Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Dropbox Hacked

About an hour ago, my Dropbox account was hacked specifically, as to files linked on this blog. And the link to my paper Air Water Ground 1.6  was eliminated, now restored. Changes apparently made in a few files alo. Have not checked them over. If you something wierd, let me know. Thanks

Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith Painting?

Hmmmm. Just thinking.
Is religion actually one of the arts?
Neuro-painting of what is observed?
Then people that are not people of faith, are simply lacking in that particular painting talent?
Of course, religion would still have practical functions such as providing a teleological boundary, a hard stop barrier to combinatorial explosion, as a contingent altruism tag generator, and the consequent breeding of pseudospeciation behaviors etc.
Atheist draw, people of faith, paint? :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Approach to Overcoming Hyperbolic Discounting?

To address the hardwired restraint of Hyperbolic Discounting,:
A long term need, with high option value itself will need to be addressed in a planned (probably using iterative planning) series of short term rewards, that positively reward individuals in the ways consistent with the Socially Obligate Economical Boundary Condition?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Humans, your attention please

Systemic view please.
(climate change and central Asian glacier  reduction, fresh water demand, WMD’s etc.)
This is a tiny butterfly effect point example, of a potential causal set eventually for the next world war:

Putin as pied piper, and the new Russian stroll down the dark mountain

An amoral comment made as a citizen.

The U.S. was not always the “Great Satan” to fundamentalist Islam. We began our earning of the term long ago when we reduced the British Empire to our ethnarchy, and directly, when that ethnarchy created a European State in the middle east, centered on the second most holy city to Muslims, in 1947.
There was once a folk known as Russians. They invaded a country known as Afghanistan. One of their military behaviors was to drop booby trapped toys & candy from the air on rebel villages.


Al-Qaida, the Taliban formed to fight the Russians. Russia's southern border is primarily Muslim. Russians have essentially been killing Muslims, torturing Muslims, etc. off &amp on; since the 14th Century.


The Russians and their local ethnarchy are currently destroying without apparently any semblance of that American concept of “rules of engagement,” one of the oldest cities in the world.

The Memory Gospel

The man who lead the 12th century recovery of Jerusalem from the Crusader Kingdom, Saladin, was actually a Kurd, born while his parents were traveling, in the very city Saddam Hussein was later born. For those of you who are American, lets just say Saladin to many young Arab boys, is a combination of Davy Crockett, George Washington, and the latest sports hero.
The shared birthplace was used in Saddam's cult of personality PR.

Simply put, the Russians have a Muslim body count, of innocents,  Dead and maimed children. That body count will probably never, I hope, be beaten by us. Outsize of our short attention span theater, this is remembered.

Yes, Mr. Putin, lead your civilian population down the dark mountain of terrorism strikes to your  Motherland.

President Obama? Right now, in the amoral real politick world, do nothing.
The boots on the ground will randomly appear in Russia, and they are not our boots….

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Not to be deluded by dreams.

By Jay Moynihan

An interesting comment about "these times" from the folks at The Dark Mountain Project.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Long Argument

Given the current tit-for-tat, conflict oriented media and politics (generally speaking), people knowing what words meant and mean now falls casualty to the sturm und drang.  Also, words change their meaning in a present, as time passes.
Among the casualties the words:
Granted, these 4 words have long history of being abused in the American lexicon. But, what they mean or meant to the Founders of the country, as opposed to what they mean for most today, is relevant, I think. We struggle to operate inside the political structure/framework they laid down.

It is curious characteristic of American political and legal debate that what the “framers” of our constitution understood the various sections and amendments meant, is a major part of constitutional interpretation now. I say curious, because, as well explained in the book, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 ; the Framers would be puzzled by this view.
The vagueness of the documents reflects the varied political positions of the Framers and their respective states. They ended up towards the end of the process, writing to each other that that was a good thing, as it allowed future generation to constantly re-interpret the documents, in relation to the needs and issued of the times.
Two example of Judicial “Activism”/modern interpretation by the current Supreme Court:
Gay marriage & the “individual” right to have a gun (2nd Amendment issues).
Ok. Back to the political labels.

