Personal Interaction

It seems to me there are a number of ways to view a relationship. As it happens I tend to look at relationships from a quite mechanistic point of view. This has a tendency to get me in trouble. It is generally more acceptable to durive value from emotional attachment. In every case all relationships are furthered on a quid pro quo basis. Stating this simple fact will also get you in trouble. People don’t like to admit to the mechanics of their nature. Everyone takes action to move themselves into a position of perceived greater comfort, even when what they desire would seem like it would make them more uncomfortable. People tend to enter relationships that offer greater value. And work to assure this value when the relationship is fully or semi- exclusive.

Objective vs. Subjective Truth and the Human Brain

When we speak of truth we rarely think of that truth in objective and subjective ways. We, as human beings, think of truth in a binary (True/False) way. The reality is that the world in which we live is not actually binary. As humans we think in terms that are expedient to our needs. You can visualize of this as a process of reducing things to the most convenient resolution. This allows us to make decisions quickly. Unfortunately, it also leads us to make erroneous decisions based on over simplified facts that might not be facts at all.

Let us take Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa for an example. If you take a thumbnail picture of the Mona Lisa and show it to someone and say to them ‘what is that?’, and they reply ‘That’s the Mona Lisa.’, is that true? Objectively, the answer is no; subjectively both yes and no. Examined objectively, it is a picture perhaps representing a low resolution version of the Mona Lisa. But what if it is a low resolution representation of a fake? That image could, in fact, be said to be a variety of things. An indeterminate number of these might be true, depending on how you define true. This is a real problem when you wish to quantify and qualify that which is true. Truth is rarely binary. 

Discussing how things move or don’t

Any debate you may have, on any subject,first and foremost, is a debate based on terms. The terms used in any discussion are essential, because if your terms and how they are defined, do not match, you are discussing different things. As I sit here, writing this, I might say I’m sitting still. Is that true? As with many true things yes and no. We live in a relativistic universe. I might say I’m sitting still but that can very quickly devolve into a Monty Python’s Meaning of Life song.


Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.

Monty Python’s Meaning of Life song

Velocity is one of those things that is currently impossible to determine in anything other than a relativistic way. Even then it is only possible to determine velocity to the resolution of the tools you use to measure it. So next time you get pulled over and the cop asks you if you knew how fast you were going, you can truthfully give him an answer of no, because it is impossible. But I’m not sure it will help. 

Truth and the human brain

We don’t really know facts. We relate to them. You relate certain ideas to another idea, or concept, of ‘factuality’. Subjectively, we relate to facts because constants (those ideas we associate with being factual and unchanging(at least unchanging in the moment)) are comforting. Things that stay the same are comforting in an ever changing world. When I say that we don’t really know facts, we don’t really know things at all. I don’t mean that we should examine how we only know things because our senses tell us… blah, blah, blah. That’s been done to death.  I’m saying that all human concepts are relational. This is how minds and neural networks function. Everything we understand, we understand in relation to something else. We have concepts. Those concepts are things because anything that we can conceive of is a thing. 

Let us, for example, take the vortex. The vortex is a phenomenon that we can observe. One example is the vortex formed in your tub when you drain it. But does it exist? Is it a thing? You might say it isn’t an object, in the sense that it doesn’t meet the criteria we accept for what an object is. The matter making up the vortex is constantly replaced. But it exists and can be described. It’s probably valid to say that ‘a thing’ is anything that can be described. In a sense all things can be experienced in the mind. We tend to define things as real when we can experience them in the world outside our mind. Consider the vortex; formed by forces that shape matter in a particular way. It is a thing made of matter that is not there.

Truth and resolution

Lastly, consider the speed of light. Were I to say ‘The speed of light is one hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second.’ is that true? It’s not precisely accurate. But it is the accepted speed, as it is a close approximation. Things are generally true or false within a frame of reference. We could say that things are true or false subject to the criteria used to validate the answer. You could also say that things are true or false based on the intent of the individual conveying the information or what frame of reference is given. Were I to say ‘The speed of light is exactly one hundred and eighty six thousand miles per second.’is that true? No. The word “exactly” makes the sentence false even though the first iteration of that sentence would be accepted as true. 

