About the Abusive Ape Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

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

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

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

I won’t hit you, though!

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

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

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

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

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

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

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People of Earth, Part 3, Liberals

So human society is warrior society, and you know it’s true because a toxic masculinity pervades everything and pretty much everyone worships some “strength” that is supposed to save us all from some vague harsh, unsentimental Nature which is really just more of us, because humans are the environment humans need to adapt to in order to survive. Conservatism is the political tendency to make your peace with that situation, the idea that struggle is life.

Capitalism, as stated by Adam Smith, is intended to go with the flow and harness man’s “natural greed” as a force to build and organize society; I am not inventing anything here. The two things, capitalism and conservatism are nearly interchangeable, at least where if you’re facing north, the Pacific Ocean is to your left and the Atlantic to your right. Much of my opining probably needs that caveat, but capitalism was coined and reinforced to be sort of automatic, to work for the way people are, by default, to add a modern term.

This is not an endorsement. I have written extensively about what people are by default, and this is not it.

I am not a conservative, and for the life of me I cannot understand why anything about harsh, unrelenting old Nature requires endorsement from anybody. Wait – I mean I cannot relate to it. The whole point of this series is that I can indeed understand it, and I hope to help others understand it too. My somewhat unique point of view has attributes of a good theory, in that it brings things previously not understood into our body of understanding.

Warrior society, and antisocialization, these concepts explain much.

This bias towards strength in all its forms, this attribute of humans, that we seem to feel we can never be tough enough, this bias must be why the IDW and the Four Horsemen and all the sixteen to twenty-five-year-old biology Tweetsters when they learn enough, when they glimpse something about the warrior society, they all seem to love the horror. It’s all about a fight? Then we must be stronger!

Even Buddhism does it, ‘if you are a soldier, be the best soldier you can be.’

I said I’m not a conservative; I am a liberal.

So, no.

We’ve tried stronger, we tried it all the way to destroying all life on this planet level “stronger,” and sure, you can argue things have gotten better in ways, as Pinker argues, but we all know the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ah! Good segues are so rare for me, I usually just bounce around, as Steven King said, like a drop of water on a hot griddle – I had a feeling about Pinker’s It’s Getting Better All the Time thesis, and it is one with today’s talk about us liberals.

There has surely been some progress over the last several centuries in the long run, I don’t purport to argue with his statistics. All I worry about regarding his book and the whole idea of progress generally is that any success we have had is always in jeopardy, because we don’t seem to know what causes it. I think he said “humanism,” or something to that effect, right? I’ll agree that far, but I think this humanism is a slippery thing, we haven’t really got a grip on it.

I want to define “liberal” as I did “conservative” yesterday, along a vector of the warrior society and this strength meme. I think folks may try to be “liberal,” but without a clear definition, we have too many versions. Liberal has to mean something like ecumenical – international. It has to exist in opposition to the war – even us libtards understand that one side of a war can’t just quit, so being anti-war is being international – because it is all things illiberal that feed the fight, and when we give that up, we have lost it all. Meaning, if you’re in a fight, you are all in and all kindnesses are suspended.

America is a global empire – so no-one gets coddled, not so much as healthcare. Canada, apparently in step with American interests more than ever, is on the precipice of both evil, capitalist foreign intervention in Venezuela – and, not coincidentally, of losing its healthcare to fascist trends.

Liberals have to stop being strong, because when we worship strength, all of our arguments work for the other guys, because strength is always their stance – in its worst forms. When the people are responding to the hawks’ memes of strength, a liberal should not be joining in, trying to also sound strong.

When the conservatives call us weak, we have to say, “yes, that is what is required, and that is what I am selling. Peace, care of the sick and elderly, all of that weak stuff that compromises the war machine, that is my platform, absolutely. No, I do not “love this country” exclusively, in the sense that I must hate all others; we exist in a larger world.” Peace is weak; peace through strength is the endless cycle of war and détente. You can’t have both, and as long as even liberals have to be “strong,” there can be neither peace nor liberalism. During the supposed Cold War, we were all minutes from either death or from wishing for it.

