Showing posts with label social units. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social units. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tribes, Monkeyspheres, Governments and Cults

 Tribes are the normal social systems for humans. Once tribes get beyond the Monkeysphere* which describes most modern tribes the possibility of becoming cults is an ever present danger. 

  Seeing through the crap is the first step in apostasy. Being identified as a radical is the first step in excommunication. You can't change them. Save them the trouble. Find a support group elsewhere and Fuck 'em.

 Where large organizations break down into Monkeysphere tribes, cults are usually avoided. Most companies, even large companies until the '60s were generally collections of tribes. So were most churches. 

 One of the advantages of small senior communities and Gated Communities and city villages is they preserve the tribal community for better or worse. Tribes tend to be homogeneous in culture and ethnicity. When they get too big for the Monkeysphere the homogeneity can become the basis for a cult.

 I think it is no accident that the village or parish is the basic unit of human society. Our monkeysphere is about 150-200 people whose behavior we can affect with the subtle social cues (the raised eyebrow, frown, or quick smile ) to say that behavior is or is not in accordance with the morals of the society. That is, what our common moral tendencies tell us is right. The morality of the village is pretty well solidified by Fulghum's Kindergarten.
 Where these groups are local, isolated and stable almost anything can be moral, witch burning, infanticide, child sacrifice, killing everybody in the next village. Whoops, almost forgot, except the virgins.  Blue Roads 4/26/08

 I suspect that as the twitterspheres and facebookspheres sort themselves out they will become either tribes or cults.  I have some friends on Facebook that I have to block their cult posts.  Not really an issue if they have other redeeming values they can still be in my facebook tribe which is well below my monkeysphere in size.

 There are very few of us who can find what we need for personal fulfillment if we become "Stickers" for the sake of sticking and building and maintaining a community. The school to meet our aspirations may be across the country or around the world. The job we have prepared for may not be in the same community as the school where we learned our trade. Then we grow in our trade and outgrow the job that started our career, or our significant other may have outgrown the community we live in and another community change is in order.

  Friends and associates in our monkeysphere also scatter so even if we would like to be stickers, the rest of the community isn't and we are stuck with a bunch of new neighbors, new industries, and even a bunch of new people in our church. that may change it beyond our comfort level.

  There may still be a few communities where sticking is a possibility, but they are rare and the vibrant cutting edge industry that is a necessity for such a community, works against the stickers maintaining a stable community.

  Where are we to find our roots? Is it possible that soil and bricks are no longer necessary for rootedness, but that the nascent communities on the internet will become the new roots for the boomers (old definition)? Is facebook our new village green or post office where we get our daily social strokes? Are blogs the coffee houses where we share our profound ideas with like minded profound thinkers? Is our little piece of the net the new community where the boomers are rooted? I think so. There will still be meet ups and face time but they will be increasingly mediated on the net, and with few exceptions community roots in jobs, churches, and neighborhoods will be non-existent. 
Blue Roads, 7/7/09

 I have been thinking a lot recently about that responsibility for the other "We's." I know where it begins. It begins with those closest to me, and extends at least to the monkeysphere. Probably also to those anonymous readers of this blog and the letters I write to newspapers etc, It certainly extends to the audiences I perform for. But does it extend to the bigots who are trying to change my laws, or only those who will be affected by those laws. Am I responsible for the Shiites and the Sunnis, or should I be content to let them bomb themselves out of existence with perhaps a little help from the Israelis and Wahabis.

 Or Haiti? Or New Orleans. If they do not have the resources through their own mismanagement/misgovernment to rebuild or even succor the injured do I have any responsibility to help? I'm thinking the answer is no. Humans are evolving, and in evolution the winners don't help the losers. They are too busy helping themselves. I have limited resources, and even if I didn't, the buck at Radio Shack for Haiti will be used for much more worthwhile causes. Blue Roads 2/12/10

 *There is a much more scholarly version of the Monkeysphere out there but as usual Cracked explains more. http://www.cracked.c om/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html

Friday, December 23, 2016

Humanism and Cancer.

From a friend's facebook post:

I have enjoyed this medium for a long time. I love you all including the asses, but no longer want to socialize here. I'm going to stick with my kind as suggested. God help you in the future with this mess.

Build your silo and kick out the asses. It is a social media. Social groups have standards of membership or they can't survive. "They drew a circle that kept me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout." (Edwin Markham) And I own that circle. They are not welcome. There are times when inclusiveness fails. I never liked the end of the complete quote, 

I am a radical humanist in that all people are initially included in the humanist circle. They can opt out if they wish by behavior incompatible with humanism. This does not mean they are not still human it just means that they may need to be controlled or eliminated humanely for the protection of humanism.

Humans and humanism are prone to cancerous growths. I did not hate the cancer that was destroying my vocal instrument. But it could not be allowed to do so. The only choice was to poison all rapidly dividing cells in my body, dangerous to be sure, and in fact nearly fatal, but it was a risk I had to take to continue to enjoy my instrument. 

