POSTEROUS BLOG POST ARCHIVE 1

Posterous Blog is closing. Here are simple copy/paste of 6 sets of posts to that blog.  3/18/2013

nuet’s posterous

Comments on Aurora Shooting

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2012/07/20/colorado-batman-s…We lack any evidence to decide whether these killings are 1) a natural phenomenon when an individual breaks and become violent – a distinct profile or 2) whether people with a profile propensity are detected, manipulated, and facilitated to perform their acts by a “conspiracy”.

Our culture demands we chose the former, and the anti-conspiracy conspiracy muddies the water in considering conspiracy. If conspiracy, we cannot designate who the conspirators might be. USA agencies are on record of mind manipulation and may have the competencies to perform such acts. But, that information may be available to others, even leaked by “disturbed” persons working on the research. This may apply the the so-called assassins of JFK, RFK, and MLK: but again – it may not have been orchestrated by any formal agency but by rogue conspiratorial-gangs (or network systems of such c-gangs).

IF there is a major conspiracy, part of the plot would be coverup. If Holmes or Laughner or Sirhan Sirhan were manipulated, it would have been done so that all direct records of contacts would be removed. Secondary evidence of manipulation may be available; but expect the plotters to be searching for such searches and counter them.

Governments fund exploration of contingency plans. During the Vietnam War an intelligent friend of mine was in the Army reserves, and was working on a plan to invade and occupy Norway. I was informed that there are plans for all regions. Most of the plans are not needed or used. Yet, long ago I heard a leader of Greece report that an earlier coup had resulted from an activation of a plan by mid level Greek Intelligence; whereas the plan had been developed earlier in case Greece was invaded and they needed a quick shift to emergency rule.

It is easy to believe that such an operation would be too complex to be hidden – and that is a major argument against conspiracy. But, if the conspirators are creative and intelligent, they should be able to create a screen to hide their actions. This would include self monitoring of all conspirators to detect and remediate all attempts to leak the conspiracy.

Are there persons who might do this? I believe there are persons of very high creativity and intelligence who are warped. Some of these types are employed by agencies and financial institutions. Others might set up secret networks – and they are competent geeks. Decades ago, at a AAAS conference I talked with a group of persons at a table where they were promoting their idea. They were all hyper-active physicists who believed that they needed to set up space stations with weapons to control the mis-behavior of inferiors on Earth. They were dead serious, and ridiculed by others at the conference. Some of these highly creative/intelligent persons may also be easily subject to manipulation.

As I said at the start – I have no evidence to decide either way about the level of conspiracy today; when we examine the contexts of the issue.

What might have happened if the response time of the police had been a few minutes longer and Holmes had escaped in his car? Was his dress in preparation for a fight after a chase, or was it primarily theater? Imagine what might be happening had he escaped and was hiding. Was he programmed to wait at the car and be caught? Why did he tell the authorities of his dangerous room? What determined his choice of that theater and that time? Did he view Limbaugh’s rant that the Bane/Bain “coincidence” in the Batman movie was a plot against Romney? Is it just “coincidence” that the scenario Holmes executed was discussed that day as a classroom experience in medical school: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_21126462/real-life-shooting-imitates-traini… . Note: there is some confusion as to when the classroom session occurred, as the report says they used the Aurora shooting as illustration. Was the scenario a prior exercise in the course curriculum?

ANOTHER ISSUE: Aside from the content of this incident, here is a unique point event, a pebble dropped into the flow in cyberspace – a phenomenon to be researched. What is the level of this kind of research? How will the coverage of this phenomenon compete with coverage of the Olympics?

I write this to get it off my mind so I can attend to other things.

Larry

Very Significant TED

http://www.ted.com/search?q=sheryl+wudunnThe top url of this set is very powerful. Sheryl WuDunn strongly presents the case that full equity for women would transform the planet (in the 21st century). What struck me, initially viewing this, was that it was NOT a feminist perspective.  Not that feminism doesn’t have its place, but this was straight scientific forecast. Her book, Half the Sky, should be significant. These facts need much wider circulation.

However, getting others to view this, or view or read the vast archive of quality text and video about our reality  IS OUR CHALLENGE. We actually don’t need to create any more seeds about our world and our options – with the exception of creating seeds for meeting this challenge.  As I compose this email I am viewing the news, where everyone (left to right) talks about reaching “the American people”, who will understand and act.  Sorry, there is no “American people” in this sense.  Most can only be reached through narrow channels of communication and many are programmed to reject any item that doesn’t fit their narrow ideology (right or left).

Another old but vital TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html

Visuals are touted as effective for communication; but almost a decade has transpired and the awesome potential of quality visuals seems to have slipped to oblivion.  Why have quality visuals not entered the videos most people view today?  The information presented by Hans Rosling is as relevant today as when it was first available.

