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

While the geneticists are telling us the old Nature/Nurture debate has been made obsolete or been solved, depending who you talk to, I just went ahead and solved it. Part #6

Now that’s a long title, but it’s a great Tweet, isn’t it?

This is convergence, this little essay, for me this is where all the major threads in my mind come together: the ancient classic dialogue, human behaviour, child discipline, and yes – even trolling.

OK, that wasn’t bad, but this is just the bullet point brainstorming stage right now.

  1. A note about “things”
  2. A note about the “Nature” thing
  3. Trolling and narrowing the argument
  4. The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
  5. Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation (too late, we already have several)
  6. Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints
  7. The “Deep Roots of War” thing
  8. Self-actualization

Whups, turned into a Table of Contents. Maybe that’ll work.

 

  1. Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints

 

I’m sorry – you could probably shuffle the titles and the text in this series and they’d match up just as well, and every chapter looks the same to me too. The part six heading is starting to look like the overall one, the series title as well. Same stuff, I’m afraid. I’ll try to come at it from a new angle.

I’ve been trying to learn biology and evolution, brain science, as well as continuing to learn about psychology and philosophy. Blindly, at home alone, reading, I almost walked straight into the library at the University of the bloody Alt-Right (via a nasty little site dedicated to alt-Right “science” called Quillette). I read a bunch of Steven Pinker’s books, Judith Rich Harris, and although Rich Harris didn’t seem political, I’ve since come to understand that the Alt-right likes her and Pinker, and maybe a little bit of why. I know I differ with them both where they touch upon parenting, but I do with everyone. I’m afraid I may never get to Dawkins, I’m not happy with him politically either, but Pinker summarized him, laid out the Selfish Gene idea. It all seemed like good info, biology seemed to line up with reality a lot better than the ideas I had about popular psychology and such, and my thinking changed.

Unfortunately, it seems that biology in these contexts, behaviour, psychology – has become the territory of racists and Nazis. My thinking hasn’t changed that much!

I am not one of those, I swear to God, but all one need do today is mention some biological concept and it seems that one is choosing sides. No SJW, no good person wants to hear about why the world that we hate the way it is would be that way, it seems to be doctrinal that there mustn’t be any real reasons, or at least not biological reasons.

“Societal” reasons, culture-down explanations seem to be the answers that aren’t proscribed, what I see, every hundred tweets, is some version of “. . . because we live in a society which . . .” which is the formula for a tautology and it really doesn’t matter what words precede and follow it. We define a society is a bunch of organisms in a group and it’s rather circular to only define the organisms that way, as members of the society.

You don’t have to be on the alt-Right – and I’m not – to think this: the society thinks what its members think. Yes, there is plenty of meme flow in the other direction, and I know, some lines of thought are simply not made available in certain societies, but none of this communication or philosophy changes biology. If these cultural memes do not serve our biology, they do not last. Natural selection suggests that our eternal problems, the human condition, has at its roots some cause underwritten by our basic biological necessities. The memes we see and hear to support our never-ending struggles like racism and inequality, to support our sense of group identity and conflict, these, even when expressed by the society, I think we can assume find fertile soil in the individual, in our biological selves. Not the tree, not racism, that is not an evolved trait, which again, might have been the Nazi conclusion – but the fighting and the violence that underlies it.

Racism isn’t why there is violence; racism is one of a number of vectors by which to rationalize the hatred of, and the killing, discounting, dehumanization, degradation, exploitation, etc., etc., of human beings and if you think that would end if we were identical clones, then you’ve been listening to the bad guys. Our long aboriginal existence and the long developmental period our species has undergone did not have us eternally battling, pale Swedes against Nigerians. That scenario is rather new. In the normal human situation, our neighbors are our cousins and we have to create ways to differentiate, for security. Any fighting we’ve done for millions of years has been like that, with those guys next door. So, there you go.

I’m not the Nazi here; I’m not the one who blames humanity’s violence on the fact that people come in different colours. Were you? I mean until now?

