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

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What Strength Looks Like

I’ve done it again, I’m afraid, and this one’s a little bigger than saying “beta” when what I really wanted was something more opposed to an alpha than simply the next one in succession. My own sister’s been hearing me wrong, I think she thinks the rupture in my life has turned me around. I told her I think “discipline” makes us “strong,” and she thinks I’m an army recruiter now, she apparently thinks I’m saying that straight up! When I tell her I mean, “abuse” makes us “violent,” she says, “No, I get that you’re being sarcastic.”

Yes, Sis, it’s a lifelong obsession, a decades-long search that has culminated in a sarcastic one-liner. I wonder where I ever got the idea that they think of me as the family idiot? I can feel the pat on the head, and her patience while she waits for me to get interested in some bug at my feet and stop bugging her, which is perhaps a lifelong pattern for me. In theory, though, we share DNA, I mean I’m open to the idea that we share none, or too much (don’t ask), but we kind of look the same, so if she doesn’t get it the odds are I’ve failed to get it across to everyone else too. I’ve already typed this somewhere recently, but I am not talking about a dichotomy. Those two versions of that sentence above, those are not two poles of a spectrum, not two sides of a coin. They are one.

First, I’m not in the business of divisions, not by choice and not with any choice in the matter at all, really, I mean by vocation, or mutation. Rather, I am one whose brain never stops attempting to make connections and draw parallels, and I don’t mean always fruitfully. It’s almost debilitating, that’s where I am, head in the clouds doing this I don’t know if it’s art or science daydreaming, when there are simpler, more achievable mental tasks I don’t seem to be capable of. I’m a born philosopher, I think, and I think it’s about making connections, bringing knowledge together. I can break stuff down from time to time, but that is never the goal in itself, is it? Maybe knowledge is a million facts, produced by breaking things down, and that seems to be a trend, but wisdom is putting it all back together – some artsy metaphor like that anyways, but the point is, I can’t help it, I think that’s the game, integrating what we know, putting it together, I believe that’s the ultimate goal. So, I’ll try to put those poles together for us, discipline and abuse, strength and violence, see what happens – and perhaps, see what happens when we break them apart again– spoiler alert: when we do that second bit, today happens.

Set it up so well, I don’t need to bother now, do I?

The physical, real-life aspects of these pairs of ideas are the same, but discipline and abuse differ in the legitimacy of their intentions, discipline is to build something, and abuse to break it, right? I would say the same of strength and violence, strength to build and violence to break, but arguments of legitimacy aren’t as strong here as perhaps arguments of social groups, in-groups and out-groups: our strength is “their” violence, and vice versa.

Science very rightly already concerns itself with social groups and theory, and otherwise, I think I must agree with biologists generally that we have spent enough time trying to prove that what we intend with our parenting has any relation to what in fact works out. I think it’s time to start thinking of the documented, real-life effects of abuse as where the science is, where there is something to learn.

As soon as this insight came to me, I felt I knew that we had options, that we were the ones making for a nasty old world and the idea that we could make for a different one, was unavoidable – dirty little tease of a thought that it is. But the point is, for this understanding, one needn’t break anything down, one needn’t compartmentalize. One must see this as a single, real world stimulus, abuse/discipline. Words are not the things they try to describe. We must see this as a single, real-world thing, too, strength/violence – or perhaps we can look at that from another angle, that the best defense is a good offense: this axiom shows that the core of these “opposites” is the same real-world stuff, and the difference is the declared intention, or simply whether it’s us or them talking.

It’s an irony, and the tension it produces will never be  solved, but science requires breaking things down into more and smaller facts while truth requires putting them all together into fewer and bigger ones, but OK, the sorts of arguments my sister may make require specifics, and I think it’s time to spell it out, although it may get personal for some. Trigger warning, I’m going to say that many peoples’ problems and possibly lifelong struggles with their pasts, with abuse and damage and mental illness, all of that sad stuff, is the unconscious, evolved, and I’m sorry, unconscious, I said – desired response to their traumas. I am sorry, but what else?

Are we all having some brand-new, unsupported by our gene-suite response to some brand-new stimulus, trauma? OK, I just apologized for the facts, but I’ll apologize for my pissy sarcasm too. Sorry, though, I can’t un-say it either, this is the sad fact. Evolution will have chosen our PTSD for some function, and our PTSD won’t be without some effects of their own in the world. There is a function for that that probably has its most extreme example in amok or berserk states, but usually this function is what we are reading when we see the mountains of social science data correlating poor social outcomes with abuse, so many of which are around violence and intergenerational abuse.

My idea is that the outcomes, these “problems,” violence, crime, risk-taking, general devaluing of life, these are selected-for group traits, more useful in an aboriginal context than a modern one, perhaps, an adaptation that tilts outcomes when groups of humans meet in competition, on the battleground. Part of this idea is that our damage, our bitterness, perhaps our anger, our sense of worthlessness, all that results of abuse, maybe even a depressive death wish – this is the group advantage I’m talking about, this is the “strength” referred to by populists and dictators, and this is the “strength” our trips to the woodshed guarantee we carry into the world.

There is no “good and pure” strength, our strongmen aren’t “good” and “theirs” bad – what, we have a guy just as strong as theirs, just as ready for a fight, but what? Ours fights fair? Ours waits for theirs to take the first shot before he expertly murders him, like in the movies? The noble savage I’m trying to paint, our evolved man in his usual environment, hunter gatherer groups in proximity with other such groups, is a bitter, beaten, low self image, developmentally arrested, violent crime looking for a place to happen brain squirming like a toad time bomb with complexes, and you don’t want to be the first modern human he sees, most days. (And you don’t want to mess with us, either, the True North, Strong like that, and Free to fuck you up, LOL.)

Parasites are a biological reality, and mental illness is a fact of life, is what I’m saying. I hope we find a way to fix some of it, but really, we should stop creating it all day long first, if that’s what we want. I’m not saying every grump is trying to make a soldier or a cage-fighter out of their kid; I’m saying when you punish people, this is the evolved function you are engaging, the consequences you bring to the job hurt, they’re supposed to hurt, that’s the theory – and hurt creates this sort of twitching, seething “strength” that we’re talking about: problems, mental illness.

If anybody needed this clarification, I’d like to know that.

Jeff

April 7th., 2018

The Oedipal Fantasy: Staying Alive

It’s not sex, it’s violence.

