Your Outsize Cranium

I believe the usual theory about why humans are so different goes to this outsize brain, isn’t that right? I’m going to talk about that although David Suzuki made a point in the Nature documentary about the latest Tyrannosaurus data that bird brains are very dense with neurons compared to ours and that the amount of real estate your brain occupies may not be as indicative of processing power as we think. He said birds are very smart, and the apparently small-brained dinosaurs, especially predators, were likely also quick on the draw. But we aren’t suggesting we outsmarted birds or lizards, just the other ancient chimps, so the volume of sand your cranium can hold is probably meaningful. I guess.

The theory of that, as I understand it, at least in our current, rather male and war-centric origin story is that the selective pressure for that brain to grow so was nothing other than us, other people, or other groups of people, and our conflicts with one another. A Red Queen’s game to be sure, all of us driving up our hat sizes to stay competitive, just to stay in the race, running in place.

So what comes next is a dualism.

On the one hand, our conflicts are sort of boundless, everything is in play, so to speak, and so these expensive organs have adapted to use everything, meaning, as Steven Pinker points out (within his job description, I think) that we have a sort of any purpose processor, we can plug many sorts of problems into it and work on them – in theory, even if said problems are not specifically evolved for, like all the new things we have brought into the world, for better and worse. It ain’t universal, of course, but somewhere on the path to that. Perhaps all the real estate is for that module, as Pinker put it, but I don’t think he said so specifically, I don’t think we know that. Do we assume it? I guess.

On the other hand, fighting is fighting. On the other hand, if conflict grew this thing, then maybe that’s all the damned thing does. That’s what selected it, that’s what grew it, fine, that’s all in the past, we say, Pinker says, maybe.

But surely that’s not what the bloody thing is for! Is it?

What I’m saying, what I’m always trying to say is, if it is, if that’s what it’s for, then we need to know that and factor that awful setup into our thinking. Conflict isn’t what is going to get us out of the present mess and it’s never going to get us to a better way of life, not the first tiny step towards the utopia if we just keep letting it do what it was made to do, if that’s what it was made to do. Plus –

What if, and this does seem the most likely, what if they’re both true?

What if all that real estate is the free-floating, general purpose processor, and it’s just us choosing to use it for almost nothing but our fights?

Wouldn’t that be a sad state of affairs. Well, wouldn’t that have been a sad state of affairs, I mean. But what if we had the choice?

 

Jeff

Sept. 15th., 2019

 

If that were what it was for, or if we believed that, if that was all we used it for, then I suppose intelligence and fighting skills would all look the same to us, aggression might appear intelligent, duplicity might, treachery might – anything that wins a fight would be “smart.” Of course anything that didn’t would be “stupid.”

I get it. Letting yourself be killed probably counts as stupid.

Problem is, all peace is in that category. Peace is going to require some surgery, we have to separate your libido from your amygdala – and your aggression from your intelligence.

 

Jeff

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In the Beginning

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

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

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

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

I meant to do that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jeff

Aug. 31st., 2019

Your Biological Goals

Some thing I keep losing, the thought I never get around to somehow, is this, for the warriors, for the Nazis: what I’m saying, AST, the conflicts, the wars – these are the goals, the goals of your biology, they are not a means to any end, the journey is the destination, the middle of the war is the victory this function seeks. The goal isn’t racial purity – who needs a Nazi soldier in a pure world? Then who would you kill?

The goal is the fight, eternally.

Many of us already grasp that one of Nature’s goals is not ours: maximizing your breeding. Many humans find their lives improved by getting free of that primate drive to whatever degree they can, I certainly have, and getting free of that will take some reason to exist away from the warriors of the world – but why can’t we see that’s the attitude to take with our natural urge to conflict as well? I mean, we think we do, and we do have some little success at it from time to time – but this is where I come in, where Antisocialization Theory comes in, what do we try to stop the fighting, punishments and abuse? And when that’s not working, then what, more of it?

I am objecting to this idea of morality as I acknowledge it: this is the stupid, violent behaviour we have that we have been calling morality forever. It doesn’t stop the fighting; it is the fighting.

Racial purity is the most impossible, most evolutionary uninformed concept ever voiced, the opposite of evolution, which is variation – so it’s an adaptive fiction, just keeps us in the fight. The purple ones hate the orange ones and the orange ones persecute the green ones  – the point isn’t which colour is better, even for the racists. The point of the ideology is life is a fight, we need to be fighting and killing somebody, and skin colour is such obvious and easy criteria, like God gave us team uniforms.

