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

More

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

More

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

A Scientific Foundation (for the Gentle Parenting Movement)

So that’s it then, I’m at the end of it.
The gentle parenting movement – a generic term, not sure anyone’s identifying this way – is largely an emotional response and it seems to restart in every generation. It needs a basis in science, and here’s a secret: if it gets one, it will reign sovereign over all parenting ideas to date because it will be the only parenting idea that ever did get one. OK, that’s not strictly true in a few senses, and even when it’s all laid out we’ll still have options, choices to make, but I’m jumping ahead. We need some science to back us up; I’m afraid a good heart and psychology hasn’t been enough.
When our stories our all told and the old view is unscratched, they are going to hit us with the gotcha question of why, why be so patient and gentle, what is the harm of a “pat on the bum?” This has been difficult to answer, and I’m sorry, our answers haven’t convinced them. Not only that, they don’t convince our kids to do it our way either: if the authoritatives of the world are keeping score, then they are winning a blowout, a no contest. Their story took over the world long before any of us were born. Another secret: science will back them up.
Surprised? Me too, let me clarify. Science will back them up, but it hasn’t yet, as I declared off the top. It will, but they don’t know about it yet, no-one does. My science will make sense of what they are doing, show the punishing parenting behaviour to be logical and biological – and it will show us the options we may have. Back to the question, why? My science, my answers:
Antisocialization is why, our false origin stories are why, and the write-protected status of this behaviour shows it to be terribly important by the near universal unconsciousness of it insured by an obfuscating social meme, the “consequences” rationale. Short version: our punishments do not “control” some default wildness or violence, quite the reverse. Antisocialization Theory shows humans to leverage abuse and our epigenetic options for it to enhance our own violent capabilities and impulses. So, here’s what we can say when they ask why: humans do that to create violence, and we do not wish violence for our children.
It’s what we’ve always said . . . but it’s been, I’m sorry, a belief system. Now, maybe for the first time, we’ve got a capital “T” Theory.
I am amazed, honestly. I never imagined I could build a story to support half of the namby pamby things the psychology and heaven on Earth types imagine, but that’s how it’s worked out. Original sin, even a biological, Darwinian version of it, is false, backwards. The logic of AST proves that we know ourselves to be born lacking aggression and we have found a way to solve that problem. That’s almost funny, that aspect, because today we have this low self image, we imagine our natures to be worse than our dreams because we are born violent, lustful, uncontrolled, when in fact, AST shows that we began this punishing behaviour in the past because we imagined our natures to be worse than our dreams because we were too passive, not violent enough to survive some competitive aboriginal situation.
But again, I’m at the end. It’s been nearly a two-year diversion where I was compelled to take a stab at answering the question, “why not spank our children” with more than blank slate, built-in naïve psychology, and again, surprised and amazed myself, success beyond my wildest dreams.
It remains to be seen whether I’m re-inventing the wheel with it, whether anyone’s doing this sort of work. I keep asking various luminaries if they have heard of this sort of work, and no-one’s suing me yet, so, I’ll carry on.

Jeff
June 7th., 2017

The Abusive Ape Theory, in Pill Form

I’m a moron, because it took me my entire fucking life to figure it out, but I’m going to see if I can fit it into a tweet.

The “consequences” parenting construct is the child-rearing model for warrior societies, possibly meaning for human societies, albeit with exceptions. The efficacy of our consequences has always been debatable, but the evidence of the effects of abuse are clear, and it is these effects that human parents can and do create in our children. This is the power of nurturing and of parenting. This process I call antisocialization, our socialization to the dark side of things, our fears, our hate, and our violence. The truth behind the “consequences” social meme is that we are self-actualized warriors, that we discipline our children for reasons that some of our fathers told us: we deem ourselves to be too nice, and we have learned that abuse toughens us up. In genetic terms, we have learned to operate our own epigenetic levers, the ones that respond to adverse, abusive environments. Antisocialization Theory says that Christian Original Sin is a part of the “consequences” social construct and that in reality, humans know themselves to be too nice by our natures to compete with the neighbors, that indeed, we are born sinless.

