Finished

I’ve worked it all out – so now I can die.

OK, maybe not myself, but I’ve worked the rest out.

I’ve read some folks the wrong way. I’ve thought I was inventing things and made up words for them and used others’ words my own way, with my own meanings and disrespected their meanings . . . I’d apologize, but they don’t know about it, I haven’t hurt them. Maybe I irritated Trivers, to my eternal shame and worry, but probably not about business, theory, probably just from being a crazy ignorant pain in the ass. So, for nothing.

As much as I dislike the concept, I want to wrap myself in some no harm no foul, sort of reasoning, that if my misunderstandings produced fruit, and if they never knew about it, or weren’t impressed when presented with it, then that is life, right, the life of many nobodies and a few of the people we list in our bibliographies – years or decades of embarrassing failure and if we remember them, success in the end? The upshot, the general theory seems complete to me, I don’t see logical obstacles, I don’t see conflicting science.

I’ve been suspicious all along that I am not first but last, the idiot child screaming his discovery of some awful, simple truth that the rest of the village has long since decided there is no upside in talking about. It sometimes can seem to me that every author I have read, every author I have approached knows it all already and has chosen not to talk about it. Paranoia suggests that AST is something the military and leadership already knows and uses and if anyone ever heard me trying to tell the great unwashed about it I would be approached by the men in black and silenced, and that this apparatus has already spoken to all of academia.

Probably nothing so interesting, of course. Just silence, all of language and culture is against me, making it difficult. You don’t expect that screaming child to be right, and what he’s screaming about we already have an answer for, it’s human nature, kid, and it sucks, please shut up.

My message is not the EP message, not the Bible’s message, not the cognitive backdrop of “human nature,” none of that, rather it is this: the evil we call human nature is entirely optional. Not human nature, but the human choice. We’re not sure about free will because we are pretending not to have the choice. Innateness means we have no obligation to change.

I mean of course human nature is optional – otherwise, why are there still chimpanzees? OMG.

I looove doing that!

That is a title and the perfect click-bait Tweet, isn’t it?

Seriously, though, if nothing is optional, wouldn’t they be here with us if all this were on rails? What is evolution if not options, the unfolding of options? I accuse them of determinism. Their theses say no, but their conclusions say yes. Options taken long ago, choices made in the past cannot be undone, enjoy the ride, I hear the ending is going to be spectacular. I’m sorry.

This is true, when discussing vague natures and shadowy options. But what if we thought we knew a specific choice? Are we so sure they’re all gone and never to be offered again? The choice of discipline, of punishment, we make these choices all day . . . oh, Hell, everybody, ONE MORE TIME! For God’s sake . . .

Sorry again.

Where was I? Worked it all out, ignorance and impertinence, no obstacles or conflicts, the military uses my theory all day long . . . I guess that’s as far as I got before my internal autocorrect took over, sorry about that. OK.

Well, that’s a point. When the military uses something, that’s tried and true, they are not a new invention. I used to work telephone systems, office systems, and when I could, I worked 9-1-1 and police, ambulance, because folks who deal in life and death seem able to focus and buy the phone system that works, not deploy things until they work – whereas the world of business is the world of illusion, where often they make more money sabotaging themselves by shorting labour or something and suing you for it. The reality factor, believe it or not, is important to me.

The point is, the military knows what abuse and deprivation do, they charge a soldier’s batteries for his job – inconsideration up to and absolutely including death. While the militaries of the world practice this eternal formula, the public is told some original sin mythology about how they were already bad by their churches and also by biologists or anyone who denies free will. I’ve said it before, I  expect I will again, evolution is the new creation. Creation is what that circuit in your brain is called, it’s what has history and prehistory, what evolved in every culture ever, so if you are a human, evolution becomes nothing but the new way we were “created,” past tense being no accident. Of course, now you no longer carry Adam’s primal sin, but animal violence. Ah.

That was an accusation of a personal failing in the past, one of the sort I opened by apologizing for, now it’s a universal of human evolution! That is quite an upgrade, I guess I haven’t done nothing today after all! If modern science and evolution is trying to occupy the same space religion and creation did, then it is going to have the same shape and it’s going to have to answer the same questions, and if it walks like a duck and all of that, then you must expect people to treat it like a duck, throwing bread and lead at it and such, stuffing it with dried fruit – all the usual stuff, is what I’m saying.