Remember, when considering truth, fiction, lies, honesty, one must always consider the frame of reference. What specifications do you have for the truth? Are gods real? This is a truth that is greatly bound within the framework of what gods are. Are gods physical beings who’s whims affect the world? Could they be mental representations of the forces outside of our control representing the chaos of the universe? Are gods the things you pray to when nothing else you can do will effect the outcome? The reality of truth is that when you wish to define truth objectively you can only go so far. You can create a specification for truth and then test a statement to see if it meets that specification. To determine the truth otherwise one must change one’s frame of reference and test again.

Vision of the World: Things are not as you think they are

Flaws in our perception

In eastern culture, there is a very old parable of six blind men and an elephant. The modern version of the parable goes something like this:

  • The First man fell against his broad and sturdy side and said, “The Elephant is very like a wall!”
  • The Second, feeling of the tusk, said, “An Elephant is very like a spear!”
  • The Third took the trunk in his hands, “The Elephant is very like a snake!”
  • The Fourth felt the leg and said, “The Elephant is very like a tree!”
  • The Fifth touched the ear, “An Elephant Is very like a fan!”
  • The Sixth held the tail and exclaimed, “The Elephant is very like a rope!”

One might look at this and think ‘Well that’s pretty extreme.’. The scary thing is that it is not as far-fetched as you might think. When people find an answer it is often far easier to accept that answer than to question its validity.

The need to validate ones senses

Let us for the sake of illustration take the man feeling the tail. He feels the tail and can tell that the tail is long and narrow and frayed at the end. It leads upward and is flexible, thick and rough on the outside. Almost certainly, he has felt a rope before and knows what that feels like. He has compared what he now feels to that. Let us imagine that after this another person comes along. This person tells him that he is absolutely wrong; an elephant is nothing like a rope. 

Now we have a real problem. The man must choose to accept that he utterly failed to determine the nature of the elephant from his own personal experience. This would cause him to bring into question his competence to discern the nature of the world around him from the senses on which he relies. Now, this is a huge problem. People are very uncomfortable with the idea that they can be fooled into misunderstanding the nature of the world.

Limitations

Our senses are very limited. In addition, our perception of the world is also limited. Also, our perception of the limits of our perception and how it works is terribly flawed.

In general, people assume our senses just exist. That they inform us of the nature of the world as a natural consequence of having them. As it happens, that is not the case. Senses do not naturally make sense. From a biological perspective, it’s all just a stream of nerve impulses connected to a specific area of the brain.

Let’s say you were blind your entire life. You had your sight restored. You would then see, but not as you see now. Blobs of brightness and color would have no meaning. Until you touched a particular blob of color; until you understood that focusing your eyes told you how far things were; until you gasped the meaning of binocular vision, sight would have no real significance. This is how we form a model of the world we live in. We compare the input of one sense with another until our model of the world seems consistent. Most of this process occurs in infancy and is complete before we start to really experience the world cognitively. Then the process stops. This is the important part. it stops.

What’s it all for?

Your brain has one job. Keep you alive so that your genes have the maximum chance of reproducing. For this purpose your model of the world need only be as good as it needs to be. As a consequence, if there are other things your brain could be doing that would better your overall survival, it will do those things instead. ­Your brain is setup to maximize return on cognitive investment.

Thinking about the absurd

I am an absurdist

As a way of communicating my view of the world, I take things that others have rationalized into being normal and elevate them to their natural and absurd, extreme. People come to a sort of conclusion; if enough of their peers are doing or saying something, then that thing is acceptable and not absurd. It is only when one really observes human behavior from a non-biased viewpoint that the absurdity of what we do becomes obvious.

Some time ago I posted something. It was the below picture and the phrase “Tip your whores.”. Someone was offended.

Sex

A titty bar with the caption "Sex work is real work"


This is absurd on many levels. On the surface, this picture is absurd because of the content. We are conditioned to accept that a woman isn’t working, when she has a man’s face stuffed into her crotch . This is
recreational activity in the minds of most; hence not work.