The cancerous cells in humanism must be treated in the same way. Do what it takes to eliminate them even if it is dangerous. If they take over the body politic humanism will be dead anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Future of Suburban Living

As the top 20% crowd into the cities, voluntarily as that is where all the good stuff is within walking distance including most of the jobs that support the top 20% what happens to the suburbs that they leave?  Property values crater, and it becomes reasonable for the bottom 80% to achieve the American Dream of suburban living.  Rents in the strip malls and local shopping centers crater along with the property values, and become affordable for bodegas, Dollar stores, and other services catering to the lower income groups.  Assuming existing transit is maintained, (roads don't matter) as travel outside the neighborhood is mainly for jobs serving the 20%.  The 20% will insure it is maintained as they don't use it anyway and they need the service people who are gentrified out of the city.  

The current suburban standard of 4-5 bedrooms and 2-3 baths will serve an extended family of many as well as it serves the current family of 3.  The family room or a big downstairs room will be turned into a dorm for the kids and the adults will occupy the 4-5 bedrooms.  The modern luxury kitchen will easily serve dozens as well or better than it serves 3.

One can expect the current suburban developments to become ethnic enclaves, since once the block is busted and prices crater further, friends and families will join the blockbuster and remake the development to serve their needs.  The fences will come down and the large backyards will connect to be a big playground for the neighborhood.

It is happening as we chat, many suburban neighborhoods and cities connected by transit to the urban core are now ethnic enclaves, and the white homeowners are taking the money and running while the money is still there.  The elderly to "Adult communities" and the working ethnics are blockbusting a new community for their ethnic group.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Group Selectionism

To many if not most biologists, the selfish gene approach is the best idea anyone ever came up with for explaining altruism in the animal kingdom. The only significant rival explanation, group selectionism, is extremely controversial by comparison. The issue is not yet settled.  Faust

For biologists the gene is the only hammer they have to bang on things with.  Dawkins was a biologist who established his credibility by showing how a gene for distinguishing brighter from darker areas in the environment as an example could have survival value and drive the evolution of complex visual structures collectively known as eyes. He was necessarily working on individual members of the phyla he was studying.  As it became necessary to study more complex traits like altruism the gene hammer became the wrong tool and group selection became an alternative for social animals which are a relatively recent evolutionary development.  I suspect the two theories are not rivals, but are different tools for investigating different evolutionary structures.

The meme theory, still in its scientific infancy (it's developer isn't even dead yet) may well be the tool needed for studying group selection, as social animals must have a non-genetic behavioral modification adaptation for survival as a group.  Group selection works in relatively few generations which make biologists very uncomfortable.  Predatory pack wolves evolved extremely quickly into a larger social structure of follower wolves and eventually dogs (and a smaller individual social organization coyotes etc.) with essentially no genetic adaptation.  Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can crossbreed with viable offspring, although the strong social differences make crossbreeding unlikely in normal environmental conditions.

The God meme has been extremely powerful in group selection at least for predatory human groups.  While it may not prove the existence of God as a real thing, it certainly proves the existence of the collective consciousness of the idea of God.  Whether there is a significant difference is not really a scientific question.  

Whether the God meme can survive above the tribal social level is an open question that is evolving even as we speak, but that is a different topic entirely.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bonfires (or incindiaries) on Campus

AKA The World is on Fire Lets Piss on the Candle We Can Put Out.

Although I am disappointed that Cal Alpha failed in minor ways to live up to the ideals of the True Gentleman and the fraternity traditions, I am not at all surprised that they and other SAE chapters reflect the privileged male culture in the US that continue to openly assert that women are kitchen slaves at best and the property of men whether they are related to the man at all.  The military, the police, the right wing(?) media, some important churches and many prominent politicians create that culture.  Unfortunately none of the above are likely to appoint a Title IX administrator to clean up their culture.   

Universities and colleges have the same problems but properly take the stance that as community leaders they should deal with them.  My concern is that draconian sanctions for minor offenses sends the wrong message about free association and free speech to the Stanford Community.  To wit: Fraternities are the only fall guys we have that we can pick on so they have to go.  See Etchemendy's one strike and you are out pronouncement.  

I am not concerned with bailing out Cal Alpha or SAE, appropriate responses by Stanford and National have been taken and are in place.  But they cannot have any effect on the house if the house does not exist even for an academic year.  Stanford should be a leader in creating a responsible social environment on campus and the fraternities and sororities should be the safe houses and leaders rather than the fall guys for failures all over the campus.

Other comments roughly reverse time sequence.

If you are going to throw guilt by association in the pot the administrator came from Ohio, politically and socially one of the most sexist and violent states outside of the deep south and Wisconsin.  Boehner is their US Representative. 