The United States of America is not a democracy, as Jefferson, Madison Hamilton, Washington et al would have told you. That is a question of how you structure sovereignty in a given government.
“Democracy, (from Greek: "δημοκρατία") or "rule of the commoners", was originally conceived in Classical Greece, whereby political representatives were chosen by lot (as in a jury) from amongst the male citizens.” This form /structure was rejected by the Framers of our constitution in favor of the structure called a “republic”, and created a modified Roman Republic model.

A republic (from Latin: res publica) is a sovereign state or country which is organized with a form of government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law.”

Liberal” in late 1700’s North America was used to simply refer to the belief in the principles of The Age Enlightenment. Therefore, It was the dominant ideology of the founders/Framers. For a brief review of the expression of the Enlightenment in the colonial period of the United States, the “first” revolution of the Enlightenment, and the early republic, see American Enlightenment .

Liberal is tied to the concept of liberty, both for the Founders/framers and their primary inspiration, the Roman Republic (the goddess Libertas, which is seen in the U.S. as the statue of liberty, and the paintings and statues all over of the female figure Columbia and/or liberty.  )
Liberty meant, to the Founders/Framers, to be a liber homo, a “free man” means not being subject to another's arbitrary will, that is to say, dominated by another. Living in a society under the rule of non-arbitrary laws, passed by elected representatives that you can vote for.
“Liberalism” has developed distinct flavors through space and time. As did “conservative”. “Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization.”

The first use of the term “conservative” ideologically in the U.S. was in the 1820’s in the term Liberal Conservatism. That is what the opponents of Andre Jackson called themselves. “Liberal” was used in tandem with “conservative” because it meant you supported the Enlightenment and did not favor the British ( the common meaning of conservative at the time, in the U.S.). Perhaps the closest modern child of Liberal Conservatism in the U.S. is Libertarianism in some ways. But technically, “Liberal Conservatism” is extinct in the U.S. and the term is considered by those not familiar with the Enlightenment to be an oxymoron.
The negative association with the word may have contributed to the curiosity that the United States never developed a “conservative” party, properly so called, as is common in Europe and the other former British colonies, and Japan. Instead, what Americans usually call conservative is actually with in the range that is “liberalism”.
Assuming you have read through the above hyperlinks, you are aware that liberalism branched over time into distinct variants.
Iiberalism in the United States
American liberalism in all its variants, including the mis-labeled American Conservatism through Progressivism share one particular element, that being Adam Smith inspired concepts of market  “capitalism”. Much of the history of post-revolutionary political debate in the country can be viewed as a changing range of argument between the political rights of the individual vs the economic rights of land owners and large owners of capital. Socialism, much less communism ever achieved a lasting purchase on the country’s political landscape. Another form that failed to stick here was Fascism. The one late 19th Century “ism” that has achieved entrée’ into the county’s political landscape as elsewhere, was and is religious fundamentalism.

The New Liberalism
What Americans tend to label “conservative” is actually properly called Neoliberalism . For the reader not familiar with this term, I recommend the book Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics
In the country, Neoliberalism has since about 1980 gained increasing mindshare. It now the core philosophy of the Republican Party, and the majority of the members of the Democratic Party. Currently in the Republican Party, neoliberalism is joined with,  for many a resurgent nationalism, and to a lesser extent tinged with a tad of rascism.
Our neoliberalism may be seen  as consistent with the end stage of the transition from republic to plutocracy.  I think this transition is well illustrate by some national/thematic issues, involving the concept of privatization.

Education. As expressed in the series of Northwest Ordinances of 1785-1787, the young republic committed to the creation and maintenance at the state level of public education. In a republic, the main purpose of education is to create “citizens”. Now, as we have become a neoliberal plutocracy, the primary purpose of education is worker training.  Also, the neoliberal view is that public education needs to be privatized, opening a very large new market.

