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

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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

Science Trolling

If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, you see it all day long: “educational” corporate accounts fighting negative public opinion regarding GMOs, biologists spreading the word about heritability and fighting their psychology professors about where behaviour comes from . . . PhDs chiming in about the Berkeley riots and disinvitations and voicing their free speech concerns. Ever notice how if you’re against anything big and powerful, that on top of everything else there’s someone out there telling folks you’re “anti-science?”

The pro-GMO stuff paints the anti-GMO movement as superstitious and paranoid, mindlessly set “against science” and progress – as though there aren’t corporate ownership and legal issues with the giant corporations that are running this science: anti-Monsanto is not anti-science, and it is not science the anti-GMO people don’t trust, it’s the huge, soulless multinationals who will own it. It’s no trouble finding boatloads of geneticists to explain the detail of why these new proteins etc., aren’t bad for you, and that’s the public discussion they want to have, the science one. They don’t want to have a legal one, or a financial one – especially not a historical one. That’s a form of trolling, if it it’s not a form of lying: we only talk about science and we only talk about the present and the future.

How could we possibly know a giant corporation would do something bad with this science? It’s brand new! It’s a trait of online communication, to be sure, but it’s not a positive one, so it’s part of the trolling phenomenon: history, people, the world, everything else we know is left out of this specific conversation. To include the world at large in an online argument is some sort of logical fallacy, apparently. Especially so if you keep it hidden for several comments and then try to pull it out in a “gotcha” sort of move. Ha.

OK, that’s not the big one by me. Now for Berkeley and the Dawkins radio interview disinvitation.

The New Right, the New Atheists, the New Naturists, call them what you will. I can’t stand to think of all those names as a monolith myself, but if there are overlaps, then what’s the difference? I don’t want to address the Alt-Right, but in America there are only two ways to vote, so we all line up on one side or the other, I’m afraid.

I abhor that North American atheists can be criticizing Islam while our countries are bombing and exploiting Muslims the world over. When the enemy were godless communists, our hawks were Christians, but now that our enemies are God fearing Muslims, then atheists can be hawks too, I guess. That’s the point that needs to be made because it’s the point no-one wants to hear. I’m not having any luck online with this idea, but the difference between criticizing Christian fundamentalists and Muslim ones, is that our anti-Muslim sentiment kills Muslims, while our anti-Christian sentiment not so much. There’s a lot of anti-Muslim feeling around already, you see, enough for us to bomb Muslims to Hell on a regular basis, so when we add our voices to that river of emotion, the net effect is that more bombs fly.

Complain about treatment of women, FGM, and they get more drones again, not schools, not hospitals, from our countries. War co-opts everything, there are no innocent voices. Muslims see this, as do I: we criticize and kill Muslims and we criticize and elect Christians.

Any of you young logicians see how that’s not cool?

Perhaps we can postulate a new creature, a hybrid, the Christian  Atheist, maybe that can explain it, with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins as prime examples.

I get it, atheists, I mean, I’m an atheist, although I’m not really committed to it. I don’t think learning that God existed would make me unhappy for long, it would almost certainly be good news. But I get it, religion causes all these problems, wars, I get the lack of reason in the stories. Don’t you know though, that persecuting people is guaranteed to strengthen their religion? Why do you think people believe, because life is too good, too easy?

Not only that, but are you really happy to add your voices to the Christians’ voices in the Islam slamming? Like you agree with the Christians, you approve of them? Are you truly Christian atheists, maybe a little?* Somebody’s either forgetting there’s a war on, or there’s hating religion and then there’s hating religion, right? Wait – I don’t even know if that’s why Dawkins is being deplatformed, it’s just that I follow him, and that’s my complaint about him. Again, he complains about Islam along with other religions, but it won’t impact the other ones the same way. Maybe that’s not it? Maybe the Christians blocked him, for the Selfish Gene?

Joke, at least I think so. It’s almost too bad they didn’t let it happen, have the riots if it got that far, though. It would be another level of weird to see the Trump enabled fascist Islamophobe pseudo-Christians who rioted for Yiannopoulos and Coulter lining up to fight for the atheist scientist geek professor against local Berkeleyites and students. (Barry Crimmins snort.) On second thought, just imagining it was enough, I’ve had my weirdgasm, no-one needs to see that. No wonder things are as bad as they are, seeing things like that fractures your mind in terrible ways.

I like Dawkins, I’m an atheist, as I said, and I’m into biology, evolution, genetics. I’m not happy to shut him up because I think he’s on an evil mission, I just assess the net good or bad from his stance differently than he does. If Christian maniacs take his anti-Muslim speech and hurt people, he can blame those Christians and their religion, and he’s right and he’s consistent, all that is fine. I just see the misuse of him as more powerful than the proper use of him in the present environment, is all. I have more, some detail, but again, pragmatism. I don’t want to spend my time today railing against someone who I basically think is one of the good guys.

This is all grey area stuff, folks, don’t pigeonhole me, ask me. Being on the “dominant Left,” I’ll tell you what I think, without fear of exposure or reprisal, because apparently folks like me are running this business and whaddayougonnadoaboutit?

 

 

 

 

Jeff

July 24th., 2017

 

* Of course, most North American atheists are culturally Christian, and there are sure to be a whole lot of Muslim atheists out there, and every other kind too.

A Little Blow-back from the Nurturists

                                                or

            A caution for the Behavioral Geneticists

 

. . .  until we hear one of these PhDs say, “people used to think everything came from the environment” or some such thing – a whole century.