Lets not throw the house under the bus just yet.  Minor lapses in judgement, I wouldn't call it hazing in any sense of the word.  We had brothers hurt being tossed in the fountain for lesser crimes.  Underage drinking? I remember a punch called the Red Death that more than a few underage people had trouble with.  We had to be a bit more circumspect in the house, but times have changed. 

From my conversation with Laird it seemed like the house handled everything well, and the University had to do something, anything, to make a Title IX statement.  Lets see what he has to say.

Yawn. Sexual Assault Exaggerations are news.  Where is the most likely place to be sexual assaulted today? At the festivities around professional sports events.  Why isn't that news? D'oh.  Where is another likely place to be sexually assaulted, a church social.  Why isn't that news? D'oh. Lets look at the Military.  Why isn't that news? D'oh. What's left? Colleges.  When are you most likely to be sexually asaulted on campus? Game Day! Why isn't that news? D'oh.

Hey, college fraternities throw parties that women attend.  Everybody hates fraternities because they weren't tapped.  Now we got news.

True Gentlemen,

I am not threatening anytthing at this point.  Just trying to get a reasonable conversation going with the appropriate people at Stanford.  I think the appropriate people will begin with President Hennessy as the issue is not the dehousing of SAE but an assault on free speech, free association, and traditional Stanford social life, the last having no legal standing but is why legal issues will be the primary assault weapons. 

The damage to a pledge's name, to the fraternity's continued existence on campus, and indeed the existence of fraternities on campus has already been established with the announcement of the dehousing as a fait accompli based in part on the remarks of a pledge.  All of that makes makes Corry a huge reason why Stanford and at least the Old Lions should sit down and talk about undoing the damage.  I am not a wealthy person and $1000 is not something I can easily afford to invest in protectiing all that is important to me about my Stanford experience but I have spent more than that for a SAE reunion party. 

I would much prefer to speak softly, but I need a big stick to deal with the Provost's threat to basic freedoms at Stanford.  It doesn't even have to be a real big stick at this point but it needs to be really big. 

Phi Alpha,  needed more than ever at this point.  Stretch your memories it is relevant.

A bit of background: I was a legacy ΣAE and grew up singing ΣAE songs in the car led by Charlie Black, Kansas Alpha '23, on our many long road trips including a respectful love song to the Sweetheart of ΣAE which was a serenade song from the 20's.  I rushed ΣAE only as a courtesy to dad as my older sisters had convinced me that fraternities were sexist hellholes that I should avoid at all costs.  They were wrong about Cal Alpha.

I attended  ΣAE Leadership School in Evanston and was impressed with the national values of respect in the fraternity not only for brothers but for all people, particularly including women.  The True Gentleman credo was evident in all we did at Leadership School.  It was at Leadership School I found out about the Little Sisters of Minerva for houses to demonstrate their respect and concern for campus women.

I was instrumental in the founding of the Little Sisters of Minerva at Cal Alpha when there were few women and no sororities at Stanford. The Saturday dances on the huge porch facing what is now White Plaza led by Little Sisters who invited friends to the party were a fixture of Fraternity Row.  Hat tip to The Lancers, the house band, for the music.

I was social chairman two years, and threw many parties some of questionable taste (including an annual Toga Party) but part of my job was to insure that the True Gentleman values of the house and ΣAE were maintained.  By and large they were. 

It is no accident that many of the cc’s here are from the early 60’s.  As I remember the class of ’61 threw a 25th reunion party including neighboring classes and the Little Sisters, a tradition that has been maintained since with the 5X reunion class hosting the others.  The reunions are always well attended including Little Sisters some of whom married brothers and are still happily married after all these years.  These reunions are a testimony of the strong bonds built in living, socializing, playing, and working together in a tight social environment including the Little Sisters of Minerva. 

In my visits to the ΣAE House, both before and after I moved near campus I have made it a point to notice how the women visitors were treated and it seemed to me that the Little Sister tradition of respect and concern has been maintained, including the 2013 pregame party invite for Alums.
My initial reaction to the SD article was that even the social suspension was a political overreaction by Stanford to real abuses on other campuses and nothing I have seen or heard since changes that opinion at all.  No one was physically hurt, bad taste including sexist atrocities passes for entertainment on Fox News, and a private, by invitation party implies an acceptance of the invitation.  Telling tales out of Vegas is rude in any society, and overreacting to tales told out of Vegas is just wrong.
From the information provided it appears that the house measures taken in response to the suspension are more than adequate to address the nonissue that caused it.  