Larry

Happy Birthday David

If Damasio is correct, Robots can have emotions as well as cognition, as they are but two different (interacting) pattern domains in networks.
Castells in COMMUNICATION POWER builds strongly on Damasio and reveals how emotion and cognition relate; not the way common sense tells us, and the planet’s elite have learned to master control. How belief systems are manipulated via communication is truly scary.Earth Day again. No one learns.  All the many ways to make Earth liveable and sustainable call for human action. They are grossly naive that the existing population (and how it is trending) can do what is needed.  The P2P crowd are developing tools that only they will be able to use unless they are serious about a new “educational”
process independent of our contemporary best.  In their own subtle way, educated, intelligent  and creative activists suffer from the same “communication power” problems as those they despise.  Castells echos Ellul in proving that the already educated are more subject to propaganda and belief management that the lesser educated.  As emotion increases so does cognition, but the emotion can effect the rational processes. The educated have more rational tools to be used in belief manipulation.

Anger and anxiety have quite different outcomes among people trying to decide.  Anger leads to risk taking and approaching – what is being flamed  to the right. Anxiety leads to avoidance to act and rather to explore information.  Obama can win only if he can instill anger.  Even the Dali Lama feels anger is an appropriate emotion – it is what one does with one’s anger that is critical.  But, there will be nothing positive coming from the existing system.  It must be replaced, and soon, and by an emergent uplifted population. No existing process can create such an uplift – new processes can be created, but only if the need is appreciated.

All the fancy futuristic fantasies are moot unless humans learn to be “human”.

The movie actually turns me off.  Special effects now so dominate a film that there is no meaningful story. If there is a message it will be masked for most viewers.

Sorry to be so “negative” – but I can’t bury my eyes in distraction when the Earth is dying.

Larry


From: “albert lundquist” <agltucs1@gmail.com>
To: “Larry Victor” <larryvictor@comcast.net>
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 7:32:44 PM
Subject: Happy Birthday David

Prometheus “Happy Birthday David”
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is one of the most anticipated films of the summer–one of those rare cases where the product may actually live up to the long-lead frenzy. And so far, the campaign supporting the film has lived up to the promise of the movie.

The campaign has employed a number of interesting, bespoke elements that have revealed elements of the film’s story in a high-toned, suspense-building fashion.
The latest promo comes in the form of an unusual two-and-a-half minute web film featuring David, an advanced android from Weyland Industries, the fictional company at the center of Scott’s film. The spot, directed by Little Minx/RSA’s Johnny Hardstaff, shows that David (Michael Fassbender) is eerily human and sets up one of the film’s plotlines while standing on its own as a compelling bit of film. An earlier promo for the film came in the form of a TED talk from the future delivered by Weyland’s CEO (played by Guy Pearce).

Individual Differences Resonate

In a process ontology there is seldom a single best strategy. People demanding such create problems.  In the early 70s OCED did a study of educational planning. They came up with eight themes for educational change that most reformers focus on only one or two.  They recommended 2nd Order Planning which tries to always maintain as many options as possible.  My strategy is to weave strategy tapestries where all essential themes are present.  Theme vs category.  It is hard to put one thing simultaneously in one box or basket.  But one can weave many strands through a common point.The other night I watched a PBS program on The Grand Coulee Dam.  Grand Coulee was special for me, as in my 1962 tour of the West with my 2 brothers after returning from the Antarctic, I chose Grand Coulee over Glacier National Park because of Woody Guthrie’s song Roll on Columbia, Roll on.  Woody’s songs also informed me how smoke bellowing from stacks was once a symbol of industrial progress and is now a symbol of pollution.

The PBS history showed the long and torturous route.  The idea started in 1919, construction started in 1933 (giving a positive brand for WPA) , the first electrical power came in 1940 (2 weeks before WWII) and is credited for winning the war by enabling airplane manufacture to emerge in the NW.  Later the negatives re salmon and Native Americans emerged.  The details were fascinating.  Our history would have been quite different were it not for the consequences of Grand Coulee.  But, if the planners had considered ALL the factors the dam would probably not have been constructed.  What happened was a confluence of the emergence of a complex system in midst of unpredictable changes.  There would be good and bad consequences of building or not building.  How to choose in a world of uncertainty?

Also, there is no scientific way to give weight to different factors.  Salmon vs power, Native American rights vs agriculture.  Abortion is the exemplar; how to weigh the potential human vs the living mother in context with their future lives.  If you weigh in on the side of the embryo then you are morally obligated to do whatever is needed.  Do we have the “right” to determine our own weights on such matters?

When one explores deeply into consequences one discovers an endless knot.  This is only a problem when we believe we should have simple and quick solutions.  What to do about coal vs nuclear? Work to eventually eliminate both while making their continuation as safe as possible.  Someday we may be able to extract coal in such a way that will not negatively impact the environment in both extraction and use (the Chinese are working on this, in collaboration with USA researchers).  And, it is possible to create nuclear fission reactors that are safe. Neither can be done in a profit making economy.

