Reading List

Don’t be giving me reading. First of all, we just met. Why is it your first assumption that I know nothing? Also, it’s particularly dull if what you know I don’t know just happens to be the subject of your own books! Ha.

I’ll be sixty soon, and I’ve never been any good at anything but dreaming, which means I’ve had a lot of practice. More and more, whatever it is you think I need to learn, I’m way past it. I haven’t learned most of it – only enough to know there’s not a lot of meaning in it. I didn’t miss all the normal ideas, this idea always amazes and amuses me – what planet do some folks think I’m from, that I’ve never heard of punishment, of “teaching right from wrong?” No such human exists, not on this planet! I didn’t miss those lessons, no-one does, I simply don’t believe it, I just flat out disagree – an apparently impossible position, to many of us. I’m trying to dispute those things, trying to take away what you probably have always considered to be your “givens.”

Honestly, I think they give me reading because they think I’m in agreement and want to learn more! There was a Kids in the Hall sketch, Thompson, I think, as a guy in a bar looking for a fight, but somehow can’t manage to piss anyone off, can’t buy a fight – KITH was surreal as well as hilarious – and that’s me, cannot buy an argument, I have offered money, only a few hundred per hour, sure, but . . . to them it’s like I want to argue with oxygen, money wouldn’t make sense of it. I get that part.

We’re at something like a standoff. I’m trying to tell them they’ve missed everything and they’re telling me I’ve missed some . . . some what? Some detail of chimpanzee life? Some allele? The part where Mom explains to me that this is actually good for me, folks, that’s what I “missed,” that’s what you need to defend if you want to dispense with me.

If this is a given for you, punishments made us “good,” if these are the unassailable roots of your philosophy, I’m past that, past your roots, I don’t need more of your leaves or flowers. Moreover, if all you can do is list books and authors full of nothing but such foliage and not share or discuss the ideas therein with me, one, again, why are you assuming the teaching position? And two, it sort of suggests that you didn’t find any meaning in it either. So again, why?

I’m tired.

The world is full of people who want to tell you things whether they know anything or not. I try to talk tough and authoritative here, but I’ve been rather passive in life, basically taking that thought internally, acting as though I am most likely just one more loudmouth with no more wisdom than anyone else and so not forcing myself on anyone. The entire world did not reciprocate, but whaddayagonnado.

I am starting to see that my ideas are on the better side of quality ideas and that I’ve been shirking my responsibility, however, allowing lesser but more aggressive ideas to dominate. The Dunning-Kruger effect is like gravity, there is no real escape. It has the advantage of consensus. You only get what you settle for, and I’ve always been stuck in this problem – how to get what I want, when what I want is to not have to fight for everything? When my project is to break the dominance of the world’s fighters and establish an empire of reason?

And that Brutus guy said Caesar was ambitious, huh! This is my project, to change the world and not resort to a fight to do it, because then I’ve lost before it begins, same as every revolutionary ever. Next thing I’d be shopping for a strongman, meet the new boss, same as the old boss, world without end . . . except the end is in sight these days. I think I may have always sort of imagined the project of humanity to be just that, that that is what “human progress” was supposed to mean, an empire of reason, no? Just me?

Education is the cure, sure – but discipline is the cause. “Morality” – discipline, punishment, group social control, law – is the cause.

That’s not “talking,” that’s fighting. The fighters of the world are in charge because we’re all engaged in these fights, because in this paradigm, even in peacetime, the fight never ends, and everyone is involved – it’s been socialized. Education would be part of a better world, absolutely, but my point here for everyone is that we are not going to change the world by simply adding some better things and not removing the cause.

Fundamentalist “morality” is a great example of all the awful things we call morality, authority and/or authoritarianism of men, violent and harsh punishments, many restrictive laws, social control of women and children – and contrary to many believers’ “beliefs” these days, “fundamental” means its usual, normal thing here: what it’s all based on. Morality, in speech and scripture is some lofty ideal, but this is what it is down here on Earth, between human beings, it means the ritualized, sanctified practice of applied abuse. Educate me after and during that, sure, it couldn’t hurt, mostly, but it doesn’t make all that OK.

But that’s what every authority figure or teacher on Earth would have us all pretend, isn’t it? All of that is regrettable and sad, sure, but as long as you learn your lessons! Maybe you’ll be the generation that changes the world! Maya, the world of illusion. Of course, professor, no, I don’t think you’re lying to yourself and me and wasting all of our lives, and yes I do need an extension for my paper, if you please!

So, if you know of something I can read, someone out here ahead of me that I can learn from, someone whose answer for everything isn’t a deterrent or a law or a fight or a political or economic system or a new set of rules that we need to enforce, sure, talk to me. It’s COVID-19 lock-down time, I would purchase something to read if I could imagine something that would help but I’m stuck writing because the only writer of which I am aware that can satisfy my need for what I now see as reality, is me.

I know there’s plenty of stuff that rebels against Judeo-Christian morality, and no doubt plenty that critiques collectivist morality and every other sort too, but social control in general? Not saying there’s no reason for a dearth of literature “against morality,” reasons abound – I just think we’ve made an awful mess of things and we need to review our reasons, make adjustments. Also, there is some of this sort of talk in Buddhism, religion tries – or perhaps monastic life is a sort of a shunt, removing such introspection from the social mainstream. Plus there’s the odd one like the Marquis de Sade, not examples that seem to help the cause, perhaps.

R.D. Laing must be one too, but it didn’t seem to have been the point of the ones I read. Maybe, maybe I just wasn’t there yet.

You want to be with the weirdos on these subjects, popular ideas are clearly not working, clearly what is popular is what we are trying presently! I would direct you back to the beginning of this conversation, maybe you weren’t here yet, where I said things are not alright, otherwise I’d smile more and maybe even shut up once in a while.

Iain McGilchrist, author of The Divided Brain, said it, that our social control measures stress us out and engage our autonomic response that puts our left hemisphere in the driver’s seat, attenuating or overriding the right brain’s “big picture” function. He seems to be a rare case like myself, a person who simply followed a train of thought and let logic and reason take him where it would, and if it exposes our law and order as the cause of our troubles, he’ll tell you so too.

Now, I understand that there is a whole world full of literature and thought out there about how we’re civilized and controlled and altruistic and domesticated and educated and all that and the other side of that meme debate is we are still wild apes, still that creature that we and the chimpanzees were five million years ago, still with all that aggression and those drives and all that, I am aware of this dichotomy, if it deserves such a clear description.