Sorry, human nature, whaddayagonnado, is what I’m saying, either way, that excuse hasn’t moved at all. Where am I at?

Worked it all out, apologies, no obstacles or conflicts, the military uses my theory all day long, creation and original sin are sort of built in, like Kant’s time and space. This is a good tool, thinking about the evolved brain circuit you’re employing, auditing your new thoughts against the existing circuits, to check the newness, and maybe a sanity check is possible too. In that spirit, what is AST, then? First, is it the same old creation/OS pathway or circuit?

I don’t think I see a creation moment, but I’m not blind to some kind of innateness, I mean that’s the magic of genetics, a thing can be alien and not innate, and then add evolution and it can be, so, innateness at our timescale seems to be a thing, but at evolutionary time scale, innateness’ material form, genes, come and go – innate to you, kind of thing. Might not mean innate to the species, it may be a thing that is coming on, or on its way out. So, in the middle of a changing creation, that is not creationism, I don’t think. And original sin, forget it. It’s free will that I would emphasize in these matters, so . . .

So no, I don’t think it’s the same circuit. Is that the problem?

If AST is not the same shape and doesn’t do all the same things, doesn’t answer all the same questions, it’s not an argument? Just a different conversation? Wait, we’ll get back to that – if it’s not that circuit, what circuit is it? That answer might help this one.

Is it the pain/damage/fear circuit? Well, no, it leverages that one, but  pain avoidance as an explanation for the ubiquitous dispensation of pain doesn’t work for me. It’s involved, for sure.

Is it the nurture one? Do we all think we have a circuit for that? What else?

I have argued that this is the nurture that is real, the nurture that works, the nurture that shows up in the lab: abuse. So, yes, I have been thinking that it’s one, I suppose. There is still some good/bad talk we can have around this negative nurturing but applying a stimulus and getting an effect – antisocialization, not “goodness,” but still – that would be the circuit I am trying to interpret, or reinterpret, I think. What else? Nothing coming to mind, I just find myself building some house of cards about how the circuits are interconnected, some imaginary structure like Freud’s, but the questions do sort of answer each other, cancel out, don’t they?

AST doesn’t answer questions creation and OS do, like “How can all this not be our fault,” and “what can I think so that it doesn’t bother me to hurt my kids as a parent, or hurt my little friends, as a member of the children’s gangs?” I’m sure there are good things those ideas do for us too, I guess, but these are the big accusations they are always invoked to answer. Ah, and ha! – aha! – original sin/the beast within, “born bad,” this is an inverter circuit, the one that turns the output of the nurture circuit upside-down.

Ooh! I just peed a little. I’ve been on the lookout for something like that. Thinking a little more on that, whether we’re innately good or bad, whups sorry, that’s the input, isn’t it. But invert the input, you reverse your output, like if you thought it was cold, so you turned up the heat, that’s an inversion or a reversal if it was actually too warm in the first place. The inverter circuit is the one that tells you all that heat you’re experiencing has other sources, that it’s not just you, messing with the thermostat.

And maybe I think this was the new thing 300,000 years ago? An inverter circuit? It feels to me in this moment like the closest thing to explaining the human difference, but I’ll try not type too long about intuitions.

AST does answer some of nurture’s questions, “how can I change my kid,” and even, if you turn it upside-down like I did, by not doing it, “how can I make my kid better?” So that’s the circuit – and I have long since answered the biologists’ motto that there is no such creature. There is simply no such positive creature, the entire function is as real as anything you can stub your toe on if you simply stop prattling on about enhancements and start acknowledging harm and damage.

I mean, it doesn’t matter what you do to your kid, some say, as long as you don’t . . . have rules and consequences and teach them right from wrong, I mean hurt them. As long as no-one does that, you can’t affect them. And we prove that negative all day every day. Whups, autopilot again.