In warrior society, where everyone must love strength, all you have is hawks and “centrists,” fighters and onlookers.

Liberals need to resist the urge to conform, meaning, in concrete terms, we need to stop supporting the troops. They fooled us there; you can’t be “anti-war” if anyone can make you say, “but I support the warriors.” No, I do not “support the troops” – I don’t know if you noticed, but I looked into it – the troops are the ones doing the warring! What’s the point of protesting “the war” if you’re going to be OK with the “war” part of it?

So, no.

What is missing from the public conversation is what I said before, the conscious idea of the warrior society, and the awareness, missing in us liberals, of our antisocialization. I see the upshot of it has made it out there, among the Left, there is a consciousness that peace at the borders does not come when violence rules at home, but liberals, the blind majority of non-conservatives, are stuck. They want to offer healthcare alongside the “security” offered by strength, by the never-ending defensive war, and they don’t understand that the fear of death and illness are simply more bad things that make us want to be stronger and so reinforce the warrior society. They don’t understand that there is a conflict and that those invested in the endless war are invested in an antisocialized population and do not work to make anyone happy or more comfortable, like by keeping them safe from illness.

It’s really pathetic to see the good, blind folks on Twitter all day long asking, “Don’t they know that hurts people?”

They do. And they know that hurting people makes us “strong,” so it’s all they are interested in. You know who doesn’t know, who keeps asking dumb questions? You. So I’ll ask you: don’t you know? Don’t you know they are hurting people? I mean don’t you know, after forever, that it’s not an accident? You know, a sort of irony in all this is the bad guys sort of know it, like I said yesterday, conservatism is aligned with the warrior society, and the generals know that the abuse of boot camp and life at war only makes us fight harder, that truly, as Larsen said, shake the jar and we will fight. So again.

You know who doesn’t know it, you know which fools keep it all rolling because they really do seem to believe in some good “strength,” though? The nice guys, the liberals, the ladies.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 6th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/04/people-of-earth-part-2-conservatism/

People of Earth, Part 2 – Conservatism

Well, you haven’t exactly been quiet, but you haven’t been @ing me about it, so I’ll take it. If you recall last week’s episode, we were talking about what a tough, stubborn, psychotic hammerhead you are and that if you’re not, it’s all you dream of being anyway, like that’s everybody’s answer for everything and not the whole bloody problem. So this week we’re going to back up one step and go over your stupid head to the whole warrior society.

The fact that you all think this stuff, worship this toughness, that means this is what you are allowed to think, this is what everyone is allowed to think, and in fact it’s assumed: you don’t actually have to articulate it to yourselves, and that is a test for a core belief. With this unarticulated but assumed at your cores, all you have to do to access this meme, to leverage it, is nothing. Passive voice, vague insinuations will lead you to what you believe in your sick heart, and harmless rhetoric turns wordlessly to violence, to the fight. What can you do in the face of a world of threats, known and unknown, but hope to be stronger?

Warrior society is human society, because if one human group goes warrior, the rest go warrior or they’re gone. Many, many peoples are gone, and many not just yet, so qualify it thus if you must: viable human societies are warrior societies.

That is the same idea in different words: if you wish to be a viable human group, in this bunch of groups, you worship toughness and there are no late starters. This is a hard truth for the hawks and the Nazis of the world, the players in the game of theory, or theory of games – but it was only a hard truth in our aboriginal state of much smaller groups, wasn’t it? This is a group-level truth and it represents our limitations, the place where ideas of universality go to die. The warmongers who would convince us of this level of truth are simply making a living off of their insight and stalling human progress towards the global problem solving we need to be doing.