It’s a false binary. In the first, the control worked, we’re all good now – so I guess the previous century of world wars didn’t happen or the present nightmares either. In the second, apparently evolution is a conscious, constant, minute to minute struggle like treading water and millions of years just disappear when a fight breaks out, as though when the whole world evolved, of the millions of things, only this one ape’s urge to fight did not. We don’t really use that gene or something, and when we “need” to fight, we bring it out of the closet, like that?

We’ve evolved when we want to say so and we haven’t when we’d rather say that is more like it, and again, on the dull and predictable side, wouldn’t you say. “We’re all good now” – I hear it like I hear “I was spanked and I’m fine,” and that’s exactly how we should all hear that. You have huge wars constantly. You’ve destroyed the Earth. You are not fine.

And by coincidence I’m sure, you are the only “moral” creature, the only creature who thinks abuse and pain are “good for you.”

 

 

Jeff

March 28th., 2020

Secrets

All your efforts are doomed, I’m sorry.

You’ve got it all backwards – I mean, a lot of us don’t have any version of it at all, but those who think they do, even those who have looked deeply and found the buried “truth,” I’m sorry, you’ve got it all backwards.

The best thinkers of the past, the ones who saw through the common sense of their times and places, yes, even them too. Of course, that’s who we’ve all been listening to and following, no-one is listing history’s worst minds as their influences, are they, and this is the world we have, so this is obvious.* Humankind has it backwards. It’s clear there is some basic assumption, probably more than one, that we simply have wrong, because all our great ideas turn to crap, and I mean communism and capitalism alike, as well as everything else, ether side of almost every issue. The great dichotomies are a ruse, the meaningful thing is not the difference or the dividing line in almost every case. More often the meaning and the power is in what is common between them.

I don’t want to lie and boast and say Only I can fix it. Of course I can’t fix it. All I’m saying is, I seem to be the only one that can even see it.

An example anyone can see, “Communist” Russia under Stalin VS Capitalist America under Trump. Two leaders of utterly incompatible economic systems? Does that seem relevant? Or two fairly identical alpha chimp dictators atop oligarchies, killing their own people? ToMAYto, toMAHto?

Everything we try turns to crap because of that alpha, of course, because of the chimpanzee hierarchical system we all live under. Both systems were conceived as attempts to control the alpha swine, democracy, communism, both were attempts to replace the alpha with a “reasonable senate of men” – betas and on down, I think we should read – and in both our examples they failed and we’ve reverted, allowed the alpha to re-establish himself.

That was an example, this isn’t the cause yet.

The example that sat me down this time was the internet, I had Niall Ferguson’s series on the TV, and I was reminded of what a democratizing force the web was supposed to be, all of humanity’s information at your fingertips (saw some McLuhan recently too) – and the reality is it’s an endless sea of ads and corporate interests, any egalitarianism carefully pared away and in the end it’s a mind control tool and misinformation enjoys the environment far more than real information does. Everything we try.

Communism, Capitalism, the internet – what else?

Religion? OK then, having exhausted that subject by mentioning it – again, like Dawkins’ maxim, we all agree everybody else’s religion has turned to crap out in the world, all of them but one, at least. Then just all of them for some of us.

Our incorrect assumption seems to be as basic as it could possibly be – good for bad, “literally,” if that weren’t an ironic and impossible attribute for that. I mean to say, I’m serious, our mistake is that basic, that foundational for our, I think this word may have to change, but for now – for our morality. Again, serious.

Many modern thinkers have caught onto that we are not conscious in all we say and do, and the unconscious has been named and mapped for ages before Freud and internal cosmologies like his can be useful sorts of metaphors, but really the details of these fictional or mythical landscapes aren’t the point, same as above, the point should be simpler, the point is simply determining what is good and bad. Freud and Augustine share a position regarding this, and that commonality is the salient thing about what they thought, not the vastly different cosmologies they each ascribed to. Neither Freud, Darwin, or anyone else has seriously differed with Paul and Augustine on this judgement, as far as I’ve been able to glean. (I, however, do. Seriously.)

People are bad and they do what they do to get better.

That’s our foundational myth and of course that’s the problem. We tend to assume our plans are supposed to make things better, we assume we have some power to make things better. It’s always a surprise when it fails, glass half full types that we stubbornly are about it! We can’t seem to imagine that the opposite might be true, that we weren’t so bad to begin with and that it is exactly our efforts that are bad, that it’s what we do that is so bad.

People are bad and they do what they do to get better. Did you buy it, will you allow that this is our idea? Careful, it’s a trap! I do think we hold that dear, but how could you after this – what is it about us that is “bad” or “good” if not what we do? What would it mean that we “are bad” if we say, did nothing?  What would it mean that we “are bad” if what we did “was good?” When evil happens, this is offered as some kind of proof, look how bad we “are,” and first of all this is all passive voice nonsense – really? Because somebody or everybody “is” bad? Did nobody do anything?

The bots on Twitter gave me a clue. You read it long enough, you start to think nobody on Twitter has ever heard of an evil motive – “Why would Dr. Mengele do THAT?” sort of thing, leveraging an assumption we all share that humans want to good and that no-one wants to do evil – to hide the evil intent, of course. We all have that positive sort of blind spot. No-one thinks about original sin, I know, but I swear, it’s behind everything, not with any Christian or Biblical details, I don’t mean that, I just mean the basic assumption it reflects, that we’re born bad and our interventions make us better.

You don’t have to know Augustine, you don’t have to be a Christian to spank your children, I’m pretty sure all human beings have this basic idea and this basic behaviour. Perhaps every religion has some meme that they alone know how to “raise children,” that non-believers fail in this responsibility – well, more than perhaps.

Let’s flip it over.

If we had the right model, would our interventions not then, uh . . . work? Wouldn’t you not expect to be continually surprised and disappointed? When nothing works, we change the model, I mean, in other contexts we do.

People are good and they do what they do to get worse. Not “on purpose,” as such, but we do.

I want to stop and just ask you, beg you – try that meme on. Play at looking at the world that way. It’s much better for us all that you are convinced by your own eyes, not mine or anyone else’s. Imagine what the world would look like if abuse, normal and expected or otherwise didn’t “make you good” at all, but the very opposite. Imagine that the world is unequal and unfair, but in this specific way, that abuse and rewards are not equal and opposite in that rewards do not change you and abuse does not change you for the “better.”

