Friday, November 17, 2017

Your nerdy love of sci fi could save the world! Announcing… TASAT

Here’s a Major Announcement of a project that's been in my thoughts for a long time. A way that you -- yes you -- can be part of an action team of science fiction readers who might someday use your powers of SF'nal story memory to help save the world!

Bear with me while I explain. 

Fretting about potential threats to civilization, members of the Protector Caste (intel agencies and all that) keep inviting authors of “hard” or realistic science fiction to offer big perspectives, or terrifying possibilities. “You sci fi guys think up the scariest things,” one official lauded. The same can be said for tech innovators and visionaries seeking insights into where we're heading. 

Yet, there's a frustration. When pondering some real or hypothetical scenario, I often think: hasn't some earlier author considered this, amid the vast number of past tales?

== A solution? TASAT (There’s a Story about That!) ==

Consider the vast library of science fictional thought-experiments published since Mary Shelley first wrote about how the creation of new kinds of life might be mishandled—a warning with new variants in Planet of the Apes, Jurassic Park, I Robot, and Ex Machina. 

Some are “self-preventing prophecies” like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Soylent Green, Dr. Strangelove or Silent Spring. Other SF projections come true.

Alas, for every SF thought experiment that achieves renown, hundreds molder in back issues of Astounding or Galaxy, or some novel only recalled by a few dozen fans out there—tales about how the world might veer in unexpected directions. Shouldn’t those concepts be available, as a background library of worked-out scenarios, in case we ever face some sudden choice?

== Activate group memory! ==

Imagine some government or NGO must respond quickly to a First Contact situation, as in the film Arrival. In a hurry, they gather “experts” who leap to premature conclusions.

So they call on the TASAT hub—part of sci-fi fandom’s collectively sagacious Group Mind— to cite and provide stories published across the last century. Short tales, novels, movies, think-pieces and art that offer unusual scenarios, potential mistakes, or surprise twists, helping our leaders or emissaries to perceive a wider picture. 

Or take the developer of an augmented reality app, a spacecraft designer, or a company revolutionizing communication technology. Might even some outlandish tale help to inform the next wave of science fact? 

You can be part of this informal network. The only qualification? Having read a lot of stories! Watched a lot of flicks. Played bunches of realistic games. There may come a time when you — by pointing to some obscure tale — could help to save the world!

== Examples! ==

Suppose a company has developed a new bacterium that pulls Nitrogen out of the air faster and better than anything known, creating massively cheap fertilizer? What could go wrong? A TASAT alert on this prospect would likely cause someone to cite Hal Clement's novel The Nitrogen Fix, along with a warning to be careful.

Take the "Flynn Effect" ...where the last three generations of children in the West have had successively higher average IQ. Suppose it accelerates, suddenly and rapidly. While some might ponder the "Children of the Damned" flicks, or cite Poul Anderson's novel Brain Wave. Others might suggest Thomas Disch's Camp Concentration, wherein IQ-rise is triggered by a venereal disease. No one suggestion need ever be right! It could be enough that such examples cause the responsible parties to widen their horizons, and not leap to the first, logical theory.

Then there's the almost infinite supply of alien First Contact tales, with some even portraying a TASAT-like process. Take the Niven and Pournelle opus Footfall, in which the government wisely establishes both optimistic and pessimistic committees.  Another of you (under comments, below) cited Gordon Dickinson's "The Alien Way," in which the protagonist digs through library stacks to find a half-remembered scientific article about bear behavior that will help him to understand the instinctive underpinnings of  an alien race.

If ever we find ourselves in a possible contact situation, our very survival might depend on having available a wide variety of scenarios, suggesting: what's "obvious" ain't necessarily so.

== Sign up! ==

So browse the TASAT Site! Join the community to get TASAT alerts. Even pose one, now and then! 

This is not just another sci fi discussion/argument site, but a place to cite actual, accessible stories, perhaps even pertinent to hurried decision makers.

(Did I mention the TASAT Facebook site, as well?)

Harness your nerdiness for the good of civilization!

TASAT is affiliated with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego.  

So sign up for TASAT! Be part of the nerdy community that might save us all, someday, by chiming up with an obscure link, saying: 


====

====

191 comments:

Tim H. said...

Reminiscent of Niven & Pournelle's Footfall, with optimist & threat committees.

D.B. Echo said...

Is it a coincidence that I am currently re-reading Gordon Dickinson's "The Alien Way," in which the protagonist digs his way through library stacks to find a half-remembered scientific article about bear behavior that will help him to understand the instinctive underpinnings of the behavior of an alien race? An alien race who is made aware of Earth's existence by means of a reckless and ill-advised scheme to bring about a first contact by a group of smarter-than-thou scientists who are trying to make a point about society's neglect of basic science?

Kerry White said...

Is this what they are looking for? Or, are they looking for the more obscure short stories.

James P Hogan - The Genesis Machine - 1978. Two guys build a machine that can make weapons obsolete and the bad Government guys come and take it to use against their perceived bad guys. At the last minute we find that our guys had a 1978 version of a backdoor and use it to show they have control and convince the world they can't wage war ever again, I think. There was even a CRT [computer] that they could use to access news and communicate with. This all is an old memory and may be faulty.

Hogan did a lot of neat fiction. He also did some about Velakovsky, who I thought was a fun read with all the footnote citations, that were not always fiction. So, just a tad wacky

Treebeard said...

An open, transparent society will have lunatics shooting up crowds and shouting at the stars, almost by definition. Not sure how any council of experts is going to prevent that, unless what you really have in mind is “a council of people who think like me, and will give their imprimatur to my agenda”—i.e., a non-open, non-transparent society with a facade of openness. At the end of the day, even reasonable people disagree, at which point someone will impose their will upon the other, or act without consent. Which is why democracy and transparent society is a bit of farce, if you ask me.

Robert said...

Well. It's almost ironic that Dr. Brin talks about TASAT and then this article and video on weaponized miniature drones comes out. And to be honest? I don't think this can be stopped by banning it. I think this will end up coming about and that people will be buying these things to kill people of ideologies and beliefs they dislike. To kill pro-choice individuals and pagans and transgender people and people who believe in a better future.

Pretty much there's only one thing I see as working here. More drones. Someone is going to have to come up with an AI drone system that sticks around people and exists to stop things like this. That deliberately seek out and knock out of the sky any drone that looks to be approaching a person. Maybe they'll be smart enough to be able to detect those drones with explosives or other toxins. But... I was truly horrified when I saw this.

Pandora's Jar has been opened. I don't see hope in the bottom of this jar, however.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

When Treebeard answers any of the core challenges... like name a feudal-hierarchy society that did better, or even a ten thousandth as well... then we'll "ask you," sir.

Treebeard said...

Exactly, a council of experts from a very restricted sample; a pseudo-open society. Of course, most will choose a closed society over extinction, regardless of what the credentialed experts want.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Just a reminder, Niburu will collide with the Earth on Sunday, eliminating any need to rake the leaves. In addition to slitting the planet in half, thus destroying all live on Earth, it may disrupt one or more NFL games scheduled for that day.

I've been playing with an idea that the "religious gene" is discovered, and what happens when a major corporation offers CRISPR treatments to eliminate the gene in embryos.

Robert said...

Also, the Republican Party continues its attack on higher education and innovation - it is going to tax graduate students. Yes, the party that claims it's anti-tax is actually FOR taxing... people who are seeking to become educated but don't have rich parents to finance their education. In short, they want to keep people dumb.

Of course, Dr. Brin has been talking about this for a bit, but it's sad to see they are becoming more obvious about this war on intelligence and education.

Rob H., who is feeling more and more depressed today...

Slim Moldie said...

@Catfish (from the last thread)

On, Orphans of the Sky… "a story that's really about escaping from religious-dogmatic ignorance into an individual-rational view of the Universe.”

Your analysis makes sense if you limit it to Hugh's (the protagonist) point of view. However, I’m not sure it is simply a story of escaping religious dogmatic ignorance. Perhaps I’m cynical but Heinlein credits the "escape" and successful touchdown on an inhabitable planet-moon as the result of sound engineering and “ridiculous improbability.” Moreover, does Hugh’s small band have enough genetic diversity to successfully incubate a colony? I would think not.

Thematically, I see it as a story of failure to change the status quo. The tale begins AND ends with a generation ship in homeostasis with a society functioning but going nowhere forward in its feudal state. The fathership (because women in this story are reduced to Kzinrret abjectivity) isn't completely impotent until the ending, when Hugh and his companions abort, taking with them any chance of anyone learning the truth. Thus, Hugh’s final act dooms the parent society.


"The mutiny that created the society on the Ship wasn't intended to be against rationalism... but that was its effect."

I see your point and am not persuaded. The expositional backstory IS relevant. Heinlein easily could have kept it out as an unexplained mystery. Instead, during the climax right before Hugh and his entourage discover the remaining auxiliary craft—they find the hidden captain’s log written by one of the (at the time) last literate members of the Crew. At this point we learn that during the mutiny incited by Huff, Metal-smith Ordinary… “every pilot officer, every engineering officer, is dead…” From that I infer that knowledge and experience were targeted. Again if that didn’t matter, it could have been left out.

The last thing Hugh wants is to escape. More than anything he wants start the main drive and resume the trip. How? By uniting the crew in acknowledging truth, embracing science, and moving forward, even if it is dangerous and risky.

The play on Mutiny and Mutation is also delivered heavily-handed at one point. Perhaps teasing the idea that humanity as is--without some form of mutation or mutiny against the status quo (of leadership that suppresses truth and innovation)--humanity can never go anywhere or see that stars...

Slim Moldie said...

@ Darrell E (from the last thread)

On Lord of the Rings. If Tolkien despised Allegory, I’m afraid Allegory jacked him up and took his cookie.

If Tolkien wasn’t an addict, he must have been close to one.

Take the journey as an addiction. To begin you meet a bunch of strange dudes. You reluctantly go on a trip. You find a _____ from an old wasted ______ addict that when you use it makes you have special powers. Awesome powers that make over your personality from passive to active. Once you have your _____ on you go on adventures and meet all kinds of magical, mythical creatures and you escape from your annoying neighbors and that boring comfortable life and you hang our with dudes who are bear dudes or dude bears and elves and little dwarf dudes (who don't have women) ... and you hear cool music and you fly with big ass eagles and you talk to dragons. And then things get really dark, and creepy shit happens and there are bad creatures out to get you and you start getting paranoid. This one dude wants your _____ and has all these cranked out _____ head dudes chasing you on black horses, and when they get close, you really wanna use the _____ but you know you shouldn’t because it makes this creepy shit you're going through worse, like there is this eye watching you when you use your ______ now. And you really feel the pull. And we learn from that one wizard guy's library or is it the elf dude. Anyway, you learn how the ____ lust gradually makes you permanently invisible--like the more you use it. It's dangerous. And you go on this terrible journey trying to get rid of it. And you meet these stiff crusty dudes who sleep all day and then wake up and get all crazy every once in a while and break shit. And even they can't help you get rid of the ____. All your friends know your ____ is bad even though you keep it secret, and you have this intervention and agree to accept their help. But you freak out and try to go off alone. And at the end when you are ready to kick the habit and destroy it, you can’t let it go. And it takes another ______ user to physically bite the ____ off your finger before you can drop it. And then a volcano erupts. And then, it’s worse. Once it’s gone you have to go home and deal with real shit. Like everybody thought you were dead. And your neighbors and relatives have taken all your stuff. And then all the cool magically hipster dudes sail away forever.

Maybe it’s just a coinkidink.

That said, I believe when a body is able to write something that resonates with others, more than not it’s because Truth has found a way to eek its way onto the page despite the writer’s best intentions.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Dr Brin
Your TSAT
I think I have linked to them on Facebook - and I clicked - subscribe - If I want to answer or vote do I need to become an "Editor"?

I think of Editors as being the next level up not just Science Fiction Fans like myself

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan (From last thread)

It looks to me like you are confusing the value of the property and the property itself. For the vast majority of the property ever created by Man, we all have roughly equal usage rights to it. Most of it is what we know and it usually carries an assigned value of $0 because few can figure out how to make money with it. Occasionally someone does, slaps a copyright on their work, and makes a few bucks. In the meantime, most of us go about our usual ways using the bits without paying anything.

For the stuff to which we assign a value, I don't see the point you appear to be making. If I own a house valued at $0.5M and someone else owns one at $0.2M, should we have equal usage rights for $0.35M? We both have rights to use a house, so I don't see where the value matters. If someone wants to use my house, THEN the value matters because I'll price the rent I charge as close to the ancient rule as possible. If I paid for the house, though, or secured usage rights some other way, I don't see why anyone else should get a cut. Get your own house and play landlord if you want.

I've been in situations where the breakup of a company caused the distribution of it's assets back to the creditors and then the original contributors. There are always things left over to which a $0 value is assigned. In those situations, every remaining owner winds up with an equal share in it all. The vast majority of the property out there in the wild is of this kind, so I get a little miffed when people focus too much on the dribble that has trade value.

As members of this civilization, we are immensely rich in property if not in valued property. Walk into a library and look at some of it. Talk to someone and really listen to the language being used to see some of it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
The reason that you have a house - or I have for that - is that we collectively know how to and have built it
There is some material value (nobody created that) and a lot of labour value in that house but that adds up to the value of that house

The reason that the house has value is because of the knowledge (and labour) that went into building it

"For the vast majority of the property ever created by Man, we all have roughly equal usage rights to it"

No we don't - the vast majority of the property created by "Man" has been trousered by the 0.1%
Or at least is "owned" and as such I can't use it

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Yes, the party that claims it's anti-tax is actually FOR taxing... people who are seeking to become educated but don't have rich parents to finance their education...


The tax bills moving through congress (with no Democratic votes) offset the deficit increases from "cut cut cutting" by increasing taxes on pretty much everything except passive income. Even the moderately-rich aren't spared if they actually work for their money rather than just cashing checks.

Paul SB said...

It's funny how much like Locum and Treebeard this "D.B. Echo" sounds. I wonder if someone is trying to win the popularity contest by generating imaginary e-friends.

Robert,

Don't despair. The Repugnant Ones will do everything in their power to screw the people and line their pockets, but in a few years the pendulum will swing the other way and the Dumbocrats will start to claw back some of those things we've been screwed out of. However, it's easy to see that we still haven't recovered from Reagan's tax deform, so I suspect the damage these thieves are doing is likely to have some long-lasting consequences. But despair goes nowhere. Get angry. Get motivated. Even if singing a million petitions seems futile, eventually the squeaky wheels are going to get some grease.

Zepp,

Your religion gene idea is funny and could be a good heuristic, but it is no more likely to be realistic than the gay gene was. There are no complex traits in human behavior that are controlled by single genes. This is why it seems unlikely to me that we will ever be able to change the balance of humanity through genetics alone. What most people experience as religiosity is really just extreme conformity and rigidity, traits that are easily taken advantage of by large institutions and charismatic dictators. The extreme conformity relates to oxytocin sensitivity. If we genetically reduce people's sensitivity to oxytocin we turn them into sociopaths who don't care much about anyone but themselves - our captains of industry and gurus of the economy. The rigidity speaks to serotonin sensitivities, but if you mess with those you either create clinical depression or manic disorders. Living things will always have ranges of variation, which is a good thing. Unlike paranoiacs like or Sapling, the biological sciences recognize the survival value of diversity, including diversity of opinion and cultural behaviors. We would have to be able to tweak things at the genetic level very, very carefully to move the needle one way or the other without moving it into the red. But we can always suppose, for the sake of science fiction, that in the future we might have that power. How would they handle those aspects of human behavior that are not much influenced by genetics? Just some food for thought if you really want to write this story.

Paul SB said...

From the previous thread (I'm actually a few threads behind and have a lot to do today, so I'll probably end up being a dozen threads behind by the time I get a chance to catch up - it's the Sisyphus Blog!),

"Maybe we need other and more widely applicable trials of UBE (sic) to make wise judgments. So speaks the elder. You of course can find your own path. I'll understand."

- Wise words from the one who would be called Tim. It shows us something important about the value of broad generalizations and average values, to say nothing of the complexity of human culture. Diving into a nation-wide program without adequate beta testing is exactly the mistake Lenin and his followers made. I like the idea of UBI. There are very good reasons to think that this will have exponential benefits to human societies in general (and the idea that Republicans have been wrong about human nature for decades should be obvious, but huge numbers of people are more committed to their side than to truth). It would be very worthwhile to assemble a team to research why it works for the Cherokee but not somewhere else, so we can understand exactly what conditions make it work and what conditions would short circuit it. More data! More data! The perpetual cry of the scientist.

psikeyhackr said...

The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle

This shows us the coming of the "Anthropocene" with aliens as an example. Uncontrolled population growth with advanced technology followed by COLLAPSE. Are we going to be that dumb?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Your religion gene idea is funny and could be a good heuristic, but it is no more likely to be realistic than the gay gene was. There are no complex traits in human behavior that are controlled by single genes."
That's one of the reason I haven't tried to write such a story. Your point, of course, is completely valid, and if I can't be accurate I can at least strive for verisimilitude. (Insert comparison to political figure of your choice here).
I'm thinking of a humorous, even slapstick approach (think Frederick Brown's "Martians Go Home!"). The science in such is a lot more forgiving.

locumranch said...


If memory serves me right, Dickinson's 'The Alien Way' was a fairy tale about a murderous race of incredibly stupid space-traveling Teddy Bears who collect viral-infected earthworms, shave their ursine faces in order to pass as humans, settle their arguments by sword fight and murder each other for social advancement, being the mental inferiors of humans in every way.

Most importantly, however, it was the longest tale in Dickinson's 'Closed World' series wherein humans conquer & subjugate a horde of animalistic racially inferior aliens in the hopes that humanity may gain admission to an exclusive club of intergalactic isolationists (aka 'The Closed Worlds') who erect impregnable walls around their worlds to keep the conflict-prone riffraff out.

TASAT, most assuredly, including 'Making America Great Again', Trump's Great Wall, Isolationism & Resurgent Nationalism.

Then, there are those who would have you believe that Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four falls into the “self-preventing prophecies” category when it does not. Orwell's vision came true -- it is all around us -- let us count the ways:

(1) The Destruction of the Nuclear Family: GO's protagonist, Winston, is the product of a single parent household, a single mother utterly dependent on government largesse, who abandons him over a bar of chocolate.

(2) Social Isolation: Winston lives alone, accompanied only by a television set that orders him around, tells him what to think & do. Can you say 'Smart Phone'??

(3) Useless Busy Work: It's called 'The Service Economy'. Winston serves little purpose & produces nothing of value, existing only at the pleasure of his supervisor.

(4) Thought Crime: Winston's friend spills the beans on this. Those in power are ELIMINATING words (aka 'Hate Speech') in order to eliminate & limit thought because that which cannot be spoken cannot be thought, and this is the same approach adopted by the MSM today.

(5) We have ALWAYS been at War: Winston knows this. As do the rest of us. Since WW2, the USA has NEVER known (and will never know) peace. Korea, Vietnam, China, the Warsaw Pact, Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Iran, Iraq. And now NIGER?? We have soldiers dying in Niger?? Really??

(6) Gender Neutrality: Winston's life is devoid of warmth. The sexes are set in opposition, dressing alike & competing against each other in the context of strict 'No Fraternisation' regulation.

(7) The Criminalisation of Heterosexuality: This is Winston's terrible crime. And Al Franken's.

(8) Punishment: Winston is hunted down, restrained & terrified by rats. The same metaphorical fate holds for all of us, especially if you try to watch 5 minutes of 'Modern Family' terribleness because it'll chew your face off, friend.

And, like Winston, the most perspicacious of us have learned the very same lessons. Our humanity betrays us. Our desires mislead us. Our governments deceive us. Our women enslave us. And, we hate the lot of you and your EVIL social narrative.

This is our 'Group Memory' in action. We remember your lies & deceptions. We remember our enslavement. And, we have brushed off our knees after finding our feet.

Viva Zapata.




Best

David Brin said...

While at the welcome, slightly thought-provoking end of Locumranch postings (some of his desperate reaches for Orwellian pattern recognition may even have a 1% redolence: e.g. “political correctness speech crimes” can at times rise from necessary adjustment to irksome and even to 'vexatious'.) Still, most of it is just bullshit. The US was generally at peace under Clinton and war was tapering off under Obama. My kids’ generation is less oppressed by sexual pressure than any before it. Bullying is (in a spotty way) plummeting. And this here hetero-nuclear family hasn’t noticed any Orwellian repression.

No, what he leaves out is THE core element of Orwellian tyranny — inhomogeneity and obscenely uneven distribution of POWER. And his confederate cult of lickspittle “yassa” feudalist worshippers of plutocratic overlords is THE central tool of Big Brother. No wonder he never mentions that little thing.

Steven Hammond said...

@ locumranch...

I'm curious about your disgust at the TV show Modern Family. If you're willing to be open and honest about that, I think many of us here could learn a lot. I've watched the show for years (despite having my own preconceptions that held me back). I enjoy it and find it fun and well-written. I know what made me resist the show years ago, but I'm interested in hearing what your reasons are.

I hope you'll enlighten us. ;)

Steve

Leanette said...

I had an idea, back in 1998, for an end of the world scenario, but haven’t gotten around to writing it yet. Don’t know that I ever will, (someone may have already written it) but here it is. As concern grows about all the plastic polluting our oceans, a group of scientists get together to find a solution to the problem, unfortunately, a hurricane demolishes the lab and the solution escapes. No one is concerned as the solution is supposed to be benign due to a vital missing element. After several months, one of the scientists discovers the plastic in her car, which was damaged during the hurricane, has begun to deteriorate. Fast forward a few years, every coastal city around the gulf is plagued by a (bio something) that is digesting all the plastic leaving behind nothing. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that would ensue when the entire planet became infected. Bright side … no more plastic anywhere … downside … modern civilization crumbles.

Robert said...

