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

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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/

AST and Me, an Introduction

I have no education, high school and reading. My family was very into popular psychology and self-help stuff, Alice Miller was all the rage in the years before I had my kids, childhood abuse stuff. We had plenty of abuse ourselves, sexual stuff.

The psychology wasn’t enough for me, I felt like things were simpler or maybe just worse than that mindset seemed to think. I saw no clear line between “punishment” and “abuse” is the main thing; I had an insight, that if they look the same, maybe they are the same, despite that the person doing it said they were completely distinct. Don’t they all, right?

I went into marriage and child-rearing with just that simple view and determined I would not punish or discipline and therefore would not be revisiting my abuse on anyone. It looked very good, for a very long time, it really did seem that things were backwards from the way people talk, that whooping your kids causes the bad behaviour and not the other way around. It was exhausting having toddlers and never taking the short cut of hurting or scaring them, but things only got easier after that and we had no behaviour issues at all. Life looked idyllic.

(Things went bad for me when they were grown, but I think that is a personal psychodrama, stuff aside from discipline or the lack of it.)

When my youngest of the two daughters was seventeen, I read a few Pinker books, the Nurture Assumption, and the Sapolsky book, the Zebra one, basically discovered biology, and it blew my mind, as it can do, as it famously did to Trivers, I like to think. I also like to think, ‘like Einstein,’ I had two streams of info that needed to be reconciled, ‘Blank Slate’ psychology and biology, nurture and nature.

I had spent years defending my ultimately coddling child-rearing and was amazed at how my ideas weren’t getting through to the people around me and the parents online, amazed at how what looked identical to me – discipline and abuse – couldn’t apparently be seen by most people, at all. I argued, don’t do that, because it damages them . . . and at some point, it struck me.

The damage is the point.

What we call crimes and misbehaviours are basically just war behaviours, and all the “negative outcomes” associated with “abuse” would be positives in a war situation. Violence, mostly. You want that in your soldiers. (I don’t want that. Those books were mostly ones that the alt-Right love. I am not with them.)

From a parenting POV, from psychology, all the negative outcomes of abuse are accidents or something, people “losing control,” “going too far,” while the good outcomes are supposed to be from conscious, controlled discipline. Well, the kids can’t always tell the difference, and my biology insight was, their genes and their hormones probably can’t either, and so biologically there is no difference.

So now I think the abuse, and the effects of abuse are the true function, and all the “discipline” talk is one of Trivers’ self deceptions.

We discipline our children, to damage and desensitize them, to make troopers of them. The “accidental” negative outcomes are our biologically evolved strategy to make ourselves tougher, in the arms race of our group conflict. At the extreme end, we abuse and torment to make amok men and berserkers, and at the invisible end, we beat our future accountants to make sure they vote for a “strong” leader.

The biology, of course is our responses to abuse, in real time, as well as some Lamarckian evolution, that we have alleles triggered by abuse – and we pull those triggers ourselves. We also select for them.

So this is my global, grandiose thing.

The damage IS the function, in fact Murphy’s law applies, right? Do something sweet for kids, they won’t grow up how you want, but abuse them, and you will see changes. “Nurture” as a real function, is damage. We can change people – but only in one direction. It’s only positive nurturing that no-one has been able to find.

I’m grandiose, I feel I’ve found nurture when no-one else has, and I feel that if this Murphy’s law of nature is true, then it sort of proves our “innate” selves to be good and kind and our nastiness to be an overlay we apply almost consciously. Or at least enhance almost consciously.

My detail arguments aren’t comprehensive, I know, I only have answers for stuff that was in the Nurture Assumption or such. It’s this overview I feel is something. I have tried to be honest, tried to account for everything I’m aware of in the world, and I think this idea fits into the world generally, I don’t think there are famous scientific principles I’m violating with it . . . on the other hand, such a sweeping thing becomes unprovable for all sorts of other reasons . . .

Where I’m stuck is of course, what to do with this knowledge? It’s rather large to change. Any family that stops it is maybe going to see their kids chewed up and spit out. I am worried about my own kids this way. All I can seem to hope for is to get it out there and hope the world recognizes it and slowly all starts to change.