Be forewarned, though.

It’s a better fit, more things will make sense, but the truth is a bit nastier than the lie, fixing anything seems less like a fifty-fifty proposition and more like a very narrow path indeed. The light I posit and the end of the tunnel is real, but it is very far off, especially right now, here in this year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and forty.

 

Jeff

March 20th., 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This, in other conversations of mine, is a massive load of bullshit, how many times have I said that in regard to human matters like children, that we all, even judges and doctors and anthropologists, listen to Ma and Pa, and how they are indeed perhaps closer to the second group, intellectually speaking.

But in terms of who those same professionals SAY they listen to . . .

Unrelatedness Theory

Unrelatedness Theory

 

It’s something I hadn’t considered, not really breaking one of my rules to miss it, but definitely failing to apply a test I often brag about – flipping an idea upside-down, learn what it is better by seeing its reverse. My theoretical reader must know all the names I’ve been using, AST, Murphy’s Law of Nature, ‘the whip and the human response to it’ in the latest – well, this title is only saying, maybe all I’ve got is existing theory in reverse language? Self doubt is good for folks who are trying to pass themselves off as “thinkers.”

If relatedness theory is how altruistic behaviour decreases with genetic distance like light in spatial distance, then unrelatedness theory would be how antisocial behaviour increases with genetic distance, same, same?

Except at first glance, that creature looks very different on its back!

First of all, it’s true enough in its most extreme terms, lethal conflict, it’s mostly the unrelated we hunt and kill, sure.

Second, though, it rings a lot less . . . obvious. In negative relief, we are talking about causative things: antisocial behaviour is a powerful thing in the world whereas “prosocial behaviour” is mostly only the absence of hurting and killing behaviour. Psychologically, again, this from The Nurture Assumption, which, I know, but that was supposed to be a compendium, socialization researchers have failed to find much evidence in development for prosocial nurturing.

Further to this, the world could be full of unrelated people that never know about or feel our antisociality, while our closest relatives do indeed feel it, right? In this sense, in my usual immature accept nothing until I figure it out myself way, I submit relatedness theory is descriptive, but sort of avoids the negative causality, AST says it’s the antisocial stuff that is what explains what’s going on. I mean, I assume relatedness theory doesn’t talk about it, because I have yet to hear my AST idea echoed back to me from literally anywhere (and also I bounced the kernel of my theory, abuse for war, off of Bob and he didn’t respond with any familiarity about it). In the starkest terms, I think the prosocial fact that your mother didn’t eat you explains your existence; I don’t think it explains who you are. It’s the nasty stuff that happened to you that explains who you are, the antisocial stuff and your response to it.

Close relatives are proscribed from lethal aggression, mostly, that’s relatedness theory in extreme and we will risk or spend for others based on their share of our genes, that’s it among the living. I think there is a suggestion or more that beyond a certain distance, that is not your tribe, somebody thinks a natural village extends to third, maybe fourth cousins, and some number, a hundred, a hundred and sixty? I think this means the arithmetic doesn’t add up to enough interest beyond that, eighths or sixteenth shares aren’t detectable enough or something, family resemblances disappear? No, just the other family’s traits dominate, I guess.

Caveat – I probably picked most of that up in the Blank Slate, and while I was savvy to any obvious political crap from Pinker, I may have been fooled about more scientific-sounding stuff. Half of the above paragraph was in the form of a question because it does sound a bit male-shady.

So I keep coming across the idea of the residential schools, and of less genocidal boarding schools, and I’d decided that they are a workaround, a place for children to abuse one another and/or be abused – all by unrelated people, all bussed or flown in from all over, a workaround that defeats relatedness’ protections to allow for some serious abuse in the name of a larger than the aboriginal’s relatedness limited size group’s interests and conformity. If we didn’t know what resulted from this already, we could simply process the ingredients, what might we expect from a population engaged in self abuse sort of thing, and then perhaps begin to guess what that society’s interests are.

My guess isn’t different from the mainstream’s guess, competition, conflict, war. Listening to some stuff about Foucault lately and I will say that I wish to show this fight to be contingent and not universal, our fighting natures to be a matter of free will and not any iteration of an innate limitation. So, not necessarily and inevitably, but this large group social abuse serves a lifestyle of conflict, it seems to be the point of it.

I think in words. Not pictures (I wish), and not numbers (I also wish) – I literally had a recurring nightmare as a child of numbers, single digits, flying at me out of the dark and it terrified me! But I had this idea when the Covington kids got famous, in words, and it just struck me today, this aspect of AST probably has exactly the same arithmetic in inverse, the law of inverse squares – the more stranger genes you have, the more available you are for use and abuse, for obey or die authority, the bigger your share of stranger genes from mine, the less your individual value. The more all your value is your group value – in its purest form, conform or die, what use is a non-conformist with none of your genes? Did I just explain racism, like a real explanation of why we would want to be that way? Again, not just because we don’t feel “prosocial” towards others, but because our entire lifestyle is predicated on the existence of a vast unrelated pool of humanity to use and abuse and so keep the nation ready for war?

I think so, but I must be mad if I think that wasn’t already explained?

Ah! If that seems wrong, if some of our very closest, our children are getting some of the worst abuse, maybe again, the causality is in the negative – my child may be my closest relative and my genetic future – but in some senses, maybe more recently than in the far past or something – in my family, in my tribe of only a very few individuals under this roof, my child is still not myself and still the furthest from me genetically that is on hand, and so the most available for use and abuse. We don’t all qualify to host foreign exchange students – bazinga.

Wow, ouch.

Tell me how the positively worded version explains that? I haven’t read it all, but my sense from life and everything I ever heard or read, I think our collective answer has been some version of original sin: without these “prosocial feelings” among our relations, all that war is . . . automatic. Right? This meme exists somewhere between ‘we all have it,’ and ‘it’s what the bad guys of the world want you to think, that’s for sure.’ A contingent, presented as a universal, but reinforced constantly, just in case.

That last bit was my clue.

OK, I know this, beating the snot out of you is indeed more prosocial and less antisocial than stuffing and roasting you – not untrue, but again, the entire world of living, as yet un-killed human beings’ suffering the antisocial side is left unexplained, unaccounted for, and the entire branch of science marches on pretending it never happened and never happens.