To make it political, I believe this arrangement is what conservatives are defined by conserving; the progressives will say it’s their own power and the conservatives will say it’s institutions and so civilization, but I believe the word is fluid and really references this unconscious or unstated reality of the warrior society. That this is the definition explains why there are two ways for a thing to be, conservative or radical and little room between the two, because fighting is something you either do or don’t do. You warrior or you don’t – and you do, so mostly conservatives rule, with or without free elections. When a socialist or an actual liberal politico says the ultimately vague “do something,” their supporters can insert all manner of compassionate programs – but it’s vague so as to also access what the conservatives mean when they say it.

When a conservative says, “do something,” though, you know you’re in warrior society. You know they are talking about hurting someone. Generally, this is what is meant by “rhetoric,” someone subtly and unindictably leading you to your own warrior instincts. Isn’t it about time someone did something about it?

How would you like it, Trump starts saying somebody needs to do something about you?

I keep bringing myself back to this, through some sort of grammatical algebra, I feel I’ve shown that every verb is a battle and every noun is an enemy: my opponent is never going to do anything! That’s enough, right? You get the picture, or at least the feeling?

So conservative is default, sort of, humans stuck in the very middle of time, fighting their eternal wars, nurturing their eternal genocidal dreams, as God made it, world without end . . . and as such it is self proving and perpetuating, and the fact that so many just  feel it in their bones is exactly the same as so many young men feeling it in their bones to join the army or the police or the skinheads and fight for something. I’m telling you, I know it feels right. I’m saying the fact that it feels right is so wrong, a terrible wrong foisted on all of us and you not least. Please, sixteen to twenty-five is a very volatile time, try to ride it out. Your feelings, those feelings are bad news, “natural” or not. So, conservatism is closer to the human default, the warrior society – humanity 1.0, the basic, proprietary package that comes with your hardware, with rudimentary, bare-bones versions of all the good apps. If it feels right, well, it sort of is what you were made for.

This way of looking at life explains why conservatives seem to be stingy regarding education for the masses, since their platform mirrors the human default mode of operation.

For the rest of us, those who maybe aren’t winning in warrior society, or those who are but remain unsatisfied, that’s just not good enough. We have seen some glimpse, somehow had the insight that things can and must be improved. Some of us would like a rest and to try not doing anything for a change, see what that’s like.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 4th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/06/people-of-earth-part-3-liberals/

AST and Me, an Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

The damage is the point.

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

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

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

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

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

So this is my global, grandiose thing.

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff

Feb. 3rd., 2019

 

AST – The Part I Forgot to Tell You

 

The Nature VS Nurture debate is settled, or at least fragmented into many smaller, more sensible questions, and it’s pretty much all Nature, I do not wish to argue the point – but I wish to answer the untreated side of the question, the “wrong” side, the nurture assumption. Not just that, though, not only why we make some assumption about influence, but what is it that we do in our attempts to influence. Just because your attempts don’t “succeed,” don’t make your kid love the things you hope they will, doesn’t mean they don’t do something.

Is that implicit in the victory of Nature?

That our nurturing, if it doesn’t make number one son want to take over the store, then must do nothing at all?

That is where abusewithanexcuse.com and “Antisocialization Theory” come in – I don’t think I’m really arguing with anyone, I just think I’m working in this area here, this corner just past “the nurture assumption is wrong,” where everyone turns back. This is where I see that parents and children alike spend all day long trying to influence children and everyone else, by all sorts of means and methods and to suggest that “they’re wrong” to try, because the nurture assumption is wrong is something no-one ever said to any parent anyway, even if we talk about it on paper. I am saying what we do all day in the attempt matters and that is where the helpful science would be.

This is where the book by that name had left me: the nurture assumption isn’t true, people spend all day every day working away at an assumption that isn’t true . . . for nothing? Thousands of years, and no-one noticed, no exhausted parents noticed, all that work and it’s for nothing?

I accept the negative expression of it, with caveats: parents do not create the traits they say they are trying to create in their children. I do not accept that their trying all day simply does nothing and doesn’t require a positive explanation, what it does do, why we do in fact do it. This is the question I am answering, the question Antisocialization Theory answers. I didn’t know I was looking at one of the smaller, more sensible debates around Nature VS Nurture, I hadn’t heard terms like “directed evolution,” or “conscious evolution.” Those couple of alt-Right science bibles I read were still laughing at Lamarck – which, come to think of it, sounds very close to just laughing at evolution now, doesn’t it?