Larry


From: “Steven Moyer” <nodesnetwork@gmail.com>
To: larryvictor@comcast.net
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:21:18 AM
Subject: Re: Individual Differences Resonate

Yes, I’m aware of it.  I was talking with a friend yesterday about the nuclear pollution of our environment and he brought up the pollution from burning coal.   But it was brought into the conversation along the lines of “this is worse than nuclear pollution.”  How can one know which is worse?  You can’t have a realistic experience of the effects of anything on the entire ecosystem.  It’s projection from a limited data set.  When decided whether to support burning coal or using nuclear power, HOW does one make a rational decision when there is very little, if any, direct perceived experience of either one?
How do we know which is better?
Steve

 

On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 2:06 PM, <larryvictor@comcast.net> wrote:

http://www.alternet.org/story/154940/understanding_the_ideological_divide_between_liberals_and_conservatives%3A_is_it_possible_for_us_to_get_along?page=entireThe case presented on openness/authoritarian divide between liberals/conservatives in scientific studies is excellent.

BUT, missing is the fact that what all people judge about the world comes from biased reports and propaganda – NOT a perceived, direct reality. Most people aren’t reacting to a perceived reality, but a “reality” learned about from the information they input.  This includes conversation about this information within a closed group of believers.

Digital technology has amplified this situation. There is a dangerous resonance building between individual differences in cognition and the systems we learn about reality beyond our immediacy. I see this divide exemplified by the Martin/Zimmerman phenomenon where distinct media-worlds are being created and which will be independent of any formal court outcome.  This pattern can be mapped on every crisis today.

In a subtle way, other individual differences may be creating communication barriers among activists working on positive emergence.

——————–>  follows draft of essay written before reading this article

SOCIETAL REALITY SHIFTINGd
Societal vs Social Realities.
I propose this useful distinction.  Social involves real people interacting with real people and the patterns of behavior observable to persons. Human brains have intrinsic propensities for social perception and social action, with wide individual differences. Interpretations of social reality (which can be expressed within social reality) are always in the context of hypothetical and non-observable societal reality.
Societal relates to patterns of organization and flows of communication beyond the social. Examples:
Organizations and cities cannot be perceived – as we perceive our hands or hear another speak. We can observe social reality occurring in hypothetical (abstract) organizations, but we don’t PERCEIVE the organizations.  A city lights viewed from a place above the city is not a view of the city; it is but one perspective of the abstract city.

Patterns observed today in our social reality may be indicating a major shift in the societal reality within which social realities are embedded.
I don’t refer to the many changes in the nature of social institutions related to globalization and digital technology, which are vast.  These changes probably gave rise to the type of change I am discussing.
We all get information about our societal reality from perceiving semiotic structures in our immediate physical environments: mostly surfaces containing text, graphics, or video on pages or screen displays.
It is important to keep in mind that ALL that we as persons input come from our immediate environments, which include “windows” where the stimuli we perceive are in our immediate here&now.  No one perceives a distant reality directly – although it may appear so.
Let me cite a specific crack in our societal reality as an example, after which I will attempt at a generalization.  This is in the USA and is the case of the shooting in Florida by Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.  This event and all social & societal processes consequential I will call T/Z.
I suggest that whatever research and courts decide about this real event (never replicable) there will be a fracturing of societal reality that will have impact on social realities and personal behavior of persons (both average and major decision-makers).
The tools of creating fictitious societal realities (propaganda) have improved over the centuries and have accelerated astronomically with the digital revolution.
Ideological Populations [OP] are using this technology to fabricate an insulated societal reality for themselves.
At this time there are no tools to stop this fragmentation; although such tools are possible.
No matter what the “formal” outcome in courts will be, there will be two (fuzzy) populations firmly believing two different societal realities.
Indeed, it will not be two perspectives of our common world, but two radically different worlds – in potential conflict.
The pattern observed in the T/Z phenomenon is being repeated in thousands to millions of similar phenomena.
Examples:
Libya
Iran and nukes

There are many ways for this issue to be discussed and approached.  This is but a seed dropped into soil. What will sprout and how will it emerge?

 

Individual Differences Resonate

http://www.alternet.org/story/154940/understanding_the_ideological_divide_bet…The case presented on openness/authoritarian divide between liberals/conservatives in scientific studies is excellent.

BUT, missing is the fact that what all people judge about the world comes from biased reports and propaganda – NOT a perceived, direct reality. Most people aren’t reacting to a perceived reality, but a “reality” learned about from the information they input.  This includes conversation about this information within a closed group of believers.

Digital technology has amplified this situation. There is a dangerous resonance building between individual differences in cognition and the systems we learn about reality beyond our immediacy. I see this divide exemplified by the Martin/Zimmerman phenomenon where distinct media-worlds are being created and which will be independent of any formal court outcome.  This pattern can be mapped on every crisis today.

In a subtle way, other individual differences may be creating communication barriers among activists working on positive emergence.

——————–>  follows draft of essay written before reading this article

SOCIETAL REALITY SHIFTINGd
Societal vs Social Realities.
I propose this useful distinction.  Social involves real people interacting with real people and the patterns of behavior observable to persons. Human brains have intrinsic propensities for social perception and social action, with wide individual differences. Interpretations of social reality (which can be expressed within social reality) are always in the context of hypothetical and non-observable societal reality.
Societal relates to patterns of organization and flows of communication beyond the social. Examples:
Organizations and cities cannot be perceived – as we perceive our hands or hear another speak. We can observe social reality occurring in hypothetical (abstract) organizations, but we don’t PERCEIVE the organizations.  A city lights viewed from a place above the city is not a view of the city; it is but one perspective of the abstract city.