They want to choose their victims by race, we say “racist.”

They want to persecute LGBTQ folks, “homophobic.” (I have issues with aggression labelled as fear, seems the homophobes chose their label themselves, but it makes the list with its Newspeak name.)

I swear to God, maybe y’all don’t see it – but you are arguing about who we should persecute and kill all day long and the selection process is not the point, the point is by doing so you’re still allowing that we must kill somebody, like the haters are allowed to hate, they’re allowed to go on their rabble-rousing missions until we all decide, wait, no – save those folks. We like them.

You wanna be a wild, snarling animal like you portray your targets, fine, but don’t pretend there’s any end to justify the means – the means are the end, warrior life is a warrior’s goal. You blaming some “them” for the wars as you sneak off to your secret Nazi terrorist training camp? Biology fools us all.

You hear it all day long from the bad guys, we “don’t like,” “the bible says don’t” – and apparently for them, the rest doesn’t need to be said. Of course if you “don’t like” someone you have to kill them! This is what a core belief is, the one everyone has so you can never even know it’s there. We just argue about who gets the treatment, and honestly most of it is “my group shouldn’t get the treatment.”

No-one needs the treatment. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a coalition of everyone not white and male among the resistance, among the complainers of the world, but as usual, AST brings answers where other theories obfuscate: we all think someone needs to be killed, so no-one is arguing against that, as such. No argument against war and genocide on principle, just who shall it be next? For instance, a lot of decent folks think that’s the solution for Nazis, I mean you can’t talk to the bastards – yes, I’m trying anyway. But seriously, even the nicest of us must hold this belief, because I don’t ever see anyone saying don’t ever kill anyone, ever, for nuthin’.

The real war is the struggle between the war and peace crowds and as long as we’re at war, the soldiers are winning against their own peaceful people. Admit it. If you’ve ever thought that far ahead, you know your war isn’t ever supposed to end. A nation built on war doesn’t retire and live in peace.

 

Jeff

Aug. 29th., 2019

Beyond Evolution VS Creation, Continued

. . . here’s the previous one

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/05/26/beyond-evolution-vs-creation/

 

Carrying on, I don’t have the full vision and I’m sure I never will, twisted, limited, antisocialized little beast that I am, but what it seems to start with is simply that we teach the tendency to warrior society from Day One, that everyone hears about it in broad daylight, not in the mean streets or in secret society meetings – or in silence in our timeout chairs.

The only reason violent political “rhetoric” activates “unconscious violence” is because we’ve all agreed to be unconscious about it as a matter of social policy.

Violent groups, nationalist causes talk about their “race” or their “religion,” and the good folks argue about these premises, but the truth is they are just that, premises, and they serve perfectly to support human warrior lifestyle, even, or especially if they are false or socially constructed. Unfortunately, the socially evolved warrior society pre-dates all of that and includes us all, so these various flavours of it, the extremist groups are not censured for their warrior goals as such, violent rhetoric is legal and moral, depending on its targets. So it’s never “should we kill people or allow people to die?” it’s always should this group of people be targeted or be protected? In warrior society no-one questions that we should kill or allow to be killed somebody. Society began as warrior society probably, and we don’t seem able to imagine one that isn’t; the end of war sounds like suicide, the end of everything.

Wow, you are really some sick swine if that’s what you think! Kidding, I know – laying down your shield is what sounds like suicide – never mind we usually pick up and put down the shield and the sword together – that old truth does not put the lie to mine. This must be one of Aristotle’s logical fallacies, that when there is a reason provided to explain an accusation, that is proof of the charge, not an alibi! If you always have a reason to be warlike, then you are one warlike dude, which, in a way, is all I’m saying. If it adds up to that, to “peace is death,” though, well, Mr. Spock and I call bullshit; this “reality” ain’t logical.

Repeat, more clearly: organizing ourselves for a war is legal and moral, it’s always going on – it’s what human society is. We argue about the other guys’ premises, but we somehow do not argue about the arrangement that has us settling for group conflict as an unavoidable and unstoppable way of life. Leave the Jews alone, say the Good Guys, back off the Blacks, we say – but isn’t it about time someone got tough with the Chinese? Try to write a speech that doesn’t include being tough on somebody: we don’t even have the language for it. This is our world, our life – we need to allow ourselves to know it, at the very least. Badly. The arc of the human universe bends towards group conflict and we need our people to hear about it from us, as the problem – not when a fellow is eighteen and being recruited into the army or the street skinheads where it’s some big secret they’re sharing with him and the answer to the world’s problems instead of the eternal senseless scourge anyone who’s been involved in it knows it to be.

