A Little Blow-back from the Nurturists

                                                or

            A caution for the Behavioral Geneticists

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously?

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

 

Jeff

July 12th., 2017

Advertisements

HBD – Reframing the Problem

First, apologies for my first attempt at this. New thoughts and a terrible, incomplete presentation that can only destroy my case. I hope I can make more sense this time around.

Premise: liberalism is not denial of human nature, only the denial of the warrior culture. Secondary premise: Human Biology Denial, same deal.

I’ve had this insight, the Dark Matter analogy that we are antisocialized tenfold to how we are prosocialized, and that basically all human societies are warrior societies, and with that viewpoint, I’d like to weigh in, try to help resolve some stuff.

Safe to say, no organism that denies its biology lives to tell the tale; insofar as the HBD people and I overlap, we do not deny biology, we only deny what some people are saying our biology means. More, maybe only sixty percent accurate:

What I and the HBD folks are denying really, is the “deep roots of war” narrative.

Sixty percent is good in this business, right? The point I’m getting at here is, this is why you can’t make a dent with them (and only a small one with me) when you spell out your theory and your method over and over, because you’ve decided what they don’t like is being told they’re animals and you’re not addressing the real, emotional issue, the “deep roots of war” problem. I think that problem is that we don’t all like the picture of never-ending war – or worse, one that finally does end it all – and there is some unspoken shared social belief that the “deep roots of war” are all that any of this science can show us. It seems that, at least in the minds of the geneticists in my Twitter feed, that us being animals and the “deep roots of war” narrative are inseparable. I’m here to try to tell you, not the case.

I know about the evidences, I know about our long existence as a group creature in competition, and I have some common sense about how our group dynamics affect everything in our lives . . . you know, frankly, my theory has our warring selves as having some deep roots too. What I do not accept is that all that nasty stuff somehow happens “in biology,” that we don’t think it over and decide. Proof that we do it, proof that we did it, proof that we’ve done it for a very long time – you say yourselves, genetics is not determinism, don’t you? None of it proves we aren’t making choices, that we aren’t responsible for the world we make, or that we couldn’t operate differently. There are not two worlds, a biological one where it’s all unconscious and instinctive and another where we can talk and reason. Our reason supports our biology, any other condition would be a fatal mutation. Who do we think is foisting this warring life onto humanity besides us? We talk as though we’re trying our best to be good but you know, whaddayagonnado?

I’ve been working through the logic, and I’ve come to see that all (don’t hold me to 100%, exceptions won’t disprove the rule) human societies are warrior societies. It’s a long story, and I’ve been writing it all down, it’s all in my blog, my entire learning curve that started with not wanting to spank my children twenty-five years ago and has me applying to go to school in my retirement, starting in 2018. The Twitter version, probably only helpful for people who have either been reading me or who are already in the conversation, is that I tried to figure out what “punishment” really was, because the explanations I’d always heard didn’t satisfy me. I had an insight that “discipline” and abuse had a way of looking identical.

When I read of the socialization researchers’ long failure to find evidence that kids become anything their parents wanted (in the Nurture Assumption) it became clear that the evidence for damage and abuse seemed to be the better-established phenomenon, and it wasn’t far from there to wonder what evolutionary advantage abuse could bring us. The overlap appears to be along a vector of “increased incidence of violence,” that function being well understood in both contexts, evolutionary psychology and the old, Leftist regular psychology. That looks like a powerful biological/evolutionary explanation for the human practice of the punishment of children to me, but even if it’s why half of our fathers gave us the consequences, society doesn’t allow that it’s why we do it. We have these stories why we’d be some sort of “bad” without the discipline, and “society’s” idea about it (and Mom’s) is that our discipline makes us more civilized, less violent.

That brings me to the mimic meme.

This belief, this meme, that our kids will be some kind of “bad” without the consequences, this is why we say we do it, but the evidence is all to the contrary. Why we do it is to create the “deep roots of war” ape that we are. Remember, game theory applies: if there is a human warrior society on the planet, then they all are or most must on their way to being selected out. If you believe there is one, you must allow that there are many, that they all are, else how do those peaceful societies defend? Even if you don’t see that as self-evident today, consider our long aboriginal hunter-gatherer past, the situation we evolved in and for. Damn.