I will admit to curiosity as to if Dr. Brin has any thoughts on how to prevent a future of weaponized miniature autonomous drones that are used by people to stomp out independent thought and liberty.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

@leanette: see Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater (Crichton's "Andromeda Strain" touched on the idea as well)

Don't worry though. Clarke once cheerfully said that all the ideas had been covered already by someone.

I don't think anyone in SF have specifically covered Carrington Event knock outs, although "Year of the Comet" depicts a world where combustion motors have been crippled by dust from a comet's tail. No, it wasn't a very good story, but that's beside the point.

David Brin said...

Leanette hi. A tasty scenario. I think there was a novel a while back (a film?) in which a parasite gobbles up all the oil/gasoline etc.

Robert, the Brin answer to most forms of tech mediated oppression is to ensure that the tech looks back at its would be oppressor users. Is there any other solution even remotely possible>

Robert said...

The thing is, people and corporations are inherently stupid. They may very well assume "our technology is safe behind our firewalls so we can sell this at will and determine who can buy our product" only for someone to hack that database, get the schematics, and release it into the "wilds" of the Internet.

This is hinted at with the video included in the scenario I linked originally. That this was a military product and then "it [the technology] got loose" and people started using it to attack people of political views and lifestyles that they did not approve of. And let's face it. If someone can just kill several thousand liberals in college, they can suppress a lot of vote. If voter registration is released and shows everyone who registered as an Independent or a Democrat is out and even half of those are targeted on a polling day... you just wiped out the opposition. There is no more voting. There is no armed resistance. There is only oppression.

And if someone survives from the Left? And they see that they have lost? Why should they not go for revenge? Why not build their own drones or buy their own and target every single Republican they can? Wipe out the Right in turn?

I look at this. I see the mere IDEA is now out there. And I am horrified. I honestly am wondering how to wipe my face from the Internet. I am pondering telling people that they should no longer post pictures of themselves, and should avoid video conferencing. That if you want to protest, you have to be completely anonymous. And yet you yourself have stated that you can no longer be anonymous.

Well, if you cannot be anonymous, and if people can build these specialized weapons to seek out and kill undesirables, whatever they want their undesirable to be, be it LGBT, pro-choice advocates, environmentalists, liberals... then there is no more democracy. There is no more hope. There is oppression. There is a situation worse than 1984 because you never know when someone is going to decide to target YOU because they don't like YOU... and it's not a gun. You don't see it coming.

Someone came up with a nightmare. And now... all I see is the end of the Enlightenment. The end of hope. Something that will wipe out nation after nation after nation. But hey, on the plus side we won't need to worry about global warming afterward because when half of the world kills the other half, we won't have industry anymore.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | There is some material value (nobody created that) and a lot of labour value in that house but that adds up to the value of that house.

The reason that the house has value is because of the knowledge (and labour) that went into building it.


Yes and then No. The reason the builders place value in the house is because of the materials and labor. The reason I place value in the house is because of my uses for it. The house itself has a distinct value if buyer and seller can agree on one. Each transaction is evidence and a market emerges.

You seem to be stuck on the discredited notion that value can be tied back to labor. Many believed that for a very long time, but it is falling by the wayside. It fails to explain the value people assign to copies of things like digital products. The values might not be much, but they aren't zero and don't correlate well with the costs associated with making copies.

Value assigned to a tradable 'thing' has no intrinsic foundation. It's just what we think it is. Very subjective.



As for the majority of our property, please consider the knowledge we've all accumulated since our dawn. It's huge and available to anyone with an education and membership in civilization. We place zero value on it most of the time, but not because it is worthless. It is simply not in our best interests to trade it most of the time. It makes more sense to give it in the manner of our ancient HG ancestors. I give you mine in the expectation that you'll give yours to someone else just as freely. Indirect reciprocity. It doesn't ALWAYS make sense to gift it, but most of the time it does, thus the $0 price tag. You can't trouser this stuff easily. It is useful sometimes, but curious people paying attention to your actions will eventually figure it out.

When I finished grad school and experienced the graduation ceremony, I had an epiphany on the floor of the auditorium. I was surrounded by people who had contributed to the knowledge of humanity. Lots of us. It occurred to me the scene was being played out in many other schools at about the same time. Lots and lots of us. It occurred to me the scene repeats each year. Lots and lots and lots of us. I found it a little difficult to breath and my heart pounded as I realized I was part of a larger whole. I was one human doing for Humanity what I could. Yah. Kinda religious. I've never forgotten that experience or the feeling of it. I've also never forgotten that we are ALL doing it.

I can accept your 'property of humanity' concept, but only if you pay attention to the real scale of it. It's much bigger than what people can hide away for personal use.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H. | I see the mere IDEA is now out there.

Dude. The idea of attacking my neighbor with a spoon and digging out their eyeballs has been out there too. Why not do it now? Because I'm human. The idea may be out there, but it is disgusting, so I avoid it.

Horror movies depict some REALLY disgusting ideas, but there aren't many who want to go out there and do them. Some do? Yah, but not enough to end the Enlightenment.

You might sleep a little better if you realize your neighbors are actually human and that means they are mostly disgusted by these terrible ideas. If one of them isn't and manages to take out a few of us to benefit his political allies, there is a good chance his allies WILL be disgusted.

Don't buy into the fear that we are all becoming less than human. Most of us aren't.

locumranch said...


David says claims that 'Orwellian tyranny (involves) inhomogeneity and obscenely uneven distribution of POWER', yet it remains unclear as to how his 'Orwellian' variety differs from run-of-the-mill tyranny. This is the very definition of tyranny, no? The oppressive or unjust use of power.

It follows that most of his subsequent claims are how-you-say bullshit:

(1) The US was generally at peace under Clinton, except for the military occupations of Haiti, Somalia & Bosnia-Herzegovina and cruise missile attacks on Iraq. (2) The war was tapering off under Obama, except when it escalated under the 'surge' and expanded into Pakistan, Libya, Syria & Turkey. (3) His kids’ generation is less oppressed by sexual pressure than any before it, assuming you ignore the increasing constraints placed on heterosexuality since the demise of hippy-dippy free love & disco. And, (4) Bullying is (in a spotty way) plummeting, thanks to creation of a bigger badder Big Brother who can subjugate & oppress all of the other (smaller; weaker) would-be bullies.

Like the 'Old Lady who swallowed a Fly', David justifies authoritarian escalation as the antidote to evil "plutocratic overlords". Yet, the relative 'evil' of those so-called plutocratic spiders pales when compared to the subsequent deep state ingestion of birds, cats, dogs, goats, cows & horse, concluding with a pithy "She's dead, of course" description of our defunct democracy.

Poor Rob_H fears a coming purge of leftist 'undesirables' by the right, much in the same way the so-called 'deplorable' right fears the left, but the fears of both the right & left are misplaced because the BIGGEST BULLY in the room is one of their own creation that will brook no opposition:

The Deep State.

All of your worst nightmares are about to come true (because) The Dread Pirate Roberts takes no survivors.


Best
____
The appeal of 'Modern Family' is a matter of indoctrination & confirmation bias. Steve_H finds the show enjoyable because he watches it. This is a matter of Pavlovian conditioning. I despise the show because I do not watch it. Ergo, I do not associate enjoyment with its viewing. David derives enjoyment from the puerile entertainment offered by MSNBC for the same reasons. Their views are his views due to indoctrination & confirmation bias. Everything else is rationalisation.

Marino said...

Re: the religious gene, there is something similar in the last novel in Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax series. His Neanderthal character discovers that he's immune to a kind of brain stimulation that elicits mystical visions in us Sapiens. And in the end his female Sapiens partner decides to use genetic editing to remove this trait from their coming child.

LarryHart said...

locumranch inadvertently says a true thing:

Their views are his views due to indoctrination & confirmation bias. Everything else is rationalisation.


Likewise, your skewed views of victimization and enslavement by women are your views because of confirmation bias. Don't presume your experience to be universally accepted truth.


The appeal of 'Modern Family' is a matter of indoctrination & confirmation bias. Steve_H finds the show enjoyable because he watches it. This is a matter of Pavlovian conditioning. I despise the show because I do not watch it. Ergo, I do not associate enjoyment with its viewing. David derives enjoyment from the puerile entertainment offered by MSNBC for the same reasons.


There's something to that, but you also dismiss the obvious. It's possible--and quite likely in fact--that the reason someone watches a tv show is because they enjoy it, and the reason someone doesn't watch a tv show is because they are not interested. You're making the same mistake Dave Sim makes with his ridiculous statement that men are more competetive than women because "men come from sperm and women come from eggs", when the much truer fact is "sperm come from men and eggs come from women."

Also, the fact that many of us never watch "Modern Family" or "American Idol" or "The Apprentice" belies your 1984 model of the place tv and internet and smartphones have in our culture. They're much more the soporifics of Brave New World.

LarryHart said...

This Chicago Tribune column asserts something our host has been arguing for years:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-perspec-chapman-roy-moore-god-alabama-20171119-story.html


...
Last year, Bible-believing Louisiana had the highest murder rate in the country. Moore’s Alabama came in third. Prayer-drenched Mississippi had the sixth-worst.

You’re much safer when surrounded by skeptics. The irreligious state of Massachusetts had the fifth-lowest murder rate, with only 17 percent as many homicides per capita as Louisiana. Godless New Hampshire and Maine had the nation’s lowest murder rates.

Of the 10 least religious states, none is among the 10 most dangerous. Of the 10 most religious states, only Utah is among the 10 that are least hospitable to homicide.

God-fearing places also don’t have a stellar record of upholding the family. The divorce rate is 50 percent higher in Alabama than in Massachusetts — which, by the way, was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. New Hampshire and Mississippi, at opposite ends of the religiosity spectrum, are virtually identical in the propensity for marital dissolution.
...


The whole column is like a dose of deja vu.

The same columnist, Steve Chapman, tweeted this jewel:

I'm guessing Alabama Baptists would not be so forgiving if Roy Moore had taken those girls dancing.

TCB said...

Treebeard, upthread, said: "An open, transparent society will have lunatics shooting up crowds and shouting at the stars, almost by definition."

Yeah?

And a closed society will have GOVERNMENT APPROVED lunatics shooting up crowds and shouting at the stars, almost by definition.

By contrast, an open, transparent society will also have sensible, independent people thinking, speaking, and working freely to improve it.

A closed society will silence and imprison and kill them.

And Treebeard prefers that!

locumranch said...


Ironies abound:

(1) Treebeard prefers an open feudal society where the oligarchic power-mongers are identifiable & accessible, whereas TCB & David prefer a falsely 'open' undemocratic Pogo-based one where 'We have met the enemy and he is US'.

(2) Larry_H cites statistics manipulated by the Chicago Tribune in an attempt to 'prove' that Conservative Red States are more violent then Progressive Blue, even though (A) Blue Chicago has just exceeded 500 murders in less than a year and (B) the top 25 of 30 USA murder capitals are uniformly Progressive, Urban & Blue (whether or not they exist like cancers within a greater red body politic).

(A) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-500th-homicide-tribune-data-20170917-story.html

(B) http://bismarcktribune.com/news/national/the-cities-with-the-highest-murder-rates-in-the-us/collection_5a789407-4d43-5403-ad56-7c47880bda8e.html#1

(3) Then, the same Larry_H invalidates the personal preferences, experiences & truths of others (as in the case of male victimisation by protected cry-bullies), why simultaneously admitting that his more 'enlightened' personal preferences, experiences & truths are built upon near-identical indoctrination & confirmation bias.

It is to laugh, providing proof-positive that the increasingly narcissistic, self-obsessed & self-referential western progressive has become certifiably INSANE, as 'it' stands on top of a growing dysfunctional progressive urban corpse-pile, covered in the blood of failed social policies, while it proclaims its absolute infallibility, righteousness & innocence.


Best

Robert said...

The reason I fear the spread of autonomous microdrone killings is because the further you divorce yourself from the action, the easier it is to do. You say "those things are degenerates and inhuman and I'm doing society a favor" and you hit a button and let the things fly off and do everything. All you did was hit one button. Then it's out of your hands.

Gouging out someone's eyes with a spoon takes effort. Stabbing someone takes effort. The target can fight back. But slipping someone a pill so they pass out and you can take advantage of their inebriated state and inability to say "no" makes it easy for some parties to take advantage of women and men in using date-rape drugs. Pulling a trigger from a distance to kill someone is easier. Pushing a button to blow up a truck in the middle of a group of people? That's easier. Which is why we regulate the means of gaining the materials used for car bombs in the U.S.

Having a remote drone fly out and do a little snap and a little splurt of blood to kill people? Very very easy. Wiping out a bunch of people and knowing they can't resist, that they will die no matter what? You honestly don't think there are people out there who wouldn't do that in a heartbeat and then just claim their hands are clean?

And Locu? You don't understand. If someone starts killing folk for their political views or their social views... there will be those on the other side who do the same. You laugh about my fears. But you know... this sort of thing has fallout that will hit both sides. You would end up hearing the buzz of one of those things one day... and likewise become a victim.

Hell, it doesn't even need to be someone from THIS country. If Osama bin Laden had been able to release a swarm of drones to go and get caught in the intakes of every jet going in and out of JFK, especially while over the city... how many more people would have died? If he could have used a swarm of micro-drones to assassinate Congress and the President... do you not think he would?

How soon before a major power decides to wage war on us by chopping off the head of the snake, killing off our politicians and military leaders, and using information warfare to pretend ISIS or some similar group was responsible?

Rob H. who is wondering if something like this explains why we've not heard signs from other intelligent life in the universe...

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed that the "database" is basically just a Q&A format website. Looks to be based on Stack Exchange. This deserves a more structured treatment.

Ideally, it would be automated. Feed a science fiction story (or a summary) into a program, it identifies the nature of the scenario, some pertinent details, and the ensuing consequences. Perhaps I've found a new use for deep learning. Although certainly there is already software like Google Books that can detect the author, title, and data of publication, and perhaps there is already some classification info (subject labels), as well as good summary data from the Library of Congress, the publisher, or similar sources. Possibly for some novels, it wouldn't even require parsing the main text at all.

There's also a wealth of data available from Goodreads, science fiction fan sites and wikis, including Wikipedia, ripe for processing.

Seems to be progressing slowly. It's already nearly six months old. Definitely needs more automation. Whether such automation would spontaneously give rise to an AI, and then give it ideas, is another question.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

(2) Larry_H cites statistics manipulated by the Chicago Tribune in an attempt to 'prove' that Conservative Red States are more violent then Progressive Blue,...


Wrong! Larry_H reposts a Chicago Tribune column which sounds a lot like the host of this site for the amusement of regular readers of that site. "Proof" doesn't enter into it.


(3) Then, the same Larry_H invalidates the personal preferences, experiences & truths of others (as in the case of male victimisation by protected cry-bullies), why simultaneously admitting that his more 'enlightened' personal preferences, experiences & truths are built upon near-identical indoctrination & confirmation bias.


Wrong again!

Larry_H's point was that all such personalized observations need to be carefully vetted before universalizing them. I wasn't claiming mine were any more universal than yours, but I never claim them to be so, and you always do.

Jon S. said...

In response to our disappointed Anonymous:

The connections aren't always as obvious as one might think - as should be apparent by the linkages that some folks have between TASAT questions and their own answers. And that brings us to a classic XKCD panel.

https://xkcd.com/1425/

Zepp Jamieson said...

Social and political resistance would be front and centre in any worthwhile story about elimination of religiosity.

I don't believe any religion has anything to do with morality, but I would explore how the lose of religiosity might impact imagination, creatively, reason, and open-mindedness. Would eliminating religiosity also eliminate fundamentalism? How would it affect obsessive/compulsive behaviour?

David Brin said...

Robert I did not guarantee that reciprocal vision and accountability WOULD work. I only said that they are the only things that CAN work to preserve freedom and safety and stave off Big Brother. Moreover, they are the only things that HAVE worked.

Alfred and I agree that the Labor Theory of Value was always stupid. Marxists assigned equal value to all labor. Randites assign infinite value to elite labor.

In truth, Karl Marx used the LTV to gain insights and describe how capitalists retain value earned by their workers and apply that value (ideally) to capitalizing (hence the word “capitalist”) the next production line or innovation or tool or factory. That “theft of labor value” was deemed absolutely necessary (!) by Marx… till the Means of Production are completed… then off with their heads.

We now know that his basic model of PROCESS was correct - an important insight - while his teleology of “completing the means of production” is completely loopy, and will be, till we get Star Trek fabricators.



Hey Locum! Add up the total of US military deaths under Clinton or Obama vs Reagan-Bush-Bush. Add up the total number of days when military operations x deaths were occurring. Like all confederates, you think waving an anecdote (ANECDOTE!!!) defeats statistics. But Somalia was over quickly (a failure) and Bosnia was done quickly (the greatest success of US military/diplomacy since the Cold War.) Your defense of bullies tells us a lot about your youth. And if so, then you are only reaping the evil that you deliberately sowed, as a young thug.

Under BOTH Bushes the US military was so over-used and mis-used that ZERO major US Army or Marine units were “Fully Combat Ready.” By the end of the Clinton and Obama admins, EVERY major unit was FCR. And there you have the Confederate disease. Almost all statistics and facts favor democrats and every single metric of US national health and success plummets under goppers. But that won’t budge them. They’ll answer with… ANECDOTES!!!! Oh, and assertions… and more anecdotes.

David Brin said...

LArryHart it’s not just murder and divorce rates: If we subtract outliers like Utah and Detroit & Chicago, name a metric of moral and healthy living that is not worse in Red America, from teen sex, STD and pregnancy rates to obesity, dropouts, divorce and domestic violence, gambling and so on. Name... one... exception.  Other than abortion which is a disagreement over fundamentals. And actual RATES of abortion go down, wherever there is real sex ed.



Actually, this outright lie is better than most of locumranch’s: “(1) Treebeard prefers an open feudal society where the oligarchic power-mongers are identifiable & accessible, whereas TCB & David prefer a falsely 'open' undemocratic Pogo-based one where 'We have met the enemy and he is US'.

Obviously I fight for a REALLY ‘open’ and REALLY democratic society… liar… but you and the ent imply there’s something about “oligarchic power-mongers are identifiable” that is a saving grace. Um… how’d that work out for 6000 years of horror?

You typed those words in comfort, munching twinkies and safe from thugs cutting off your head for what you say. Even if you cannot see the 10,000 other ways this society accomplished more/better than feudalism, show some gratitude for that much.

TCB said...

I'd like to pick apart that locum quote a little more:

"“(1) Treebeard prefers an open feudal society where the oligarchic power-mongers are identifiable & accessible, whereas TCB & David prefer a falsely 'open' undemocratic Pogo-based one where 'We have met the enemy and he is US'.

1.) Okay. This is one of the things I find most frustrating about politics: that it uses ambiguous human language. "open feudal society" MUST, I think, mean OPENLY feudal since a feudal society is not 'open' in the Popperian sense at all. (I wrote an essay about seven wise car mechanics, and how they all mean exactly the same thing when they talk about a four-barrel carburetor or SAE socket sizes. Just as astrophysicists or heart surgeons use special terms, opaque to the lay person, but meant to make sure they all are talking about the same thing. Not so in politics! people use a word and it means what they think it means, and maybe ten slightly different things to different listeners, and there's the added fact that deceit in politics is often a winning strategy, and that includes using words to mean something other than what a reasonable person might mean. Plus, these meanings drift over time! Argh!)

2.) In an feudal oligarchy the powerful are NOT accessible (they lived in castles! with moats! and hot tar!) and more modernly it's not rare for oligarchs to make themselves hard to identify; they work behind the scenes, use intermediaries and cutouts, and conceal ownership of valuable and far-flung properties, as Dr. Brin has noted.

3.) “a falsely 'open' undemocratic Pogo-based one where 'We have met the enemy and he is US'.

I uuuuhhhh don't know what this is even s'pose to mean. I absolutely want real openness, real democracy. Even ill-educated voters seem to have good instincts, on the whole, when they are really allowed to choose! You don't need a Ph.D. to want everyone to have health care, to want clean water, to want fair pay and safe jobs, to want no new war this year, or next... it takes professional liars and lots of election rigging to make it seem like the voters want tax cuts for billionaires and medical bankruptcy for themselves.

Orval said...

The story that haunts me more and more these days is "A is For Anything" by Damon Knight. He posits the invention of the "gizmo," a device that instantly produces a free copy of anything (from eggs to watches to guns, up to and including people). So what happens in a post-scarcity economy? He makes a VERY convincing case that the logical outcome of post-scarcity is slavery (the one thing he misses is that you can't duplicate real-estate, which fact is causing our society no end of pain right now).

As we approach a post scarcity economy (it is astonishing over my lifetime, how the cost of "things" other than real estate has dropped, in comparison to services and utilities), we had best beware. Post scarcity economies don't necessarily have to look like Star Trek. Marx is looking more and more like he had a pretty good point with that whole "ownership of the means of production" thing.

TCB said...

By the way, I've been having a VERY DEPRESSING thought, and I'd like some input here.

What if Guy Mcpherson is right and the CO2 and methane have already started running away, leaving us a decade at most to smell the roses before we all die, leaving bacteria and maybe fungi.

Are we buying that, or not? Contrary Brin sounds a great deal more optimistic, and I'd like to be, too. But. Real time. Should I be more optimistic? (I know you'll say yes...)

Could a nuclear winter slam the brakes on an exponential greenhouse? And might somebody, say, in China, come to the grim conclusion that it's the least worst option left?

Discuss.

Steven Hammond said...

@ TCB

Have a look at this article from the New Yorker regarding so-called "negative emissions".

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/11/20/can-carbon-dioxide-removal-save-the-world

I found it interesting and, perhaps, hopeful. After reading the article, I started wondering about the possibility of small roof-top, solar powered CO2 extraction units as a way to scale up the effort. Probably would need tax credits to get widespread use of the tech and some centralized disposal system for the CO2 in whatever form--CaCO3, CO2 gas or whatever. I like that idea better than the geo-engineering approach with iron fertilization of the oceans etc. with the much larger risk and uncertainty there. I, too, would love to hear from other folks here regarding the subject.