Both those expressions go too far. Directed by whom? Conscious – a whole species, this one? But it’s close. I think I am a sub-category of the Directed Evo crowd, maybe.

 

Jeff

Jan. 29th., 2019

“Codified”

It’s a self-deception, where we tell ourselves one thing while doing quite another, Boston Strangler style, or just a matter of the situation deconstructualism has described, that we only think things the mind can see, ideas that we have a line to, like sight, and many thoughts are out of reach behind something or over the horizon and never come into view – but it’s not as clear as it seems: our rules aren’t the point.

The point is simply that we have them. Not in the usual, conservative headmaster speech sort of a way; I’m agin’ them, but we have them and like it or not, that is a point, specifically, my point, today.

The Ten Commandments really weren’t the point. It wasn’t the rules that were codified that way, so much as the penalties, and more so, the idea of penalties. Doesn’t “codified” have an aspect of hiding the message, of code? Well, the rules themselves, they are not coded, they are explicit. What is coded, perhaps, is the rule behind the rule, that the rule is a reason to hurt someone. Punishment is assumed. We may debate the rules, change them from time to time, explicit modifications of discrete  wordings.

“What should the rule be?” is open for debate sometimes.

“What should the penalty be?” is also a debatable, adjustable thing, a topic for talk.

But these questions require specific, concrete answers, and one answer, “nothing,” seems to be behind something or over the horizon. It’s a rule, that we have rules and penalties. That’s what you codify, the rules that are not up for debate or modification.

So it’s a rule that penalties are levied, while the rules themselves are somewhat fluid . . . so no rule is “hard,” even “Thou shalt not kill,” is suspended when said killing is now a penalty and not an offence. But that penalties are levied, this is “hard,” this is unquestionable. Anybody feeling this? Feeling what is the constant in this equation? The punishment is unquestionable, no-one debates, “punishment, yes or no?” – this rule is unwritten and therefore un-editable. Almost no-one, anyways. It’s visible, if you look. I hope I just made you look – you see it now, right?

Unfortunately, if a couple of big, musky hominids like you and I can see it, there is probably more to it than that too. At this level it’s still the headmaster’s bastions of civilization speech, right, rules sort of are civilization? The very best sort of lie is a “hidden truth,” by way of some Tom Sawyer-style duplicitousness, and the only essential part of this rule is that somebody gets hurt. I’m sure there is another layer to this onion, but this layer is novel to us. Let’s stop and have a look around, we don’t even know where the next layer after this is yet. We need to spend some time, get oriented and acclimatized to a world where everything they told us we do to control our animal selves controls our animal selves in exactly the wrong direction.

Rules, those are written down explicitly, and litigated endlessly.

Abuse is what has been encoded in our sacred texts and our lives, and what we are thus unable to litigate. Hmmm. In lieu of an actual objective, maybe short and sweet is the best thing I can add at this point.

Cheers,

 

 

Jeff,

Jan. 19th., 2019

Original Piety

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

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

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

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

OK.

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

One that more often fights, we call aggressive.

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

I am, however, no determinist!

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

This is not a purely Nurture argument.

We encourage it in Nature, in our hardware.

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

We have some leverage on our Natures.

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

Fine.

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

Ooh, I feel really close to something.

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

That makes for an aggressive creature.

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

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

This is not us.

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

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

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

So there it is.

 

Jeff

Dec. 9th., 2018

Kissing Up to Bob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We farm that shit out.

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

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

 

Jeff

Oct. 31st., 2018

Why Hate?

It’s an organizing principle, war, as stated by Sutherland’s character in JFK. It’s something for us to do, something for us to dream about, plan, strive, measure our relative usefulness regarding. Without an out group, there is no in group. And I’m not going to say it’s “built in,” because we are always still under construction, but it’s our tendency, isn’t it?