Patterns observed today in our social reality may be indicating a major shift in the societal reality within which social realities are embedded.
I don’t refer to the many changes in the nature of social institutions related to globalization and digital technology, which are vast.  These changes probably gave rise to the type of change I am discussing.
We all get information about our societal reality from perceiving semiotic structures in our immediate physical environments: mostly surfaces containing text, graphics, or video on pages or screen displays.
It is important to keep in mind that ALL that we as persons input come from our immediate environments, which include “windows” where the stimuli we perceive are in our immediate here&now.  No one perceives a distant reality directly – although it may appear so.
Let me cite a specific crack in our societal reality as an example, after which I will attempt at a generalization.  This is in the USA and is the case of the shooting in Florida by Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.  This event and all social & societal processes consequential I will call T/Z.
I suggest that whatever research and courts decide about this real event (never replicable) there will be a fracturing of societal reality that will have impact on social realities and personal behavior of persons (both average and major decision-makers).
The tools of creating fictitious societal realities (propaganda) have improved over the centuries and have accelerated astronomically with the digital revolution.
Ideological Populations [OP] are using this technology to fabricate an insulated societal reality for themselves.
At this time there are no tools to stop this fragmentation; although such tools are possible.
No matter what the “formal” outcome in courts will be, there will be two (fuzzy) populations firmly believing two different societal realities.
Indeed, it will not be two perspectives of our common world, but two radically different worlds – in potential conflict.
The pattern observed in the T/Z phenomenon is being repeated in thousands to millions of similar phenomena.
Examples:
Libya
Iran and nukes

There are many ways for this issue to be discussed and approached.  This is but a seed dropped into soil. What will sprout and how will it emerge?

 

GATEWAY TO UPLIFT & COLAB STUDIOS

This brief TED presentation by Aleph Molinari on his RIA  ( Learning & Innovation Network ) and  URBAN ACUPUNCTURE really excited me. I viewed it carefully a second time and meditated on it for an hour.
http://www.ted.com/talks/aleph_molinari_let_s_bridge_the_digital_divide.htmlHere is a clear statement why “education” is essential and how “technology” can only be the tool.  He shows that one-laptop-per-child is inadequate (and dangerous to the planet) and presents on the space for connectivity (a version of my colab studio).  His four factors:  space, connection, content, & training hark on my Tech6: Tools,Techniques,Tasks,Training,Teams,Time.  What excites me most it that he has real project operating and growing.

Uplift (BUS) and Colab Studio are more involved, but this is the closest presentation to what I have been calling for for decades.

ENJOY

Quantum Politics & Social Reality

Hope you can access this NYTimes article about Quantum Politics and Mitt Romney:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/opinion/sunday/a-quantum-theory-of-mitt-rom…

Quotes from article:

The basic concepts behind this model are:

Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.

Probability. Mitt Romney’s political viewpoints can be expressed only in terms of likelihood, not certainty. While some views are obviously far less likely than others, no view can be thought of as absolutely impossible. Thus, for instance, there is at any given moment a nonzero chance that Mitt Romney supports child slavery.

Uncertainty. Frustrating as it may be, the rules of quantum campaigning dictate that no human being can ever simultaneously know both what Mitt Romney’s current position is and where that position will be at some future date. This is known as the “principle uncertainty principle.”

Entanglement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.

Noncausality. The Romney campaign often violates, and even reverses, the law of cause and effect. For example, ordinarily the cause of getting the most votes leads to the effect of being considered the most electable candidate. But in the case of Mitt Romney, the cause of being considered the most electable candidate actually produces the effect of getting the most votes.

Duality. Many conservatives believe the existence of Mitt Romney allows for the possibility of the spontaneous creation of an “anti-Romney” (Fig. 2) that leaps into existence and annihilates Mitt Romney. (However, the science behind this is somewhat suspect, as it is financed by Rick Santorum, for whom science itself is suspect.)

 

——————————–

Something I wrote a few minutes before reading the NYTimes article:THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE SOCIAL REALITY
The phenomenon in Florida re Trayvon_Martin/George_Zimmerman is exemplar in making it clear that social reality is limited to semiotic structures, e.g. reports in the media.  There is no direct access to an objective social reality. Once an event happens all we have are reports.  CSI style investigations yield only more reports, never “facts”.  The “fact” is the report that is replicable; the so-called objective event is not replicable.
This has always been the case, but with the rise of science & technology there emerged a means of converging on “consensus interpretation” (a summary report) that often lead to accurate prediction of future reports.
I heard recently that the GOP once had a very high respect for “science”, which has quickly dropped very significantly.  The book “Merchants of Doubt”, a report, reports on an analysis of other reports with the conclusion that there is a dedicated and deliberate effort to discredit “science” and the paradigm of “evidence-based-truth”, elevating “opinion” over “fact”.  Of course, those who trumpet their opinions deeply believe them to be fact – based on belief.
CAUTION: This claim of conspiracy to discredit science may be confused as a statement about objective reality.  Events and happenings are different from analyses of patterns observed in reports, such as the pattern of conspiracy. We can predict future reports “confirming” or “refuting” this conspiracy, and can take action on these findings, without claiming direct knowledge of the “conspiracy” as an objective phenomenon. It is actually comforting to realize that our reality is based on reports, because they are replicable. That is, even though different people may write different reports about a common report; they can all agree that the pattern of symbols that comprise the report is the same for all, even though their interpretations of the report may differ.