Then this “social science” stuff comes out of nowhere, unconnected to biology and “hard science” and with an entirely different set of rules and methods, unconnected, because the connection is this entire thing, a history of pain and abuse that we’ve labelled prosociality and even “altruism” – “self-domestication,” is the latest label. Of course systems of knowledge are also systems of denial. (Insert my usual meme that someone has hijacked the obvious link, “EP” to poison it and salt the academic Earth where it should be so that it can never grow again.)

It’s hard not to feel you’re right about something when the line of thinking keeps being productive, keeps overcoming apparent obstacles with some ease and explaining more and more, in a more consistent fashion than previous theories. Murphy’s law though, both ways removed – I wish it weren’t all true.

So this goes to my main project – curing human aggression and war, why not?

I assume, since I’m saying that humans use unrelated humans to antisocialize their children – OK, now I’m saying it – working around their natural tendency to not want to, then this must ramp up as a group grows and continues to grow beyond the usual, natural limiting factors of size. It seems there would be a formula for it, the percentage of the population of a given group that is beyond the natural protections of relatedness –  zero percent for a group alone on an island or something, whether two small groups merged, fifty percent, or whether this civilization has progressed to tens of thousands, something upwards of ninety percent?, perhaps some threshold between, with a knowable relation to a propensity to war?

The formula for human critical mass, of a sort?

I assume Bob has some arithmetic for this, in the positively expressed version, same related to unrelated ratio in a population sort of thing . . . ? All this arithmetic makes a case that the pressure of population drives us to war, and again, that may be familiar, but it’s not automatic, and exactly this equation points to us working to drive one another mad not merely by our presence, but by our intentional, if not fully conscious behaviour.

The existence of structures that function as pressure valves, the voyeuristic violence of sport and fiction, this does not prove that the pressure was organic or natural – in fact, most pressure valves are for artifacts, not natural phenomena. We say “opiate of the masses,” and yes, but there is amphetamine in the water: we create the pressure and control it, setting it just where we like for our lifestyle, at a level where we’re always ready to “defend” ourselves.

It seems so simple – if you can have the conversation at all, if you can make this possibly schizotypal leap with me, that abuse is a thing, a currency, an all consuming human technology that has brought us to the brink and probably beyond, not an accident, not “not what we meant to do, but thank goodness it doesn’t affect us,” no.

Not at all.

I think that makes nine this short month, a new record, and a bad sign.

 

 

Jeff, mostly from

Feb. 29th., 2020

 

So by flipping the causality upside down, by not obsessively focusing on the prosociality and looking instead at the antisocial treatment of non-enemies, what changes is rather than explaining large cities and large societies as some rollout of our good sides, we can sort of redefine what a society is.

In theory, we can stop fooling ourselves that the thousands and millions people in our modern groupings have been brought into our moral circles, surely the author and authors of relatedness theory weren’t ignoring that our moral circles end at around our fourth cousins, that was their contribution. This extrapolation from there to our society isn’t Bob’s, it’s probably just National Geographic’s or something, a social meme at this point, but I think the replacement idea in this blog is that we can call a modern large society an antisocial group and be a little closer to the truth than to call it a prosocial one.

The technical advance in it, the civilizational advance, do we say that? – is that we gained a usable, unrelated pool of humans, something between friends and enemies, for whatever purposes such a thing can be used – like to harden one another’s children for the never-ending war effort, and for war generally . . . OK, I need help. I’m trying to remember other reasons, think of other reasons we would like that, and I’ve been in this mode of thought too long, I can’t turn my imagination elsewhere.

Does the prevailing narrative address this? Why did we bunch up into such huge groups, what am I saying of course they did, but never mind. It’s no doubt war anyway, but just without any choice on our part and without any talk of child abuse or any abuse. For animals, there is prosocial and there is dead, mostly. They fight, of course, but the losers of the fights are often not long for this world, I do not see a plan for sustained abuse there – of course to agree, you’d have to agree with me that we in fact have such a plan, and that’s too close to a circle for an idea that doesn’t already enjoy some popularity, I won’t press it. AST is a mode of thought, like evolution, like a school of psychology or something.

Trying to say, living, breeding victims of violence are what we’re studying when we look at human beings and to trace their development to a simple binary condition, live or dead, existing and breeding or selected out is to miss the entire subject.

The evolution of abuse and of humanity under abuse.

That’s where it’s at. Come on.

 

Jeff, extended and updated

March 9th., 2020

The Problem of Evolutionary Psychology

I tried to “do no harm,” tried to live without taking from anyone, without pushing anyone around, without hurting anybody. It hasn’t worked out – well, I mean, I survived pretty well, I’m almost sixty, it is theoretically possible, at least with the running head start of being male and white and let’s say “possessed of a certain low cunning” – it hasn’t worked out that no-one got hurt, or that anyone noticed my attempted passive sainthood. I’ve tried to write the details elsewhere, for today this is the point, not hurting anybody didn’t work out.

Through all my frustration and hurt about it, I have also been wondering why that would be and what I have determined is that you cannot evolve for a negative any more than you can prove one.

I’ve decided that we probably lack the genes to pay attention to things that don’t hurt, that what adaptations is an organism supposed to make to survive a fellow who was never going to hurt you? There may be some attraction there for some sexual selection, and perhaps some adaptation would be necessary for that to be an option – but people, men who offer no harm are not in any large majority, so these sorts of adaptive ideas, these selective forces if they exist, will be weak.

This basic one-sidedness of life, that peace and non-violence do not carry equal power in the world as their opposites, this must audit all of social science, and any social science must concern itself with the more powerful forces, pain, threat, and death, for the simple reason that these things exist, whereas, in scientific terms, as selective forces, or adaptations, or a real measurable thing in almost any way – peace and non-violence do not.

A popular school of thought has it that “nurture,” as a positive thing, a force to improve, or enhance has evaded psychological research for more than a hundred years, and of course this is why, they are trying to prove the negative, looking for an adaptation to a negative (meaning non-existent) stimulus.

Abuse and pain, those are real things, forces with objects and results. Psychology, the real kind, concerns itself with pain and abuse and adaptations to those things. Which brings me to paleopsychology, EP.

You know the old fashioned way of talking about each of our views of life, how we can compare Socrates’ and Kant’s “philosophies?” “ . . . than what is dreamt of in your philosophie,” like that, well, of course psychology is like that too, there is the general term, but we each have one also – and in my EP, all that matters is pain and abuse.