Your genes, your ‘primal urges,’ your nature – don’t mean a damned thing when you’re dead. I’m sorry, but whoever told you sex was the foundational thing, the driver of all things, they were morons. Yes, Freud, Dawkins, and the biologists, they share this stupidity with the religious fundamentalists, the idea that sex and reproduction are the most important things, like sexual things are the most important sins. Sunday school survivors, probably. Cultural Christians, or cultural some kind of religious.

We don’t kill to propagate our genes, we don’t have these incredibly annoying Nazi blooms with their apparently increasing virulence because we’re all too damned sexy, it’s our efforts for security that cause this, violence is a response to violence, not some fractal outpouring of sex drives. Sometimes a bludgeon is just a club, and despite all the fascinating magic of genetics and despite our semi-religious upbringings, the club is often simply more powerful in its most basic sense than in any symbolic one, or lovers would rule the world and not violent hammerheads instead.

It’s sort of too big to talk about, an open secret that can’t be helped, and that to be always going on about it is just rubbing salt in a wound that can’t be healed, so we don’t like to talk about it – I mean we do, a lot of the time, talk about violence – but any time we do spend talking about anything else, the threat doesn’t go away. Violence, death, these things must be avoided first, that’s what ‘foundational’ means, especially for a species that has a decade or more during which it may die before it can reproduce. During this precarious period, your combination of genes can be destroyed, and then all the forces of life and evolution in your line can fail, if we fail in our personal security, which for us is a part of group security. The failure of an individual isn’t the end for a gene as often as the demise of a group is, so sure – gene security is group security. I imagine it was Dawkins, among others who suggested that gene survival is a higher design priority than individual survival, I haven’t yet gleaned who may be talking about groups as gene pools or suggesting this, that the survival of a gene may be less loosely tied to the survival of an individual than to a group of them, but it seems reasonable and sounds decades old, in line with a lot of other stuff.

Maybe that’s the two prongs I’m looking for: gene propagation, but also gene security, expansion but also contraction, feast but also famine. Meaning, of course, reproducing but also not getting wiped out, protecting our asses.

It’s a protected area of thought. If we are surviving, we don’t question our survival strategies. Of course, humans and all primates, most mammals are curious, inquisitive creatures that don’t respect boundaries, so protecting areas of thought is an active process, something like not thinking of the word “banana.” It’s a self deception, and it isn’t free, but since we have walled it off, it’s hard for us to count the costs.

Whatever the costs however, as a species, the same as for an individual victim of violence or abuse, your survival strategy hardens; you don’t look so closely at the thing that kept you alive, and you don’t take it apart to see how it works, because there may be another attack at any time. Of course, that’s exactly what I want to do.

What I am proposing is not an integration – yet – of these drivers, sex and violence. Where I am going with this, what I would establish is simply a second line of inquiry, with violence as the driver, with our security as the prime motivator of our behaviours directly, before we ever start to worry about reproducing ourselves. Sex is a distraction to this conversation. I think the violence we trade in all through our lives, beginning long before sexual maturity, is causative of much of our behaviour. A simple thing to remember as a backdrop to all this sort of knowledge is that our most formative time is something like a decade before our breeding time, and that every year we are less teachable than the year before. Sex, reproduction, the new First Cause, is almost an afterthought in a human life in real time, despite the way we’ve been thinking about it.

It’s a misdirection, a major component of the protection around our unconscious behaviours. We would notice a large, empty spot in our awareness if we didn’t explain it to ourselves somehow, and security works best in layers. Meaning, if we are going to manage not to see the prevalence and function of violence and abuse in our lives, we need theories within theories, feints within feints. Somebody, some number of these clever devil-apes are going to see through the first level or two of bullshit.

If we’re alive, if we have a minute to think about sex, then we have looked after the security aspect for the time being, and our attention can afford to go to sexual matters, human conflicts, attempts to make sure your kids are yours, and those concerns require their own complexity, competing memes and useful fictions – I’ve been saying ‘mimic memes,’ but I’ve been hearing ‘useful fiction’ from some science types – which would seem to be protecting some basic truth, so we think some basic sexual truth must be the end, the final answer or the First Cause. Alas, no, that underlying mimic meme is my opening, only an injunction to that effect – sex is the end! Go no further! Freud is the guy Dylan was talking about in Positively 4th. Street: the one who tries to hide what he don’t know to begin with. You’ve got a big, hostile world to deal with before you worry about mating with your mother; there’s still that little matter of your father, for starters. Were the two things supposed to be connected?

Hmm. Maybe it was us, not Sigmund. Can someone weigh in? Did he write as much about killing Dad as about fucking Mom and it’s all his interpreters since, or just my high school psych teacher between him and I that were the sex-obsessed ones? Doesn’t matter, the point is how people generally think, not just one person.

Lay literature never questions punishments, rewards, or deterrents, never seems to wonder what those things are. They are tools, a sort of selective pressure in evolution talk, they are a force for us to use in whatever direction we please – but this is only half of the story. Unwanted consequences have their own consequences, pain and abuse have their own consequences, and not only when administered at illegal doses, either. And it all goes to one direction.

Those consequences, those are not an unfortunate accident, and not some aberration to “normal” human development, they pretty much are human development, in the sense of development that is specific to us. I have been pondering this puzzle for a long, long time and it’s only very recently that I’ve seen more than the empirical evidence for the developmental power of abuse, but also the self-driving function it has, the dynamic explanation. It’s not always true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but it’s more often true that what doesn’t kill you makes you wish you were stronger. That is the function of abuse. If you didn’t like to fight before, maybe now you do.

It sets you on a path, giving you more than an effect for a stimulus, but a direction for life: be tougher. It becomes a principle to invoke when in doubt, when making decisions, a bias that simplifies every choice, and choices in the other direction are relatively rare and often dangerous. When too much love and kindness are said to spoil a child, it is this process of acquired toughness that has been spoiled, derailed. Word (and data) is getting around these days, it turns out we have some of these coddled children about and despite dodging this process, they still learn to read and use the toilet, so learning is not the vector that gets altered: you’ve spoiled their potential for toughness, meaning as soldiers, I think is the point, behaviourally.

Sorry, not you, well, maybe some few of you – but I meant me. I did that, or I sincerely tried to, because I can’t get past this insight, this feeling, I just can’t get around it and it seems clear I’m the only one who can’t – “good” strength and “bad” violence is the same thing, one and the same. Not Yin and Yang, not two sides of a coin, not some balancing act – both the same, both the same side of the same coin. Your skeezy, sociopath rapist and the strong, upright fellow who saves you from him, I’m sorry, fighting is fighting, and violence is violence, both those fellows are utilizing the same bunch of violent genes and processes – my apologies for the cold, brutal presentation of a few scientific ideas. I’m sorry and afraid to say, but there is truth in this: swap those guys around, move them into one another’s social groups, perhaps different phases in their lives . . . I know, I’m sorry, but again, same genes, same evolution, same processes. I can’t even say it, apparently.