Worked it all out, apologies, no obstacles or conflicts, the military uses my theory all day long, the suggestion that AST is something the powers would like to keep for themselves, that they may not wish to “discover” or teach it, creation and original sin are sort of built in, evolved brain pathways or circuits. AST is my new name for whatever the “nurture” circuit is trying to express – and “born bad” ideologies are the expression of an “inverter circuit,” that makes us think good is bad and vice versa.

Which might explain why we think punitive abuse is “good.” Needs development, this inverter circuit idea.

Update: “Why are there still chimps?” did not bring the clicks I anticipated. Ha.

Hmmm. That might be enough for one blog.

 

Jeff,

Aug. 13th., 2020

 

Update:

OK, so original sin/the beast within, “born bad,” I’ve decided there is a circuit for this, but I expected one. I suppose I should try to make a case. We think it’s a Christian thing, we think Paul or Augustine invented it or something, but it’s not just words, not just a slogan. Try writing a new one, if you think it’s just words, see what kinda traction you get – that’s what I am trying to do. “Traction” sounds like sarcasm.

I’ve been saying it’s “biology,” which, yes it’s something living things do, that’s not very descriptive. A lot of folks like “cultural” – if you mean cultural, as in a step above bodily functions but still biology based, OK, we can talk. If you mean cultural as opposed to biology or nature, then no, not “just” cultural. Like I say, try to make a new one. Fashion doesn’t touch these sorts of things, they never go out of style.

Unfortunately, it’s a protected thing, we only talk about it by its Christian name, I don’t think there is a science term for this assumption of innate evil or violence, is there? We talk about it like it’s only Catholics that try to beat the devil out of their kids, but I think if we look, it will be a human universal. Wait, checking Brown’s list – I don’t think I found punishment on it before, so I’m not hopeful.

Yeah, none of it. But they should be, and if you ever heard of me, they are going to be, they are now, punishment and the assumption of innate evil that drives it, by a better name.

 

Jeff

Same day.

All Life

I think I made a case elsewhere, that if there is a market for testosterone, that if men generally support a market that says we are not manly enough and more manliness would be better, that this is a proof that we can think we are not naturally tough enough for this world and walk about in search of technological ways to enhance our “strength,” so I feel there can’t be much serious argument about the motivations for our social abuse; “strength” goes a long, long, way too long a way with us.

So where are we, we think we aren’t tough enough, we will acknowledge things we do to adjust our toughness upwardly, when any bad thing happens, if no other upside is to be found, there is always that adversity makes us stronger, and whatever does that has an upside, tougher is always apparently an upside. This applies to our controlling abuse as well, if you learned nothing from your spankings or your prison sentence, at least you are probably stronger, which again, how can stronger be a bad thing?

(Right? How can stronger criminals be a bad thing?)

So what I’m left with, the part that I haven’t gotten on record yet . . . is intent?

All this is true, but I sure didn’t have this plan, abuse for toughness and take it to my own kid, at least not on purpose! Somewhere between intent and context, maybe . . . but we don’t really credit any function that doesn’t have a goal. I worry that as long as we “didn’t mean to anything,” then it didn’t happen or something, I mean that’s the whole punishment to teach civilization argument already there, complete with the advantage of intent – not only did I not do it for that reason, but I have another reason, a good reason! I have a tough row to hoe, selling this. Semi-conscious beliefs are near impossible targets, how does that go? You can’t reason someone out of a belief they never reasoned themselves into?

Ha – you know you learned this one with a spanking, before you could read. Wait – what is EP’s “reason?”

Power, advantage, maximizing your resources . . . sinners, all of ‘em, except not, right? Ah! If it’s Rousseau, if we’re born good, then EP’s “reason” is simply wrong, and if the Rousseauvian side has a better answer for why the bad things happen, for the Hobbesian principle, then that’s a win, two to one. I mean, historically, we have a tie, right, Rousseau explains the good, we’re born that way and calls the bad “cultural,” –

– wait, I don’t know this for sure – he didn’t spell it out did he, didn’t say exactly how culture turns us to evil, did he? And if, so, he wasn’t right or anything, was he? I’m just saying, if he didn’t break it down like I think I have, then “culture” for me, is too big a word, so big as to be almost meaningless. If AST falls under it, I’ll take that back, but if it has to mean not biology I don’t see how it does –

– But born good “explains” the good, it’s in our genes, the kindness, the sharing, we’re a prosocial animal and leaves evil requiring an explanation, while on the other side, the Hobbesians posit greed and violence as the natural thing and suggest that goodness needs an explanation. Sounds like a tie, right?