Dear Vice Provost:

I understand that Stanford is under considerable pressure due to Title IX, current events, and campus protests to do something – anything – to show that the University cares about women’s rights.  But a death penalty for one of the few vibrant, women friendly, social organizations in the Stanford social desert sends the wrong message, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time. 
The wrong message:   Any voluntary gathering of men and women will be subject to “special scrutiny” under Title IX.  Have a mixed social gathering only at risk to the existence of your organization.  Essentially you are saying that social gender segregation is the policy of Stanford. 
The wrong reason: A hostile environment refers to an environment like a workplace or classroom where people are not able to avoid the offending material without severe consequences.  Being pelted with grapes for walking out is not a severe consequence in the case of the annual Roman Bath party apparently eagerly anticipated by both the men of SAE and the women of Pi Phi who knew that improv. stand-up, dark humor was going to be a feature of the party.
The wrong time:  Announcing a death penalty for a popular organization after most students have left campus to celebrate a busy, merry holiday with friends and family hoping that nobody would notice sends the message to the media, the student body, and the parties involved that the only reason for the death penalty was to have something to show Title IX snoops if they showed up at Stanford.  The burning match appeal the first week of classes is further evidence that Stanford is making a political statement, not a transparent, reasoned action for the benefit of the University community. 
As a 52 year alum who greatly benefited from my time in the SAE House on Lasuen Row and have viewed my SAE Reunions with my brothers and “Little Sisters of Minerva” as one of the main reasons to attend Stanford Class Reunions.  I strongly protest this unnecessary and disgraceful action.
Please note that the above is a personal opinion of a Stanford Alum, not associated in any way with the current Cal Alpha SAE Chapter.  It was, however, stimulated by the request for support in their appeal of the dehousing action taken by the University.  


Vice Provost;

You should be aware that the announcement by the Title IX administrator in re. SAE and related announcements by Provost Etchemendy have effects far beyond the fate of the current house and will have major ramifications as to free speech on campus and indeed traditional social life at Stanford. 

A group of Cal Alpha alums as well as other interested parties have taken interest in some legal issues in the matter some of which might be germane to your decision.

At the very least the following case should be relevant.
Full text of opinion in Corry et al. v. Leland Stanford Junior University et al.  

Pertinent excerpt from Calif. Education Code sec. 94367
              "No private postsecondary educational institution shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside the campus or facility of a private postsecondary institution, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or . . . the California Constitution."

Speech by President Gerhard Casper on Corry decision:

There also appear to be Title IX issues with applying group sanctions for behavior of individuals that may be relevant to this type of case. 

I am not an attorney so cannot comment on any of the above but I think you should be aware of our discussions.  

I am not representing anyone but myself as a Stanford Alum please pass the buck to President Hennessy.  It belongs on his desk.  



This is an open thread.  Anyone may comment anonymously or blog ID.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Belief as Life


I don't think that problem is a matter of 'religion' at all!   There are some individuals, yes, who DO use religion as a substitute for making their own choices based on their own thought.

But then there are people who will NEVER go against their political party's most idiotic 'talking points'.  And people who insist on defining absolutely EVERY situation according to their political rubric. -  LeahOne

Some believers, and believers come in many varieties, religious, political, ethnic, even local sport team fanatics, have no ability to evaluate their beliefs.  This is attributed by scientists studying the phenomenon to an imbalance in risk of countering belief and accepting it unquestioning.  As a result information contrary to the belief system is not even registered in the brain of the believer.  See The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer for an accessable discussion of this science.  It is well documented for those wishing to check his conclusions.  

Simply, the cost of losing ones major social support group due to shunning as a heretic is so high, relative to the value of intellectual integrity, that the brain rejects without recognition any challenge to the beliefs of the social support group.

Or one might ask 'Does a true atheist put so much effort into attacking religion, as opposed to simply explaining - and defending - atheism?' -   LeahOne
The question for atheists is not as unrelated as it might seem.  There is no belief system or social support group associated with "True atheism" that conditions the brain to trigger either confirmation bias or self-justification bias.  While there are some atheist groups that resemble religions, typically the group conformity imperative is very weak.  Atheists even argue about and with their "Four Horsemen" anti-theists. 

Even on a board like this which attracts atheists who like to discuss religion, "attacks" are not on religion in general, but on specific religious or politico-religious beliefs that strongly affect atheists. There are a few exceptions to add a bit of spice to the board, but you will notice that most of the atheists here attack specific beliefs brought up by theists rather than the religion of the theist promoting those beliefs.  Even for those way out there on the belief irrationality scale are challenged on specific beliefs rather than their religion itself. I find it amusing that a specific religion is challenged here more by the theists participating than the atheists. 

One of the problems for atheists in challenging specific strongly held tenets of belief systems is that the challenge is interpreted by the believing brain as a general challenge to the belief system rather than a challenge to a small and perhaps unimportant part of the belief system.  And the believing brain overreacts to protect the belief system as a whole rather than just the specific challenge.  This is a necessary reaction of the believing brain, as any crack in the belief monolith can have disastrous consequences.  

We have on occasion on beliefnet seen the disastrous effects of an "insignificant crack" in a belief system, and may be seeing it in a creationist who has admitted just recently that God's real world creation may be another source of information to supplement the biblical account.  It will bear watching.  She is quite old, but may still have time to let her intrinsic reason and intelligence take over to reject Creationism for a more reasonable version of Christianity.  She seems to be relatively isolated, so the social support group may not be significant.  

