, the general voice of biology as sort of dark and . . . self supporting. There is this awful thing that if we identify some nasty, animal biological trait, that it’s some sort of “right,” natural and good or something . . . you see where I’m going, I don’t write novels, this won’t take long; we’re talking about Blank Slate liberals VS Nazi scientists here. Some folks assume a universal truth right around the corner and some folks don’t mind the idea of a relativistic world with only “biological truths.”

You know what? I got faith, of a sort, call it science, call it stubbornness, I think there is one universe, one world, and when “facts” appear to be in opposition, that is only an indication of a larger context, a larger world, and a larger understanding that is required to resolve the apparent conflicts. A single universe with a single complex universal truth may not have been what our minds were evolved to perceive, we would certainly be overqualified for life in the jungle or in any of our jobs were that the case, but it’s out there. If the world isn’t out there, what are our senses even for? If every biological organism lives in its own literal world, then I guess there is no communication, no shared world to try to understand, no social anything, is that it? The things we create exist because we create them, invisible things like rights and laws – the external universe is not one of those things.

Unfortunately, what this organ between our ears did evolve for is very much a part of the kind of mindset I’m battling here, it was evolved to make out friend from foe, and so this is its question, often as not, no matter what the text of the question may be: who are we talking about here? Give us a name. I think that’s why we think nouns are answers. I think we are capable of fighting memes and ideas, but mostly we were evolved to fight people, and the people we’re fighting are things, with names and addresses. This is our address, as some fellow in an est spinoff group that I attended said once, this is where we live, always bringing an amygdala to a frontal cortex fight. We want to reason, but we were evolved to fight. We try to see what we’re doing, and we come back with an endless list of possible actors, rather than actions.

Wow, that connection, nouns with people, why that mindset is so prevalent, that was empirical for me until now, anecdotal, and that just clicked into place here, as you see it and I didn’t see it coming either. This really is coming together, maybe. I am going somewhere even more basic with this argument, but I hope you all see the high-level, social importance of whether nouns pass as answers, as explanations generally, because that is the basic form of racism, xenophobia and scapegoating of all sorts: if “testosterone” is a satisfactory form of answer, then so is “terrorist,” at least to some folks who expect a “thing” for an answer, and of course those nouns get worse and worse from there.

OK, so that’s the limitation of nouns as explanations, and the biological roots of it, as I see it. Maybe a list next, things that have served us as explanations, past and present.

Next, yes

 

Nov. 15th., 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. A note about the “Nature” thing

 

Forget the list, sorry.

Nature – not the great outdoors, but some concept of a thing’s essence or purpose – as in ‘human nature,’ well, forget it, I’ve already given it away, haven’t I? The way it’s presented, it’s an archaic concept, religious, probably related to the idea of spirits being what animates and supports all things, as though a given thing has some single attribute, some fractal core that’s essential to a being or a thing that remains when all other attributes have somehow been wiped away. So, it’s a made-up thing, kind of meaningless. Mysticism aside, as the term has evolved and it’s a more complex human nature that we seek, the nature of the human being has become a moving target, really not more than a collection of empirical observations.

I mean, I know when people speak seriously about human nature, they mean a complex nature, but we don’t appear to have stopped using it in all the same sentences where a simple, pure nature would work better.

Still, perhaps talking about the “natures” of things is something we’re stuck with, part of the structure of our thought – of course, one in sense, it’s a sort of shorthand, we attempt to impose symbols over complex things when we need to visualize many of them in interaction. You don’t need as long a list of human traits as we have developed when there are fifty of them coming over the hill at you; at that point, you need some quick, accessible understanding of their natures. Probably something like that is at the root of the idea of ‘natures’ generally (and of us treating one another as less than complex sometimes), saves memory and therefore calories, which . . . evolution. Of course, the idea isn’t going away, ancient magical baggage and all.

Let’s change tack.

Simple, complex, questions of human natures simply mean “what are we?” really, and we are political for one thing, we’re trying to pass laws, we make sweeping policy decisions for ourselves and one another, and we do have to postulate some default for people, some starting point where we think they might settle into if it weren’t for our policies. An eternal, static human nature would indicate a stable or static world, and conversely, evolution and science suggest an evolving nature, probably a moving target. Nevertheless, “what are we now?” is still something we must at least feel we have an answer for in order to proceed with anything. We’ve always asked it, “what are we?” but we mostly have always had some sort of an answer too – and proceed we have, of course. I feel I have answered the question, but of course, I must play a game to do it.

I’m afraid I’m asking to modify the question.

Rejecting the simple, magical, “essence” sort of human nature Q&A, I am left with few major directions to go, “human nature” as a somewhat arbitrary collection of observations and the entire argument breaks down to details, which traits are “built in/genetic” and which not . . . it doesn’t address the issues our psyches are asking, which is, a short version we can trust. If we get that list of traits right, then it’s our answer – but it’s not a short, useful answer, is it? We’re really looking for some few things, and “good” and “bad” are not personality traits, nor are “friend” or “foe.” This is mostly the data we want in out human nature meme.

So, it’s a collection of traits, and an evolving target, it’s really about values, our interests: if humans are basically “good,” how would we treat them? If they’re mostly
“bad,” then how do we treat them? So, the original question, “what are we?” really means “are we good or bad?” which is sure to be related to a basic friend or foe question. The true answer to both questions is long and vague, both answers true often enough, good and bad, both answers have their proofs . . .

. . . for me, the question became one of nouns and verbs again. Human nature is perhaps not what we are, but behaviour, what we do. With the idea that what we believe has some impact on what we do (debatable, I know), the question has become for me not “what are we?” – again, sort of answered, pretty exhaustively if not satisfyingly –  but “if we do X, then what must we believe?”

It’s like an audit, doing your arithmetic backwards to check your work. I haven’t finished my argument, not by a long shot, this is only Part #2, but I’ll jump way ahead, give you that question with my specifics inserted in place of the variables:

“If we’re so sure we’re born bad, why would we abuse our children, thereby making them worse?”

That idea has me now discounting our default natures, finding the “what are we?” question beside the point; it seems to me now the question isn’t “what are we,” but “where are we taking ourselves?” – wherever we were, whatever we were.

 

Nov. 17th., 2017

Dad would have been eighty-seven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Trolling and Narrowing the Argument

 

I’ve alluded to it to it in each of the earlier parts, that details and a huge catalogue of nouns are not where the important truths are going to be found, not under our microscopes, but back up here, with us, and our somewhat higher concepts.

OK, I spend too much time on Twitter, of course again, I’m talking about racism and Nazi science’s endless search for some genetic detail that is supposed to prove some large social concept like racism. The trend I’m complaining about is quickly apparent if you look at Twitter’s science section, and the crossover there with the alt-Right, and the connecting meme of course is “genetic differences” – literally microscopic science to justify macro-oppression. Weirdly, the same accounts that have given Charles Murray a good read and a fair treatment also find Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos to be unfairly silenced voices.

So besides being just less than helpful to explain the world, this view of the world as a million unrelated, individual things, it has principles, sort of, well, associated memes.

Perhaps our forever search for the postulated atom, the Smallest Division, the base particle of the universe has served to turn our scientific world upside down where now we all think the smallest stuff matters the most, ha. One shitty, life destroying gene that’s negatively correlated with melanin and slavery will have been all right and proper after all or something! That’s what some folks want and some liberals perhaps fear from science, all liberals ain’t PhDs either. But that idea, that the smaller bits are somehow higher in some food chain of causality than the bigger ones, perhaps this is why we end up down in the muck with the rats and the flatworms when we’re theoretically trying to solve complex human problems like racism, abuse, war, etc.

Of course, science doesn’t say that, racist scientists say that, trolls say that – or rather they don’t just say it either, it’s all innuendo, plausible deniability, but this is a bad sign: the argument goes to details, genes, alleles, specific studies. That the truth is in the details, that’s left unsaid, we all believe that in some sense anyway, so it’s easy to buy in, to get dragged down into small specifics. If we don’t follow the argument into microscopia though, then we’re likely to get stuck in another trap, psychology, theories about society and ‘the culture,’ and unfounded moral directives.

There is some unspoken meme that science is on the bad guys’ side, or rather, even that the reality that underlies science is somehow on the bad guys’ side. You know, life is tough, harsh reality, all of that . . . is it only me, that the endless descriptions of life being tough, evolution as an apparently ruthless punisher of mercy or passivity seem to come across as advocacy? Like an argument against all of our higher goals? I expect that many of the best papers don’t sound that way, but Twitter sure does. In fairness perhaps, I’m guessing the science promotion I find on social media isn’t coming from the older professors, but from the younger, cyber-savvy crowd. Much of it sounds like someone sharing the exciting news they’ve only just heard.