Social Security. As American republicanism adapted to the industrial revolution one of the blooms of that process was the Social Security System. Hardcore neoliberals now talk about the problems of that system and argue a range of private sector alternatives. The rational for it is the redefined concept, in neoliberalism of individual/consumer/taxpayer choice, as opposed to the traditional republican concepts of citizen/individual, political choice.
Also, privatization would open trillions of dollars from the social security fund, to commissions for the financial sector of the economy, and all that that implies…

Citizens United/1st Amendment rights of corporations
The Framers/Founders would have flipped over that one. They, as was Adam Smith, were very leery of allowing the formation of business corporations, In 1787 (the year of Constitutional Convention) in every state you had to have a bill introduced in the state legislature to create a corporation. This was due to the understanding that the concentration of capital tied to limited liability for the shareholders created, in a republic, a dangerous concentration of influence, that could lead eventually to a broad economic disparity if unchecked. Therefore, the existence of a corporation was a public creation and a public question, limited to a public purpose (unlike business partnerships and sole proprietors which were considered private in nature).
Now in every state, you create a corporation by filling a particular document and paying a filing fee. Apparently by doing so you have can create a Super-Citizen; a creature that has first Amendment rights, is comprised of concentrated funds from owners who are not personally libel for what the creature does.

Of course, strong proponents of neoliberalism tend to also champion issues (wedge/values issues, 2nd amendment, etc) that are apparently of significant interest to Euroamericans who are not rich. This over the last 36 years gave birth to both quasi-producerism of the Tea Party and then the rise of Donald Trump. I think the neoliberals certainly benefit from those issues. If the majority of the bottom 75% economically speaking, actually examined their own lives and neoliberal ideas, those ideas would not fair well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Role of Abdication in a Tainter Symplification

A picnic in the ruins

I just ended my viewing of a live feed from a “town hall meeting” that illustrates, at least in my culture, a micro view opportunity of our current Tainter Symplification.

Public comes to view taxes as something “bad” & government as something to “big”.
Public elects people who talk about that, from the group of people that taught them to think that.

A state government cuts funds for something that happens locally. Local governments  are not amused.

What is interesting in all of this, is what is not discussed:

Reduce state tax cuts and restore funding
Or increase state taxes and restore funding
Or, local governments raise taxes and if necessary politically force the state to restore local powers to do so.

 It is like they cannot even think about those options, which are traditionally, i.e. in the former complexity of a republic, standard.  Perhaps that is, in my culture, a feature of the simplification process. A certain helplessness in the face of the simplification as it rolls downward?

Extinction & Aesthetics

Pre-simplification   by jay moynihan

Joanna Zylinska - "Photography after Extinction"

Cary Wolfe - “The Poetics of Extinction

William Connolly - “Extinction Events and Entangled Humanism

Joseph Masco - “The Six Extinctions: Visualizing Planetary Ecological Crisis Today

Elizabeth Povinelli - The Four Figures of the Anthropocene

Friday, August 12, 2016

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine*

Donald Trump with President Ronald Reagan at White House reception in 1987
An interesting piece on Trump presidential race rallies this week.

The other day i was chatting with an acquaintance who is an elected Republican office holder. My mention of Trump elicited a head shake accompanied by nervous laughter. I told him, that his party created The Trump. He chuckles and says nah. I said 36 years of anti-government, anti-immigrant rhetoric and pounding a clutch of divisive social trigger issues? What did you folks think would happen? He looked pained and said, well,....ya, guess so, nervous laugh.

Fuckin right bucko, guess so. Stop saying he is a bastard. Acknowledge your paternity. 

But they were not a single parent. I think the Democrats did their part in the gestation. 36 years spent abandoning their philosophical roots, offering no real rebuttal, becoming the "New Democrats."