LOL. Except. Except where does the invented thing, the not born that way thing come from then? We lay that out and things get clearer.

On the one hand, taking Rousseau into the present, psychology, both organized and naïve, what everyone knows pain feels like and does to people, this is at least my humanist explanation for evil – hurt, sort of an explanation and a definition all in one. On the other hand we got really moral because the boss is a cabal of murderous psychopaths and they ordered us to on threat of death, this, at least by this book, is evolutionary psychology’s explanation for morality. On the one hand, humanism and psychology, on the other hand, authoritarianism, fascism is morality.

Don’t get me wrong, my rap adds up to the same equation, except in reverse, “morality is fascism.” I don’t think they are saying they approve – although we do need to learn to rise above some limitation of language that always makes it sound like they do – they’re just saying that’s the way it is, cold science, except again, so cold that the well known effects of threat and abuse are ignored, they are only factored in as deterrents, their reality completely unaccounted for, again, I hit him but it didn’t hurt him, this lie at every level of human life. Is it really so unthinkable that we’re all hurting one another? Like, “net” hurting one another, that there is no alchemical reversal where hurt becomes growth? Isn’t it common knowledge that we’re all hurt?

Have you never heard of the blues?

“All life is sorrowful,” – does that not ring a bell?

“All are sinners?” “Life is pain, life is struggle . . . ” No?

All these well accepted truths exist for no reason and our science has no plans to test them and is in fact going the other direction apparently asking why are we so good instead? Why?

The idea that we are nurturing a gene suite for this lifestyle, abuse and war, suggests an interaction, genes and creating an environment to activate certain of them, an interaction and an adaptation that I think would be not unlike our selfish genes, safe from extinction (and God forbid, from evolution?), that any eugenic attempt to select this adaptation away fails as a part of the same conundrum Wrangham gives, that we can’t deselect the de-selectors, and so this adaptation is maybe impervious to genetic variation? . . . where I mean to go with this is perhaps his premise isn’t unassailable either, is it possible this adaptation wasn’t a matter of selecting anyone out at all? I mean, no-one thinks the bonobos went about executing their chimpanzees, do they? Are they short a gene from the chimps?

I don’t think he said anything about a genetic change to define us at his date, 300,000 years back, it was all skeletons and self-domestication! No gene change has to mean no selection, but no evidence doesn’t mean no change, ancient DNA isn’t common. I will pursue this, all may depend on it. First, I will search the book again.

I just cannot make these leaps, we got rid of the brutes, so that’s why we killed everything on the planet, again, WTF . . . I was so excited, now I’m basically calling it all rubbish, I should stop writing until a better mood takes me.

OK, no, not happening; I don’t think my mood about this is going to change, it hasn’t changed regarding the same meme in parenting which I’ve been battling for almost thirty years now, but I guess I’ll make a slight shift, stop saying EP is wrong, I think I see the powerlessness of that now, that it’s “right” if you come at it from authority’s side, that still today this is the dark side of psychology, that it’s not generally some helper trying it on you for your own benefit, but your boss, for his. In an upside down to me world, this is pretty much legitimate applied psychology, to analyze how rats and people move about under certain restrictions. Male and cold as it is, if you call this psychology, you can get it past most of these hominids, at least the males.

I would like to switch tactics and simply say, I have something to add.

I would say that along with forcing cost/benefit analyses, the threat and control of the leaders has other effects, negative feelings, that are the legitimate concern of psychology and have real effects in the world, and also even heritable genetic effects that make the patient’s psychology a moving target through time, and this is the magic of DNA is it not, that the same restrictions and stimuli placed on a different animal can produce different effects. One would think that adaptations are not stable, that as the animal makes it, the situation is altered.