What hate and war are not is something new, or an accident. It was not some crap started by your father, what I’m saying is it’s not something you were “told;” not something taught to us by our parents because of something they learned or misunderstood within their lifetimes. We have evolved this way. We can change, because we have before, that’s what “evolve” means, and although there is plenty of room for discussion as to whether any of this evolution is self-directed or what portion of it might be, change is possible. Our parents didn’t decide that humans should live this way, the humans who made these decisions and got this ball rolling are long gone, and we aren’t really privy to their thought processes about it. We’ve forgotten why we chose to be this way, is what I’m saying.

So after that, starting at the bottom, it’s game “theory” and evolutionary psychology, on up to biology and on to philosophy and art, all human endeavors to remember who we are, rebuild the knowledge, understand why we are like this.

I don’t think “aggression” is a gene; I think it’s a choice.

The choice, really, right? The first one, or the last one, depending: fight as opposed to flight. I think the humans, or near-humans who made that decision are long gone, and our world is one where everyone knows the best defense is a good offense.

Fight or flight, that’s a choice, but it’s a choice we are presented with in such a way that any time we spend choosing hurts our case, deadly enemy or predator right up in our face – it’s best to make a policy, a default choice, and we call an animal “aggressive” when its default choice is “fight.” One can always change one’s mind, decide to run if you’re losing a fight, or decide to fight if you’re losing the race, but in either case, it’s best you’re doing one or the other rather than standing still and thinking about it, so we have our policies in place. I imagine as a general thing, the more tightly one is bound to a particular location, the more one chooses to fight rather than fly. This policy may have been developed as we made the shift from nomadic day-nest builders like the gorillas to more permanent homes or some such move.

This idea doesn’t clash with an idea I can’t shake, that no matter how aggressively we act, that it somehow begins with fear and defense. A goal I’ve been keeping from you all and perhaps even myself in all this jaw flapping is that I am trying to act as the War Ape’s defense lawyer, trying to get us off the hook for the charge of aggression, trying very hard to make a case that it’s really a form of self defense, that we might choose another way if we could. Not that I approve! The War Ape needs to go to prison, absolutely, I’m not making excuses for him so that he should run free and carry on his violent lifestyle, but you can’t fight him and expect him to soften, you can’t fight aggression, it exists to fight back, so I’m concentrating on the underlying issues, or the excuse. The War Ape needs to know that he’s safe, that he’ll be OK if he doesn’t spend his life proactively looking for an enemy and a fight. That’s me plan.

Me plan is impossible of course.

In my marriage, I was unable to convince one single human she was safe and didn’t need to always be fighting me or fearing me, so the threatened hominid doesn’t even credit one speaking for himself, let alone I can’t make promises for the other several billion of us.

Apologies for the intrusion of the personal, I leave it in as full disclosure. Is it just my hard feelings, or is the logic still there? How to stop everyone from feeling threatened by everyone and so all aren’t always feeling the fly or fight ultimatum and too many choosing to fight, so that all feel threatened by everyone and so . . . etc.? It is what it is because it is what it is and breaking out of this cycle is a little like deciding it is not what it is – again, the goal, because it in fact, is.

Sorry, that was too much fun not to do to you.

You can’t lose it and keep it at the same time, is what I’m getting at, so, thus far, we’ve just kept it. Our security, I mean, and the violence it requires. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s next anyway: the idea that we present antisocially to the out-group and prosocially to the in-group is a lovely idea, hate to make room for love – but it flies in the face of everything we know about abuse, dominance, and war, that these things form and inform personalities and aggression levels all around. The idea that the most warlike folks abroad are the most peaceful at home is an insult to modern intelligence and education. If you saw this before, you saw the waiver – I’m refuting a book from the beginning of the Great Depression. It is my dearest wish, as well as the high percentage bet that I’m doing so redundantly, but it seems important, better said a thousand times than not at all, so I’m just going to keep talking.