So, the Deep Roots of War idea doesn’t support racism, I mean unless you want it to. I mean, it does support war. And if you like war, then I guess you don’t probably mind race war, so the connection is there, if not directly, and the Deep Roots of War is still responsible for all of our ills in the end, it’s still depressing as Hell. Because we’re calling it “biological,” some folks will tell you it’s written in stone, and that’s what we liberals hear when we hear it, some version of “that’s just the way it is” – and Nazism. Remember, for certain mindsets, the “Deep” part might mean something less than six thousand years, which sounds short to a scientist, but that mindset thinks it’s eternity. That framing makes if forever, since the beginning, and literally written in stone. Anyone who has read me before, anyone following this train of thought, knows that I think the Deep Roots of War are behavioural, a choice, and that I’m trying to lay it out for us, bring it into the spotlight.

Again, to say that our troubles are based in our biology, a Nazi could say that, but to say “based in our biology” is not the same as saying I like it, I agree with it, and we should just go with it. That would be the Nazi stand (based in a badly biased “reading” of the science), I think; it is not mine. I am an SJW, I want to change these things. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am also a truth seeker primarily, and to change these things we need to understand them, and if that goes to some aspect of us being animals, then we need to understand that. Not to “excuse it” as some SJW on Twitter assumed just the other day, which I never said and never do, but I understood their assumption. At least online, again, biology seems to be the province of Nazis and racists. Well behavioural biology and evolutionary psychology, to be more accurate. The SJW person online heard “evo-psych” and was done with the conversation.

That can’t go on, that’s for sure. The good folks of the world need to own that science, those people can’t be trusted with it! (It occurs to one that if the Nazis and racists had any explanation, any science or even theory, that they wouldn’t always be trying to co-opt every new gene, every new insight from science. They’re still searching for their first bit of scientific support. We can’t trust their motivations, and we sure can’t trust their talents.)

A Jehovah’s Witness spoke to me a few days ago, gave me a brochure, and the point of his talk and the brochure was, what would you rather believe, these other theories, or a full-blown resurrection with all your friends and family? Put that way, who could argue? But I fear SJWs are choosing their culture-down explanations with the same criteria as the JWs, going with I’m sorry, blank slate social science, the same sort of thing as the ladies going into psychology and leaving firmer sciences to the men, the ladies and the good men choosing psychology and leaving behavioural biology to the KKK. It’s a sad result, but I get it.

In the most basic terms, we often think of two worlds, the nasty old one we have and the shiny new one we want, and it appears that the humanities and the social sciences reach for the new one while many biology projects seem to drag us back and down into the old one. I’m sorry. The old one is where the troubles are, and we carry it with us. The only real solutions are going to be in there, we have to work through it if we ever want that pretty new one, and I do, I really do. I’ve found something too! The answers really are in there, for those who seek with a pure – non-Nazi – heart. I say again, do not fear the Deep Roots of War ape, that’s what the bad guys want. They’re keeping him in a cage and torturing him, only letting us see him when he’s in a rage. They have gentle secrets to hide, truths that don’t fit their agenda and things that work better when we’re not conscious of them.

We need to advocate for the Deep Roots of War ape. We need to look at him with love, understand his fears and address those. The answer, dear liberals, SJWs, is not to hate that part of ourselves and deny it, and it certainly isn’t to let the bloody Nazis of the world have him to do with whatever they want.

In academic terms, the schism between social science and firmer sciences must end, the good people can’t be ignoring science if they have real world goals and the bad people can’t be the only ones with access to the CRISPR machine.

 

Jeff

Feb. 20th., 2018

“Lazy”

No-one is lazy, nothing is lazy. It’s always slander, and almost always baseless.

“Lazy” is what a writer or a thinker says when his argument has run out of steam, and it’s always some sort of bigoted “reason” applied to some group of people that we will allow it for. Voters are too “lazy” to research the issues and the candidates, most people are “lazy” and don’t plan for the future – it’s not that other people are slaving away upwards from forty hours a week to muddy the issues and manage what we get to know about candidates, it’s not that “less lazy” people take every penny poor people have before they can even afford to go to the doctor, again, as their paid job, all day long.

