Friday, 2 February 2018

Why Do We Tell Stories?


Why do we tell stories?

It's a fair question and I guess the answer is clear enough from our evolutionary biology. Once our species grasped the idea that the future is real, that the fat lion under the shady tree will tomorrow be hungry and we might be its prey, then we needed a way of conveying the idea of what might be done about that fact, especially to our children, in a form they would accept and remember. A story.

JBP (link below) has shown clearly that the idea that the future is part of reality was selective in evolutionary terms, that our distant ancestors who planned for the future were more likely to nurture children to adulthood. So telling stories about that is clearly also selective in evolutionary terms. We express ideas in stories – such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf. A child who hears and understands that story, who acts the principle out in reality, is literally more likely to survive to adulthood than a child who does not.

Stories are thus demonstrated to be selective in evolutionary terms, and brain functionality follows trends that are selective. We likely evolved to accept the premise of a story and act it out in reality. True stories clearly lead to better results than false stories, and when evolutionary pressure was high this would have become a dominant trait. Societies who tell true stories, that acted out improve life for everyone, succeed, while societies that tell false stories break against reality, they fracture, fragment and collapse, often with great loss of life. But there are always survivors, and evolution favours 'good enough' solutions. Survivors of failed communities, built on false stories, will still reproduce. The trait of accepting a story as true and acting its premise out regardless of how it resolves itself in reality is a good enough solution.

As a species, we literally evolved to accept stories as true and act them out in reality. Results of this vary, but those who have a feel for or who tend to analyse a story for factual accuracy and imagine forward before acting it out in reality, are apt to be more successful. As a consequence, there are more people who have a feel for the truth of a story than not... but the trait to uncritically accept any story will always be part of the whole of a given society and part of the brain functionality of the individual.

The tendency to compare the consequences of a story acted out in reality, say stories in history, with a currently prevalent story and imagine the story forward to its consequences should become dominant over time. Fact checking, comparison with the known consequence of similar stories recorded in history, critically analyzing a story and rejecting or accepting it accordingly is also selective – those who do this would literally be more likely to produce children who survive to adulthood and perpetuate the trait. I say 'would' here because we now effectively live in a human version of Mouse Utopia (link below), a situation where practically all individuals might well survive to reproductive age regardless of what survival strategies they are taught and adopt.

With this in mind, it might be as well to now take a look at what is frequently called 'the sacred narrative of the left' and dig into the foundations of that collective story to see for yourself what veracity the story might contain.


Friday, 29 December 2017

The Lindsay Shepherd Affair: Context & Analysis

These matters are not simple and straightforward, and I am glad that there are those with developed skill, knowledge and understanding who are shining a spotlight on these matters.

There is a historical context here - to large degree, the west is struggling through the long term consequences of recent history. The threads are often tenuous, tangled, and reach back decades. It takes time and effort to follow them back to their origins, and some of the origins go further back, they are ancient, seemingly written into our evolutionary biology - which would neatly explain why these issues continue to reoccur in one form or another throughout human history.

Though small groups, such as a family, can and do work according to the underlying ideas of socialism, the connection between effort and gain within that unit is still understood - children gain much but can contribute little, the family exists exactly because of this reality. That situation is transitory; children grow, contribute more over time, become self-sufficient, self-supporting adults. The connection between gain and effort, between effort and gain, re-establishes itself over time. In any larger society, should the principle be applied, that connection becomes increasingly tenuous, (the connection between effort and gain is not re-established over time), and as soon as it becomes invisible (through distance between members of larger society) the whole social system collapses. In short, when it is possible that an individual gain from the efforts of the group while contributing little, it is entirely consistent with human nature that they do so, and that the inclination then spread through the group as it becomes more obvious that some gain as much as others through little effort. The whole output of the group declines, eventually to the point that there is no output and the whole group suffers the consequences of that.

There are so many examples of collectivist principles applied to societies of various sizes, including but not limited to entire nations and empires that failed - every single time - that it seems incredible to me that it is not generally accepted common knowledge. Here is just one example... yes, it is a long piece by Stefan Molyneux (who has a problem being brief, but these matters are complex and require full analysis) but worth your time:



Now, back to the title.

"During the proceedings, Shepherd was accused of breaking the law, both federal (Bill C16) and provincial, violating Wilfred Laurier's standards of conduct, and of being actively transphobic. Rambukkana compared me directly to Hitler (and Milo Yiannopoulos, to be fair), failing to recognize that what I predicted would happen in the aftermath of Bill C16 (see http://bit.ly/2AZqj4B) was exactly what was undertaken by the tripartite disciplinary panel he headed."

Yes, this is also long, but also very much worth your time.


If you tend to feel you don't have time, then here's something shorter and more fun. I'm pretty sure that no one who reads my very occasional posts will fall into the snowflake category of human being, so I'd guess you are more likely to laugh than be offended.



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

RIP Jerry Pournelle

Though we never met, I find I feel the loss quite personally.

We have lost a Champion of Reason.

Dr. Pournelle's blog holds a wealth of insight and information spanning many years. You will not have to spend much time there to realize that we have lost someone far more than significant that those who think of him primarily as a writer of Science Fiction.

Chaos Manor

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Libertarian Game of Thrones

Stumbled across this today and thought I would post it here. Yes, it is as funny as you might think, but...