(I’ve recently read a paper that explains some primate female’s “strategies for maximizing her reproductive capability” in different situations, I think weaning one early when mating opportunities seemed like they may not be there later, like when she’s aging out of her childbearing years . . . it all sounds reasonable about Capuchins or something, but imagine human females as the primate in question. Suddenly, suggesting that organisms exist to maximize the reproduction of their genes starts to sound a little penis-centric, to put it diplomatically. I think some of the conclusions from science can still be called out. That scenario could better be viewed as that female monkey trying her best to survive the pregnancies that are the price of living with the males and their genes’ desires, and not hers at all. After all, the costs are all hers.

That’s an example of science appearing to be on the bad guys’ team, right, the sort of science that sounds like the Taliban, females want to be barefoot and pregnant as much as possible! – because some male designed the study and found what his search was designed to find? It wasn’t any sort of pro-biology or race-related paper at all, corporal punishment was the topic, it’s a respectable one, I think. I shouldn’t cite it out if its own context, and I won’t even repeat the less reputable sort.)

Environmental control of genetic expression, epigenetics, this I find worth discussing, but again, the details, identifying alleles that respond to specific stimuli, these I find to be nouns whereas the point for me in this topic is that many of these environmental triggers are our own behaviours. We are an intensely social creature; we are the environment our flexible genes are responding to in many cases – this is what I mean by what has become my catchphrase, that we are self actualized creatures. We haven’t been ‘using our powers for good’ yet, but to be completely fair, I don’t think we knew it. Remember how they laughed at Lamarck. The truth is, though, that we have genes that are activated or not by our environment, and we are that environment, we are activating the ones we feel are necessary.

Whups! That’s the next part.

 

Nov. 30th., 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory

 

I asked myself this question, “what is punishment,” or more accurately perhaps, “what is up with this punishment business?” (Side note: I want to say, ‘punishment bullshit,’ because that’s how I talk and how I write, but I didn’t ask myself this aloud. Turns out, my inside thinking voice prefers English. I’m surprised too.) This maybe twenty-five years ago, maybe a few more. For the first two decades or more I was convinced that punishment/discipline/consequences were identical to their illicit cousin, abuse, and that they therefore most likely were responsible for the same sorts of effects – which, yes, I’m still there – but during that period I thought it was some sort of accident, or I blamed cultural things, Leviticus and whatnot, for bringing about this state of affairs.

And I argued with people, in real life while we raised our kids, and for a few years online, while producing the early years of this blog and other blogs where the site has since passed on. The persistence of the normal attitudes around it were frustrating, and that people didn’t seem to have a clear definition of “punishment” at all was also irritating, like the language didn’t exist in which to have the conversation. All this against my background of popular psychology type thinking and very little real education . . . I don’t think I was aware yet that I was stonewalled, that further learning wasn’t forthcoming along this train of thought when some online argument challenged me to read Judith Rich Harris and Steven Pinker.

After a very traumatic reorganization of pretty much everything in my brain rolled out, I was able to bring a little more science to the problem, and by keeping basically the goals of social science in mind and not much else from it, and trying to see both sides of that disciplinary aisle, I have this, the Abusive Ape Theory (not married to the name, but I like the homage to the Aquatic Ape Theory), Antisocialization Theory, and the Consequences Mimic Meme – and I’m delusional, capitalizing my own stuff. But who else is gonna do it?

Really, it’s all there, it’s all out there, there is likely some hundredth monkey thing going on, everyone can know this, today, and I expect many do. All the pieces are out in public view.

The Abusive Ape Theory is the idea that we are an ape that abuses its children, leveraging epigenetic effects to said abuse and so we have created ourselves in the Deep Roots of War image, an ape that systematically desensitizes and traumatizes itself for a group-supporting effect of increased aggression and violence, one that supports our intergroup conflict. Dad says he was toughening us up, Twitler says we will be strong, all of this is the abuse that we feel during the genes’ epigenetically active years, and we adjust our internal configurations accordingly, to be less contented, rougher, and perhaps, as the psychologists say, to continue the pattern.

Antisocialization Theory is simply the apparently dark side of socialization theory, the latter being the idea of us all adapting to our given circumstances and society, learning the rules, customs, taboos, values, etc., of the humans and environment we live in and among. In one sense, it simply refers to the nasty stuff we learn, who to hate, how to fight, but in the more important sense, our antisocialization is the one that matters, because it’s the one with measurable, documented effects. It was Rich Harris who exhaustively laid out the socialization researchers’ hundred year long attempt to prove that parents create traits that they consider desirable in their children, and the near utter failure of it. This, while the mountain of evidence for the less “desirable” traits produced from abuse threatens to block out the sun. Abuse is our lever, the one that does something.

What it does is stress us out, make us angrier and more violent, and the only way to release stress is to spread it around. When a person is so stressed and damaged from too much or too chaotic abuse that they cannot function well in the private sector, the military is waiting for them, and that is as near the aboriginal function of antisocialization as you can get. I think also, though, modern armies don’t need every able bodied (and disabled-minded) male, a smallish percentage is enough – but we are all engaging in the function, and I haven’t repeated this for a year maybe – most of our pre-configured ready-made soldiers are just out there walking our streets, not some enemy’s, getting themselves and all of us into trouble. Yes, we’ve been socialized, both prosocialized and antisocialized, but just like in the movie series, it’s the dark side that has the power. It’s something like irony, to be sure, but if the definition of “nurture” in the context of ‘as opposed to “nature”’ is something the parents do to induce a trait in a child, then it’s a misnomer, because the traits we are able to actually effect are not the traits one induces with any “positive” “nurturing.”

I’m sorry to say, but the proof of the Nurture Assumption’s true underpinnings is that we can indeed modify a child’s development – just not in a “positive” way, and not in positive language. These days, it seems the biologists want to tell us all that there is no “nurture,” that it’s all “nature” – and for some reason, the profundity of real and documented negative effects is another conversation or something, parents can’t “affect” their kids. Abuse is somebody else’s job. The upshot, maybe I’ve never actually said it before, or for a long time –

We can’t teach a child mathematics by beating him and then teach him history the same way. You teach math by teaching math, you teach history by teaching history, and you teach beatings by teaching beatings. You cannot beat a child while expounding about history and pretend he won’t learn the beating – this stuff, this is maybe the worst of the blank slate magical sort of thinking there ever was, the idea that we can. Tell you something else too, Dr. Pinker – it predates Rousseau and all this blank slate atheism, this ‘beatings to produce nearly every imaginable and so often even mutually exclusive effects’ idea. This magic, one size fits all tool idea about abuse, this exists in inverse proportion to your dad’s idea behind the shed, though.

On the other side of our split personalities, we know what we’re doing, Dad knows he’s toughening us up. Certainly, the abuse of boot camp shows that the army knows that the purpose of abuse and discomfort isn’t to make us more peaceful. This brings us to the Mimic Meme.

Mom seems to think that when she whoops you, you’re supposed to get more peaceful, doesn’t she?

LOL.

So, antisocialization, that is beating a child to grow him up as a soldier, while let’s call it the “consequences” idea – that’s beating a child to turn him into . . . whatever Mom wants, is that right? Obedient soldier, for starters, I guess, and then obedient everything else after that? Obedient concert pianist, obedient foot masseur? Of course, it’s “good” child, “good” grandchild, student, soldier.

Both these memes, both these functions are out there, we beat ourselves violent and perhaps don’t know it, and we fail to beat ourselves into excellence and maybe don’t see that either . . . point is, we mean two completely different things by that one word, “good.” In half of life it means good about everything, good piano playing, good food, etc., but in the other context “good” means violence.

A mimic meme – a term I’m surely stealing and perverting – I will define by example. It’s when we tell a child, “Don’t make faces or one day, your face will freeze in that position.” We don’t believe the explanation, but if the child does, he stops making faces at the family at the next table, no bench-clearing family fights ensue at Applebee’s, peace is maintained – a real life benefit from a false meme, the idea that sometimes, peoples’ faces just freeze in mid expression, permanently. This is what the “consequences” idea is, one of these useful lies.

We tell a kid not to touch the lamp, he touches the lamp, we whoop his ass, maybe he never breaks the lamp, maybe he does, but he’s learned his beating, and we didn’t “abuse him to make a soldier of him,” we only taught him not to touch the lamp. That’s the consequences mimic meme, we can beat a kid for years, kids all live under this threat, so they are absolutely intractably antisocialized by it – but we have done nothing to propagate violence or war, we are simply teaching them how to live indoors and not break our stuff, right? And a house full of unbroken stuff sure looks like peace and civilization, so who’s to argue? Your face didn’t freeze like that did it?

It’s a good thing you listened to me then.

. . . (surprisingly) to be continued. (I thought I’d lost the will for a bit there.)

 

Jan. 5th., 2018

 

  1. Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation

 

More and more, I worry about what I’m doing here.

The way we don’t trust prisoners with writing implements, belts, or shoelaces, you can’t trust people with certain technologies. Case in point, how’d you find me? Social mass media must be one of our greatest mistakes, considering that social stress is the bane of all primates, shortens all our lives as it is. Also, guns, I guess.