I’ve been learning philosophy in a podcast, and that’s every damn philosopher’s answer about regular people too, why we don’t think more. They’re living lives of contemplation, but regular folks are – OK, intellectually – “lazy.”

Of course, it’s understood, at least since the industrial revolution, right? “Lazy” is bad, sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. This when all these lazy plebes’ constant labour before and after that amplification of it has all but destroyed the world. It’s amazing that it could need to be said, but it wasn’t those lazy gorillas did all that. “Work” isn’t all good, not by a long shot. We didn’t wipe this environment out on our vacations. We do that at work.

That podcast, Philosophize This, by one Stephen West, is a good overview/history of philosophy, but I swear, if we run all things philosophical and/or psychological through a filter of biology and evolutionary thinking, then we can really start to learn something. Case in point, Stephen describes a version of human nature, a story to explain human laziness, that if we live beside a stream, we tend not to use a distant stream for our water, that of course, we go to the handy one. In this blank slate, philosophical conversation, this shows laziness to be our default condition – but biology has a different take.

That is not laziness, that is evolution, survival. We need water, but to walk for miles spending calories for calorie free water makes no sense. This sort of “laziness” is demonstrably selected for and survival critical. Clearly, the person whose take on human nature is alluded to above, has a stake in someone else’s output. Perhaps he has a food stand between the streams.

Beware of the “lazy” label, it’s always a dodge, a slander thrown out in lieu of an actual argument. Lazy is good, the world needs more lazy. It’s the Hippocratic oath, a huge part of first doing no harm.

 

Jeff,

Jan. 23rd., 2018

Alphas, Betas, and Human Beings

Alphas, Betas, and Human Beings

 

Brainstorming session.

Our line split with the chimps’ line about five million years ago and the chimpanzee and bonobo line halfway between then and now. To infer some simple three-way split on any behavioural vector over that sort of timeframe is crazy, we all could have played one another’s parts a thousand times over by now, but it looks today, within my paradigm, antisocialization theory, that we split by winning some sort of a war, by finding a way to rule the drying world and the savanna and thus relegating the cousins that became the chimpanzees to the shrinking rain forests. We split, we changed, and we became dominant, took over the world.

Now the general, hippy-dippy environment that produced antisocialization theory would like to see a continuum, that we got meaner and split from the root-stock, and if that’s a repeatable biological function, that today’s chimps perhaps also split from the rootstock by getting meaner, and the rootstock maybe resembles the bonobos, that is to say, only as mean as an animal needs to be who isn’t at war with its own, tough enough for nature but not apparently genocidal and specicidal like homo sapiens. If there were anything else to support this sort of a trend, then we might see the chimpanzees as a few steps down our road to antisocialization and wars.

As it stands, these are just tempting just-so stories.

I’ll elaborate, and build an edifice on these shifting sands, of course, because I’m trying to make thinking this way possible, trying to create a different paradigm. New ideas need a lot of preparation, decades of groundwork. Trivers has said that his first big theory and book was well purchased and even well read, but not understood. I think it took a long tome – oops, long time – to change the field, because it took a long time for people to understand it (was it “Social Theory?”). A long tome and then a long time, ha.

If anyone’s following my latest purges, you’ll see that I struggle; I think I have a brilliant new insight, and I write it down, irresponsibly publish, and then realize I’m using all the wrong words, or at least a few critical ones. Case in point, just lately I’m excited about this flash I’ve had about alphas and “betas” – and that “beta” word is probably the opposite of what I’m looking for, the Beta is like the Prime Minister if the Alpha is the king, right? I wasn’t looking for the second most successful randomly violent and oppressive male in the troop, I was going for the opposite of an alpha, not an alpha wannabe – I need to be saying “non-alpha” or “affiliative males” or something, right? I’m sorry. It’s the basic alpha meme still working in me – friggin’ genius figures out the alpha’s an asshole, but he’s pretty sure the asshole’s lieutenants are all right still, and so, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. No.

That wasn’t the idea.

The point was to say that a better definition of altruism is mostly non-alpha group members cooperating in such a way as to manage, limit and control the destructive power of the alphas, that the benefits are for the group.