Jeff

May 19th., 2017

My Beautiful Mind, Part #1

AST is a beautiful idea.

I’ve been keeping that part a secret, I’m not sure why. Really, AST is beautiful, full of hope, a ray of light for the future where none was perhaps deemed possible, a truly unexpected miracle of light and hope in a dark world.

This is not easy for me.

I will rail all day on your corner about how the world is burning down but to offer hope, to say something positive? That seems to me to deserve the utmost care, that is not a thing to be undertaken lightly. But I think it’s time to start to roll that vision out and see what it looks like.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff on abusewithanexcuse.com – the “Better Metaphor” series, etc., it’s the foundation of my idea, but the language, the subject matter are all on the dark side of the human equation (that being central to the theory, that, just like with the fictional “Force,” the dark side of life is where the power is), which is kind of all stick and no carrot for the reader. It was a positive urge that began my search, and I really have found my answer, but the answer finally came to me during a very difficult time in my life. It’s my idea, and it has a big bright side, but I haven’t been able to see anything but darkness myself for this whole last year. My apologies and my praise for those few readers who have been able to follow me on this train of thought despite the thick pheromonal cloud of anger and sadness that surrounds me. Some small group of followers have been able to allow me to speak to them despite the cloud, which is something few manage in real life. Anonymous and theoretical as you are, I thank you, I needed that.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

So enough of rehashing the dark side again.

I repeat: AST, antisocialization theory is a beautiful idea. AST says that not only are we not born sinners, but that we do not even stand in judgment of ourselves as such. It says that we believe ourselves to be conceived sinless. Do you know, I used to hear talk like that and brush it off as either religion or psychology, and considered either vector for these sweetness and light sort of ideas to be baseless, simply wishful thoughts? I’m sure you do know, I imagine that is your present thought also. But it’s true. It’s the only belief of ours that can make sense of our behaviour.

Not only that, but AST is the only theory that explains the nurture assumption, the only idea that proves the power of the nurture side of the eternal argument. As such, AST has the potential to bring psychology back to science and to bring biology back to humanity. I know everyone shares this dream, that the caring basis of psychology not be left out of the exploding world of the bio-sciences. I don’t think we all want it this way, or from me – but we all want it, right?

AST has it that we are not eternally failing at controlling our base impulses for war and other violence – it says that we have succeeded in reinventing ourselves as this thing, this deep roots of war creature. It says that far from being helpless to our genes and our base natures, that we are in fact self-actualized creatures, that we possess the power to create ourselves in a vision of what we need to be, that we have done it already and so we can again. This is one hundred and eighty degrees away from where the life sciences appear to be taking us, but it’s not a conflict, only a misunderstanding. AST comes to this happy vision by finding room within a scientific look at human beings for choices, for free will, for our inner life. AST is empowering – not your usual scientific theory, to be sure.

. . . better?

Sorry, I’m a little stuck, not sure how to end it. Like I said, being positive, offering hope, this is hard for me. Offer doom and you’re wrong, great, but sell hope and something goes pear-shaped? Scary. But, if you have the cure, if you might have the cure, then I guess you’re stuck with it, take a chance or go to your grave wondering if you’ve let all of humanity down, those are a grandiose person’s choices. To put it out there is to invite exposure (and treatment), but to not is to protect one’s delusion, a comfortable, ineffectual madness that fears critique.

I’ll risk it, finding out I’m wrong, finding out I’m crazy, starting all over yet again, all of this I risk for you, for all of you but for no one or few of you, on the chance, on the small chance that I really have stumbled upon something that can make things better for all of us. God knows I’m trying, LOL.

 

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

It’s a Child’s World

. . . yeah, I probably don’t mean that the way you’d think.

