Altruism

I suppose Wikipedia is twenty years behind the times, and not a full collection of all human knowledge up to this minute, but I think I’ve got another theory, a better explanation for altruism, at least for some sorts of creatures.

The most basic definition of altruism there says it’s when a creature does something at some cost to itself and its chances in the world to improve the lot of another individual and/or their chances (for survival, reproduction, etc.). The definition itself shows the biologists’ lens for viewing the world, a creature helps another individual – biology views everything as from the point of view of individual creatures, or that creature’s genes.

There was some group talk, the suggestion that groups of creatures that practice this one on one altruism perhaps get a competitive leg up on groups of that sort of creature that behave less selflessly.

OK.

My other theory suggests that other behaviours produce their fruits at the group level, and that these can be higher priority behaviours than “individually” motivated ones, and I’m now trying out the idea that the group will best explain altruism as well – whups, sorry. I haven’t finished the definitions.

Generally, biology seems skeptical, the evolutionists are not sure “real” altruism exists, meaning that they seem to feel it must add up to an advantage to the altruistic giver somehow, or it would not be selected for, or it wouldn’t, what is it, exist. They go to perhaps the group idea above. Trivers’ reciprocal altruism would seem to redefine it that way, a fairly demonstrable quid pro quo between group members, exactly as stated above, giving their group an advantage over other groups. I’m not refuting these ideas, they’re great, and I haven’t developed my idea yet! Here goes.

Continuing the train of thought I’ve been on, it’s about alphas and the age-old problem of living with them. I think I typed it somewhere this week: what if altruism is a strategy developed by non-alphas to limit and contain the violent chaos of the alphas? What if doing unto others is beta society’s answer to the king’s random violence and narcissism, the stuff of the social bond that enables any sort of society at all? It suddenly occurred to me that when we observe the alphas’ rule in nature among horses or primates, that we are doing just that, going outside and observing what the eternal rule of the alphas produces, and then we go back indoors to the world the betas were able to produce, through affiliation and cooperation, to read and write about it, by portable lights.

If this is the function, or an important function, then it’s a group related thing, but not the whole family group, perhaps. Perhaps alphas are full time cheaters and so are left of any deal-making done among the betas, and it is perhaps not so much a group strategy then as a status strategy, a class strategy, and then one can start to ponder what it means across multiple groups. Now it doesn’t appear that among the baboons or the chimpanzees, the other primates, that it’s the king starting the raids, it looks with the chimpanzees like a band of brothers – but perhaps someone can enlighten me? Is the alpha part of the chimp raiding party, and is he an instigator as he seems to be in the human case? It may be difficult to find primate stories of alphas starting trouble and betas working together to control them, but it’s not a hard fantasy to conjure for us, is it?

A couple of alphas, or would be alphas beating their chests and going straight to madman doomsday scenarios before they ever speak on the phone, and betas on both sides scrambling to save their asses and not minding at all cooperating across borders to do it, whenever possible? (Ha! No-one tell Rodman I said he was a beta, OK?)

This is going to be my new filter for a while. I’ll be looking at things this way, alphas and betas, game theory is for alphas and altruism is for betas. There’s a world of dichotomies in there, maybe. America is caught up in an alpha fantasy, amplified by its enemies, and it elected an alpha to the highest office, something that always means a dark period in history. Nations need their alphas, and alphas will find their way to power anyways, but nations are huge things these days, way beyond our evolved meme of the tribe, which is about a hundred and fifty people. You place your alphas in the military, you give them anything upwards of a hundred and fifty people to push around, and the betas get back to the drawing board, trying to also contain the other nations’ alphas. Altruism.

There’s a book in this, but I’m writing jacket covers these days, apparently.

Mind you, the book’s already been written, at least somebody seems to know how some of this stuff works, even if it’s only the Russian intelligence community.

Whaddayathink? Idiocy?

Genius?

This is my note to myself to think about this, write something later. If anybody’s read it elsewhere, I hope you’ll tell me.