Psychology is a human endeavor. It’s one thing when the presence of a bear forces a cost benefit decision from us, it’s another thing when a human being, that we can theoretically understand, does it. It gets psychological, complex. The power of the cousins both the cousins and EP would have you take as a condition of life, as immutable as needing air, as a stimulus and a condition for life, and frankly they don’t like you questioning them. Psychology starts just below them, they are not subject to police or psychologists.

And they sure don’t factor easing your pain into their plans.

All of them, every person I have read regarding human origins and human futures simply narrates. They’ve looked, they see what’s going on, look deeper, and come back saying, sorry, there’s nothing for it – but do buy my book with all the detail about how there’s nothing for it! I love some of these folks, but you are scientists, not news anchors, you’re supposed to be coming up with something to change the story, not just narrating the end for us, for God’s sake.

You know who doesn’t seem to want change, who doesn’t seem to be feeling the end of the world just yet – is the power, of course. The science, the gormless narration, it’s all paid by the power, no wonder they find no hope, no-one is paying them to find hope – and no surprise their psychology is top-down, business psychology, how to move these rats. So I would add the other half, the other side of psychology, victim psychology, the psychology of abuse and pain, and apply it to all concerned – the cousins, they too live under one another’s power and threat, they too are hurt – psychology 101, happy healthy people don’t need to dominate all they see. The pain of the elders is a huge factor in human affairs – and EP makes it sound like they’re all in paradise already, reaping all the benefits and paying no costs – it’s the American Dream, no need to analyze them.

You might think I’m off in space, but this is the very heart of matters, of all matters. It is true at the individual level, when I am trying to sort out the puzzle of the human being, that all the info I can find has this slant, authority over psychology, and to understand it I pretty much had to write my own book, but it’s true at the level of the tree of human knowledge also, that the branch of EP is a failed graft, an artificial branch with only the boss’ preferred knowledge flowing in and out of it and its foliage is all tainted and unhealthy.

Ha – sorry, Richard, not so much two kinds of aggression as two kinds of psychology, is what I’m seeing. And I’m taking your catchphrase, “proactive aggression,” you were wasting it on gang rule. Proactive aggression should mean “aggression that is managed, meaning created, collected, stored and dispensed proactively.” The good people of the world need this concept and gang rule doesn’t need a better sounding name.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2020

Partial Book Report

I’m struggling, I’m “reading”

“The Goodness Paradox,” by Richard Wrangham.

Reading in quotes, I’m stalled at the halfway point. But I’m writing as I read, a sort of Live Tweeting, because this really is the crux of all human matters for me, the puzzle I am sort of spending my life on.

I expect, I plan, to change my mind by the end, and hopefully write an entirely new report when I’m done – but It has me stalled, in the doldrums and I’m not thinking as much as I’d like, or writing – so here’s my first take of the first part. Frankly, I’m suspicious, it’s a bit dramatic – and truth to tell, further reading has dampened my excitement.

OK.

From a month or so ago.

 

CHAPTER ONE, PARADOX

Ah, five pages in and we’re pushing one of my favourite buttons, “peace at home” and “war abroad.” I’ve objected to this before. It may be the obvious thing, but it’s not the instructive thing, this supposed inverse relationship. Were it that simple, wouldn’t the other end of it also be true, and peace at the border might be expected to indicate a melee at home? I understand there is a disparity – but that’s all it is, don’t go talking about opposing forces, trade-offs.

There is reactive peace at home, perhaps – and well, it’s not all reactive at the border either, is it. Wait – or is it? The border is exactly where some other is getting into your space and skirmishes are exactly what are supposed to stop it . . . it’s just that reactive thing, but at group level. Interesting. I fear the two sorts of aggression are intertwined and interactive with each other, sharing causal streams. They’re right, it’s complicated. Border violence sounds like the very definition of reactive violence, but we plan for it, make budgets and whatnot . . . I suppose in the real world, everything will be some combination of the two?