I wanted to help the world, I saw something that seemed hurtful and harmful and I figured it out, what was going on, but I’m worried that these things are not meant to be seen and should I affect the world at all, I fear that when the movie gets made they’ll be casting Jesse Eisenberg for my role. Who else but the guy who did such a good job with Lex Luthor and Mark Zuckerberg? Yes, I was the one who saw the emasculation of modern urban men and took it viral, gave it an anti-steroid boost. I was the one who decided that in order to be good, humanity needed to be weak, I am the man who castrated the world. I want to say something about how easy it is for us to slide that intense looking actor with a Jewish name into that cast type, and I want to co-opt the image for myself with a joke, ‘I am Solomon Grundy’ or some crap, so . . . so it all fits, I guess.

I don’t believe any stuff about evil Jews taking over the world, no more than evil Bible people of all sorts, and if Jesse’s somehow perfect in my mind for evil genius roles and it sells movies in the culture generally, then I am a racist, anti-Semitic member of a racist and anti-Semitic society, and I’m sorry, I’m working on it. I wasn’t after any divisive ‘ism’ there at all, the point is, I identify with the evil villain – and so too I identify with Jewish folks, as a not quite white guy, someone who at first glance should be enjoying his membership among the dominant social group but perhaps isn’t. Someone with a grudge forced upon him, someone who deserves some sort of comeuppance and so must never get the upper hand, or even justice, which would be a chance at it.

I mean, I got some bitterness. No more than the average super-villain, but yeah, enough that I might just be trying to destroy the world and someone probably should keep an eye on me. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on here, saving the world and/or destroying it, I don’t think I can do this renovation while worrying about the damage I’m causing, you better protect yourself, keep your gloves up. I can’t do that for you too, I can’t do everything – this is your heads-up here. Honestly, the deep roots of war ape doesn’t need to be told to protect itself, far from it, but I just want it on record that I gave you every chance, publicly, consciously, and out loud. Every chance to put the gun down, put your dick away and talk to me. It isn’t going to be easy, when I spell it out, what I think of you. So far, it’s been innuendo and sound bites in the press, I’ve been meting it out, drip by drip, you might have to have read everything by me to know the true extent of my misanthropy, but here is my indictment. Everybody chill?

We’re a species of child abusers, and it’s what makes us different, the core, not of what we are, we are animals with a large non-human biology, but absolutely the core of what makes us different, the core of our “humanity.” It’s no accident, no new development, and it’s not rare. The fact that we think it’s rare means we spend all day long creating it, we think it’s lacking in the world, so it’s basically all we do.

It’s not for nothing, though.

As in all matters biological, it’s a survival thing. I do not have or represent a high opinion of humanity at the moment, but even from this hole I’ve dug myself, so deep I can see the stars at noon, even now, on the precipice of the Trump administration ‘finding its stride,’ I don’t imagine we would do that for nothing. It’s about security. It’s not complex, and I don’t know if it gets addressed by game theory, but abuse makes you many sorts of tough, because it motivates, one wants to be tough – oops, already writing and still undergoing revelation again! That is punishment, I think I have finally just answered my lifelong question, ‘what is punishment?’

It doesn’t make you self-motivated to obey the rule in question; we still want what we want, it only overpowers our self-interest, you may want that, but do you want this? sort of thing, as we all know, it’s meant to force a cost/benefit analysis. But it gives us self-motivation on the other vector, on the most mission critical thing in life: violence. We will strive to be tough, and the tribe will be tough, because we all feel that if we are tough enough, we are safe, both on the personal level and at the group level. Abuse makes us strong, so, again, we don’t abuse our kids for nothing, it’s to make sure we all grow up “strong,” it’s our security from the other groups. I’m spending time on philosophy podcasts these days, I know it shows, so here’s a thought experiment.

Mom may punish a boy for taking an extra piece of toast off of his brother’s breakfast plate, then take him to hockey practice where the coach may punish the boy for not taking the puck or some real estate on the ice from another boy. Now, how is the boy to learn the first lesson in the face of the second? How to learn the second while retaining the first? Of course, we learn our different contexts, we may solve the apparent conundrum – or we may not, but on a more visceral level, both scenes are the same: boy gets punished, and his solution for the common aspects will be the same: some aspect of toughening him up, from the simple learned experience of surviving pain, desensitization or a dampening of the initial fears to an “aggressive” unloading of it onto someone else. We like to say it’s supposed to be that other boy with the puck, but again, pain, abuse, these are not teaching tools, they change you, is the point.

The prosecution has just completed its opening statement, and this is the charge: we, as a species, abuse our children, to incite violence in them. This is “our group’s” strategy to protect the replication of our genes against those of competing human groups.

If we couldn’t speak to those other human groups at all, then this is the situation one would expect, but we can and we do, and so it’s heartbreaking and endlessly frustrating. If I could just agree, and go along, I surely would, and honestly, if I could go back and avoid the entire train of thought, I think I would do that too. The fate of humanity is way above my pay grade, and I’m stuck now, but if I could have seen the size of the problem going in, I surely would have balked. I may have attempted to say this before – I went from wondering if anything could be done or not, an apparent fifty-fifty proposition, to what I think is an understanding, and my estimation of our odds became sort of astronomical. Like the grass, like the leaves on the trees, one in that number.

We basically have no language that isn’t an expression of inherent group conflict and we don’t know what to say or how to speak without an enemy or a war; I tend to globalize, but if I didn’t, all signs still point in one direction, that every verb is based in a fight and every noun is an adapted version of some opponent. Security demands that we approach all problems at this level and nearly all of our strategies are internal group strategies, with the other groups’ sentience unconsidered, because our strategies must “work” even if the other groups are bears, if you cannot talk to them at all. We have a lot of hopes for our communication, but talking isn’t a strategy in itself, it’s just not dependable enough to be an evolved answer to conflict and violence. At least, other things have not yet aligned in such a way at this point in our history. To date, those two things, conflict and violence have been both our questions but also our answer, our violence as a credible response to someone else’s.

It’s practical, no argument there. Also, the war never ends, active battle or détente, so there never is a safe time, but let me just raise my head above the melee for a second here and try to think in the longer term, as soldiers often try to do at my age, is there a way to not have to do this?

It is not the end of any philosophical roads to see that violence, whether an organism lives or dies, is foundational, our first concern. Even the replication of our genes is a happy, recreational thought when the bear is chasing us, or when the humans next door are feeling uh, expansive, so all biologists, talk a little quieter, go talk to Freud, there’s more to life than sex. I understand that Dawkins made the point that it is our genes’ struggle to carry on that drives everything and not some social animal’s “group harmony,” which, OK, I don’t really see harmony as a powerful force in the universe either – shades of Plato – but group conflict has the power to seriously disrupt the well laid plans of the genes of men and mice, doesn’t it? Surely, some would-be immortal genes go down when species go down, when animals get selected out.

It’s interesting, how we can know it and not know it at the same time, but this is our fear, this is our reaction to any un-punished transgression that we see, it’s a missed opportunity to toughen someone up, and we all somehow intuit that it means we’re in trouble the next time the Hun is on the move. The nurture assumption – the idea that we mold our children – is inexplicable in the conversation about socialization that has tried to account for it, but completely covered by antisocialization theory. It is the dark side of what we have known it to be, and it is unacknowledged, unconscious, but the connection has no extra steps, it is rather direct: discipline is security. Tell someone they shouldn’t beat their children and watch the reaction: it’s a survival issue, and not just their kids’ survival. There’s personal fear behind that too.

So, this is me, the fatal mutation, saying, what about crime, what about rape? What about all the people in the millions and more that would like to see a solution to our solution, to violence and hate? It’s all one thing, violence as a strategy, and violent crimes at home are the evil “side effect” of our strength, so we have a problem. Do we carry on, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, our “good,” defensive violence strategy from our wish to live peacefully among our own people, which, at least beginning now is no strategy at all, because abuse changes people, at home and on the battlefield? Or do we simply ignore the downside of our methods, after all we’re still here, aren’t we? The last method has always been our way.

Proud, fierce, and brave, this is our model of a warrior, and pride is privilege, fierceness is violence, and bravery is a prioritization of offense over defense. This is the survival instinct stripped bare, and every rat must feel that way to live as well, it’s a good life if you don’t weaken, so my challenge to us is this: find a better model. Your “hero” is an entitled, murderous narcissist. And we wonder, why all this trouble?

I’ve wondered it anyways, and as near as I can see, this is the conflict. If we stay strong, in this way, our life is abuse in a deal that keeps us alive, or so we think, and we think that if we stop abusing our own, that the competition will abuse us in a more permanent way. Perhaps truly, as long as we cannot talk to the other groups, this is the best we can do, folks who live away from the borders can live in some semblance of peace, most of the violence being non-lethal – but again, we can talk, or almost, so we may have options in this modern world that we didn’t before. I would have said ‘any minute now,’ a few years ago, but it seems the world is going in the other direction at the moment. Sometime, maybe. Here I am, worrying that I may destroy the world in my particular way, but as always, world without end, the good ones worry and the bad ones just get on with it.