*  a link to the album that bears the name that is the title of this post. Being i am posting this link I will fight the urge to link a poem that is having a rebirth of interest via the Trumph phenomena, that being of course Yeat's Second Coming.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Note on Tainter Simplification


"Society" (the public realm)

Growth/increasing complexity.
Mantra: Do More with More

Mantra: Do More with less

Mantra: Do less with less

Simplification Floor.
Mantra: Do what I say if you want to live.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Post-Gedankenexperiment Speculative Questions

Matsya comes to the rescue of Manu
Assuming for the purpose of play the prior post, 
And assuming say a time point of what we would date as around say, 3000-4000 CE/AD,
What would be the mix of religions?
The simplification our species would have gone through would probably be the most drastic one yet, at least since that mysterious big human population drop about 70,000 years ago. So I doubt the current religious systems would make it through the cusp, like in this wonderful novel.

We can with some confidence in a general sense I believe, predict what governance and social methods/structures may arise. That is because we have matches from the past to go with previous socio-technological levels of complexity.

Of course, the wild card on this is the following.:
What knowledge of past human history (the time before the relatively sudden
decrease in human population) would make it through the cusp?

What form and accuracy would it entail?
Assuming the simplification is geographically inconsistent, would some surviving groups have a technical advantage or experiential advantage in competition for resources?
Would that past become mythic elements, and how long would that take?

We have seen this process in our actual past, after non-planetary-wide  simplifications, (Early post Roman Britain views on “Rome”, or the drastic simplification in a short time across the Western Hemisphere from the spread along trade routes of the diseases brought to the Caribbean by the first Europeans to come ashore there. But this time, the rapid simplification would be on a planetary scale.

For some perhaps, the actual Simplification with be reimagined and weaved into some great story. This would be not unlike how probably the human experience the flooding around the planet with the melting of the last ice age, eventually became all the human flood epics, from the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh to flood Legend of Manu.


One of the cool creatures that developed out of the PETM.
An attempt at an apolitical attempt to answer the question:
If you care about the world so to speak, "think big picture" should you vote for Donald Trump?

That answer probably depends on what your goals are, and how you envision a preferred world future.

If you are into one of the variants of "radical ecology", you might want to vote for Donald Trump. (I do not consider myself in the radical ecology camp.)


Donald Trump does what he says he will do and he acts in accord with what he says he thinks.

The United States of America since World War 2, due to its military, economic and cultural dominance of the planet, has been in a systems dynamics sense, a stabilizing influence; militarily and economically.   

As a result of that stabilization, the influence of the U.S.A. is in a slow decline, since the rise of economic power of other state actors following the end of the "cold war".

That rapid climate change science is reasonably accurate.

That the shrinkage of mountain system glaciers continues at its current rate 

A continued problem with fresh water on a planetary basis, as to quantity, quality and equitable access thereto.

Scenario (assuming above)

A Near Future (1-8 years)

Trump elected.

The stabilizing influence of the U.S. A. rapidly decreases.

Foreign policy practices of many states become less cooperative and return to a more ad hoc, a la carte model.

U.S.A. abandons all effort towards building an international climate change mitigation framework.

The federal government abandons all efforts and funding relevant to climate change mitigation and adaptation, domestically and via foreign aide.

An Intermediate Future (Remainder of century)

Other states find it difficult to fashion an international GHG mitigation framework, without the inclusion of the U.S. and Russia in the process as "positive" actors.

Despite a patchwork of "local" attempts to mitigate GHG's/rapid climate change, much of the world continues to rely on fossil energy sources.

Central Asian mountain system glaciers provide decreasing fresh water to South Asia, central "Stans", central Russian and East Asia.

Water issues in Middle East and Asia escalate.

Periodic outbreaks of warfare in the above areas start and continue, and nuclear and other WMD's are used. 

Atmospheric drift of radiation adds contamination to the primary food production areas in the rest of the world, amplifying impacts of those areas current and ongoing "migration" north and south (depending on your hemisphere).

Formally non-combatant nuclear states, engage in limited counter-force strikes against combatant states to curtail future contamination drift. Combatants retaliate.

Social complexity, in differing ways and to various levels of complexity, rapidly simplifies.

