Human Autobiographies

Psychology should concern itself with pain. Wasn’t that the original idea, a specialty within medicine, an attempt to lessen pain and help people?

I ask, in all seriousness: this toxic Evolutionary Psychology I’m hearing about – is there any mention of suffering in it? I’m guessing not, that’s probably what’s so poisonous about it. But let’s back that up one step. This Evolution idea – same question: do pain or suffering have an appearance, a role?

I won’t make you wait. I can never write a novel or a textbook, I can’t keep a secret long enough to build tension or fill a book – in reality, pain and suffering are part of our evolving past and present, absolutely. It seems to be absent, however, I mean except as a spectre, a bogeyman, in the form of deterrents, from the usual tale of our group existence. Pain and suffering are the price for civilization, and civilization is life and security. That’s the role, yes, bogeyman, scare ourselves straight, I know how it works, I had parents, a children’s group, bosses, I know about deterrents. So that’s the role assigned to pain and abuse in our current understanding.

Like it doesn’t ever actually happen. Like whether it actually happens or not wouldn’t matter, the deterrent is the function.

That’s how evolution, and everything else in life works, right, nothing has to happen, it’s not things that happen that matter, only things that might happen, only threats of things happening that matter?

But this is our origin story, our social organization, and majority control of misbehavers, the employment of rules, laws and deterrents has had an effect on us – civilization – the idea of abuse and punishments has brought us all this way, but the reality of the abuse has had no measurable effect. We are different enough from everything else that walks the Earth for half of us to wonder if Earth is really where we’re from – from the threat, from the fear of abuse, but the reality of the abuse with such aversive power, the actuality of the abuse that has the whole species changing their behaviour to avoid it is apparently powerless.

If you get it, if you agree, say nothing!

I knew it.

The difference of treatment we enjoy within our groups as opposed to when we’re caught alone outside of them – this I see as a chicken or egg question or rather whether a zebra is a black horse with white stripes or the reverse, except that it matters.

The way I see it stated is usually some version of “prosocial at home, antisocial without,” and while it does describe the disparity we see and we would expect to see at the in-group boundary line, it seems to lack causality. I find there is plenty of stuff going on in the in-group that being “prosocial” does not explain.

OK, in brutal terms: if I would murder an out-group person for eyeing my wife, and only beat an in-group member unconscious for the same slight, then this framework has the beating as a prosocial, in-group behaviour, like I brought the fellow life. Now, if while I had him out and could indeed have dispatched him at little extra cost and didn’t, perhaps yes, he lives because of my prosocial choice about him – that doesn’t make this a story about friends giving life to one another.

It’s still a violent episode, with violent motivations, and ongoing effects of possibly adjusted hierarchies, possible physical injuries, possible further revenge scenarios – the lifegiving part of this story is not what drives the plot, is the point, in that I’m afraid I agree with the toxic evo-boys. To be fair, we’re talking about a story about toxic boys fighting over their women like they are property in this example, so it’s not prosocial things driving this story.

Not even in the long term, genetic terms!

In this story, I would execute a neighbor tribe’s possible rapist, but stay it for my in-group possible rapist, and breeding rapists is probably not easily explained as “prosocial” either, in the long run, is it? What more aggressive thing could a species do?

They say white folks see a white zebra with black stripes and black people the reverse (or the other way? I forget and it doesn’t matter), and if seeing the in-group as prosocial and suffering as accidental is like seeing a white horse with black accents, then I think this horse is black. Pain and suffering are the engine of the human in-group.

It’s our dark side, to be sure, unconscious. That doesn’t mean it’s the “small” half. With the preceding in mind, consider a high level result of this sort of error in our understanding: our wars are getting bigger and longer. We are far more violent and destructive than the chimpanzees, as well as presumably, than the creatures we and the chimpanzees descended from – so we are evolving in that direction, towards bigger, longer wars.

The normal conversation, repeated endlessly, because as you know, the obvious truth needs to be repeated endlessly, each of us to one another’s choirs, is that we are subject to these “outbursts” of violence because we still have the ancient chimpanzee within us and to that I snort and scoff and fart in your general direction!

So then, we were like this five million years ago? One long, never-ending chain of world wars going back to the ancient Congo, where, somehow the modern chimpanzees have today managed to keep it down to a dull roar? Even if our story were true, it’s clearly the chimpanzees who have slowed the fighting in it, it’s their success story, not ours. If it were true.

Where is the Evolution in this story?

We’ve changed, we’ve evolved, replaced some of the old, wild genes with newer, softer ones, but every now and then, all that evolution just resets to a fictional period five million years ago when apparently every ape used to have huge wars all the time? WTF?

We’ve changed, we are changing, and our wars are getting worse and there is evolution and genetics and for God’s sake, put it together, will you? We are selecting ourselves for this. What else? I mean what else, with Evolution?

Microphone drop, that sounds like an ending, except one, it’s not Sunday yet, and two, there’s something looming, some existential threat to my whole thing that I am going to have to at least have one look at before I decide to either take it on or just give up and run. Wrangham hinted at it in interviews, I expect he laid it out in his latest with a lot of support: capital punishment of tyrannical alphas, that makes sense, that sounds like civilization to me too. But any lesser punishment, by my own reckoning, while deterrents exist and a more prosocial cost benefit analysis may result, other things happen, the more basic, low level things happen. The subject has bad feelings, perhaps unfairness and anger, perhaps sadness, and more basic, pain has its own immediate negativity and those feelings are responses to that more elemental feeling.

This is exploratory, I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but this image keeps coming up, that we are trying to extract the good side of life from the whole savage garden experience, like taking the metal from the ore, breaking down complex things to take only the best bits and that is never alchemical magic but only an industrializable chemical reaction with a very real and unmagical accumulation of by-product that goes along with it.

I worry that in order to improve ourselves, that we have split instead, polarized, and while there is a better looking version of ourselves to talk about, there is also our Mr. Hyde, and maybe he’s in the basement and suffering, but he doesn’t seem to be safely chained up. This conversation goes to our supposed self-domestication, and it seems obvious to me that we cannot be the tame horse unless we are also the cruel master that breaks him.

I worry that by trying to make a conscious change, we have created a monster and if the whole idea of punishing is the problem, that my idea is only another form of it, and doomed before it can ever begin, like if the problem is what we’re trying to do and not just how we try to do it. I worry about stuff no-one else knows is going on.

To be continued, that theme.

There is a lot of complicated thought to take us from Wrangham’s capital punishment to non-lethal punishment, to us being generally a lot less violent than the apes (by murders per population measures. I don’t argue that; I argue that huge wars also exist, that in times and places, our murderousness outstrips peak chimpanzee murderousness by orders of magnitude) but it’s all quite unnecessary. All that is really required is to turn the causality upside down and ask, either like I did, “what is punishment?,” or like this: how have we evolved to have world wars? If the question is “why is our murder rate better than the chimpanzees over the long term?,” then sure, maybe some answer that starts with in-group love.