 

Jeff

Nov. 29th., 2017

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Alpha-ism

Damnit, America, actual elites are bad enough, you had to go and replace them with this gutter slime? That’s what was wrong with our overlords, they were just too damned nice and affiliative, right? Fuck Political Correctness?

I’m sorry. Twitter rage.

It’s all one.

The stolen presidency, the Russian influence on social media, the apparent ubiquity of men overstepping their bounds with women.

America had hypermasculinity before, but the myth of America, anything that was any good about America – it wasn’t this alpha-ism, this brutality that isn’t different from what it is among our primate cousins. The PR version, the face of America was of a benevolent beta, someone who stood as a bulwark against the knuckle dragging alphas of the world. America carried a big stick, but it spoke softly, and friendship and tolerance were possible, apparently achievable goals.

I said it in a tweet, yesterday or today, so I needed to flesh it out a bit: it wasn’t these hammerhead alphas that made humans what they are, that helped us dominate this world and create anything that may have been decent about people, and for evidence, I point to every other species, mammalian, primate, what have you, any species plagued by these alphas and ask you to show me how that caused them these huge brains and these skyscrapers. You wanna organize anything, you need to reign those random, self-serving idiots in, and somehow humans do that, sometimes. We’re evolved that these are our leaders, these alphas, and really, if one of them can get his paws on you, you’d better do as he says, but humankind has moved beyond that bit of our hardware. We know we need better than pre-tool alphas to lead us anywhere we want to go these days.

Except right here and now, in “the West,” apparently. I do think this alpha-ism is imported. I’m not very religious, but I’m a cultural Christian, and I do believe that if there were a Satan trying to lead us off of an eternal moral cliff, that he would play to men and their masculinity, that form of vanity – which, of course, the totalitarian dictates of bronze age warrior tribes naturally support whole-heartedly. So whole heartedly in fact, that modern ideas about statutory rape doesn’t seem to put a dent in it for a lot of people. So, this was the attempted message of my previous blog, that somehow a hundred people at least began to read:

Alphas are not leaders in today’s world.

Your sports heroes, movie heroes, mythological heroes – they have elements of the alpha, and that’s how our patriarchal leaders talk about it, but these heroes are all in combat situations, they are heroes because they win fights, now that is absolutely an alpha trait – this is what alphas do. You elect one of these, or a troop of idiots who think they’re all alphas – and they will take you straight into a fight. It’s the only place they look any good, and that’s all they care about.

Gonna end this one with a question:

Is that the way to divide our politics? Not so much Keynes VS Hayek or Marx VS Smith, but alphas VS betas?

That’s worth its own blog, I think.

 

Jeff

Nov. 24th, 2017

Genes as Behaviour: Conservatism

            Genes as Behaviour: Conservatism

 

I’ve said some of this before.

In a certain sense, along a certain vector, there are two ways of thinking, two ways of looking at the world, change and stasis.

It’s another way in which we can see the world as a dichotomy or as a vast collection of them, and it’s easy to categorize, easy to pick a trait and make an association that aligns it with the dichotomic view, easy to imagine that the same line that divides religion from secular science also divides capitalist from socialist and progressive from conservative, and so on. I personally opine that change aligns with science, progress, and considering that the world is generally competitive and capitalist, that socialism would also align with change, at least in the here and now. The other sides of these coins align with stasis, sort of a scientific word for conservatism. Evolution very much marries science to change, to a moving, changing, coming into existence and fading out of existence dynamic tapestry of living things and systems, and it lends to organic flights of thought, where change is nearly the only constant.