@ Locum

Thanks for your non-answer regarding your dislike of Modern Family. I was hoping you could be more specific, but alas, no. I suspect you don't like the idea of a well-to-do business man marrying a smoking hot immigrant 30 years his junior. Could you be a bit jealous? Of course I'm just speculating...

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi TCB
First a "nuclear winter" looks less and less likely
The idea was that nuclear explosions would set off firestorms and the fires would get tons of soot into the upper atmosphere
Well we have tested the firestorm idea with the wildfires on every continent and oil fields in Iraq - no long or medium term cooling
It turns out that even huge fires are simply not very good at getting stuff high enough to stay in the upper atmosphere
Also modern cities are a lot less flammable than the initial assumptions

Second - we know that in case of war we can put an enormous amount of effort and energy into "doing things" - look at Britain in WW2
And that was starting at a much lower economic level
If we really had to "do something" about global warming then we would move into the geoengineering mode and DO THINGS

While Nuclear winter from bombing cities seems to be a bust - Nuclear winter from setting off volcanoes may well be an option

locumranch said...


Says a moral relativist called David, "name a metric of moral and healthy living that is not worse in Red America", the easy answer being EVERY metric assuming moral relativism without a fixed moral baseline, insomuch as LOWER Blue State rates for STDs, teen pregnancy, drop-outs, divorce & so on could easily represent the increased prevalence of sexual repression, psychological coercion & enforced conformity.

The Social Progress Movement has become the Anti-Freedom, Anti-Democratic & Elitist party:

A group of self-righteous areligious WEIRD-o fanatics intent on Global Proselytism.

Best
______

@TCB:

I used the term 'open feudal society' to refer to system in which the Oligarchs rule OPENLY in an identifiable fashion, whereas David natters on in support of our current 'Democracy in Name Only' (A Covert Oligarchy in fact) as identified by multivariate analysis. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

That said, your doubt is refreshing insomuch as it reflects the beginnings of “The more you know, the more you know you don't know" Aristotelean wisdom as you come to realise that (1) 'Nothing is ever certain or settled in Science' and (2) 'Everything you think you know about how the world actually works is probably wrong'.

@Steve_H:

My smoking hot young immigrant wife is the same as yours: Fictional; fantastic; unreal. Like the 'Friends' you hang out with at Central Perk. So popular, you are --- a sci-fi fanatic, mild asthmatic, never been to 2nd base -- no doubt, you are so much cooler online.

Jon S. said...

You missed a point, Steve. Loco-boy there said he'd never seen Modern Family, so therefore there can't be anything actually in the show that enrages him. (Specifically, he's obviously quite unaware that Sofia Vergara is playing the wife of Ed O'Niell's character.) I'm guessing it's something from the ads about Cam and Mitchell that gets to him.

TCB said...

By the way, I think 'moral relativism' is a big old wicker, I mean straw man.

As I said before, plentiful evidence shows that our morals are deeply rooted in our social-animal ancestry. And these are NOT 'relativist' because there exists a very simple rule in social animals for what is 'moral' and what is not.

If a behavior helps the society survive, it tends to be rewarded over the long run. This often means cooperative behavior, though not always.

If a behavior harms the survival odds of the society, it tends to be punished. Either the other animals will punish the offender for no-cooperative acts, or these acts will cause the entire pack/tribe to be punished by nature, by the cold unfeeling machineries of cause and effect.

This is why nuclear war and global warming (for example) are, ultimately, absolute moral issues even for those who reject all forms of religion. And the same is probably true of oligarchy! If people and organizations use their wealth and power in a non-cooperative way (non-cooperation defined as acting selfishly or against whatever would help the society to survive intact) then they will be punished, either by the rest of the society or by nature's unfeeling machineries of cause and effect.

I, myself, would be highly religious and very pro-oligarchy if I thought either of these things helped the future survival odds of the society. But all evidence I can see indicates that they do not.

Steven Hammond said...

Jon S. said:

"You missed a point, Steve. Loco-boy there said he'd never seen Modern Family, so therefore there can't be anything actually in the show that enrages him. (Specifically, he's obviously quite unaware that Sofia Vergara is playing the wife of Ed O'Niell's character.) I'm guessing it's something from the ads about Cam and Mitchell that gets to him."

Ahh, I did indeed miss that he hadn't actually watched the show and I'm thinking your speculation is probably close to the truth. (Mine was just to poke him a bit.) ;)

TCB said: "As I said before, plentiful evidence shows that our morals are deeply rooted in our social-animal ancestry. And these are NOT 'relativist' because there exists a very simple rule in social animals for what is 'moral' and what is not.

If a behavior helps the society survive, it tends to be rewarded over the long run. This often means cooperative behavior, though not always."

This brings to mind some of the moral philosopher Mary Midgley's thoughts who I've been reading for the first time lately. She seems to be very misunderstood by some of Richard Dawkins's acolytes because she has been critical of some of the thinking in his work (and I don't think they bother to actually read what she writes), but she's also critical of the "blank slate", "culture determines all behavior" people. I really like her approach and her understanding that humans morality is very much determined by the fact we are a social species and not egoistic creatures defined purely by self-interest.

As an aside, I would also make the point that there is plenty of room in evolution for behavior that is in essence "neutral", not really helping a species success or harming it. Also room for "personality" variations in individuals of more advanced animals like coyotes that can lead to more success in one situation--say tolerance of being around humans in urban and suburban settings--which could be deadly in others. The same tolerance and lack of fear of humans would likely be fatal around a sheep grazing concern and stockmen with rifles. The behavior or "personality" does get selected for depending on the setting, but I think it's likely that the fact that personality variation is present in the population is, in itself, a "trait" that is good for a species and helps insure its adaptability and thus survival.

Oh, and one other thing I encountered in Midgley's writing was a mention in some work by Konrad Lorenz where he developed the idea of "Supernormal Stimuli". Specifically he noted that certain birds would preferably sit on fake, supersized eggs rather than their own normal sized egg in the nest next to it. I think there are some obvious correlates in us humans relating to everything from female breast size in pornography to sweetness in foods to visual excitement in film and video. I haven't read any of Lorenz yet but I'm planning to.

Steven Hammond said...

Addendum: I would also wonder if "selection" for certain personality traits in coyotes (and perhaps humans) is actually an epigenetic process and not true genomic gene selection in the classical sense. Epigenetics is, apparently, where the current focus in biology is for many questions.

Our host mentioned the Flynn Effect in this post, and I (and others) wonder if most of this is an epigenetic effect.

David Brin said...

TCB a runaway methane blurp is indeed the nightmare. I think it more likely folks would try extreme geo-engineering than nuclear war.

“the easy answer being EVERY metric assuming moral relativism without a fixed moral baseline”

Liar. Deliberately raving liar! You know that every metric from child mortality to military readiness to entrepreneurship and startups to small business health and so on favors your enemies. But outcomes and facts become your cult’s enemies because they go against the purest fact of all… hate. You hate. And that trumps all facts.

If all morals are relative, then yours are no better than ours. Which leaves us with the crucial advantage that facts and outcomes and success and achievement and objective reality are all on our side.

Hm... subjectivity score? Tied. Objective reality score? We win.

Oh. Maybe YOUR “smoking hot young immigrant wife” is fictional.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. Brin wrote, "The US was generally at peace under Clinton and war was tapering off under Obama."

It may explain some GOP behaviour when you reflect that they are often in the unenviable position of having to run against peace and prosperity.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Locum....

Nice riposte, you're right that my "hot wife" is not an immigrant. But her parents were. I'll give you a hint of what country they came from with this video....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUXMzkh-jI

Yep, that's Malcom Young (died today) laying down those licks on rhythm guitar early on. I hear you asking how I can like this music? Yep, I'm a human, a social animal with all sorts of things I've inherited that make me tick and many of which are malleable.

Setting that aside,I really like Bon Scott in this video. He seems to be having so much fun. He died young (with no kids that I can tell) and the influence of "Supernormal Stimuli" certainly played a role, but I think his existence and art made our lives a bit better. Maybe even had some "survival benefit" for our species, who knows? Evolutionary popular writing does contain a lot of "Just So" stories that are not falsifiable, so I'll throw this one in there. And, just to be clear, I'm a huge fan of Darwin so don't think I'm ragging on him.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

It may explain some GOP behaviour when you reflect that they are often in the unenviable position of having to run against peace and prosperity.


I think it was an "Onion" headline during the early W administration that read, "The long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is over!"

Steven Hammond said...

While I'm on the subject of AC/DC, I looked up the heights of the band. Bon Scott 5'8", Malcolm Young 5'3", Angus Young 5'2", Phil Ruud, 5'6", Brian Johnson 5'5". Find that interesting in light of the aggressive macho lyrics of so many of their songs. The song "Whole Lotta Rosie" takes on a different light when I think of these munchkins singing about her... :) (I'm 6'3" so I can say that) Just another way our anima/human past effects our perspective.

BTW, I never knew my height was female attractant until I'd married my wife. Women are way too subtle for me, I'm afraid.

David Brin said...

Steven Hammond... har! On hilarity points, you get post of the day!

Steven Hammond said...

David Brin...

I hope that means you're laughing WITH me and not AT me? ;)

Either way I'm OK (and I'm still tall, ha ha, "so I got that goin' for me, which is nice" even if I haven't met the Dalai Lama...)

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :

Meanwhile, in the absence of a clearly-articulated foreign policy vision from the administration, The Economist—hardly a bastion of left-wing politics—has taken a stab at trying to characterize the Trump Doctrine. Their take: "America's foreign policy: embrace thugs, dictators and strongmen." They note the President's friendly relationship with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and others, not to mention his disdain for refugees, immigrants, and the like. While the magazine is no fan of Barack Obama's foreign policy, he seems like Nixon or Talleyrand or Metternich next to Trump.


Nothing we didn't already know, but this bit stood out for me:

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt


The guy's name is really "ISIS" spelled backwards?

You can't make this stuff up.

David Brin said...

Now he's channeling Caddyshack? Oh... please... ow!

LH what's the full URL of that quotation?

obat denature said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H | Okay. You appear to be seriously concerned and doing your duty as a social t-cell, so I'll stop and think about it a while.

I) It isn't unreasonable to be more concerned with threats that people can deploy in a manner that reduces their exposure to retaliation compared to riskier options.

II) It isn't unreasonable to draw more attention to threats that can be deployed on a large scale quickly when compared to ones with a difficult learning curve.

Your scenario reminds me a bit of the threat portrayed in the second Captain America movie. Okay. Instead of delivering it from large, autonomous platforms, you describe small ones that can find us and make it a more personal experience.

So, let's hit the points where I think your concerns run into trouble.

1) With voter registration information, you'll only get a moderate percentage of people because they might not be where the weapon is deployed. If they aren't there, they have to be found or the weapon would be moved to a secondary target. Remember that these things have limited power supplies, so the second target or search efforts would have to be kept pretty simple.

2) With facial recognition software, you could do better, but that requires some computation power or a decent network connection. The first comes at a cost of weight on the vehicle which increases the power demand and makes the whole thing more costly and easier to see early in a mission. The second requires decent bandwidth which makes the thing easier to hear. Even if one can't decrypt the message traffic rapidly, one can know something is operating nearby with relatively simple equipment.

3) I don't believe for a moment that these things don't have a difficult learning curve. I've tried to build stuff that flies in a semi-autonomous manner. It is non-trivial even when one isn't targeting humans who aren't always the most predictable subjects. One CAN learn how to do what you describe, but that will require experiments done in the field. Most terrorists who get caught do so while they are acquiring the information they need for their mission. They get noticed by people who aren't tuned out and suspicious activity gets reported. Anyone learning to do what you describe would face the same risk. Only in super-hero movies would they not.

4) There are much more diabolical things one could do with the things you describe that would be much simpler. Small incendiaries during California's dry season could be catastrophic. Small, jellyfish like fliers trailing wires flown into transmission lines could be catastrophic if the person directing them understood how the wholesale electricity markets worked. Pfft. Just fly them into polling places during an election and set fire to the voter registration books. Polling locations don't move and are easier to recognize. Here in California, many of them are elementary schools. Added Bonus! So, why bother with more difficult tasks?

I know for a fact there are security guys thinking about these things. Unless you are one of them, I encourage you to let them be the ones with the nightmares and ulcers. They've chosen to work these jobs. If someone manages to do one of these bad things, they won't roll over peacefully and accept the results. They will get that look in their eyes that says “Someone is going to DIE!” much like they did with 9/11. If you still want to worry about it, though, build counter-measures and sell them. It might be a niche market at first, but on the day people start working up the learning curve, it won't be.

Alfred Differ said...

...personality traits in coyotes (and perhaps humans) is actually an epigenetic process and not true genomic gene selection in the classical sense

In our case, there appears to be decent evidence saying it isn't genetic or epigenetic processes. Our brains are simply plastic. What they do depends on the environment into which they grow because they are already pretty generalized.

I don't know if that applies to coyotes, though. I suspect that we've culled some of there extremes and rewarded others.

Marino said...

Re: libertarians and strange bedfellows:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/19/trump-russia-fake-news-libertarians-autocrats-democracy

Disruption games: why are libertarians lining up with autocrats to undermine democracy?
In the era of digital politics, an odd alliance has sprung up: anti-state campaigners and Moscow-backed nationalists are combining to disrupt liberal institutions...

“The radical libertarians and the autocrats are allied by virtue of sharing an enemy which is the mainstream, soft, establishment, liberal politics,” said Jamie Bartlett, the director of the centre for the analysis of social media at the Demos thinktank.

“Most early, hardline cryptographers who were part of this movement in the 1990s considered that democracy and liberty were not really compatible. Like most radical libertarians – as Assange was – the principal enemy was the soft democrats who were imposing the will of the majority on the minority and who didn’t really believe in genuine, absolute freedom.

You know, like those guys who prefer openly feodalist/autocratic government in place of "sham burgeois democracy"...

onlyaboutthenail said...

@locumranch,

I agree with you about the cry-bully problem, especially the feminist sort. I can't agree with your tactics. We need to stand up to these people with serenity, courage and most of all humor, not whinging. Don't ask for mercy, they have none.

Remember, *oppression by feminists* is far from "enslavement by women". only about 1 in 3 women are feminists.


LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Now he's channeling Caddyshack? Oh... please... ow!


I actually get a kick out of loc's obscure movie references. The fact that I was able to recognize a quote from "Head Office" once was priceless.

LH what's the full URL of that quotation?


I'm not sure which quotation you mean. I'm assuming the Steve Chapman tweet about Evangelicals and dancing? If so then here:

https://twitter.com/SteveChapman13/status/929022046868332544

If you meant something else, please clarify.

Paul SB said...

Steven and Alfred,

There's a bit of a misconception here about the nature of epigenetics. Of course Alfred is right on the money with neuroplasticity, which is much more a factor in humans than other branches of the animal kingdom. DNA has been selected for in a classical Darwinian sense to create a highly adaptable species that learns to change its behavior as its environment changes. Humans are not 100% flexible, but neither are they 100% slaves to instincts. The same is true for pretty much anything that has a brain, though the nature of the brain determines the flexibility of each individual species (and each individual animal within the species - compare Alfred to Locum and that becomes obvious).

However, epigenetic mechanisms are also subject to both natural and sexual selection, just as protein-coding genes are. Analogous to plasticity in the brain, epigenetic switches are much more adaptable than the protein-coding genes, but are not 100% flexible. As an example think about varying rates of metabolism. How a person's metabolism works depends a lot of genes that code for specific enzymes and their variations, like variants of the amylase enzyme that are slightly more reactive to different pH values, which probably reflects reliance on specific foods one long periods of time in any given population. But food availability in the prenatal months and early postnatal years can trigger methylation switches that ramp the rate up or down. If calories are plentiful during this period, metabolic rates are ramped up, mainly by producing enzymes in greater quantities, while if calories are more scarce, metabolism is turned down. This means that a person who is born to young, poor parents who don't have the resources to get healthy nutrition, or do not even know what constitutes good nutrition, raise their babies in an environment which will slow their metabolism down, causing them to start putting on weight as soon as they have the ability to choose what and how much goes into their mouths. The traditional explanation of fat people is that they are weak-willed fools worthy of our scorn, but the biology is increasingly complicating the picture, and making our tradition blame-and-shame game more and more problematic.

Paul SB said...

onlyaboutthenail,

I agree with your statement that we need to stand up to these people with patience and dignity rather than the alternating rage and whining that comes out of the mouths of most conservatives. However, there's a little matter of numbers here. The "feminazis" as they used to be called have never been more than a tiny but very vocal minority. They are a fetish of the ridiculous right just like the so-called "welfare queen" who drove a cadillac and got more government assistance by cranking out more babies. The individual Reagan made such a stink about was one individual, and she was prosecuted for it, which shows not that the government is creating welfare queens but that it is policing its own programs and actively seeking those who try to cheat the system. Not perfect by any means, but we are not going to find perfection anywhere on this Earth.

Also, your 33.33% figure for feminists depends on how you want to define feminism. if you go to the "feminazi" extreme you probably have far less than 1%, but because they are extreme they get a lot of press. If you are talking about people who think that women should have equal legal rights as men, you are looking at at least 2/3rds. Equality is an idea that has huge cultural capital in America. By that definition most men in America are feminists, though likely not as many as 2/3rds. But there are always people who participate quite gladly in their own oppression because their minds cannot perceive the possibility of the world behaving differently than it has for the previous generations. Look at old Maggie Thatcher.

Ultimately we have to resist all injustice, and the greatest injustice of all is that ugly tendency to lump everyone who shares a few superficial traits into one category and treats them as if they were all clones. Locum's sin is this: because a seriously tiny number of cases have been found in which a woman lied about being sexually assaulted, he wants to claim that this is wide-spread behavior and that they would all do it of noble, rural good old boys weren't there to slap them into their place. As Dr. Brin likes to point out, he uses rare anecdotes to tar billions of people with the sins of a handful. Of course, there is a Biblical precedent for such bullshit, but that doesn't change its scatological nature one iota.

If we want to look at statistically significant facts instead of making Olympus Mons out of a molehill, about 25% of all women in America experience sexual assault at least once in their lives. That's actual sexual assault, not just harassment, discrimination, casual groping and grabbing, jeering, almost daily catcalls and constant shaming. Interesting correlation, about 25% of women in America end up having to be hospitalized and treated for mental disorders caused by extreme stresses. It's not hard to put two and two together. How many men are subject to this kind of treatment? The number who are subjected to this by women is vanishingly small, but the number of men who are sexually assaulted by other men is about half the number for women. Interestingly enough, that number is only a few percent smaller than the number of American men who find themselves in a mental hospital with all those women. There's a pattern here, and it is precisely the opposite of what Locum and his ilk assert.

LarryHart said...

Marino quotes:

Like most radical libertarians – as Assange was – the principal enemy was the soft democrats who were imposing the will of the majority on the minority and who didn’t really believe in genuine, absolute freedom.”


So "genuine, absolute freedom" means the ability to impose the will of the minority on the majority. If the guy with the bump-stock isn't free to shoot up a crowd in Las Vegas, then he's not truly free.

While posing as libertarianism, this is really a different thing, in fact the opposite thing. Absolute, unconstrained freedom for the one who is able to impose his will upon all others is authoritarianism.

There's a Heisenberg uncertainty in "freedom" in which more freedom for some implies less freedom for others, and absolute freedom for one implies no freedom for others. Feel free to argue the point if I haven't thought it through, but to me this seems as ironclad a law as those of mathematics and physics. A social system can attempt to optimize freedom, but can never guarantee it absolutely to both bullies and victims, to evangelicals and to non-believers, or to authoritarians and libertarians.

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? The correct answer is that it is a trick question: The existence of an irresistible force belies the existence of any immovable object, and vice versa.

Steven Hammond said...

Paul SB said:
"Of course Alfred is right on the money with neuroplasticity, which is much more a factor in humans than other branches of the animal kingdom. DNA has been selected for in a classical Darwinian sense to create a highly adaptable species that learns to change its behavior as its environment changes. Humans are not 100% flexible, but neither are they 100% slaves to instincts. The same is true for pretty much anything that has a brain, though the nature of the brain determines the flexibility of each individual species (and each individual animal within the species - compare Alfred to Locum and that becomes obvious)."

This is interesting and true, but much of the plasticity may be due to epigentic influences if rat models correspond to humans. I'll link to an interesting article regarding this and here's a quote from it:"Plasticity in neurobiological pathways regulating stress responsivity, cognition, and reproductive behavior is apparent during the prenatal period and continues into adulthood, suggesting a lifelong sensitivity to environmental cues. Recent evidence suggests that dynamic epigenetic changes—molecular modifications that alter gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence—account for this plasticity. "

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021821/

locumranch said...


Actually, locum's sin is a long memory paired with radical equalism. Paul_SB would be the first to agree with me about male & female gender equality; he'd probably even accept equivalent humanity between the genders; yet he'd never accept gender-equivalent human failings, especially when paired with Feldman's research that shows that 60% of humans are liars, meaning that 60% of men and WOMEN are malicious lying liars too.

Of course, the 60% figure is a baseline in our deceitful culture and, in the case of secondary reward & selection bias, the percentage of lying liar humans can only go higher, being especially concentrated in politics, making Paul_SB a chivalrous lying liar when he says that only a "tiny number of cases have been found in which a woman lied" about things of importance.

David hates liars, too, as suggested by his go-to repost of "LIAR", yet he also prefers to lie to himself about difficult & uncomfortable human truths as in the case of the dominant Humanism lie of our time that 'humans are basically good and/or moral'. Humans aren't 'bad' or 'immoral' either, in my experience, the truth being that humans are largely amoral.

We can talk more about the western cultural shift from Absolute (God-based) Morality to Subjective Moral Relativism & its rather severe consequences later -- I know I most certainly will -- even though most of you will continue to LIE TO YOURSELVES about the validity of my conclusions.


Best

David Brin said...

Blah blah de blah blah. Even at his best, he never backs up any of his assertions. Locum lies like mad, then responds with "So's you!!!" Because all is relative and thus just ASSERTING I am a liar is sufficient.