THE RIGHTEOUS MIND Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Important, but limiting.   “Haidt argues that people are fundamentally intuitive, not rational.”  Why make them competitive?  Whatever we may come to mean by “intuitive” and “rational”, we function by an intimate interweaving of both, and maybe a few other gross competencies.  “intuitive” is almost as useless a term as “consciousness”. From those who study brain function (limited as it is) there is information processing at the foundation of the “intuitive” (which is quite distinct from the “emotional”).  This reminds me of the old, and discredited, right-left brain differences – laterality is far, far more complex, and very real, but …    There is much high level “logical information processing” that we never are conscious of.  The so-called “reason” is an over-simplified process ALWAYS embedded on “intuitive/emotional” contexts that some persons have learned to metacognate about and attempt to “control”.I have long been aware of high level intelligence and creativity among those who have ideologies different from mine.  For me, an ideology is a belief system – a world we live in – and ARE that WORLD, based on a system of “assumptions” (more deep metaphors than language statements).  There are “rationalists” and “intuitionists” in many camps.  Science can probably identify a few basic difference between the lower level functionaries in the different ideologies: stupid conservatives and stupid liberals and the crafted media to manipulate them.  There also is much more in common among the “sheep” than either side is aware of.

And, we should not forget the sociopathy and other dysfunctional themes that distort the wide-ranging distribution of the “normal”.

Reactionary – Conservative – Moderate – Liberal – Progressive – Radical   is not a line but a circle (or a nested web).  We also can have radical conservatives and reactionary progressives.

I have ordered the book from the library and will give it a whirl.  Like Lakoff, each of these analysts have something important to say, but none of them have the whole story – which is yet to emerge.

Just a few quick thoughts.

Larry


From: “Thomas Greco” <thg@mindspring.com>
To: “Laurence Victor” <larryvictor@comcast.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:52:33 AM
Subject: Fwd: THE RIGHTEOUS MIND Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and ReligionLarry,

read the review below of

THE RIGHTEOUS MIND
Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

By Jonathan Haidt

Illustrated. 419 pp. Pantheon Books. $28.95.
Thomas H. Greco, Jr. thg@mindspring.com Mobile phone (USA): 520-820-0575 Beyond Money: http://beyondmoney.net Tom's News and Views: http://tomazgreco.wordpress.com Archive Website: http://www.Reinventingmoney.com Photo gallery: http://picasaweb.google.com/tomazhg Skype/Twitter name: tomazgreco My latest book, "The End of Money and the Future of Civilization" can be ordered from Chelsea Green Publishing, Amazon.com, or your local bookshop.

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: THE RIGHTEOUS MIND Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2012 17:14:35 -0400
From: Steve Kurtz <kurtzs@ncf.ca>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

 

 

review by: William Saletan, Slate’s national correspondent, is the author of “Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.”

 

( a few excerpts to stimulate you to read it!)

 

Steve

 

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours.

 

 Haidt invokes an evolutionary hypothesis: We compete for social status, and the key advantage in this struggle is the ability to influence others. Reason, in this view, evolved to help us spin, not to help us learn. So if you want to change people’s minds, Haidt concludes, don’t appeal to their reason. Appeal to reason’s boss: the underlying moral intuitions whose conclusions reason defends.

 

They assume interdependence, not autonomy. They prize order, not equality.

 

These moral systems aren’t ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they’re common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with what we’re given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many hierarchies and don’t support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.

 

Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group — particularly those who have made sacrifices for it —than about outsiders.

 

The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.

 

If intuitions are unreflective, and if reason is self-serving, then what part of us does he expect to regulate and orchestrate these faculties? This is the unspoken tension in Haidt’s book. As a scientist, he takes a passive, empirical view of human nature. He describes us as we have been, expecting no more. Based on evolution, he argues, universal love is implausible: “Parochial love . . . amplified by similarity” and a “sense of shared fate . . . may be the most we can accomplish.”

 

You don’t have to believe in God to see this higher capacity as part of our nature. You just have to believe in evolution. Evolution itself has evolved: as humans became increasingly social, the struggle for survival, mating and progeny depended less on physical abilities and more on social abilities. In this way, a faculty produced by evolution — sociality — became the new engine of evolution. Why can’t reason do the same thing? Why can’t it emerge from its evolutionary origins as a spin doctor to become the new medium in which humans compete, cooperate and advance the fitness of their communities? Isn’t that what we see all around us? Look at the global spread of media, debate and democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknownname

  •  

 


March 23, 2012

Why Won’t They Listen?

By WILLIAM SALETAN

THE RIGHTEOUS MIND
Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

By Jonathan Haidt

Illustrated. 419 pp. Pantheon Books. $28.95.