Major cracks in the belief system especially life style choices incompatible with the belief system are obvious and traumatic breaks with family and friends in a tight belief circle, but as these frequently take place in a diverse school setting with other social support groups to replace the church family they are normally successful.   

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Animal Grouping for Survival


Evolutionary science of social animals indicate that for survival most members of the social group, whether it is a herd, a tribe, a pod, a pack, or whatever,  are genetically programmed to follow the leader, without question, even over the cliff.  Secularists are not immune to this programming, see the Secular Humanist Manifesto, Modern Paganism, The Human Potential movement, Western Buddhism, sundry woo-woo gurus, etc.

There is also strong survival programming for those separated from the social group for whatever reason, including refusal to jump the cliff, to find others of their species to start a new social group to continue the species.  The new social group will create new leaders to provide coherence and stability, and not incidentally protect the social group from predation frequently from others of the same species. 

I just spent a weekend at a popular convention where people gathered to find Dungeon Masters to lead them into battle and adventure.  The attendees were by and large well educated, secular, comfortable financially, but in need of a group adventure temporary and fantasy but nonetheless a group experience.  See also any sport fanatic. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Monogamy.

Ebon wrote on beliefnet:
It's especially a pointless question for humans because, unlike any other species, we have learned to decouple sexuality and fertility. In prehistoric times, it was in our biological interest for a child's parents to be committed to one another to ensure the survival of the child to adulthood and thereby, the continuation of the genes. In fact, the extended family was even better (and was, historically, the most common form of childrearing) for exactly the same reason.

But that's fairly irrelevent to us now. Since we have largely divorced sex from fertility, monogamy now becomes simply one option among many. For some people, monogamy comes naturally.

Interesting point.  But the term "monogamy" is linked not to sexual activity but child raising.  For the non-breeders, to use a gender neutral term, it seems to make little difference to the society what form of sexual expression is chosen. 

However, for those who chose to accept responsibility for children whether in the usual way or by adoption, a stable family commonly reinforced by sexual bonding is an important value for society to reinforce.  Unfortunately both civil and religious mores are far behind the curve on this critical issue. 

I would like to see "marriage" as permission for sex completely thrown out of both civil and religious laws.  The state would create family unions to protect those who choose to form families for the purpose of raising children.  Religions might want to restrict "marriage" to those couples with a family union license from the state.  These unions would be structured to protect the family unity with a bias toward protecting the children in the event of a separation of the adults in the union. 

Social units not involving children can be handled better via contractual arrangements, pre-nups, visitation rights, wills, etc.  I doubt that religions would want to be involved in blessing such arrangements.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Source of Wisdom


In a modern working society there is no single source of wisdom. All profound thinkers have been examined by peers and then the profound thoughts are further winnowed by thoughtful people who are the intellectual leaders of the society. The result is a society which integrates the wisdom of all and benefits not only those who choose to be a part of it, but the larger society of which it is a part.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tribal Issues

king of the universe(s) - Beliefnet

The basic human social unit has been the tribe or clan. Certainly tribes and clans competed for space and resources, just as religions and nations do today. But within the tribe or clan social compliance, that is being nice to one another, was absolute. A serious social error got you expelled from the tribe, and until very recently a lone human was a dead human. Even today, disfellowshipping or shunning can be a devastating experience that frequently leads to suicide or in some cases being killed. The social contract between the individual and the social group is critical to the survival of both. Even at the nation level an individual who violates the social contract no matter how powerful can be brought down by the tribe abetted by modern communication channels. See Nixon and Mubarak. There will be more. You got to be nice to your fellow tribespeople no matter how big the guns at your back are. Those guns are operated by members of the tribe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social Elites

Nails in the Religious Coffin: Sex, Drugs, and Contraception - Beliefnet

We are the world's sweet chosen few.
The rest of you be damned.
There's room enough in Hell for you.
We won't have heaven crammed.

If you don't teach your children that little ditty, or at least smile when they recite it. You had better find a new Social Support Group (SSG). It is necessary for the socialization of children that they think their group is the elite group in society. When they reach the teen rebellion years a few might question that concept. They may have friends whose elite seems more attractive or better than theirs and try to change their 'colors.' Or an attractive potential mate may make changing 'colors' a part of the deal. I use 'colors' as a designator for any elite, religious or secular. It seems to be a human trait to choose colors in clothing to identify the elite group to which they belong. In fact this may be main purpose of clothing. Certainly bundling up in cold climates is necessary, but even in tropical areas a sarong or breechclout is socially necessary.

This is how societies evolve, or in the memorable words of Niven-Pournelle "Think of it as Evolution In Action."

As an additional point of fact, should my SSG decide that it was superior in an objective sense to any other SSG - to the point of endorsing the sentiments of that song - it's personal utility to me would decrease dramatically.