Work, work, work

Next, when we think about “work”, we tend to think in terms of some sort of labor that must be completed; but really what constitutes real work? Is it
“real work” to be a professional athlete ? How is a job you earn money with not work? Does the definition of work flex with the legality of the work? For instance, is the manufacture of alcohol work? Did it stop being work after prohibition?

Marchers holding a banner that reads SEX WORKERS DEMAND: ACKNOWLEDGE SEX WORK AS WORK!

Thirdly, is the issue of how we tend to look at phrases such as “Sex work is real work” This phrase conjures images like this. Again, this image of women marching for civil rights is very much at odds with a picture of some girl with a man’s face in her crotch.

Politics, politics, politics,

Finally, there is the absurdity of the internal politics of sex working. While sex workers might present a united front to those outside the industry, internally the politics are very different. ‘At least I’m not a _______.’;
The entire sex industry is built on this principle. Those in the industry tend to define themselves on what they don’t do for work. For sex workers, their virtue comes, in general, from not engaging, directly, in penetration for money.

Why? What exactly is wrong with penetration and what is wrong with getting paid for it? I will venture a guess that we resent the idea of the most valuable thing in existence being sold. The right to sex is very closely tied to the right to reproduce. Reproduction is a sort of meritocracy with women as the judges of who gets to reproduce and on what merits. Who is likely to resent access to purchased sex? Virtually anyone who receives access to sex based on their merits. Also those who control access to sex and reproduction by rejecting those judged to be without significant merit.

If one talks to someone in the industry and asks them about how they feel about their job, In general, they will say anything to elevate themselves above prostitution. The prostitute is the janitor of the sex industry. Even prostitutes differentiate themselves from other prostitutes. They use phrases like “I get paid for my time and sex is sometimes a part of that.”. They don’t use phrases like “I get paid to put a man’s penis in my mouth and stroke it until he ejaculates.”.

Other absurd beliefs

Religion

This is a big one. How does this work? As far as I can tell religion mostly consists of people with absurd beliefs, telling other people with absurd beliefs, that their beliefs are absurd. What could be more absurd than that?

Religion is an excellent example of how if you have enough peers around you telling you that what you believe is true, you simply won’t question it. Take a Christian criticizing a Scientologist for believing in aliens. If you ask a Christian if they believe in extraterrestrials they will likely say ‘no’. But then if you ask them if God is from earth they will also say ‘no’. Still they will have a very difficult time dealing with the fact that they do in fact believe in an extraterrestrial super being. The clear reason for this that almost every person that you will meet believes at least something that is absurd while simultaneously believing that it is not okay to believe in the absurd. 

Finally

As large part of the human condition, we as people go about our lives in bubbles of belief. Inside these bubbles all things are rational and make sense. These bubbles form a sort Venn diagram where they intersect the beliefs of others.



Concepts Within our bubbles are not seen as absurd.  The areas of overlap are jointly not seen as absurd. It can be said that one of the things that bind people together are jointly held ideas or concepts that others, whose bubbles do not intersect theirs, would find absurd. 

The most absurd of all things is that people in general walk around seeing themselves as rational while viewing others as absurd. While those others do precisely the same for the same reason. The system of behavior that allows this to carry on throughout all of human history would border on the surreal were it not so very much part of our existence. Here people are, walking around in their bubbles of absurdity mocking others because they are absurd. One must be careful when one chooses to laugh at the whole arrangement lest one be judged inappropriate. Isn’t that absurd? 

Political Ideologues and Ideologies

We can fix everything

Whatever political solution you might come up with, it will benefit some and impede others.  The Utopian society that benefits all to the greatest possible extent is unobtainable. Virtually everyone governed by such a system will feel they are not getting as good a deal as they should. They will seek to turn things to their benefit. We’ll call this the squeaky wheel syndrome for lack of a better term.