Game theory – this is not psychology – where is the pain? Where is the inner life? When you’re engaging in such basic arithmetic, this is sort of an end run around your inner life, you are doing the very opposite of psychology. Game theory is stripped down conflict, with any psychology carefully pared away.

Civilization, law and order, what we look like when we are “behaving,” this is not psychology – again, where is the inner life, where is pain? I mean, except as theory, threats, deterrents. Most EP sounds like boot camp, interested in everything except the interests of psychology. When that civilized, socially controlled ape they describe is behaving, building institutions, well fed and liberal, sure, the male-centric EP story of the usual sort has an explanation for that, I guess, we avoided the punishment, did the right thing – but in every generation when we succumb to his need for blood and war – you need actual psychology for that.

Because for as much as and as long as we’ve been “civilized,” we’ve been abused and abusing and prone to fits of world destroying rage.

Of course the overall, socially understood version of EP is toxic. That’s sort of a rule: name a thing as its exact opposite, this is how these toxins are made, call a primer on conflict, a version of the Art of War, “psychology.” OK.

I’ve been missing the lede, but the insight here, the part that brought me back to the computer after quite a lull, is that this basic one-sidedness of life, that the power is pretty much all on the dark side, this means that EP is never going to show us the way forward, that the road to peace is simply not in there. A serious look at it will identify the pain, the abuse, and where all that has brought us – a worthy goal, my goal, to be sure – but what it will tell us is what not to do.

And that seems to be the opposite of what the purveyors of EP are saying, isn’t it?

It’s almost like they’re just looking to justify something.

Ending these things always feels like I’m taking some easy way out, somehow, and maybe it’s true. This stuff hurts me, seeing my own nasty conclusions, it’s not so much dropping the mic as just running away from the sound of my own voice – hmmm, same as stuttering.

 

 

Jeff

January 28th., 2020

Part #2:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2020/01/29/the-problem-of-evolutionary-psychology-part-2/

What it Means

It means that the harder we try, the worse it gets. That’s what bad information can do. It means that there is no hope. It means that the planet will continue to warm and all the bad things we do when resources get scarce are all that is left for us.

It means all of that.

That’s what it means when you motivate your child with a pat on the butt.

What do you expect? Violence breeds violence and causes brain damage. If you don’t know the difference between giving food and shelter and trying to hurt someone, what do you expect? I know the rationale, believe me, every human knows the rationale – it’s not rational, it flies in the face of actual knowledge.

That’s called the fallacy of consensus, when everybody is wrong. In this, all are science deniers.

A pat on the butt is violence. This is a literal truth that is somehow . . . toothless. A law without an officer. Nobody cares.

Pats on the butt are good for you, teach you right from wrong, help you become a happy, healthy, productive member of society. These are lies that are invincible, impervious to scientific debunking. A social “truth.” Everybody cares very much. My argument is not complicated, but it’s invisible and the language it requires has not yet been invented, which is all one with the problem. I keep trying, but I’m not having much luck.

There is a downside to a pat on the butt.

I know, most of us can get that far, just not so far that this toothless literal fact matters. If we are forced to account for it, it becomes part of a bigger equation, a cost/benefit analysis and now the social truth has a caveat, a pat on the butt is “net” good for you, “net” teaches you right from wrong, “net” helps you become a happy, healthy, productive member of society. First – do you hear yourself?

It’s “good” for you, as long as you add in a lot of other stuff that really is good for you?

You know you can say that about anything that doesn’t kill you instantly, right?

It’s bad for you, shut up, you know it’s bad for you, because that’s the whole theory, punishments are deterrents because we all know pain is indicative of damage and so we instinctively avoid it, that’s not just science, like Skinner, it’s your science, you wouldn’t do it if you didn’t think there was some real life mechanism by which it “worked.” Skinner was an asshole, by the way, but I digress.

I can’t force you to be here for this conversation, I can’t force you place your chips on your science bingo cards or tell us all when your card is full, I know you’re free to not listen, but I can’t respond to this game of bait and switch either, you defending the use of the leveraging of negative stimulus by turning around and denying that your stimulus is actually negative! and so I say again, if you don’t know the difference between giving food and shelter and trying to hurt someone, what do you expect? Between literal, actual nurturing and some “no, really, this stuff you instinctively know is bad for you is actually good for you” nurturing, well . . . well that’s the education I am trying to give, isn’t it?

Yes, it is.

There is a downside to a pat on the butt and it matters. My entire blog is an attempt to prove it matters – and I don’t mean personally, or emotionally , or psychologically, or in any way you may define as “mere” humanism or “soft” science – those things are already all lined up in support for the idea that abuse is bad that the downside of a pat on the butt matters. I’m talking about evolution and genetics and anyway when I’m finished social science and the humanities will have a solid footing and all such divisions can begin to heal over. My blog says in the most rambling and disjointed way that the downside is where the causality is, where the science is.

Let me say that again: the downside is where the causality is, where the science is.

Meaning, Skinner was interesting and important, but he’s taken us all down a side-road, talking about the intermittent rewards system of punishments for his and our conscious goals and completely discounting the more direct and dependable results of punishment – what we call “the down-side,” meaning the pain and the damage, and what I call the antisocialization of people.

Meaning, law and order and the usual “civilization” narrative is not where the science is, meaning those stories are all a part of the lie, the social truth instead, meaning we are pushing ahead with our fictional origin narrative on a species level as well as on national levels.

Meaning there is no easier and more evil job than “law and order politician or vendor” because the cure you’re selling is causing the problem they’re buying it to fix!

Meaning, in reality, the world makes some sense, things are not impossibly complex, just upside-down. Spankings/prison makes you worse? Yes, science. Police families have extra domestic abuse? Yes, science. Everyone is raised with spankings, etc., so every serial killer was abused? Yes, science. Simple, when we get out from under the social lie and see the literal truth. “Do something” means “kill people” to an abused population?

Yes, science!

Meaning, back to the top, the harder we try, the worse we get, with this punishment idea, because science, bad things are bad, who knew. Not us poor abused, brain damaged idiots, apparently, but they are. I do that little exercise all the time, do you? What would I think if I weren’t so screwed up? What might an actual happy, healthy person think about it? You should.

Give a kid a beating, he learns more slowly.

Teach the kids to give beatings, we all learn more slowly.

It’s so weird, I really thought I had it this time. The whole world is upside-down, I really thought I was making the point with power this time.

But it’s impossible, isn’t it?

It just disappears, somehow.

One more try.