That was the Twitter version.

Robert Trivers told me any decent theory can be stated in three or four sentences, and I know I could take a lot out of the above, and I’m sorry to disagree with the genius, but not everything in life is that simple! LOL. The things you get to say when you’re alone, talking to yourself! So, liberalism.

In some sense, we can apply the ubiquitous dichotomy of our politics to any debate, and as such, if conservatism is about what it sounds like, keeping what you have, supporting institutions and such, then we must allow that a nation at war’s conservatives wish to conserve that situation too. And fair enough, in a defensive sense. We are indeed at war, and that is not a good time for getting less warlike. Of course, that’s always the case, it’s never a good time, is it? This is an attribute of warrior society. So, along this vector, what is liberalism?

 

Liberalism appears to be an attempt by the non-warriors to create a new meme, to create a different sort of society. Sure, it’s the attempt of people within the society who have the comfort to consider it, the few who have gotten a glimpse of a life, at least a personal life without war, and sure, they were lucky. Liberals would like us all to share in that sort of luck – this has always been my own liberal mission statement at least, although I’m sure interpretations are legion. Perhaps liberalism is best encapsulated in the famous phrase that “the arc of the universe bends towards justice,” but I’m sorry. Warrior society says no.

The arc of the human social universe bends towards conflict.

The world described in that quote is the goal, not the present reality, but this is where this conversation turns, this is the pivot point.

This is the social world we’re talking about. The HBD movement is clearly grounded in and aligned with liberalism generally, and the mistake they make is just as the biologists say it is, they’re confusing the world they’re trying to create with the world in front of them – but they are not positioned against human nature. They are positioned against the warrior society. This seems to indicate that some geneticists, some biologists are not actually defending human nature, but possibly the warrior society, I mean if they think they are one and the same and they choose to defend one.

The deep roots of war and human nature, these are not the same things, this is the point and the news from antisocialization theory. There is a human nature, but the deep roots of war life we live is a response to our natures, a secondary effect.

This is the dividing line, and this is the obfuscation the New Atheists and the New Naturists are leveraging: if you’re against the warrior society in a particular aspect, if you think your children aren’t “born bad” and therefore are some sort of blank slates that don’t require discipline, then you’re against “human nature.” If you think crime is a social issue more than it’s an heredity issue because people are some sort of blank slates that can learn and change, then you’re against “human nature” and therefore you’re “against science.” There seems to be some conflation, some overlap between whether people accept a specific version of human nature and whether they accept any version of human nature. Clearly, many HBD people have a version of human nature in mind, not the blank slate at all, many have a rosy, hippy-dippy, sweetness and light version of human nature in their heads – but if they don’t share the New Naturists’ somewhat dark version they are blank slaters, Human Biology Deniers.

No, I’m sorry, the “deep roots of war” folks do not own the rights to human nature, not yet. We can believe in a human nature without having to accept your version, which by the way, smells of some bad attitude like Christian original sin, or some version of evolution infected with original sin, like we are 90% wild beast with a veneer of civilization. Nice try. That is not the only possible nature we may have, even if it gets an automatic pass at your bible college.

The warrior society, when threatened, fights like a cornered badger, again, sorry to complicate matters, that’s almost fair enough, the enemy really is at the gates, usually. So, let’s talk about a few of these New Naturists and see what this all means; again, I’ll start at the end: this logic has explained something to me this morning that I’d been having trouble understanding . . . well, three things. Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins.

There are no innocent voices in wartime. I’m tired of typing it, and of course, there are innocent voices every generation, young, inexperienced people pitching in where they think they’re needed. The point of the expression though, is that war co-opts everything. I’ve been frustrated, I‘d gotten used to the obnoxious attitudes of Maher, Harris, etc., but lately Richard Dawkins is tweeting about FGM and it challenged me to understand it. How can the brilliant Dawkins not know that to complain about reactionary Islamist practices in the middle of these wars only feeds the war? Does he imagine they will stop the bombing and build universities instead? During a time when the anti-Muslim talk in America and England is drowning out all other voices, how can he not know he’s adding to the chorus? Then it struck me.