Those guys are interchangeable.

Ouch. You know, just because I see no other path for myself doesn’t make this one easy; it doesn’t make saying that easy. It means I’m one of them, for starters, but perhaps there is hope in the idea that half of the guys out there are “good” guys for regular people, but I’m sorry again, not for this guy. What has taken my hope is listening to people all day long decry crime and violence in “others” while selecting our own for those very traits, sexually and every other way. The world is a scary, violent place, so we vote for hawks and psychopaths to protect us and so the world is a scary, violent place.

This is the world while the religious obsess about virginity and minority sexualities, about their individual genes (which, hardly any such thing in the first place) and where the infantile fantasy of patricide is seen to be a driving myth while the very real problem of the infanticide that spawned it is, what? Like I’m suggesting, our violence is an open secret, either ignored or accepted as just too big to be talking about all day. The Oedipal fantasy is about security. The urge to kill the father is not our innate aggression, it is our innate insecurity. The patricide – clearly, that is our second thought, our proposed solution to our infant selves to the bigger, universal problem of personal security. This is where there is something to learn, and I suggest there is nothing sexual about that entire dynamic.

Our basic life’s concerns are staying alive.

THAT is what is driving us, that is the organizing principle in our lives and our society’s. We have a lot of very high level stuff going on, but I think we make a point of not quite understanding the most basic stuff, I think there is a whole world of causation in the security and violence issues that are fundamental to us all, and the most important stuff isn’t anything about the difference between men and women, black and white people, sexualities, any of the things that make us diverse. We have all agreed to “be strong,” and I know it sounds good, but it’s not. It’s violence.

 

Jeff

March 23rd., 2018

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

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

 

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

Favourites – mine, I mean:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

            Addiction-adjacent:

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Parenting:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

            Philosophy:

 

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

 

 

 

Personal:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

            Miscellaneous:

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

            Religion:

 

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

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

Knowledge of Good and Evil

            A Question for Bible Scholars

            and

            An Answer for Everyone

 

Someone who knows the ancient Hebrew, the ancient Greek, someone help me. Is this a possible matter of interpretation or translation? I refer you to the very second Book, Genesis Two, and

“. . . the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . .” and “. . . the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

My train of thought has brought me to a mindset where a very small tweak to that bit of scripture might have tremendous explanatory power. What if – and yes, only a “just so” story without some support from ancient language experts – but what if the original idea was more like “. . . the technology of good and evil . . .” – like the knowledge of how to work with good and evil?

I’ve said it elsewhere recently, I know.

I also said this was the original sin, gaining this knowledge – or perhaps rather, developing this technology – and if it’s a technology, is it a sin to turn evil to good? It makes more sense to me that our first sin was the other technology, that we learned to turn good to evil, to turn sweet little babies into soldiers, creating warrior sorts of human groups like the ones who wrote those early Hebrew scriptures. Hmmm. Perfect segue, rare for me.

The technology in question is child abuse, and the data is in: rough treatment in childhood makes for rough adults. This is available knowledge today, out there, poised for the hundredth monkey to pick it up, and all before I made a penny off it of course, but here it is again, for free: childhood is rough in the warrior societies, that is an equation: rough childhood = warrior society. “Warrior society,” though, just what is that, really?

Google the term, you’ll see references to American aboriginal tribes, maybe the Samurai culture, maybe you’ll wind up in Klingon space.

What you won’t perhaps see is any reference to white people, to our own WEIRD selves. Apparently, the peaceful societies of England, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Genoa, Venice, etc., mowed down every “warrior culture” on the planet without being warriors themselves. Amazing, isn’t it? Those warriors didn’t know how to fight! It’s a good thing our Christian “religious society” came along to teach them, huh? I guess if I can scream it with sarcasm, I can also just say it.

“Warrior society” is a racist term.

It’s one of those things “they” (people outside of our group or in another group) have and “we” (people in our own social group) don’t. “They” are a warrior society, “we” just desire security. They are a warrior society – one dimensional, all they do if fight – while we “stand to defend” all that is right and proper, all that other stuff that is what we like to say we’re really all about.

If the world has “warrior societies,” then we all are, or those of us who are not are feeding the crops of those who are, game theory one-oh-one, right? They all are, they all must be. Otherwise what’s the narrative – “we used to have all these warrior societies, but we killed them all and now we’re all peaceful?” If you eat predators, you’re a super-predator; if you kill warriors, you are a super-warrior.

You got a border, you got an army? Then “you’re a gangster now, and there are no late starters” – Carlito’s Way. Particularly if you win the wars, you are a warrior society, again – this is real life, not some evolutionary amateur hour. I’m sorry – “you,” I said? I’m sorry, it’s “we, we, us – white people, Europeans.” We are a warrior society, in fact, human societies are warrior societies. And this is why we know in our bones that children must “be taught right from wrong” – because of that lowlife warrior society next door, that we have to keep kicking their asses forever, because the fools never learn. Damnit. I wish I could say “irony” without ruining it, but, well . . . there it is. (“Ian Malcolm,” Jurassic Park.)

It’s not about smarts so much either, aggression is not intelligence and violence is not intelligence. It’s not about smarts, because if you can slaughter an entire continent of warrior societies and still tell yourself you’re a peacemaker, or an “information society,” or some crap, then you’re a great bunch of warriors, but let’s face it.

You’re not too fucking bright.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2017

HBD – Reframing the Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That brings me to the mimic meme.

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

That was the Twitter version.

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

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

 

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

The arc of the human social universe bends towards conflict.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

War culture.

 

Jeff

July 14th., 2017

Biology Buries the Lead

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

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jeff

July 3rd., 2017

Rational Man VS the Warrior Society

I bought in completely, swallowed the whole story of Man’s rational world, of the long progress of mankind, maybe even with the idea that we were leaving our animal selves behind us.

 

Circumstances being what they were and what they are, I didn’t really see through it until just these last few years, in my mid-fifties, and the process by which I did cost me wife and daughters, and my house – and just to make it a clean sweep I’m throwing my job on the fire too – so, with nothing left to lose, I’m doubling down. This rationality thing isn’t really catching on, but that is the world I require to be happy, so I am going to spend the remaining days of my throwaway life trying to create it. Maybe if I get a glimpse, I can have a little happiness – there’s plenty a slip ‘twixt a cup and a lip, right? I may have been killed, but I ain’t dead yet.