Peace at home/war at the border, or prosocial at home/antisocial at the border – have anthropologists not seen the news, never heard of a madman killing his own people? What warring nation is all loving “at home?” I know we’re not talking about nations here, but small groups of hominids – but no, not small groups either, humans, individual ones. You are not antisocial “out there” and loving at home, or your dad wasn’t. If you are warlike, you have little interest in producing loving, affiliative children, and if you are a peacemaker in the world, you probably don’t abuse your own kids, that’s how it is in the real world, professors.

There’s an inverse relationship, I’ll allow that, but not between in and out of doors  – the more a person or a society have of one, the less they have of the other, everywhere. Violence breeds violence and love breeds love – they do not, repeat not create each other. Again, this is real life, not . . . mythology.

Oh, a brief history of the rise of the Noble Savage idea! Thank you. He offers it as support for the peace at home/war abroad meme and gives examples in New Guinea and elsewhere and again in North America in the early 1600s, where the idea began, Noble Savage. I, however, see something else. Let’s just back up, I’ll paraphrase, “Europeans saw the peace the aboriginals had among themselves” and stop right there.

This impressed the Europeans by itself because Europeans do not enjoy this peace among themselves. Life at home for nations of empire is training for the war at the “frontier.” Having said that, I do not imagine that the aboriginals are not rough enough on one another in their uncontacted state to toughen them up and aid in the border battles – but clearly it was not obvious to the Europeans, perhaps they were not as constant about it as white people seem to be.

Hey – he quotes Davies, I read his book too, the somewhat misleadingly titled “Evolution of War!” Davies made examples of some African nations, but did not make the distinction Wrangham has here, between contacted and uncontacted tribes. I came away with a terrible view of Africa and only learned later that all of those nightmares were observed after the Europeans disturbed the existing systems and armed some of the peoples. That book is nearly a hundred years old now, 1929.

Wrangham talks about the scourge of domestic violence and gives some awful statistics about violence against women, but still says, bad as it is, the apes are far, far worse. He says war, however, is another matter. During war, we kill far more than any ape. What is missing from this synopsis of the disparity, war abroad and peace at home of course, is children. Do we not count as domestic violence until puberty?

I wonder, I’m sure he’ll get to communication and such.

I’ve just been invaded by the thought that a single instance of proactive violence at home may have as much power to inform a whole troop of humans as well as many more instances would inform a company of chimpanzees, chimps aren’t as keen as we are on messaging. That the chimpanzees require more frequent reminders about who is in charge, and . . . this has perhaps always been the challenge, trying to express something like this, that if the violence is less frequent but carries more power, is it really a reduction? Social power? Informative power? Emotional? Some kind, all of them together, maybe.

Far easier to terrorize and control humans than chimpanzees.

I suppose I think that we have simply shifted the injuries from the skull to the mind? It wasn’t from exactly this direction, but I have had thoughts before that seem to lead me to us having a genetic sensitivity to abuse, that abuse really means more to us somehow than it does to the apes. Environmentally controlled gene expression, specifically abusive, threatening environments . . . it’s my theory that we have discovered these genes and are nurturing them, growing them, almost consciously. All we would have to do is abuse one another, if they exist . . . and haven’t we already identified some, so they do? This book is focusing me somehow, I’ve never been able to say that quite so clearly before.

Seriously. “Sensitivity to abuse” seems like the last piece of the puzzle right now, solves the problem of the world’s apparent self-healing, of Pinker’s professionally researched optimism, which seemed to cut of all dissent. Splendid. Seriously. Such genes would evolve as a natural aversion, all right and proper, but then if you keep selecting for it but don’t give them a way out perhaps it becomes something else . . . ? Last piece of the puzzle to the paradox, I think.

I know! I don’t really believe it either, but I keep hammering at it, and well . . . that’s why I am begging so hard for someone to check me.

As a personal aside, I hate it when I feel this brilliant, all cannot be right with me. But if that’s true, still, perhaps there will be something, some small thing to salvage from this. I’ve spent four years trying to audit away a previous epiphany that arrived during something of an episode back then, and it’s holding up, through ups and downs. Well, it’s the same one really, it’s just unfolded a little more, is all. There is a part of me that thinks I stole some fire, and that worries that I’m not making it back.

 

Jeff

July 5th., 2020