But if the question is “How was World War II possible?,” then telling me “because we’ve found a way to make ourselves more prosocial” isn’t going to cut it, and again, in your general direction, Sir. For that answer, you have to say, this is an ability we are growing, a genetic effect we are selecting for. And again, all that is required is a different view, like I don’t know what you’d call it, what discipline concerns itself with people who are damaged by abuse, but some of these Evolutionary Biological Theorists sure could use a little of it! Some field of study that tries to help people by making things they’re unconscious of conscious, to give them choices where they didn’t think they had them . . . something like that would be great for this.

I don’t want to get grandiose on you, but I know two sciences that could change the world if they would see that they belong together. I know, the pond’s been poisoned, but abuse is in our DNA and in our evolution which is the hard science that should be the foundation for the social sciences, instead of, what was it again?

Nothing?

Or the story debunked above?

Call me.

 

 

Jeff

November 2nd., 2019

Workarounds

Not motivated today, this will be short and bitter.

(Update: motivation showed up to derail this. Now it’s middling long and bitter.)

Been reading or listening to Trivers talking about the awful issue of what are called “honour killings” of women in some cultures, families making examples of their own daughters to enforce family or sect marriage rules. This, at the very first glance seems counterintuitive to social theory and relatedness, parents killing their offspring, but he makes the case that the practice thrives where all the families and so daughters are so related to one another that relatedness rules are actually held, and parental genes are not actually lost, copies are everywhere and your nieces carry as many of your genes as your daughter. So one’s own children are discounted, to employ the evo/economic terms used in this awful sort of conversation, not worth more than the neighbors’ daughters, hereditarily speaking.

If the example works, then the kids marry the cousins like Dad says, and this genetic situation stays intact, and the Dads can maintain their dominance by the most brutal means, even over their own children, with “no genetic conflict.” Bob didn’t say anything that sounds so glib, I don’t think. He’s trying to help these women.

What he’s uncovered is a workaround, one of the human technologies for us implementing a system of ubiquitous abuse that no other creature seems to be trying, and if social relatedness theory is the “natural” order of things, then finding a workaround, evolving a way to abuse and even kill our own offspring – I know everything is “evolved,” everything is “natural,” but isn’t this a natural, evolved phenomenon that clearly works against nature, against a bigger, better nature?

A workaround, for nature?

That’s not different than saying a workaround for reality. You start creating workarounds for that, this is where you are going wrong! No?

This is how social realities are our realities. We have worked around reality and nature so well that we are not safe around our parents – again, not a mainstream situation in nature, not the real nature. Real nature is more like Bambi, isn’t it? Mom loves you, never beats your ass (and dies young, predated)? I’m trying to imagine a backstory like that for myself, it would be a happy sort of memory. Ok, I did. I don’t remember Mom whooping me, but she was pretty normal, I’m sure the other kids got it. I do remember her walking away a couple of times, probably in the worst of circumstances.

Bob speaks my language.

I’m from Vancouver, and I like to half joke that I only feel at home when it rains, but somehow I feel closer to home when I’m reading Bob too. It’s workarounds I’ve been sorting through too, right? I harassed the poor man until he had to answer me, and when he asked for the short version, I said parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them, and he said “sounds whacky to me,” and I have since figured out he meant relatedness, and where I was maybe mostly wrong was I was missing the workaround.

It’s the children’s group, the teachers at the schools, other adults, the police . . . we have plenty of people to abuse, intimidate and maybe kill our children for us. Residential schools, boarding schools, military schools. In the aboriginal style village, maybe the children’s group has third and fourth cousins – and they can sure enough beat you into conformity if your parents won’t, but when communities get larger, opportunities multiply. In this way, our children can be toughened up, hardened and sharpened for war or crime without all of us having to deliver the beatings personally and suffer the relatedness conflict directly and personally. Of course, our antisocialization works better and is more thorough when it’s everyone in society getting their kicks in, and it’s not just some personal battle between you and Dad.

Having said all that, though – Dad is part of everyone, and it’s not whacky to say he’s getting his kicks in too, that there are clearly workarounds at the personal level too, so my time of chastisement about this is over, Bob. Maybe not all of them, but, yes, parents beat their kids to make soldiers of them. Not saying consciously.

Not saying they all join the army – many are gang soldiers of some sort, many are ruthless capitalists, there is no shortage of battles to join. I say this with more confidence now, knowing that conflicts with relatedness theory are not any sort of deal-breaker for Bob, that in fact, therein lie whole fields of study.

I will say, Antisocialization theory lacks the genetic clarity of the honour killing theory. Cloning all your tribe’s kids so you can make examples of a few and maintain a rule of terror, that’s got clarity, no kidding. If there are identifiable genetic pieces to my puzzle, evolved abuse, alleles that respond to an abusive environment, I sort of assume all humans have them; I don’t think there is going to be a breeding explanation.

I’m afraid it’s the war explanation, the damned game theory explanation: this is a group level phenomenon. We abuse for the dominance or survival of the group. It’s a trade-off, a workaround. We sacrifice everything, even our children, for the war effort. I’m talking about inter-group conflict, and we’ve seen it with the chimps and humans of all sorts, whole groups wiped out. If genes enjoy a greater survival among a group at all, then those genes’ existential threats are only threats to the whole group, why wouldn’t an adaptation exist for that survival critical problem, or any number of adaptations?

Our gene-groups are living in competition with one another, one on one at that level, so to speak, and we see one on one competition among large organisms producing all manner of weaponry and defense and adaptations, some creatures grow enormous during these tournaments, some quick and devious – evolution produces variety.

So why not one mammal that has developed a workaround for mammalian nurturing to enhance its weaponry?

There is some love, something that brings a social animal together, some safety that we assume starts or keeps group creatures in their groups, some prosocial benefit, safety from predators mostly, to be sure – but there is some hate, something that limits group size and stops the growth of the prosocial network – I’ve just learned in Folly of Fools that xenophobia looks like an adaptation for parasites, that every region, maybe every group has its parasites and its adaptations to them, its immunities, and it doesn’t have them for the parasites a distant stranger carries with them, so no strangers!

That seems reasonable, but avoidance would be the thing then, and perhaps not aggressively seeking these other-infected neighbors out, exposing ourselves to their blood and fluids – and eating their brains to gain their powers, LOL. Wait – double laugh maybe. If they have toxoplasmosis, maybe you really do gain their fearlessness doing that! Perhaps there is parasite avoidance along with parasite seeking. I mean, sexual attraction sure seems prone to be full of parasitic wishes, if it’s not what it’s for, well it sure works, boy howdy. So, no, xenophobia is not an adaptation for parasite avoidance – damn, I have to go back and check if that’s what he said or if I interjected that – but parasite preference. Again, avoidance would mean flight, not fights.