If it were possible to do anything about it, I would think this idea – I’ve been calling it Antisocialization Theory – would be the first best idea humanity has had, since ideas about evil human nature took hold, at least. I wonder if this isn’t the Fall right here, that we discovered the magic power of abuse.

Jeff

Feb. 3rd., 2019

 

AST – The Part I Forgot to Tell You

 

The Nature VS Nurture debate is settled, or at least fragmented into many smaller, more sensible questions, and it’s pretty much all Nature, I do not wish to argue the point – but I wish to answer the untreated side of the question, the “wrong” side, the nurture assumption. Not just that, though, not only why we make some assumption about influence, but what is it that we do in our attempts to influence. Just because your attempts don’t “succeed,” don’t make your kid love the things you hope they will, doesn’t mean they don’t do something.

Is that implicit in the victory of Nature?

That our nurturing, if it doesn’t make number one son want to take over the store, then must do nothing at all?

That is where abusewithanexcuse.com and “Antisocialization Theory” come in – I don’t think I’m really arguing with anyone, I just think I’m working in this area here, this corner just past “the nurture assumption is wrong,” where everyone turns back. This is where I see that parents and children alike spend all day long trying to influence children and everyone else, by all sorts of means and methods and to suggest that “they’re wrong” to try, because the nurture assumption is wrong is something no-one ever said to any parent anyway, even if we talk about it on paper. I am saying what we do all day in the attempt matters and that is where the helpful science would be.

This is where the book by that name had left me: the nurture assumption isn’t true, people spend all day every day working away at an assumption that isn’t true . . . for nothing? Thousands of years, and no-one noticed, no exhausted parents noticed, all that work and it’s for nothing?

I accept the negative expression of it, with caveats: parents do not create the traits they say they are trying to create in their children. I do not accept that their trying all day simply does nothing and doesn’t require a positive explanation, what it does do, why we do in fact do it. This is the question I am answering, the question Antisocialization Theory answers. I didn’t know I was looking at one of the smaller, more sensible debates around Nature VS Nurture, I hadn’t heard terms like “directed evolution,” or “conscious evolution.” Those couple of alt-Right science bibles I read were still laughing at Lamarck – which, come to think of it, sounds very close to just laughing at evolution now, doesn’t it?

Both those expressions go too far. Directed by whom? Conscious – a whole species, this one? But it’s close. I think I am a sub-category of the Directed Evo crowd, maybe.

 

Jeff

Jan. 29th., 2019

Original Piety

As opposed to original sin, I mean. It’s not about piousness.

Fight or flight is an important choice, clearly important enough to find a central place and a lot of real estate in the decision-making organ.

It occurred to me today, that whatever decision we make when faced with this choice, we hope we are clever and make the smart choice, the right choice, and when we have made it through the crisis, then we know that we indeed have – I mean in a biological conversation. Perhaps if we find ourselves alive after a battle but regret perhaps having killed many folks to insure it, perhaps we suspect moral issues, but if our grandchildren are discussing it, at least they know we made the “right” choice, or this conversation doesn’t happen.

For good or ill, there is a lot of wiggle room when you’re talking about binary judgments like good and bad, right and wrong, all four of those words can mean almost anything. Goose VS Gander, Us VS Them, Friends not Food . . . indeed these value words can mean their own very opposites and we know that and we don’t even blink; we navigate, somehow. That’s exactly where I see trouble, and exactly what I am hoping clear up a little.

OK.

A creature that more often hangs back, or runs, we call cautious.

One that more often fights, we call aggressive.

This was today’s idea: a cautious creature values caution as wisdom, and if you ask an aggressive creature what constitutes wisdom or intelligence, he will tell you, “aggression.” I’ve said it elsewhere, as creatures, we exist in the second category.

I am, however, no determinist!

Behaviour is not a gene, and aggression, I repeat, is a choice, and we choose to encourage aggression, we are that aggressive creature who says that, “aggression is the smart choice.” The best defense is a good offense, right? Wait!

This is not a purely Nurture argument.

We encourage it in Nature, in our hardware.

Punishments, pain, deprivations, inequalities of stress and work . . . these sorts of abuse are not Nurture, not “just talk,” just data, none of that. They operate on our bodies and on our genomes. I’m saying, even as they find genes “strongly correlated” with aggression, that these alleles are not as God created them six thousand years ago, there is no hardware aside from behaviour and choice, “Nurture” changes our Natures.