Conservatives see things, not processes, and their path to understanding is OCD – cataloguing, counting things. (The rest I’ve written before, and more than once; the new idea here is the OCD.) The emphasis in things over actions, things over behaviours, things over and above processes, this is what I’m noticing. For people with this inclination – it’s too common to be a disorder, but I’m open to that – for people who see life this way, the world is explained as an endless number of things, and their answers are always in the form of nouns. Everything is a thing, laws, “good guys,” “bad guys,” gays and brown people. Ask them why something, and your answer will be a noun: “criminals,” or some shit. God made “criminals” when he made everyone else, don’t you know. Folks of this mindset love the story about the scorpion who begs a ride across the river from the frog or the duck or whatever it is: he did because he is. That’s all these folks need to know (which I offer in Bruce Dern’s voice, his line in the Hateful Eight about Sam Jackson’s character). This story is offered as deeper-than-you wisdom; it’s something that requires pictures and allegory, as ostensibly the truth therein predates words or any silly modern liberal thought.

The longer I carry this idea around with me, the clearer I see it, the more statements from that POV start to stand out against the dynamic, fluid background of life. Case in point: genes are some of these things, of course. We do because we are – I guess this sort of a mind can catalogue free will along with everything else, if it’s just a label on a box rather than a Schrodinger’s sort of a box that may or may not actively affect many of the other things in their boxes in an endlessly interactive sort of way. Now I know you know, I think I am of the dynamic mindset and that I’m expressing my frustration with the static sort of mind, but the thing that has made me start to consider Obsessive Compulsive Order as a part of the puzzle is not a criticism, I don’t oppose it because it’s dumb and powerless. I’m actually impressed by the catalogue; it really is massive, and each of these folks would seem to hold as many distinct concepts in their minds, and all at once, seemingly, as there are words in their vocabularies. Of course, this is not literal, and I can’t force you to follow me. These sorts of talks are completely voluntary, so give me your good will and let’s take these fuzzy things out and play with them, maybe we’ll come back to a more nuanced reality when we’re done.

What we think of as the fractal or higher functions – grouping concepts together, organizing concepts by form and function, repeating functions limitlessly, these are work saving measures, and these sorts of minds might be accused of laziness, of constant generalization and of discounting details, while the raw processing power to manage thirty thousand ideas individually can’t really help but impress. Again, we are conversing somewhere between metaphor and intuition here, but a prodigious memory for details and specifics has always been associated with OCD, hasn’t it?

Dr. Robert Sapolsky on the subject:

https://youtu.be/7gKJLadgzfY

Here’s that entire lecture:

https://youtu.be/4WwAQqWUkpI

If you’re like me and video is a total turn-off (well, for me, Sapolsky videos are the exception), the idea is something like the Rain Man’s counting of the toothpicks was a one off, useless sort of amazing skill, but that human society has created niches for just such weirdly specific propensities. This is sort of where I’m trying to take us, to a less severe version of OCD as Luther’s or Raymond’s, one more generalized perhaps, but vastly more pervasive, even obtaining a degree of ubiquity.

Another reason I’m starting to look at is as disordered is maybe just grammar, or maybe it really is logic. If I ask “why” about something, I’m looking for an event or a process. There are always things involved, of course, but for the form of a “why” question’s answer to be valid, I think it needs more than nouns, more than things. A list of actors, a list of things, this doesn’t answer “why.” OK, these things, I think, and then I must repeat, as when I was three, “why?” Meaning what did these things do?

Bloody Hell, it’s like ice sculpture, what I do. For all the ink, it’s practically transparent, you can hardly see the work even when I’m finished. Plus, publishing to the interwebs is like washing it down the sink, it’s a drop of water in the ocean. I live forever with the sense that I am describing the indescribable, and quixotic as it is, it really is what I’m going after, sort of, I really am trying to talk about things I think we may have evolved not to talk about. It is my intuitive sense that it is things we cannot think that cause us many of our problems, so, second metaphor in a single paragraph, I’m dancing all around something, trying to make at least the outline of it appear in the spaces I can’t get us to no matter how many times I attempt this blog. This is like, take five, I think, one or two per year. Throw the older versions out, of course. Don’t listen to what I said; listen to what I’m saying – I’m sorry, how dull. That’s not up to anybody’s standards, I know, to say that, what can I say?

I’m trying, even God describes me that way, I suspect.