This isn’t that the children are our future, or that we are only renting here and giving up our damage deposit when that was supposed to be for them instead. I’m talking, as usual perhaps, about the Nurture Assumption, and today more about the book by Judith Rich Harris than the assumption itself.

Ms. Rich Harris has the most wonderful writing voice. I imagine any man or reasonably flexible woman who has read her has fallen in love; I certainly did. So, the nurture assumption, that we all assume that we mould our children somehow into acceptable adults is the primary proposition in the book, but it is perhaps the second largest point in it that it seems to be our childhood peer group that moulds our personalities instead. Now, I’m ignorantly arrogant and suspicious, so I haven’t quite made my mind up about that bit just yet, there may be more to it, but if it’s true, or mostly true – and it is, at least mostly – then human culture is children’s culture, right? Or rather, human culture is developmentally arrested at some point in childhood.

Ladies, I have to ask – does this strike a chord, a feminist chord? Haven’t you always known you’re up against grown men’s bodies inhabited by the souls of angry young boys?

The basic, aboriginal scenario she described (from many years of reading and writing textbooks on the subject) is a village of sixty to a hundred and sixty people, perhaps three main family lines, and mothers having babies every two or three years – at which point the previous child is weaned and let outside to join the children’s group. Here, we learn and grow, and graduate to have our own children. Adult personality testing shows our grown personalities to show far more conformity with the children’s peer group than with our parents.

Sometimes if we’ve only just heard this, I imagine it takes a second to sink in, but another way to state the scenario Rich Harris describes (I don’t think she put it this way), is this: we are somehow immune to intergenerational learning and we mostly don’t know a thing that every child doesn’t know. Maybe we can learn throughout our lives (I hope so, I’m about to retire and planning to keep trying), but our ability to pass it on to children is severely impeded once we are of breeding age ourselves!

Now, I think that’s a sort of an argument for a general cause to support some vague idea of our adult “children’s culture,” but I have something of my own to add, namely that the means and ways of this “influence” and “socialization” that happens in the children’s group happen to be the same ways and means that parents are so valiantly trying to justify with the nurture assumption: abuse. Abuse in a generic sort of sense, sure, but in all senses.

We can say that parents use rough methods at home and that the children perhaps emulate, or we can say that the parents have only just exited the children’s group where that was the way of life as well, the ways and means of conformity and organization, and that they simply carry on as they always have in the group, albeit with younger children for perhaps the first time. It’s a circle of life sort of thing. Personally, I have chosen to blame the parents for this vicious cycle, because for the most part they are older and closer to some definition of legal responsibility – but also, because we have been trying to get the kids to stop hitting each other for years already and that just isn’t working out! I think we should try stopping the adults, see if that works better.

That was a bit of me, but really, that is the implication of the children’s peer group, has to be, right? That the social pressure during our formative years, that the society this testing shows we conform to is the society of pre-pubescents. There’s a nibble for the biologists in it, too. Part of the theory is that your parents aren’t so likely to beat you to death as the peer group is, because the gene relation is closer, so that we conform to the bigger threat, the more realistic threat. The Nurture Assumption spelled it out graphically in terms of hunter-gatherer warrior societies, where if a boy won’t fight, he is tormented until he either fights back or is killed. One presumes there are very few adult pacifists.

Perhaps it’s not so sad that we are living a life designed and enforced by children because of their inexperience, but rather that the structure of our society is formed from experience that includes a lot of boyish competition and violence. I’m not sure about that, and this is absolutely a thought in progress . . . I’m postulating this, the eternal children’s group and the associated adult “children’s culture” – and a different, first generation adult culture in every generation? Again, we can learn, it’s only that adults can’t teach kids, at least not social things. But the eternal, timeless children’s culture of might is right (and sex doesn’t matter?), the unconscious side of our culture, and the adult side where things change and evolve . . . ?

I think I’ve taken this as far as I can . . .

Cheers, folks.

Thoughts?

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

Next Question?

            Next Question?