You’re smart. You’re liberal. You’re well informed. You think conservatives are narrow-minded. You can’t understand why working-class Americans vote Republican. You figure they’re being duped. You’re wrong.

This isn’t an accusation from the right. It’s a friendly warning from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who, until 2009, considered himself a partisan liberal. In “The ­Righteous Mind,” Haidt seeks to enrich liberalism, and political discourse generally, with a deeper awareness of human nature. Like other psychologists who have ventured into political coaching, such as George Lakoff and Drew Westen, Haidt argues that people are fundamentally intuitive, not rational. If you want to persuade others, you have to appeal to their sentiments. But Haidt is looking for more than victory. He’s looking for wisdom. That’s what makes “The Righteous Mind” well worth reading. Politics isn’t just about ­manipulating people who disagree with you. It’s about learning from them.

Haidt seems to delight in mischief. Drawing on ethnography, evolutionary theory and experimental psychology, he sets out to trash the modern faith in reason. In Haidt’s retelling, all the fools, foils and villains of intellectual history are recast as heroes. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher who notoriously said reason was fit only to be “the slave of the passions,” was largely correct. E. O. Wilson, the ecologist who was branded a fascist for stressing the biological origins of human behavior, has been vindicated by the study of moral emotions. Even Glaucon, the cynic in Plato’s “Republic” who told Socrates that people would behave ethically only if they thought they were being watched, was “the guy who got it right.”

To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. The funniest and most painful illustrations are Haidt’s transcripts of interviews about bizarre scenarios. Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it? Under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why.

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. Haidt shows, for example, how subjects relentlessly marshal arguments for the incest taboo, no matter how thoroughly an interrogator demolishes these arguments.

To explain this persistence, Haidt invokes an evolutionary hypothesis: We compete for social status, and the key advantage in this struggle is the ability to influence others. Reason, in this view, evolved to help us spin, not to help us learn. So if you want to change people’s minds, Haidt concludes, don’t appeal to their reason. Appeal to reason’s boss: the underlying moral intuitions whose conclusions reason defends.

Haidt’s account of reason is a bit too simple — his whole book, after all, is a deployment of reason to advance learning — and his advice sounds cynical. But set aside those objections for now, and go with him. If you follow Haidt through the tunnel of cynicism, you’ll find that what he’s really after is enlightenment. He wants to open your mind to the moral intuitions of other people.

In the West, we think morality is all about harm, rights, fairness and consent. Does the guy own the chicken? Is the dog already dead? Is the sister of legal age? But step outside your neighborhood or your country, and you’ll discover that your perspective is highly anomalous. Haidt has read ethnographies, traveled the world and surveyed tens of thousands of people online. He and his colleagues have compiled a catalog of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. Alongside these principles, he has found related themes that carry moral weight: divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin and degradation.

The worldviews Haidt discusses may differ from yours. They don’t start with the individual. They start with the group or the cosmic order. They exalt families, armies and communities. They assume that people should be treated differently according to social role or status — elders should be honored, subordinates should be protected. They suppress forms of self-expression that might weaken the social fabric. They assume interdependence, not autonomy. They prize order, not equality.

These moral systems aren’t ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they’re common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with what we’re given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many hierarchies and don’t support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.

You don’t have to go abroad to see these ideas. You can find them in the Republican Party. Social conservatives see welfare and feminism as threats to responsibility and family stability. The Tea Party hates redistribution because it interferes with letting people reap what they earn. Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely on care and fighting oppression. This is Haidt’s startling message to the left: When it comes to morality, conservatives are more broad-minded than liberals. They serve a more varied diet.

This is where Haidt diverges from other psychologists who have analyzed the left’s electoral failures. The usual argument of these psycho-­pundits is that conservative politicians manipulate voters’ neural roots — playing on our craving for authority, for example — to trick people into voting against their interests. But Haidt treats electoral success as a kind of evolutionary fitness test. He figures that if voters like Republican messages, there’s something in Republican messages worth liking. He chides psychologists who try to “explain away” conservatism, treating it as a pathology. Conservatism thrives because it fits how people think, and that’s what validates it. Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, they’re “voting for their moralinterests.”

One of these interests is moral capital — norms, prac­tices and institutions, like religion and family values, that facilitate cooperation by constraining individualism. Toward this end, Haidt applauds the left for regulating corporate greed. But he worries that in other ways, liberals dissolve moral capital too recklessly. Welfare programs that substitute public aid for spousal and parental support undermine the ecology of the family. Education policies that let students sue teachers erode classroom authority. Multicultural education weakens the cultural glue of assimilation. Haidt agrees that old ways must sometimes be re-examined and changed. He just wants liberals to proceed with caution and protect the social pillars sustained by tradition.

Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group — particularly those who have made sacrifices for it —than about outsiders. Saving Darfur, submitting to the United Nations and paying taxes to educate children in another state may be noble, but they aren’t natural. What’s natural is giving to your church, helping your P.T.A. and rallying together as Americans against a foreign threat.

How far should liberals go toward incorporating these principles? Haidt says the shift has to be more than symbolic, but he doesn’t lay out a specific policy agenda. Instead, he highlights broad areas of culture and politics — family and assimilation, for example — on which liberals should consider compromise. He urges conservatives to entertain liberal ideas in the same way. The purpose of such compromises isn’t just to win elections. It’s to make society and government fit human nature.