These things I’m after though, I think even if I manage to catch one for us every now and then, I’m afraid they’re still invisible, and they’re supposed to be. “Supposed to be,” though – I think the context for these taboos are changing. Everything else isn’t what it’s “supposed to be” anymore. These things will have to change also, visible or not, I think.

 

Jeff

Sept. 22nd., 2017

No Room in the Warrior Society

. . . for a boy who won’t fight. I thought I read it in The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris, but I can’t find it. It may have been in one of some shorter papers I’ve read by her, or one of Steven Pinker’s books, I’ll keep looking, but it was in one of those very popular science books, so the idea is out there. If it was in anything I’ve read, then it wasn’t one of those author’s own papers originally . . . I’ll have to find it to cite it, won’t I? Anyhow, I think the story was in support of the Nurture Assumption’s main idea, that parents do not create child culture, and she describes how in some straight-up forest warrior society, that warrior training occurs in boyhood and timid, won’t fight sorts of boys are abused and goaded into fighting. Those that never do, in this group, according to these anthropologists – Mead? The Yanomamo? – those that never return the blows, are killed as the logical end of the process of fighting them to make them fight. I believe it was the author’s punch line I’m paraphrasing in my opening. No room for weak links, we might need you some day.

Not that I think it would have helped, but I wish I’d had a man around to tell me that fifty-some years ago. Between that and a little info on inherent family conflicts, maybe I would have had a chance not to believe everything Momma tol’ me.

I’ve been a good boy, tried hard and mostly succeeded, but by women’s standards, abused women’s standards. In the boys’ culture of game theory, in the warrior society where I’m supposed to be a man, I am useless. I mean, I passed the tests, the boys’ tests, when I was little, I was a fearless little Irish terror for a while there, but that ended at the beginning of puberty, apparently. The fights I got into after I was twelve or so, I never had any interest in, and I talked the fellow down when I could and avoided him if it seemed like the encounter was destined to imprint the warrior life on my pretty young face. I absolutely let fear rule my life, I switched high schools once and wound up giving up school entirely after that. There were other reasons, but that was absolutely one of them. I just realized something.

I never fantasized winning the fights I avoided.

I mean, I fantasize fight situations, I’m a man, I run little simulations, I tell myself that if some badass walked in my door to do me in, that I would have a chance, a plan – but I don’t think I have ever had a daydream where I won a fight against these bullies from my life. Realism may be a factor, I really had zero chance, size, experience, and everything else would have been a hundred to one sort of a thing. My only chance would have been to surprise them with a knife or something, and even then, size and experience. Plus, these dudes guaranteed had switchblades of their own – and experience. But to never fantasize a thing like that? My gonads aren’t working, right? I lived in terror, changed my life – but I wouldn’t want the fight even if I knew I could win it. It’s not like I’ve been going around getting into fights I think I can win either! Are we there yet?

No room for me in this world, is what I’m saying. No room for a man who won’t be a man. Maybe I was nine or ten when I stopped fighting, it was one my childhood experiments, I guess I thought I’d try to unload on someone.

There was this Zeta (I better look that up too) juvenile male, the one everybody seemed to unload on, it seemed that everyone beat this kid, I don’t know why, but he was my age, nine, ten, and he looked like The Battler already, anything that was going to flatten out or break on Rodney’s face already was, you know? This is certainly an unfair characterization; it’s a childhood memory and I know I’m using Rodney now for my own ends. I’m sorry, Rod, if you’re still out there. All I really remember is his wide forehead and hard, sharp nose – he kept his chin tucked, I guess. I’m not happy with my impulse in this story, all I can say is, I’m happy it only happened once.

I decided I would unload on this kid, that I would give beating someone up a try, see if I liked it or something. I don’t think I thought “unload” at the time, that’s how I see it now, having taken from schooling from the Master of Stress, Dr. Robert Sapolsky. I found him after school or something, cornered him and started throwing punches at him, hurting my hands on him and then I just had this WTF am I doing moment right in the middle of it and I stopped, apologized, told him I had no idea why I was doing it and I think I promised him he’d have no more to worry about from me. I think I also realized at that moment that he was five times tougher than me, and to this day I count myself very lucky he didn’t turn the fight around and give me the stomping I deserved.