Noted and agreed. But to use the personal utility sense of superior for you and those in the SSG would you not agree that is superior to other SSGs so that at least an ironic use of the ditty might be possible. (As intended in the original, irony in print is very problematical, I probably should not attempt it but it is just too useful.)

My Educated, Rational SSG is certainly not objectively superior to the uneducated faith SSGs that do not see the irony in the ditty. Nor is it objectively superior to many other SSGs in the community. In fact in many ways it is objectively inferior to, for example, the investment banker SSG. They make a whole lot more money than we do. And one cannot consider raping the poor and middle class to be objectively bad. Nonetheless, I will do my best to indoctrinate those that are important to me into the mores of the ERSSG so that perhaps in the evolutionary sorting out of SSGs it will survive.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Internet as a Social Group

Nails in the Religious Coffin: Sex, Drugs, and Contraception - Beliefnet
Let´s use this day to remind us of the importance of  friendship, brotherhood and unity.
The ciber space  has become the perfect instrument to achieve such a thing, because here distance, gender, race, nationality, beliefs, are not what is important  but the feeling of togetherness.
It will be interesting to see if internet resources like Facebook (The intelligent old fart's friend) will be able to take up the slack in putting together social groups of like minded people. For a while it was just keeping in touch with old friends that have been scattered around the country, but recently I have been searching out and finding local like minded people. Although occasional face to face or group meetups are fun and valuable, the internet takes the place of the Post Office or mall greeting or for that matter the church socials.

As for charity, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference in the world, and I find the resources of the net valuable for vetting them. Many of the church charity events are more about making the church participants feel good about themselves and look good to the community than actually making a difference in other people's lives. In many religious charities I find very little 'teaching them to fish' and a lot of throwing them a fish with a verse attached.

I thought about throwing the internet into the title, but it didn't have the right ring. But it is there, along with smartphone networks, that are going to change the way societies form and maintain their ethos.

Looking at the current crop of young adults one wonders. I suspect texting and twitter are just a fad, but social networks, can be quite powerful and rewarding. I have never met several "friends" from beliefnet, but most of them are more important to my mental well being than most of my casual face to face contacts even those who get hugs. I will try to get the face-to-face and will go out of my way to do so, but even that meeting is more of a reunion with an old friend rather than making a new acquaintance. The reserve and hesitancy of meeting a new even highly recommended face friend, just isn't there. I have personally done this several times once meeting a friend for the first time in the car at the start of a 2 day 1500 mile road trip to a rock concert both of us wanted to see. I knew the lead singer, but he had never met any of the people that were going to be there except for a high school classmate, who was the unifying contact for us all.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Perspectivism II - Beliefnet

That is your problem. There is no absolute basis of ethics with or without God. Ethics are determined by the society which supports them. In the modern world societies are distributed and coexist with radically different ethics. Conflict is inevitable and that is how humans sort out ethics. Conflict is largely ideological these days and hopefully it will stay that way but that is a relatively modern innovation based on relatively free flow of information about which ethical systems work and which don't. Even the HRCC is finding out that absolute ethics based on God is a good way to go broke in a hurry.

Ethics are fundamentally based on the genetic imperative of the survival of the herd. This means that ultimately the survival of every member of the herd is an ethical imperative no matter what the cost to the herd. This is why hundreds of firemen and other rescue workers ran into the twin towers on 9/11. This is why ski patrol people risk their lives to save an idiot who tried to ski an avalanche slope. Even the overpowering mass of the cerebral cortex can't override the lizard brain that says the herd must survive.

Very simple, by committing the perfect crime, you are resigning from the herd of humanity. Even if your lizard brain would let you violate the imperative that every member of the herd is critical, the next time you need a loaf of bread you will not be able to fulfill the social obligations of obtaining it. That is you have self identified as a criminal, and thereby forfeited the social contract of the normal purchase of the bread. You would have to steal it, and continue stealing. There is no going back to the herd they won't have you and you won't have them.

And what do you have besides you non-existent charisma to convince the herd to ignore your antisocial behavior. You have resigned from the herd by your previous hidden antisocial act that you got away with clean, remember? Even an AK-47 doesn't last long enough to protect you with out a crowd at your back. I suspect that the baker wouldn't need much but a call to 911 to get the nut out of his bakery.

While, as you note, force has been a basis for a short lived civilization usually with God at the back of the force manipulator, although political philosophy has been a more modern adaptation of God. The vuvuzelas aren't what they used to be. But the herd is not powerless, and it is taking less and less time for the ethos of the herd to trump the despot, God or no. As noted there is no absolute ethical absolute other than the herd maintaining its integrity. The weak, the stupid, and the infirm will be culled without any action by the herd or any member of it. But the culling will be done by the blind, pitiless indifference of the universe (thanks Richard Dawkins) regardless of any action or lack thereof by any member of the herd.