This is not an HBD person, is it, Richard Dawkins, but perhaps he’s a liberal. As a liberal, perhaps he does not like to always remember that our countries are at war, because we liberals don’t like to think of humans that way . . . the arc of the universe, right? How to understand this common phenomenon though, other than to imagine that these advocates forget there’s a war on? How else to understand intellectuals talking about Afghanistan as though their public policy problems can be dealt with while the bombs are still flying? It’s the mimic meme. Folks like Dawkins want to chastise Islam, give them a little pain, motivate them to be “better,” and they seem not to notice that we’re already doing a whole lot more to them than that.

These folks, by conflating human nature with the warrior society, do science a disservice by aligning it with the warrior society – case in point, the vapid war rhetoric of Sam Harris disguised as philosophy (see featured image) – same as the Church always has, and against peace. I’m pro-science, and I agree with a lot of scientists about a lot of things, but good science is not what is making some of these names famous, it’s their cultural “contributions.” I know I have to spell it out.

 

War culture.

 

Jeff

July 14th., 2017

Authority is the Problem.

Muslim extremists, Zionist extremists, Christian ones, Buddhists – people, the extremism is in the authority, not in the flavour. This one takes your refusal to eat what they allow as a reason to punish or kill you, that one some other reason, the common denominator, the really bad thing with all these attitudes is the punishing part, the killing part, the authority. So the Christian authorities decry Muslim “extremism” (read “authoritarianism”), but they won’t ever decry authority, because they enjoy their own too much.

Folks, let’s don’t be divided and conquered in this way. Eyes open – it is authority that is the problem, power and force. If you are going to kill me for some behaviour of mine, then it is irrelevant to me what the name of your God is. What is relevant to me is that you are a killer, that you think you have the right to bring punishments down on me. The brand of psychosis you have is a minor detail, Christian, Muslim, whatever. Authority – the idea that some people have the right to control others – that is the problem. That is the core belief all of our authorities share, Christian, Muslim, whatever. And they’ve all struck a deal with one another that they will never talk about that.

(The above argument regarding authoritarianism versus the world’s great religions’ versions of authority also applies to political systems. It is the nearly impossible to kill kernel of authority that turned the great Communist experiments into oppressive dictatorships, just as it has with so many non-socialist societies. Muslim, Christian, Capitalist, Communist, doesn’t matter: the common thread, and what should be the obvious evil, is authority.)

I hate to tell you: belief in authority, that is even more impossible to cure than belief in religion. It’s the basis of religious belief. All religions are a set of rules to follow to achieve some spiritual end, and acceptance that life is about authority is a prerequisite to believing that, a rule, and a punishment or a reward for it. Now here’s the thing.

Authority is a necessary evil. Adults need to control their babies, for their own good. We’re responsible for them, and they’re helpless and clueless, so there’s no talking to them. Sometimes parents need to act unilaterally, and in that way, authority can be a necessary thing for the survival of babies and young children.

After that?

After that, authority exists in a state of arrested development, or rather, it has us trapped in a state of arrested development. If we raise our kids right, they don’t need someone telling them what to do and how to live. A human being that has successfully matured to adulthood should be able to operate autonomously and cooperate autonomously. If we raised each other right, we could live in a world run with reason and communication alone. The reason we can’t is because we are all damaged and made stupid by authority and its abuses. The science is in regarding abuse and corporal punishment which are the tools of authority: it’s damaging us.

Without this damage, the world would not be full of screwed up, evil people who can only get the things they want done by way of authority, because the things they want to do aren’t supportable by logic, reason, morality or communication. If the things you want are social or economic inequality (power or wealth), then you’ll need authority for that. Healthy, mature, intelligent human beings probably won’t give you that willingly and consciously. For a world with lessening inequality, for us to develop normally, individually and collectively, we need to wean ourselves off of this belief in authority. It’s holding us back. Individually, and as a species, we are not growing up as long as we’re buying into the system of authority.