It looks like deep wisdom to me now, Rodney, you schooled me, let he who is without sin, kind of thing. You were a huge influence on my mind and my life – is it Brown, Rodney Brown? White guy, Mount Pleasant Elementary, around 1970? I was a fledgling bully for a second there, and my first victim was an experienced one, a goddam expert. Maybe I’m giving too much credit, but the last guy in the world who had any obligation to be modelling peace for anybody accepted my apology and that was the end of it, which, in hindsight was Mandela-esque. I don’t know how life’s been or if you’re still out there, but you sure did right by me, even if I’m romanticizing your agency in the matter. You probably had fighting back thoroughly beaten out of you, no doubt what made you so attractive as a victim, right?

You hear that? Me, thanking Rodney and the Academy for my pacifism?

Truth to tell, I lost track a little there, memories intruding; I was supposed to be complaining about my low-T, not bragging, but that’s it, isn’t it? I’m talking about the downsides of my own attitudes. I have a low testosterone attitude, and proud as I may be of it, society doesn’t reward that sort of thing – just abused terrified women like to encourage that sort of thing, for obvious, understandable sorts of reasons, that don’t help me in my situation at all. So here I am today, with a fuzzy, half-formed consciousness of the origin of my passivity, and I know it exists for someone else’s survival strategy and is almost certainly detrimental to my own, meaning my morality is the morality provided for me by abused and fearful women, it’s all based on the idea that men are beasts or something and all their desires should be denied, me and mine expressly included – what are my options?

I’ve said it before: I looked at something I oughtn’t to have. Having questioned punishing, and so force and dominance, all of that, I don’t really think I have the option of just changing my mind, I mean it’s not a change of mind, it’s a learning thing. I am not going to just start trying to dominate anyone (sorry – it’s coming up soon, I mean I can’t start exercising any traditional male power in my family now, having never done so before. I found myself with no place in my female household, and standing up and demanding one wasn’t going to get me one the same way just complaining and asking didn’t), bring the people around me around to my way of thinking, like some young man who simply believes in himself, simply believes he deserves to and should dominate anyone. Even if I need some control to mitigate my own stress, even so, my having some share of dominance may be a biological need for me, I have seen the downside of that sort of attitude in the world, and it is no longer available to me. It always comes back to Bluebeard for me, you’ll never get any killin’ done if you go around thinking all the time – this is a piece of social sort of advice that I simply cannot take. I assume Sapolsky has come to the same conclusion, he seems to be a genuine fellow, despite of, or because of his revelation that he and all his famous professor author peers are alpha types.

In practical terms, it means the MRAs and the howl at the moon sorts of men’s retreats are exactly the opposite of what I’m looking for, save your invitations to the brotherhood. More importantly in my personal life, because those guys are not going to be part of it, it means I didn’t and can’t sit my girls down and tell them how it is going to be, I cannot make anything happen, despite that it seems to mean that the right thing isn’t happening, despite that all our lives are destroyed because an adult has supported a child’s decision rather than making an adult one themselves. I know I’m talking about both of my kids’ parents, I know it was an immature sort of decision of mine to abstain from my male power, a shirking of the responsibility for that power . . . should I have been normal? Should I have dominated my girls, which is normal, to make sure something like this could never happen to me, that I would get voted off the island and my kids would somehow have been used to do it? You know what it means, right?