The herd as far as humankind is concerned is the tribe. Practically tribes must have leaders that ultimately rely on the support of the members of the tribe. Particularly when leaders have God at their back force may appear to be a controlling factor, and historically that has been pretty accurate. But force depends on controlling the information available to members of the tribe to that which the leader disseminates. It worked for a long time as long as most of the tribe was illiterate or functionally so. Or why fundamentalists are trying to gut the school systems. But as more and more humans are becoming aware of their place in the world and their ability to affect other tribes by their actions, the game is changing. The weapons of choice are information and economics in the modern world. I doubt any individual will amass much power when all of herm power toys are made in China, herm economy is financed by China's banks, and herm computers are controlled in Bangalore.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Intelligent, Rational Tribalism

Our potential - Beliefnet

But ive changed that attitude by seeing myself as a tribalist and I think our church would be better as seeing ourselves as more Tribal. Tribal as in were all good and valuable for something and we all depend on each other to survive and everyone is on the same level nobody's better then anyone else therefore looking down your nose at others because you have a certain gift is not valid, we all depend on each other and are valued,everyone contributes.I dont have any gifts but I want to go in and do community service this year, helping clean the church and community service is important as much as serving on any committee is, showing up and being there and being loving towards others at church is valuable, paying our monthly dues is a value. Showing up to board meetings that are open to the public and offering your support is valuable.

were all valuable somehow and we contribute to the tribe and as a tribe we depend on each other to survive. [corrections for spelling only]

A beautiful synopsis of what is wrong with UU churches and how to fix it. And maybe the tribe of intelligent rational people that I like to think I am a part of as well. If we all look at ourselves as good and valuable for something and dependent on all for everything the world would be a much more livable place.

I think about the phrase "intelligent rational" and think about those who might not be immediately considered to be a part of the tribe, that can be given the opportunity to find their place in the tribe using whatever intelligence and rationality they have to offer. I was pleased to be able to help a Downs Syndrome person use the "affection magnetism" so common to the syndrome in a service position, that was within his ability level. It seems we all can be intelligent and rational enough to be important to the tribe of intelligent rational people.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Biology of Belief

Philosopher of Religion...Calls it Quits - Beliefnet

Andrew Newberg, M.D., et al., Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. (2001, Ballantine)

Some, but not all human brains are wired to include god beliefs, leaving them susceptible to the con artists pushing religion. This wiring may even be beneficial to those unable to manage their lives without God or at least that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony telling them what to do. The afterlife belief is simply an empty promise of a reward for a wasted life.

I suspect that this wiring was important in evolutionary history when a huge portion of the population had essentially no control over the course of their lives and had no ability to affect their society or even their family in any meaningful way. They learned the trade of their father if male, were bred at puberty if female, and lived out their lives basically as their parents did from one day to the next doing what they had to to to please the lord of the community, and had the Sabbath off to please the Lord of that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony. The Sabbath was usually heavy in the psychological reward department: Inspirational stories, music, drumming, social networking, etc. and of course elaborate rituals promising a rewarding afterlife if they do what they are told to do the rest of the week.

A major paradigm shift occurred in Europe when the communities became big enough that the lord, now King, began to encourage and support secular education, art, and music for some in the court, especially the children of the high status courtiers. The connection between music and art and rational rather than belief based thinking is well established. Thus high status people began to gain control over their own lives and the god belief wiring atrophied. This self-actualization spread as education became more general and religion became relatively less important in the lives of the well educated.

The biology of belief was once critical to survival. It is now possibly an evolutionary dead end. And ring speciation of believers and rational thinkers with continue apace. I doubt that God belief will survive as they seem to be out-breeding their resource base. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Governing without Religion

Religion and morality - Beliefnet

I haven't read Proud Tower, but from your description it is a polemical view of the reality of dealing with a situation where religion has destroyed the effectiveness of government functions. As they say, it is a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

A more benign view of the same type of solution to the dissolution of a functioning government can be found in Oath of Fealty the Niven-Pournelle description of a corporate archology which has taken over all government functions in the heart of a basically dysfunctional Los Angeles. It is the book which described the difference between their locally functioning society with the surrounding world as "Think of it as evolution in action."

This is basically the genesis of my idea of the ring speciation of humans into believers Homo Religiosis, and rationalists, Homo Intelligentsia, or, to use a less political correct term the intellectual elitists. Looking at the corporate/university enclaves around the country: Silicon Valley; Tri-Cities, NC; Cambridge, MA; Manhattan; Boulder, CO; among many others, there are good local school systems, that feed the universities, and jobs for the graduates of those universities. The rationalists in the rest of the country are either going to have to move, if they have kids that need good K-12 schooling, or tap into the enclaves via the internet if childless, although they will probably move for social reasons.