This is why I perked up with the arrival of Anonymous onlyaboutthenail... a person who sounds like a sympathizer with right wing resentments who is nevertheless capable of blinking toward the sun and accepting the existence of facts.

Here's hoping it's so! We are a variety-seeking and eclectic bunch here. No echo chamber. Many of our conservative members are in hunker-down mode because - well- the world around us is really hard on sane conservatives, right now. But while the rest of us can sometimes be a bit rough, we DO profess to like the variety.

Stay and test us!

Paul SB said...

Here we go again,

"Paul_SB would be the first to agree with me about male & female gender equality; ..."
- This is a legal issue, so it really matters very little what we think. The law is the law.

"... he'd probably even accept equivalent humanity between the genders; ..."
- That should be obvious. All humans are equally human, though we often deride each other as less than human in anger. The very question comes down to whether you buy Plato's romantic notion of heavenly archetypes of which we are all imperfect reflections, or the reality of variation within any given species.

" ... yet he'd never accept gender-equivalent human failings, ..."
- As usual he is trying to tell me what it is I really think, and is, as usual, completely wrong. No one gets a pedestal. If gender-specific failings exist, as I am sure they do, they are probabilistic, not categorical. In other words, these failings will apply more commonly to one sex than the other, but is never 100% (or 0%) in either. Greater average testosterone levels in males tend to compel certain behaviors more commonly in men than in women, but we all know plenty of examples of both sexes who do not match the stereotypes.

Also note the incorrect terminology here. Sex is biological - what you have between your legs. Gender are the roles engendered upon people by their cultures. Most Western cultures equate sex with gender, but this is hardly universal. There are quite a few cultures around the world that have 3 or more genders, proving that the concept is more flexible than the biology. Another issue is what assumptions we have to make about hermaphrodites, who make up about 1 in 2000 births. Such a rigid dichotomy is really a false dichotomy.

"...especially when paired with Feldman's research that shows that 60% of humans are liars, meaning that 60% of men and WOMEN are malicious lying liars too."
- It is true that lying is ubiquitous in the human species. When I was younger and did not understand some of the basics of mental health and brain functions, I used to get very, very mad when I caught friends in "little white lies." Then when both my children turned out to have ASD, I realized that the anger I felt over other people's low-level dissembling (of the "yeah your cupcakes are really tasty" or "no, you aren't really fat at all" variety) is probably a result of my own brain being not quite right. Maybe I have some mild form of ASD, or its second cousin OCD, either way I'm pretty compulsive about honesty, not good at telling lies and not really inclined to practice the skill anyway. This might sound like a boast to some, but in many ways it has been my bane. I wouldn't wish compulsive honesty on anybody, unless it is true of everybody.

But more to the point, the fact that most people tell little white lies to facilitate social interaction does not mean they will tell huge lies that have huge ramifications and will be investigated by the authorities, like falsely accusing someone of a crime. This is quite the reductio ad absurdum, but so much of what this guy clacks out is so absurd our tendency is to look for other criticisms. In other words, while we may all be lying to ourselves about some things, it's clear enough this one lies to all of us with enough consistency to call into question his mental capacity.

Paul SB said...

Steven,

You are probably right about epigenetics being the likely mechanism of neural plasticity. I think I was unintentionally splitting hairs, there. When I think about it, what makes plasticity happen is adjustments to the numbers of neurotransmitters made, which is under epigenetic control, the numbers of receptors for those neurotransmitters, which is also under epigenetic control, and the placement and subsequent movement of the myelin sheaths created by oligodendrocytes, which I presume is also under epigenetic control. I stand corrected. : ]

Paul SB said...

I heard this conversation on the radio a couple days ago that touches on a bit of what I was talking about re: sexual assault & harassment. The interviewee perfectly anticipated our faux rancher's claims, no doubt because we have heard this horse puckey before.

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/18/565025370/reckoning-with-sexual-harassment

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

But more to the point, the fact that most people tell little white lies to facilitate social interaction does not mean they will tell huge lies that have huge ramifications and will be investigated by the authorities, like falsely accusing someone of a crime.


It is instructive that even the Ten Commandments don't prohibit lying--just the much more specific "bearing false witness".

Note also that some lies are really failed statements of intent rather than misstatements of fact. When you promise to be faithful to your spouse or to tell the truth on the stand, you are not asserting a fact but rather stating an intent. People react badly to such lies in the way they react when someone violates a contract.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Orval:

Ah yes... in Stross' Eschaton universe, the concept is a "cornucopia". I was adjacent to a set of LARP players once that called them "autoforges". And of course, in Star Trek, they're "replicators".

There are still a number of limitations on even such a miraculous device, though, that Knight (some say deliberately) ignored.

* Matter/energy must still be conserved: so resource gathering (mining, power generation) still has to happen. That's massively aided by a cornucopia, but it still has to happen.
* Cornucopias don't build prototypes. You have to have one thing to make more things.
* Thermodynamics has not been repealed, nor has entropy. It takes less energy to make something if you have materials closer to what the final product will be, regardless of the mechanism of the cornucopia.
* Again, thermodynamics demands that something so massively anti-entropic generate waste heat by the bushel, requiring cooling methods, which requires *more* resources.
* And of course there is some limitation on the time required, if only in the control systems to direct it.

So some portion of economics besides human labor remains, because physics is the ultimate tabulator of the universe.

The second major feature of the "A for Anything" universe is the ability to indefinitely duplicate humans: the flash-clone concept. It is not exactly a grand revelation in science fiction that the ability to pop out sentience to specific order leads to oppression: that's the plot of Brave New World, Gattaca, and every robot/AI-revolution story. Even our host, in Kiln People, didn't make that power as indefinite as in A for Anything, where humans can be produced at zero cost at the push of a button.

The premise Knight advances -- that human labor becomes the only scarce resource, therefore slavery -- is negated by his duplication of people. Moreover, it's nonsense according to available empirical data. A rise in the value of labor has historically increased the rights of workers -- a feature handwaved away here by the ability to pick out and duplicate docility. But why is it not at least as probable to get a society like that of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in which the quality of the labor becomes the standard of value? I don't think Doctorow's specific scheme would work -- too vulnerable to crowdsourced exploits -- but the general concept of labor-as-value becoming the limiting factor and thus the primary trade good is not wholly wrong.

Indeed, one could argue that human attention is already becoming a major commodity. Think about all the effort devoted for the last two centuries to more and more adeptly grabbing and holding attention, the billions poured into "eyeballs" and "clicks". Exerting control of brain-cycles is becoming a critical resource.

The problem, of course, being that brains have self-awareness and can (sometimes) notice control structures. Which means that they can be broken. Problematic, that, for would-be lords. Especially when those lords are also human.

Some other things that are still scarce in a cornucopia economy:
* Space. God still ain't making land very quickly, and space habs and terraforming take time no matter how many robots you can build.
* EM spectrum. Radio interference is still a thing.
* Intellectual property. Who can use your new recipe for the cornucopia?

Catfish N. Cod said...

And finally, while future shock is a thing, having a replicator that easily constructed and reconstructed would not drop like a meteor out of nowhere (unless, of course, an alien civilization did so -- which was the plot of a Stross novel). There would be scientific hints to the principle, prototypes that did not work as reliably or as fast or as cheaply or as effectively. In short, the society would have at least some chance to transition to new scarcities. It's not the existence of cornucopias that would create a collapse of society; it's the sudden and unlimited introduction that would do so.

Starting with the inevitability that any number of warlords would immediately spring from the ground like the soldiers born of the teeth of the dragon...

Ultimately, the assertion that cornucopias would lead to tyranny is the same assertion that any new technology will do so. History has shown that sometimes it does... and sometimes it doesn't. It's the makeup of the society and the choices of humans that make it so. Which is, in essence, one of the core messages of science fiction in the first place.

In Stross' Eschaton universe, the worlds that built guns first with their cornucopias became the Third World planets of the galaxy, ultimately powerless. The ones that built schools and roads and bridges instead became the great powers. Cornucopias only accelerate the same rules of economy and society that we already have. Imagining a universe where TAANSTAFL has been revoked may be fun, but it doesn't say much about human nature or society.

Jan Eringa said...

Niel Stephenson Diamond Age covers some of this.

locumranch said...


"If gender-specific failings exist, as I am sure they do, they are probabilistic, not categorical. In other words, these failings will apply more commonly to one sex than the other" [PSB].

And, thusly. Paul_SB betrays the deceitful, Orwellian & 'V for Venus' worshipping zeitgeist of our age:

Firstly, he claims to ascribe to gender & sex-linked Equality. Secondly, he paraphrases Orwell's "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" quip in order to differentiate between males & females. And, thirdly, he exempts women from the human commonality by claiming that they are better, more godly & significantly less dishonest than their toxic 'P for Patriarchy' male counterparts.

This is Pinker's argument in a nutsack -- this belief that 'V for Venus' is good but 'P for Penis' is EVIL (says Zardoz) -- even though males & females have been proven to be equally deceitful, equally violent & equally human in any number of sociological studies.

I have seen the Future, and it doesn't work. It is sweet death that will come for us instead, as it is unlikely that any civilisation that chooses to villainise 50% of its population -- its fathers, builders, scientists and protectors -- can persist or even exist.


Best
______
Actually, Catfish, the premise that Knight advances in 'A is for Anything' is the same premise that Herbert advances in 'Dune': Power comes from one's ability to destroy a thing, not from its creation, whether or not that thing is human life, duped eggs or spice. We fear & obey the potential destroyer, not the creator. The cross takes precedence over the egg.

TCB said...

Hmmm can we draw any TASAT lessons from Zardoz, except "Don't put Sean Connery in a loincloth and hand him a Webley revolver, or go ahead and do that, actually, because that'll still be pretty fuckin' rad in a hundred years"?

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Jan: Good point! It's the feed that matters in Diamond Age.

@locum: I need to read more to be sure -- I haven't found a copy yet and have been going off quotes, which can be deceptive -- but the power to destroy only takes precedence when it cannot be balanced. The power of the spice melange comes from its scarcity, and disappears when multiple means are found to synthesize it and/or arrakiform other worlds and establish the natural production cycle. The power to destroy is so great precisely because the power to create is absent: the ascendance of Shiva over Vishnu requires the abdication of Brahma. The point of the Golden Path was to get humanity to create and colonize again, something they'd been too terrified to do since the Butlerian Jihad; the Imperial Age was a cowering before the fear engendered by the worst brush with extinction the race had seen in many millennia.

Once humanity's ability to create was reawoken, it overwhelmed the powers of destruction.... Just As Planned.

Catfish N. Cod said...

"It is unlikely that any civilisation that chooses to villainise 50% of its population -- its fathers, builders, scientists and protectors -- can persist or even exist."

History argues otherwise. Let me tell you a little story about Eve and the serpent.

You're primarily arguing with yourself, sir. I don't recognize many premises you seem to take as axioms.

And I'm starting to see, Dr. Brin, what you meant when you depicted renaissance chaos solipsism in Foundation's Triumph. There are many types of people nowadays on all "sides" primarily debating themselves and phantom opponents of their own devisement.

Paul SB said...

And again, this guy never learns:

"And, thusly. Paul_SB betrays the deceitful, Orwellian & 'V for Venus' worshipping zeitgeist of our age:

Firstly, he claims to ascribe to gender & sex-linked Equality."
- As I said, equality is a legal issue, it has nothing to do with anyone's opinions. I made no claim, I only pointed that this is the law of the land, even if it isn't always enforced very consistently.

"... Secondly, he paraphrases Orwell's "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" quip in order to differentiate between males & females."
- Really? Where?

"...And, thirdly, he exempts women from the human commonality by claiming that they are better, more godly & significantly less dishonest than their toxic 'P for Patriarchy' male counterparts."
- Really? Where?

As usual, he can't do any better than to blatantly lie and insist he knows what we "really" mean. Not much hope for this one, but hopefully he will live long enough to see the transformation of society into something he cannot stomach, a place where justice and fairness rules and none of his simplistic stereotypes matter.

LarryHart said...

There are degrees of lying just as there are degrees of murder.

I get particularly angry at slander of my character, or at slander of the character of someone I know is undeserving of the mischaracterization. It feels especially egregious when the slam against the person in question is that they advocate for something they clearly do not,such as the claim that Dr Brin advocates for a dictatorship by scientists. The commandment against bearing false witness clearly pertains to a subset of such lies.

I also react poorly to--as I mentioned above--failed statements of intent, essentially the violation of an oral contract. Donald Trump's entire campaign is essentially made up of such lies.

You can argue that telling Aunt Tilly that you like her hat (when you don't); or saying you saw the sun rise this morning (when it was actually the earth moving, not the sun); or speaking lines as an actor are also technically "lies", but it is self-evidently absurd to claim that they produce the type or level of harm associated with slander, false witness, or breaking a contract.

Unless I'm lying about that. :)

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I think you are missing another aspect of this.

"Note also that some lies are really failed statements of intent rather than misstatements of fact. When you promise to be faithful to your spouse or to tell the truth on the stand, you are not asserting a fact but rather stating an intent. People react badly to such lies in the way they react when someone violates a contract."

Are these failed statements of intent, or false statements of intent? When a candidate makes promises (like the old "Read my lips") and then does not even try to fulfill them, then the person lied about intent. At one point in last year's presidential campaign, the Grope claimed to not be bothered LGBT (lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato) issues, saying that it was a matter of personal choice and no business of the government. This might have fooled some people into thinking he was more open-minded than he appeared, but look what happened once he was in office. He may not have openly stated that he would take any specific policy, but he most definitely gave a false impression of what he intended to do once in office.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

"If gender-specific failings exist, as I am sure they do, they are probabilistic, not categorical. In other words, these failings will apply more commonly to one sex than the other" [PSB].

And, thusly. Paul_SB betrays the deceitful, Orwellian & 'V for Venus' worshipping zeitgeist of our age:

Firstly, he claims to ascribe to gender & sex-linked Equality. Secondly, he paraphrases Orwell's "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" quip in order to differentiate between males & females. And, thirdly, he exempts women from the human commonality by claiming that they are better, more godly & significantly less dishonest than their toxic 'P for Patriarchy' male counterparts.


See, here's the quintessential example of slander. Paul SB says nothing of the sort of what locumranch accuses him of saying. The quote he provides doesn't back up any of the charges.

Paul SB said that some characteristics may show up more in men or more in women, but that a non-zero subset of both men and women won't conform to the stereotype. Where in there, or anything else he said, is either a statement that there is no difference between the sexes or an assertion that women are exalted. The conclusion of the accusation has nothing to do with the evidence.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Are these failed statements of intent, or false statements of intent?


Good point.

I think it is difficult to truly "lie" about the future. Many people in 2016 said something like, "Donald Trump will never be elected." Was that a lie or just a mistake?

But you are correct that there is a difference between statements of intent that someone fails to keep vs statements of intent that one has no intention of keeping even as one makes it. I don't remember the specific individual now, but some politician in the 90s who was caught cheating on his wife apologized by saying he "never intended to cheat on her" and it occurred to me that that was disingenuous. If you don't intend to cheat, all you have to do is not cheat. What he meant was that he never expected the opportunity of cheating to come along, so when it did, "What's a guy supposed to do?"

David Brin said...

Occasionally (mea culpa) I find him interesting or amusing, or an excuse to flatter myself over my broadmindedness... even when he's raving at strawmans of his own concoction - (some are fascinating, though seldom do the salvos aim even in my general direction, let alone bracketing me.

But other (most) times, it's just tedious and boring. Spittle ravings at complete paranoid fantasies, free of any connection to an objective reality that he openly despises.

Ah, alack. He is actually WAY above confederate average. We can choose between idiocracy, nuclear holocaust, or winning phase 8 of this ongoing civil war.

Paul SB said...

Zepp,

I meant to get back to you about that story idea awhile ago but got a little distracted. I'm totally cool with making a sort of spoof, though I get really annoyed with supposedly science fiction authors whose stories read like contemporary literature set in the future, where the future is only different from now in terms of technology. I have thought for a long time that it would be interesting if someone wrote a spoof like this but included in it a running commentary on what the cutting edge science really says.

Psikeyhackr,

I read "The Mote in God's Eye" when I was in seventh grade, and it had a pretty big impact on my thinking. It's probably why I so often find demographic explanations for things that most people shrug their shoulders at and just call people names. It also shows some of the power entertainers can have, whether they know it or not. When they broadcast ideas to the wide world, those ideas can trigger lasting changes in people's minds. This is also something I have always wanted to do, but when I think about it, it's kind of an awesome responsibility, and you can never be sure if someone somewhere will misread your intention or take it to some extreme and you end up having the opposite effect you wanted. Moties seemed pretty homogenous compared to the endless variations of human minds.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

but hopefully he will live long enough to see the transformation of society into something he cannot stomach, a place where justice and fairness rules and none of his simplistic stereotypes matter.


True dat. Like how that guy who killed black churchgoers in South Carolina intending to start a race war has to live with people of all races uniting against his philosophy, even to the point of (horrors!) forgiving him.

The best revenge is living well, but seeing the bastards live ill comes in a close second.

Steven Hammond said...

Paul SB said:

Steven,

You are probably right about epigenetics being the likely mechanism of neural plasticity. I think I was unintentionally splitting hairs, there. When I think about it, what makes plasticity happen is adjustments to the numbers of neurotransmitters made, which is under epigenetic control, the numbers of receptors for those neurotransmitters, which is also under epigenetic control, and the placement and subsequent movement of the myelin sheaths created by oligodendrocytes, which I presume is also under epigenetic control. I stand corrected. : ]


No worries! :) I find epigenetics extremely fascinating--most of all the heritability of some epigenetic effects. The possibility of so-called "epigenetic memory" is supported by some pretty good evidence suggesting that epigenetic changes can "become encoded into the germ cells, leading to a transgenerational inheritance of the effects of stress and social experiences."

That has profound implications for us humans in all sorts of ways--if true. From what I can tell, this epigenetic "memory" lasts for only a few generations at most. But even so, if, say, experiencing the Great Depression had transgenerational epigenetic effects and those effects persisted for 3 generations, the majority of Americans still have some methylation or histone modification in their DNA influencing them related to ancestors experience of stress almost 100 years ago. Food for thought if nothing else.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

it is unlikely that any civilisation that chooses to villainise 50% of its population -- its fathers, builders, scientists and protectors -- can persist or even exist.


You're not taking this personally enough. It's not men in general who are villainized. It's you in particular.


We can talk more about the western cultural shift from Absolute (God-based) Morality to Subjective Moral Relativism...


Sorry, but God-based morality is hardly absolute. ISIS has a whole different definition of of morality from yours, and theirs is just as God-based if not more so. The rural red-state Republican politicians who rant against Sharia Law are arguing fervently against having God-based morality enforced by American civil law.

Tim H. said...

Steve Hammond, the persistence of stress related epigenetic changes should be one more thing on the list of business expenses pushed off onto the public. Some fortunes have been very expensive.

psikeyhackr said...

Aliens are supposed to be alien in SF books. 1974 was when Mote was published and the human population reached 4 billion.

Paul SB said...

Steve and Tim,

Now we are getting into something much more meaty than just fighting off the willful ignorance of our resident bridge lurkers.

Intergenerational epigenetic "memory" is pretty well supported by several studies in which it has been shown that not only do people who experienced trauma at very young ages have much higher incidences of stress-related disorders, but so do their children and grandchildren. With each generation the effect seems to weaken, though. Still, the implications are pretty staggering. It is no longer supportable to claim that people who were born in poverty were born inferior to the wealthy, because it has been proven that growing up in an impoverished environment causes children to have all sorts of stress-related disorders, and there is even evidence that it lowers I.Q. (the easiest, though least accurate, way to measure intelligence).

Take the Dutch Hunger Winter as an extreme example. The German Army trucked all the food in Holland they could find, leaving the people to starve in 1944. Obviously they did't all starve, but just about everyone came close before they were liberated. It was discovered that children who were in utero during that year or were still in infancy had stress disorders at 20 times the background rate, and that continued but at a lower incidence in their children (btw, my mother was born in Holland in 1943, which probably explains some things). Now look at the incidences of stress disorders in violent ghetto neighborhoods and you see the same thing. Conservatives have depended on the claim that anyone who is poor is genetically inferior and deserves their poverty, while anyone who is rich is superior and deserves their wealth. From that perspective it is an injustice to tax the rich to help the poor. But now it has been shown scientifically that the assumptions used to justify conservative policies (think tax policies) is simply wrong. Any purported "inferiority" is a result of disease caused by environmental exposure to trauma at early ages. I think that is exactly what Tim meant when he said that some fortunes came at a heavy price.

This knowledge is out there, but has not really become enough of a subject of conversation to have the impact humanity needs it to. If you want to see this summarized with attention to both detail and ramifications, I would recommend getting Robert Sapolsky's new book "Behave." For a shorter, easier read, Dr. Brin once reviewed a book here called "Born Anxious" which I bought and could recommend as well. For a really quick intro you can find the old National Geographic video called "Stress: Portrait of a Killer." Spread the word. Civilization might depend on it.

locumranch said...


Perhaps my attempt to translate PSB's nonsensical natterings was unsuccessful. Either he argues that men & woman are equal or he argues that men & woman are NOT equal, and his statements initially appeared to place him in the pro-Gender Equality camp.

I note that both men & women are categorically human and I offer scientific evidence that 60% of humans are inveterate liars. PSB then states that (1) human females rarely lie except in "a tiny number of cases" and (2) such moral failings "apply more commonly to one sex than the other", both of which place him squarely in the anti-Gender Equality camp.

PSB is clearly a liar, possibly because he self-identifies as a gendered male -- not that gender identity matters to an actual gender equalist --- yet his obvious lies leave us with a classic paradox: Is he merely inarticulate, an inarticulate liar who lies truthfully, an inarticulate liar who lies falsely, or an inarticulate liar who lies & tells the truth simultaneously?

Citing a "commandment against bearing false witness", Larry_H then accuses me of slander -- a violation of absolute morality -- even though he has previously denied the existence of absolute morality, which makes his accusation invalid & leave us with the very same paradox offered up by PSB.