Fights would be more like parasite acquisition raids!

If that is a possibility, parasites both pushing us apart and pulling us together, then I’m going to imagine that as a lot of interesting detail that for all I know cancels out and my antisocialization adaptation probably still works with entirely different suites of parasites and human genes anyway. Microscopic stuff is interesting and important for how it affects us, but lots of stuff way up here at talking level affect us too, or we wouldn’t spend so much time talking about those dirty, infected neighbors.

Oh my God, he must have said that, I am busting my hero as an evil evo-bro. To be clear, the point he was making was different, it was that there is a direct correlation with parasite load and number of (isolationist?) religious sects, that in the tropics, where parasites are more numerous, so are religions, and I can’t complain about that – this generalization, xenophobia as an adaptation that perhaps was a more casual observation, and I’m going to read it again, but I’m not even sure he suggested that it works to keep away foreign parasites, only that perhaps it is why we try.

But again, surely, if xenophobia has you going to their land, seeking them out, drinking their blood, stealing their food, livestock, women and children and raping who you leave behind and alive – are you really trying to avoid their parasites? LOL. I suppose acquiring a new parasite and acquiring immunity to it happens together, if at different speeds, but if immunity  can be viewed as a “power,” then maybe there is something to this head-hunting ideology after all, eat them, gain their immunity. Aboriginal wisdom, Good Lord.

Busting your hero is supposed to be your bar mitzvah, right, a triumph, not a sadness? I know, a rare case, a casual lapse and not the point of the thesis. Low hanging fruit.

Impossible not to think of it as a Freudian slip, though, some sort of ugly bias. I may owe someone on Twitter a most humiliating apology. What was the previous theory?

Oh yes, human groups limited by the law of inverse squares, that beyond your third or fourth cousins, we stop recognizing our own genes and start seeing the majority other’s genes instead, that family resemblances fade as genetic interest fades. I seem to be missing the part where lack of interest becomes an intense interest in eating them, though, that “lack of interest” equals hostility, that is an unconscious bias I am trying to understand and combat – same one contained in the perceived slip discussed above.

So, back to my search. There is some hate also, that ensures our safe human group is not one safe, global human group, some trade-off we make for the group that makes it so that where the love isn’t, hate is. The safer we are within the group, the more dangerous it becomes to step outside of it, what seems a normal, perhaps infantile, prosocial desire for safety immediately becomes a murderous kind of security, a scorched earth sort of policy.

I don’t take it for granted. Brutal, violent nature is not obvious to me.

What has been granted? What is obvious? Anyone who has ever experienced ten minutes of peace with another human being knows that it’s possible, that conflict is not necessary and obvious. I am slowly asphyxiating, turning blue waiting for the oxygen of a science for which our initial condition is not one of senseless, automatic, unstoppable violence – one of Christian Original Sin, basically – some science where that perception warrants an explanation.

I mean, of course we think that’s the background for everything, we would think that, we’ve been antisocializing ourselves for maybe five million years, we’ve been making a point of nurturing and growing the genes that think exactly that – but intelligence doesn’t start with us. If you want to understand the world, you need to take a better perspective than yours! You have to imagine what would happen when the particles collide when you’re not watching, when you’re not part of the action.

 

 

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Jeff

Oct. 27th., 2019

Human Origins

 

We have false national narratives, and we all know we do, because we sure know the other guy does, same as Dawkins’ argument about religion, we already don’t believe in all but one of them, so they’re a thing. I’m always getting lost, so if you don’t know the term, false national narrative, investigoogle, it’s an important one, but I’m going to move on, try to stay on track. We also have narratives regarding the origin of not just our own currently existing nations, but of the human species itself, a thousand mythological stories and a few somewhat more scientific guesses as well.

The one of those last that seems to be the most accessible or acceptable these days is a story about group cooperation morphing into altruism and group control of destructive individuals through instances of such cooperation . . . I want to believe it myself, but I don’t. I believe this is the same story that in the next step becomes civilization because of laws and such, a set of rules that protects some of us from our nastiest selves.

Here’s my version. Not so much laws, as what the laws prescribe: abuse, the major, most indispensable component of group control, I say this every blog . . . OK, my just-so-genesis.

Some accident of group conflict among apes five million years ago or so accidentally got us selecting for abuse, like child abuse and “moral” punitive abuse followed somewhere along the way, and this is what Bible people call the Fall, when we discovered the dark magic power of abusing our own to make a more aggressive troop and move us towards more entrenched warrior lifestyles.

What ensued seems to have been an ongoing tournament where all technologies were developed, including this social one, abuse to leverage genetic and psychological changes in the troop, and many whole species of hominid are now selected out as well as certainly many less divergent human groups as well. The dominant present ones all have elaborate systems of laws and punitive abuse.

This is the dark side of the usual human origin stories about morality and civilization, and I’ll grant the usual story isn’t untrue exactly, but it’s more like ten percent of the causation in our origin story, more like a side effect, while this take of mine is the main thing. I think. Surely both my readers know Star Wars? They touched on a truth there. The dark side is indeed where the power is, of course.

Once you’ve been where I am on this for long enough, you’ll hear them try to explain a WORLD WAR as some aftershock, some eruption from our un-buried past and not as a sign of a trait that is growing and getting worse, something we are nurturing, you’ll be amazed that anyone believes it.

Ridiculous.

Absurd on its face.

 

Jeff

Oct. 14th., 2019

Human Contact

I have a bad attitude, sure. There’s the waiver, and if you think that means I must be wrong, then move along, we’re not going to be able to actually communicate across that gulf. We live in different worlds.

You know I basically think it about those of you who stay, too. Sorry, Canadian “Aloha,” or “Shalom.” I am sorry, my sorry butt apologizes. If it helps, this one’s about me falling for positive nonsense too, most of the time. And I’m at the computer because I’m ready to fight back, I think I’ve got an answer, and yes, it’s sort of automatic at this point, much of this I don’t have to sit down and work through like arithmetic, it’s compulsive and these answers grab me when I’m pouring a cup of tea, or planning something else and they send me here in a hurry, like some sort of textual IBS.

(But then I get lost in the usual ten years and first page of preamble and often forget the insight and it’s back again next week. I don’t want to work myself out of a job, I guess.)

It’s all the same principle, but I seem to believe it and I’m engaged in an ongoing audit of what I used to think, what you all apparently think now, and this Murphy’s Law of Nature/Antisocialization Theory is slowly replacing everything it touches, like evolution audited and continues to audit the life sciences.

The pressure for positivity is constant.

I’ve always felt it, always sort of railed against it – but don’t listen to me, I have “depression.” It used to mean sad for no reason, pathological, and I railed against it then. These days it means sad when you have to go to work, no matter what the reason. Imagine how much I like that sort of talk now. OK, on with it, sort of.