Still in just-so storyboarding mode, my first attempts to flesh this out will follow my heart and postulate that altruism is not a group function, not only a non-alpha strategy against one’s own alphas but rather a status or class function that seems able to work across groups, as in the parable of the good Samaritan, or as with the global goals of political movements, rather than an inter-group competitive one, which inter-group competitive strategies I’ll postulate as alpha methods.

Back to our cousins. First, I got questions.

One, it’s clear that the bonobos have a hierarchy, isn’t it? Bonobos got alphas? I mean, my just-so story here says, “no, they don’t,” or at least they’re not the be-all, end-all of their social structure like they are with the baboons.

LOL – apparently the female alpha bonobo is the big Kahuna!

Two, same for chimpanzees, I guess, they got alphas? I know their aggression is portrayed as a result of male bonding and spare time, very much a group hunting party, but where is the alpha in that? Again, that’s inter-group stuff, the raiding parties and it’s what’s brought out in discussions of primate aggression, but I need to research, find out for sure if Sapolsky’s baboons’ champagne fountain of stress is observable among all the versions of chimpanzee as well – meaning not just humans and baboons. Well, having accidentally put it that way, I guess that’s my answer, so I’m just gonna push ahead.

Along that same just-so vector, bonobos as some degree of mean and dangerous, chimpanzees as more so and humans as the most, or the worst, this probably correlated to an increase in the relative power of the alpha within groups of these apes – whups, starting to sound a little Nazi, like it’s a good thing, leader worship insures world domination – nope, that’s not it. Alpha rule insures harsh nature. Alpha rule exists today among all sorts of creatures that cannot read or write or think not to eat their last bit of food the minute they’re hungry.

Alpha rule is well documented by Sapolsky, again, a champagne fountain of cortisol would seem to be the structure of baboon life. I think it’s a mistake to assume that structure is associated with increased cranial capacity, though. We’re fairly sure that it was something about the inter-group conflict that did that, I think mostly, the daunting task of gleaning friend from foe. Social hierarchy among primates would seem to be more foundational than the giant human brainpan – random alpha violence and all.

(Oh no, new disruptive thought: alpha-ism increases with human dominance of other creatures, providing our own predator audit on the old and sick, the weak links, when external predation is successfully controlled? Never mind! Later.)

This is a thought I would rather avoid, but that’s not a voice to follow if you’re lucky enough to notice it, so, what about this – altruism developed as a cooperative strategy among the non-alphas, eventually evolving to civilization and law, morality, religion, all the nice things in modern human life – art? Sure, why not? LOL. Unfortunately, despite all the great things the non-alpha’s strategy has produced, success in the original venture isn’t one of them. Law has not replaced the alpha or the primate social hierarchy. The truth may be somewhere on a spectrum between that the best examples of humanity’s highest moral achievement show that the non-alphas and their altruism are making inroads and on the other hand that this non-alpha strategy simply can also provide a terrifying level of organization for the alpha’s violence.

That’s an awful thought and it means it’s a very high stakes contest.

Perhaps, with this little bit of apparent success, now it is time to step it up and get conscious about it, if we knew what the goal of being good was, which we didn’t, we might have a chance at more progress. The current, Trivers’ defined version of biological altruism, that’s the opposite of the altruism we need in this shrinking world, altruism just for your existing social group, that is not morality, that is a recipe for war. In conversations about morality, altruism is much bigger, more global – and this idea, that it’s a hedge against alpha-ism, well.

That might be closer to the right order of magnitude. That might work. This is one we need to stop going to our archetypal “leaders” for, and start to think in terms of reigning those guys in instead.

. . . continued, probably, still thinking.

Jeff,

Dec. 5th., 2017

Genes as Behaviour: Conservatism

            Genes as Behaviour: Conservatism

 

I’ve said some of this before.