Leading from way behind, as usual,

 

Feb. 12th., 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints

 

I’m sorry – you could probably shuffle the titles and the text in this series and they’d match up just as well, and every chapter looks the same to me too. The part six heading is starting to look like the overall one, the series title as well. Same stuff, I’m afraid. I’ll try to come at it from a new angle.

I’ve been trying to learn biology and evolution, brain science, as well as continuing to learn about psychology and philosophy. Blindly, at home alone, reading, I almost walked straight into the library at the University of the bloody Alt-Right (via a nasty little site dedicated to alt-Right “science” called Quillette). I read a bunch of Steven Pinker’s books, Judith Rich Harris, and although Rich Harris didn’t seem political, I’ve since come to understand that the Alt-right likes her and Pinker, and maybe a little bit of why. I know I differ with them both where they touch upon parenting, but I do with everyone. I’m afraid I may never get to Dawkins, I’m not happy with him politically either, but Pinker summarized him, laid out the Selfish Gene idea. It all seemed like good info, biology seemed to line up with reality a lot better than the ideas I had about popular psychology and such, and my thinking changed.

Unfortunately, it seems that biology in these contexts, behaviour, psychology – has become the territory of racists and Nazis. My thinking hasn’t changed that much!

I am not one of those, I swear to God, but all one need do today is mention some biological concept and it seems that one is choosing sides. No SJW, no good person wants to hear about why the world that we hate the way it is would be that way, it seems to be doctrinal that there mustn’t be any real reasons, or at least not biological reasons.

“Societal” reasons, culture-down explanations seem to be the answers that aren’t proscribed, what I see, every hundred tweets, is some version of “. . . because we live in a society which . . .” which is the formula for a tautology and it really doesn’t matter what words precede and follow it. We define a society is a bunch of organisms in a group and it’s rather circular to only define the organisms that way, as members of the society.

You don’t have to be on the alt-Right – and I’m not – to think this: the society thinks what its members think. Yes, there is plenty of meme flow in the other direction, and I know, some lines of thought are simply not made available in certain societies, but none of this communication or philosophy changes biology. If these cultural memes do not serve our biology, they do not last. Natural selection suggests that our eternal problems, the human condition, has at its roots some cause underwritten by our basic biological necessities. The memes we see and hear to support our never-ending struggles like racism and inequality, to support our sense of group identity and conflict, these, even when expressed by the society, I think we can assume find fertile soil in the individual, in our biological selves. Not the tree, not racism, that is not an evolved trait, which again, might have been the Nazi conclusion – but the fighting and the violence that underlies it.

Racism isn’t why there is violence; racism is one of a number of vectors by which to rationalize the hatred of, and the killing, discounting, dehumanization, degradation, exploitation, etc., etc., of human beings and if you think that would end if we were identical clones, then you’ve been listening to the bad guys. Our long aboriginal existence and the long developmental period our species has undergone did not have us eternally battling, pale Swedes against Nigerians. That scenario is rather new. In the normal human situation, our neighbors are our cousins and we have to create ways to differentiate, for security. Any fighting we’ve done for millions of years has been like that, with those guys next door. So, there you go.

I’m not the Nazi here; I’m not the one who blames humanity’s violence on the fact that people come in different colours. Were you? I mean until now?

So, the Deep Roots of War idea doesn’t support racism, I mean unless you want it to. I mean, it does support war. And if you like war, then I guess you don’t probably mind race war, so the connection is there, if not directly, and the Deep Roots of War is still responsible for all of our ills in the end, it’s still depressing as Hell. Because we’re calling it “biological,” some folks will tell you it’s written in stone, and that’s what we liberals hear when we hear it, some version of “that’s just the way it is” – and Nazism. Remember, for certain mindsets, the “Deep” part might mean something less than six thousand years, which sounds short to a scientist, but that mindset thinks it’s eternity. That framing makes if forever, since the beginning, and literally written in stone. Anyone who has read me before, anyone following this train of thought, knows that I think the Deep Roots of War are behavioural, a choice, and that I’m trying to lay it out for us, bring it into the spotlight.

Again, to say that our troubles are based in our biology, a Nazi could say that, but to say “based in our biology” is not the same as saying I like it, I agree with it, and we should just go with it. That would be the Nazi stand (based in a badly biased “reading” of the science), I think; it is not mine. I am an SJW, I want to change these things. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am also a truth seeker primarily, and to change these things we need to understand them, and if that goes to some aspect of us being animals, then we need to understand that. Not to “excuse it” as some SJW on Twitter assumed just the other day, which I never said and never do, but I understood their assumption. At least online, again, biology seems to be the province of Nazis and racists. Well behavioural biology and evolutionary psychology, to be more accurate. The SJW person online heard “evo-psych” and was done with the conversation.

That can’t go on, that’s for sure. The good folks of the world need to own that science, those people can’t be trusted with it! (It occurs to one that if the Nazis and racists had any explanation, any science or even theory, that they wouldn’t always be trying to co-opt every new gene, every new insight from science. They’re still searching for their first bit of scientific support. We can’t trust their motivations, and we sure can’t trust their talents.)

A Jehovah’s Witness spoke to me a few days ago, gave me a brochure, and the point of his talk and the brochure was, what would you rather believe, these other theories, or a full-blown resurrection with all your friends and family? Put that way, who could argue? But I fear SJWs are choosing their culture-down explanations with the same criteria as the JWs, going with I’m sorry, blank slate social science, the same sort of thing as the ladies going into psychology and leaving firmer sciences to the men, the ladies and the good men choosing psychology and leaving behavioural biology to the KKK. It’s a sad result, but I get it.

In the most basic terms, we often think of two worlds, the nasty old one we have and the shiny new one we want, and it appears that the humanities and the social sciences reach for the new one while many biology projects seem to drag us back and down into the old one. I’m sorry. The old one is where the troubles are, and we carry it with us. The only real solutions are going to be in there, we have to work through it if we ever want that pretty new one, and I do, I really do. I’ve found something too! The answers really are in there, for those who seek with a pure – non-Nazi – heart. I say again, do not fear the Deep Roots of War ape, that’s what the bad guys want. They’re keeping him in a cage and torturing him, only letting us see him when he’s in a rage. They have gentle secrets to hide, truths that don’t fit their agenda and things that work better when we’re not conscious of them.

We need to advocate for the Deep Roots of War ape. We need to look at him with love, understand his fears and address those. The answer, dear liberals, SJWs, is not to hate that part of ourselves and deny it, and it certainly isn’t to let the bloody Nazis of the world have him to do with whatever they want.

In academic terms, the schism between social science and firmer sciences must end, the good people can’t be ignoring science if they have real world goals and the bad people can’t be the only ones with access to the CRISPR machine.

 

Feb. 20th., 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The “Deep Roots of War” thing

 

Antisocialization is going on today.

If you get the idea in your head like it’s in mine and look around, it’s everywhere, every bit of punishing going on, every deterrent, every bit of gossip . . . it’s a good life if you don’t weaken, so we design everything to keep us strong. Even the “positive” things in life are often so because they exist to oppose some bad thing, it’s a good life if even positive things don’t weaken, if positive things fight for their existence. Evidence is not scarce if you know what you’re looking for, right now.

But I think we all agree, a thorough understanding means knowing where this stuff comes from, how it starts, and this takes us to evolution, development and to evo-psych and its just-so stories. Now, this is a tough row to hoe for me and my theory. I know, the world is full of things and traits that we have no story for, and it often turns out that despite the lack of a story, the thing nonetheless exists – but with human behaviour at least, we want a story. If you can’t come up with a single scenario in which what you’re describing might actually occur, well, that’s a bad sign, isn’t it?

I had a few images, child beatings with more hair and no clothes, some I don’t know, poetry, I guess, “Lucy, that noble little savage, bouncing her babies off the walls of her cave,” but that’s the full-blown behaviour, that image, not some developmental stage.

There are lions and chimpanzees eating one another’s children, there are lions and chimpanzees sending children flying in simple fights, stay out of my food kind of thing – and then there are humans, laying on the pain when not in the heat of the moment, not in protective modes, neither killing and eating the child nor simply competing with it for present concerns, but rather laying on a beating with a view to future concerns.

I’ve said, abuse increases abuse, violence, crime, and somewhere in the deep past (as in the present) it would have meant an advantage along exactly those lines for those groups practising it over those groups that didn’t, but here is where we lack a good just-so tale, for the change. How would such a thing begin? Scientifically, I don’t have a lot of love for this first guess: failed infanticide. I mean, metaphorically, it’s a gift from God! In English, I get to say that at some point human groups differentiated between animalistic eating of children and the humanistic beating of them instead, and that is low level, early humanism in the moral sense, a species of upgrade. I suspect that the blood libel charge of baby eater goes back just that far, to this differentiation, baby eaters and baby beaters, but just how far that is, I can’t imagine. We, the second group, scorn the first, ostensibly for their brutality, but they are gone, and we remain. They were the ones who weren’t tough enough, and we scorn them because we feel if we became them, if we ceased abusing our children, we would be next on the extinct hominid list. How far back? It must have been before the pastoral revolution, I think, because that seems to me to have required some antisocialization, some desensitization about the trapped creatures, but perhaps long before, perhaps this was going on when all the other human groups appear to have been replaced, Neanderthals, Denisovans, etc.