You know, my whole focus, my “theory,” basically to talk about stuff everyone knows and no-one considers worth talking about, it’s all about us messing with one another, about us hurting one another, reinforcing one another’s anger and madness, basically being bad influences upon each other, much of it done for reasons, good, inescapable reasons, if you believe what humans say on the subject, and Good Lord, see paragraph one.

When I first cracked Trivers’ book on deception and self deception, I was beyond excited, I was scared, not kidding. My inner life is my life, yours isn’t? How are you supposed to think about self-deception, like with your own brain? Learning about learning, thinking about thinking, that’s taking the editor to you operating code, isn’t it? OK, it isn’t, or maybe not for everyone, but it sounded like it. When he opened with his self-effacing story about his own thieving left hand apparently operating autonomously, that didn’t exactly put me at ease. I almost went to “what kind of monster thinks he can write this book?”

But mostly I just thought how is it possible?

I didn’t assume he’d miss it and it would suck. I suppose it could be “positivity,” and I try to shoot my own sacred cows if I see them, but the idea that Bob is smarter than me is one such cow I have not yet considered shooting, that and death. Taxes, well that’s a political lie. Of course some folks escape taxes.

Well, he didn’t completely turn his whole brain inside out, not permanently, or mine either, thank goodness. It was the Nurture Assumption did that! And for opposite reasons. That one was a right-wing lie, a status quo tome marketed as a revolution. From my POV now, it exposed a deep human truth as a foundationless lie we all live with for no apparent reason. It gave me my insight though, inspiringly offensive, that was! I loved her voice, she’s a real pro writer, and it doesn’t seem malicious – just misguided. Her guide, on the other hand, he seems to not mind being associated with the wrong sorts of people.

The Folly of Fools, on the other hand, is a level up in one’s understanding, a maturation all around.

Nothing to fear but fear itself! It’s all just electrons moving around in the end, same as the computer, right? Happiness is resilience, I do better when I think I’m learning, even if it’s nasty old nature stuff.

Man, I wasn’t kidding! What was today’s topic again?

(Scrolling up . . . ah yes! That’s why the hurry. Sometimes if I pick a meaningful title and get it down fast, that helps.)

Human contact, social connections – first, on a personal note, that’s YOU for me. YOU could interact a little, just saying. I don’t think it’s a coincidence I am left alone to my thoughts and feelings so utterly and then when I try to talk, I call you all dumb, violent apes. Chicken or egg deal, but I wasn’t always alone, I’ve been thoroughly dumped, so I’m going with “egg.”(I do anyway in that riddle, for real. Evolution means that the first chicken egg did indeed not issue from a chicken, but from some ancestor because there weren’t always chickens because there wasn’t always everything just as God made it, world without beginning or end. Because that. Riddles show your paradigm to be past its usefulness.) OK, to business, you trapped and used and wishing for better dumb, violent apes with dreams!

Any better? I said I was sorry.

You need your human contact, everyone says it, and frankly, we are not such an agreeable species that consensuses like these should not be viewed with the utmost cynicism. Everybody always says things that are clearly true all day long, right, because we all somehow intuit that only we can see this obvious truth? Truths that everyone knows and agree with always require constant vocalization and support, right? Call me paranoid; it doesn’t matter. I know you’re one of them, ha.

To repeat, my whole idea is that humans spend a whole lot of time bashing each other into line and brutalizing one another’s feelings in endless cycles of abuse that add up to any other nation would be insane to invade us, because we are wild, crazy, uncontrollable armed  . . . I am trying not to swear. Have I already? No? Good for me! Armed . . . good ol’ boys, then, I guess. This is my narrative, my EP, which I set against the world of illusion story about how this abusive control of one another has made us good, kind, cooperative, empathetic – sorry to repeat a recent blog, but, this sure is a lovely list of words, isn’t it?

This, from punishment, which, I am going to swear, I am going to scream, which shut up and don’t argue, I’m sorry, this is why no-one engages, I know, good, civilized punishment and discipline are composed mostly of abuse, it’s the obvious major component. You’ve told me a million times, everyone always, and again messaging you can never escape must be true, right, but tell me how, tell me why that’s supposed to be “good” for you?

So you’re lying about even believing that the bad, illegal stuff is actually “bad” for you with this line of reasoning? This one hundred percent pure alcohol is poison, but this ninety present stuff will restore your health? I’m saying, if you drink the ninety percent stuff, you don’t really believe it’s good for you. If you drink the ninety percent stuff, you know every morning that the truth is the other way around.

OK, I have been beating that drum forever now, websites have been born and died while I screamed that same, seems to me simple bit of logic. Humour me for a moment, assume it’s true yourself, just a little thought experiment:

If it’s true, how is this other meme true, we all need social connections, we die without them? Isn’t it just saying again, what humans have for you, that’s good for you, like no matter what the . . oops, no matter what that may be? Again, blanket statements everyone is compelled to make at one another all day long, I don’t think Bob spent a lot of time on that, but that’s what I got out of it – of course those must be true!

I was in a very bad way when I first began my new life alone, and I bought in, I had had a breakdown, I was alone for the first time, I was terrified, and Facebook over that first Christmas was torture. Remember folks, while you’re celebrating, to reach out to those less fortunate, some folks in your life are having a hard time, people need people, it’s hormones, science . . .

I’ve been dumped, I’m alone and what am I doing, that’s dangerous, you fool! You need those connections, you are at risk!

I bought in, scared me more, it’s science, right? Who am I to argue?

Well, therein lies another joke, another upside-down thing in the world: who is this particular would be writer if I don’t? That’s pretty much my gender and my identity. Sorry. You’re reading me online, so you know. Some things can’t be unseen. Even unseen things, oddly enough.

I know, complain about Facebook, fine, but that’s actual science, from folks I am still impressed by, too, Trivers, Sapolsky. Not to forget Alice Miller and psychology either, I know, so there is truth, we need the eggs. All I’m saying is that that truth will have to coexist with AST, with me and Murphy’s Law of Nature. It’s true, sure it’s true – but it’s a social lie that it carries along with it that it’s the only thing that’s true.

And that is clearly not the case.

The ubiquity of the message, that everyone gives it, that it leaves no room for anything else . . . a fourth time, these are not the hallmarks of veracity.

If it were even the majority truth, that human contact is good for you, then we would get more and more passive with population pressure, wouldn’t we? Your kid would slowly get nicer at school and if human contact makes us better, then what monsters were we when we were born to have been molded and nurtured by all this healthy contact for twenty years and turn out as a standard, no frills, twenty-year-old man?

Do I need to spell that out?