It’s a tendency, as I tried to say softly above, trying to sneak it by you.

A tendency that affects more areas of life than just voting. Humanity and the Earth have not come to these dire straits because of something some minority “other” is doing sometimes – that’s exactly the problem right there, the fact that we always think some version of that. We don’t seem to have the language to articulate that it is common or ubiquitous things that need to change, that our trusted consensus is killing us, but that’s what is happening. We cannot grasp that it is we and our friends who are the problem. I mean,  in theory, but . . . no, really? Aren’t they what we’re hoping to protect?

We quite explicitly will not grasp that it is our parents, our caregivers who are the problem, that they tried hard to make us “good” and it succeeded, but that “good” means good for warrior society, good for a society organized around othering and war. We need to have a conversation out loud and in daylight, about what “good” all of our well-intentioned caregivers are actually doing, because if we are all as good as we self report, then I guess we don’t have any of these world destroying problems, right? I mean we need to break it down, what do we mean by “good,” and what does it look like in reality? It doesn’t look good, is what I’m saying. It looks like what you’d expect, considering what we do to make it “good,” though.

You know what we do to make people “good,” don’t you?

You know there are two schools of thought about this, just like climate science, and they are the same two schools, right, science on one side and religion and fascist anti-intellectualism on the other? You know science says the deterrents and punishments don’t make you good and the more of it you get the worse you are, right? All of humanity are operating on the level of climate science denial about social forces like abuse – along with the majority of the scientists. OK, sometimes I say “science says” when it’s only my science, as far as I can see, a large part of the problem being our scientists are drawn from the same pool as the rest of us. We need to bring this into consciousness, we are being such violent morons about this! Of course we are all convinced of it physically, usually before we learn the damned language our parents speak, it is unconscious because it is repressed. Now, I know, I am using the language of psychology here, but I will say, they are all drawn from the same tainted labour pool also, and their function is assimilated by our warrior way of life and is not likely to put an end to it either. I am trying to find the language required to help us speak about this, and all languages are sourced from others – psychology has some great ideas. It wouldn’t be any use to society – to the warrior society – if it didn’t.

It may seem a bit of a fine point, that it seems the concept behind Christian Original Sin would be helpful, the warning that we are evil when left to our own devices and that we need Jesus, God, something to ameliorate that, and if all were as we like to say, we could say that articulating it was a good, moral attempt to help people – again, a warning – if it were true that would almost certainly be the case anyway. But it weren’t true, if it were, God forbid, a lie, or an adaptive fiction, to put it in biology terms? If it happened to be that humankind was not in fact born this way, that prehistory and history showed that we have become this way over time, if it happened to be that most people were not born this way but become this way with education and experience in the human world? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll repeat the warning. I have children. Be careful out there, kids, there is plenty of evil shit going on.

I’m just saying, it’s not that God made us all evil by default, and babies are probably as innocent as they look – it’s us doing that. Right here, right now, maybe not quite as bad as yesterday, but still bad enough. We all try to make our kids and our criminals “good,” that isn’t just you and your genius circle of friends, every human society tries to do that and declares its success, and they all have masses of armed soldiers to prove it. Their idea of “good?” That’s your idea too. This is not a local problem, here or there; this is the human false origin narrative and it is ending badly, everywhere at once.

Unfortunately, because we are such dangerous crazy bastards whose answer to everything is abuse and violence, we cannot seem to concern ourselves with any other threat than social ones, human ones, and if Mom wants her SUV, then rising oceans it shall be, because who’s gonna fight with Mom?

Great. Finish it with an anti-Mom joke, that should fill the ol’ collection plate! Oh well, done for now. Of course we’re not taking Dad on either, if we’re still scared of Mom.

 

Jeff

Aug. 3rd., 2019

Here’s the next one

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

 

Directions

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

 

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

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

Well, I’m almost sixty.

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

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

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

(Then on to Point Number two)

 

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

 

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

 

Jeff

May 4th., 2019

Rule of Rules: the Unseen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mama, can this really be the end?