We have some leverage on our Natures.

Maybe I can guess your loudest objection: there is no damned Nurture. Right? Nurture  all you like, our nasty Natures remain as they are, right?

Fine.

There isn’t in the positive way that modern liberal types might like, I’ll give you that. But let’s back up a step – I like doing that, it costs one a sense of progress, but it seems diligent, feels like building a solid base – and ask one more time, what is Nurture? For today’s talk I think it’s an attempt to direct – redirect, or misdirect, perhaps – our Natures. Is that fair? An attempt to teach something we’re doing, that perhaps isn’t simply in line with our Natures? Something we choose to add to our toolkit and our lives? Stuff we’re not born knowing?

Ooh, I feel really close to something.

I think that stuff is the mean and ugly and nasty and all those kinds of things, I think that is the stuff we’re not born knowing. For evidence, if not proof, I offer that Nurture exists just fine if you simply stop insisting that it must be something positive. If you doubt the power of Nurture, abuse some children and see how many are unaffected along a vector of mean and nasty and all that.

That makes for an aggressive creature.

Now this is all fun theory and all, I love to live thinking I’m negotiating with God about Life and figuring out what we are and what we’re up to, what could seem more important? I think this conversation is where the action is, and I pray that if I affect the world in any way that it is in this conversation right here. Having said that . . .

The Nurture I describe, this antisocialization, this negative Nurturing, this isn’t theoretical at all. This is the world, look around you. And so, this mean, nasty, ugly thing is not our Nature, but what is produced through the power of Nurturing, which has been defined as consisting of exactly that which is not in our Natures.

This is not us.

This is something we think we need to be, and evolution says that at some point, we really did need to be this, so we became it – but evolution and everything else says we need to be something different now. And we absolutely can, because as I’ve just shown, this is not our Natures, this mean, ugly, nasty father-raper is not us. Morally, it’s worse, of course! That we work so hard to become him, apparently by choice . . . morally, we are not looking good in my paradigm here.

But there is nothing determined about it; we never could have gotten here in a deterministic world, and that is where the most realistic hope for us and this world I have been able to find seems to be.

It’s all upside-down and backwards to everything we usually say on the subject, but human beings are upside-down and backwards and we require that sort of an explanation.

So there it is.

 

Jeff

Dec. 9th., 2018

Kissing Up to Bob

I lived, partially educated, happily deciding for myself how things worked, and then some alt-Right internet swine put me on to a couple of biology sorts of books and my mind exploded, I had an insight and a meltdown. A part of my dabbling in biology was that I learned that I was in interesting company for having had that experience, and maybe there’s a syndrome, but the person I heard it about and from was Robert Trivers. Of course nothing about me compares, except maybe the meltdown. I learned about him during that period, and not altogether in my right mind, I learned the great man had an email address, like a person.

That is Dr. Trivers, by all accounts, and I can corroborate: the most human of humans. He teased me a little, or at least gave me the leeway to tease myself, the first time I approached him it was late evening here on the west coast, so it was early morning on the other coast and he sounded a little intrigued by my idea, so I started talking to him, sending him updates and asking him questions, like I couldn’t figure out that there were a hundred tiers of learning between him and I. I sort of failed to notice he only answered the once. I should have moved on with my own learning and writing and just prayed for a chance to one day say to him, “Hey, I emailed you that one time, remember?”

But I was not well, I was manic and it seemed as though my dreams were coming true with his positive first hint. I forget how many things I sent him, blogs, partial blogs, looking for some feedback, somehow imagining his fan mail doesn’t arrive in truckloads, maybe half a dozen, maybe a dozen? Finally it was enough, he either felt the need to fend me off, or he saw my need, that’s more how he spoke, and he phoned me. He gave me solid, untheoretical advice on dealing with my mental struggles, and I did feel some real connection with that. He dismissed my insight in seven syllables, “Seems kinda wacky to me,” and if you’re talking to some nobody, that’s not saying anything, but when Bob says “to me,” then that’s a trip or several to the library. He’s already said it.