All that nice psychology and science on Facebook (and everywhere else, of course) supports the warrior society status quo, of course, if you know me, of course that’s what’s going on, what the ladies call “the patriarchy,” and honestly, that’s close enough for me, it’s a world closer than the stupid origin story the boys tell about war and civilization. It hasn’t been easy for me to separate this patriarchy talk, to stop defending my own penis, but this is the truth, we are close, Ladies, two orders of magnitude closer to one another than I am to the boys in this conversation. I would hand you the world right now; it couldn’t hurt. Hoit, I mean. Sorry, Bugs, I don’t mean to steal without citation.

Basically, this society’s consensus when you’re alone is you need to get up and back into the battle, some battle. That’s why a testosterone supplement gets as much respect as therapy. And maybe it’s all true, God forbid, but I’m too dumb to be afraid to ask the question: what if that’s true, what if I need the contact, the oxytocin or whatever and if I have to join the war, well, soldiers really do make big, important social connections, right, brothers in arms? It’s possible that is also a description of what Facebook and Sapolsky are telling us, isn’t it?

(Gawd, he must be a sad one. He’s been thirty years ahead of me on this, he’s been here forever, poor bastard, to put it in Hunter S. Thompson terms.)

Well, that’s the part of the story I wanted to make sure you don’t escape anyway. We will be, I’m tired of this meme, subject to our unconscious biology forever if we can only think that single step ahead, like “you need social connections,” like, your social connections are problematic.

We have to grow up and start to ask, sure human contact, but to what end?

What is it they do when they get together?

OK, that was almost an ending, but I should try to make a case, maybe a personal one. I reacted badly, I admit it, and honestly, I did so, almost consciously, or at least I’m believing my own “I meant to do that” story now. I reacted badly to my ousting and divorce, and I can’t imagine how I wouldn’t have chosen the same again if I could have again. It was high time for me to react, period, somehow, to something, and maybe a good reaction wouldn’t have satisfied.

This has felt like trauma happening to me from external sources, but I know I’m the one making the following choices, even if I still think there weren’t other options: once I lost my ladies, I shed everyone else too, and I have failed to make new friends, some online folks being the exceptions. But at least some I cannot regret.

One fellow was a real bro type, a Trumpie type, a soldier. I parted with him over Roy Moore and him calling Moore’s accusers “fake.” This fellow’s best friend half his life was exactly a Roy Moore type, and everyone knew it, forever. Must be fake, right?

One was a cocaine addict who would call having fronted to get high and needed money to keep him out of the harbour. Those were my last two male friends within a thousand miles, Trumpie misogynist and an addict with enforcers in tow – do I need those connections? What if I’m a believer, I think I need connections, and that’s all that’s available?

Then Facebook and science and the whole world is advising me, it’s a matter of life and death!

To be fair, none of them say “even when they’re this bad,” but they don’t not say it either. Aren’t we all sinners, deserve a chance and need the connections – even guys with guy problems like that? That’s the message and it works for the never-ending warrior society. I felt the pressure.

But I’m feeling much better now, ha.

 

Jeff,

Sept. 21st., 2019

In the Beginning

A neat little “just so” package that couldn’t possibly be true, except . . .

I think AST may have a suggestion as to how we began, how we got on this path to what we’re calling civilization, between three elements, the organization of group animals into hierarchies with the dominance of the alphas, AST, which describes the technology of abuse (including the technology of punishment and the human “moral” framework), and finally, perhaps a foundational case of Trivers’ evolved self deception.

The primate alpha starts the abuse, to establish his privilege, and his victims, stressed, hurting, or simply hurting socially, turn and take their hurt on someone they can, and so the abuse, like the stuff of plumbing problems, flows downhill in a champagne fountain of cortisol – I believe this is Sapolsky’s description of the average baboon troop, in my own words, of course. I think we see similar stuff in the chimpanzees and I think most folks think that was us at some point – even those who don’t think it’s still us today, that is – so that was the first condition and the first bit of science, biological dominance behaviours and deflection, and the resulting abuse-sharing pyramid scheme.

At some point, the champagne fountain of stress and pain becomes entrenched, and this is where maybe we engage the rationalizations, the self deception – “I meant to do that,” kind of thing. “No, I didn’t beat your ass because I’m a subordinate and the boss beat mine! I did it because I’m the alpha in our relationship and I say it’s good for you.” You know, prepare you for adulthood, when the boss’s kids do this to you – “my” idea, not clearly the boss’ agenda. And then this whole, species-wide crap about how it’s good for you, how you’re “spoiled” without it. So, that was the third condition, us lying to ourselves, and maybe the effect among these causes, to some degree, the baboon volcano of fear and violence that encompasses us all and starts with some alpha swine over-prioritizing himself and ends with us all explaining to our kids, “no, this was my idea, and this is good for you.”

I meant to do that.

Despite the lies we tell regarding why we do what we do and what effects our actions can have, though, there is and clearly has to be an actual reason or several that we do these things, a powerful reason this behaviour took our species over and won’t let go, and I have ranted almost endlessly trying to make the point that we antisocialize ourselves in service of conflict, of crappy old game theory. And I’m agin’ it. Whenever I’m reading some description of nasty old nature, I always think I’m hearing approval, advocacy for violent selection processes – not what I’m trying to do at all, I think I’m describing hidden, secret nasty old nature, not to say roll with it, but to say this is the trap here, the invisible fence, this is what we need to break out of.

Which comes first, the selection for abuse, or the cover story, I can’t tell. One would think they happen together, but perhaps there have been and still are places where no pretense of “good for you” is even made, times and/or places where “good for me” was all you got. So I think, in terms of causality and history, the deceit is the latest element, the modern, perhaps liberal adaptation we apply over our antisocialization – making people “good,” teaching them “right from wrong.” Surely your liberals beat their children to make them non-violent, at least that’s supposed to be the plan. So now they think that what was always a single purpose technology – violence and desensitization in service of the troop’s warrior goals – now they think it’s a magic wand, violence and desensitization in service of whatever we say! Nothing simple and understandable here, cause matched to an effect, no – we apply a single stimulus and get whatever result we wanted, is this a great country or what.

I liked Wrangham’s synopsis of capital punishment as an evolved way to deal with tyrants – we should try it sometime.

I mean it sounds great, but I’m not sure we ever did, not regularly, at least. The alpha sets the tone and it permeates everything in our lives, this human lifestyle is his. There have almost certainly been some shining examples, but the mainstream evolution thread here is the dark side, I think we should admit that before it’s all over, any minute now. Warrior society is where we all have Stockholm Syndrome and appear to love the randomly violent alpha (a predator of sorts) and if a bunch of reasonable men want to kill him, they’re going to have the whole world to go through first.

All I’m saying, and I can’t believe it’s taking me so long, and why it seems so strange from my angle or something, is that the baboon pyramid of abuse is very much still in effect, and it is still the major cause and effect loop in human society. The punishment/morality function we insist upon is a minor thread, as lovely and as fictional as Wrangham’s control of tyrants by majority action. Understandable sort of error, we’re trying to make the best of a bad situation, trying to salvage some good from the trauma. By the by, the only example that comes to mind is Julius Caesar, maybe the French Revolution – how many alphas have been taken down by their lessers in history? That’s the next alpha’s job, isn’t it?