The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.

Haidt isn’t just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other people’s reason engaging yours. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of “producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.”

Our task, then, is to organize society so that reason and intuition interact in healthy ways. Haidt’s research suggests several broad guidelines. First, we need to help citizens develop sympathetic relationships so that they seek to understand one another instead of using reason to parry opposing views. Second, we need to create time for contemplation. Research shows that two minutes of reflection on a good argument can change a person’s mind. Third, we need to break up our ideological segregation. From 1976 to 2008, the proportion of Americans living in highly partisan counties increased from 27 percent to 48 percent. The Internet exacerbates this problem by helping each user find evidence that supports his views.

How can we achieve these goals? Haidt offers a Web site, civilpolitics.org, on which he and his colleagues have listed steps that might help. One is holding open primaries so that people outside each party’s base can vote to nominate moderate candidates. Another is instant runoffs, so that candidates will benefit from broadening their appeal. A third idea is to alter redistricting so that parties are less able to gerrymander partisan congressional districts. Haidt also wants members of Congress to go back to the old practice of moving their families to Washington, so that they socialize with one another and build a friendly basis on which to cooperate.

Many of Haidt’s proposals are vague, insufficient or hard to implement. And that’s O.K. He just wants to start a conversation about integrating a better understanding of human nature — our sentiments, sociality and morality — into the ways we debate and govern ourselves. At this, he succeeds. It’s a landmark contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself.

But to whom is Haidt directing his advice? If intuitions are unreflective, and if reason is self-serving, then what part of us does he expect to regulate and orchestrate these faculties? This is the unspoken tension in Haidt’s book. As a scientist, he takes a passive, empirical view of human nature. He describes us as we have been, expecting no more. Based on evolution, he argues, universal love is implausible: “Parochial love . . . amplified by similarity” and a “sense of shared fate . . . may be the most we can accomplish.” But as an author and advocate, Haidt speaks to us rationally and universally, as though we’re capable of something greater. He seems unable to help himself, as though it’s in his nature to call on our capacity for reason and our sense of common humanity — and in our nature to understand it.

You don’t have to believe in God to see this higher capacity as part of our nature. You just have to believe in evolution. Evolution itself has evolved: as humans became increasingly social, the struggle for survival, mating and progeny depended less on physical abilities and more on social abilities. In this way, a faculty produced by evolution — sociality — became the new engine of evolution. Why can’t reason do the same thing? Why can’t it emerge from its evolutionary origins as a spin doctor to become the new medium in which humans compete, cooperate and advance the fitness of their communities? Isn’t that what we see all around us? Look at the global spread of media, debate and democracy.

Haidt is part of this process. He thinks he’s just articulating evolution. But in effect, he’s also trying to fix it. Traits we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid globalization. A pure scientist would let us purge these traits from the gene pool by fighting and killing one another. But Haidt wants to spare us this fate. He seeks a world in which “fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means.” To achieve this goal, he asks us to understand and overcome our instincts. He appeals to a power capable of circumspection, reflection and reform.

If we can harness that power — wisdom — our substantive project will be to reconcile our national and international differences. Is income inequality immoral? Should government favor religion? Can we tolerate cultures of female subjugation? And how far should we trust our instincts? Should people who find homosexuality repugnant overcome that reaction?

Haidt’s faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic. But Haidt is right that we must learn what we have been, even if our nature is to transcend it.

William Saletan, Slate’s national correspondent, is the author of “Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.”

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Edison Illuminated

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On Mar 28, 2012, at 4:09 PM, Brian Bloom wrote:
Too hard. I think it shows that the New York Times is trying to work out ways of charging people to read its articles.

 

My guess is we are going to see more of this as time goes by. The media have huge databases – through phising – of names and email addresses of people who have been reading their articles for free. Now its payback time.

 

BB

 

From: Steve Kurtz [mailto:kurtzs@ncf.ca]
Sent: Thursday, 29 March 2012 4:35 AM
To: Brian Bloom
Subject: Re: Why Won’t They Listen?

 

Can you email the file or link back to me? I can’t find it.

 

Steve

 

On Mar 28, 2012, at 7:45 AM, Brian Bloom wrote:

 

Couldn’t open it.

 

BB

 

From: Steve Kurtz [mailto:kurtzs@ncf.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, 27 March 2012 9:28 AM
To: Brian Bloom
Subject: Why Won’t They Listen?

 

 

 

1 of 2

Nets, Sysems, Holarchies, Ecologies

Posted in TheNextEdge group in Facebook.This thread has been informative in demonstrated attempted sharing across different paradigm clusters and ideologies (which we all functions within). Thus with differing definitions and meanings for key terms: metaphysical, network and ecosystem. I contribute from my own biases.

I see a confusion between concepts such as network, system, ecology to reference 1) conceptual frames we employ in our language discourse and 2) implication of objective existence for entities so named. This takes us to the distinction between process and existential ontolgies, a distinction that can be important in some discourses and not important in others.