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Robert Sapolsky on the subject:

https://youtu.be/7gKJLadgzfY

Here’s that entire lecture:

https://youtu.be/4WwAQqWUkpI

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jeff

Sept. 22nd., 2017

No Room in the Warrior Society

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

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

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

I never fantasized winning the fights I avoided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Jeff

September 15th., 2017

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

One in the “personal” department from that time:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

Jeff

September 11th., 2017

 

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

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

Jeff

 2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” – a Guide

            2013 – 2015, abusewithanexcuse.com, “the parenting years,” I guess

 

I’ve stepped through my blog chronologically and tried to organize the links into categories . . .

Favourites – mine, I mean:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/17/our-end-of-the-deal/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/06/09/state-funded-abuse-punishments-and-rewards-in-prison/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/30/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-6/ – a series I love

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/12/20/the-cruel-irony-of-deterrents/ – another series I still love

Here’s one for the vets, perhaps, it’s what Veterans’ (or Remembrance day here in Canada) day looks like when you start to see “legitimate” violence and criminal violence as all the same – sorry, when I started to see things this way –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/11/a-conflicted-society-when-its-your-job-to-die/

and that’s a segue to war from the same sort of long view –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/06/the-islamic-state-just-doesnt-get-it/

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/08/08/what-do-dolls-teach/ – an example of me posing questions three years ago that I now feel I can answer

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/09/01/punishment-a-self-fulfilling-prophecy-and-the-roots-of-institutionalized-racism/ – I think this is the sort of stuff Cortland enjoyed, police and public policy stuff, very much in line with the above link (and its linked links) . . . here’s more on that –

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/11/shows-of-strength-and-presenting-a-united-front/

Man, I got a bunch on this, all inspired by American cops shooting unarmed black men and women. They’re all my favourites, I can’t stop. More:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/12/06/trading-up-moral-equivalence-bigger-crimes-for-smaller-ones/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/05/23/rebuilding-trust-a-rant-if-youre-going-to-lie-lie-big/  – really, one very close to my heart still.

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/03/ – I liked this whole month, a little of everything in there, some parenting stuff.

Hmm . . . I like everything in January and February of 2015 . . . and most of the stuff from April through November of 2015 – and that was when I started my Otezla prescription and lost my mind. My blog fades out with my groping with Nature VS Nurture stuff, with me beginning to read biology types like Pinker and Rich Harris, having been directed there by some biology types online. One of these folks posted an article, basically stating that it is biology’s and therefore science’s position that “Parenting Might Not Matter.” This challenge hooked me badly, and I felt I must answer or perish, I mean, get a new hobby – basically the same thing, in my mind. I was and am very invested that parenting matters. I found the answer, I think.

But I had to dive into that biology to do it. I think making that switch, from social science to biology breaks your brain and you pretty much rebuild from scratch. Ask Robert Trivers, the guy’s had several world-changing theories and the first famously came with a breakdown – I don’t know about the rest. I feel bad for making the jump, like I’ve crossed the floor of the senate or something, but truth at all cost, I guess. I kid myself I’m Bob Dylan, not Trivers, that I’m plugging in and saying goodbye to the ladies of psychology and folk music and moving on to the rock’n’roll world of hard science, LOL.

I’m no joiner, though. From what I’ve seen, the bio folks are as blind to the problems I see as anyone else. I see a need for a new discipline, one that bridges and connects the two, as you’d think EP might. Hard science on the microscope side doesn’t translate to social understanding or policy any better than blank slate social science ever did. Mostly, at least online what I see from the biologists are the deep roots of war and to be frank, the bloody Alt-Right. “Genetic differences,” being the connective tissue, apparently. I plan to go to war against all of them, soft and hard science alike. Of course, just like Nature VS Nurture, the truth is it’s both. In December 2015 and again in April, 2016, there’s one little blog each, of me trying to think my way around these biologists, starting to find my position against this seemingly new attack on Nurture from the Nature side of the old dialogue. The April one remains a fave:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/04/05/the-new-naturists/

LOL – “My Position.” Shout out to HST (and hubris).

Basically, nothing until where I’m going to start calling it the New Thing, for me, maybe abusewithareason.com or something, where I feel I’ve answered my own questions and that challenge from the internet as well. That will start after the “Religion” section, a few pages down.