It’s not that I didn’t have the data, so much, it’s the usual, I just wasn’t processing it, and frankly, I’m a youngest, I may have a unique point of view, but I’m very much in the habit of asking for and getting help, if someone else knows, why don’t I just ask them and why don’t they just tell me? Again, I got grade twelve equivalency, and I’m going straight to the top, and the top can tell me, but I won’t get it, will I? I think I get it at the most basic level now. My theory is humans abuse their kids on purpose, that being a tough, capable troop defender is the very same thing as being as being a crazy, violent, asshole criminal, but I was talking about parents and children.

Basic social theory, social relatedness theory, has it that the person a child need fear the least is their parent, gene interest and all. Parents, in theory, would not threaten the lives of their own for conformity or such, that we all want our genes to survive and thrive. So I’m pestering Bob, ignorantly trying to refute his first theories, the ones that made him who he is, and who TF am I? (I wasn’t, I’m not refuting social relatedness theory, of course not. That just seemed to be blocking my refutation of child discipline and punishment in general.)

For one thing, I’m the same grandiose idiot I was two years ago, and also, not completely over my meltdown. So I think I have an answer!

My answer is, humans have “socialized” their child-rearing, child education.

We farm that shit out.

To less related adults in the modern world, or to less related children in the more aboriginal children’s group, thus working around social theory. Surely some later Trivers ideas are also involved, evolved deception and self-deception.

I’m not going to be looking Bob up again, I hear he’s out from Rutgers, where I had found him before, and I made a point of losing his phone number from when he called me, I didn’t want to have it if I was just going to keep getting crazier. I don’t think I am, and I’ve learned my lesson, but just in case . . . if anybody out there talks to him, maybe this response will be of interest . . . of course anyone else, perhaps from some tier between Trivers and my homegrown, daydreaming self, who would like to chime in, maybe correct me, maybe help me work this out . . .

 

Jeff

Oct. 31st., 2018

Sub-contracting Abuse – Brainstorming

I am not a tactician or any sort of game theorist. I’ve read a few popular science books, my first clues about war and conflict came from one of Steven Pinker’s compendiums, and I’m going back some to catch up, I’m reading “The Evolution of War,” by Maurice R. Davie, first published in 1929. In 2018 it looks like a Bible, the font is so small, and it reads like something from another era. It’s a little difficult reading a white man (I’m assuming) writing about the world’s brown people in that time, and he doesn’t at least in the first chapter seem to acknowledge that the social principles he’s describing also apply to white Europeans, but only a little challenging. The WEIRD bias is well known now.

I worry that something else is noticeably absent from the book too, and I worry that it is still absent in today’s discussions, my baby, the antisocialization function.

1929, so nearly a hundred years, and I don’t imagine Davies’ talk of the social
in-group” and “out-groups” was all new at the time, but it stands out in blazing contrast to me now that Davies lays it out as that we provide hostility and war to the out-group while living in peace at home, with our in-group. I know we love our dichotomies, and maybe more so when the book was written, but that is just going too far. War at the border makes peace at home? Peace at home makes for a strong warrior troop? I’m sorry – rubbish. The truth is the function is more like the opposite of that. I know, in the fast-changing world of science nothing is easier than attacking some fellow who probably died before I was born. I’ve learned my way out of that one because we all have, right?

Yes, on one side of our minds we have, and out of one side of our mouths we talk like we know better. That half of ourselves all know abuse and its effects to be the genesis of many of our problems – but the other side of ourselves intuit that without punishment, all is lost. I think it’s fair to introduce that the “peace” Davies is referring to on the inside of these ostensibly bare bones warrior societies is a relative one, to say the least, his definition being you’re not supposed to kill or steal from your own, that these are defined as crimes when perpetrated upon one’s own people. Outside of this book and drawing from The Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris made it fairly clear that “society,” at least in the sense of a socializing force or a learning institution, is the eternal children’s group, the kids socialize and antisocialize one another without a lot of adult input. I wonder if this situation, a species without adult learning – really? Us? – may place us forever in the hands of mother nature, to some degree, where it’s all biological conflict and game theory. Perhaps both more ambitious sorts of violence as well as liberalism are recent advents, and it’s a recent thing that adults are starting to develop their own culture!

I cannot believe the things this train of thought enables me to say, sometimes, and worse, maybe – believing them. Ha.