We’re wrong whenever we think “hurting that person will fix it,” and it was hurting you that gave you the thought. The hurt function is fully up and running, we’ve all been through it, and still here we are. You’re not going to change anyone in the other direction by simply putting them through it some more, are you?

And that’s all you got.

Except for that consensus. No argument, just the whole world on your side.

 

 

Jeff

November 27th., 2019

In the Beginning, Part 2 – Alphas are Offensive

This is a major rewrite of a recent blog, really both parts. I’ll probably delete the first one. A neat little “just so” package that couldn’t possibly be true, except it is.

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 a few elements, mostly the organization of group animals into hierarchies with the dominance of the alphas, and my AST, which describes the technology of abuse, including the technology of punishment and the human moral framework.

Once upon a time, the primate alpha starts the abuse, often randomly, to establish his privilege, and his victims, stressed, hurting, or simply hurting socially, turn and take their hurt out on someone they safely can, and so the abuse flows downhill in a champagne fountain of cortisol from alpha to beta and on down, as well as from alphas and betas on down to all below in no particular chain of command – I believe this is Sapolsky’s description of the 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.

In the human troop I would add, and each to their children, although that’s the second bit.

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 rap about how it’s good for you, how you’re “spoiled” without it (not my definition). So, that is us, lying to ourselves, and maybe that’s an 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.

OK, spoiler alert, I am going to get well past this portion of just-so fiction before we’re done here, I think. That’s more like a picture of the result than any part of the cause.

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, punish and abuse, 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. I don’t mean in defense, and I’m against it, I know that game theory is no game and we need to stop playing it. Whenever I’m reading some description of nasty old nature myself, I always think I’m hearing approval, advocacy for violent selection processes – that’s not only me, right? Much of that stuff is toxic, isn’t it? It’s 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” like it seems so many are saying, but to say this is the trap here, the invisible fence, this is what we need to break out of.

The path is a narrow one for me, we all have this other story already provided to explain all of this already and there isn’t much of a check for when we drift back into it. Of course theorists depend on logic and while I have a liberal agenda, my mission here is not self promotion and if what I think is reason cannot support my agenda, my mission will have failed. True science that does not refute humanism is what I’m after and there is plenty of socially constructed science for it already. I posit a single world, so this situation where “hard” sciences have one conversation while the social sciences and humanism are having another is simply intolerable. The humanity is missing from biology, or psychology is wandering off with no checks or both, and I can’t have it. There is some error where it all starts that has divided the two and the need for a new origin story is indicated.

I’m very close to it. My internal projections are that it is indeed in here somewhere. I haven’t lost hope that it’s all coming in this one yet!

If I fail, I hope I will simply drop the hard science, re-join the social scientists and stick with humanism. But if I succeed, social science will have its hard foundation and humanism can stop being unscientific. Worth a try, wot?

Which comes first, the selection for abuse, or the cover story, I’m not sure it matters. One would think they happen together, but 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, or all we still get today. So I think, in terms of causality and history, the deceit is the latest element, the modern – biblical counts as “modern” in these evolution talks – perhaps humanist adaptation we apply over our antisocialization – reversals like that we’re making people “good,” teaching them “right from wrong.” Surely our modern liberals beat their children to make them non-violent, at least that’s supposed to be the plan. Now, apparently we think that what was always a single purpose technology – violence and desensitization in service of the troop’s warrior goals – now we think it’s a magic wand, violence and desensitization in service of whatever we say, up to and including non-violence! Nothing simple and understandable here, cause matched to an effect, no – we apply a single stimulus and get whatever result we wanted, like magic.

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, not mentioning any names.

The existence of the alpha is antithetical to the existence of these reasonable senates of men anyways – pick a world, will you? I don’t mean to be so pointedly political, but turn on your television, you’ll see it’s true. The alpha’s raison d’etre is to make sure these coalitions never develop or at least never achieve primacy and if he wasn’t winning, he wouldn’t be there. I think this is where I get to the point of this re-write, an accidental epiphany resulting from that idea – this is not a defensive organizational structure!

The alpha doesn’t give a damn about your security. Our paramilitary primate social structure isn’t defensive, it’s offensive, because the boss’ random violence does not bias a society towards stability and prosociality, but to aggression and war and hierarchical pyramids are not agreed upon but forced.

I’ve seen alphas that do apparently defensive things, monkeys, turkeys, all sorts of creatures whose leaders use their capabilities to make sure the whole troop gets across the road safely, like that (well, maybe also making sure we are all going to the beach right now, his force on the drivers also directed at his stragglers), and if human alphas do things like that, that’s great, but other than all that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play, sort of thing. I think folks who have gotten too close to gorillas have experienced the good, selling side of their alpha acting defensively for the troop and certainly we see the boss lion doing that, but that’s not all our alphas do, and maybe it’s not the most important thing either.

Ours provide a violent selective pressure at home, analogous to the predator’s role in the field, except that the predator’s presence keeps you home by the fire and the alpha’s presence makes home less safe and moves you outside, into conflict and trouble, they’re opposing forces that way. The neighbors’ threats lose their relative power when there’s a threat at home also, so in this way, the existence of privileged, aggressive, abusive individuals biases the human troop to aggression.

It struck me that limiting the adult males is a poor defensive strategy, and so if there is a military advantage to the alpha’s tournament, it must lie in offence. Maybe turkeys and horses and such don’t have other troops of turkeys and horses to defend against, just predators and cars, maybe one strong male is enough if wars are not among your problems, as per the defensive alphas mentioned above. Of course sometimes the boss is a coalition, lion triplets etc., also, driving off other sets of male siblings. If they were more dangerously organized in their warfare, perhaps they would want to keep more lions home. A digression, though, we and the chimpanzees don’t do that, there’s always more than one or a few of us to worry about.

Primate troops are larger than lion ones, less purely predatory, they have some group competition to deal with and they do not banish most of the males. I think the existing story has the competition within the hierarchy, the desire to be at the top making all the males strong which aids in defence, but that alpha is still there and their strength is a conflict for him, so I’m suspicious.

It’s still not in his interest to have really strong competition about, and he’s still pretty much keeping his own bloodline, not sharing his tournament winning genes, or so I have read – but with luck that was right-wing poor science, the idea that there are alpha family genes? It’s not very humanist, rather royalist instead! I don’t really think so, though, alphaism sure looks hereditary. Now, I must acknowledge, the troop still exists, so something about it is working, something about it aids in defence – and that I used to say in every blog for years. That every coach will tell you, every general: the best defence is a good offence.