 

 

 

 

            Addiction-adjacent:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/28/selling-harm/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/10/from-an-offline-conversation-part-2-regarding-addiction/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/23/punishment-and-teaching/ – I’m afraid I don’t have much on addiction, so I’m going to stretch this section. This is adjacent, it’s about rebellion.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/19/whats-up-with-the-lethal-injection-drug-shortage/ – again, a stretch. More like Capital Punishment.

 

 

Parenting:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/26/punishment-of-children-as-domestic-abuse/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/01/27/most-parenting-books/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/06/the-punishment-trap-1-rules/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/01/27/antiparenting/

I’d forgotten these two, and I love them, but the “favourites” section is getting too big. It’s sick, how I seem to love my own voice.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/10/dont-we-think-our-parents-did-their-best/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/05/our-parents-did-their-best-didnt-they/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2016/01/16/moms-such-a-martyr-parental-sacrifice-and-the-six-year-challenge/

 

 

 

            Philosophy:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/12/27/abuse-punishment-and-intentions/ – an example of what I was writing in 2013/2014, technical sounding stuff, I was trying to pick things apart from my chair, felt I was following “reason,” making some sort of a case . . . it doesn’t sound wrong to me as such, but it’s very dry, and it probably falls into the category of just making stuff up, Freud style. I do have a bit of an 18th., century tone sometimes, which, some folks still like to read that stuff, I guess.

 

 

 

Personal:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/10/03/more-than-not-punishing/ – I’ve got a bunch of this bragging sort of stuff in the blog, but I won’t be adding to it, we’ve all had a massive falling out, starting with a medication-fuelled breakdown on my part. I ain’t nearly as confident anymore as I was when I was writing that stuff, or happy either. Here’s my biography, written then, while I was still bragging:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/24/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-1/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/25/a-conflicted-society-the-dreamer-part-2/

I do have big plans to update my bio with all the embarrassing details, if I ever get to the end of this present, very bad phase of my life. I still insist it must be interesting, I mean, scientifically, sort of.

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/04/21/dont-turn-your-back-on-your-childhood-self/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/15/my-kids-eminems-mom-and-who-to-trust-2/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/05/01/shes-leaving-home-not-entirely-unrelated-title/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/06/02/stressed-out-all-my-life/

 

 

            Miscellaneous:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/28/good-violence-bad-violence/  – the first thing I ever wrote on the subject, probably twenty years ago, and it shows. “Hear me, People!,” LOL

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/02/07/first-do-no-harm/ – me trying to get poetic about it

 

 

 

 

            Religion:

 

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/christianity-the-revolution-that-never-happened/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/16/he-who-is-without-sin-may-punish/

Knowledge of Good and Evil

            A Question for Bible Scholars

            and

            An Answer for Everyone

 

Someone who knows the ancient Hebrew, the ancient Greek, someone help me. Is this a possible matter of interpretation or translation? I refer you to the very second Book, Genesis Two, and

“. . . the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . .” and “. . . the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

My train of thought has brought me to a mindset where a very small tweak to that bit of scripture might have tremendous explanatory power. What if – and yes, only a “just so” story without some support from ancient language experts – but what if the original idea was more like “. . . the technology of good and evil . . .” – like the knowledge of how to work with good and evil?

I’ve said it elsewhere recently, I know.

I also said this was the original sin, gaining this knowledge – or perhaps rather, developing this technology – and if it’s a technology, is it a sin to turn evil to good? It makes more sense to me that our first sin was the other technology, that we learned to turn good to evil, to turn sweet little babies into soldiers, creating warrior sorts of human groups like the ones who wrote those early Hebrew scriptures. Hmmm. Perfect segue, rare for me.

The technology in question is child abuse, and the data is in: rough treatment in childhood makes for rough adults. This is available knowledge today, out there, poised for the hundredth monkey to pick it up, and all before I made a penny off it of course, but here it is again, for free: childhood is rough in the warrior societies, that is an equation: rough childhood = warrior society. “Warrior society,” though, just what is that, really?