My idea to call AST a condition, the second in our list, goes like this: AST is the practice of physical and social abuse in order to activate physiological and psychological genetic changes towards aggression. This I believe to be a species-wide phenomenon that supports our lifestyle of group conflict, making us all mean enough to defend the homeland and crazy enough to attack the enemy’s homeland. It is therefore, at present, a Red Queen’s race, with every human group basically as tough and murderous as the next, but one for survival, and therefore an important evolved function which manifests as systems of crime and punishment, rules and penalties – naughty steps, timeout rooms, prisons . . . hey.

It’s good for you – I mean if being tough is good for you, if life is a fight and only the tough survive, then some abuse is good for you, some practice at least, some practical knowledge, knowing how to fight – but it’s not all good, is it? I wouldn’t object to simply knowing how to fight, being able, I sort of hoped my kids would take an interest for their self-defence but they had zero interest, maybe because I tried not to abuse them or even punish them. I think though, antisocialization is an emotional process, a “strong” fellow who can fight and defend is generally one who started by wanting to hurt people, a trait perhaps present in us all by default, but certainly mostly enhanced by pain and abuse. My point here though, is this is what “good” means in contexts of child-rearing or adult attempts at behaviour modification, in conversations about law and order, crime and punishment –  antisocial, wanting to, able to fight. It’s what “spoiled” means – an early childhood free of abuse means that kid will never be the willing, driven, snarling soldier he might have been. Some things you just can’t teach.

This is what it means in reality, I mean, whether we know it or not. We punish someone – apply some legal and scientifically defined abuse as a deterrent – and they get “better.” They don’t always get better in a good way, don’t always stop breaking rules and such – but they get better the other way, desensitized, tough.

OK, I’ve lost track, giving my usual definitions, where were we?

It starts with random violence, maybe random alpha violence, then to deflection, and then to the straight up leveraging of abuse to produce aggressive soldiers, and finally to some upside down situation where we’re still employing that technology, still leveraging abuse to toughen our kids and criminals – but all this pre-existing structure is at odds with our modern, so far only ostensible desire for peace on Earth – so we just say “makes you good” – a word with no content whatsoever, a simple value judgement with no references to the how or why of the situation. Don’t worry, it’ll be “good.” You’re going to “love” this.

Again, it’s all good as long as we need these tough little psychopaths to protect us from all those tough little psychopaths, I guess. We have been stuck in this game forever, and despite that humankind is starting to have higher goals, this layer of self deception, this widespread conflation of what “good” we achieve with our morality of pain and coercion keeps us at the warrior society stage forever.

 

 

Jeff

Aug. 31st., 2019

Why Biology Blows Minds

I learned some biology, read a few biology books after I turned fifty, and promptly suffered a medication-assisted mental breakdown that jettisoned me out of my life. A famous leading biologist suffered such crises while learning biology and while developing some huge theories (meant in the grander sense, not of guesses). Two fellows, that is hardly a trend, but this is only my knowledge, and honestly, I haven’t checked for a larger trend. Even if it’s only the two of us, it’s worth a look, considering one of them is me.

This was three years ago for me now, and of course learning the truth about the biological world probably wasn’t the problem, the problem must be the setup of an early life without biological knowledge. Learning something that you never knew before, that you knew nothing about before, that’s one thing, but if you learn something and it breaks you, then you were thinking something blatantly wrong about it and you didn’t probably even know you were thinking it.

That sentence could be a synopsis of The Blank Slate, and perhaps that’s part of it, it did help me see that I had some version of the ghost in the machine going on, that I thought of “the mind” as something ethereal, but really, these discrete, blatant conversations about invisible things or not, these we litigate out loud, we’re not shaken by questions of materialism anymore. I’m not, I don’t think. It’s got to be something less conscious than that, less debatable than that to break people.

So, you all know how this goes, now I have to finagle it so that it’s seeing, or nearly seeing my antisocialization thing that does it to us, I mean probably. I’ve come to expect it, it’s gotten to where I expect that every honest exploration is going to take me there – but I must say, it’s not obvious to me at the moment, not like the rest of these angles I’ve thought I had it rather easy with. That answer is what came along with the crisis I had, but I don’t think it caused it – although I should stop just before that and recuse myself. That was a trauma. If anyone is in a position not to properly analyze it, I suppose everybody else knows that would be me. There was a ramping up of trouble though, with this insight at the peak, not at the start . . . still.

Of course, the other fellow didn’t have my insight at all, few have, he had his own, many of them, and many proven and accepted and now a big part of the world of real knowledge. Wait – was the first one relatedness theory? Because that might read as a rather cold, brutal refutation of the loving world someone may have been selling us, that love and family really is a function of our microscopic parts and described with some arithmetic. That might hurt a sensitive person, it’s the same sort of emotional kick in the gonads as my idea, maybe. Ouch.

I think this one stops here for awhile, I think long and slow, and this is sort of news for me at the moment, that it’s not only me and my idea that . . . offend, when we learn deeper truths about the world. Big words exist for this, deconstructionism, decolonizing your mind, but that’s not how I talk, not how I need things spelled out for me. I’m rather taken with the other fellow’s language, deception, self-deception, and maybe it’s not even the clash of the lie with the new truth that hurts so much as all that, but rather that we fight these battles alone and the prize for victory is also solitude.

Wow, that got awkward quickly.

 

Jeff

June 2nd., 2019

Beyond Evolution VS Creation

New idea (sort of), that what Darwin, what evolutionists are up against is not some offense that we are “just animals,” but rather what I’m up against, the mimic meme, the great social myth that humans are different because we’re nicer, that our special development isn’t just a special version of mean.

This is our species’ false origin story now, maybe always, that we rose above the animals through “cooperation,” or “altruism,” and in that sense a “morality handed down by a god or a godly messenger” would fill the same purpose in one of those forms, in any given sentence in one of those arguments -the myth that we dominate this world because we are better and not because we are worse. I think the offense evolutionists face has the same flavour as the offense voiced in opposition to permissiveness, to leniency and the advance of liberalism generally, and that’s the larger context for it, not so much whether humans are partly divine, or whether there is a god or not – but whether our lifestyle, the social order, supported by these rationalizations is right or wrong. I don’t mean capitalism, or the patriarchy, for me, all these serve the human warrior society; capitalism means money may abuse, patriarchy means men may abuse. I mean the abuse itself, not who or what is allowed to do it, but that someone always is. That little factoid gets flipped upside-down in this false backstory of ours, that is what’s supposed to make us better.