Look at this great plan I have embraced

There is a very basic need in humans to feel they know what is right. As a consequence of this, many seek to validate themselves through political idealism. Political idealism is very much like religion in this way. Think of this as a belief that a specific set of political ideals conveys a level of nobility and virtue. This signals to others who have similar ideals that you are one of the group. The reverse is the notion that if you do not share these same ideas, you are ignoble, non-virtuous and evil. This sort of thinking is again basic to the human condition, a tribalistic us and them; in-group/out-group mindset. Ultimately, this way of thinking dehumanizes those who fall into any group outside your own group. Members of your group (tribe) are people and others are outsiders, infidels, enemies, sub-humans.

Maybe not such a great plan in hindsight

When we discuss political ideologies and how dangerous they can become, we should look at a couple of examples. Decades later, we look at these political ideologies in a much different light than they were in their own time. Both of these ideologies had results that were similar to each other for reasons we shall discuss. There are small differences in the particular ideals of each state based on these ideologies. The result is a pronounced split in how they are viewed from our current perspective.

Communism and fascism both rose out of a late 19th-century view that the modern world should be governed by new, modern methods. That society could be shaped through a government that correctly constrained the actions of individuals. It should turn said individuals from self-interest to acting in the interest of the state. The state would then see to it that the collective efforts would then be put to the best possible use. These ideas did not produce the Utopian states they intended to produce. These ideas instead created mechanisms that resulted in horrific regimes. These went on to cause the deaths of millions, in some cases the very people who most supported said states.

Test the idea?
When you know you are right?

Political systems are, to a great extent, experiments. The problem is that the people conducting the experiments are so sure of the outcome that when something else happens, they are unable to accept any flaw in their solution. As a result, the people involved find some other explanation for the problems. Invariably the explanation is assumed to be some malefactor creating problems. Of course, the evil is a group of infidels who do not accept the political solution as perfect. They sabotage the plan, and hence keep it from working.  The obvious answer to this problem is to get these people out of the way.

The more indoctrinated someone is in political ideology via dogma, propaganda, biased journalism, etc., the more they will vilify those that they perceive to be working against the cause. To their mind, the evidence for the certainty of their beliefs is clear. In fact, so clear, they come to the conclusion that anyone who believes otherwise must be doing so out of malice or stupidity. This creates a situation where the right thinking individuals must do everything they can to stop their malicious enemies

Male Competence and Mansplaining

Male behavior is not purely, primarily or even significantly a social construct

Males and females process information in different ways.  Male mental processes tend to be centered around competence. Mansplaining is, in essence, an outgrowth of the male need to  communicate competence. As it happens this both a hierarchical and a survival trait. As a hierarchical trait, there is pressure to promote based on competence because having the most competent people in charge, from an evolutionary perspective, gave groups the highest chance to survive and thrive. One important evolutionary change, Homo sapiens have adapted to deal with multiple hierarchies.  This allows humans to accept multiple people as having complex hierarchical standings in multiple areas. Our ability to segregate and arrange hierarchies based on complex rules is orders of magnitude higher than any other creature.

The theory of sexual-biological equivalence or the notion that social constructs are the primary drivers of socio-sexual behavior doesn’t agree with the empirical data. The majority of data in both human and non-human studies indicates that drives to behavior are, to a great extent, driven by biology. Social constructs exist, not to create drives and behaviors, but rather because of them.

Mansplaining and social conflict

Conflicts arise in situations where persons of one gender apply behavior expectations of their own gender on to persons of the other gender. As it happens, the primary social driver for females in human society is to provide social cohesion. There is far less demand, from a biological perspective, to adhere to a competence hierarchy. There is a much greater tendency to view social interactions from a social acceptance point of view.

In many interactions, the male is attempting to ascertain where in the competence hierarchy both you and he reside. In the same conversation, a female is evaluating social cohesion levels and determining if the other party is providing good social reinforcement. One of the great misunderstandings is the assumption that the male wishes to dominate and is demeaning the competence of the other party in order to do so. This is generally not the case.