'Everyone is Liar' is the take-away message here: An anecdote is a single occurrence; a single occurrence is a fact; and collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes is a truth of the scientific variety.

A Scientific Fact EQUALS a collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes: Remember this when David screeches 'anecdote anecdote' over & over.


Best
_____
'Mote in God's Eye' is an interesting reference. Perhaps PSB is not human after all. Could he be two Tinkers in a space suit with a severed human head? A chemically neutered male elder? A female motie in a reproductive frenzy? Or, that one human female on the expedition (Smurphette, I think her name was) who just overflowed with human nurturing, godliness & honesty?

Paul SB said...

psikeyhackr,

"Aliens are supposed to be alien in SF books."
- One of my biggest complaints, and Star Trek is especially guilty of making all the aliens look like humans with funny ridges on their heads (they put a sacrum on the Klingon's heads, which makes me wonder) and their behavior is rarely any different from our stereotypes about the "national character" of various human nations. Coming up with truly alien aliens is not easy.

Overpopulation has been a huge killer of civilizations for millennia. Our host is optimistic that we can not only sustain our exponential growth but gain huge positive-sum benefits from having so many minds free to invent and innovate. It makes sense if those minds really are free, but most people struggle to survive and have little time to get creative with the Universe. I hope he's right.

I'm sure you must have noticed how the timeline of human history paralleled the Moties' cyclic history. I'm sure some people would have thought that was subtle or missed it entirely, but it makes the thrust of the book easy to interpret. 7 billion and counting...

Paul SB said...

He's on a roll, distorting without pause.

"Either he argues that men & woman are equal or he argues that men & woman are NOT equal,"
- Here he does not seem to quite get what the word /equality/ means. Legal equality is not the same thing as claiming that people are different.

" (1) human females rarely lie except in "a tiny number of cases"
- Never said that, but if you cut and paste some of what I wrote out of context it can be made to look like it. There was a Babylon 5 episode where reporters from Earth come to interview station personnel, but what they actual broadcast was so heavily edited it made it look like the situation on the station was very different from the reality.

"(2) such moral failings "apply more commonly to one sex than the other"
- But equivocation is not one for which there is any evidence of dimorphism. Once again, he is taking words and mismatching context, as I wrote those words with the example of testosterone-driven behaviors, which generally relate to competitiveness, not to differential honesty. And as usual he never addresses any of the criticisms of his distortions, he just comes back with more.

"Citing a "commandment against bearing false witness", Larry_H then accuses me of slander -- a violation of absolute morality -- even though he has previously denied the existence of absolute morality..."
- Really? When did slander become the exclusive property of absolute morality? This guy needs to learn a little bit about the origins of legal traditions around the world. And he still assumes that absolute morality can only mean his morality, backed by his personal interpretation of the holy book he was weaned on. Larry's arguments about different religions' claims to different "absolute moralities" based on different books (to say nothing of the many different interpretations of the same book) are completely ignored, as if he thinks no one else will remember.

"'Everyone is Liar' is the take-away message here"
- If that were really the case, then no one would have any reason to take a word he says seriously. But then, he has given us so many other reasons, that one is hardly needed.

"A Scientific Fact EQUALS a collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes: Remember this when David screeches 'anecdote anecdote' over & over."
- Ernst Myer is somewhere in the after life saying, "See, I told you so." as we speak. The contrast between reliance on anecdotal evidence and statistically significance is just not that hard to parse. No one is exactly the same as anyone else, so there are a whole lot of things out there that may be true for some but not for others. Black may be the most common human hair color, but that does not mean that brown, blond or red don't exist. Depending on anecdotal evidence would saying that i have black hair, my mom and dad both have black hair, all my siblings have black hair, therefore black is the only human hair color. Anyone with any wits about them will know that a certain percentage of people have black hair, a different percentage have brown, etc. The claim that only black hair exists is argument from anecdote. While technically it is correct that any fact is an anecdote, in practice arguing from fact means looking at all of them, not just the ones you like. Remember that when you read anything Locum pontificates on.

cara mengobati ambeien said...

obat penyakit wasir
obat ambeyen
obat wasir
obat ambeien
pantangan hemorroid

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I have thought for a long time that it would be interesting if someone wrote a spoof like this but included in it a running commentary on what the cutting edge science really says."

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but that combination sounds a bit like a comedian doing a standup and stopping every few minutes to explain to the audience why the joke is funny. There's a reason didactic humour isn't a thing.

"Mote" is a masterpiece, but the Moties were definitely not homogeneous. Not individualistic (at least not compared to us) but between their castes and their factions, in a constant state of war to the death.

One of the things I really liked about the Uplift series was that the aliens, for the most part, were convincingly alien. Yes, a lot of the behaviour has equivalents in our animal kingdom, but they were definitely not-human.

David Brin said...

"A Scientific Fact EQUALS a collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes..."

No it does not, numb-nut. It is about the predictive ability to know what WILL happen if circumstances are comprehensibly ordered. And what will very probably happen, even in the face of complexity.

Just because you blink in utter incomprehension does not mean something you do not remotely understand exists. The most astonishing thing about you is that you prove over and over to be color blind in countless matters of basic comprehension, yet howl "That's blue!" at things that are red or yellow, in order to pretend you have a clue what these "color" folks are yattering about.

Dig it. Some color blind folks manage and live rich lives and even understand color!. By first admitting they hanve an onstacle to overcome.

You have richly benefited from a positive sum civilization that gave you everything. It's not the incomprehension that's dishonorable. It is being a sniveling ingrate.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@Dr Brin

Senpai noticed me!! :-)

@Paul SB

Okay, the 30% figure for feminist women came from the Huffington Post. My bad! Wikipedia has 20% of American women identifying as feminists, from Ipsos. ( I suspect the problem with Thatcher was that she was born in the 90th percentile of intelligence and determination and could not imagine how life would look without these massive advantages.)

Unfortunately, Locum is right that the belief that false rape accusations are rarer than being hit by a meteorite does require believing that female human beings are superior to male ones. Now, it does seem to be a human universal that more males commit VIOLENT crimes than females (though most men don't commit crime at all), but I don't know of a sex difference in non-violent malice and dishonesty. Evidence? Where are you getting 25% of women having to be hospitalized for mental illness??

@locumranch

"This is Pinker's argument in a nutsack -- this belief that 'V for Venus' is good but 'P for Penis' is EVIL (says Zardoz) -- even though males & females have been proven to be equally deceitful, equally violent & equally human in any number of sociological studies."

Yikes! Where does Pinker say this? You do mean Steven?

Tim Wolter said...

Catching up before the pending ONWARD

Paul SB. You seem to have included me in "Steve and Tim" at the tail end of the epigenetics question. Thanks. If you want a experiment with sufficient numbers and time frame just look to North Korea. And a nasty little petri dish that is...

On anecdotes.

One cudgel swung pretty vigorously in these parts is to say that an isolated incident is a mere anecdote, as if that nullifies any meaning that can be derived from it. You need to think about Roman mosaic floors.

Each little bit of colored stone is a tessera. You can pick one up randomly - I have - and know absolutely nothing. So how many tesserae make a picture? Find a moderate number in one site you can say some things about the affluence of the villa's occupants and based on other sites probably about when the picture was made and by whom. Find a floor that is intact but with the pagan bits smashed out you can go further, commenting on the changing religious times. Find one that has been allowed to go to rot and ruin, fire pits and latrines cut through it, you can see the fall of a civilization (oh, ok, actually the transformation, Gibbon was a bit of a show boat). Find one intact and you can walk into the world of the Roman and almost experience it.

It is hard work picking through the dross of the information age, making sure you are not lead entirely by selection bias or by hoax. But I would submit that finding a sufficient number of tesserae does allow you to make inferences. Subject to error of course.

As to the allusion to conservative voices being "hunkered down" I would personally beg to differ. Your competition for my time can be equally illogical and childish, but is much cuter than y'all and calls me Grampa. None of you hold a candle to that.

But enjoy your own families: give Thanks for your own blessings.

T.Wolter/Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

It is no longer supportable to claim that people who were born in poverty were born inferior to the wealthy, because it has been proven that growing up in an impoverished environment causes children to have all sorts of stress-related disorders, and there is even evidence that it lowers I.Q. (the easiest, though least accurate, way to measure intelligence).


Well, doesn't that mean that people who were born in poverty are born inferior to the wealthy? Not that it's their own fault or anything, but you're actually supporting the notion that "those people" are damaged goods for three generations or so.

TCB said...

Possible countermeasures against those shaped-charge drones of the type shown in the video:

Large foam helmets, kevlar helmets, large artificial afros

Tennis racquets, pool cues, epees, whips

Hanging wires and fly strips

Spray paint or adhesive to fog sensors

Anti-drone drones; drones to attack those who sent them (short range and many cameras should make this possible)

Small smart area defense lasers; guns with bird shot; water hoses and fire extinguishers

Mattresses, cushions and pillows, umbrellas with tassels

Disguise, or morphing smart disguise as seen in A Scanner Darkly

Any combination of the above

TCB said...

ALso, pocket sand. Sha-SHAAAAA

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I note that both men & women are categorically human and I offer scientific evidence that 60% of humans are inveterate liars. PSB then states that (1) human females rarely lie except in "a tiny number of cases" and (2) such moral failings "apply more commonly to one sex than the other", both of which place him squarely in the anti-Gender Equality camp.


He was talking about a very specific set of circumstances--men sexually assaulting women and the responses of each gender afterwards. Is Mr Gender Equality actually asserting that women sexually assault men at the same rate that men do women? Or that gender equality implies that the number of false accusations must maintain parity with the number of actual ones? That equally 60% of attackers and victims lie about the incidents?

If not, then you owe Paul an apology for slander.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Citing a "commandment against bearing false witness", Larry_H then accuses me of slander -- a violation of absolute morality -- even though he has previously denied the existence of absolute morality, which makes his accusation invalid & leave us with the very same paradox offered up by PSB.


You might want to stop trying to read my mind, or to understand American English writing for that matter. Let me count the ways:

When I point out that advocates for religious morality violate the tenets of that morality themselves, I don't call upon the authority of that morality to condemn them. I merely point out the hypocrisy.

Slander is a part of civil law, not God-based religious morality.

I "deny the existence of absolute morality" in the sense that I don't think the universe will punish you for violating it. Consequences for actions is a societal matter, and whether you are actually being good or evil matters mostly to your own conscience, which is clearly bothering you.


'Everyone is Liar' is the take-away message here:


You're lying when you say that.:)

But seriously (folks), by your own figures aren't you slandering 40% of people, men and women alike?


An anecdote is a single occurrence; a single occurrence is a fact; and collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes is a truth of the scientific variety.


You're conveniently leaving data out of the equation. A collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes won't enable you to fly under your own power. Reality has veto power.


A Scientific Fact EQUALS a collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes: Remember this when David screeches 'anecdote anecdote' over & over.


But that is not a single, isolated anecdote. A collection of mutually confirmatory anecdotes perhaps, but that is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Jon S. said...

I think that taking The Mote In God's Eye as allegory is an error. The population problem of the Moties springs directly from their biology - they have to reproduce every two years, or die in agony. The effect is intensified by the fact that the only FTL exit from the Mote system is straight into the photosphere of a red giant, and their psychology leaves them unable to cooperate long enough to launch STL craft (except once - and the orbital lasers used to get the ship going were still used as weapons during yet another internecine war).

Attempting to draw conclusions about human behavior based on Motie behavior presupposes that humans are incapable of cooperating unless it's in their own short-term self-interest, an idea belied by the fact that there were at least two wars of similar level in the past of humanity (the Formation Wars, when the Empire of Man first formed from the collapsing CoDominium, and the Secession Wars, when the First Empire collapsed - the Empire's capitol is on the world of Sparta, but their naval academy is on Earth specifically so Imperial Navy officers can see what happens if there's another war), yet the Second Empire is still going strong. (Although there are hints that the Second Empire is beginning a decline in the sequel, The Gripping Hand - Rod Blaine, Count of Crucis Court, is disturbed when he overhears young noblemen on Sparta speaking in terms of their noble privileges, rather than their duties to the Empire and to their people.)

And I think some of you might be understanding why I stopped paying any kind of serious attention to Loco some time back. He's not discussing - he's arguing. He's not trying to find the truth, he's assuming what he already knows is The Truth and he wants to simply win arguments. Even if said "win" has to fall back on an army of strawmen and assertions. I've got better things to do with my life.

LarryHart said...

psikeyhackr:

Aliens are supposed to be alien in SF books.


Paul SB:
One of my biggest complaints, and Star Trek is especially guilty of making all the aliens look like humans with funny ridges on their heads (they put a sacrum on the Klingon's heads, which makes me wonder) and their behavior is rarely any different from our stereotypes about the "national character" of various human nations. Coming up with truly alien aliens is not easy.


I beg to differ on both fronts.

Aliens in fiction are not primarily meant to depict true aliens, but to allow us to exaggerate and view human traits as outsiders would see us. That was part of the realization that struck me watching the "Darmok" episode--that the aliens who communicated in a completely alien manner must be making a point about us.

Alien stories about the truly alien--"The Andromeda Strain", for example--have to be more about the aliens' effect on us than about the aliens themselves. A story about an unrecognizable alien or alien culture would have to be handled carefully by a true master in order not to be completely uninteresting to most readers.

And the template for "Star Trek" was set by the need to use human actors and a limited budget. I don't fault the show for that.

LarryHart said...

onlyaboutthenail:

Unfortunately, Locum is right that the belief that false rape accusations are rarer than being hit by a meteorite does require believing that female human beings are superior to male ones.


I don't see that. At least until very recently (like a month ago or so), a woman accusing a man of sexual assault had a good chance of causing more harm to the purported victim than to the accused. The sense behind believing the accusation is that the victim wouldn't take the risk of coming forward without good reason. That's not to say there aren't reasons to suspect ulterior motives in some individual cases (even the wives in "The Handmaid's Tale" don't believe an accusation without at least two accusers). My point isn't that there is no reason for a woman to lie or that it never happens. My point is that the impetus for rapists to lie and those for victims to lie are not equivalent, and even without bias, one should not expect equal results on both sides.

It's like, if someone comes out as gay without being forced to do so by circumstance, I tend to believe that he's telling the truth, whereas if someone denies being gay, he may or may not be hiding something. This doesn't require me to believe that straight people are liars and gay people are honest. It's a simple matter of evaluating the probabilities of ulterior motives.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Jon S.:

Moties are more realistically alien than most depictions of aliens, but they are still meant to provide a commentary and contrast on humanity. In this case, the contrast was human adaptabilty vs. Motie capability. Moties are better at technology, but humans are better at science. Moties are better at doing one thing well; humans are better at doing many things adequately. Moties are crippled specialists as individuals, incapable of flexible response and requiring a clan for minimal functionality; a human can never beat a Motie in their specialty but can beat them at everything else.

Moties have been so specialized for so long that the mere concept of flexibility is enough to drive most Mediators insane.

By the way, your anecdote from The Gripping Hand is from the perspective of Sir Kevin Renner -- a commoner elevated to the knighthood by merit, and thus highly suspicious of the portion of the aristocracy elevated by birth. The narrative implies that this is a meaningful check and balance in the mixed aristocratic-democratic constitutional monarchy that is the Second Empire (of Man and Motie).

Have you read the third volume in the trilogy, Outies by Jennifer Pournelle? It provides very interesting checks on the original authors' perspectives, as well as a completely different take on the Motie biology and psychology.


-----


On other subject you raise: I do not foresee a high probability of introspective reassessment on locum's part, but he is generous in presenting arguments he knows we are equally unlikely to take up. And I sincerely mean that -- the vast majority of people would long ago have stormed off in a huff, abandoning discussion rather than continuing to present a deeply differing viewpoint. It's invaluable to see the internal mechanisms of our now too-common patterns of self-deception at work, and he keeps providing such free of charge. And occasionally -- almost accidentally - he actually makes a fair point. CITOKATE still applies, even with someone with such self-referential thinking as locum's philosophical Dymaxion.

I just wish he could relax himself out of his melange of self-righteous anger and philosophical melancholy long enough to appreciate the wider realms of rhetorical, moral, and physical possibility in Creation. He has a first-rate mind, and it's trapped in a tailspin.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Larry: this is the environmental point that locum and his ilk, who are also some of my neighbors, make. Yes, men and women have equal capacity to lie and equal propensity to do so -- when all other conditions are equal. Other conditions are not equal, to wit, societal responses to accusations according to gender. Male complaints against women are universally believed. Female complaints against men, until extremely recently, elicited severe social punishment. It's a very straightforward decision matrix, and the result of it was male privilege and female disempowerment.

"He said, she said" is still equal with one-on-one accusations. Innocence is still presumed until guilt is demonstrated. And male accusations of female misconduct should still be treated equally as female accusations of male misconduct... or male/male or female/female, for that matter.

The imbalance in outcome doesn't come from any of the newly evolving standards of conduct and social adjudication. It comes from the backlog of actions that occurred under the outgoing paradigm, and from the asymmetry generated by silence. So very many victims say: "I would have come forward if I'd known I wasn't the only one."

In the ideal situation, a complete reversion to new, balanced standards should result in asymptotic approach to 50:50 equality in complaints, with a (somewhat ironically) higher percentage of false complaints as the backlog of true-but-suppressed complaints no longer skews the results. (Indeed we probably *do* have more false complaints in an absolute sense right now.)

Of course the world is not ideal; many people are fighting to retain the previous standards, and a few more really are fighting for a world of female privilege, as if two wrongs can make a right. Which is why we must agree with the principle of equal treatment and then make the case when someone fails to accurately perceive such.

Paul SB said...

Zepp,

"Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but that combination sounds a bit like a comedian doing a standup and stopping every few minutes to explain to the audience why the joke is funny. There's a reason didactic humour isn't a thing."
- LOL! I see your point, though I think you could be more pointed about it and keep it funny. Lots of comedians shred their victims by explaining how they are wrong to make the audience laugh. John Oliver does this pretty masterfully. However, science fiction often deals with complex topics that require a lot more time than a one-liner can deliver, so my suggestion could get pretty awkward fast. But I think you could point out the ridiculousness of genetic determinism and explain the basics of epigenetics quickly enough to not lose an audience.

Agreed that Dr. Brin's aliens are better than average. And my memory of The Mote is rather sketchy, I'll admit, as I haven't read the book in ages. Seventh grade was the time. The last time was during one of my undergrad summers. I'll trust that you remember the details much better than I do. Same to Jon, who has made it clear that he remembers much more.

However, I'm not sure I buy the idea that an alien race can't be used as an allegory for humanity. It's an old, old tradition in science fiction to do exactly that. The Moties were an exaggeration of human characteristics. Think about the specific characteristics of the Moties you name - they are all rigidly biological in the Moties, but very common practice in humans. The factionalism, the clockwork reproduction, even their FTL situation (one of the details I remembered) can be seen as a warning about what might happen to the humans if they don't figure out how to take their propensities out to the stars and remain trapped in the Solar System. It's all hyperbole, as far as I can tell.

TCB said...

Paul SB, on Klingons: "One of my biggest complaints, and Star Trek is especially guilty of making all the aliens look like humans with funny ridges on their heads (they put a sacrum on the Klingon's heads, which makes me wonder)"

I only saw one episode of the new Trek and I can't even. Space orcs? Don't they see what that means to poor Mr. Worf? It means his conception involved an amount of alcohol that would force both Guinan and Quark to restock the bars.

Sorry.

Paul SB said...

Catfish, you nailed that one perfectly.

Paul SB said...

Jon,

"And I think some of you might be understanding why I stopped paying any kind of serious attention to Loco some time back. He's not discussing - he's arguing. He's not trying to find the truth, he's assuming what he already knows is The Truth and he wants to simply win arguments. Even if said "win" has to fall back on an army of strawmen and assertions. I've got better things to do with my life."

- Amen brother! I've been saying exactly this - though in a lot more words, and probably a lot less effectively - for about three years now. It's a waste how we get sucked into the black hole of locum's manipulations. They aren't even particularly good solipsisms, yet even I feel the urge to take a whack at the mole sometimes.

Paul SB said...

TCB, no need to apologize. ; ]

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Paul: Agreed that our host's variety of aliens is more impressive, though none of them were as deep-dive as the portrait of the Moties. But the Upliftverse has aliens that are more complex than "let's exaggerate this one trait of humanity as a rhetorical device", which is how most sci-fi aliens are created.

Dr. Pournelle was being hyperbolic. Niven simply likes to extrapolate out to logical conclusions and play with the results. It's a subtle difference but one that informs each of their works, and also was the secret to their very long and extremely fruitful partnership.

The evolution of human reproduction was one of those issues. Pournelle reset the game in his universe, with the combination of the Alderson Drive (extremely cheap interstellar travel!), transportation (politically movitated forced emigration), and the Great Patriotic War (removal of the source of population pressure). This put humanity back in an expansion-friendly scenario. The only worlds in the Second Empire hitting their carrying capacity are those that were marginally habitable to begin with.

Niven, on the other hand, stuck to a more realistic scenario: despite reasonably convenient FTL, worlds cannot solve population issues by migration. The logistics just don't work. He also posits that over centuries, childfree-positive personality traits will be evolved away in favor of a stronger nurture-reproductive drive: a positive desire for childrearing replacing the now satiable drive for sex, as the choice for large families is selected for. (Color me skeptical: sex drive is much older and more deeply integrated.)

Nonetheless, Niven's humans cobble together a combination of free will, technology, legal group-enforcement, controlled intra-species conflict (the Birthright Games), and random chance (the Birthright Lotteries) to produce a workable sentience-driven population control system for Earth. Other human planets do other things as local conditions permit. Kzinti prefer the intra-species conflict method, using duels to self-select and control population. Puppeteers use legal group-enforcement and a social-intellectual-physical competition system (the Mating Dance system). I don't think we deeply go into any other species' systems, but they all have one. The point is that Niven's species all solve the problem more optimally than the Moties of the Mote System do. They are a hyperbolically catastrophic solution to the population problem.