(New readers may have some confusion. For me “abuse” includes all abuse, socially sanctioned punishments included, because punishment is a technology that includes the application of abuse. Punishment, in our world, is supposed to make us “better,” while abuse, punishment’s major component, has been shown quite robustly to make us “worse,” at least in the eyes of the law, educators, medicine, etc.)

Perhaps something here explains that while evolution generally had popularity, even its adherents had resistance to Lamarck, to the idea that we create ourselves, and that that resistance is still alive and fighting, apparently. If it’s the great machine, OK, we say, fine, evolution, and we are still created beings, formed by forces larger than ourselves and beyond our control. We are still not self-aware or self-responsible in this state, and there is still the room for and a need for God, despite the apparent conflict. Indeed, this would seem to be the creature we see in the news and any dreams we may have of great human destinies do tend to fade with experience and age. We can be managed in certain ways, but humanity cannot apparently be reasoned with.

That’s the mimic meme too, not just some parent, beating their child to “make them good,” but the larger, social idea that it has worked, and that we are good, again, that we have won the tournament against the rest of the world and bent it to our stupid, stupid will – because we are “good,” altruistic, cooperative, empathetic . . . a lovely list of words, to be sure. Evolution is acceptable if we are horrible but powerless in the process, and evolution may be acceptable if we have had a hand in it, but if that’s going to be the story, we had better look “good” in that story, or first, who wants to hear it, and second and more importantly, what good does saying it do? We’re not supposed to tell a child they’re bad, only that their action was bad, because we don’t want them to take it to heart, so how do you tell apes that their bad actions have the unfortunate effect of making them bad? Talking about abuse still, always.

I tell myself I don’t write for children. I know I’m looking for dangerous places to be – honestly it’s all just talk now, I’ve already ruined my real life by taking this issue on with my child-rearing – looking for dangerous things to think about. I hope I’m not making anyone crazy with this, but I’m operating at a very young age in my cynicism; I’m still clinging to the idea of truth above all. If I didn’t have that delusion to chase, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have anything at all.

I think I understand about crackpots now, about people that get obsessed over a viewpoint. For me, this is the heart of the matter, of all matters, and so any talk at the higher levels in these matters, cultural, political, religion vs atheism, all seem secondary, but I’m sure a lot of people have their own idea of where the heart of the matter is. I’m willing to allow that matters have more than one heart, an unknown number, no doubt, but honestly, this is the one I’ve found, and frankly, whether it’s big enough to explain all that I think it does, I can’t have the certainty I’d like about that – but it’s big enough to keep me busy for awhile yet, I think. Honestly, I am staring into the abyss, I’m not trying to share that part, but you probably see. I need something that I can fool myself is important, to keep me busy, you know what they say about idle hands.

At least until I get some sense somebody else has gotten the idea, that I’ve been able to breathe life into this meme, and see it thriving and reproducing out there in nature.

 

 

Jeff

May 25th., 2019

 

Here’s a Part #2

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/08/03/beyond-evolution-vs-creation-continued/

Here’s Part #3

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/08/06/psych-101-or-beyond-evolution-vs-creation-continued-continued/

 

 

Directions

I wasn’t going to write this blog – and I didn’t. It’s just a Twitter rant. But it’s a clarification, certainly an important part of antisocialization theory.

 

  1. Sorry for teasing, if anybody was. I’m afraid this trailer signified the end of my output for now. Anyway, like a lot of it, I’ve already laid this idea out before. But rather than send you back to an earlier, dumber me, I’ll give it to you in point form, Twitter style. /more

(This referring to a teaser tweet from a few days ago with the following text)

Well, I’m almost sixty.

I guess it’s time I stop all this infantile radicalism and start spouting some long-winded lullaby about some stupid middle of some boring road. Have we met? LOL, you’ve met me now! I can’t imagine anything that would capture me better than that with all the time and ink in the world.

How about some compromise between Man the Rational Animal and Man the Meaningless, lost in relativism and adaptations to adaptations to we don’t even know what anymore?

Shouldn’t need our teeth for that. Grab your cardigan, put the kettle on for a nice Ovaltine and watch this idiot finally stop trying to tear the world down for some rebuild that he should have know since statutory adulthood was never coming.

(Then on to Point Number two)

 

  1. The point of antisocialization theory is that our punishments schemes and abuse push our personalities in a DIRECTION, and perhaps that direction is the opposite direction to where our schemes push our behaviour for the most part, meaning we LOOK better, but we FEEL worse. /mo
  2. There’s a lot of stuff to say and fight about there, but for now, this: abuse produces more crime, and discipline produces more effective armies, and so the DIRECTION pain drives our personalities in is towards fighting, violence, defensiveness, aggression. /more
  3. “Abuse,” when I say it in these contexts, includes punishment and discipline, because those things include the use of abuse. But, addressing this question, we have a PRINCIPLE, a near species-wide behaviour, that pushes us in a particular DIRECTION, so – /more
  4. – so determining initial conditions, like some “human nature,” with its connotations of innateness, isn’t either the point, possible, or necessary. We know what DIRECTION we’re swimming. We know where we’re TRYING to go, where we are working to TAKE our natures to. /more
  5. So much for origins and innateness, but also the more nuanced position of endless relativism, of adaptive fictions and constructed realities – again, maybe we can SAY we don’t know which way is up or which DIRECTION we’re swimming, but look at us: /more
  6. When you see all the salmon struggling in the same direction, maybe they don’t have a clear idea what it is, or maybe they wouldn’t tell us and give away their ancestral homeland to us predators, but they’re all swimming the same DIRECTION and so we can glean it. /more
  7. You must know where I see us all swimming to: strength, discipline, and never-ending war and strife. This adaptive behaviour works for the last group standing, I suppose, and we’ll be down to that soon enough if we don’t see where we’re trying so hard to get. /done

 

you ever get tired and sad and give up and try to beg off and NOT write something brilliant? SMFH. 🤓🤣🤣🤣

 

Jeff

May 4th., 2019

Rule of Rules: the Unseen

There is a great, empty space in our minds, and it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s a place we cannot enter, but we must go to all the other places, so we’re always going around it, unaware. We live in curved space, we say, there is no straight line to anything; the quickest route is always an arc, around this unspeakable void in the centre of everything. The straight route is just around the next corner, always.

Of course, this meme works for many scenarios. The forbidden place can be the loss of God to an evangelist, the unconscious to an analyst, etc. I think to evolutionary biologists and many psychologists, when they must insert this void into their writings – a “black box” exercise, the trick of gleaning what you can from observing a thing in a system when the thing’s function is unknown – I think, to these modern scholars it is “aggression.” It’s a variation on the Man’s sinful nature theme, an unexplained, blanket value judgment right in the middle of our earnest attempts at understanding, science, psychology, everything.