Still, the hierarchy is an offensive strategy.

I mean, our national and every other level of society’s narratives all say “defense,” when of course it’s really all one thing, every fight means both – but it bothered me the moment I opened my eyes to see people handing out beatings and talking about “right” and “good” and “defense.” And now I think, having had a look at the alpha and how he operates, I feel I can make the case that it’s not an even match, two equal sides of a coin, that indeed the first cause is aggression and not defense – I’ve been fighting that, I wanted to say we do it all from fear, defensively, but if that were the case we wouldn’t be so used to watching the boss kill off his own generals. I haven’t lost the moral argument, though! It still all stems from abuse at home.

Of course bombers and missiles make the case too, we can call it all defense, but it’s aggressive first, aggression generally is a deterrent, so the case can be made, aggression is defense – but defense is defense even more, can you say “duh” in a supposed science blog? The best defense is a good offense but a good offense is an even better offense than it is a defense nonetheless! Clear? Clear maybe after our leaders get us into a missile or a bombing war where we lose so many people at home despite spending so much on “defense?” When you’re packed off to Iraq to “defend” America and they remembered your rifle but seem to not have brought your body armour? Offense is offense first.

Anyway, defense requires little explanation, we don’t need to make defense complicated. But offense is a choice and requires a rationalization, I think, and I think abuse at home is what biases us towards it. Alpha abuse looks to me right now like the beginning of it, but it seems that the function, abuse for aggression, is happening everywhere, at nearly every level of society. We are all aware of the extreme, illegal sort and its often terrible outcomes, but the normal acceptable stuff is the same function, producing a normal, acceptable level of aggression in the population that we attempt to control or direct with laws – and abuse for infractions and there’s a hole in the bucket, Dear ‘Lizah.

At the most basic level, words are not things, meaning in that sense, words are the very opposite of things, and so it is quite impossible that their function is not at least partially to be found in this . . . reversal. Meaning – if we chose “defense” as a way to talk about our aggressive wars, we chose that word exactly because it’s the wrong one, the untrue one – aggression is not up for debate so much. You can leave things as they are by not talking, and if you are applying labels, we have to consider that at least some of the time you are engaging in misdirection, because the truth was already right there before you opened your mouth.

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 of  group control of tyrannical leaders that comes to mind is Julius Caesar, maybe the French and Russian Revolutions – how many alphas have been taken down by their lessers in history? That’s the next alpha’s job, isn’t it? Also, did not some new terrible alpha rise out of each of those attempts rather quickly?

My idea to call Antisocialization Theory a condition, the other side of the story, goes like this: AST is the practice of physical and social abuse in order to activate physiological and psychological and 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 and crazy enough to attack the enemy’s homeland. The alpha’s function seems to be to abuse who he wishes, driving everyone somewhat mad, and providing a sufficient threat from behind to keep us moving forwards, towards the battle. The alpha’s contribution, the rock to the enemy’s hard place.

Offence and defense are one, but they are, they more and more are, for we who were once one with the ancient chimpanzees, because alphas are offensive. The structures that produce them or that they create, are aggressive.

We are not going to solve for war by analyzing our defensiveness, by interpreting our development as motivated by defense and never questioning our aggression, simply acknowledging it as a regrettable fact. Our troubles are exactly as intractable as our aggression is unquestionable. The toxic misogyny online is supported by some stopped too soon science that calls aggression innate, treats it as a noun or one of Plato’s stupid essences, rather than a psychological thing and a choice, a strategy.

And those evil, EP trolls have cut off the inquiry!

That’s why I’m here. No respectable scientist is going there anymore! The alpha’s trolls are even more offensive, ha. The theory, I guess is that these trolls are so protective, that questioning their/our aggression is met with such fierce resistance that it would appear to be a survival issue, the emotion betrays a life or death sort of core belief about it – which, while that makes sense, our conflict strategy is an aggressive one, so it’s critical because that’s the game – still, this “solution” of blocking our own understanding of it is no solution at all. I think I’ve said before, it’s the best solution the in-group can find, but all humans are in one of these groups, they are all using this solution and still, we are all at risk!

I think we are on the brink of some future where our survival requires something other than fighting one another, so we need to think above group level, at multigroup level now, in order to not kill ourselves and everything else, sort of on purpose.

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 for this ostensibly defensive aggression – 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.

And if you get it, if you see things this way, and you see a world of people whose best guess, whose only answer is strength and toughness and fighting the good fight and striving for that and you know this is never, ever, in another million more years going to work and all our worst guesses about the future have no option to come about because no matter what we want we only know one way to get anything and that’s fight and compete and struggle and we have pretty much beaten this world to death already.

 

 

Jeff

Nov. 24th., 2019

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

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

AST and the Ape with Two Brains

Can’t use the guy’s title in my title, can I?

I like the Steve Martin reference anyway, because, well, I’m not right, am I? What the Hell has that got to do with anything?

I was already in a state, either some medicinal cock-up, toxoplasmosis, or just the three-year anniversary of losing my life coming around, but I’ve been having short nights and day naps and way too much fun talking to myself until I’m really not and I’m writing all day and night . . . and again, when I’m in this suggestible condition, some clever idea comes along and takes me away.

It’s this Iain McGilchrist dude and his Divided Brain idea.

It’s not a revolution for me, I wasn’t walking about invested in some meme about a single, integrated brain or consciousness, nothing like that. OK, wait, maybe I was, but that was the project, the plan, not my assessment of the current state of affairs. Not sure I had settled on such a clear statement of exactly two, mind you, horrible and honest to say, I was till sort of coming from the old ghost in the machine idea, I wasn’t trying to match the divisions in everything to any physiology, taking the I’m not a physiologist sort of stance – ha! That’s the politician “I’m not a scientist” stance – so reality doesn’t matter! Good Lord.

Iain knows this.

As a television watching member of the great unwashed, I hadn’t heard anything about the hemispheres since it was calculation vs emotion either, just as he said – this is frustrating. I mean it’s fun at times like these, when we get the next sensational update – but every update means we’ve all been stagnant, left behind and stupid for much of the recent past. Not to mention the guy bringing us the update is all pissy about it  like it’s our fault! Get over it, Man. You’re happy now, the headlines and the money are flowing, your department are the ones reaped the benefit of that stupid press last time, not the public.