Simplification, along with the atmospheric impacts of the numerous nuclear explosions (blocking. some solar radiation input), collapses mass agriculture, while also slowing the planetary warming trend.

Deeper time period

After the wolves went extinct and then the Simplification, the wolf niche
was occupied by feral packs of formally domestic dogs.

A drastically reduced and less concentrated  human population achieves less complex socio-technological levels of operation, with less impact on the planetary and local ecosystems.

The "long tail" of the warming trend is shorter than under a "business as usual scenario".

Past human induced changes and the impacts/changes of the above process resulted in a large non-human die-off too. But surviving plants and animals over time go through a period of genetic variation and speciation mostly free of concurrent of human influence.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Phenomena of Teflon Don

Cleon of Athens

I would suggest that calling Donald Trump a "demagogue“ is niether hyperbolic nor an insult, (as the term was not in it's place of birth, ancient Athens). It is perhaps, just accurate.

“A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from Greek δημαγωγός, a popular leader, a leader of the mob, from δμος, …a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by appealing to the passions, prejudices, and ignorance of the common people. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. “

The methods of demagogues
Emotional oratory and personal magnetism
Violence and physical intimidation
Personal insults and ridicule
Gross oversimplification
Accusing opponents of weakness and disloyalty

One of the historically apparent characteristics of a demagogue is to be a “teflon candidate”. It is rationally arguable the Donald Trump is close to being classic demagogue  and may be an absolutely American version of one, (Americans somehow separate the “elite” from the “wealthy…as foreign folks have pointed out, we tend to confuse “rich” with clever or smart).

Teflon is a nickname given to persons, particularly in politics, to whom criticism does not seem to stick. The term comes from Teflon, the brand name by DuPont of a "non-stick" chemical used on cookware.”

To back him for president, assuming it is not just a matter of party loyalty, one must suspend one's analytic functions on what he says, or at least not notice the apparent irrationality in what he says. For the supporter, maybe they have shrouded their own brain with teflon.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Is Donald Trump the First Postmodern Presidential Candidate?

Just Google the words:   Trump  Postmodern

"Donald Trump is not a conservative—he’s a reality TV star thoroughly in tune with the passions and dynamics of mass publicity and social media. No matter how much he denounces them, he’s still a product of victim-based identity politics."
From Donald Trump: At Home in Postmodern America

We saw moments of post-modern thought in past presidents. Reagan ("Facts are such stupid things"), Clinton (the word games during his testimony re Lewinsky ) and Bush 2 (Rhetoric during the lead up the 2nd invasion of Iraq). I am not claiming that Donald Trump conciously embraces postmodernist philosophy in his world view, nor in his performance art*.
But, when i look at his campaign behavior to date, i think it is not far fetched to describe his ideas and their expression as "postmodern", philosophically. 

Postmodern Philosophy.

" Walter Truett Anderson described postmodernism as belonging to one of four typological world views, which he identifies as either 
(a) Postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed 
(b) Scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry
(c) Social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization
(d) Neo-romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self." 

Postmodernism regects certain Enlightenment values, such as:
Grand narratives
The primacy of rationality
The existence of objective reality
The concept of absolute truth
Objective moral values
Truth is considered a variable social construct. Also, in postmodern sociopolitical writing, critique far outweighs the promulgation of structured, potential solutions. 
Postmodernism is also considered to be an element of the modern version of identity politics. This, apart from Trumps frequent use of dog whistles, is part of his appeal to his core support (non-college graduate "white" males).
This is the most interesting and may be the most important presidential election during my life so far.

* His style exhibits a sort of conceptual bricolage. Words are a central feature, recycling of past styles and elements, collage, simplification, and a creative freedom from the empirical world.

Monday, July 18, 2016

News Items & Tainter Simplification

Will the current sporadic armed conflict between some U.S. citizens and law enforcement personnel increase or hold steady in rate? Is it another aspect of  Tainter Simplification ? Is it example of a social behavior arising out of a confluence of pressures driving the simplification, first manifesting in some mentally damaged folks?
Only time will tell. But the structural aspects can be discerned.