As to how it began, however, perhaps that is to be found in some science detail, and not up here at theory, one of the gene functions that responds to abuse will have a date or something. I don’t know.

Maybe if I can’t find a way to imagine a hominid experimenting with child abuse for a meaner troop, then maybe the advantage I’m assuming isn’t it, perhaps it’s not so straightforward a group effect, perhaps I shouldn’t be thinking about the group at all. It seems so clearly a group-reinforced behaviour in my own life, though! Does that weirdness happen, then, a group-reinforced behaviour for something other than group needs, for some advantage to the individual? Of course, that’s the evo-explanation for groups at all, that members are advantaged, so individuals made stronger by abuse . . . against who? If it’s against one another it’s a Red Queen’s game. Come to think of it, if it’s a group competition thing, it’s still a Red Queen’s game, one of those things, we beat each other just as hard as we can simply to remain in place, in détente with the other groups.

Hey, that was new, maybe! And by definition, these sorts of evolutionary arms races have their drivers in evolved, biological functions on both sides already, in this case, humans being selected for along a vector of aggression against other humans in the same process. Perhaps like some other things, colour in sexual displays, the game was a tiny, random thing at the beginning, and the rules over time produce fantastic results in certain circumstances and environments. Perhaps I don’t need my just-so story after all, which would be terrific, because even for actual scientists with actual facts at their fingertips, those just-so stories are often their downfall.

I’ll just drop that hint, baby eaters and baby beaters, and remind you that I don’t like it either. As science, I mean.

So, for me, and I’m always willing to project it onto everybody else too, the shitty thing about this Deep Roots of War idea is that you know they’re saying “this is reality. This is the way it is, this is what we’re made of.” Like, “period. This is your hardware. Your civilization, your morals, are a dream.” Right?

Again, many haven’t caught up yet, they’re still laughing at Lamarck, unaware that his comeuppance began decades ago. I’m here to tell you it’s complete, and the Deep Roots of War creature is not some condition forced upon us by anyone but ourselves, each other. The static view behind the idea historically, the DRW, – can I use an acronym? It’s getting tiresome – is it’s our nature, and fixed, and what? No-one wants it? It’s our “nature,” but we all agree it’s bad and most of us, at least on our good days, live in conflict with these base natures? “Everything’s changed now, we don’t want that anymore,” maybe that sums it up. We don’t want it, but that’s the hardware.

This attitude has been adapted for conversations about evolution, but clearly, “hardware” is no longer the model in any such conversation. We look to our deep, newly discovered past, an exercise and a view with evolution written all over it, to say “this is our nature,” a statement of stasis. The truth is, when a trait persists over time, it simply means the problem the trait is an answer for has persisted also and our natures are simply a snap shot of our adaptations. Our adaptation for group aggression persists because we have it and so does the other guy, the conditions for the adaptation are still in place. It’s an interesting situation, because it’s not like a temperature limit or something, the condition is us. We can almost talk to it, but we are subject to it nonetheless. Pending, I’m not sure, consciousness or something.

Is it only intuition?

Is it one those stupid, illogical leaps, or a schizotypal one for me to say we are the DRW guy because we want to be, that faced with your aggression, I will willingly choose to be? It’s not all conscious, of course, and in a dangerous world where we’re talking about survival adaptations, we don’t have as much choice as we might like about those issues especially, but on the few occasions when life does permit us a choice? The depth of the DRW might be rather meaningless if we’re creating ourselves that way in every generation and every minute anyways, right up to the here and now.

The DRW, human antisocialization, the warrior society, this is adaptive, because everything is adaptive, but this is a technology too, and a little more sophisticated than chimpanzees sharpening sticks, the payoffs are so far removed from the behaviour – by a generation! Talk about delayed gratification – as to be nearly undetectable, well, at least by us, the ones in the process. But that is a project, a long term one, and that is my evidence to say, we are this because we want to be this, this we feel is our path to security in the world – to be such a security threat to the other guy that he thinks twice before planning a raid. To be human is to behave as though the best defense is a good offense. But that is not the end!

You don’t get to be that just because you “want” it. Your base wants are giving the rest of us ulcers. Me saying we’re not “stuck with” the DRW, that we are the ones always bringing it along, that we like it, this is not the answer, the stormtrooper answer, well, just go for it then. The “want” is still the problem. I mean, most folks know it, it’s just that then we can find ourselves in these other conversations where it becomes an us VS them thing, “they” want it, while we have risen above it or something . . . this is all kitchen table talk. Where the rubber meets the road, is do we want what child abuse produces? Do we want children that have “learned their lessons?” This is when these choices are made, a generation ahead of the war they have to go and fight.

I’m saying we want it, because we’re getting it and we’re in charge. We shouldn’t want it, it’s messing with all of our other desires, this is not an excuse or a justification, and by the way, how could it ever be? Are we all toddlers? Our “natures,” a cry of “I want it?” When did that ever justify anything anyways?

There is some ‘splaining to do to reconcile that when we are not talking about our own immanent murder, we really don’t want that. I don’t. I know we don’t, this conflict is inside us, our better desires against our baser ones, and those baser ones posing as surrogate for our basic ones. If we survive, in some wonderful sci-fi future, maybe we can match up our better dreams with our basic needs and cut out the middle man. That’s sort of what this DRW fellow is, our NRA rep, and he’d like to be indispensable. He sure doesn’t want us going straight to the factory and seeing how humanity gets made.

Hmmm . . . not sure this one’s done, but it’s getting a bit long . . .

 

Feb. 27th., 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Self-Actualization

 

I was very young when I fell in love with the image of a dark, depressed genius, Richard Burton kind of thing, Maybe Judy Garland, maybe Jim Morrison, no-one in particular, the image, really. Edgar Allen Poe. But this isn’t about me. This is about all of us.

We can organize and control ourselves in this one way, we can kill anything and everything, and what we can’t – all of us, yet, at least so far – we can fight forever, or live in détente with, pending new technology.

Wait! Hear me out! This is not the end, there is hope and change in here yet, somewhere, I swear. Damnit, I had it right here just like, ten seconds ago, hold on . . . well, what the . . . OK, please don’t make me have to start with the nasty crap again, every time I lay out the present state of things as a preamble, it depresses my mind and I never get past it . . . it’ll come to me. C’mon, c’mon . . . damnit! Hope and change, hope and change . . . ah! It’s the very first bit, isn’t it?

The “we can” part.

There was a time we couldn’t have done that, and now we can. Evolution makes the impossible possible. Focus on that, not on the scatological nature of my proofs, OK?

I know our apparent specialty sucks, or at least by this point it’s starting to look less like a feature than built-in obsolescence, but we did it, so it proves we can, we did everything the biologists say, out-competed the rest, carried our genes to every corner of the earth and a little beyond. Avoided the predators and located the prey, and except that the ants and Elon Musk also think so, we run this planet. I mean we run it as a madman doomsday fantasy and we may prove it by destroying it, but the point is, we have the power, no-one gave us this world to rule and destroy, we made than happen, we took it. OK, maybe we told each other a story about how someone gave it to us to do with as we would – but it’s not true! We are liars. We took control.

We are presently hoping to hold on to what is left of our external world and its ecosystems, so we perhaps couldn’t imagine it, and many can’t imagine it now, but if we could remember what it was like before we began this techno-nightmare, then we might be able to see that killing an entire planet would be no small task either! Anyone setting out on that quest would surely be the most ambitious ape ever spawned, no? And surely that ape would be laughed out of the tree, considering that there are still many of those who are doing that laughing now, despite that the impossible dream is almost certainly a done deal at this point.

The proofs of our creative powers are all negative thus far, I’m afraid. This should have been impossible, our current state of affairs, that some one of millions of species should take on the rest in some insane death match and actually win!

I mean, it’s not the best thing predicted by evolution, is it? Isn’t evolution the explanation for diversity, quite the opposite function? I think we all understand that many of our troubles stem from evolved functions and their effects changing as our environment changes, that it is some evolved survival strategy of ours that has lost some balancing aspect and has become a new threat in itself that we need to solve now, not just for ourselves but for the whole environment.

Unfortunately, I think many of us think it in just that passive voice, though, functions and effects. I approve generally, I don’t trust our own voice simply speaking in its interests, just as I don’t so much trust my own personal emotional internal voice. I have always been aware of vast dark regions in my own experience, and so I have learned to “black-box” myself to some degree like that. I do think we need to treat ourselves that way to see what’s going on, like some animal we’re observing and can’t simply ask, because our unconscious parts are still important real-world things with causal connections and we need to take all that we can into consideration if we’re trying to find the truth.