Actually, that is marinating nicely, I think that may be a pillar for me going forward, I’m going to keep that in mind, that our adult, “rational” efforts at culture may be only a few thousand years old in a few places, and that it’s an eternity of boy culture that we’re swimming against in this effort. Hmmm. Very much feels like a bringing together of ideas and not some logical breaking apart of them, I’m liking this. “Civilization” created adults and childhood somehow, that “time that the privileged had for contemplation and invention” that ramped up development – these people had time and room to mature, freedom from the conformity of the peer group, and this gave rise to all things more than hand to mouth?

(I should remind myself that a few months ago for me, it was all about the Alphas and their lifestyle of violence and dominance that had us at constant war, now it’s the children’s group . . . I need to see how it all works together, I suppose . . . )

OMG, I guess today is a theory day.

So, the point of antisocialization being abuse to toughen, to make and keep us competitive in the game theory world, it seems antithetical to social theory that a parent or an older sibling should be the punisher, the person whose genes’ interest would pose a less credible punitive threat than a stranger (I’ve just realized, this was probably why Trivers didn’t like antisocialization theory, I was all about parents doing it, and that’s new and strange, maybe) – and so we sub-contract that function to the children’s group, where maybe a coalition of second and third cousins would have fewer qualms about “enforcing the norms” – of course I mean about abusing a person to drive them to violence, making him a warrior. And modern white Europeans, along with city dwellers and wealthy people of all sorts, have taken that function – the farming out of our antisocializing abuse – to newer and stranger levels, what with schools, criminal justice systems, and militaries. Getting closer, Bob?

Well, not what I thought I was sitting down to write, but better, I think I learned something. I know it’s not a very pretty package, but it’s food for thought – it’s a full meal, isn’t it? I’m gonna publish, try to quit on a high note.

 

Jeff

June 28th., 2018

Continuing . . .

I’ve been frustrated, most of my life, trying to understand why we take children from abusive families and then just adopt them out almost randomly – or worse than randomly: to people who ask for them, people who want somebody else’s kids for some reason. I mean, we all know stories about times when that was anything but the end of some of these people’s abuse. Doing that, failing to vet adoptive or foster parents for abuse has always flown in the face of social relatedness theory, we take kids who are being abused by the people most interested in their survival and farm them out to people with none or nearly none and then what? We hope for the best?

Doesn’t this make a lot more sense, that we would do that if the point of child-rearing were not to prosocialize the child but to antisocialize her? Then, yes, strangers are indeed better suited for that.

I’m going to have to rewrite my entire blog for this, the implications . . . first off, it means the larger the group, the further children can be held away and educated by people with closer to zero family interest, and so maybe the larger the nation, the meaner its citizens, consider the British boarding schools and the famous personal warmth of those empire building . . . people. (My . . . people. I can say that.) I’m going to have to ponder every orphan story, every changeling story again . . .

What to make of the change, during times of wealth and relative liberal comfort, like until just recently, when the adult, public world of public policy was gentler than many parents would have things in their homes? If what I’m saying here ever was a thing – that we ever sent our kids off to unrelated teachers for their violent educations – then maybe I’m getting my first glimpse of why some of our north American “bare bones warrior” minded folks are feeling betrayed by the modern world. It may be more traditional to send your kids off somewhere that they come home grown up and tougher than they left than it is to send them off and have them come home all thoughtful and useless.

Wow . . . too much for one day. It never rains, but it pours, and I’m having some trouble finding enough air in it right now. I keep running away from the computer, nervous, like I’m swimming OK, but I get scared when the water is a mile deep; that’s what I’m feeling, I’m OK unless I get a cramp or something. Break time.

Jeff

same day

A Mind is an Obvious Thing to Waste

My people are not sober people. Most of the folks in my life are drinkers or druggies or both, it’s always kind of been that way, and while people who use their brains seem able to stay sharper for longer despite substance abuse, it’s not good for those minds that are idling, for brains with no projects, nothing to keep them busy. Yes, it’s sad to waste a mind – but was there something else you were planning to do with it?

You can tell where I’m from, I can’t get through two paragraphs without an apology, but I’m sorry – mostly, nobody wants your brain. There are not enough projects in the world for all these brains, so put it in Economy mode. The golf tournament this weekend is an anticlimax after the Masters, but “The Expanse” is back, I’m excited about that.