 

The last one took me something more than fifty years, admittedly. I am a moron, no two ways about it. But I got there, and frankly, I’m, well . . . proud might be a bridge too far, and happy isn’t it either, but I’m . . . satisfied. In that sense, I declare myself to be a scientist, albeit a moron. It’s not about my emotional needs or pride, it really is about the question. The question for me, since I was a toddler or something, was “what is punishment?”

I’ve answered that to my own satisfaction, and it’s in my blog, the stuff from this year, 2017. Unfortunately, figuring something out about ourselves and being able to do anything about it are very different propositions. The solution seems to be locked away, hidden behind the dynamics of stress, and for a change, before I try to work through it in the privacy of my own mind and blog with a view to figuring it out in my final fifty years from nothing, I thought I’d better stop and read Sapolsky’s book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”

He’s brought us a nasty little maxim, that stress results from taking a beating and is released by giving one. Again, I am a moron with no sense of my own limitations, so I don’t understand “maxim.” I see that label, “maxim,” (I don’t think he’s called it that) and double Scorpio that I am or whatever, I say to myself, it is up to me to solve this puzzle. I don’t know why, it’s to avoid thinking about my personal self and problems, of course, but I can’t get around it. I would rather think I’m trying to save the world and solve the human condition than that I’m doing something smaller and more doable and ignoring the big, universal problems. I’m living a big, public life, at least in my own mind.

So, I’ll be reading for a bit, trying to learn instead of talking for a bit. Dr. Robert Sapolsky is sure to have something to inform my search. He’s terrific on video too, I recommend him as highly as possible, as does everyone, from a moron like me all the way up to the very best and brightest. I’ll be checking in, but I see my views have stopped. I don’t have the heart to keep promoting on Twitter, punishing my few followers by spamming them with the same blogs for months on end with nothing new, so that will be sporadic unless I think I’ve had another epiphany or something.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff, the “Better Metaphor” series, etc.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

I’ll be back, and dropping in, but I think I’ve kind of run out of things to say for a bit, this was it. I’m not some writer, some endless spout of verbiage, I’m just a guy with a minority POV and an idea I think will help us, so I write that. I swear to God, it’s not about me. It’s about us. It ain’t personal, it’s about all of us; it’s public.

Thanks for visiting, Folks. I wish I could know what anyone thinks, though.

 

Jeff

April 20th., 2017

Twin Studies and AST

Pulled from Google:

phe·no·type

ˈfēnəˌtīp/

noun

BIOLOGY

  1. the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

___________________________________________________

If I may, to state the simplest form of Nature plus Nurture above in an even shorter way –

Genes + Environment = Phenotype

– right? That’s the basis of it, isn’t it, and so the basis of the famous and never-ending twin studies? The opportunity to move genes around to different environments and see what changes and what stays the same?

Now, I’m not the first to point out that adoptable homes in adoption-capable countries are largely selected for similar socially acceptable reasons, but that’s just not clear enough; the problem is even more basic, and it’s in the definition above. The amazing, specific identical things that some of the separated twins showed that seemed to give all the power to the genetic side of the argument do the very opposite with more logic, prove the opposite.

These amazing parallels defy the phenotype equation, for starters. Either some of these behaviours and propensities are purely genetic, unaffected or unaffectable by environment, or the very impressiveness of the phenotypal match proves that there was no difference in the environment, at least no difference that would or could change that trait. Empirically. The same phenotype means same (relevant) genes and same relevant environment, by definition.

To my untutored mind, that looks like a huge fail. I’m sure the biologists have some long-assed answer that I’d need to be a geneticist or a statistician to argue with, but if they don’t have something to explain away the first rule, the basic syllogism, then . . . on the other hand, though, it’s an understandable conclusion, considering the setup. They move genes to new homes and hope they’ve made an environmental change, but really, we don’t know what it is that might have changed, do we? We’re black-boxing this “home environment” thing, we look at what we put in and what comes out as a sort of high level troubleshooting method, like how it’s done in electronic systems, when we can’t know the inner workings of some device. We really haven’t worked out what about the home environment does what . . . well, hadn’t, I mean. AST has, possibly.