That’s your deal with the Devil, don’t blame us!

I should talk, my pissiness is bloody boundless. Anyway.

No, not “anyway.” Let’s go with that. A great source of irritation for me has just been made clear by Iain, a great deal of the wind I try to blow against is just this situation, maybe. I don’t want to say “for me,” that is arrogant and braggadocious, and certainly we all suffer this – when our right brain has worked out something complex, like it does, a flood of human left-brained minutiae rubbish shows up to argue about it.

Right?

We need a safe gun policy!

No, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” and it’s modeled after the M-16, but it has . . . irrelevant minutiae doesn’t even address the question – this is standard fare on social media, not one of the logical fallacies that show up from time to time. The bread and butter.

Do not elect these fascists!

Actually, America is a republic, and the current policy is crypto/pseudo/post modern . . . starts with a simple binary choice and now there are a hundred versions, and if I sound like I meant the wrong one, then they win or something.

Our left brains are trolls!

Trolling is an exercise in pushing left-brain dominance – and yes, look at the disintegration.

I noticed early on that the people around me weren’t synthesizing things like I was, that they didn’t seem bothered by dissonance, that they carry around conflicting ideas and principles and don’t seem to mind, when one fails, they put it away and pull out another one. Country music on my mind, so

Some folks leave church all buyin’ in and tryin’.

And some folks shake it off!

We ain’t in church Son, just you get the rope.

Extreme, click-bait example, way to build bridges there, Mate. But this was supposed to be me, discussing something within my scope – me.

I don’t enjoy the dissonance I have, it’s awful to come up against it, I understand we spend our lives running from that, and no kidding, “you’ve always been wrong about everything, or at least half” – that doesn’t just hurt, it takes the point and the motivation out of you, that’s like “how do I go on?” Or worse, depending, it’s brain stuff, maybe it’s “how would I even know if am ‘going on?’”

Debilitating, that is.

No doubt, we will move Heaven and Earth, make a million angels dance on a pinhead (is that a description of a microprocessor or what, shut up, focus)  and utterly ignore the bounds of truth to escape it. Knowing that, the conscious work would seem to be looking for a real way out of it first, because you are going to pick one anyway, real or not. Where is the harm in taking a shot at reality in that scenario?

Sure we say we won’t know it when we find it, but how would we know?

So I try. I learn something new, job one is do I have a place to put this? Does if it fit, does it clash? If it fits, if it has to fit, what previous idea is now defunct and has to go? I know I’m sure to be full of undiscovered inconsistencies in my mind, but I am trying not to add any new ones. New popular science memes and such, any new thing should go through this curation process, and I try, and I’m sorry, but, I’ve always been a little lonely, feeling like I’m the only one I know who tries very hard.

If it doesn’t fit, ridicule it and back burner it, I guess that’s my way.

Brain hemispheres didn’t not fit, I was just ignoring it – the calculation vs emotion meme didn’t seem to bear on my abuse focus anyhow, for me the abuse hurts both of that anyhow, you feelings and your IQ, so drawing that line didn’t come to bear on anything I was holding dear. But this new take bears!

It’s more small picture vs big picture, apparently, left vs right brain, like, hard little facts vs higher levels of complexity – there was an elegant little test with pigeons, by covering one eye at a time, it seems that one side of the pigeon’s brain finds tiny food among tiny non-food items, seeds in the dirt, while the other side of the brain sees the larger world around, the lay of the land, watches for hawks – bigger picture.

I have a small concern there, very small, but still: pigeons are fearless. I’ve watched them not avoid predation at all on my TV (huge catfish were one such predator). I hear the ring-necked doves on the mainland take to the sky in a lightning storm in some mad game of chicken! Perhaps you saw the Facebook video a few years back of that toddler grabbing a pigeon by the head and taking its cracker? Did you notice, the bird is utterly untraumatized and doesn’t even walk away?

LOL – it doesn’t hurt the theory, just that the hawk example may not actually work for this exact creature, and I don’t assume McGilchrist is a pigeon biologist. This right brained “big picture” is unhurt by one small left-brain detail example being off – but. Ha.

It does sort of suggest he hasn’t talked to Bob Trivers, who was indeed a pigeon biologist, and that’s never an endorsement in my mind! I sent Iain an email suggesting just that, got a polite answer from a student or someone. Ha, boy I’m having some fun here. Again, not a criticism, would be an appeal to authority anyway, and again, this pigeon detail doesn’t matter, pigeons surely have a big picture whether being preyed upon is part of it or not – and I know, it’s bizarre if it’s not, but it seems that way with them!

I’m just saying, dating service to the intellectuals, you two boys complement each other nicely, I plan to read McGilchrist, but it’s taken me three years, the last book, I’m having issues, so I’ll watch the films and project, conjecture, “extrapolate” I’ll say, if it looks good! Please let me stop having so much fun sometime soon. Here’s the thing.

Trivers’ Folly of Fools, the deception stuff, and the interpretive function suggested for the right brain by McGilchrist et al., I assume he’s not alone, that seems all one to me – and if right brain damage is truly a legitimate way to think about it, then maybe I am the third leg of that table, and it’s abuse causing it, right?

I jump ahead, part of the process for me, go too far and then see if it’s supportable, but stuff comes to me as one liners sometimes and I have to catch up –

Left brain dominance is a right brained idea that says “hey, we should listen to left brain” when we’re stressed, in the ol’ fight or fly debate.

OK, bloody obvious, you put it that way. All part of the what’s the word, the autonomic response? – no research required.

Stress makes you fast and stupid? No excrement, Einstein! No dung, Dirac. But OMG, is it that easy to shut down our higher processing? I mean, is it really half shut down all the time? The audit is proceeding at quite a pace.

He talked about “peaks of civilization,” Homeric age Greece, classical times, the renaissance – another foible, I think, classic European ignoring of Babylon and such, but again, not a deal breaker – he said they rose and fell on a crest of left brain dominance I think – rose on it? I think? – but his point was fell from it, and I see a crack for me to slide into there, too, my general split from the whole civilization meme. He said our attempts to control one another – civilization – is what stresses us out and leaves the right brain out of the loop, and yeah, sure. He even pointed to my cause – these ostensibly legitimate attempts!

Hey, there’s one out there like me!

I’m dropping the microphone.

That was the eureka moment, right there.

See you in ten minutes, probably.

 

 

Jeff

Sept. 24th., 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