I’m nearly sixty and people my age love “American Idol” or some more police-based “reality” TV, maybe some situation like an exaggerated family, factionalized and playing out their social conflicts in some one-sided dollhouse . . . the stuff is food for our social selves, it’s emotional, but there is nothing there for our intellect. Seven billion human brains, one could imagine the processing power, if we were to use it somehow, like the SETI project does with our computers, but no.

We have a hierarchal system, I mean many hierarchal systems.

We combine our multitudinous selves for the physical advantages, but we’re all running on some few brains. How many intellects does it take to change a light bulb? One, and one body. How many intellects to build the pyramids? One, and a million bodies, right? A war? – then you need two and an endless supply of bodies. I really am a true contrarian, as a friend once said of me, because this jars on me, I see the glare of cognitive dissonance like the sun on a dusty windshield, that these very achievements are precisely what we have congratulated ourselves and specifically our giant brains for. I know – I’ve got nowhere to put that either. A million details will show me reading it backwards – but it’s not untrue, is it?

This is where I live, caught between opposing macro-truths and reaching for some way to reconcile this, the impressiveness of the outsized human brain with the apparent fact that in any sense in which we are part of an organization, a company, a nation, we all share a single one and disregard the rest of them, seems to beg for an explanation. If this organ is our answer for everything about us, why do we so devalue the vast majority of them? I mean, I just find it sad. My own intellect has been starving. I’m trying to invent my own branch of psychology or something because the hum of it keeps me awake, I have to put it to work, tire it out, or I’ll never sleep. I have this project, though, this train of thought going, and I’ve set it up that I think I’m the only one with this perspective, so if I don’t think about it, no-one else is going to – this seems to fool me, that my brain isn’t idling, and it isn’t completely redundant either. These sorts of carrots get me through the day somehow, despite that I’m holding them out in front of me myself. Call me arrogant, sorry again, it’s that or I’m just delusional, but I don’t think most folks get themselves through the day telling themselves they’ve found the secret to life and human nature like I do.

I think most people, unlike myself, are aware that no-one’s asking them this shit, we mostly know that no-one is waiting on our answer to questions about the human condition and most folks understand that your brain is for work and that better brains than ours have failed to solve for human misery. Practical people just give up and take what joy and comfort they can – especially if they’re as privileged and comfortable as this white boy has been for most of his adult years, through no special effort of his own. These advantages are huge, but these days every bit of comfort, every light bulb means another bit of sand washed away from the Seychelles, and so these idling intellects are starting to look expensive. “America’s Got Talent?” This is what I’m melting the world for, I really have nothing better to spend my brain calories on?

I know, there is plenty of work for bodies, plenty of volunteering to do, a world of help that is needed. I’m hoping to get outside again some day, do something for somebody, but in the meantime, this is my contribution, such as it is, just to say to people, who maybe weren’t complaining about it but are probably suffering it, I’m sorry you got that expensive thing between your ears that could pilot a ship to Alpha Centauri but instead just sits idle costing rent and even getting you into trouble. I’m sorry we don’t have something more gratifying for you to do with it than crossword puzzles. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I wish I had other options for us. I am kind of suggesting that my project could use another mind or two, but, you know. Then I’m redundant again, aren’t I?

 

Jeff

April Friday the 13th., 2018

self-predation

 

 

Uh oh. Brain whirring . . . processing . . .

Apes survive in nature, our chimpanzee cousins have been around as long as we have, meaning, that every existent creature has solved the problem of predator violence to some degree or they wouldn’t be here. Primates live in close groups and post sentries, all of that great science, and we also breed fairly quickly – in line with Sapolsky’s summation these days, that humans are half of everything and half of everything else, in this case, half predator and half prey in our breeding habits. Seeing us as a tournament sort of species, my uneducated and so unprincipled mind cannot stay away from postulating that the alphas and the hierarchy beneath them serve to maintain a certain selective pressure on a social animal in lieu of the predators that might provide those constraints on a less strategically minded prey. Violent selection, you know, culling of the weak and the old, that sort of thing. (I usually put a date on these things, so guess what’s putting these sorts of thoughts in my head – Rachel Maddow’s voice in my ears.) What I’m after, is, maybe the world selects for “tough,” like weakness is constrained by predation in direct contact on the savanna, and constrained by abuse in the social environment, by alphas and on down the ladder.

Jeff

April 9th., 2018