The evidence has been right in front of us the whole time. There is no evidence for all the details of parenting styles, for anything “positive.” The evidence is for abuse, so that’s the environment factor that when we change it, we’ll see statistical results, changes in incidence of all that correlates with abuse, meaning problems. That is possibly the upshot of the adoptable home criteria as well: socially acceptable levels of structure, discipline, control, and abuse. When all that varies only within a narrow range, then it’s not going to matter how widely less important things vary.

Biologists, you want to convince us that parenting doesn’t matter? Change your test twins’ environment in a meaningful way, and there’s only one, level of abuse. You can’t arrange to have one tortured, so all you can do is try to raise some separated twins without discipline and punishment, that’s legal, I think.

Either that, or you’re going to have to explain to us how all the experiments that you say proved the power of our genes seem to disprove your most basic rule.

I don’t know why people never understand me in this way: this is a question, I have posed a problem here, and I’m looking for an answer, an explanation, an argument, something. Silence indicates assent and submission in court, but I don’t think I can make that conclusion here on the interwebs.

LOL.

 

Jeff

April 1st., 2017

AST in the Beginning – Homo Neanderthalensis and Population

I’ve just seen a doc that says where they were digging in France, that the cave had been empty of Neanderthals two thousand years before Homo Sapiens arrived, and in attempting to explain it, they said that the entire Neanderthal population in Europe was only estimated to have been in the thousands. They said that we simply overwhelmed them with numbers and absorbed them, outbred them by an order of magnitude.

I think someone said the Homo Sapiens “were able to reproduce faster,” which, what do you suppose that means? “Able to reproduce,” indeed! Then I suppose we’re all extinct, out-competed by rats. But that seemed like a question that wanted an answer to me, and here’s my guess: ‘able’ to breed isn’t it. It’s that we’re compelled to, and maybe they weren’t, so much.

I’m recalling something a friend of mine pointed out to me, some years ago, that when anyone suggests that war is the human method of keeping our own population in control, that they’ve got it backwards. In fact, accelerated breeding is an evolved response to threats to the population, like famine or war, something that increases our genes’ odds of survival and replication. Keeping this in mind when pondering antisocialization, one can see what a powerful bio-feedback loop that might be. We pre-configure ourselves for war, and war triggers a never-ending baby boom.

Maybe the Neanderthal didn’t self-antisocialize, but this doc suggested we shared the landscape and that a species war probably never occurred. If we consider our aboriginal social situation, the family group, in competition with other groups – it would seem that the species of the other group might not matter; they’re all competitors, all enemies during war, and I imagine, equally tolerated in peacetime too. Homo Sapiens probably didn’t treat the Neanderthal better than modern Europeans have treated indigenous peoples the world over in modern times, but the idea of a clear species war sounds a little too organized for those times, forty to fifty thousand years ago.

So. That’s what AST was able to glean out of that prehistoric meeting, out of me learning about the Neanderthal’s theorized light carbon footprint, me learning that not all human groups bred at the same rate.

Just spitballing. Let’s keep it in mind.

 

Jeff

Oct. 26th., 2016

“You’re an Asocial, Aren’t You?”

“You’re an asocial, aren’t you?” It’s a line from “Fatherland,” the novel by Robert Harris, set in the postulated world where Germany won WWII. It’s the hero’s son’s accusation against him, hurled from the boy’s Nazi education.

I have a list of such lines from novels and movies that I take personally, lines like this that hurt my feelings. I may have mentioned in the first few schizoid versions of my book, the bit from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that Stevenson invoked a ‘vague sense of deformity’ to heighten our sense of horror at Hyde’s presentation bugged me, considering my own birth deformity, the umbilical cock-up that left me with a belly zipper rather than a button. Did this author’s leveraging of that basic (and base) human emotion mean that disgust was to be the normal human response to me too?