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

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

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

My concern is that his lessons pissed him off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2019

Abuse, Driver of Inequality

School: Children’s Boot Camp

 

I was powerfully moved by the description I read in the Nurture Assumption of what Rich Harris termed something like the “eternal children’s group” and especially by the description of the Yanomamo children’s group, described by an anthropologist – Mead? Or maybe the fellow who has come under such scrutiny lately about it? – the description being that in a little hunter/gatherer/warrior group, the boys teach each other to fight, and the boys who don’t or won’t fight are abused until they do or until they are killed. Even under the shadow of the general bad attitude anthropology has sometimes had, I’ve been to school: this may have been cherrypicked, but it’s not outlandish. Perhaps the scandal is in labelling some group of brown folks in this way – I don’t mean to say all hunter/gatherers are warriors, I only mean to reference the ones that are. Of course the point is us, Canada has a military.

I grew up in the context-free West, west of west in white Canada all the way out on the Pacific, and I thought parents raised children in some way, certainly most of us do and as parents we try, but this is a fairly new bunch of ideas, childhood and parents spending a great deal of time administrating this childhood. It seems this children’s group may be the more aboriginal and evolved situation, and so it seems we learn our important lessons from one another in childhood, not so much from Ma and Pa – and we are abused, usually in the same sphere.

This makes some sense by social relatedness theory, your tribal cousins will have more leeway to abuse you for their warrior ends than your parents, who are presumed to protect their genetic progeny, not aggress against it. Interestingly, if in the industrial world, adults are taking a bigger hand in trying to direct childhoods, some of the discipline and indeed over-discipline we see would seem to indicate an ability to work around our feelings of relatedness and what it entails. I hope it’s not indicative of any sort of genetic shift, not a capability we are selecting for, but perhaps. The usual workaround we have employed, prior to adjusting our natures about it, perhaps has been simply to punt the kids back into the children’s group, send them off to school. Then the boys can teach one another to fight as always, and failing that, should it be necessary for the adults to intervene, they are unrelated professionals, also not biologically worried about hurting our kids.

In this way, we learn to fight, in this way we are harmed, scarred, and hardened for battle. Antisocialized.

There are class implications in the other sense too, rich and poor.

The kids sent the furthest, into the hands of the least caring, are the children of the richest and the poorest, aren’t they? Boarding schools in other countries for the richest and “Residential Schools” for the poorest, the north American aboriginals, sent a million miles from their families and culture. (If the phrase “Residential Schools” doesn’t register, Google it along with “Canada.”) The social science results are already in about the difference between being rich and “having problems” (generic “being antisocialized”) and being poor with problems. The rich have resources, buffers. A rich antisocialized criminal may get a friendly judge, a rehab program. A wealthy destroyed child can be hidden in the basement, whereas a poor one needs to get out there and get a job and find a whole lot more trouble.

An antisocialized would-be warrior who is poor and bound for gang life and prison perhaps, lives his life out in the subordinate social group, his antisocial crimes generally harming poor folks and not tolerated by the dominants and their police, while an antisocialized would-be warrior from a wealthy family may simply carry on his family’s predatory capitalism, even wars, and his crimes maintain his social group at the top of the order. Abuse all, inequality grows. All are abused, all are miserable – but some get to drive the bus and some do not. All are tossed into the sea; the rich can purchase water-wings.

 

Jeff

April 27th., 2019

Forgiveness VS Morality

Forgiveness is how you and I feel good, and it’s how our people never have to worry about goodness. I know the Hallmark/Psychology Today definition of forgiveness. It’s something like acceptance, at least acceptance is the component I agree about, it’s the good part, and the folk part of the theory is that we can have no peace without it – and you know what, bare-bones like that, if we say, no value judgments attached, I’ll agree also. But because all things can be judged this way, I will say: your sense of peace in this matter, while it may signify an alignment between your life and your predispositions, is only as objectively good as those predispositions, and when we find peace by accepting terrible crimes we are terrible people. If morality is defined by an attempt to lessen crime with punishments and deterrents, then forgiveness is morality’s very opposite, and the peace we feel is the freedom from the tension of moral strivings, acceptance of the world as it is, warts – and war – and all. And child abuse.