The reason for the ring speciation hypothesis is that the mating rituals if nothing else will make interbreeding unlikely. In the U/C community mate selection criteria is almost purely on demonstrated intellectual ability. Marriage is late, and children planned usually for near the end of the female's academic tenure. The third year of med school is the breeding season for female med students. A non-breeder by choice complained about the social pressure to get pregnant at that time. (I wonder if that choice will survive in the face of an intellectual equal male determined to improve H. Intelligentsia.) In general I have observed that it is definitely a female choice of breeding partner in the U/C community, although not necessarily but frequently sex partner as well. But the male is going to have to employ powerful intellectual persuasion to get her to lose the contraceptive.

In the religious world male dominance and early marriage is the norm. Think traditional sport star-cheerleader paradigm here. If she isn't pregnant at graduation she failed high school.

It isn't a clean division geographically, but socially the believers are insular, and gravitate to the bad school districts for the lower property values. If the deterioration of the government infrastructure continues outside the U/C enclaves even social contact between the two groups will be limited.

It is interesting to speculate on the political religious right support. Can it be a conspiracy or informal collusion of the U/C elite to restrict the religious poor to the resources of their churches, including the psychological resource of salvation. Are the bankers and the entertainment industries consciously destroying the effectiveness of the popular government so the poor will have no choice but obesity deaths without proper medical care.

The rise of the apocalyptic churches is for me an indication of this trend. Obviously the U/C elite will definitely not be among the saved chosen.

The U/C enclaves have their own private HMO medical systems, good public schools and private internet access to the powerful resources of the community. They have back door entrances for those who can somehow transcend their religion facilitated intellectual disabilities. Open need blind enrollment in the University with its access to the powerful intranet.

The door to breaking the religious social control of learning is of course the internet. The wikis, and the few public access science resources like SciAm on line give those with the interest and ability the key to that back door, but they will have to resist the religious and popular entertainment pressures for couch-potatoism.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Selfish Gene?

Original sin and the human genome - Origins of Life - Beliefnet Community:

"In some species the individual is the selection unit. For these organisms your assertion is correct. However for social animals the selection unit is the herd or pack or in the case of humans the parish or village. Until very recently banishment from the parish or village was a death sentence. I am not even talking evolutionary time here. Before gunpowder, a lone human was a dead human.

Even today shunning, disfellowshipping, and excommunication can be a cause for suicide in one form or another, drugs, drink, gun, or bridge. If one has been indoctrinated from birth that God loves only those who conform the the dogmas of the parish, being unable to comply for one reason or another is a serious psychological issue. Some are strong enough to find other groups to provide the necessary community, schools and colleges are a common way to deal with loss of faith in one's milk church, which is why so many religious groups try to control the school environment for their children.

If evolution is forbidden as a subject matter, the myth of original sin can be believably insisted upon with its requisite savior. It is no wonder that the religious areas of the country are so active in insuring that special creation is at least taught as an alternative to evolution."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The rough patches in life.

Pulling at the threads - Beliefnet:

"Most of my University educated friends don't reach for history books or religious works to help them through their rough patches. They are more likely to turn to modern philosophical fiction or other modern mythology in cinema, dance, music, or whatever their dominant genre is to gain the strength to solve their problems.

Some use eclectic combinations that may include ancient mythology, (it won't last if it doesn't contain some truth) in my case religious music, not for the God data but for the problem solving data that it contains. But a reliance on a single source God, the Bible, or even a personal conversation with God, generally results in bad solutions to the problem.

Underlying it all is the collected wisdom of the social group chosen by the individual which points them in the most useful direction. For the religious this may well be God or the Bible, but mono-cultural data is normally useful only within that culture."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morals without God?

Morals without God? - Beliefnet:

"How could [morality not follow current fashion.} Morality is the genetic propensity of an intelligent social animal to comply with the mores of the society of which hesh is a part. It actually does not follow current fashion, but follows the dictates of the individual's chosen society. It may be a church, it may be a gang, it may be an intelligently selected community of, for example, university educated people, or an industry or charitable consortium, etc. All are influenced by the integrated mores of the larger society, currently national, but regional differences are emerging at least in the USA."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Selfish or Social

Life after death? - Beliefnet:

There's no such thing as a selfless act. When people do good to others they only do this to benefit themselves.

"Not only a wrong opinion but scientifically wrong. Humans are highly evolved social animals. Until recently anti-social acts were a death sentence, including acts that benefited the individual only, that is, a selfish act. There is no such thing in a social animal herd as a 'good' that only benefits the adult that performed the act. Maturing animals certainly, they must be selfish as infants to stay alive, but maturing is learning the rules of the herd, pack, or tribe, and violating those rules is banishment at least and a even a lone wolf is a dead wolf.

Even evil acts by adults must be done in the context of a social good, usually but not always blessed by God. Torquemada and Hitler were both protecting their chosen societies, and the benefit was not to self, but to the ideal of the betterment of the local Catholic or Aryan society."