Google the term, you’ll see references to American aboriginal tribes, maybe the Samurai culture, maybe you’ll wind up in Klingon space.

What you won’t perhaps see is any reference to white people, to our own WEIRD selves. Apparently, the peaceful societies of England, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Genoa, Venice, etc., mowed down every “warrior culture” on the planet without being warriors themselves. Amazing, isn’t it? Those warriors didn’t know how to fight! It’s a good thing our Christian “religious society” came along to teach them, huh? I guess if I can scream it with sarcasm, I can also just say it.

“Warrior society” is a racist term.

It’s one of those things “they” (people outside of our group or in another group) have and “we” (people in our own social group) don’t. “They” are a warrior society, “we” just desire security. They are a warrior society – one dimensional, all they do if fight – while we “stand to defend” all that is right and proper, all that other stuff that is what we like to say we’re really all about.

If the world has “warrior societies,” then we all are, or those of us who are not are feeding the crops of those who are, game theory one-oh-one, right? They all are, they all must be. Otherwise what’s the narrative – “we used to have all these warrior societies, but we killed them all and now we’re all peaceful?” If you eat predators, you’re a super-predator; if you kill warriors, you are a super-warrior.

You got a border, you got an army? Then “you’re a gangster now, and there are no late starters” – Carlito’s Way. Particularly if you win the wars, you are a warrior society, again – this is real life, not some evolutionary amateur hour. I’m sorry – “you,” I said? I’m sorry, it’s “we, we, us – white people, Europeans.” We are a warrior society, in fact, human societies are warrior societies. And this is why we know in our bones that children must “be taught right from wrong” – because of that lowlife warrior society next door, that we have to keep kicking their asses forever, because the fools never learn. Damnit. I wish I could say “irony” without ruining it, but, well . . . there it is. (“Ian Malcolm,” Jurassic Park.)

It’s not about smarts so much either, aggression is not intelligence and violence is not intelligence. It’s not about smarts, because if you can slaughter an entire continent of warrior societies and still tell yourself you’re a peacemaker, or an “information society,” or some crap, then you’re a great bunch of warriors, but let’s face it.

You’re not too fucking bright.

 

Jeff

Aug. 1st., 2017

The Civilizing Meme

I need to apologize right now. This is not likely to stand on its own, and I am sure to publish it before I complete the thought, that seems to be how I work these days. This is for those who are familiar with me, for people who have been following me on this train of thought already. For the rest, I promise to create a longer version eventually, one that places this in some context. I’ll set the scene in a form of shorthand here, but the setup needs to be longer than a blog, so that’s what I’m sorry for, the format, that it means to get me, you’ve got to read more than one, that I’m stuck trying to force you to read regularly. You have my empathy; I don’t love being subject to that sort of marketing bullshit either.

Having said that, I’ve had another tiny insight regarding what I’m terming the “consequences meme,” the story we tell ourselves about why we owe our children the consequences of their mistakes and transgressions. My proposition has been that the consequences (punishments, aversives – often beatings) create our antisocialization, not any “positive” socialization, that our consequences make us crazy and violent, the “deep roots of war” creature, as opposed to the idea that the consequences civilize us by a form of aversion therapy. Sorry again: that was the background section. Pinker’s right, once you know something, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it would take to learn it from scratch. It’s in my blog, though, in long form, me figuring it out.

Today’s idea is just the other side of one I’ve been going on about. I’ve said many times that evidence for the civilizing effects of our consequences is lacking while evidence for the effects of abuse are myriad – but that was always a one generation conversation. It has occurred to me that second generation evidence is also lacking and that is suggestive of no epigenetic response to match with this civilizing idea.

I’ve said so often I’m starting to lose trust in it, is the idea of the unevolved beast within, that evolution bears Christian original sin out, the idea that we are animals and need to be civilized, hands on, one at a time – this shows up as support for the consequences meme. To be clear, I do not find these ideas to be causative of our child-rearing behaviours, I find them to be effects also, and the common cause of them all to be our need, or our perceived need to raise our children with a bad attitude, as soldiers for our group, always ready to offend or defend.