 

It’s not a social pursuit, and it’s not good for you, but you know, I’m already done for. With my dying dream, I’m going to try to market my asocial condition, use this disinterested perspective to describe humanity from a more omniscient place. Here’s the not so cheerful upshot: not that I think we are anything specific at any given moment, but because that’s the way we talk: we are that war machine, the ape that rules the world by violence. Insofar as we aspire to inhabit the rational, civilized world we like to talk about, human societies are warrior societies, and that is by far the best way to understand our behaviour (a sure to be controversial example – https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true ).

 

A shorter version of the same idea came to me on Twitter this morning. I spend a lot of time with Christian original sin. I even bought and read the book of the same name, by one Alan Jacobs. I don’t think the canonized version is why, but it seems like a good way to refer to what maybe in another context is our nurture assumption: some reason why we all think we owe our kids the consequences, the discipline. What I hadn’t considered until today’s lesson was which exact sin was supposed be the one we’re all born with, and sure enough, it’s sex, the sex that spawned us: we are all sinners because we are all conceived in sin – conception is a sin, sex is a sin. * This is the attitude professed to me, I think, by an American Christian, so a citizen of a globe-spanning military empire: sex is the number one sin, the first. This is how a warrior-citizen feels, in a world of war and violence. Makes sense, right? I mean, sure, it’s a world of sex and breeding too – but if sex is your number one sin, your society is not a sex cult, is it?

 

In the very same way, Freud also erred hugely, by the Dark Matter ratio of one in ten, by his focus on sexual matters, by imagining the very basis of our biological life to be the problem and declaring our warrior life to be an extension of it. His vision mirrors genetics, relationship and conflict theory, sure, but it’s all within the visible ten percent. He knew about the Dark Matter, but the meme still worked on him, the behaviour’s protection remained in place: he too thought the sex was the Dark stuff. He too spoke about our nasty natures and didn’t see how the true human nastiness is in that our nature is not nasty enough for our needs and we have found a way to change it. Freud had a scientific mind to some degree, and so, as biology does today, viewed humanity as passive, as subject to drives and circumstances and not so much as a self-actualized creature. It’s the scientific version of the idea that we are all born sinners, the legacy of the brute we were, the unconscious beast within, but still with the warrior society bias: the ‘beast’ within us wants to destroy the world with rampant and ofttimes incestuous sex! It’s an afterthought that sometimes a club is just a bludgeon.

 

In a very real and military way, Ignorance really is Strength, and Yellowbeard was right, you really “can’t get any killin’ done if you go around thinking all the time.” This is another way to state game theory, perhaps, but the reasons we are the war ape, this ‘deep roots of war’ creature, the things we do as such, these are things we all do, things humans do. We do not live in the state of war so much of the time because of the way some humans are or the way some people behave. War is the logical outcome of what most, if not all humans are, of what most, if not all people do. I’m not happy about it, I’m not trying to sell us the “fact” of the ‘deep roots of war’ to minimize it and promote war, as I so often assume of other authors myself when I read the phrase: I’m exposing that version of us as something it is in our power to change, mostly because we have created it ourselves in the first place. The point there was that it’s things we all do, in fact most of what we all do. For illustration, try doing things that might hurt the war effort, see what happens. Get on Facebook, tell the world that you refuse to beat your children and watch your comments. Suggest we stop giving terrorists things to avenge and watch the comments. ** Sorry to tell you.

 

If the warrior society notices you pulling in the wrong direction, you are in some kind of trouble, be it “only social” or literally anything else. This includes not bringing the discipline to your kids, it includes fighting bigotry and it includes eschewing religion. Some largish portion of your society is not going to like it, and upon analysis, it will come back to security, to the warrior society. This is utterly pervasive, we all need to understand this, or we will always be doing it, always subject to the whims of warlords and never understanding why the bad guys always win.

 

OK, that sounded like an introduction to my usual rap, the stock ending of one of my usual beginnings, but that’s not it. This beginning is just getting started.

 

I am alone, which as every scientist, doctor and Facebook user will tell you isn’t good for you. I’m at risk. I’ve got a few good friends and two sisters, but they’re all in other places, other towns. Basically, I don’t fit in. I had a family, a wife and two daughters and I wanted to raise them differently, so I sort of checked out of the “normal” world of parents and my family were sort of my only friends . . . I had all my social eggs in one basket, guess what happened – wait, beginnings. The first thing that happened, I guess, was that I found myself in a role I could no longer play: quiet, compliant, never complaining, never angry husband and father. Next, I had a drug reaction, a manic and then depressive breakdown from a new biologic medication I tried for my psoriasis. Sad and compromising to say, but I have seen something about humanity, something I wasn’t maybe supposed to see, I’ve seen the man behind the curtain and I can’t ever be the same.

 

It’s part and parcel of my increased asociality: “social” things for me have gone from being some combination of pleasant, uncomfortable and largely irrelevant to being the problem in the world. We need social connections – I need social connections – but I now see us as a warrior society that will not see itself and I am faced with a choice, my social connections or my morals. I don’t know how to un-see it, or more to the point, I have no path to wanting to un-see it. I can’t help but dramatize my struggle: find some social connections, strengthen the ones I still have, try to join the social world that gives what comfort it can to folks in the in-group – or follow my truth. Again, I’ve already lost pretty much everything to my truth, so I’m going with that – with, of course, the hope that someone out there will still want some connection with me as I follow my own path. Having said that, my own path is at very real odds with the interests of the in-group: I don’t expect to find my social connections among social people, in fact those are hurting me more than helping me these days. I want to connect with asocials like myself.

 

“Asocial” is not only a Nazi term, but I’m afraid I hear that in it myself. I think I first saw it in “Fatherland,” the novel by Robert Harris, spoken by a Nazi indoctrinated character, so that is one of my main associations with the word – but we can’t start deleting words and their concepts just because some swine used it to bad ends, can we? The Nazi connection I will leverage here also: being an “asocial” was a crime in that novel, and now I think that Nazism is hugely “social:” we’re all pulling in the same direction, right? Nazism is fascism and no kind of “socialism” in the cooperative sense, meaning conformity may be an aspect of the goal, but in Nazism it’s forced upon the people, in a top-down authoritarian way, with the inequality built in, integral to authority. Socialism, in it’s dream form, is a community of asocials, all working together from a more self-motivated stance. Perhaps all political ideologies’ labels are necessarily backwards. More likely it’s me that has flipped: it just all looks backwards to me now. But “social” and “smart” appear to be opposites.