The widening availability & spread of firearms possession
Open carry/concealed carry
Increasingly confrontational political rhetoric
Increasing use of racial and ethnic derogatory comments by authority figures
Identity politics
Events usually not widely seen recorded and posted online
Increasing economic disparity
Increasing anti-government rhetoric
Apparent increasing distrust of government
In other words, is this a progression?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Booking Up

As a citizen of a plutocracy, i thought it might be useful to start studying plutocracies in history.
Here are some examples:

Roman Republic
Some city-states in Ancient GreeceCarthageThe Italian city-states/merchant republics of VeniceFlorenceGenoa 
Pre-World War II Empire of Japan 
And here is the Google Scholar search string for the word      plutocracy

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Going for the Jugular

“And a Democratic option that sought to bar all gun sales to those individuals on the terror watch list failed 47-53, the second time the proposal went down to defeat after a mass shooting. California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein originally pushed the proposal in December after a shooting in San Bernardino, and revived it after the horrific Orlando nightclub shooting by a gunman who pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS.” WGN website 06/21/2016”

Interesting. This a.m., early, just after waking I heard a news item similar to the above. I immediately was possessed by the spirit of some left of center anti-matter twin of Carl Rove or Frank Luntz, from some parallel universe, and came up up with the perfect Democratic spin on the above event. More on that later.

A number of years ago I was listening to a weekly broadcast of the Washington Press Club, the lunch speaker was Theodore Roosevelt the 3rd or 4th. Like his illustrious namesake, he was a Republican, and a member of that extinct in public office, and near extinct everywhere sub genius, a Progressive Republican. Yes Virginia, their used to be Progressive Republicans. In fact, his name sake was their national standard bearer. His namesake now tends to serve as a CEO or President of a major environmental organization, mirroring his namesake again.
Anyway, at the lunch he was asked: “What is the key difference between Republicans and Democrats. His Reply? “Republicans have an instinct for the jugular, Democrats have a instinct for the capillaries.” Quite right. I agree with that pretty much sums up the differences in approach to issues, the spin style if you will, of the two. I wonder why? Bears research i think. But i digress...

Of course, Faux News is trying to do spin control , or even funnier, the view of  “Terrorist Watchlist: The Re-Birth of Tyranny” from the folks at Ammoland Shooting Sports News….

But, back to my first thought this a.m.

What would it sound like if Democrats made statements about this vote in the spin style of the Republicans? If today every Democratic candidate & operative said the same thing? I think it would sound like this:

The Republicans and the NRA support ISIS.
They want to arm ISIS terrorists in America.

A more Trumperized version:
The Republicans and the NRA support ISIS.
They want to arm ISIS terrorists in America.
In fact, in fact (double use intended) they are by this vote, giving aid and comfort to a sworn enemy of America.

Well there is a word for that, its treason. The republicans are traitors, just as bad as the terrorists themselves, maybe worse.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Deus Vult

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.”   
Deuteronomy 13:6-10

"Without pledging ourselves to any particular Confession, we have restored faith to its pre-requisites because we were convinced that the people needs [sic] and requires [sic] this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."
Baynes, Norman Hepburn (1969). The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922 – August 1939'. H. Fertig. p. 378.

"Another ramification of our social nature and intelligence is pseudospeciation. Quoting from Jane Goodall's "Chimpanzees of The Gombe"@ 532: "In our species cultural evolution permits pseudospeciation (Erickson, 1966)--the transmission of individually acquired behavior from generation to generation within a particular group, leading to the customs and traditions of that group. This process is analogous to the formation of species through genetic inheritance. Pseudospeciation in humans means, among other things, that members of one group may not only see themselves as different from members of another, but also behave in different ways to group and non-group individuals. In its extreme form pseudospeciation leads to "dehumanizing" of other groups, so that they may be regarded almost as members of a different species (LeVine and Campbell, 1971). This process, along with the ability to use weapons for hurting or killing at a distance, frees group members from the inhibitions and social sanctions that operate within a group and enable acts that would not be tolerated within the group to be directed toward "those others”." The expression of pseudospeciation in such behaviors as ethnocentrism, racism, prejudice and warfare compound the scarcity condition or perceived scarcity, and increase the perceived threat levels for individuals seeking to meet needs. What results is an interaction between status related behaviors and pseudospeciation which often leads to inter-group violence and increases cultural isolation. As humans became more technologically sophisticated, this situation becomes increasingly acute due to inherent feedback loops. Resources disappear at an increasing rate, wastes accumulate at an increasing rate and violence increases in lethality and in incidence. Scarcity increases. Perceived threats increase. It all feeds back onto itself."