Maybe my kid would have been domesticated, maybe when her teen conflict came up, she’d have toed the line and submitted, stayed home and in school – and maybe not. How much of the choice I didn’t make is right and proper and works for our goals, and how many of those folks’ kids simply move out into poverty? In those terms, I can’t and couldn’t make a different decision either. I had given up the option to act like a man and put my foot down about anything at the start of the child-rearing experience. That wasn’t going to be a solution at this late juncture, in fact, the girls all seemed to think that’s what I was doing already, or that I was getting ready to, and so any manly thing I might attempt would only prove their case; I did raise my voice a few times and it was over, they feared things were going to get worse and they had me leave, “to get better and then come back.” They’ve made it clear that they feel my attempts to communicate with them as manipulative and aggressive, so for me to prove I’m not trying to hurt them, I am left only the option of never speaking to them again – and I am very committed to proving it to them, so there we are. I love you girls, and to prove it, I’m going to do what you say and take half our money and leave forever.

(To my mind, that is sort of the fatal, mountain to climb to forgive sort of a sin, that they cut off communication with me. It was clear to me immediately that both there was nothing to “get better and go back” to, I’d given away my spot and my voice was forbidden, and that “getting better” from this, being abandoned by the family during a breakdown, wasn’t the most likely outcome. I begged them on this basis, to deaf ears. I know, they were scared, and if I have to tell you that knowing it was their fear, my wife’s fear that was the matter helped me not a fucking bit, then welcome to the second level of the conversation. You may defer to her fears if you wish, they have nearly killed me, and the outcome is not yet assured.)

I’m not looking for sympathy and I’m not trying to recruit anyone to my side of my divorce fight, I’m only laying it out to demonstrate what happens to a man who won’t play the dominance game, a man who recuses himself of authority, a boy who doesn’t fight. OK, there is something under my skin. We’re invisible too, boys who don’t fight. Life sucks for us because we are like Pit Bulls, it’s not what we do, it’s what we can do – I recused myself from the rewards that a strong man receives, but recusing one’s self from the liabilities, that doesn’t seem to be in my power. My soon to be ex-wife never seems to have understood or believed me that that is what I am, despite that I am the only man she ever heard of who wouldn’t so much as “pat a kid on the bum,” as they say.

All men must be treated as armed and dangerous, we must all be muzzled, apparently, and a life of good behaviour doesn’t change that. I gave it up for nothing, a liberal principle, and my daughters are as fearful of men as they were evolved to be, as though I had beaten them spare. There is a whole lot more to it, mostly just more reasons why they couldn’t have felt otherwise and maybe more of me saying I couldn’t have thought otherwise, a lot of reasons why I need to find a new way forward. Men are indeed dangerous and I worry that by responding to my ouster with passivity and obedience, I am teaching my girls a lesson that will get them hurt the next time they attempt it with some more regular fellow. It was an experiment, my life. It was looking like a spectacular success until suddenly it was over.

I hope the results can help someone someday, because the cost of this experiment was the quality of life for all of us.

 

 

 

Jeff

September 15th., 2017

2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

abusewithanexcuse.com, 2017 – “Antisocialization Theory,” – a Guide, Part #2

  1. 2017 – “abusewithareason” – not an Improvement in Optics, but Truth Above All, Right?

 

 

Things started coming together in February of 2017. I mean, not for me personally, but for abusewithanexcuse.com, for my long search, the train of thought I’d been on consciously for twenty years and really struggling with all my life. This here is my personal favourite, probably of all time, and that thought comes with the idea that I’ll be surprised if anyone agrees with me about it, if it’s anyone else’s favourite. For me, this is the philosophical crux of the matter of child discipline, the pivot point for humankind generally. Long and short, I reject the biology-based idea of the Deep Roots of War Theory if it means it’s something we are, something outside of our control – but I’m all with it because it’s not what we are and only what we do. The Deep Roots of War is a behaviour, not a gene.