 

When we’re fighting City Hall, we all like to say that “a committee is a creature with six or more legs and no brain,” but everything is contextual: four extra legs makes brains disappear, but thousands or millions of extra legs doesn’t? I mean, three people have no brain but the entire society is supposed to be smart?

 

What about this? What about Rich Harris’ children’s group? Are we smarter as a society than a fifth grader?

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/04/28/its-a-childs-world/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true&calypso_token=fd42246c-6bc8-41bc-bdce-58b483f0f9f0

 

Sorry, friends and family, you have plenty of social support, I have nothing for you on that personal level, I don’t agree with you about anything . . . I mean if I manage to rise above our differences and love you despite our differences, despite living on opposite sides of the curtain, or you do and find a way to love me, that is still only in the realm of rational things and the social benefits aren’t forthcoming anyways. I’m still sorry, because the good folks are, but I’ve gotten a do-over and I work for humanity now; our social priorities, our biological needs are the problem, not the answer. Follow me to this empty, unsatisfying world of rational things or have a nice life. On a very personal level, I feel this is exactly where my family and I have parted, they’re social. I mean, my girls are young adults, one still technically a teen – talk about pressure, of course they have to try to conform. I’m ready to admit that trying to make a huge change with them wasn’t fair to them, but I didn’t have as much choice as you might imagine. Once I began to look at punishing, once I started to see it as optional, I couldn’t un-see it, so there was no passive choice for me, it was “beat them or don’t” for me, I’d lost the ability to be unconscious about it. I don’t think of all the people out there who have wound up “spanking” their kids, anybody made a conscious decision to “beat” them, the choice is never presented nakedly like that, but for reasons of my mutation or something, it was for me. I have regrets, but it doesn’t mean I could make the opposite choice if I had it to do again.

 

How many readers, I wonder, saw the messiah complex before the “follow me” bit? No matter – that really is it, I’m not trying to hide it. When I can manage to turn this antisocialization theory business into a readable book, then the idea is to create a new paradigm that takes over the world, that’s a messianic dream. And the religious parallels don’t end there, either, because ‘a new paradigm’ isn’t exactly right, although it’s something like equal and opposite. I want to reveal a current paradigm – that’s revelation, in religious terms or discovery in scientific ones, I suppose –  but I’m not sure what the replacement will be. The existing paradigm to which I refer is a bad habit: if we try to stop, and stop a little, every time we don’t engage in it, that’s good for us. What we will do with the time we are accustomed to spending at it, I don’t know, but we can make healthier choices.

 

Carrying on with the Dark Matter analogy, if we measure social modes – prosocial, antisocial – against society, then we can clarify many confusing ‘social issues’ by considering human ‘society’ as ninety percent ‘warrior society.’ With this find/replace function, we can say that it is prosocial to support the troops (pro-warrior-social to socially support our society’s warriors) or say that it is antisocial to be an active member of a small minority that protests the war the troops are engaged in (anti-warrior-social, denying support to our society’s warriors). It seems that the size of our moral inclusion circles can be viewed as our definition of ‘society’ when we ponder moral issues. If ‘society’ means our nation, our culture, then anti-war is antisocial, against everyone in ‘society.’ If ‘society’ means something closer to humankind, then it is the warriors who are positioned against it, the warriors and their supporters who are antisocial – and my own moral circle has certainly grown beyond my borders, because ‘supporting the troops’ is clearly and obviously antisocial to me, war is antisocial, that is a no-brainer, self evident, and there is surely some Latin way to say it as well, that the conclusion is included in the premise or some crap, when the association is in the definition of the word.

 

It’s not open for discussion, though. Warrior society, I mean.

 

I want it to be, and this is step one, certainly not the first time or one of the first thousand times, but it’s not a debatable topic, not yet. It’s what I am calling in my ignorance, believing I must coin the term myself, a protected behaviour. We don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know how it works, so we’re in no danger of stopping it. I’ve been writing my evolution on this topic (I can’t think unless I’m talking) and I’ve coined another one, the consequences ‘mimic meme’ to describe the two-sided aspect of our child-rearing behaviour, the discipline.

 

Carrying on further with this Dark Matter analogy, the consequences meme being the visible ten percent of the social practice of child-rearing, has us regrettably employing punishments to teach our children how to treat people right, how to be a normal member of the society. This is our conscious effort at understanding this behaviour, and all the parenting discussions I’ve ever been involved in happen in this arena. The Dark Matter part, the ninety percent of this behaviour that is protected – this is where we do not so regrettably abuse our children to ensure that they treat those other people “right.”  I’ve spent pages on the mimic meme elsewhere, suffice it to say here that we all too often wind up “spanking” to conclude what started as a “moral” lesson, and we hope that our intended lesson is what the child remembers, and we hope that the unintended violence will be forgotten. This is the power of the meme, of the protection in place, that we hope this against all the evidence.

 

It looks like it works; the child is ‘socialized,’ warrior-socialized. If we can be at war perpetually and still tell ourselves we are a peaceful society, well then if our children can too, then we have socialized them as ourselves, just as we hoped – except, mimic meme, protected behaviour, we forgot what it was we hoped for. What we hope for, warrior society, is that we be strong and fierce and that our enemies fear us. What I’m getting at is, that is exactly the sort of man that starts a war if he’s powerful or winds up in prison or at least in anger management counselling if he’s not. We spend ninety percent of our time and energy creating soldiers and jailing the ones that we don’t send into an official war.

 

This is a chestnut, but it’s one of those problems we will never solve if we can’t even see it. We need to be strong, I mean unless every society on Earth makes a move towards pacifism all at once, but if we’re ever going to solve things for the folks at home, the ones not on the battlefield, we need to understand that we have set them up for their “antisocial” diagnosis.

 

Hey – you know the way we’re stuck in our aboriginal mindset, smallish troops, 100, 160 members tops and the rest are the out-group and how that affects us today in bigger ways, apparently driving us to war? Well, it’s never occurred to me before to wonder whether the actual wars we drive ourselves to never “work out” for the same reason, that the wars themselves are maladapted behaviours that only ever worked out in our aboriginal situation. Like we go to war thinking, “yeah, we’ll kill those guys, and live on their land, happily ever after,” or “we’ll kill those guys and there won’t be that threat on our border anymore,” and maybe that was actually a possible result back in that day. Maybe genocide was a doable thing at that smaller scale and today we foolishly go to war thinking we’ve got to kill a village and we’re done! One thing to say we have that tendency, and one more to suggest somebody knows it and sells their wars that way, as simple, straightforward, and doable, of but of course that’s the worry. Someone with a better grasp of human nature than we ourselves have is sure to be a director of, rather than only a player in this little production called human life.