If we think of it in only this way, though, we are helpless observers, riders on the storm, and that’s just not it. We have our fingers in this particular function, everywhere we can reach, our DNA is all over it. Again, the proofs are all negative to date – but those proofs are in, we did this by the process we call “nurturing.” If this is your first time with me, maybe you’re thinking – “negative nurturing?”

Yes, nurture, in the sense of influences on children, is a negative thing, that’s the great secret. We decided at some point that the nurturing phenomenon we were looking for was a “good” thing, a positive thing, and why was that? We call it the same thing we call providing food, buy why? Surely the inference cannot be that we humans are unlike any other creature because we feed our children.

Are we so proud of ourselves? Have we looked around and said to ourselves, “look at all this wonderful stuff humans have done! Whatever it is we’re doing, we had better just keep doing at, because who could argue with these results?” Why the hundred-year academic search for positive influences and effects upon human children in a world of strife and struggle seems a saner question, what positive world are we trying to explain? I believe it to be an assumption of something like Christian Original Sin in play here, a core belief that bad things are to be expected by default and it is good things that require explanation, and so that is where our efforts along these lines have been wasted, I mean spent. We are indeed learning from these attempts, and that will all be useful data if we create a sensible structure in which to put it.

I think we need to define our “nurture” idea a little better, and isn’t the point of it that nurture in this sense specifically defines influences upon children that adults actually make, as opposed to what we merely intend, or worse, what we merely say we intend? There is this difference in the definition of “punishment” and probably many other words, between the everyday meaning and the scientific one: in general speech, we can call attempts to punish “punishment,” but in technical terms it doesn’t qualify unless it can be shown to have succeeded and modified the behaviour. I’m sure a scientific definition of this “nurture” thing would have the same sort of requirement. Or, more to the point, as I’m attempting to do, we can redefine the process as unconscious and say the measurable real-world effects we do see reflect the true, evolved, unconscious intentions behind our “nurturing.”

Now, parents all report good intentions, but I don’t really trust these humans when they tell me their intentions are “good,” everything is some sort of “good” for somebody, right? “Good” and “bad” are a little too fluid for that – University of “Hee-Haw” – ask your parents. Maybe if you saw that first weak attempt at the “Ghostbusters” movie, the one with dudes: I’m a little fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing too.

Seriously, though: I think the first meaning of “good” is staying alive, and many, many living things have been known to do some horrible shit in order to accomplish that basic “good,” right? That’s what I’m talking about here, or that’s the space in which I’d like to have a conversation. I’m saying what we apparently want is what we’re getting – well, what we would be getting as traditional hunter-gatherers, crazy, angry, aggressive men that the men in the next village think twice about before they mess with (and crazy, angry, aggressive women who apparently punt their three-year-olds out the door to live at the mercy of the crazy, angry, aggressive adolescents in the children’s’ group to nurse the next child). What we are getting is this human world right here – and I don’t mean right here in a classroom or a library full of well dressed WEIRD people reading and quietly sharing insights, I mean here on Earth, wherever there is conflict over resources, fighting and war, and wherever folks are afraid to go outside. My entire blog has been written in an effort to make the connection between these things. Nice folks, more ladies than men, perhaps, and the psychology minded, many folks intuit this, and while it seems no-one expects confirmation from science, little ol’ I am here to tell you all of that logic and science is really there.

I’ve made the point before: fifty percent of each of us already knows it, Dad said it to many of us: the beatings will continue until you’re tough enough. Well guess what? We’ve “won.” We’re tough enough.

We’re tough enough now – because we don’t think so, and so ever strive to be.

That’s my theory of human nature.

We saw ourselves in the utterly helpless primate baby, and clever, devil-monkey that we are, we figured out how to change it, and boom – just maybe a hundred thousand years or something, maybe only twenty, maybe the entire history of our genus – and we are in the position to affect everything else alive here in the most powerful way. We did that. We saw something, imagined an answer (you could say a process of selection, etc., brought about the answer, but I’ll suggest that evolution does some of these things through the human brain, and that is also evolution), and implemented it, with some spectacular, albeit spectacularly bad, results. Sing it with me –

We are self-created creatures, in the sense of the deep roots of war.

That means we’re not stuck with it, because we weren’t stuck with our lives as some archaic version of chimpanzee just going with the flow of nature, were we?

Sometimes I worry that what we’re up against here is that we haven’t evolved a sense of evolution, and try as we might, we don’t have language in which the world is not static, and things are not simply “as they are.” The “deep roots of war” implies time, and evolution perhaps – or is the point of the phrase that the depth is supposed to intimidate? Things may change, but this is deep, right? Did this concept get coined while we all thought evolution had to be long, slow, and done without our participation? I think this is where my own visceral reaction to the phrase, “the deep roots of war” comes from. It’s a cynical nod to evolution the main thrust of which is, “forget it, evolution, schmevolution, your war is the deepest part of you.” Where have I heard that song before? We are finding evidence of religion as an evolved thing. Further along this line, it is not from a sophisticated, mathematical view that our very brief history – not twenty thousand years of war, right? – looks “deep.” Deep compared to the Hebrew calendar is not “deep” in evolution or biology, at least not for large animals, right?

Sorry, I know – “roots.”

The depth of these roots I will allow back to our common ancestors with the chimpanzees, something deeper than our divergence with the chimps, maybe in the tens of million years, and it’s just a guess or an intuition, but for starters, I’d stop at sixty million, before the mammals got the run of things. All creatures’ “roots” go all the way back to the beginning, and if we’re tracing violence that far, we have to acknowledge everything else that old, like everything. War will be our defining item there when employing archaeology for this question, and the relevant “roots” will likely be specific to primates like us and the chimpanzees – so war is maybe twenty thousand years deep and its roots perhaps in the tens of millions of years deep. It’s not eternity, and it hasn’t been “just the way it is” for very long at all. Things are changing. Something I’d be looking for if I knew how, and I hope some geneticists will pick up the thread, is for the dates of some of these “warrior” alleles, for the advent of particular epigenetic responses to abuse. If my idea can ever show anything like evidence, I guess that would be it.

Plus, we’ve got far less successful/destructive cousins that share all of our “roots” of depth anyway; the difference is in the newer roots, the shallow ones, if it’s there. So. Self actualization?

It’s the science fiction dream, that we outgrow this cycle of abuse and manage our lives consciously, that we perhaps reach an age and a level of maturity where we finally lose our taste for war, of course –as happens for an old soldier in his own lifetime if he lives long enough, but on a species level. It’s a group-competitive function I’m going on about, so all the groups are going to have make the move together, which makes it unlikely, understatement of the year. We’ll be hoping for a hundredth monkey sort of effect, too bad that’s not a thing; as I said, unlikely in the extreme – but quite impossible if we don’t even identify some sort of crazy goal like that, if we don’t even dream it. Again – this present circumstance, that we in a few tens of thousands of years should progress form killing one another to killing everything in order to do it, the whole globe – was also unlikely in the extreme.

I think the way we find ourselves trying to manage what is left of the wildlife is the beginning. In my first draft of this new world, everything is like that, managed, and yes, it’s the Leftist totalitarian nightmare that kept Ayn Rand and keeps so many freedom lovers awake – but I’m just guessing that. I don’t know, I was raised in this system, same as you.

In a mere fifty years or so, I have produced these few thoughts that I think are sort of new; that’s not easy, I’m extremely proud of myself for these few instances of reason, of putting two and two together. I consider these to be rare events and it’s sad that they mostly happen with no witnesses, in apartments where folks brood alone, but so be it. Happy people are not going to be obsessed with solving the world’s problems if it means first proving what is wrong with the world – perhaps if that had been easier; it should have been the preamble, but I’m almost sixty and I haven’t even started school yet. I’m sorry, did I set the whole thing up as if I had the full vision to offer? Self deception in service of deception, I’m afraid. I hoped I would have one, I’ve been trying to have one, write one, staring at this screen day after day, hoping to see what needs to be laid out, waiting for the lightning . . . Gawd, another stop and a restart, like every McCartney song in concert.

We stop implementing our default, evolved solution for our personal security, which of course is a Red Queen’s game, we are constantly in some unconscious battle training and so are “they,” and I’m not sure what happens – but this response we have, our “strength,” it doesn’t solve anything; the whole plan is to be more of a problem than the other guy, no-one is trying to be less of one. It’s never going to go away if this is what drives it, if we are their army’s raison d’etre.

Huh. I find myself wanting to give that the internet’s shittiest boost: “let that sink in,” which is pathetic, I should be driving it in, right?