From an evolutionary perspective, male competence is biological imperative. In a hunter/gatherer society, male incompetence is deadly. Failure to hunt properly will lead to malnutrition and eventually death. The same is true for defense,  shelter, and community survival strategies. All of these are socio-biologically primarily male domains. Female-dominated activities, outside child rearing, tend to be much less survival critical. This being the case, instruction in female groups is taken at a leisurely pace. The interaction during these activities is a socially bonding one.

Finding your place

Intuitively other males understand this as a social cue to demonstrate their competence. Males, to a great extent, auto-subordinate and very quickly enter mentorship roles.  For males demonstrating competence results in a release of serotonin. Failure to demonstrate competence or demonstrating incompetence produces strong negative feelings and intense social pressure. These two mechanisms cause males to very quickly adapt to a place in the hierarchy. This structure has a lot of very positive value for men in it. This can be seen as a male being biologically rewarded for making sure that he has communicated information that will ensure the continued survival of the tribe; That you will not screw up and get everyone killed.

Mansplaining and human sexuality


Men who demonstrate competence are sexually attractive to females.  Empirical evidence has consistently demonstrated this.  They will favor competence over appearance when choosing a mate. From a biological perspective, this makes a good deal of sense. A healthy but incompetent mate would be less likely to ensure the survival of you and your offspring than a perhaps somewhat less healthy but more competent mate. From a male perspective it is the opposite; the physical health of the mother is of primary importance as she must survive childbirth and then raise those children. Males are encouraged to display male prowess by demonstrating competence to females.

So, you’ve been mansplained to

If a man is explaining in excited fashion how to operate your cell phone, don’t assume he is talking to you like you are stupid to demean you. He, likely, finds you attractive and wants to make sure you don’t get eaten by a bear.

What is truly scary about flat Earth belivers?

 Flat Earth people
Yeah, you can mock them and think they are dumb, but…

What is truly scary about flat Earth believers? The scary thing is that they are not crazy or even particularly abnormal.

There are those wheels, in your head, turning and telling you ‘This can’t be true’. But it is that very disbelief that creates the problem. Just about everyone has beliefs to which they are emotionally attached. Including your belief that you are fundamentally different from a flat-earther. It is the emotional attachment that creates bias. Things in your environment, in particular things to which you attach self-esteem, cause people to have attachments to ideas.

You might ask, ‘How can a person possibly associate a thing that so opens them up to ridicule with self-esteem?’. The answer is quite simple. People who feel they know the truth feel superior to those who do not. In fact, the more persecuted a person feels for knowing the truth that others do not and the more others are incapable of seeing the truth the more special they become. Every flat-earther believes they are smarter and wiser than you because only they have seen through the vast conspiracy to cover up the “truth”. You, on the other hand, are too stupid and gullible to have caught on.

But my beliefs are not like that

You are biased the moment you look at another person and feel you are superior to them because you know the truth and they do not. The truth that we see is filtered. Truth is filtered on many levels. The pipelines through which our information comes to us is generally biased. When people disseminate information they do so for gain. This is a basic principle of human action. All actions are purposeful. Even if one does not understand the purpose for their action they still have one.

When I speak of “gain” it’s important to understand what that means. In personal terms, one is driven by a desire to move toward greater comfort. Again, “comfort” in this context needs to be defined. Comfort is a psychological state. Virtually, no one feels everything is perfect all the time. In fact, this state would be highly unfavorable from an evolutionary viewpoint. Creatures that exist in a state of comfort for any prolonged period get eaten. Creatures that are constantly working to maximize their conditions for safety and security for themselves and those around them do better. This is reinforced at the lowest level of the brain by the biochemicals that make us feel good and/or bad. By that same notion, being trapped in a situation where we are unable to improve things will make us very unhappy.

This all being said, most of the information we receive comes to us filtered. It is filtered by the people who deliver it to us, who have many different motivations. Information is filtered by the consumers (you and me). People tend to disregard information that doesn’t fulfill a need. A weight of importance is given to any information consumed. You might, for instance, read “Okra is high in vitamin C” and disregard it because you don’t like okra. We take in so much information that filtering it is essential, so we can focus on what is important (to us).