In my country, polls routinely inform us that when it comes to elect- ability, an  atheist is at the bottom. Another poll found that the majority of Americans thought an atheist was less trustworthy than a rapist. Even on the so called "left" it is little different. The PC police overlook anti-atheist language and images.
This attitude toward the atheist minority is so wide spread here that it makes a good subject for looking at the underpinnings of the problems that can arise from contingent altruism.
Contingent altruism is cooperation by phenotype with conspecifics that display shared labels, markings or other ques; sometimes referred to as “tags”. It is found in social species. The reaction to tag, or its absence is a continuum of behavior. The more intelligent the specie the more graduated the responses.
Presence of a tag: trust or greater tendency to trust.
No tag: react by attack or a lesser tendency to trust.
In its most basic form, it can just be predicated on the presence of a chemical compound, such as the "nest scent" of ants.
Present: exchange pheromone information or food.
Not present: release alarm pheromone and kill or run.

In social birds and mammals, it gets more complex. With us, the most complex social creatures we know of, it can get byzantine. We learn to see a multitude of tags and responses thereto from our parents, siblings, peers, and eventually, from our own experiences.
Some basic apparent differences (skin color, gender, language/dialect, dress) seem to impact on how much we trust, depending what we have learned as a young creature.  Other tags (team logos, and other minutinae for example) seldom have body counts.
To "discriminate" (pseudospeciation) is a cultural universal, but what we discriminate against is learned.  The belief in a supernatural, unseen being is another cultural or "human universal". Which type of religion or spiritual practice one has, if any, is usually that learned from the parent. and it can have teeth and a body count.

"All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! " 
Pope Urban the 2nd, Address to the Council of Clermont, November 27, 1095

"I'm fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans.
 Osama bin Laden

The belief in a supernatural, unseen being, while the details of its expression in any one individual is varied, it is a very important factor in a group. Hence the use of differences in the details of that belief across groups is so easily manipulated to drive others to violence.
But it is, even more important for the phenotype than that. 

For a person of faith/theist, it is part of their basic structure of reality and worldview. It is their sword and buckler against existential horror.
An atheist, a person who does not share this very core symbolic object "human universal" with them, is missing a major tag. No wonder they would not trust them.  No wonder they fear them. For some of them, an atheist is a walking threat of combinatorial explosion.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Auguring Over a Dead Horse

I have read a few pieces tonight about Donald Trump's apparent ascendancy being a crisis of our "democracy". 
If we are going poke about the corpse of our body politic, we should at least have the decency to use correct terms.

The founders did not create a democracy (no representatives, like ancient Athens was for awhile. All eligible to vote, vote on every individual issue. Very rare, unstable form with few examples, Athens of Plato's time,Viking Iceland, a few native North American Nations).
The founders intentionally created a "republic" (essentially the exercise of power of the people through elected representatives and courts)., primarily in imitation of the Republican Period of ancient Rome. But republics are normally short lived things, normally transformed to another form via the eventual concentration of power via concentration of wealth.

And, that transition has already happened for us.
Not wanting to be mean, but someone needs to say it. What is so outlandish about a people that let their republic turn into a plutocracy, electing to the highest office, a narcistic, opportunistic real estate developer?
But as the the Romans taught us, what follows the fall of republics, can be monsters ...