 

Personally, I’m tired of listening to people fumbling about, trying to understand why the violence, to a few good-hearted folks trying to fix it, paddling against the current of everyone else putting their weight into the warrior society. Personally, I would peel the protection off this thing, we own it after all, I would have us all understand the warrior social nature of the human being and how it works and let’s all decide, is this really where we want to be, playing out this ‘sins of the father’ crap for the rest of eternity. I want to know that the United Nation Rights of the Child Committee understands all of this, they should probably be the organization that might oversee that we all learn this about ourselves. The point there being – the generals already know it, it’s the good folks that don’t. We’re grownups – I mean, not as a group, but one at a time we are – and we can handle this knowledge, this knowledge, which, by the way, is probably the knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil that got us tossed out of the garden in the first place. That’s my pet version, it’s not just ‘the knowledge of,’ it means ‘the technology of’ good and evil, meaning, how to make the stuff, or how to make one of them from the other, an alchemical recipe. Here’s the kicker, though. It’s not the original sin because it’s knowing how to convert evil to good, how is that a sin? Isn’t that religion’s mission statement, double literally?

 

No, it’s this. It’s how to convert a live and let live sort of ape into the ‘deep roots of war’ ape that we at least think we need to be.

 

Wow, full circle, solved the entire mystery. It’s a grand unifying theory, and not only does it reconcile social and biological science, but even Genesis! And we were alive when this singularity came together, you and I, this Canada Day weekend, year of our Lord, two thousand and seventeen! Hmmm . . .

. . . maybe a little grandiose, maybe a little manic. I’d better medicate, I mean celebrate.

 

 

Jeff

July 1st., 2017

Happy Thank God, We’re Not Quite America Day.

 

abusewithanexcuse.com

 

* There is a kernel of generic, or biological truth in this, perhaps where the flavour of universal truth comes from. To live is to eat, and we can’t eat inorganic things, life lives by consuming life, mostly, and so to live is to harm, our selfish genes and bellies grinding on, preferring our own lives continue than others’ lives, whom we would advise to keep their gloves up and protect themselves at all times. This is the biological core of original sin, the self-evident part; the rest is a value judgment – not a small thing either though, and an important clue.

 

** I’m referring to actual comments from human beings who may or may not know they are supporting the warrior society’s values, although the disingenuous comments from the trolling section are probably an even more rabid and bloodthirsty version of the same. I think it’s safe to say, the current trolling attacks on America aren’t aiming for peace and understanding.

Dark Social Matter

This will be a sort of a spitballing session. I’m just working through this false social meme thing still. So, Dark social matter.

It’s ninety percent of the social matter in the human universe, the invisible majority of what is going on in our lives, and the reason our equations don’t add up.

Knowing I’m holding back some clarity on this point, I will say that statutory abuse, the abuse we mostly all agree is abuse, meaning abuse over a legal line, is only ten percent of all abuse. The rest is either abuse we don’t see or abuse we don’t mind, like parental or criminal punishments, or wars we condone. This is the dark abuse that we are socialized to, this is the stuff of our antisocialization.

To draw a line between the two, this is not science, and this is the failure of social science, to imagine that only those with documented statutory abuse have been abused and that this premise has any basis. For a science, negative experience must be the measure, not some socially determined list of experiences that are accepted as such. If a stimulus is ubiquitous, then it matters, ubiquitously, we don’t simply reset our base! This sort of relativism is self-imposed, a self-fulfilling meme. If everyone is abused, everyone is abused, it shouldn’t matter to an actual science that we like it this way, it’s a fact, dislike it or not. Every human is ninety-seven percent water; we don’t ignore water in our science.

What I want to do here is a list of examples, how this blindness to dark social matter causes so many of our biggest misunderstandings, how it makes things seem impossible to understand at all. I’ll mine my Twitter feed:

 

maura quint‏Verified account @behindyourback  39m39 minutes ago

More

love to live in a world where men complain female ghostbusters ruined their childhood memories but finding out Cosby’s a rapist didn’t

 

Rape, like all abuse is antisocializing, meaning it produces bad feelings and generally feeds the antisocial forces in society, gearing us all for war. As long as our society feels a threat and is geared for war, abuse generally and rape in particular aren’t going anywhere.

 

John Harwood‏Verified account @JohnJHarwood  1h1 hour ago

More

Cosby mistrial

Cop who shot Castile walks

young woman convicted for boyfriend’s suicide

 

Rape, as above.

Police killing of unarmed blacks being apparently legal shows the prioritization of antisocializing (terrorizing) the citizenry over the appearance of fairness or justice. This follows the basic ratio of dark matter generally: we get ten percent apology (words) and ninety percent intimidation, who kills who. That they never prosecute a cop shows that good will is meaningless against the dark reality. This scenario terrorizes, angers, and drives people mad, exactly what is desired for a wartime population.

Antisocialization Theory has it that if we are a straight-up warrior society, this young woman has strengthened the tribe by taking out a weak link – but women winning these fights, women being in control, perhaps that is more dangerous to the war effort in the long run. I don’t feel that overly, though, I admit. Maybe this scenario runs counter to the general trend, she did what warrior society boys do maybe, but because she’s a woman she just doesn’t get a pass from the law.

 

Vice President PenceVerified account @VP

Follow

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It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to @POTUS Donald Trump – a man devoted to American ideals.

 

  🌈ProvaxShill 🗽 ✌🏾‏ @ProvaxShill  24h24 hours ago

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Replying to @VP @POTUS

You’re the VP for the people, not the POTUS. This servile obsequiousness to the president is a mockery of the Constitution.

 

Here’s an example of people not simply not understanding antisocialization or abuse, but power generally. When a man prostrates himself like this in public, suffers this sort of humiliation, it is not indicative of his free will, and for us to spend our energy criticizing the victim in this bullying incident shows a deep misread of things. This goes a step bigger still: this is how we talk about corrupt politicians generally, as though corruption is rare and voluntary. * This is victim shaming – a staple of antisocialization, of warrior societies. Have we ever broken it down, analyzed it? Or is it another false meme? Here’s what is perhaps this meme:

“Bad powerful people use their money to influence the world and our lawmakers, and some politicians are corrupt, just in it for the money.”

What is missing: bad, powerful people have always engaged in war and conflict. They do not simply offer money, they also make threats, irresistible threats. What does the meme suggest – that if no politico takes the money, they just shrug their shoulders and wait for the next election, maybe we’ll get a scumbag next time? I simply feel that this is not a thing we could misunderstand about politics unless we misunderstand power generally. The salient point is that victim blaming is extremely stressful and antisocializing.