Conclusion

Finally, nearly everyone you know has a set of beliefs and values in which they take comfort. The truth of those beliefs and values feels objective but is in reality subjective. Political beliefs are chief among these. If you grew up in rural Wyoming you would almost certainly be a Trump supporter and if you grew up in urban Massachusetts you would most likely be a Hilary supporter. There is very little reason to assume that there is any real biological difference between these two sets of people in general intelligence or anything else. However, the personal experiences and environments are significantly different. This causes each to come to radically different views. Each also concludes the other is too stupid to see the truth. Basically, both sides believe the other side to be like the flat-earthers; unable to see what they know to be the objective truth.

Mandatory Therapy

Existing Federal Law

Isn’t it strange that the FDA will not even allow medications that have gone through rigorous testing to ensure they are reasonably safe and effective? However, courts are allowed to order mandatory therapy. Therapy that often fails to show any credible, scientific, evidence for being safe and effective?

Fix this?

This should not be allowed. In no case should a defendant be forced to chose between their liberty and a treatment that is shown to be both safe and effective. Furthermore, anyone who is offered the option of therapy should be allowed to choose one that is the most ‘safe and effective’ as evaluated by the preponderance of the credible scientific evidence. Should more than one therapy show to be equally safe and effective the defendant should be given the option of the least objectionable one. In no case should a person be forced to continue a treatment shown not to be safe and effective unless it is evaluated to be the best option by a competent medical professional.

The workings of social prejudice

Let me tell all these people you are a bad person. That will make me a hero.

Recently on FaceBook I post a quip to a thread talking about how if someone posts “All men are trash” they may have their post removed and asked “Does the same apply if you state “all women are trash?” “.  To this, I replied “ALL Humans are trash” Almost immediately the user Sean O’Nym posted a reply saying “Obligatory reminder that Jay Hova is a blackface-wearing jackass.”

Background

This comment by Sean was in reference to a photo I posted on Facebook a number of years ago. The photo was of myself on a certain Halloween in the early 2000s. Prior to this particular Halloween, I had talked to my friend Buddha. Buddha is a large black man who used to run a coffee shop named Cafe Avinio. Buddha shared my perverse sense of humor. We agreed to each go as a person of the other’s ethnicity. This meant, of course, that I would go as a black man and he as a white man. The day came and I had spent a good while preparing. As it happened Buddha had tried to bleach his mustache and failed so he gave up on the idea and simply dressed in khakis, a Polo, and topsiders. The ironic thing is this “preppy” outfit was in fact pretty normal for him. In any case, I had purchased a set of clothes that would be atypical for a person of my ethnicity including plum colored Levis. I was already completely made-up and dressed when I found out Buddha would not be participating.

How this came about

It was a number of years later that I stumbled across a webcam photo of myself when I got home. After I posted the photo the metaphorical shit hit the fan. It’s important to understand the why of the situation. Others have described my actions as deliberately transgressive. Of course, this is true. However, my main goal was to provoke a response to demonstrate how our social order operates. There is a set of white people that seem to internalize guilt about social bigotry to the point that they feel they must act on this guilt to correct the wrongness of the world. In order to deal with these feelings, they compensate by correcting the behavior of their own perceived race over whom they feel they have jurisdiction. I have very often seen this happen. The problem with this is that the people doing it are fueled by emotional fervor. They do not act in a thoughtful way. Because of this, they will assume guilt and shame accordingly. The irony of this is that these same people will shame others for shaming.

I think you might have stepped in something

Years ago, my actions would have been called a practical joke; making a point or teaching a lesson. I will call it simply a prank. I created a situation and others reacted to it. To me, the funny part was how all of the people who reacted as though I was doing something wrong were universally white folks. White people are very uptight. In large part, I was demonstrating that these people, passing judgment, would all, without exception, do so never questioning if they might not have all the facts. In the case of the Facebook photo, each would look at the photo, assume they understood all they needed to in order to make a judgment and then proceed to shame me for my wrongdoing.

Before you shame someone else for being wrong, maybe you should not just assume you are right.

This demonstrates a fundamental principle of human behavior; when you know you are right, you never question if you might be wrong.