How about this – if Steven Pinker is right about the world becoming a less violent place, he doesn’t appear to know why, if he had a solid answer to why, I assume we’d have been hearing about it and there would be a debate, but this is why. Somehow, we must be beating our children a little less, on average. Hard to imagine, watching the news, I know, as bad as things are, they used to be worse. This is where we’re stuck, our evolved situation has us split up into groups and being the other group’s problem is our solution. Could some group, some nation, or some faith, make the change, stop abusing their children and so “weaken” themselves and still be all right, still exist and survive through intelligence rather than aggression? I’m asking that if we do not in every generation reinforce every child’s pre-configuration for conflict and war, won’t they still grow up seeing the dangers and attempting to deal with them? Wouldn’t we still protect our lives and our cultures even if we weren’t abused, even if we weren’t set up to attack theirs? Surely, this is one early version of the dream, possibly more likely than the whole world agreeing at once. Of course, Pinker’s improving world isn’t the whole world, nor is it a single church or nation, and if he’s right, then it is happening nonetheless, somehow incrementally, despite that the human tournament has not been suspended, despite that we are still in competition.

There a little hope and change in that, I guess, but time has run out for evolution to do this for us, for this to happen like Pinker thinks, slowly and cumulatively, maybe automatically. My putting improved dramatically and forever the day I finally realized that no-one was moving the thing but me, that I really did have the power and the responsibility to control that putter head myself. I used to try and hope, I really thought it was a matter of chance. That sounds ridiculous and embarrassing, but it’s true, and to carry that metaphor forward, we discipline our kids and hope for the best, and we all agree it’s a matter of chance. That’s fine if what you want is an excuse after the fact, but if you really wanted to control outcomes, you’d be taking conscious control of the process, because there ain’t nobody else holding that belt other than you either.

Same as my putter.

And I was terrified before I took charge of it too! Honestly, if I thought that awful putting was me, and not some element of chance, I’d have sharpened the end and fallen on it. It was a leap of faith, actually trying and fearing failure when I really had applied myself, a kill or cure sort of situation, but like the golfers say, playing well solves everything. Of course, that awful putting was me, who else? But the difference is me conscious about it, nothing else, and again, embarrassing, what could be more obvious, who else did I think was waving my putter around in a jerky figure eight pattern? It’s nowhere near as obvious in the larger conversation, the connections between our discipline and the chaos of the human world, so no shame we’re here, and the fear is exponentially worse. But the experience will follow the same pattern too.

Embarrassment, amazement, and probably an overwhelming sense of “why didn’t we do this years ago?”

That’s the sign of self-realization, right? And you never really know what it’s going to look like until you get there. I’m sorry if I fell short on the hope and change front, if the problem appears strong and the solution feeble – but I guess that puts me in good company, kind of like the real scientists. I haven’t given up for forever, just for today. I’ll get us there, I hope. Eventually.

 

Jeff

April 11th., 2018

While the geneticists are telling us the old Nature/Nurture debate has been made obsolete or been solved, depending who you talk to, I just went ahead and solved it. Part #8

While the geneticists are telling us the old Nature/Nurture debate has been made obsolete or been solved, depending who you talk to, I just went ahead and solved it. Part #8

 

Now that’s a long title, but it’s a great Tweet, isn’t it?

This is convergence, this little essay, for me this is where all the major threads in my mind come together: the ancient classic dialogue, human behaviour, child discipline, and yes – even trolling.

OK, that wasn’t bad, but this is just the bullet point brainstorming stage right now.

  1. A note about “things”
  2. A note about the “Nature” thing
  3. Trolling and narrowing the argument
  4. The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
  5. Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation (too late, we already have several)
  6. Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints
  7. The “Deep Roots of War” thing
  8. Self-actualization

Whups, turned into a Table of Contents. Maybe that’ll work.

 

 

  1. Self-Actualization

 

I was very young when I fell in love with the image of a dark, depressed genius, Richard Burton kind of thing, Maybe Judy Garland, maybe Jim Morrison, no-one in particular, the image, really. Edgar Allen Poe. But this isn’t about me. This is about all of us.

We can organize and control ourselves in this one way, we can kill anything and everything, and what we can’t – all of us, yet, at least so far – we can fight forever, or live in détente with, pending new technology.

Wait! Hear me out! This is not the end, there is hope and change in here yet, somewhere, I swear. Damnit, I had it right here just like, ten seconds ago, hold on . . . well, what the . . . OK, please don’t make me have to start with the nasty crap again, every time I lay out the present state of things as a preamble, it depresses my mind and I never get past it . . . it’ll come to me. C’mon, c’mon . . . damnit! Hope and change, hope and change . . . ah! It’s the very first bit, isn’t it?

The “we can” part.

There was a time we couldn’t have done that, and now we can. Evolution makes the impossible possible. Focus on that, not on the scatological nature of my proofs, OK?

I know our apparent specialty sucks, or at least by this point it’s starting to look less like a feature than built-in obsolescence, but we did it, so it proves we can, we did everything the biologists say, out-competed the rest, carried our genes to every corner of the earth and a little beyond. Avoided the predators and located the prey, and except that the ants and Elon Musk also think so, we run this planet. I mean we run it as a madman doomsday fantasy and we may prove it by destroying it, but the point is, we have the power, no-one gave us this world to rule and destroy, we made than happen, we took it. OK, maybe we told each other a story about how someone gave it to us to do with as we would – but it’s not true! We are liars. We took control.

We are presently hoping to hold on to what is left of our external world and its ecosystems, so we perhaps couldn’t imagine it, and many can’t imagine it now, but if we could remember what it was like before we began this techno-nightmare, then we might be able to see that killing an entire planet would be no small task either! Anyone setting out on that quest would surely be the most ambitious ape ever spawned, no? And surely that ape would be laughed out of the tree, considering that there are still many of those who are doing that laughing now, despite that the impossible dream is almost certainly a done deal at this point.

The proofs of our creative powers are all negative thus far, I’m afraid. This should have been impossible, our current state of affairs, that some one of millions of species should take on the rest in some insane death match and actually win!

I mean, it’s not the best thing predicted by evolution, is it? Isn’t evolution the explanation for diversity, quite the opposite function? I think we all understand that many of our troubles stem from evolved functions and their effects changing as our environment changes, that it is some evolved survival strategy of ours that has lost some balancing aspect and has become a new threat in itself that we need to solve now, not just for ourselves but for the whole environment.

Unfortunately, I think many of us think it in just that passive voice, though, functions and effects. I approve generally, I don’t trust our own voice simply speaking in its interests, just as I don’t so much trust my own personal emotional internal voice. I have always been aware of vast dark regions in my own experience, and so I have learned to “black-box” myself to some degree like that. I do think we need to treat ourselves that way to see what’s going on, like some animal we’re observing and can’t simply ask, because our unconscious parts are still important real-world things with causal connections and we need to take all that we can into consideration if we’re trying to find the truth.

If we think of it in only this way, though, we are helpless observers, riders on the storm, and that’s just not it. We have our fingers in this particular function, everywhere we can reach, our DNA is all over it. Again, the proofs are all negative to date – but those proofs are in, we did this by the process we call “nurturing.” If this is your first time with me, maybe you’re thinking – “negative nurturing?”

Yes, nurture, in the sense of influences on children, is a negative thing, that’s the great secret. We decided at some point that the nurturing phenomenon we were looking for was a “good” thing, a positive thing, and why was that? We call it the same thing we call providing food, buy why? Surely the inference cannot be that we humans are unlike any other creature because we feed our children.

Are we so proud of ourselves? Have we looked around and said to ourselves, “look at all this wonderful stuff humans have done! Whatever it is we’re doing, we had better just keep doing at, because who could argue with these results?” Why the hundred-year academic search for positive influences and effects upon human children in a world of strife and struggle seems a saner question, what positive world are we trying to explain? I believe it to be an assumption of something like Christian Original Sin in play here, a core belief that bad things are to be expected by default and it is good things that require explanation, and so that is where our efforts along these lines have been wasted, I mean spent. We are indeed learning from these attempts, and that will all be useful data if we create a sensible structure in which to put it.

I think we need to define our “nurture” idea a little better, and isn’t the point of it that nurture in this sense specifically defines influences upon children that adults actually make, as opposed to what we merely intend, or worse, what we merely say we intend? There is this difference in the definition of “punishment” and probably many other words, between the everyday meaning and the scientific one: in general speech, we can call attempts to punish “punishment,” but in technical terms it doesn’t qualify unless it can be shown to have succeeded and modified the behaviour. I’m sure a scientific definition of this “nurture” thing would have the same sort of requirement. Or, more to the point, as I’m attempting to do, we can redefine the process as unconscious and say the measurable real-world effects we do see reflect the true, evolved, unconscious intentions behind our “nurturing.”

Now, parents all report good intentions, but I don’t really trust these humans when they tell me their intentions are “good,” everything is some sort of “good” for somebody, right? “Good” and “bad” are a little too fluid for that – University of “Hee-Haw” – ask your parents. Maybe if you saw that first weak attempt at the “Ghostbusters” movie, the one with dudes: I’m a little fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing too.