For me, there is deep beauty in this, our assessment of ourselves, if not maybe in our response to that assessment:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/human-nature-or-let-me-tell-you-what-we-think-of-us/

“Let Me Tell You” – LOL. I haven’t changed that much. Still. In March, seven more, that make this one a series, where I start to unravel the “Consequences Meme.” The links are in this first one. Two largish revelations in February, though, this one too, which I imagine to be dangerous and provocative:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/

One in the “personal” department from that time:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/22/youre-an-asocial-arent-you/

Here’s me responding to that fellow who put the barb in me at the start of my meltdown:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/06/15/critique-of-do-parents-really-matter/

 

 

I guess from there until now, it’s all new, it’s all what I think is some form of science, and I would have you, surprise, surprise, read it all! LOL. It is where I’m at right now, I look at it all as human society is warrior society, and for the moment at least, I’ve sort of lost interest in the details. I’ve sort of completed this train of thought, answered the questions I’ve had since the first time I saw my cousin getting the shit kicked out of him by his parents.

I have a half baked plan to write a book – would be my third now, hopefully the first good one – that sort of lays out how it operates, how the warrior society and our need for “security” drives all things human, and how most of what we think of as intelligence is simply aggression, but for now, having wrestled this problem to the ground in a mere fifty-seven years, I plan to take a break now, until the next thing comes along that gets under my skin.

 

Thanks for coming, Folks. I hope you found the grain of joy in it somewhere, I know it’s mostly one long accusation against us all, and I’m sorry for that. I think I’m a mutation, maybe. I hope I’m not the lethal sort so that the human organism has to select me out or anything, but it does sort of feel like that.

 

 

Jeff

September 11th., 2017

 

Whups, that was an ending, but this is probably Number Two for me, the second most eloquent argument I’ve made:

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

Jeff

Intelligence, Dominance, and the Human Warrior Society

            Intelligence, Dominance,

            and

            the Human Warrior Society

 

Intelligence is a good thing, we figure, so what’s good usually seems like the smart thing too. I mean, there are evolutionary theories about the outsized human brain, and I guess we’ll never lose the “survival of the fittest” idea, so it’s sort of natural and understandable if we start to think that every evolved trait is directly about survival, that we need this giant brain to survive, as though everything else that lives or ever did didn’t survive because they all lacked it. (Turns out, once some animal gets one, now maybe everybody could use one, because most other things aren’t thriving like they did before we happened along. But that’s not the topic today.)

What I’m after is something I often am, turning a popular idea upside down: we generally think it’s our smarts that gets us through, helps us survive, so . . . upside down, anything that we think helps ensure our continuance in this life we figure must be “smart.” I know I mentioned the irony before that our sixteenth through twenty-first century European “religious societies” out-warred every “warrior society” on Earth – well, that is a good case in point for this idea: we won a centuries long war in the Americas and killed the great majority of the Americas’ peoples – that’s a human form of “surviving” – and we credit our smarts or our civilization for it, when maybe it was less the best and loftiest parts of our white selves that did that. Maybe we “won” that conflict because of the worst and least laudable parts of ourselves, but again, the point is this: we conflate brains and violence all day long, the blatant bully talk (“Now who’s more intelligentsia?” – Andrew Dice Clay, on his short-lived TV series with Cathy Moriarty that maybe went one step too far in it’s anti-intellectualism. They should try it again today) is only the extreme end of it; it’s a strong trend.

I’m having a hard time getting us there, so I’m going to just say it and then try to defend it afterwards: in your basic warrior society (and advanced ones too), macho is smart, tough is smart, violent is smart. Of course, the other side is also true, feminine is “stupid,” weak is “stupid,” and peace is “stupid.” Can we sense the common thread here, that runs both through the locker room and the manipulative speech of politicos? Maleness, machismo, and citing the other as a threat and a reason we need to be that threat to him, hence, game theory, human conflict theory, where neighbors cannot be tolerated for security reasons. You must fight to survive, so fighting is “smart” and thinking about the problems that cause the fights, working to end the fighting is “stupid.” Game theory, this competitive, violent world, this places a cap on the ambitions of the smart, reasoning parts of ourselves. Genius is irrelevant if you can’t build us a better bomb and downright harmful if genius works towards peace, which we intuit as counter to our security.