I sort of get we forgive a soldier, we ask them to murder, we already know they represent us, like it or not. But if the victims of extreme child abuse also need peace, eventually? The way we talk about it, the victim’s peace is on the other side of a wall and that wall is allowing whatever happened, albeit after the fact, so in what looks to me like a simple logical equation, a victim’s path to peace goes through accepting the crimes visited upon them, as though it were all fine and necessary if it had perhaps happened to someone else.

Which, of course, Chinatown calculation, game theory, Mafia-style logic, these days dragged into the sunlight for all to see and fear, is that’s how you win, by allowing your guys to do anything, anything at all. Those who will not use the carpet bombs or the landmines, or some plague are going to lose to those who will, if the police are bound by the law, the gangsters will win every time. So, forgive. It’s what Jesus would do for the war effort, isn’t it? Again, aside from that last ironic headbutt, it’s all very logical and if I wrapped it up here, I’d be one more evil evo-boy crowing macho from his bunker, this is what I was made for! All fine and good, can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.

Again, if it were happening to someone else.

Of course it’s not just someone else. If it were just someone else, we wouldn’t have people to forgive personally, we wouldn’t have been taught to forgive, pretty much each and every last one of us.

Perhaps we think of forgiveness as the opposite of punishment, the opposite of retribution, and in a sense it is – but that does not indicate an inverse relationship between the two in a group or a society, it’s a direct one. The more rules there are means more things to punish and more things to forgive. The more punishments handed out, the stricter and more punitive the society, the more we must forgive the punishers; punishing is all fine and necessary. Of course the first person we ever have to forgive, and sometimes the last, is Mom or Dad, and the first crime we ever forgive is usually child abuse.

Well she is only three years old, and that’s a real fine way to start.

That’s badly out of context, but I can’t stop listening to Led Zeppelin these days.

But if she can forgive that, whatever it was, she is going to be a fearsome hominid. You want her on your side, because she will do anything, anything at all. Now blink once, she’s your mom, and you had better forgive her, because with that history, you don’t want her to be thinking of you as one of her problems.

Basically, I’ll believe there are peaceful religions when I see a peaceful society, but if my local church is going to forgive me no matter what I do, where is the pressure to behave? What selective forces are going to restrict crime, violence, and war when all is forgiven? It would seem that the idea of the Church as an opiate, pacifying the masses was a scientific blunder, that it is exactly the Church’s gift of forgiveness and acceptance of the warrior and warrior society that enables violence and chaos by restricting the society’s ability to punish and control its own worst elements. Again, too easy to see and say in Twenty-Nineteen, look what the evangelicals can apparently forgive.

We could forgive a little less, is all I’m saying.

 

Jeff

April 2nd., 2019

About the Abusive Ape Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

By-products like arsenic and carbon dioxide and pain.

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

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

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

I won’t hit you, though!

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

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

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

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

Abuse is in our DNA.

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

 

 

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2019

 

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

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

People of Earth, Part 3, Liberals

So human society is warrior society, and you know it’s true because a toxic masculinity pervades everything and pretty much everyone worships some “strength” that is supposed to save us all from some vague harsh, unsentimental Nature which is really just more of us, because humans are the environment humans need to adapt to in order to survive. Conservatism is the political tendency to make your peace with that situation, the idea that struggle is life.

Capitalism, as stated by Adam Smith, is intended to go with the flow and harness man’s “natural greed” as a force to build and organize society; I am not inventing anything here. The two things, capitalism and conservatism are nearly interchangeable, at least where if you’re facing north, the Pacific Ocean is to your left and the Atlantic to your right. Much of my opining probably needs that caveat, but capitalism was coined and reinforced to be sort of automatic, to work for the way people are, by default, to add a modern term.

This is not an endorsement. I have written extensively about what people are by default, and this is not it.

I am not a conservative, and for the life of me I cannot understand why anything about harsh, unrelenting old Nature requires endorsement from anybody. Wait – I mean I cannot relate to it. The whole point of this series is that I can indeed understand it, and I hope to help others understand it too. My somewhat unique point of view has attributes of a good theory, in that it brings things previously not understood into our body of understanding.

Warrior society, and antisocialization, these concepts explain much.

This bias towards strength in all its forms, this attribute of humans, that we seem to feel we can never be tough enough, this bias must be why the IDW and the Four Horsemen and all the sixteen to twenty-five-year-old biology Tweetsters when they learn enough, when they glimpse something about the warrior society, they all seem to love the horror. It’s all about a fight? Then we must be stronger!