Thanks a lot, RLS. Wait – was that a schizotypal leap, a ‘loose association?’ Is this one of those things that my closest friend in life, my wife, cannot understand, how I went from a line in a novel, to awareness of the literary/emotional device employed, to that device signifying a human trait, to me also being subject to that human trait? Then after that, my bad feelings about it – is it a schizotypal leap to that somehow being ‘personal?’ I mean, I don’t think Robert Louis Stevenson was trying to fuck me up personally, of course. When anything messes with our person, though, that is personal to us, isn’t it?

I know I mentioned also, that The Metamorphosis messed me up bad, and no one line stands out; the whole damn thing hurt like Hell. That was clearly Kafka’s editing test, if it doesn’t hurt like a motherfucker, throw it out. I imagine that’s true of everything else he wrote too. Hemmingway must’ve loved Kafka, talk about bleed.

But this one.

You’re an asocial, aren’t you.

Yes, my children, my wife, my friends, I really fucking am.

If I were into human-style socializing, if I were simply a member of my own social group and happy to go along, happy to love what they love and hate what they hate, then we all know who I’d be, right? Come on, we don’t pull any punches here, don’t be shy, we can use the scary words, as long as the context is correct. Correct for me, I mean, for this asocial.

I’d be an old fucking white guy.

One who never saw real poverty in his adult life through no merit of his own, like so many others, and I’d like what they like, maybe vote for whom they vote, turn that blind white eye to the never ending persecution of all things non-white, non-straight, non-Christian. I ain’t doing that, and I hate seeing white people’s blind ignorant FB pages regarding Islam or BLM. I am not your peer, I do not need your human contact quite that badly. Rather, if that’s what I need or I die, it’s been nice.

I mean, I know I’m seeing these sorts of posts from my friends, people I love, or at least people I really should, by social group, by shared or at least common life experiences, but well, here’s the thing.

It’s one or the other, individual social viability or social change. No-one likes a troublemaker.

Maybe it’s depression, the suppression of my survival’s belief that I’m somehow worth more than the other humans I may find myself in conflict with, but screw my viability, screw my personal happiness. What has anyone’s personal happiness ever done for humanity? I’m choosing social change, and my friends, my family, if you’ve got social group values and concerns that conflict with humanity’s, I’m sorry, but I’m positioning myself on humanity’s side, and where there is any conflict, against you all. I don’t do “don’t talk about politics.” What is our social support for one another worth when the world is burning down politically?

Well, it’s worth life, apparently. Contact and social support are everything for humans, primates, mammals, the biggest thing that if we don’t get we die, outside of food, water, and air. So I’m alone, always have been in this sense, in the way I think, the way I see and feel things, the low value I put on relationships and my obsession with what I consider to be the “real world” beyond our feelings and our social world. I can feel it, though, I ain’t immune. I’m a seriously lonely person, even at risk at the moment. Try as they may to send the right message, when you’re alone and lonely, seeing all the regular folks out there counting their blessings, loving one another and reminding one another to think of folks like me at Christmas time only drives the point home harder. My solution is a form of madness, of course.

I talk to myself, yes, out loud. I recently bought a “living Christmas tree” a live pine or something, and now I can talk to it too, so there are three of us now which means a lot more options. I know it’s crazy, but you have to talk to someone or you die. I assume that isn’t your recommendation? I’ve been reading until the last few weeks, and now I’m watching biology lectures on YouTube, and I talk back to the books and videos too. These are the people talking about what interests me these days, science authors, so these are the conversations I need to have, whether it’s real or not. I seem to be trying to fool my social self, I’ve decided that I do have a social group I don’t mind (safe as long as I never actually meet these people), and that these brilliant authors are it. When an idea comes to me, Pinker, Trivers, Sapolsky, these are the friends I want to share it with, Goodall, folks like that. Judith Rich Harris.