... but there is as deep a flaw with Libertarianism as any there is with other ideology. Real world functionality relies on all members of a society understanding, accepting and acting on its principles at all times. And that isn't going to fly.

There are several reasons why, but the most obvious is that the Big Five personality traits exist - they are real - and we are each born with a propensity toward a mixed bag of those traits, which leads to us each being unique, especially when factors of environment and personal experience are figured in. In short, getting a society to abide consistantly by the same set of rules is no easy task. Bad enough, but worse when it is clear that our species has a desire to control its environment... a passive, non-controlling ideology is about as contra-evolutionary reality as you can get. As a species, we did not evolve to be Libertarians, and attempting to adopt a philosophy that is fundamentally against our evolutionary biology is just about as futile an objective as I can imagine. A significant percentage of people wil work against it, work to influence, control, steer the ship, grow their following, and utliamately dominate.

Yes, it's a shame. But we are what we are and need something a little more robust and structured to keep more-or-less all of us more-or-less in line within a functioning society more-or-less all of the time. One society, one set of rules, within which we can compete without violence.

I don't think I'm going to explore that line any further, right now. Instead I'll pass you on to someone else who has a few thoughts to express that might be useful in developing or refining your own ideas: /Before western civilization - sowing the wind

There is more to the article than I reproduce here, and I recommend the visit required to read the whole piece.

"It is self-evident that men and women are not equal in all respects. It is self-evident that all men are not created equal. It is self-evident that all women are not created equal. The Bible exhorts us to be kind to strangers – but not submissive to them. Western tradition tells us to act as if it were self-evident that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; those principles became the common heritage of much of the west, but they are only an assumption; we have no proof, only the observation that things work better if we accept them.
That, of course is not strictly true; there is a great history of philosophy that leads to modern Western ethics and moral principles; but the average citizen of the west does not know this, other than having a vague knowledge that those who should know can teach it to those smart and interested enough;  but for practical discussion, the fundamentals of Western ethics and morals are assumed. We assume these truths to be self-evident even though it is really self evident that they are not literally true.
But like all rules contrary to observable facts, it is easy to carry them too far – and to assume that others share them when they do not."


Sunday, 9 July 2017

That's Not Fair!

Stumbled across this vid' just a little while ago and had some thoughts about it. Probably best watch it first or you won't know what I'm talking about. It's short but sweet.


So, something we probably already knew is demonstrated fairly well. What child hasn't spontaneously put together the concept of 'That's not fair' all by themselves?

What this Vid' demonstrates is that the concept is built into our evolution at a very early stage. In a natural environment, effort and reward would be fairly equal. When inequality is artificially introduced, it is noticed really fast.

For me, this is kind of a wasted experiment, though. Wouldn't ti be interesting to push the boundaries a little? What would be the response if the greater reward were given for greater effort, or a more complex task? What response without access to the tools of that task, and then with the needed tools? With and without the ability to watch and learn the complex task? I think a good deal more insight into our own nature could be squeezed out of a series of experiments building on this theme.

I was instantly reminded of the story of Cain & Abel, for reasons which will only perhaps become clear if you invest the time in watching a much longer and more complex Vid' - but I do recommend it. The insights here have great value and are worth your time.




Friday, 9 June 2017

What is God? What is Religion?

These are questions we tend to answer flippantly, if at all, but given that every single culture in the whole of human history has proposed answers the questions must be rather more important than we might tend to think from a modern perspective.

Here are the answers I think are most useful, a condensed subjective view derived from the work of Jordan B. Peterson (I'll link below because I really think that JBP's work has practical value for any individual).

God

If we conceive God as the most ideal, moral leader possible then a couple of useful things happen. One, there is an ideal to aim for, whatever that ideal may be. Two, that spot is already taken by an abstracted ideal so that any given living glorious leader cannot delude themselves that that are that perfect ideal - the top spot is already taken. Nor can the people, or any substantial percentage, think that their glorious leader is God.

A good deal of historical nastiness could have been avoided. A good deal of potential future nastiness can be avoided.

Religion

If we conceive of Religion as a blueprint for 'how society should be' then it is literally possible to look around the world and see which blueprints are most successful when mapped onto reality. It is even possible to break that down into subsets of a given religion. Even done in a cursory kind of way, some useful results can be gained.

Adopting the most successful blueprint might be an idea. Consciously attempting to improve that blueprint might be a better idea. Discard all such blueprints look to me to be a ludicrous waste of a great deal of effort expended over a long long time.

One other useful aspect of religion is that it provided moral absolutes. Without those, morality within a culture becomes subjective, each individual making unique decisions about what is and is not moral. It doesn't take much thought to see where that path leads; the first and most obvious consequence being that every single individual you meet would be an unknown interaction of potentially conflicting moralities. The word 'Dangerous' doesn't even begin to cover that situation.

Maps of Meaning


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Climate Change (AGW) Meme







The experiment explained. An-example-of-cognitive-dissonance

I am not going to reproduce any of the text from Scott Adam's blog here. That would kind of ruin the experiment, and I think it's a worthwhile experiment. So, read the cartoon, react, then go look at the blog. Or not. Your call.

I have been saying for a while now that a meme is a dangerous thing; an individual does not posses ideas, ideas possess the individual. A meme is like a virus, an idea that spreads from mind to mind often without notice, let alone analysis. This was and is (you still have time if you haven't read the cartoon, reacted, etc) a fair way to test yourself to see if you are possessed by an idea. How did you do?