I have come to distinguish between four distinct conceptual frames: nets, systems, holarchies, ecologies.

NETS are the most primitive of the structures – but can be very complex. They are characterized by nodes (which can have properties), links (which can have qualities), and temporal relations between nodes over links.

SYSTEMS have a core net on which constraints on process give it agency/identity and a character where “the whole is more than the sum of the parts”. General Systems Theorists tend to use the term “system” to apply to anything. I prefer to limit the use of the term to one level – the system composed of components, relationships between components, subsystems (important to distinguish from components), and environments. With this limited use, components and environments are viewed “classically” and not viewed themselves as systems (with the exception of considering the interaction between small sets of systems that share the same environment).

HOLARCHIES (Koestler’s terminology) are nested holons, where each holon is a system in the sense above. James Greer Miller in his opus, “Living Systems” identifies 19 common (structural) subsystems in holons from cell to global societies – with a similar holarchy from atom to cell not covered by Miller). Miller distinguished between “nested hierarchies” and “echelon hierarchies”. I find the distinction between system and holarchy very important.

ECOLOGY is still emerging in my conceptual scheme. An ecology appears to be a mixture of nets, systems, and holarchies with the addition of a fractal-like character. Also, in an ecology a node/component in one holon my relate directly with a node/component in another holon. Temporality is essential in comprehending ecologies. There is an essential tension between a “balance of nature” and “evolutionary/emergent” processes (occurring at all levels) challenging the balance. Mutual aide, competition, cooperation, and symbiosis must be considered in changes in ecologies.

Simple ecologies can serve as conceptual frames for human dynamics. There is an issue whether pure networks can have agency beyond the sum of agencies of the nodes. I use the term “sysnet” for a large network where smaller systems emerge among subnets, where the systems can later dissolve and the nodes return to being but subnets. Most digital entities are sysnets. We can mistake our intention of expectant agency of our networks, as we resist constraints (re threats to our “individuality”) that would enable more systems with agency to emerge (and often enhance our own agency using the systems for leverage).

The issue re “metaphysics” relates to how versed one is in the checkered history of science (as a human process) and whether one functions in the ideology of physics and reductionism or are open to an emergent “science” – with the proviso of not jumping on each exception as an excuse to over generalize. I recommend Steve Fuller’s “Social Epistemology” as an introduction to the human side of “science”. Those who correctly point out flaws in conceptual systems are not always competent in proposing better alternative conceptual systems. In what sense does my use of “conceptual systems” fit into my above schema of four frames?

MIGHT COLLAPSE BE THE WRONG METAPHOR?

MIGHT COLLAPSE BE THE WRONG METAPHOR?It may be prudent to use a montage of metaphors for major domains. While COLLAPSE remains a viable metaphor for longer term future scenarios as well as apt descriptor for what is happening in some regions, it may be masking more apt metaphors for what emergents face in the present and near future.  This was my situation until recently shifted while reading Arundhati Roy’s latest superb essay: “Capitalism: A Ghost Story”.  IMHO this long essay is an essential read.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30877.htm

Beginning with a review of “Gush-Up” in India’s shift to global capitalist tyranny (blowing away the myth of a Gandhian peaceful India), giving me a view of India potentially as dangerous as US imperialism, Roy romps through an excellent but concise history of the rise of global capitalism and an excellent expose of how corporate philanthropy gains support of the middle class and professional elites.  Although these scenarios forecast genocidal actions on large human populations and severe attacks on our biosphere, they call forth metaphors of transition, not collapse; of brutal oppression, not passive acceptance.

Although longer term scenarios may involve an eventual collapse of global corporatism (or whatever we come to call this new process ALSO EMERGING among the power hungry elites), the societal environments with which OUR EMERGENCE encounters may not be one with opportunities appearing during collapse.  We need to re-examine our metamorphic metaphor for emergence. In biological metamorphosis the caterpillar is passive in a cocoon, dissolving into a nutrient soup for the emerging imaginal buds. Our societal caterpillar is far from passive. It is moving full steam ahead becoming a more powerful caterpillar, increasing dangerous to Gaia and to the vitality of our emergent societal imaginal buds.

I sense the dominant attitude among fellow emergents is to focus almost exclusively on augmenting our own emergence and to assume the metaphor of collapse because (rightly, IMHO) there is nothing we can do to directly influence the game of the elites.  While I fully agree that our primary focus must be our own emergence I fear it is dangerous to assume a passive attitude to our societal environment.  Not that we engage it in vain hopes we can significantly transform it, but that our strategies must take into account this reality and that we explore endgame strategies and what actions we must be taking now so that we can have greater influence on the resultant endgame.

My concern is that we lack a “discourse process” and “platforms” adequate for successful, continuing “dialog-to-action” on an issue of such magnitude, complexity, and security concerns.  I use quotes because I believe that we currently lack appropriate metaphors for our need. On reflection about ongoing interaction on “big pictures” I sense endless jabber (but often of high quality at this level).  We can only begin using what we have; but we must be critically aware that something is missing and work towards creating the “technology” we need for successful, long-term metamorphosis in the face of a societal caterpillar that is not cooperative and not resigned to metamorphosis.

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