It’s about abuse and violence, not smarts. Easy to mix the two up, and we all do, because survival would seem to be what your brain is for, but no, it’s probably not that part of the brain, the smart, reasoning part that does that. When we’re talking about survival, it’s not always that the surviving critter thought its way out of trouble, often it simply fights or flees. Reasoning – like digesting, sleeping, reproducing, and rebuilding tissues – this is probably suspended while we fight for our lives. I mean, all else being equal, a smarter fighter does better, but first, all things are rarely equal, and second, all else being equal, aggression, striking first probably means more than smarts, plus of course size, strength and experience probably still make the most difference in a fight.

We’re talking about the sort of “smart” that gangsters talk about, where if Einstein had gotten into gambling debts, some hammerhead would have owned him and bragged to his colleagues about these “stupid professors,” right? Violence is demonstrably more effective, more important. Therefore, everyone who is willing to hurt or kill to get what they want are smart, and physicists are stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m describing the real world, this is the way it is. I’m just saying we have at least two complete concepts listed under this one word, intelligence, in our internal dictionaries. One is the general term, intelligence, maybe the “g” factor – and the other is violence, as a proxy for security, and it’s all mixed up with maleness. Yes, in this model, “girls are stupid.” It is a child’s culture, a boy’s culture of game theory.

(There was a time I thought I was a genius for figuring any of this stuff out, at least for figuring it out myself, alone at home, but I must say: recent, uh, events and uh, trends – OK, elections – are making these conclusions available to anyone. You know what sort of intelligence has carried the recent presidential election over the line and is the only kind one could possibly ascribe to the new president. These smarts – violence as a proxy for security – this is the only kind of “smart” populism ever leverages, and it’s the way fascism looks “smart.” Who’s more intelligentsia now?

I must ask: have you heard a better explanation for the extreme maleness and prejudice we’re seeing in the comment sections, from the Russian trolls, bots, and their dupes? Do you see a better common denominator?)

All the misogyny is a part of the same. “Faggot” is “stupid” (read “bad”) because it means “girlish” – guys don’t really hate guys or girls for giving sexual favours to guys. “Girlish,” “faggot,” is “bad” because it means “stupid” on the violence axis, or “bad fighter,” not because it means “puts out” or any other sexual thing. Freud had it mixed up. The order of priorities for humans is violence first, and sex second. I’m sorry, ladies, but misogyny is not the endgame, it’s not really you we’re thinking about, you are simply grist for the mill of war, same as children, same as other dudes in this conversation. We think our violence is our security, so if you’re against it, you’re against us and we’re insecure all over again and doubling down . . . no end in sight, of course. It’s not like this all started yesterday and today is a new day, not until we get conscious about it all anyway.

Is this going too far – if I say that we all assume that the dominant group must be the “smart” one? Maybe – I’ll admit all of this is in the arena of things that are hard to prove, things that must be true to some degree, but that the degree to which they matter is in great dispute, the degree to which these true things edge out their possibly true opposites is in dispute.

It may be time for a blurb regarding IQ.

Here’s one for “intelligence” proper, cognition.

White people took over basically the whole world from their little corner of it in Europe at the outset of the Enlightenment and some few hundred years later, they had a look around at their dominant selves, found themselves to be rather admirable and set about finding a way to quantify what makes the best and brightest among this great and bright society – the IQ test. Are we to be surprised that we score the best on a test designed to identify the traits that impressed us about ourselves in the first place, traits we already consider to be desirable?

But how much of the IQ question isn’t about intelligence at all? How much of the objectionable positioning of the African bell curve in relation to ours just feels right because we see which race is dominant and which subjected? We treat intelligence and dominance as interchangeable, especially in the political realm, and it’s a self-fulfilling fiction, nothing can ever change. We need to break it down, separate the elements.

OK, I’m bored, gonna wrap it up, need one of my pithy finishes, let’s see . . . back to Jurassic Park, I guess, so well . . . there it is.

Now we’re all a little more intelligentsia.

 

Jeff

Aug. 5th., 2017