Aggression levels within the society and within the home rise and fall with those outside and at the borders, because we are talking about the same people, the same person, and your deadliest warrior is not usually your most loving babysitter. We have a romantic image of this, I don’t know why, that the perfect man can do it all. OK, yes, the perfect man could, that doesn’t make the two things compatible, just because one theoretical superman can do it. These things are at odds in the real world, you make your choices, and you live with the downsides. If war is how we and our neighbors have decided it must be, then things at home could look a lot nicer, love and support are probably in short supply, because that’s not what makes you a soldier.

This romantic image, the “real man” is something I’ve been having some online discussion about, and it seems to me to show something I’m after, that even when we’re being “good,” we love strength; our strength is good, our strength is never the problem – as though we ourselves aren’t a problem, can’t be a problem. (If you think this meme isn’t a reality, listen to the American president for two minutes. He states it overtly, and often.) I’m saying, a “protector” is a fighter. All the nice, innocent ladies who want a “protector” want a fighter, and this is sexual selection for violence – right out in the open, in broad daylight. All we have to do is call it defense.

Now, if I say women are keeping us “strong” in this way, am I blaming women for war? First, perhaps the war crowd will happily thank women for their part, this can be seen as all good for those who are all in on the idea that it’s a good life if you don’t weaken and war is the best way to any form of peace at all. I don’t mean to assign the blame, but I am suggesting that if half of humanity was really trying for peace, we’d have peace half the time. But we’re really trying for this traditional security I’m describing, where you’re not safe in the world unless you can fight. If I say this is unconscious, a mimic meme that fools us into thinking the “protector” is a world better than the attacker, am I calling women stupid or instinctual? Again, I don’t mean to, and men still have the larger share in all of it, stupidity and unconsciousness as much or more than any trait. Men believe in the “good” of their strength even without the excuse of defense much of the time. If I say, “women make this error,” don’t imagine that the male of our species impresses me. Grandad was a paedophile and I haven’t seen much to change my opinion for the better.

It is these sorts of things though, that I feel the need to discover and expose, mimic memes, ideas that we use to fool ourselves, and they are mostly, it appears to me, to be something along the lines of moral reversals, and I have begun to see that many of our troubles as a species, many of the things we think are bad, are in fact things we support under other names, as “good,” and so we struggle against bad things with confusion and futility – like this strength thing. Strength is “good” because the “bad” people are also strong – this is . . . what’s the name of the fallacy? The conclusion given is the reverse of the product of the arguments?

Logically, if “bad” people are strong, and if they get stronger, they’re getting worse, then “strong” is bad.

A mimic meme is a reversal of moral logic.

I’m saying, as have many before, when we get “stronger,” we get worse too, because strength is not good. This is a version of the political divide, some folks in western nations think their nations are getting “stronger” presently, while more people simply see the rise of violence and think that’s “bad.”

So I’ve tried to identify a mimic meme about protectors and strength, that when we prioritize and select for these traits, we are simply selecting for violence and the direction the violence appears to be pointed changes the selection not at all. We all select for protectors, and we are all selecting for one another’s attackers, not only personally and sexually, but when we vote.

The first such mimic meme I found was related to “strength,” it was discipline, punishment, in child-rearing mostly, and it is also a moral reversal, we have been beating children to make them “good” forever, and a hundred years of psychology has shown this “good” produced to be all sorts of bad, a long list of poorer outcomes, that only become good when we flush all of one of these people’s hope and dreams down the toilet, put a rifle in their hands and send them off to war, to do “good” “protecting” us all from the other guys’ protectors.

I think of this as moral philosophy – am I wrong?

A great deal of what is called “religious morality” seems backwards to my modern, fractionally educated mind, and much of what many people call “morality,” just isn’t, or doesn’t seem to be to me, I feel much of it falls into the mimic meme category and much Bible morality just sounds like world domination schemes and totalitarianism – or even worse, more basic. Sometimes it seems that all the bible supports is that bible-person sperm meet egg at any cost, and that is nothing but the morality of rape, no morality at all. We are not going to find morality in nature, folks. We have to create it.