Now, during all those years that we were laughing at Lamarck, this appeared to skewer him, that we have beaten our children for millennia and still, they never started showing up pre-civilized. Clearly, nothing we did cradle to grave, other than choosing our mates, changed the genome in that scenario. (This idea has been slated for decommissioning, but these things take time.) Of course,  Lamarck is getting his comeuppance now, turns out he was right – not regarding everything, I mean every trait, but he was right about some stuff, so he was right, at least in terms of a few generations. I don’t think he declared it worked with everything, did he? The language has changed, of course, and today’s answers aren’t necessarily matched to yesterday’s questions. I also don’t suppose Lamarck ever said beating children civilized them, probably not explicitly anyhow, but that seems to be what people think, so that’s the environment he was wrong in.

Of course, epigenetic effects, environmental control of gene expressions, these are the environment he’s correct in, but there’s another thing: he couldn’t ever have been right in an environment where beatings civilize their recipients, because we have been testing that for a long time, maybe for as long as we’ve been human by most definitions. That isn’t really working out. Oh, I know, Angels of our Better Natures and all, we have made some improvements – but it probably wasn’t hundreds of generations of beatings that did it, considering what a single generation of beatings seems to do. This is my present proposition:

That if beatings civilized us, that would be an epigenetic effect, and we would expect some long-term evidence like the second-generation effects of things like the Dutch Hunger Winter babies and their offspring, some lingering “civilization” across a generation or three that without intervention would fade out to some primal brutality, but that wouldn’t require an initiation with every child in every generation, forever. Of course, that is the socialization researchers’ long, unproductive search, isn’t it? All the evidence is for the other side, abuse, rough treatment, and the rather dependable results those things bring. As to full blown Lamarckian evolution, the creation of permanent heritable traits, for that, I’ll defer to better minds. Have we gotten from epigenetics to permanence yet? Not that I’ve heard so far. So maybe the discipline we bring to our kids isn’t the full initiation. It’s probably more like maintenance, keeps us forever in the second generation, epigenetically biased for the consequences. (Forever in the second generation. See https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/04/28/its-a-childs-world/ )

Anecdotally, I’ve observed a sort of pendulum effect in parenting, some children of cruel parents swing to using a very light hand and some of us who were left on our own to a degree may wish to exercise more control as a response, with their own children, adding up to a possible generational see-saw along a spectrum of strictness or control, perhaps of violence. It may be possible to view first-generation gentle parents as having indeed been civilized by their rough parents if we can view the second or multi-generational rough or more controlling parents as having been antisocialized by their rough parents, and then the question is, what are the proportions? How many respond with tradition and how many rebel? This may tell us which is the more powerful operant, the civilizing one or the antisocializing force of the consequences. For a clue, something upwards of eighty-seven percent of American parents self-report the use of corporal punishment, specifically, spanking. Self-report.

The second proposition, already stated, is that there will then be some multi-generational effects to see from the true effect, that beatings enhance violence rather than attenuate it. I believe these Dutch Hunger Winter baby second and beyond generation sort of effects have indeed been documented with abuse. If there are epigenetic changes being made along these lines, and there are, then this also is an environment where Lamarck is correct, and the news isn’t only good for him. The man’s laughable at the time optimism, his pie in the sky suggestion, that we are self-actualized creatures, capable of directing our own evolution in ways, this is romantic crap when all children require to be beaten civilized, clearly. But in the real world?

Self-actualized is not just what we can be, but what we perhaps have always been. I mean, we could be better, but the good news is we really could; it’s in our power. In the real world where fathers beat their sons to toughen them up and the sons volunteer for the army, the actual world where abuse is causatively correlated with violent crime in the most robust way – this is proof that our natures are in our own power to change. In that world he’s right, intergenerationally, if not permanently.

Romantic optimism and all!

I know, I’m surprised too. I never dreamed I could talk myself into believing anything so potentially positive, but, well . . . there it is.

(I bring scientists and you bring a rock star. – “John Hammond,” Jurassic Park.)

 

 

 

Jeff

July 25th., 2017