Robert Plomin, in a 12-minute introduction to behavioral genetics, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGsgA5mldZw&feature=youtu.be&spfreload=1

The irony is a screw, we come around the circle to another circle, one layer further along: genes are traits now, but what people “used to think” is a micro-niche environment that has existed for four or five generations, the psychology departments at universities. “The environment is powerless!” they scream to the academic environment, to free themselves from the century old environment of left-wing academia that has apparently disenfranchised our genes and the nature-heavy truth of the universe.

We need to stop doing our anthropology on our own very WEIRD selves. Humans did not “used to think” this, our subjects never thought this, only the few in the psychology departments, and that is not representative of human behaviour and belief. Find me a grandfather who doesn’t believe in heredity, find me a family where they don’t have a lot of firm ideas about who among the young is just like who among the old. People have always thought “nature” in this argument, except in one aspect, one vector, and that is discipline – sorry, my thing, not the subject today.

I’m a little frustrated and pissy today, so I’ll spell it out: nature is not some new discovery in this debate, everybody knows it, everyone has always known it, what do we think all this bloodline and inheritance stuff is about?

We have not discovered Nature, nor invented it, and so behavior geneticists are not so clearly on the new and secular, science and truth side of this argument.

It’s a serious liability to our optics that apparently, we brilliant scientists think the world is only a hundred years old and we think the liberal sciences are the world’s ancient evil that needs to be destroyed. Long before the ancient voices screaming against all modern science, social science included, have begun to quiet down, it looks miserable and fractious that the most recent scientific disciplines have added their voices to that prehistoric chorus. They’re coming for the universities in America, the fundamentalists and the fascists are coming for them, and the biologists are literally inviting them – yes, talking about the new Berkeley riots.

Please, nerd, boffin biologists, we’ve been looking through the microscope too long, let’s pull back, let our eyes adjust and have a look around. We’ve somehow wound up on the wrong side of the important debates. Do we not know there’s a war on and an election coming? Do we think that now, when fascism is on the rise, this is the time that humanist science requires criticism from on-campus as well? Ancient forces, the perpetual human warrior society, these forces are using you. “Nature” is new?

Seriously?

How old are you guys, talking and arguing, and spreading the word? Still in school? Keep your battles on campus, it’s science, don’t we say that? It’s not supposed to be about public opinion.

 

Jeff

July 12th., 2017

Biology Buries the Lead

They’ve found genes, alleles that are activated in response to adverse environments, and I think they’re finding epigenetic changes specific to abuse, that is, social abuse or abusive social environments as well as ones for drought, famine, cold, that sort of thing. I’ll try to find a few of these for examples, just to be sure I’m not assuming too much, but I don’t plan to get into biological detail at that level; first, I know nothing, and second, there are plenty of good folks doing that who do.

For me, the salient point is this: the environment is in our DNA. Our genes know about drought, famine, cold, UV light – milk – etc. – and abuse.

Abuse is in our DNA.

If having or developing the genes to lose melanin helped us to live in the snow and the cold, then we can express that as us, wanting to expand or remain when the weather moved over us, leveraging our genetic options for pigment, to better access that environment’s resources, right? Is that a valid evolutionary or biological way to view things? If you’ve read me this year, you know where this is going.

Abuse is in our DNA.

I don’t have the heart to bludgeon anyone with the ‘abuse’ side of that analogy. My whole thing is hostile enough with a light touch, and for that I’m sorry, but, truth if we can find it, I guess.

When some brilliant researcher identifies the AMYGDLAXXX#1 “warrior allele” (kidding, I hope that’s clear), and it makes the journals and National Geographic or something, that’s scientifically terrific. Maybe we ultra-liberals hear the voice of eugenics in it and we start to argue about determinism or some established debate, and sadly, the biologists I see are arguing back at nearly that level, like, ‘so what, “determinism,” this is science, it is what it is’ and so it is, we’ve buried the lead, which was far bigger than biology, bigger than either ‘side’ of this conversation. The lead, one more time,

Abuse is in our DNA.

That’s the headline. The meat of the paper needs to be that abuse is in our life, in our development, in our evolution. If there are ‘warrior alleles’ (and there are), then the associated behaviour, creating the abusive social environment that activates them is in our life’s DNA, our lifestyle’s DNA. This “environment” is us. We grew up with abuse, in the evolutionary sense, it’s part of us. So.

This is what it means to biologists: it counts. YOU came to US with this data, genes for abuse, this is the nature/nurture connection, this is how you fit behaviour into your worldview: alleles for abuse proves the existence of abuse, no? And the biological power of abuse, therefore the “power of nurture,” right?

This is what it means to social scientists and psychologists: it counts. Not in some cases, not in extreme cases. Abuse is the baseline for humans, there is no ‘normal human development’ path that doesn’t include abuse, abuse is “normal” for us, it’s not a pathological condition, unless we can think that we all have one. To assume some silent majority of unabused people as some ‘norm’ is missing the point entirely.

Biologists, you’ve found it, the Holy Grail, you just can’t seem to look up from your microscopes to see it! You proved nurture while trying to disprove it, built the bridge from social to biological science, but you seem to be protesting, telling us there’s no good reason to cross it. But that’s OK, that’s just your biology, the ol’ us and them mindset creeping in as it always does, no blame there. I basically have no ‘us,’ anymore, so . . .

I’ll take it from here, if no-one else will.

 

Jeff

July 3rd., 2017