Are the goals really endless breeding and war?

No?

Then how about we try to find a morality that actually helps people, rather than one that “just feels right” to a violent ape such as ourselves? It’s not going to be found in your biology, your biology is about a fight, not morality. If your morality is about the fight, or a fuck, I think you’ve missed it. We need a modern, human morality, and I suspect it might sound less like “freedom,” and more like wildlife management, but I think we can plan for a morality that doesn’t require the constant human sacrifice of war and strife, one that tries to make things the most good for the most people. It’s a big change, though. It’s probably not the same game at all, because I’m asking for a “morality” that doesn’t identify half the world as an enemy, and again, that might be something new, something we have to build from scratch.

Where the rubber meets the asphalt in this conversation, is, for things to change, some of the “good” things that aren’t need to be outed and reconsidered, some of the “good” things we love, we need to learn to hate, some of our favourite things we will need to deny ourselves. We are not going to be able to “follow our gut” out of these problems when it was our gut got us here in the first place. A huge portion of our emotional system concerns itself with group dynamics, in-group and out-group feelings, we feel these things, so we think we’re supposed to follow those feelings, but you are not the first one who ever thought of that, and I’m sorry if I’m the first one to tell you, but that isn’t working out, feeling isn’t working out.

I know that statement puts me at odds with basically all of humanity. Most folks think the security provided by war-capable nations is what keeps them safe, and they’re OK with it, and some think we all need to follow our nice feelings a little more, and I will say that is another mimic meme. If we decide to trust our nice feelings, we will also trust our fears and such, war feelings, and so, things do not improve, world without end.

Again, the good things that must go, that we need to be able to criticize, they are strength and discipline, these things only appear “good” because the “bad” guys love them too. Otherwise, no-one would want them.

 

 

Jeff,

Oct. 28th., 2018

Sub-contracting Abuse – Brainstorming

I am not a tactician or any sort of game theorist. I’ve read a few popular science books, my first clues about war and conflict came from one of Steven Pinker’s compendiums, and I’m going back some to catch up, I’m reading “The Evolution of War,” by Maurice R. Davie, first published in 1929. In 2018 it looks like a Bible, the font is so small, and it reads like something from another era. It’s a little difficult reading a white man (I’m assuming) writing about the world’s brown people in that time, and he doesn’t at least in the first chapter seem to acknowledge that the social principles he’s describing also apply to white Europeans, but only a little challenging. The WEIRD bias is well known now.

I worry that something else is noticeably absent from the book too, and I worry that it is still absent in today’s discussions, my baby, the antisocialization function.

1929, so nearly a hundred years, and I don’t imagine Davies’ talk of the social
in-group” and “out-groups” was all new at the time, but it stands out in blazing contrast to me now that Davies lays it out as that we provide hostility and war to the out-group while living in peace at home, with our in-group. I know we love our dichotomies, and maybe more so when the book was written, but that is just going too far. War at the border makes peace at home? Peace at home makes for a strong warrior troop? I’m sorry – rubbish. The truth is the function is more like the opposite of that. I know, in the fast-changing world of science nothing is easier than attacking some fellow who probably died before I was born. I’ve learned my way out of that one because we all have, right?

Yes, on one side of our minds we have, and out of one side of our mouths we talk like we know better. That half of ourselves all know abuse and its effects to be the genesis of many of our problems – but the other side of ourselves intuit that without punishment, all is lost. I think it’s fair to introduce that the “peace” Davies is referring to on the inside of these ostensibly bare bones warrior societies is a relative one, to say the least, his definition being you’re not supposed to kill or steal from your own, that these are defined as crimes when perpetrated upon one’s own people. Outside of this book and drawing from The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris made it fairly clear that “society,” at least in the sense of a socializing force or a learning institution, is the eternal children’s group, the kids socialize and antisocialize one another without a lot of adult input. I wonder if this situation, a species without adult learning – really? Us? – may place us forever in the hands of mother nature, to some degree, where it’s all biological conflict and game theory. Perhaps both more ambitious sorts of violence as well as liberalism are recent advents, and it’s a recent thing that adults are starting to develop their own culture!