 

Hmmm.

Maybe that’s enough for this Saturday morning. I imagine I’ll be appending this, as my Twitter feed demands.

 

Cheers,

Jeff

June 17th., 2017

 

* This is the signature of dark social matter at the macro level: corruption is rare, paedophilia is rare, physical abuse is rare, suicide is rare. Of course, in reality, societies that are free of corruption, and families that are free of serious abuse and suicide, these things are in the minority.

Critique of “Do Parents Really Matter”

Here’s Brian’s article.

https://life.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/take-two-babies/

 

And here’s my response, Q & A style:

 

Do parents really matter?

Everything we thought we knew about how personality is formed is wrong

CULTURE

Brian Boutwell

14 Jun 2017

Jeff in blue, in italics.

Here’s an experiment. I wanted to read this article through, and maybe critique it if it really was something in my crosshairs, but I had that first answer below immediately, so then it occurred that that was the way to tackle it, point by point, logical step by step, in real time, during my first read, see where Brian takes me.

Brian in black, in Georgia.

Parenting does not have a large impact on how children turn out.

I’m sorry, I’m gonna stop you right there. How is that possibly true when some parents have killed their children, beaten them to death? Is “bad stuff” exempt from your science? May I guess? The dead ones are deemed not to have turned out at all and therefore don’t meet study criteria?

An incendiary claim, to be sure, but if you can bear with me until the close of this article I think I might be able to persuade you — or at the very least chip away at your certainty about parental influence.

 . . . this I imagine, for the right and lofty goal of convincing parents that their abuse doesn’t work anyway, that they can give it up? That is a takeaway worth trying to create. Kudos.

First, what if later today the phone were to ring and the voice at the other end informed you that you have an identical twin. You would have lived your entire life up to that point not realising that you had a clone. The bearer of this news says arrangements have been made to reunite you with your long-lost sibling. In something of a daze, you assent, realising as you hang up that you’ve just agreed to meet a perfect stranger.

 

There was a time when separating identical twins at birth, while infrequent, did happen thanks to the harsh nature of adoption systems. One of the people who helped reunite many of them was the great psychologist Thomas Bouchard. I first read about Professor Bouchard’s work, wonderfully described by the psychologist Nancy Segal, when I was a graduate student. I still think about it often. What would it be like to live a large chunk of my life not knowing that I had a twin, and then meet him as an adult? Would our conversations ever go beyond polite small talk about the weather, sport or current events?

 

I’m sure similar thoughts went through the minds of the people in Bouchard’s study, and yet person after person realised — happily, I suspect — that they had a lot in common with the image of themselves sitting across the table. Their characters were often remarkably in step, as were their intellects, their behaviours, even their hobbies and eccentricities. The similarities often ran deep, cutting to the bone of their beliefs and their morality.

 

Our intuition sometimes seems to testify against the work of Bouchard and his team.

There’s a world of dialogue available here: are we sure that voice is our intuition? Have brain scans shown the intuition lobe to light up when people fixate on the power of nurture? (I have a new idea about where that voice comes from, please ask.) And ‘against the work?’ You mean against the conclusions they’re hearing from the work, right?

The emphasis on nurture dictates that identical twins, reared apart and reunited later in life, should not be all that similar.

I’ve heard it that way many times, but “the emphasis” doesn’t require that we think nurture has the lion’s share of the power – only that we know that it’s the only power we have for influence, however small it is. IRL, once you have your children, the genetics of the matter have been settled, and nurture is all we have left. So, sure, we exaggerate our influence, but the “importance” of our ability to nurture is irrelevant. If we think we have a single percent of influence, we are obliged to attempt it. With that reality check, you sound a little like you’re suggesting we abdicate all responsibility for teaching our children: we already know how little power we have, we are using all our energy to leverage any small chance we have to influence – and you’re here telling us, no, don’t bother doing what we can, it’s not enough anyway . . . again, that’s what it can sound like if it’s not this: you can’t influence them, so stop beating them.

Because if I am beating my children, and you tell me what I do doesn’t matter, then I want to agree, don’t I? And guess what else? Ninety-five percent of Americans are. Corporal punishment hasn’t dried up and blown away, so one step more brutal: are you telling parents who “spank” that what they do doesn’t matter? This is your mission in life? I tell you, if you do not clarify this, you are tacitly supporting the existing system, corporal punishment. This is why I’ve felt obliged to fight you.

 

And yet they are. Contrastingly, adopted children who share no distinguishing DNA with one another but are raised together should be quite similar.

It bears repeating, if yours did, I guess: parents don’t think nurture is where the most power is, they only know that it’s the only little power they have. If the families of these separated twins raised the twins to be normal, reasonably happy people, they wouldn’t be hurt to know they turned out identical, they, like all parents would just be happy their kids didn’t wind up in prison or mental institutions.

 

Yet they are not, and this poses some problems for traditional ideas about how parents shape children.

Mostly for the authors of parenting books, I imagine.

It’s not just Bouchard’s work that suggests parents have less influence than we think. Decades of research into behavioural genetics — twin studies, family studies and the adoption and identical-twin stories I have already mentioned — all point in the same direction. The shared environment, the experiences that create similarities between siblings raised together — the part of the environment that most often captures parenting influences — are all secondary when it comes to personality, behaviour or intelligence. What’s more, my own work as a criminologist, and that of my colleagues, has revealed the same pattern of findings when applied to violence, antisocial behaviour and crime.

OK, up to this point I’ve kept my answers in the old world, within your conversation, to some degree, but to answer this, we may have to leave your world and enter mine. In my world, nurture has more power, but in my world, parenting is not a purely positive influence: beatings have power. Abuse is where the power of “nurturing” is, and where the evidence is that parenting damned well does matter. Unfortunately, as per your main point, parents all seem to think they have this power and the obligation to use it, so there is no control group for parental abuse. Who wasn’t punished, who wasn’t spanked, whose parents didn’t believe this?

A note regarding corporal punishment: it’s a dodge. If a child misbehaves and we decide to spank him, that’s corporal punishment, the pain is the penalty. If, however, a child misbehaves and we decide he must do the dishes for his error, and he refuses, and an argument ensues and a fight results to impose the dishes penalty, and the child gets hit (not for the original offense, but for this new insubordination, I guess), then that is technically not “corporal punishment” (at least of the first offense). I respectfully suggest to all concerned that the child’s biology doesn’t appreciate the difference.