(Which doesn't surprise; in 1974 the idea of avoiding Malthusian problems by group social effort was considered utopian and unrealistic. In 2017 it is observed reality.)

Paul SB said...

Catfish,

Going back to the post before the one on male privilege, I would agree about CITOKATE and the need to prevent echo chambers, except that he so rarely says anything that is not convention obfuscation, so we very rarely get anything out of it. Usually when he does it is simply part of a bait-and-switch, where he will admit to some truth then try to twist it around to appear to mean the opposite. I am not sure this indicates a first-rate mind so much as attentiveness to his training in solipsism. He would do well in nay Plains State tent revival.

But the tailspin is exactly right. He's caught in that addiction to self-righteousness feedback loop Dr. Brin illustrates in "Existence" so well (though I suspect that the addiction ploy might not work by the time our youth have become middle aged - the current crop seem quite forgiving of addiction). That could happen to any one of us. It isn't just right-wingers who experience god-like certainty of their immaculate perceptions, but as our host has pointed out so many times, the problem is rare in the left but the norm on the right.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

In the ideal situation, a complete reversion to new, balanced standards should result in asymptotic approach to 50:50 equality in complaints, with a (somewhat ironically) higher percentage of false complaints as the backlog of true-but-suppressed complaints no longer skews the results.


I mostly agree with your sentiment and quibble over details here, but I still don't see that equal treatment means expectation that true complaints and false complaints will be 50/50. Unless you are willing to argue convincingly that as many people lie to Aunt Tilly to tell her that they don't like her hat (when they really do like it) as lie in the other direction.

Paul SB said...

Onlyabouthtenail,

"Unfortunately, Locum is right that the belief that false rape accusations are rarer than being hit by a meteorite does require believing that female human beings are superior to male ones."
- I think Larry's differential reward/punishment explanation gets this one pretty well. I would only add that under such a regime even many women come to accept the denigrating implications of such practices, learning to shrug off even the most egregious behavior as "boys will be boys" and even blaming themselves for the actions of their attackers, a phenomenon that is not psychologically healthy.


"Now, it does seem to be a human universal that more males commit VIOLENT crimes than females (though most men don't commit crime at all), but I don't know of a sex difference in non-violent malice and dishonesty. Evidence?"
- Thank you for the parenthetical aside! It gets to exactly what I meant about Ernst Myer's ghost. Typological thinking is a way of simplifying reality to the point of uselessness with simple equalities that lead to faulty syllogisms, to whit: male = more testosterone = more violent: therefore all men are violent by nature, so violence must be a good thing. Testosterone doesn't make men (or women) violent, it reinforces behaviors that individuals succeed at. Robert Sapolsky once joked that if you pump a bunch of monks up with testosterone, they would become extremely competitive over who can commit the most random acts of kindness. And I, too, know of no mechanism that would make one sex more or less inclined to malice and dishonesty. Even the higher average oxytocin levels wouldn't do that, as high sensitivity to oxytocin leads to malice and dishonesty (jealousy, generally, and tribalism) under any circumstances that appear to threaten an individual's access to sources of oxytocin stimulation. Oxytocin gets a lot of press for its positives, but its negatives are rarely discussed.

"Where are you getting 25% of women having to be hospitalized for mental illness??"
- The World Health Organization. I have seen these figures quoted in quite a few books over the years. The two I mentioned earlier are among the most recent of them, but I could name several more if you like. Probably an internet search for WHO statistics on mental health would get you the answer quicker, but then, every one of those books are things I would recommend people who want to understand their own species to read anyway. I also have some personal/family experience with mental health issues and have spoken with many professionals on these matters.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

"Well, doesn't that mean that people who were born in poverty are born inferior to the wealthy? Not that it's their own fault or anything, but you're actually supporting the notion that "those people" are damaged goods for three generations or so."
- No, you are misunderstanding the nature of epigenetics, fixating on the "genetic" part of that word. Most people think that DNA only determines traits upon fertilization, and once you have a trait you will have that trait forever. That's not how it really works. Your DNA is constantly working, slowly remodeling your body as old cells die and are replaced by new cells.

Epigenetic markers are like switches that allow the amount of any given protein to be varied. To use the example I am most familiar with, a baby born into a wealthy family who is given everything he wants, never has to worry about where his next meal is coming from, has parents who are not abusive or neglectful, in short has it made, has very little need for stress hormones like cortisol. He may have the DNA sequence that codes for it, but since there is so little stress in his life, the genetic "switch" to tell cells in the adrenal glands to start pumping it out are rarely in the on position. That kid seems calm, relaxed and has little to distract him from learning and pursuing goals.

Now take a kid who is born to poor parents raised in a violent ghetto. This kid is ion constant fear for his life, constantly worried where his next meal comes from, whether or not his parents will be laid off and they will be thrown out on the streets. Every day he goes to school he has to be wary of hooligans who might jump him and beat him up just because they feel like beating someone up, he has to dodge dangerous drug addicts and people who have mental illnesses who wander the streets untreated and unpredictable. This is a person whose body will set the cortisol switch on so often it might as well be stuck in the on position. This is a person who is so jittery, so distracted by every day dangers that he has very little chance of ever being able to learn and pursue goals on a level playing field with boy #1.

The point is, it isn't a difference in the genes, it his how different environments change the action of those genes. If you took boy #2 and raised him in the same conditions as boy #1, they would most likely both end up on the golf course discussing home many workers they have to lay off so they can keep up their Classic Car of the Month subscription. It's the environment that makes the person far more than the sum of protein-coding genes themselves. Compared to most of the rest of the animal kingdom, humans are remarkably homogeneous at the genetic level. The differences we observe in "ability" between individuals has more to do with their upbringing than their "nature." These are facts that show the folly in the meritocracy version of the Just World Fallacy that underpins conservative thought.

Paul SB said...

Larry (again),

"If not, then you owe Paul an apology for slander."
- You know how likely that is. Maybe if I said that an apology from him would give me a heart attack, he might.

Have you heard the song "You're a Germ" by Wolf Alice? At least some of those lyrics apply here.

Paul SB said...

Tim, who used to called Tacitus,

Yes, North Korea is a nasty little petri dish, though I doubt we know even the half of it, and won't until North Korea has its own post-Ceausescu moment.

Anecdotes:

All my science teachers insisted that anecdotes are insufficient to qualify as evidence in and of themselves. Rather, anecdotes are sources for hypotheses to be tested. people who are trained in the sciences tend to dismiss anecdotes because they are so commonly used by lazy-minded people as a substitute for gathering solid, statistically useful evidence. An anecdote might turn out to truly represent a real pattern, so simply dismissing them outright is bad practice and bad science. Relying on anecdotes that confirm one's own biases as a substitute for doing the real work of discovery is what scientists object to. But being human and not perfect angels, scientists can swing on the pendulum too far sometimes, too.

I did really enjoy your mosaic analogy. I often make the same point more quickly by asking, how many pixels does it take to be able to tell what it's a picture of?

And as I have said more than once, your experience of conservative people is at odds with mine, with Larry's, with Dr. Brin's and probably a lot of others. If you live among a population of reasonably rational, non-tautological self-identifying conservatives, you are very, very fortunate - certainly more fortunate than I have been. I have had irrational, tautological self-identifying conservatives try to beat me up, get me fired, get me thrown out of school, drive me out of more than one church, and even threaten to kill me, simply for having a difference of opinion. Never got that from liberals, although I disagree with them often enough to piss them off, too.

If my contributions to this blog are sometimes illogical I am happy to discuss the logic and assumptions that underpin it, when I have the time. If my contributions are childish I will apologize, but I would need concrete examples or i might not recognize them - or they might, on further discussion, turn out to merely be misperceptions on either or both our parts. (And I'm not so much younger than you that I can really call you Gramps.) : /

onlyaboutthenail said...

What Catfish N. Cod said.

@Paul SB

Yes, I hate that kind of typological thinking, especially when stakes are high. Does America have the psychiatric hospital capacity to take 12% of the population, even briefly? Britain certainly doesn't. I've seen 25% quoted for symptoms of mental illness rather than incapacity.

Paul SB said...

onlyaboutthenail,

Pat on the back from Myers' ghost. No, not even close to enough, and most of it is of such poor quality it's a travesty. I was told about one hospital where they would refer to their patients as mannequins because they would sedate them so heavily the staff could literally pose them (and take selfies).

The 25% figure is for mental illness severe enough to require treatment, which usually means somebody was driven into one of those anxiety attacks where they start slashing their wrists or trying to jump from high places impulsively, not really in control of their own actions. This is not necessarily permanent incapacity, but a recurring condition where a person will seem reasonably normal most of the time, but once in awhile something will trigger another episode. These episodes usually require hospitalization, at least the first time it happens, because people don't know what is happening to them, sometimes thinking they are having a heart attack, can't breath, etc. After the first hospitalization they usually have to be treated for the rest of their lives. I hate to use this comparison, but it's a bit like a herpes infection, where the symptoms appear and disappear seemingly at random, but the condition is chronic and the victim lives with it for the rest of their lives. Once a person has had their first episode, they have a 50% chance of recurrence in the first year, and the chances go up through time, to a 90% chance in 15 years. One it's happened, you may not spend your life in a mental hospital, but you will probably be in and out for the rest of your life, and that plays havoc with people's careers.

The 25% figure for women goes with a 15% for men, which averages 20% for the general population. Most psychiatrists think that 50% of the general population have a depressive and/or anxiety related disorder, but most of them don't know it because they have never had an episode severe enough to land them in the hospital. Sapolsky explains it this way: when bad things happen to people, they feel down or panicked about it for a few days or weeks, but eventually get over it. As time goes by you experience more bad things - divorce, loss of a job, death of a close friend or family member, etc. For awhile your chances of developing an illness doesn't change, but there is a cumulative effect. The more traumas you experience, the more likely you will develop one of these illnesses. That's why most people don't get them until later in life, but children who are abused, grow up in war zone or surrounded by gang warfare are extremely susceptible.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@ Paul SB My God that's horrible. Mind you Britain can't boast: you'd be very lucky to get into hospital in Britain if you slashed your wrists during a panic attack. One is expected to Carry On. (Ask me how I know ;-))

David Brin said...

onlyaboutthenail... would you please back up that assertion about US mental hospital surge capacity?

1- it ssems utterly unlikely, since we dumped most of the mentally ill onto the streets and closed the care facilities. Are you includeng 'hospitals' that were abandoned, like Chernobyl and now collapsing from zero upkeep and rats and mold?

2- 98% of far-right hysteria conspiracy theories collapse when you ask: "How many skilled people would have to be in on it?"

The best example is the far-LEFT conspiracy called "loose Change" about 9/11 being faked. It would take THOUSANDS of our most highly skilled public servants, performing a pyrotechnically evil treason with split second perfection never seen in any government operation, ever, knowing that ONE whistle blower would become a national hero-star-millionaire while the rest would be hung.

There ARE conspiracies! If the numbers of participants are small and the method (blackmail) is strong... then you can get the Trump White House and its master... in the Kremlin.

David S said...

Paul SB,

I'm confused about about two impressions I've received from your recent posts on epigenetics. On one hand you've stated that some epigenetics switches that are switched in the womb or in early childhood may stick and may be passed on to the next couple of generations (in lower severity). On the other hand, you state that you could take boy #2 and raise him in boy #1's environment and he would thrive (just like boy #1 would). These feel contradictory.

I thought the point of the heritability of epigenetic traits is that if boy #2 parents came from the bad enviroment, some epigenetic switches would be inheritied in the on position and would affect the child even if he was moved into a different environment. Is my understanding wrong?

locumranch said...


As Larry_H suggests, the purpose of Alienist Science Fiction -- commonly referred to as Aliens in Science Fiction -- is to make socially-unacceptable, critical & satiric commentary about human propensities in an inoffensive, inactionable & non-slanderous manner:

To do what I do (be offencive & provocative) while escaping the adverse consequences of being offencive & provocative.

Disagree with the current sacrosanct religious, political or social belief paradigms? Create a non-threatening foreign environment in the long, long ago & the far, far away, populate it with distorted but recognisable caricatures of oligarchs, priests & cheerleaders, and show how incredibly stupid & illogical our current belief systems are while escaping the immediate fate of the local heretic or denier.

"Ha ha," you say, "You thought my criticisms were about YOU?? Why, they're not. They're criticisms about a stupid race of aliens from Alpha Centuri who may sound, think, act & believe exactly like you, but ARE nothing like you. Note the the silly clothes & the duck feet".

That said, actually being obedient, cooperative & inoffencive offers no individual protection against adverse social consequences. Like PSB. A grown man who surrounds himself with small children. A creeper in common parlance. Timid. Regurgitating the thoughts of others. Expressing no definable position. Terrified of offending others. Milquetoast. Yet, the prevailing social order will still take offence, declare him 'unmutual' & come for him, just like Charlie Rose.

That our society believes vague allegations made by women, based on hearsay, 30 years after the fact, without a scrap of material evidence, using it to destroy prominent men & prove them guilty until proven innocent, should strike terror into the heart of every constitutionalist everywhere. Yet, we believe these women's allegations because women (in general) are thought to be too angelic, too removed from sin & too inhumanly perfect to LIE about a thing like that.

Just like those carnivorous three-titted soul-eating manhaters from Tau Ceti!!!


Best

onlyaboutthenail said...

"carnivorous three-titted soul-eating manhaters from Tau Ceti!!!" WHERE??!!

Zepp Jamieson said...

"carnivorous three-titted soul-eating manhaters from Tau Ceti!!!" WHERE??!!

Tau Ceti, of course.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Terrified of offending others.

Ha! That doesn't strike me as our PSB. Just because he doesn't go to your lengths to do it doesn't mean much. You seem to enjoy doing it. He obviously doesn't, but he doesn't sound terrified. 8)

Yet, we believe these women's allegations because women (in general) are thought to be too angelic, too removed from sin & too inhumanly perfect to LIE about a thing like that.

Nah. I just look in their eyes and recognize the trauma my sister experienced. Homo Angelicus they are not, but most of them aren't good liars either.

Yesterday, I was watching the lady who accused Moore. Yah. I believe her. The expressions on her face were all too familiar.

The danger isn't that we will believe too many of them or that we will believe the liars among them. The danger is that their fathers and brothers will be incensed and choose to act.

Paul SB said...

David S.,

No, your understanding is right, and I can see the confusion. If I had specified that the parents of boy #2 were not, themselves, traumatized to the point of having their stress hormone switches stuck in the on position, and boy #2 was raised under the same conditions as boy #1 from conception (not just from birth), then boy #2 would reach adulthood with the same approximate potentials as boy #1. You were assuming a hunger winter scenario, which I described earlier, and would be a reasonable assumption given that a majority of people born into poverty are in families that have been in poverty for multiple generations. My bad.

The point I was making is that what most people think about how genetics works is essentially a gross exaggeration in terms of how much it actually determines. Your classic protein-coding gene for the key amino-based neurotransmitters of our brains are almost all the same from person to person. There are some genetic variations in the receptors, but most of what makes people different from each other is not the genes themselves but when, for how long and how often those genes are expressed. If something causes your neurons to crank out lots of serotonin in those early formative years, you tend to be stodgy and conservative, while if your epigenome is not triggered to produce a lot of serotonin in the early years you become prone to depressive disorders. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very informative example, as it is very clearly affected by environment. The number of people who have SAD varies with latitude. Closer to the equator, babies are exposed to more sunlight, which sets their epigenome to make plenty of serotonin. The further from the Equator you get, the more cases of SAD you see, because at higher latitudes there is less sunlight, so the epigenome is triggered less often, leaving people more likely to become chronically depleted of serotonin. It's not that they have an "inferior" serotonin gene, or no gene at all for serotonin. The claim that the powerful have made all through history to being naturally superior to everyone else because of their pedigree has been scientifically debunked. Most people don't know it yet, though.

Paul SB said...

onlyaboutthenail,

I appreciate the invitation, but I think I will pass on asking how you know. That would probably just compel me to reciprocate, and I'm sure I probably talk about myself here too much as it is.

Don't talk about yourself; it will be done when you leave.
- Wilson Mizner

The bit about being expected to Carry On (as the t-shirts say) is just the old-fashioned "man up" BS that is probably the greatest impediment to stopping this mess - and I'm sure it's just as common here as on your side of the pond. Since I've never been in a British hospital I'll have to take your word on that, but I have been in American ERs where you sit in the waiting room for so long you have to call out for two meals. It's usually dinner and breakfast, because most regular doctors close their doors around 5:00 pm, leaving people whose issues arise between the evening and early morning in the lurch with the ER as their only option. Ironically, more health problems arise in the evening to early morning because of how human metabolism slows down during the normal sleep period. We're starting to get more urgent care facilities to take up the dark-hours slack, but like all things market based its a slow process that often does correct itself, but only after there's an avoidable body count.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Now take a kid who is born to poor parents raised in a violent ghetto.
...
This is a person who is so jittery, so distracted by every day dangers that he has very little chance of ever being able to learn and pursue goals on a level playing field with boy #1.

The point is, it isn't a difference in the genes, it his how different environments change the action of those genes.


Ok, maybe "born inferior" wasn't quite the correct description, but it seems a distinction without a difference. I agree with you that the poor child's future path isn't determined by genetics, but that's hardly the point. Isn't he in some sense an inferior being by virtue of the circumstances he grows up in and the (justified) fearfulness passed on by his parents?

I get that it's not fair to blame the kid, but hasn't society built in him a kind of inferior being?


If you took boy #2 and raised him in the same conditions as boy #1, they would most likely both end up on the golf course


I agree with that, but (all exceptions duly noted) that hardly ever happens. The poor child does end up "damaged goods", and predictably so, whether or not genetics have anything to do with it.

Now more on your side of things, I once argued here many years back--when it was a popular thing for wealthy celebrity couples to adopt and raise children from the poorest areas of the world--that perhaps we were watching a real life experiment unfold. For most of history, the inheritors of genes from the rich and powerful were also the inheritors of that wealth and power. So a sort of Darwinian case could be made that those particular genotypes rose to the top by the laws of nature, and "deserved" their status. Now, maybe for the first time, some of the poorest genes in the genetic lottery are being raised with all the wealth and privileges of an ancient prince. What happens next might be instructive.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Thanks for the back-up. You're right that I don't have that juvenile impulse to hurl insults at people for the joy of making them angry. I do hurl insults at offensive people, though. I don't have a problem with that, though years of teaching in high school taught me that there are battles not worth fighting, and trying to force 100% conformity to the rules usually results in more rather than less bad behavior.

Locum is assuming that everyone who is not a country good old boy subscribes to the Victorian value that placed women on a pedestal as being too pure of heart to soil themselves with dirty things like business or government. There are people out there who are still this naive, but not many. Sorry, wrong century. The reason these women are being believed by so many people has to do with the fact that we have had equal rights for long enough that most people just reflexively treat both sexes like they are human beings. It has been easy for powerful men to assault women (or less powerful men and boys) and intimidate their victims to the point of terrified silence. The change is happening now largely because a majority of the public no longer assumes that women are their intellectual inferiors and prone to imagining things that never happened (ever read "A Passage to India?").

A complicating factor is the fact that it is much harder for a woman to rape a man, and not just because of the muscle mass difference. Try squeezing a marshmallow into a light socket. This fact might give women an appearance of being less aggressive and less interested in sex, but it is purely mechanical, not psychological. I'm not even sure if it would work if a woman put a gun to a guy's head, as the fear would likely interfere with his *ahem* ability to perform.

No, H. angelicas doesn't apply to any human anywhere. Loco is just strawmannirg as usual here, putting words in other people's mouths. And the danger that some women will fake allegations against men is real, but far, far smaller than the reality of men who assault women, younger men and children and intimidate them into silence, while mainstream society rolls their collective eyes any time a victim comes out and makes an accusation. A woman faking this would have to be pretty stupid, knowing that the claim would be investigated, but there are as many stupid women as there are stupid men.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I see the point you are making - that children raised under harsh conditions become "damaged goods" so in a sense you can say that they are inferior, though not at fault for that inferiority. This assumes that it is not possible to rehabilitate them in adulthood, a possibility that is most likely to be like so many other things where there will be some successes and some failures and a range of variation in between, rather than just a categorical "yes" or "no."

The more important point about society is that our social systems have created this mess. 6000 years ago we were clueless, 100 years ago we had a few of the clues, now we have a boatload of data and it's growing exponentially. Now we know, what do we do? Most people would consider it deeply immoral to damage innocent people this way, which would make easing financial inequality a true crusade. But those who are at the top of the hierarchy can be expected to resist any such change, as they always have, and will do so as much by spreading disinformation (thus the war on science) as by using raw power.

To echo old Charlie D:

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.
- Charles Darwin

Alfred Differ said...

@onlyaboutthenail | My mother pulled her parents out of London when her mother had to deal with their hospital's interpretation of what is expected of old ladies. Because of that, I wont' ask either. Both my grandparents lived longer in the US I suspect.

On a strictly anecdotal level, I'd say the 25% number for women is about right. It makes life difficult for many people and not just the ones hospitalized. It's not the end of their opportunities for all of them, though. I know of one case where one woman suffering the seasonal depression thing finally succeeded in committing suicide after at least one attempt and then a bit of time going by leading the family to not be so watchful. The family was broken afterward, of course. Her husband was my grad advisor and he never really got over it. He found a way to be successful after a fashion, but became quite the alcoholic. The daughter, though, managed to move on and win a Nobel.


After a few years go by with us all being a bit more honest about how men relate to women here in the US, the next big social trauma is going to be how we relate to our mentally ill loved ones. I suspect that will be much harder to face than all the sexual assault charges.

matthew said...

As a side note in this conversation about reporting sexual assault - take a look at how often Fox News reports on women (usually teachers) assaulting younger men. I've seen at least one article a day on the subject on the Fox website for many months.