I cannot believe the things this train of thought enables me to say, sometimes, and worse, maybe – believing them. Ha.

Actually, that is marinating nicely, I think that may be a pillar for me going forward, I’m going to keep that in mind, that our adult, “rational” efforts at culture may be only a few thousand years old in a few places, and that it’s an eternity of boy culture that we’re swimming against in this effort. Hmmm. Very much feels like a bringing together of ideas and not some logical breaking apart of them, I’m liking this. “Civilization” created adults and childhood somehow, that “time that the privileged had for contemplation and invention” that ramped up development – these people had time and room to mature, freedom from the conformity of the peer group, and this gave rise to all things more than hand to mouth?

(I should remind myself that a few months ago for me, it was all about the Alphas and their lifestyle of violence and dominance that had us at constant war, now it’s the children’s group . . . I need to see how it all works together, I suppose . . . )

OMG, I guess today is a theory day.

So, the point of antisocialization being abuse to toughen, to make and keep us competitive in the game theory world, it seems antithetical to social theory that a parent or an older sibling should be the punisher, the person whose genes’ interest would pose a less credible punitive threat than a stranger (I’ve just realized, this was probably why Trivers didn’t like antisocialization theory, I was all about parents doing it, and that’s new and strange, maybe) – and so we sub-contract that function to the children’s group, where maybe a coalition of second and third cousins would have fewer qualms about “enforcing the norms” – of course I mean about abusing a person to drive them to violence, making him a warrior. And modern white Europeans, along with city dwellers and wealthy people of all sorts, have taken that function – the farming out of our antisocializing abuse – to newer and stranger levels, what with schools, criminal justice systems, and militaries. Getting closer, Bob?

Well, not what I thought I was sitting down to write, but better, I think I learned something. I know it’s not a very pretty package, but it’s food for thought – it’s a full meal, isn’t it? I’m gonna publish, try to quit on a high note.

 

Jeff

June 28th., 2018

Continuing . . .

I’ve been frustrated, most of my life, trying to understand why we take children from abusive families and then just adopt them out almost randomly – or worse than randomly: to people who ask for them, people who want somebody else’s kids for some reason. I mean, we all know stories about times when that was anything but the end of some of these people’s abuse. Doing that, failing to vet adoptive or foster parents for abuse has always flown in the face of social relatedness theory, we take kids who are being abused by the people most interested in their survival and farm them out to people with none or nearly none and then what? We hope for the best?

Doesn’t this make a lot more sense, that we would do that if the point of child-rearing were not to prosocialize the child but to antisocialize her? Then, yes, strangers are indeed better suited for that.

I’m going to have to rewrite my entire blog for this, the implications . . . first off, it means the larger the group, the further children can be held away and educated by people with closer to zero family interest, and so maybe the larger the nation, the meaner its citizens, consider the British boarding schools and the famous personal warmth of those empire building . . . people. (My . . . people. I can say that.) I’m going to have to ponder every orphan story, every changeling story again . . .

What to make of the change, during times of wealth and relative liberal comfort, like until just recently, when the adult, public world of public policy was gentler than many parents would have things in their homes? If what I’m saying here ever was a thing – that we ever sent our kids off to unrelated teachers for their violent educations – then maybe I’m getting my first glimpse of why some of our north American “bare bones warrior” minded folks are feeling betrayed by the modern world. It may be more traditional to send your kids off somewhere that they come home grown up and tougher than they left than it is to send them off and have them come home all thoughtful and useless.

Wow . . . too much for one day. It never rains, but it pours, and I’m having some trouble finding enough air in it right now. I keep running away from the computer, nervous, like I’m swimming OK, but I get scared when the water is a mile deep; that’s what I’m feeling, I’m OK unless I get a cramp or something. Break time.

Jeff

same day