Seriously, though: I think the first meaning of “good” is staying alive, and many, many living things have been known to do some horrible shit in order to accomplish that basic “good,” right? That’s what I’m talking about here, or that’s the space in which I’d like to have a conversation. I’m saying what we apparently want is what we’re getting – well, what we would be getting as traditional hunter-gatherers, crazy, angry, aggressive men that the men in the next village think twice about before they mess with (and crazy, angry, aggressive women who apparently punt their three-year-olds out the door to live at the mercy of the crazy, angry, aggressive adolescents in the children’s’ group to nurse the next child). What we are getting is this human world right here – and I don’t mean right here in a classroom or a library full of well dressed WEIRD people reading and quietly sharing insights, I mean here on Earth, wherever there is conflict over resources, fighting and war, and wherever folks are afraid to go outside. My entire blog has been written in an effort to make the connection between these things. Nice folks, more ladies than men, perhaps, and the psychology minded, many folks intuit this, and while it seems no-one expects confirmation from science, little ol’ I am here to tell you all of that logic and science is really there.

I’ve made the point before: fifty percent of each of us already knows it, Dad said it to many of us: the beatings will continue until you’re tough enough. Well guess what? We’ve “won.” We’re tough enough.

We’re tough enough now – because we don’t think so, and so ever strive to be.

That’s my theory of human nature.

We saw ourselves in the utterly helpless primate baby, and clever, devil-monkey that we are, we figured out how to change it, and boom – just maybe a hundred thousand years or something, maybe only twenty, maybe the entire history of our genus – and we are in the position to affect everything else alive here in the most powerful way. We did that. We saw something, imagined an answer (you could say a process of selection, etc., brought about the answer, but I’ll suggest that evolution does some of these things through the human brain, and that is also evolution), and implemented it, with some spectacular, albeit spectacularly bad, results. Sing it with me –

We are self-created creatures, in the sense of the deep roots of war.

That means we’re not stuck with it, because we weren’t stuck with our lives as some archaic version of chimpanzee just going with the flow of nature, were we?

Sometimes I worry that what we’re up against here is that we haven’t evolved a sense of evolution, and try as we might, we don’t have language in which the world is not static, and things are not simply “as they are.” The “deep roots of war” implies time, and evolution perhaps – or is the point of the phrase that the depth is supposed to intimidate? Things may change, but this is deep, right? Did this concept get coined while we all thought evolution had to be long, slow, and done without our participation? I think this is where my own visceral reaction to the phrase, “the deep roots of war” comes from. It’s a cynical nod to evolution the main thrust of which is, “forget it, evolution, schmevolution, your war is the deepest part of you.” Where have I heard that song before? We are finding evidence of religion as an evolved thing. Further along this line, it is not from a sophisticated, mathematical view that our very brief history – not twenty thousand years of war, right? – looks “deep.” Deep compared to the Hebrew calendar is not “deep” in evolution or biology, at least not for large animals, right?

Sorry, I know – “roots.”

The depth of these roots I will allow back to our common ancestors with the chimpanzees, something deeper than our divergence with the chimps, maybe in the tens of million years, and it’s just a guess or an intuition, but for starters, I’d stop at sixty million, before the mammals got the run of things. All creatures’ “roots” go all the way back to the beginning, and if we’re tracing violence that far, we have to acknowledge everything else that old, like everything. War will be our defining item there when employing archaeology for this question, and the relevant “roots” will likely be specific to primates like us and the chimpanzees – so war is maybe twenty thousand years deep and its roots perhaps in the tens of millions of years deep. It’s not eternity, and it hasn’t been “just the way it is” for very long at all. Things are changing. Something I’d be looking for if I knew how, and I hope some geneticists will pick up the thread, is for the dates of some of these “warrior” alleles, for the advent of particular epigenetic responses to abuse. If my idea can ever show anything like evidence, I guess that would be it.

Plus, we’ve got far less successful/destructive cousins that share all of our “roots” of depth anyway; the difference is in the newer roots, the shallow ones, if it’s there. So. Self actualization?

It’s the science fiction dream, that we outgrow this cycle of abuse and manage our lives consciously, that we perhaps reach an age and a level of maturity where we finally lose our taste for war, of course –as happens for an old soldier in his own lifetime if he lives long enough, but on a species level. It’s a group-competitive function I’m going on about, so all the groups are going to have make the move together, which makes it unlikely, understatement of the year. We’ll be hoping for a hundredth monkey sort of effect, too bad that’s not a thing; as I said, unlikely in the extreme – but quite impossible if we don’t even identify some sort of crazy goal like that, if we don’t even dream it. Again – this present circumstance, that we in a few tens of thousands of years should progress form killing one another to killing everything in order to do it, the whole globe – was also unlikely in the extreme.

I think the way we find ourselves trying to manage what is left of the wildlife is the beginning. In my first draft of this new world, everything is like that, managed, and yes, it’s the Leftist totalitarian nightmare that kept Ayn Rand and keeps so many freedom lovers awake – but I’m just guessing that. I don’t know, I was raised in this system, same as you.

In a mere fifty years or so, I have produced these few thoughts that I think are sort of new; that’s not easy, I’m extremely proud of myself for these few instances of reason, of putting two and two together. I consider these to be rare events and it’s sad that they mostly happen with no witnesses, in apartments where folks brood alone, but so be it. Happy people are not going to be obsessed with solving the world’s problems if it means first proving what is wrong with the world – perhaps if that had been easier; it should have been the preamble, but I’m almost sixty and I haven’t even started school yet. I’m sorry, did I set the whole thing up as if I had the full vision to offer? Self deception in service of deception, I’m afraid. I hoped I would have one, I’ve been trying to have one, write one, staring at this screen day after day, hoping to see what needs to be laid out, waiting for the lightning . . . Gawd, another stop and a restart, like every McCartney song in concert.

We stop implementing our default, evolved solution for our personal security, which of course is a Red Queen’s game, we are constantly in some unconscious battle training and so are “they,” and I’m not sure what happens – but this response we have, our “strength,” it doesn’t “solve” anything; the whole plan is to be more of a problem than the other guy, no-one is trying to be less of one. It’s never going to go away if this is what drives it, if we are their army’s raison d’etre.

Huh. I find myself wanting to give that the internet’s shittiest boost: “let that sink in,” which is pathetic, I should be driving it in, right?

How about this – if Steven Pinker is right about the world becoming a less violent place, he doesn’t appear to know why, if he had a solid answer to why, I assume we’d have been hearing about it and there would be a debate, but this is why. Somehow, we must be beating our children a little less, on average. Hard to imagine, watching the news, I know, as bad as things are, they used to be worse. This is where we’re stuck, our evolved situation has us split up into groups and being the other group’s problem is our solution. Could some group, some nation, or some faith, make the change, stop abusing their children and so “weaken” themselves and still be all right, still exist and survive through intelligence rather than aggression? I’m asking that if we do not in every generation reinforce every child’s pre-configuration for conflict and war, won’t they still grow up seeing the dangers and attempting to deal with them? Wouldn’t we still protect our lives and our cultures even if we weren’t abused, even if we weren’t set up to attack theirs? Surely, this is one early version of the dream, possibly more likely than the whole world agreeing at once. Of course, Pinker’s improving world isn’t the whole world, nor is it a single church or nation, and if he’s right, then it is happening nonetheless, somehow incrementally, despite that the human tournament has not been suspended, despite that we are still in competition.

There a little hope and change in that, I guess, but time has run out for evolution to do this for us, for this to happen like Pinker thinks, slowly and cumulatively, maybe automatically. My putting improved dramatically and forever the day I finally realized that no-one was moving the thing but me, that I really did have the power and the responsibility to control that putter head myself. I used to try and hope, I really thought it was a matter of chance. That sounds ridiculous and embarrassing, but it’s true, and to carry that metaphor forward, we discipline our kids and hope for the best, and we all agree it’s a matter of chance. That’s fine if what you want is an excuse after the fact, but if you really wanted to control outcomes, you’d be taking conscious control of the process, because there ain’t nobody else holding that belt other than you either.

Same as my putter.

And I was terrified before I took charge of it too! Honestly, if I thought that awful putting was me, and not some element of chance, I’d have sharpened the end and fallen on it. It was a leap of faith, actually trying and fearing failure when I really had applied myself, a kill or cure sort of situation, but like the golfers say, playing well solves everything. Of course, that awful putting was me, who else? But the difference is me conscious about it, nothing else, and again, embarrassing, what could be more obvious, who else did I think was waving my putter around in a jerky figure eight pattern? It’s nowhere near as obvious in the larger conversation, the connections between our discipline and the chaos of the human world, so no shame we’re here, and the fear is exponentially worse. But the experience will follow the same pattern too.

Embarrassment, amazement, and probably an overwhelming sense of “why didn’t we do this years ago?”

That’s the sign of self-realization, right? And you never really know what it’s going to look like until you get there. I’m sorry if I fell short on the hope and change front, if the problem appears strong and the solution feeble – but I guess that puts me in good company, kind of like the real scientists. I haven’t given up for forever, just for today. I’ll get us there, I hope. Eventually.

 

Jeff

April 11th., 2018