God knows and I know that I don’t belong in that social group, but that’s one I might want to belong to, at least, even if they are mostly old white guys. At least they aren’t mostly Christians!

Besides talking to myself and my imaginary super smart friends, I find myself mining everything I see for the remotest hint of support, of something human I can identify with and relate to. I watched everything I could on YouTube from Sapolsky this month, and he’s a very genuine fellow, he looked into the camera and calmly and steadily shared some real emotion with us all in his documentary regarding stress and I am taking those moments to heart, anything that feels real and genuine and good, despite that it was not at all personal and the gulf between him speaking and me hearing was years and thousands of miles. These are the crumbs of human contact that I’m down to, taking every bit I can get if it really is free of charge.

 

Jeff

Dec. 24th., 2016

 

Hmmm . . . maybe the madness is passing, finally.

This division, between our personal stories and our public ones, it’s not really an even split. The social world is everything. Where the two are in conflict, public stories do not win out and for many detailed reasons, all adding up to that we are social animals. Humourous that “public” and “social” turn up as opposites in this discussion, but that’s no mistake; if it seems like one, that’s because we use the word “social” in a loose and lubricative way. We think it’s a “positive” term. It’s not.

“Social” means ‘pertaining to social things. The value judgments we apply aren’t part of the totality of the concept. The term for negative social things, we all know, it’s “antisocial,” and the feelings and actions associated are well known: anger and hatred, along with abuse and violence. The positive term I think, is “prosocial,” and involves love and trust, along with gentle touch. The point is, the term “social” is a dangerously loose one, because we use it like it means “prosocial,” and so we think it’s all good, but defending the world of “social” things means we are defending it all, good and bad. Well, it ain’t a popular idea and I am deeply in denial, no fucking doubt, but when we are directed to focus on our personal stories and our social well being, that is exactly what is happening. To any degree that we cannot find reason or time to address our public issues because of our social ones, we delay the enlightenment of humankind, because social things are a zero-sum moral game. We love our neighbor and we hate who he hates. The very best morality to be gleaned from our social lives is adversarial: morality, to date, is a matter of treating your social group well and reserving abuse for those outside of it, so if we are ever to address all of us, we need something better than social considerations.

Of course, that’s what no-one seems to get about one another. If I’m a “good person” in my group, how can those others think I’m not? Well, that’s what “good person” means, it means socially, mostly, meaning, in your group. Unfortunately, this conflict I’m describing, the need for a wider sort of “good,” means that to the socially oriented moral person, I’m immoral, meaning anyone trying to resolve this limitation of our moral view is perceived as betraying the group.

Well, yes, I guess I am.

I mean, I’m not president or anything. I don’t think this stance is going to start any legal proceedings, but I’m not in your group. Honestly, you all mostly seem to agree with each other, or at least you have found a way to get on in the social sphere, you all don’t need me, one more guy – and I have never used my membership anyway. I’ve almost made it to the bell, I’m nearly sixty and Mom and Dad never made it much past seventy, so screw my personal story.

I am dedicated to my public one, and the conflict is real. No-one wants to talk about AST, my pet theory. It drives people nuts. I worry that it’s exactly the stance that the ladies in my life seem to feel as an attack (and some not in my life too, online acquaintances) . . . maybe having a social conversation about the nature of what is social is just impossible, like licking your elbow. I will persist in getting my idea out there, but maybe I’ll learn to shut up about it occasionally. Maybe I’d better make at least that compromise with society.

Just because I don’t want to join in society’s dark side, your wars and pogroms, doesn’t mean I want to see the column of pitchforks and torches heading for my house either. I’ll be screaming it out a high window, risking the arrows.

“I’m a good person, I’m a moralist! I’m only trying to make things better!”

And you can put a plaque there where my house was, with your answer.

“This guy just never did fucking get it.”

 

Jeff

Mar. 22nd.  2017