Even Buddhism does it, ‘if you are a soldier, be the best soldier you can be.’

I said I’m not a conservative; I am a liberal.

So, no.

We’ve tried stronger, we tried it all the way to destroying all life on this planet level “stronger,” and sure, you can argue things have gotten better in ways, as Pinker argues, but we all know the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ah! Good segues are so rare for me, I usually just bounce around, as Steven King said, like a drop of water on a hot griddle – I had a feeling about Pinker’s It’s Getting Better All the Time thesis, and it is one with today’s talk about us liberals.

There has surely been some progress over the last several centuries in the long run, I don’t purport to argue with his statistics. All I worry about regarding his book and the whole idea of progress generally is that any success we have had is always in jeopardy, because we don’t seem to know what causes it. I think he said “humanism,” or something to that effect, right? I’ll agree that far, but I think this humanism is a slippery thing, we haven’t really got a grip on it.

I want to define “liberal” as I did “conservative” yesterday, along a vector of the warrior society and this strength meme. I think folks may try to be “liberal,” but without a clear definition, we have too many versions. Liberal has to mean something like ecumenical – international. It has to exist in opposition to the war – even us libtards understand that one side of a war can’t just quit, so being anti-war is being international – because it is all things illiberal that feed the fight, and when we give that up, we have lost it all. Meaning, if you’re in a fight, you are all in and all kindnesses are suspended.

America is a global empire – so no-one gets coddled, not so much as healthcare. Canada, apparently in step with American interests more than ever, is on the precipice of both evil, capitalist foreign intervention in Venezuela – and, not coincidentally, of losing its healthcare to fascist trends.

Liberals have to stop being strong, because when we worship strength, all of our arguments work for the other guys, because strength is always their stance – in its worst forms. When the people are responding to the hawks’ memes of strength, a liberal should not be joining in, trying to also sound strong.

When the conservatives call us weak, we have to say, “yes, that is what is required, and that is what I am selling. Peace, care of the sick and elderly, all of that weak stuff that compromises the war machine, that is my platform, absolutely. No, I do not “love this country” exclusively, in the sense that I must hate all others; we exist in a larger world.” Peace is weak; peace through strength is the endless cycle of war and détente. You can’t have both, and as long as even liberals have to be “strong,” there can be neither peace nor liberalism. During the supposed Cold War, we were all minutes from either death or from wishing for it.

In warrior society, where everyone must love strength, all you have is hawks and “centrists,” fighters and onlookers.

Liberals need to resist the urge to conform, meaning, in concrete terms, we need to stop supporting the troops. They fooled us there; you can’t be “anti-war” if anyone can make you say, “but I support the warriors.” No, I do not “support the troops” – I don’t know if you noticed, but I looked into it – the troops are the ones doing the warring! What’s the point of protesting “the war” if you’re going to be OK with the “war” part of it?

So, no.

What is missing from the public conversation is what I said before, the conscious idea of the warrior society, and the awareness, missing in us liberals, of our antisocialization. I see the upshot of it has made it out there, among the Left, there is a consciousness that peace at the borders does not come when violence rules at home, but liberals, the blind majority of non-conservatives, are stuck. They want to offer healthcare alongside the “security” offered by strength, by the never-ending defensive war, and they don’t understand that the fear of death and illness are simply more bad things that make us want to be stronger and so reinforce the warrior society. They don’t understand that there is a conflict and that those invested in the endless war are invested in an antisocialized population and do not work to make anyone happy or more comfortable, like by keeping them safe from illness.

It’s really pathetic to see the good, blind folks on Twitter all day long asking, “Don’t they know that hurts people?”

They do. And they know that hurting people makes us “strong,” so it’s all they are interested in. You know who doesn’t know, who keeps asking dumb questions? You. So I’ll ask you: don’t you know? Don’t you know they are hurting people? I mean don’t you know, after forever, that it’s not an accident? You know, a sort of irony in all this is the bad guys sort of know it, like I said yesterday, conservatism is aligned with the warrior society, and the generals know that the abuse of boot camp and life at war only makes us fight harder, that truly, as Larsen said, shake the jar and we will fight. So again.

You know who doesn’t know it, you know which fools keep it all rolling because they really do seem to believe in some good “strength,” though? The nice guys, the liberals, the ladies.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 6th., 2019

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/01/14/people-of-earth/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2019/02/04/people-of-earth-part-2-conservatism/