Does this represent a push-back against the narrative that old sex crimes are coming to light? A preemptive "both sexes do it" from the home of some of the very worst offenders? Or does it represent a constant stream of "man bites dog" stories? Juvenile masculine fantasy material?

Oh, and locum doth protest too much about women offering false testimony against their assailants. Couple this behavior with his statements regarding the correct age to breed with a woman (child) and I suspect the is angry about getting busted in some foul act and likes to spout bullshit to try and make his shriveled soul feel a tiny bit better about his crimes.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Heh. Marshmallows and light sockets. Well... There are a couple of ways they could it it, but it would require preparation. Certain drugs can be ingested or applied with a hypodermic needle. Also, fear isn't a sure thing to interfere. Serious contemplation of one's impending death sometimes helps.

Not that I'm suggesting any of this. Ugh. Some fetishes just gross me out. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | His statements about the correct age to breed with a woman were technically correct and placed in the correct context of minimizing for birth defects. I wouldn't suggest trying to poke him on that.

The fact that there are cultural constraints against doing the biologically optimum thing is a different matter.

locumranch said...


Like Tesla, PSB makes the logical error of confusing that which is attempted (and/or intended) with material success. Being human, men & women attempt (and/or intend) sin at equal rates, women are just much less successful in terms of Violence, Sexual Assault & Suicide but much more successful at Manipulation, Dissimulation & Perpetuating Falsehood than men can ever be.

Statistically speaking, men & women are equally violent --- there are a number of 1970 era studies that confirm this --yet the success rate of an assault by a 50 kg female pales in comparison to that of 100 kg male. The same holds true for sex crimes. And, women (who attempt suicide at 5x/rate of the male) represent less than 1/5th of the total number of successful suicides (which are 4/5ths male).

Similarly, females excel at Manipulation, Dissimulation & Perpetuating Falsehoods as their neotenous lack of physically violent prowess makes them appear more angelic, childlike, innocent & deserving of protection, like the cute little imp who raids the cookie jar & claims innocence while dribbling crumbs.

Old school moralists like David absolutely HATE cheating, lying & dissimulation, rating it as one of the most heinous of sins, the irony being that their successful inroads against the physical sins have allowed the dissimulative variety to flourish without restriction, so much so that they have inadvertently made Manipulation, Dissimulation & Perpetuating Falsehoods their new ruling humour, god & favoured form of government.

My ex-wife struck me multiple times toward the end -- I out-weighed her by 30 kg -- I never lifted a finger against her, yet she still accused me of every crime under the sun. In family court, under oath, falsely, for secondary gain. Without consequence. How angelic.


Best

onlyaboutthenail said...

@Dr Brin Not an assertion, honestly asking. We in Britain don't have psychiatric provision on that scale, if America does I'm impressed. We gutted ours about 30 years ago in a policy called Care in the Community and the community, especially the churches, have indeed rallied round. But it's a strain.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@Dr Brin Yes I remember seeing an interview of the two guys who made Loose Change and the interviewer asked them if they were not afraid of assassination by the Vast Conspiracy they had uncovered. They were not expecting the question.;-)

Paul SB said...

Well, we got some personal details out of him. Most divorcees get over it in a year or two, but there are those who spend the rest of their lives hating the opposite sex, taking their frustration with one individual out on half the species. Something similar happened to my little brother, and I'm sure if it happened to me, I would be angry too - but only at my ex. i wouldn't assume that women are evil temptresses sent by Satan to destroy the hearts of good men. Anecdotes, once again. Even if I have a similar anecdote to draw upon, a database full of statistics gets you more truth than a handful of anecdotes.

And if I remember correctly, the last time he brought this up, Larry made the point that it is typically Red State courts that assume that as the weaker sex, women need extra protection and favor in divorce court and matters of child custody (though standing behind men in all other matters). Blue state courts tend to recognize that equality under the law means they cannot favor one sex over the other but must draw conclusions based on evidence. It doesn't always play out as intended in practice, of course, but he would have been more likely to get fair treatment in an urban, blue environment than in a place where ancient stereotypes rule the communities from which the ranks of judges are drawn.

CP said...

I agree that only a small fraction of sexual assault/abuse cases involve conscious lying by the accuser. As others have stated, the downside of making an accusation has usually been much higher than the benefits of lying.

However, saying that the vast majority are telling the truth, as they recall it, doesn't necessarily mean that their recollections are objectively true. By now, there's an extensive literature dealing with the fallibility and malleability of human memory. For instance:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183265/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/911-memory-accuracy/

Those aren't necessarily the best or most comprehensive sources, just a couple I happened to have on hand since they were mentioned in Skeptophilia (which I, coincidentally, happened to also be reading this morning).

People's memories are influenced by the expectations and prior experiences they bring to an incident. So, what one recalls as a casual interaction with no malicious intent, initiated in the moment and quickly forgotten, might be recalled as a life-changing offense by the other.

Memories are also altered during the process of creating a consistent internal narrative, in response to the suggestions from/expectations of others after the event, in response to the form and context of the questions asked...

So, some undetermined percentage of everyone's memory, everyone's internal narrative, is probably inaccurate. And, false memories "feel" just like real ones. So, there's no way to determine which is which without reference to empirical evidence.

I know what stumbling on a false memory is like in a trivial circumstance. Years ago I had a tooth abscess and I was absolutely convinced that it was the same one my dentist had worked on a few months before. They had to bring out my dental records and x-rays to convince me that they'd actually worked on the comparably-placed tooth on the other side of my mouth.

What is most problematic is that the media tries to shoehorn everything into the "he's lying or she's lying" narrative thereby impugning the motives of one or the other when it may well be that both are telling the truth as they see it. For example, my (admittedly subjective) impression while watching the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings was that they were both telling the truth.

I'm not trying to excuse misbehavior (certainly not in cases where external evidence exists or where there are multiple accusations with independent contemporary support). Nor, am I suggesting that there isn't a societal problem. But, it should be possible to raise a cautionary flag about the accuracy of an accuser's memory without impugning their motives--particularly regarding potentially ambiguous cases from many years in the past.

As a "check" on the issue of false memories, look at the alien abduction fad of a few years ago. In that case there were probably a handful who where consciously lying for some reason. But, the vast majority of "abductees" appeared to truly believe what they were saying with many experiencing it subjectively as a life-changing trauma. We know sexual assault/abuse occurs but there's no hard evidence that alien abductions are real. So, perhaps the type and context of recollections in the latter could serve as a "control" when examining the type and context of recollections in the former?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

My ex-wife struck me multiple times toward the end -- I out-weighed her by 30 kg -- I never lifted a finger against her, yet she still accused me of every crime under the sun. In family court, under oath, falsely, for secondary gain. Without consequence. How angelic.


Ok, I had an old boss whose fiancee did the same to him. Actually had him arrested for child abuse. The thing is, she was stupid enough to do that before they were married, which put the kibosh on the whole wedding thing.

I'd be sympathetic to your plight had you not willfully and intentionally offended and provoked enough so that I've lost any sympathy long ago. I know, I'm a terrible liberal. Sometimes we can both get what we want and still not be very happy.

LarryHart said...

CP:

We know sexual assault/abuse occurs but there's no hard evidence that alien abductions are real.


Could memories of alien abduction be some sort of euphemism for sexual assault buried by trauma?

CP said...

LarryHart said...

Could memories of alien abduction be some sort of euphemism for sexual assault buried by trauma?

____________

Yes, they could. But we don't really know. And wouldn't such cases provide yet another illustration of the malleability of human memory?

TCB said...

@LarryHart and CP, the evidence seems to indicate that 'memories buried by trauma' isn't really much of a thing. Evidence: lots and lots of Holocaust survivors who probably would have liked to forget their experiences, and if that's not bad enough to cause 'buried memories' then what is? Also, studies have shown that it is rather easy to convince people that they remember an event that never did happen.

However, if you told me that hostile aliens who breathed a hot atmosphere rich in CO2 and methane had brainwashed our leaders to exoform the planet in preparation for their arrival, why hell, I'd almost believe that.

Paul SB said...

CP,

It is comforting to meet more people who have an up-to-date understanding of these kinds of issues and can think about them critically and ask cogent questions. It suggests that the number of witless bobbleheads might be shrinking enough for us to have some hope for the future.

For anyone who wants to get the skinny in a rather memorable format I suggest watching the third episode from the first season of Brain Games, called "Remember This." They go through a staged robbery and pull in witnesses to see both how well they remember the crime they saw and how easily their memories can be manipulated. It's fun but also very scary when you think about it. I just found it on Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXQatGKlUIo

LarryHart said...

TCB:

Evidence: lots and lots of Holocaust survivors who probably would have liked to forget their experiences, and if that's not bad enough to cause 'buried memories' then what is?

I'm just speaking as an amateur here, but I'm thinking that something more is going on than just "liking to forget". Being in a concentration camp is a shared experience that goes on for months or years. "Buried memories" seem to be more about solitary experiences which are removed from one's normal experience that they almost seem like a weird dream in the first place, especially if you don't tell anyone right away. There's no "collective memory" of the incident. It disappears the way history does in 1984.

I've told here of an experience I had when I was 16 in which I swam out into an inlet of Lake Michigan to save a child in trouble and almost ended up with both of us drowning before being rescued by a magically-appearing canoe. I never told anyone I actually know in person about the fact that that happened. It wasn't anything I was ashamed of or felt bad about--it was just too removed from normal life for me to imagine a good way to bring it up with my parents. Now, this isn't a "buried memory", but it's the kind of thing I could imagine having become one.


Also, studies have shown that it is rather easy to convince people that they remember an event that never did happen.


I've heard of an experiment in which people were convinced they saw Bugs Bunny at Disney World (Bugs is a Warner Brothers character). But I've always suspected that the people in question primarily remembered seeing cartoon characters and didn't really know the differences between them. They remembered seeing Bugs Bunny because they were told afterwards that one of the characters was Bugs Bunny. I would be very surprised to find out that anyone was convinced of an implanted memory that went like this:

"I saw people dressed up as cartoon characters and one of them was Bugs Bunny. I remember being confused at the time that a Warner Brothers character was being depicted at a Disney park, but I can't deny that that's what I saw."



Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | successful inroads against the physical sins have allowed the dissimulative variety to flourish without restriction

You aren't reading him carefully, then. He has come down against the other kind too.


I suspect the two go together as forms of retaliation. Vicious circle kind of pair. Some of the most vicious women I've met were in horrible relationships/marriages. I used to wonder why 'they didn't just kill the guy', but I'm not supposed to say that out loud. Nowadays I have a partial theory on it, but it's an ugly one. Basically, their options are even worse... or seem to be which gets us back to living a life of too much stress.


I'll offer you some sympathy, but I doubt that is what brings you here. What I can't do is offer any real understanding. My wife is no angel and I prefer her that way. Relationships take work, but that is going to sound like a bunch of garbage to someone in your shoes. I've met guys who got pissed on in Family Court, so I know how this sounds to them. Some have been honest. 8)

As a little side fact, did you know that the guy who sued over the Pledge containing 'Under God' did so as a result of a Family Court event? I met him years ago. It all comes back to a court intervening in how he thought his kid should be raised. 8)

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

That "Brain Games" video explains why I hate to watch the newer, adulterated versions of "Star Wars", or listen to the Earth, Wind, and Fire version of the Beatles song "Got To Get You Into My Life". It's not just a matter of an inferior experience. I am very hesitant to overwrite and lose my memory of the "real" versions.

David Brin said...

Matthew please, you got too insultingly personal in your speculations toward locumranch. Sure, I have done it too, so it is just my personal sense. It went farther than I would go, for sure. Please.

I school myself to shrug off most of his strawmen, since the caricatures generally do not represent my views.

Still, I will say that the difference in evil between men and women does correlate with difference in effective violent mass. There are other factors, like evolution - which gives most females guaranteed opportunities to breed -- though no guarantee of safety or happiness... while males inwardly feel they must somehow win it through vigorous competition. But it is noteworthy that human men and women OVERLAP in almost every trait far more than do males and females of most species. Pick anything that males are "typically" good at, and there will be 20% of women who are much better at it than 50% of men.

And the same goes in reverse. And it is why the fundamental refutation of sexism and racism is not anything that locum can get away with calling "subjective morals." It is as simple as stopping the utter stupidity of wasting talent. ASK the top military officers! They are immensely pleased with the women in the armed forces. They are fewer than the men... but generally much better focused.

Are there women -- many of them -- who do evil, especially with weapons like gossip? Yes. Get me drunk and I will tell stories. Almost any of us can! I do believe these kinds of evil will be major issues, a decade from now, maybe two. But the more physically aggressive evils must be dealt with first. Period. End of line.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :

Not exactly a colonel, but the same general idea:

Former representative Tim Murphy had an easy time in 2016: The Democrats didn't bother to run anyone against him. So he waltzed to his eighth straight victory in PA-18, a heavily gerrymandered district in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. He could have kept piling up victory and victory had it not come out in October that he encouraged his mistress to have an abortion, despite his being on record that nobody else should have an abortion. On Oct. 21, he resigned from Congress.

Somewhat to everyone's surprise, the March 13 special election might be competitive. The Democrats have nominated a Marine Corps veteran and former assistant U.S. attorney, Conor Lamb, who is a political moderate. The Republicans nominated a right-wing state representative, Rick Saccone, who has boasted that he "was Trump before Trump was Trump."

Lamb is not going to run on an anti-Trump platform. That would be suicide in this R+11 district. He is going to talk about his background as a Marine and a prosecutor and the opioid epidemic. Like Doug Jones in Alabama, he wants this to be a local race, not a replay of the 2016 presidential election. As in Alabama, the combination of a moderate Democrat and a very right-wing Republican might just work in a conservative district. If Lamb wins, it will encourage Democrats to contest rural districts all over the country.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Are there women -- many of them -- who do evil, especially with weapons like gossip? Yes. Get me drunk and I will tell stories. Almost any of us can!


Before he became the Canadian equivalent of a Republican, Dave Sim was onto something in this area. Several books of the "Cerebus" series were devoted to his notion expressed in the slogan "Gossip cleaves", which he meant in both senses of the verb. He envisioned an entire parallel female "economy" in which trade in gossip simultaneously formed and sundered relationships.


There are other factors, like evolution - which gives most females guaranteed opportunities to breed -- though no guarantee of safety or happiness... while males inwardly feel they must somehow win it through vigorous competition.


Dave had an explanation for that as well, which is an interesting metaphor, but he insisted it was literal truth. "Men come from sperm; women come from eggs."

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

While it is true that with certain drugs it might be possible for a women to force herself on a man, given the 20% muscle mass difference, men generally have far, far more opportunity and ability. Here's a quote I found that I appreciate the sentiment of:

I value self-discipline, but creating systems that make it next to impossible to misbehave is more reliable than self-control.
- Tim Ferriss

I learned very quickly in the classroom just how true this is. While in theory everyone should be capable of doing what they are supposed to or what is the decent thing to do, in practice there are a lot of people who will violate rules of decency any chance they can get. That's why rules have to be pretty strictly enforced - and why Pinker is right about declines in violence.

As far as the biologically optimum age to reproduce, there's a trade-off going on, there. Ova accumulate more and more mutations over the lifetime, so in that respect the younger the better, decreasing the chances of birth defects. But both teenage mothers and their babies die in labor at higher rates because the body is simply not fully developed. It seems like a really bad design flaw to make people capable of reproducing before their bodies can do it safely - yet another argument for Unintelligent Design. But in the real world, where gene pools evolve over long periods of fluctuating environmental conditions, there have been times when the risk of death from an early pregnancy was less of a disadvantage than the risk of extinction due to insufficient fertility.

Our modern way of doing it - by enforcing arbitrary age taboos both legally and socially - is a kind of simplistic solution. The science is getting to the point where we will be able to rationally determine when any particular individual is mature enough to handle adult responsibilities, rather than just saying "ready or not, here 18 comes." But I doubt we will be anywhere near ready for a truly individual system of benchmarks any time soon.

BTW: What our host wrote about percentages, fairness vs. arbitrariness and the denial of opportunity is about the most mature and reasoned assessment I have ever seen on the issue. I'm not trying to brownnose, I'm just saying that this is the only attitude I have ever found (and I have found it in many other people, too) that reflects both the realities of human biology and the needs of a human civilization. We will never get it if we can't parse both the averages and the variations in and between individuals. Most people stop at the averages and ignore the variations. That is how bias is borne, terrible injustices are justified and everyone wallows in a world that is constantly biting its own limbs off (and the ones doing the biting are convinced that they are the "smart" ones).

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I'm not so sure that Matthew went too far here. He simply returned slander with slander. Given the extent to which our faux rancher slanders the character of everyone else here, I don't blame him one bit. It would be better if we could always keep our tempers and not lower ourselves to his level, but people are people. Besides, you know locum doesn't have the subtlety to learn from example.

In support of your post on prejudice, I found this quote you might like, from an author I am sure you're familiar with:

Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.
- Stephen Jay Gould

Paul451 said...

"Matthew please, you got too insultingly personal in your speculations toward locumranch. Sure, I have done it too, so it is just my personal sense. It went farther than I would go, for sure. Please."

Unlike everything Locumranch says again every person on this site, including you?

Once again, somehow it's always "okay when they do it", even when we are the judges. And Loco thinks his kind are persecuted.

Paul451 said...

I'm sure I wrote "against".

Paul SB said...

Larry,

That Dave Sims quote is obviously ignorant on a biological level. If taken as a metaphor it's really just a rephrasing of the best-selling "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" - a book that sure resonated with a whole lot of people who are inclined to take a half truth as the whole truth. But I really enjoyed that whole story arc which culminated in the appearance of Suentius Po (whose dialogue suddenly became very anachronistic during that confrontation). It was a refreshing counter to the fairy stories of jane Auel and Marijah Gimbutas and all that nonsense about ancient "matriarchies." A matriarchy would be no better than a patriarchy in any way. What the world needs is true equality. What we have now is de facto patriarchy with token equality - quite the opposite of what both Sims and Ranch imagine we have. And that's only in the more advanced nations of the world. Quite a few nations still have the more blatant form of patriarchy and de facto slavery.

But you have to get that his "trade in gossip" is an unsupported stereotype. Men engage in gossip as frequently and as maliciously as women do. Claims that gossip is somehow the exclusive domain of women is a case of projection that looks like it might be true because under patriarchal conditions women have few other ways to participate and compete in human life. It's a consequence of the structure of state-level societies, not a result of human biology. Look at the kind of childish slanders and innuendos we get from Locum, who surely thinks that he, being of the Chosen Sex, is above the petty gossip he attributes to the Lesser Sex. he stoops to the very thing he derides women for. Now look at some ethnographers of societies that exist on a smaller scale than nation-states and you find men just as engaged - and more honest about - gossip.

One of the ironies of our age is that many of the nation-states of today have embraced as ideals some of the characteristics that were largely abandoned with the rise of civilization. There was never a time when individuals were more free than when leaders did not exist, which is only true for the smallest of human societies, though those smallest societies represent by far the longest period of time in the (pre- and) history of the human species. Without castes of rulers and ruled, our prehistoric ancestors were much more free than we can even imagine, but because they lived such simple lives, their freedom didn't really grant them very many opportunities to exercise their freedom. Today we have all sorts of opportunities to choose among countless options. No hunter/gatherer could even imagine the choice between growing up to be an engineer or a psychologist or an artist. Those roles simply didn't exist as anything more than vague and temporary practices that everyone engaged in on occasion. But we are strapped with the legacy of millennia of the dictatorship that made such choices possible, ever so slowly, as technology and specialization grew in ways they could never grow when everyone was equal. In a way we are trying to balance the benefits of civilization, which is arbitrary and despotic by nature, with the drive for equality and liberty that is inherent in the human species, a far more ancient legacy of evolution.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

It seems like a really bad design flaw to make people capable of reproducing before their bodies can do it safely - yet another argument for Unintelligent Design. But in the real world, where gene pools evolve over long periods of fluctuating environmental conditions, there have been times when the risk of death from an early pregnancy was less of a disadvantage than the risk of extinction due to insufficient fertility.


Yeah, think of when our primitive ancestors lived into their 30s if they were lucky. Giving one's life to reproduce was probably better than simply dying of other causes without reproducing.

From Victorian era literature, I get the idea that even as recently as the 19th Century, pregnancy was considered to a large percentage as death sentence. The emphasis on protecting the innocence of young girls was not just to keep them from knowing about sex, but from having to face the fact that they were soon to get pregnant and die in childbirth.

Children's stories are filled with single fathers and stepmothers.


While it is true that with certain drugs it might be possible for a women to force herself on a man, given the 20% muscle mass difference, men generally have far, far more opportunity and ability.


Neither do they have the same motivation. First of all, women don't seem to want one-time-and-done illicit sex at anywhere near the same order of magnitude that men do. Women are the ones who risk ending up pregnant from the encounter. And I daresay most women who want to entice a man to have sex with her could do so much easier with a little playfulness and seduction. Maybe if someone really wanted sex with Mike Pence, she's have to use violence, but that's the exception that proves the rule.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

But you have to get that [Dave Sim's] "trade in gossip" is an unsupported stereotype. Men engage in gossip as frequently and as maliciously as women do. Claims that gossip is somehow the exclusive domain of women is a case of projection that looks like it might be true because under patriarchal conditions women have few other ways to participate and compete in human life. It's a consequence of the structure of state-level societies, not a result of human biology.


I'm afraid you swing too far to the politically-correct side here. I'll agree that there isn't necessarily a genetic reason why women engage in gossip more than men do, but you do acknowledge that social constraints cause that exact condition to be so. So the image makes a legitimate basis for speculative fiction.

Dave raises issues in "Mothers and Daughters" which I don't think can be dismissed simply by saying, "In another reality, it might not be that way."


Look at the kind of childish slanders and innuendos we get from Locum, who surely thinks that he, being of the Chosen Sex, is above the petty gossip he attributes to the Lesser Sex. he stoops to the very thing he derides women for.


Loc reminds me of Dave Sim in so many ways it is scary. The anti-feminist rhetoric, the "I'm the persecuted minority of one" routine, and even the Canadian spelling immediately jump to mind. And yes, the use of the identical tactics he derides women for is on the list as well.