Two paragraphs, that’s all the tension I can build, I don’t make you wait. I’ve worked it out, or I worry that I have, I mean, I’m not happy with my answer either, but I also haven’t changed my mind since yesterday: it’s abuse, or rather the mental and emotional pain of abuse. I’ve looked at rules and punishments, and while I understand the concepts of deterrent and control, the narrative about civilization and majority rule (as recently expounded/expanded by Richard Wrangham), I also understand some things that should place all that in some perspective.

First, the same suite of scientific thinking about humans and their origins that includes this majority morality places us as still being that proto-hominid, that ape, just under our skin, and all the glory of modern civilization, in another but parallel conversation doesn’t add up to spit, it’s a veneer and we are constructed of the same wood as chimpanzees. To talk about our moral accomplishments is an odd, puffed up stance that fits better in church or politics than in science.

Second, I did a thought experiment along the lines of one of Kant’s (OK, the only one I recall, the first part of the book I haven’t finished. He’s tough) about time and space where he decides that he can imagine space empty of things, but no things not in space, or time passing without anything happening, but nothing happening without time passing while it does, and so space and time to Kant were properties of the mind, since his mind could not operate without them. My point, the analogy is, rules and punishments are endlessly variable – “Thou shalt not kill” has its correlate in many times and places among nearly all people when thou shalt absolutely kill or be shunned, reviled or killed yourself. In a less extreme and more accessible vein, different societies have different rules, and things forbidden in one place can be ubiquitous elsewhere, some societies generally are more permissive than others – but all have rules, all have punishments.

No one rule is sacred, though some are more universal than others, and no penalty is sacred, though we say they all are, they change, new rules are created with new technologies, etc., – but we can imagine a completely alien set of rules and we perhaps cannot imagine a society with no rules at all. We can perhaps imagine a completely foreign set of punishments to go with a given set of rules – but can we imagine no punishments at all? Wow, I started the Critique nearly forty years ago, this analogy may have figured hugely in my approach to this.

Mama, can this really be the end?

No. Rules serve a purpose, one we all know – but no particular rule serves this purpose, none are indispensable, yet the purpose exists, so we are able to accomplish it with a set of rules that I assume I’d need some proof to call random, but that can certainly be variable, enforced with a set of penalties that are, shall we say, also an opportunity for some human creativity. So here’s the game: pick your rules, pick your penalties, we don’t care which ones, but you have to pick something from each bin. What does this accomplish, when we’ve ruled out the contents of any given rule?

The first, easy biology answer is of course, dominance. If the content of the rule doesn’t matter, then it’s who writes it, and who forces it upon whom, and clearly, that is absolutely what’s going on, all over the place, no question. The discriminating aspect of rules are all about our human groups, about who has to follow the rule and who doesn’t or who is forgiven and who isn’t.

But don’t even our most egalitarian dreams have rules and punishments, don’t our socialist or democratic fantasies about majority rule still include some built-in idea about rules and punishments, like time and space? Even in our utopian dreams, remove the alpha, the king, we still need rules, right? He was just taking advantage of our older habits, using the rules to his advantage. So, dominance, yes, but not being in that game myself, I don’t place a lot of priority on it. Again, perspective: we ain’t all alphas. That the minority dominants enjoy the situation doesn’t explain why you I and Kant can’t imagine no rules at all, ever. I think, when the excrement has flowed downhill, and the alpha’s bad mood today reaches the zeta man-ape and he turns to beat his wife and/or children for it, I think to call the zeta’s reactive violence “dominance” isn’t right, he’s defined as lacking it, and punching down is not how you acquire dominance, that requires punching up, to climb the ladder. To me it makes more sense to define these transactions as happening at the more basic level, not some highly developed concept of social dominance as much as just the cause and effects around social and physical abuse. A by-product, if you will, if you want to fit this into a worldview about civilization, about organization and dominance. Yes, he learned the rules, and yes, he knows his place.

My concern is that his lessons pissed him off.

And that, I worry, is the deeper point of them. Rules come and rules go and penalties are subject to changing times and to whom they are applied, but there must always be some set of rules and somebody must be penalized – the details don’t matter. You all know this. Here’s a story, names forgotten to protect the innocent (except mine, so it’s all knowable).

In my kid’s elementary school, some kid wrote some nasty gossip in the girl’s bathroom, and people had ideas about who did it but no proof, the school wasn’t bringing in handwriting experts to prove the matter. It was probably kid A, but there was a strong case about for kid B doing the deed knowing it looked like the work of kid A. Honestly, I can’t remember who got the punishment, a call home, maybe a suspension, I was already anti-punishment, I didn’t want to see any child punished, but they picked one and punished – knowing they had a fifty-fifty chance of punishing the right kid – actually something less than fifty-fifty, because there were other possibilities besides the main two kids. A message had to be sent, no crime goes unpunished! This function was served, despite that justice had less than an even money chance.

Even the perpetrator is interchangeable! Just so long as someone gets hurt. Dominance, sure, that principal over those kids, grownups generally over kids – but really, only an even money chance, if she got the wrong kid, a case can be made for the guilty kid’s dominance of everyone there. If she got the wrong kid, it was pure abuse for that kid, the whole world of grownups throwing in with the other kid’s dominance. Of course if she got the right kid, then the principal’s (and adults’ generally) dominance and the child’s experience of the penalty are all things we all agree with – but I submit we have still pissed that kid off. She may learn the lesson, but another kid may learn the same lesson in a nicer way, and if so, these kids’ life histories will be altered in different ways (statistically), both have the lesson’s knowledge, but one has a distasteful experience and memory. Deserved, didn’t “deserve,” this is not the point, the changes are the point. A different society, different set of rules, different crime, maybe a whole different “deserving” dynamic – same changes, this is the point. Doesn’t it sound like some white kid version of a super-villain back story, the unfairness?

What affects us is pain, not some long-winded construction about what the pain is supposed to accomplish. Pain is simple. Any idiot can cause pain and make changes in the world, especially if they’re actually trying to cause it. I know I’ve caused plenty while trying not to, but if I had been trying all these years, I think I could have done worse. I’ve been working all this out for myself and finding concepts I thought I had to name – I said “mimic meme,” and I switched to the generic sounding “useful fiction,” but if I’m talking biology, I’ve just heard “adaptive fiction,” so I guess that’s the term. At some point, though, at some level, if our adaptive fictions are pervasive enough, they become our adaptive truths, self-fulfilling prophecies.

I want to call this rule, that there must be rules and penalties and so pain, regardless of the particulars, one of our foundational adaptive fictions except that once we have adapted to it so completely, “fiction” doesn’t quite get to it; if it is inescapable in the human world, a case can be made that it’s an adaptive fact. If it’s our rule, and we make the rules, then this rule is factual enough for you, something like that? I think in reality it’s a fiction, just maybe not for us.

But it will need to be if we’re ever going to take the next step.

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2019

About the Abusive Ape Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

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

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

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

I won’t hit you, though!

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

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

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

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

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

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