The upshot here, is of course, is abuse not a part of “ . . . the shared environment, the experiences that create similarities between siblings raised together — the part of the environment that most often captures parenting influences”?

It is my contention that it is indeed abuse that proves the power of “nurturing,” and that this is the reason for our “nurture assumption,” because when we beat a child, especially regularly, we see changes. Again, for a perfectly normal, moral and intelligent person to say, “parenting doesn’t matter” can only mean that parenting is defined as abuse free, which – epic fail, I’m sorry. This mistake on the part of a century’s socialization researchers is a classic. We think it’s here, so we’re looking here. A century later, parental influence doesn’t exist because we didn’t find it here, the only place we ever looked. And biology, in the form of one Brian Boutwell among others, has apparently accepted this mistake.

No blame, there is a strong, perhaps species wide self deception in place. We made this difficult for ourselves on purpose: nurture/child abuse is a protected behaviour. We aren’t supposed to see it.

 

This apparent puzzle (which is something of a scientific heresy) becomes clearer if we accept that genetic factors play an important role in making us who we are. Yes, the environment matters, but not just the environment that the child experiences in the home. The environment in this sense is far more nebulous and hard to nail down — behavioural geneticists call it the ‘non-shared’ environment and it includes anything that causes two siblings to be different from each other.

It is indeed hard to nail down, and it’s a point that they certainly hadn’t nailed it down during the twin studies, where it seems the different homes were supposed to be different environments, but along no particular vector, in some unknown, “families are all different” way that really had no detail, it was a black boxing exercise.

 

And I really mean anything. The psychologist Steven Pinker puts it this way: ‘A cosmic ray mutates a stretch of DNA, a neurotransmitter zigs instead of zags, the growth cone of an axon goes left instead of right, and one identical twin’s brain might gel into a slightly different configuration from the other’s.’ In other words, we should not presume that random chance plays a vanishingly small role in making us the people that we are today.

 

Beyond the randomness of life, we already have a window on to what parts of culture children are swayed by. Both Pinker and the psychologist Judith Rich Harris remind us that the children of immigrants adopt and speak with the accent and language of their peers. The movies people watch, the music we listen to, and much else that we’d put under the general heading of ‘culture’ are deeply affected by our peers. What else would you expect, really? Wanting and needing to fit in is not just a passing phase of childhood. To some extent, it’s essential for living.

 

So ‘the environment’ does play a role in shaping who we are, but it’s not ‘the environment’ in merely the conventional sense of how your folks parent you and your siblings.

The children’s peer group changes nothing regarding abuse. Allowing the children to abuse one another counts as parental abuse and/or neglect. The children’s stress is not smaller because it’s the older kids who will beat him into conformity rather than the parents. In fact, gene theory says the children have less reason not to finish him off, whereas the parents may think about their genes.

 

All of this is indicative of something deeper — an aspect which is less arcane and more relevant to daily life. A great many pundits, advice givers, and professional psychologists have spent decades being wrong about why people turn out the way they do.

 . . . and I have found it. Not “why they turn out the way they do” in terms of small differences, the twins who shared flushing the toilet before and after, these sorts of traits, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found your “something deeper,” the real mystery that these problematically powerless questions are trying to get at. Again, a protected behaviour, so within its logic, we can’t pose the right questions to crack the code; I came to it the long way around, very much by accident. Turns out it’s analogous to dark matter, invisible (that “nurture” means beatings and that “good people” means warriors, this, the core of what I call Antisocialization Theory, is sort of invisible), but comprising ninety percent of the matter in the universe. Ninety percent of our abuse is non-statutory and so invisible, and ninety percent of our social lives are lived in both halves of the causal realm around it, we abuse, and we are hurt, abused creatures, nine times more than we are happy, healthy ones. This is the ratio R. D. Laing was pointing us to when he said that “the disaster has already happened.”

When we start to see how the dark matter of generic, non-statutory abuse distorts and bends what we can see, the visible light in the universe, when we factor all that dark matter in, we will see our calculations making ten times more sense.

 

A child is not a blank canvas.

No, but the child is what it is, the point is what we paint and how we attempt to paint it, despite whether there was already a picture there or not. Not being “a blank canvass” hasn’t saved any kids their beatings, has it? The religious don’t think Blank Slate, doesn’t stop them. Biologists don’t think Blank Slate – has it stopped you? (I know your complaint. Blank Slaters are indeed guilty of child abuse, being one didn’t save kids either, and some of the abuse was in trying to eradicate some built-in natural thing because of the BS idea, but this is one of the ways the conversation needs to change to deal with the negative reality of what “nurture” really has been.)

How many books have been written about the way people should and should not parent their children? How many approaches have been suggested by experts who are not really in a position to know? Yes, they may hold advanced degrees, but the truth is that the advice they offer tends to ignore the genetic influences that we now know to be at work. The studies that identify those influences often find that parenting — unless it is actually malign — has very little impact on how children turn out. The huge ‘parenting advice’ industry is largely bunkum.

OK, so there it is, the exemption, “ . . . unless it is actually (malicious) . . . “

So, you do get that, it’s maybe you’re just a positive guy, you assume that malignancy is rare or something. It is getting more so, and that is terrific (also per Pinker), but that is putting the aboriginal truth of this situation further out of view: rare now is not meaningful as to why it never has been rare before, not useful in understanding just what this behaviour really is that we’re hoping to escape.

 

What does this mean for you if you’re a parent wanting to know how to raise a happy, well-adjusted child? I generally loathe parenting advice columns, so that is not what is on offer here. I can sympathise with the idea that having a child brings with it a host of responsibilities that are exciting but also terrifying.

 

At this point, I would turn again to the psychologist Judith Rich Harris, who authored the definitive book on this subject. Harris writes: ‘We may not hold their tomorrows in our hands but we surely hold their todays, and we have the power to make their todays very miserable.’

 

Pinker, meanwhile, makes the point that it should be enough for us to remember that our children are human beings, worthy of the same ethical treatment we give to our friends, other relatives, and even to strangers. So protect your children, provide for them, be good to them, and make memories with them. Apart from that, don’t expect to have very much say in how they turn out.

Hey, that’s getting better, Brian! You gave ‘em the hint. I can’t help but wonder if you’ve been reading me, or if for some other reason you felt you needed to do more than the Rockwell version after the first one of these that I saw. Whatever, you’re trending in a direction I can approve of, well done.

As for parenting advice, I agree, but I think I have a solid reason now. Parents should keep in mind that discipline makes warriors and out of work warriors are what we call criminals.

Jeff

June 15th., 2017