I'm sure you remember Dave's "Tangent" essay in which he uses anecdotes and stories to demonstrate that women can't construct a logical argument, but instead use anecdotes and stories. For a while, I hoped that the irony was on purpose.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@LarryHart Female motives for rape: in at least one case she wanted a baby by him and he didn't want that. Plus 18 years of child support. Some women, like some men, will do terrible things for money.

locumranch said...


To invoke the mass effect & recognise that women (in general) are less capablee of successful violence is one thing, but to cite the lesser female capability at successful violence (due to lower relative mass) & conclude that women have a lower inclination towards physical violence is quite another. It's like comparing the size of an african lion to a domesticated feline & concluding that the smaller cat must be a vegetarian because it's incapable of taking down a wilderbeast.

Men & women are equally vicious and/or equally angelic. Believe that my experiences with women are outliers & somehow deserved if you wish, but I am not alone. Over 60 million divorced men in the USA share many of my most unpleasant experiences. That's almost 40% of all male adults. We understand that women (in general) are dissimulative tyrants empowerred by an archaic legal system in which women can do no wrong. We are not amused. And, we voted for Trump.

Whether or not a women CHOOSES to destroy male lives is beside the point. They all have this nuclear option in the Enlightened West like so many petty low-mass Kim Jong Uns. They know that they can destroy men utterly with whispered allegations & accusations; many of them use this power willy-nilly when they smell secondary gain; and a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Not today, not tomorrow, but soon: We will have Our Independence Day.


Best

onlyaboutthenail said...

It's less likely to be categorized as gossip when men do it, unless the men are gay.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@locumranch No one is saying you deserved it! I@m sorry that happened to you. I know it hurts.

locumranch said...


@onlyaboutthe nail:

Men would & could not compare notes in the pre-Internet Age -- society (in general) kept telling us that our 'no fault' divorce rape was our own fault for placing our faith in the 'wrong woman' -- but the information superhighway has liberated us & allowed us to grasp the true extent of gynocentric tyranny. David's website is full of intelligent & good-hearted people, yet they are like kittens with unopened eyes, believing that the world still operates in accordance with a moral code that is has been dead for some 70 years. They are like the married men described by Boccaccio, terrified of disillusionment & too frightened to ask the questions that would confirm what they already suspect. Stick around & we will try to open their eyes.

I think Todd Rundgren retold that old nursery rhyme about 'The Want of a Nail' best:

For the want of a nail, the world was lost
For the want of a nail, the world was lost

For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost
For the want of a horse, the rider was lost
For the want of a rider, the message was lost

For the want of a rider, the message was lost
For the want of a message, the battle was lost
For the want of a battle, the war was lost
For the want of a war, the kingdom was lost

(Such a tiny thing)

You're askin'
What's all this talk about horses and war?
Put yourself in the place of the man at the forge
And day after day you live a life without love
'Til the morning you can't take it anymore
And you don't get up

Multiply it a billion times
Spread it all 'round the world
Put the curse of loneliness on every boy and every girl
Until everybody's kicking, everybody's scratching
Everything seems to fail
And it was all for the want of a nail


Best

locumranch said...


TASAT: "Not with a Bang', circa 1949, by Damon Knight channeling TS Eliot's 'Hollow Men':

"This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper".

Best

LarryHart said...

onlyaboutthenail:

@LarryHart Female motives for rape: in at least one case she wanted a baby by him and he didn't want that. Plus 18 years of child support. Some women, like some men, will do terrible things for money.


I'm not denying that woman-on-man rape happens. I am saying we should not expect numeric parity with attempts in the more usual direction.

LarryHart said...

I also contend that if a family-values Republican politician such as Mike Pence were sexually assaulted by a woman who became pregnant from the encounter (and if he were willing to take the embarrassment of admitting that it happened), he would special-plead for the right to force her to have an abortion.

And Evangelical hypo-Christians would find a way to justify the demand.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Prehistoric life expectancies were more variable than what most people think - not nasty, brutish and short. In fact, for most people life expectancies went down quite dramatically after the introduction of agriculture, though there are instances of prehistoric groups with such short lives. The point is the variability, which reflects in some of the variability we see today. But you got the basic idea right.

As to Sims, I don't think his gossip hypothesis was invalid as a subject for speculative fiction. I was only saying that the idea that women are "naturally inclined" to gossip more than men are is wrong. If a matriarchy ever existed, you would see the roles reversed, and men would have the reputation as gossips because they would have few other options to express themselves and try to manipulate things to their advantage. That's what Sims missed. Locum, too. The ghost of Myer would be palming his face if he were being harassed by such as him. And along with his similarities to Canadian author/artist, there's the fact that most of his spittle is really run-of-the-mill right-wing diatribe. He just hears new arguments in whatever echo chamber he lives in, then tries them out here to see if any of them work.

But none of them are going to work as long as he takes his holier-than-thou, shut-up-and-believe-me, you're-all-a-bunch-of-stupid-worthless-cretins approach. He poisoned his own well a long, long time ago. The only thing remarkable is that while most bullies keep going back to the same victims over and again, most eventually give up if they don't get what they want. Witless, but tenacious.

"To invoke the mass effect & recognise that women (in general) are less capablee of successful violence is one thing, but to cite the lesser female capability at successful violence (due to lower relative mass) & conclude that women have a lower inclination towards physical violence is quite another. It's like comparing the size of an african lion to a domesticated feline & concluding that the smaller cat must be a vegetarian because it's incapable of taking down a wilderbeest ."

It's the same garbage every time. All he can do is misrepresent what other people say to turn them into straw men. We were discussing sexual violence specifically, not violence in general. If it is a social norm that men should not hit women, then you will of course get some Lucys bullying some Charlie Browns. But that is quite a bit less common than the other way around. Look at stats on domestic violence and it becomes pretty obvious that the old rule is honored more in the breach - numerical parity, as you say. Under those conditions women who are inclined to be violent may be on par with men, but because they know they will rarely be successful with their smaller mass, they are less inclined to try. It's not about biology, it's about the balance of incentives. A women who initiates violence against a man is more likely to get her anatomy kicked, so they learn to repress anger (which drives them mad) or vent on weaker individuals like their children or pets - just as men in subordinate positions often vent their frustrations with their bosses by beating their much weaker wives, children and pets.

Then there's the childish, vague threats:

"Not today, not tomorrow, but soon: We will have Our Independence Day."

Claims that his antiquated ideas represent our true future:

"David's website is full of intelligent & good-hearted people, yet they are like kittens with unopened eyes, believing that the world still operates in accordance with a moral code that is has been dead for some 70 years."

And the attempts to claim the mandate of the people for his own twisted views, to try to recruit every new contributor into his clique of two, the constant denigration of anyone who differs from him in any way, need I go on?

matthew said...

I'm not fighting slander with slander. I'm using loco's own words to describe his wants. He wants women disempowered. He wants women that are subservient. He wants women to not be believed. He believes that he will once again be able to order a woman to her place (see his words above starting with "We understand that women (in general) are dissimulative tyrants..."

He sees Trumpism as a way to control women and is actively working to make this happen. He's an enemy to everything I believe in.

I have two daughters. I will fight to the death before I let a sad POS like locumranch anywhere near having power over them.

I also have a shitty ex-wife. Just because the mother of my eldest child is a no-good piece of work doesn't give me license to try to enslave all women. It encourages me to raise my daughter to be a better person than her mother, without trashing her mother to her.

Having a shitty ex-wife does not excuse locum's behavior. I merely pointed out that his statements here lead me to believe he is not blameless in his situation and that quite a few of his statements are typical of an abuser.

That's not slander. That's a consequence of locum's own words - that he'll be judged by what he says. He doesn't like being considered a creeper? Fine, don't write as one. Don't go on about how girls should not be allowed to put off breeding, like locum did a year ago.

Dr. Brin wrote a story about women choosing not to be with abusive assholes. It was a major plot point in a book that is right at the foundation of what I believe in to this day. Locum is crowing about putting the women right back in the place where he wants them. These two realities are colliding right now in real time. I'll continue to take your (older) advice, Doc, and fight for the side I want to win.





onlyaboutthenail said...

@Locumranch Yes, they are intelligent and good-hearted. :-) I was a feminist until the abomination of #Shirtstorm, then I just could not do it anymore. In hindsight I'm ashamed it took #Shirtstorm to make me stand up.

LarryHart said...

onlyaboutthenail:

I was a feminist until the abomination of #Shirtstorm...


And that made you what? I mean, there's a whole spectrum between "Not taking every complaint by women at face value"and "Wanting women to be property rather than human beings again." One can take issue with Andrea Dworkin or dislike Hillary Clinton and still admit that Rachel Maddow is a damn fine journalist.

So I get that you've backed off from and disavowed knee-jerk feminism, but where have you landed after that. You don't quite sound as if you've joined the Promise-Keepers, but I don't know you well enough to be certain.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Locum, if that's what you've gone through, my deepest sympathies and even prayers go to you. The pain is horrific, based on what I have seen from others who have undergone the trials and travails of divorce.

But I still feel it my duty, as a fellow human and forumite, to let you know...

You. Are. Projecting.

You are taking your own (horrible) experience, aligning it with similar ones you have heard in support groups you have (I gather) sought out, and asserting that it describes the entirety of what Twain referred to as "The Damned Human Race".

But it makes no sense to assert that "much more successful at Manipulation, Dissimulation & Perpetuating Falsehood than men can ever be" when that is exactly what successful serial rapists/assaulters/harassers do. Not to mention what many other male-dominated questionable-morality activities consist of.... not least of which is often politics. Having manipulators using manipulation for multiple purposes is not a great surprise.

It likewise makes no sense to say that We understand that women (in general) are dissimulative tyrants empowerred (sic) by an archaic legal system in which women can do no wrong when I know several divorcees that do not hold that attitude. Are they jaded about true love's staying power? Sure. Might there need to be revisiting of laws in some jurisdictions on, say, alimony? It wouldn't surprise me.

Does that mean your blatant sexism is justified? No, sir, it does not.
Does that mean that we are blind to 'gynocentric tyranny'? No, sir, it does not.

And when it is red states that have the highest divorce rates and blue states that have the lowest; when it is more red states that have unexamined and archaic divorce laws; when divorce rates have been falling for nigh-on forty years; when first marriage has become delayed thus increasing the likelihood of success... well...

Advocate for equitable divorce law. Please! I want that! I think most everyone here does! But you (and, to be frank, most "men's rights advocates") do yourselves a disservice by your projection. Some women are monsters, yes; just as men; and in similar numbers. You know and admit this, consciously. Yet you undermine your own position in your own statements.

Injustice perpetrated by certain white people does not justify antagonism against all white people; that's racism. And injustice perpetrated by certain women does not justify misogyny; that's sexism.

I pray you find some peace and internal balance. Blessings upon you.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I was only saying that the idea that women are "naturally inclined" to gossip more than men are is wrong.


I think you're taking too narrow a view of "naturally". I consider environment as much a part of nature as genetics and biology. There are all sorts of things I might do differently if I lived in an environment with gravity like the moon's. But that hardly means that I am not "naturally inclined" to live in 1 G.

And I don't think the point of Dave Sim's books about gossip was "Look how bad women are because they do this!" (His essays of that type came years later.) It was to examine the nature of that gossip, with a large amount of fascination.

If a matriarchy ever existed, you would see the roles reversed, and men would have the reputation as gossips because they would have few other options to express themselves and try to manipulate things to their advantage.


First of all, I'm not at all sure that's the case. Judging from my own self, I think men would be more inclined to retreat to solitary man-caves than to be cliquish and gossipy.

But even if you are right about the interchangeability of the genders, are you saying anything more meaningful than "If women had penises and men carried babies to term in their wombs, then ..."? And how does that premise enlighten us any moreso than "If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon"?

Paul SB said...

Matthew,

I think what Dr. Brin was objecting to was this:

"... I suspect the is angry about getting busted in some foul act and likes to spout bullshit to try and make his shriveled soul feel a tiny bit better about his crimes."

I'm sure he, me and just about everyone else here agrees with everything you wrote about that guy. And yes, that guy is a turd through and through. His words are vile, and entirely typical of the old-school (im)morality of past generations that tolerated and ignored massive abuses, used holy books to justify them and pretended that the brutal domination of society by a handful of men is the natural order of things.

And maybe he did get caught in some foul act, but all we really know are his foul words. I long since lost track of all the names he's called me, all his slanders and misrepresentations. It's unlikely that he will ever have any real power to harm me in any way. It's doubtful that he can get me fired, convince a banker to deny me a loan, get members of my church to shun me, TP my house, kick over my garbage cans or shoot his rifle through my windows at night. He's a real piece of work, that one, and he gets far more attention from us than he deserves.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Okay, to answer this we need to look at the idea of /environment/ a little more closely, what it actually means verses how it is typically used.

"... I consider environment as much a part of nature as genetics and biology."

By definition, everything that is not part of your body is part of your environment. Your understanding is better, though, than what most people think. In most people's minds "natural" means genetic, not environmental. In truth /natural/ only means it was not made by humans, which would include the genes as well as everything else in the environment we didn't make. If we are talking about behavioral inclinations, then the relevant aspects of the environment are mostly social. People who are relegated to second-class citizenship, who have been treated like permanent minors for centuries, have few options in such a society. They can't command, they are not given powerful roles, they don't even really have any rights or privacy. The opportunities to commit foul acts just aren't there. All they can do is talk, and even that can earn them a beating. Under those circumstances they might have even more incentive to go postal, but with brutal consequences for even minor infractions, they have to learn to behave differently.

Today legal institutions and social expectations are more equal than they ever have been. This gives women more opportunities to misbehave than they ever had. Big surprise that violent crime committed by women is on the rise. People are people. But is your man-cave idea biological, or is that more a result of our current social structure? You could argue that higher T values and lower O values in males might make them more inclined to isolate themselves when they have the freedom to do as they choose. But then, if they were treated as structural inferiors the way women always have been, the smarter ones would come to realize that being isolated makes you a victim, banding together with others in like circumstances will provide you with a little bit of protection - safety in numbers. Look at bonobos. If a male gets out of hand and starts getting violent, the females tend to band together and beat the snot out of him, in spite of males having a higher muscle mass. One female in isolation is at the male's mercy, but by banding together they can put an end to the violence. Do you think human males would be smart enough to figure this out? Gang behavior is already a huge part of the human psyche.

If you swapped organs, you would have to swap hormones as well, and the men would become women and the women would become men. If you swapped social roles, you change the opportunities, so you would end up changing the behavior.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@LarryHart These days I call myself an egalitarian, all people to be treated as people. Unfortunately, the current feminist movement do not want that, though they will claim to when challenged. I don't know if feminism was always (mostly) like this or if they lost the plot more recently. I used to believe feminists were carrying on the tradition of J.S. Mill. The current feminist establishment are actually the same old oppressors having learned to wear the costume of liberators. Of course, it's human nature. Of course, we are all tempted by power. But they are doing a lot of damage to real people.

LarryHart said...

@onlyaboutthenail,

I have no idea how old you are or what your tv-watching habits ever were, but you seem to be describing the old Monty Python sketch about Dennis Moore. After enough robbing from the rich to give to the poor, the poor have become the rich, but the demands don't go away.

I'm not sure I agree that women have yet come that far, but I won't argue about such a thing being possible and maybe inevitable.

The way I see this--admittedly greatly simplified--is that liberals are in the business of defending the downtrodden and feminists are in the business of advocating for the interests of women. While women are among the downtrodden, the two groups are allies. Like all alliances, though, nothing is permanent. When women achieve socio-economic parity with men, then it makes sense that feminists continue to push for more (for the same reason it makes sense for a corporation to always squeeze more profit), but at that point, it no longer makes sense for liberals to champion the same cause. The mistake that we liberals make in the real world is that we consider particular groups (women, blacks, perhaps Muslims) to be our constituency on a more or less permanent basis. That way leads to a misperception of reality as time goes on--the tendency of leftists to insist that no progress has been made at all.

In economics, when the free market provides a needed service at reasonable cost, there is no need for government interference. Likewise, when a subgroup of human beings has achieved first-class citizenship, that group no longer needs "liberation". I think you and I would argue about where exactly on the spectrum women fall at this time and place, but I am not unsympathetic to your general point.

The problem I have with "men's rights" groups is the same as the problem I have with "white power" groups and "We're a Christian nation" folks. They seem to cloak themselves in the same identity politics that other subgroups participate in, but I see the others demanding equality while those groups demand their right to maintain a privileged status. As I am fond of quoting from 1984, that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

onlyaboutthenail said...

@LarryHart Ha! ;-) Agree with everything you've said here. Ime mras run the gamut. Of course, some of them are psychopaths who want political advantage/to abuse the vulnerable. Some of them are damaged people coping in dysfunctional ways and some of them are people of conscience doing necessary work. If any human beings are being deprived of human rights/treated badly because of their membership in the category "male" there needs to be, and will inevitably soon be, an organized movement to address that.

locumranch said...


Such is the delusional influence of the false dichotomy that Matthew concludes that those who do not wish to 'empower' women must seek to enslave them, the real irony being that it is Matthew & Catfish who are the real 'sexists' here with Catfish self-identifying as the (Male Patriarchal) Protector of womenkind & Matthew self-identifying as the over-protective Owner of his precious female offspring. Well, I've got news for these two misogynists & other practitioners of benevolent sexism:

These women are neither mine nor yours to own or protect.

As Nassim Taleb might say, Men-like-Me no longer have any 'skin in the game'. Assuming effective equality between men & women, men have been stripped of the last vestiges of ownership and, with the passing of these last vestiges of ownership & control, there comes little or no responsibility.

Sexual equality has freed Western Woman, so much so that You & Not-Your-Women are on your own. Men-like-You are free to elevate, empower & protect any woman who will allow you to degrade them in such a fashion, while Men-like-Me who have been stripped of any & all familial, social and cultural ownership are free in a much broader sense.

Not my woman, not my children, not my civilisation, not my problem. As if I should care about things that no longer concern me. This is Spiderman's motto, is it not? With NO power comes NO responsibility.

Here's some more TASAT for you -- Eric Frank Russell's 'And Then There Were None' -- available at http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php


Best

Steven Hammond said...

I'm really enjoying the discussion here.

I can see some tentative tangental approaches to the question of "human nature". I don't think anyone here holds to the "nature vs nurture" dichotomy, but the idea of "human nature" is a powerful influence on our idea of a variety of things like men's rights groups, feminism, morality, sexual violence/harassment, physical violence, even international politics.

There are so many difficult questions that I see. Just starting with male aggression, it seems pretty obvious that testosterone has some major effects on animals and humans. I just learned today that a female mouse who is flanked by two male siblings in uterois more aggressive than a female flanked by two female siblings. Rats whose mother are attentive with frequent licking and grooming behavior cause epigenetic changes in the licked offspring in genes modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) leading to calmer, less fearful offspring.

Just as a starter, if anything like this applies to humans (aside from the litter issue which might apply to the Octomom and a few others) this shows that both "nature"--in a strict genomic sense- and nurture (I would include all environmental influences to mean nurture), are intimately entwined in determining our "character" to use a more philosophical term.

So, Locum often appears to rail against what he sees as the feminization of men in recent times. I assume he sees a decline in aggression, risk-taking, desire for dominance in men as at least some of this--though whether this is actually occurring is debatable. If it IS actually occurring, it may be (at root) an epigenetic phenomenon due to having non-stressed mothers (and likely fathers) who are affectionate and do all the rat equivalents of licking and grooming. Of course culture, political stability, lack of want etc all lead to this situation in the places where we see this which is, perhaps, increasing in Scandinavian countries and declining in the US. Of course it's by no means universal. I guess the point is, that if someone like Locum or others of his ilk desire to see aggressive, dominating, hyper-risk taking men as the norm in America (or Canada?) he may be wishing for some very unpleasant things to happen, it is likely not just a matter of treasuring things like aggression and physical dominance to see those behaviors, it means real, painful affects on actual people.

Lastly, our host discussed quite nicely how various traits, abilities etc exist on a continuum between men an women with considerable overlap between the two sexes. I would add that "human nature", if we look at the median or average degree of aggression, risk-taking, nurturing, strength, intelligence, and perhaps even things like creativity, all exist in a continuum which are almost all different between men and women, but are also NOT FIXED due to epigenetic factors. Change the stress on a mother rat and you change the nature of her offspring. Even if you are someone who wants "what most people do" to be the norm and shame people for not meeting that criterion, that goal is a moving target.

This last point would pose problems to those who want to ossify gender roles and push everyone to the median of what human nature is by social pressure, religious doctrine etc. as the median itself is variable (within limits) depending on what is happening in the environment and how (especially) that is affecting mothers.

I mainly wanted to post this to hear others thoughts on "human nature" etc.

David Brin said...

Jesus! Yipe! We sure got some of the underlying rage out of locum, this time. And of course, the core problem here is that confederates do not have even a glimmer of a cognitive clue of the difference between ANECDOTES and statistically verifiable generalities.

Are there vile women? Sure? I have suffered from some. Indeed, plenty. (When I was young.) Did feminism empower them disproportionately? No, I don't think so. They were harmful before, as now. Make your case that feminism worsened things STATISTICALLY, with things called facts.

Can one generalize that there should be an expectation that gossip and other non-physical kinds of violence will have their turn getting the searing light of critical exposure, shame and reform? Absolutely.

Must we wait for that era, concentrating for now on the more physically violent evil acts that are more often perpetrated by males? Yeah, sure. Frankly, I would rather take on both, at once, and not wait for gossips to get their turn. But * any person who prioritizes gossips above rapists and male power abusers is either a fool or a bad person, or so wounded he cannot think straight! *

Moreover, Generalizing to ALL women from the actions of a few despicable ones is just plain crazy.

----
Jiminy, we seem to have a fine recruit in onlyaboutthenail. A calmer and more rational bridge to locumranch and hence to gaining deeper understanding of the Confederacy.

David Brin said...

onward

onward