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April 20, 2013

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Oliver

@George - to return to the science, may I ask a hopefully simple question at this point (please excuse my naivety if I am way behind the curve).

If eusapience is to evolve, moving hominids along the road from faux sapiens to a true eusapiens state, it seemingly will come about through genetic processes. But this puzzles me because of my personal experience. Without wishing to bore anyone with my family history, I am the natural son of a now deceased sociopathic father, who exhibited the self-obsessive behavior of the elite we have been discussing on and off recently. He made a ton of money in let's term it "grey areas", he emotionally neglected his numerous offspring and he passed away out of contact with us, arranging neither any form of saying goodbye nor any inheritance.

Now, I look at myself and I see a person who behaves on the opposite side of the spectrum. I don't need to say more than mention that I am devoted to my children and I would rather help a stranger in need than engage in conspicuous consumption.

So, how can my hopefully more sapient mindset derive from my father's lack thereof? In many other respects such as physicality (to my wry disappointment) I have inherited genetically from my father.

Maybe the answer is that my father was an aberration in my lineage. But it does get me wondering if eusapience could be as much about education and social influence as genetics - in which case, we ought to be considering starting schools in eusapience, not relying on natural selection alone.

Many apologies if I am way off beam here. And thanks.

k256

You stated: "Not only are humans obsessed with sex in what seems an unnatural, or at least an unhealthy way, they are obsessive about the sexual lives of their fellow humans. "

I can hardly disagree, but there is probably more variation in our species than this statement allows for.

Let me point you to some interesting research I came across that some of you may have actually seen before. Also I would like to have some opinion about it.

First of all our sex obsession may be truly unnatural and the reason for that may lie in our upbringing. The severity of the obsession could then vary from culture to culture.

Here is a quote: " This integration cannot take place or only very incompletely in the SAD individual since the neural circuits of the brain for pleasure have not been completely developed or are so damaged that they cannot perform their normative functions. Thus, we see the need for continual "fixes of pleasure," whether it be with drugs, sex or other forms of pleasure-seeking that can never be fully satisfying. It is like being on a treadmill with no way to get off—like isolation reared monkeys who rock back and forth, hour after hour and day after day (see Time Life documentary film: Rock A Bye Baby)."

The article can be found here:

http://www.violence.de/prescott/truthseeker/drugabuse.html

To summarize, if you were brought up without physical contact to your parents, i.e. through being carried with them, you may end up being damaged in the way mentioned above.

The damage goes even further and the author states: "Some of the principal consequences of social isolation rearing or SAD for the purposes of this essay are: a) hyperreactivity to sensory stimulation; b) avoidance of intimate touching and impaired ability to experience pleasure; d) increased tolerance of pain; and e) depression and uncontrolled violent behaviors. These effects occur in both infrahuman animals and in human animals. For example, in my cross-cultural studies I have been able to predict with 100% accuracy the violence (Killing, torturing, mutilation of enemy captured in warfare) and non-violence of 49 primitive cultures distributed throughout the world based upon the two predictor variables: a) the degree of infant physical affection; and b) whether premarital coitus was permitted or punished (Prescott, 1975, 1989)."

So we could already behave more socially if it wasn't for the wrong upbringing. Also notice the mention of "d) increased tolerance of pain; and e) depression and uncontrolled violent behaviors.", overambitious leaders might well have used this information to breed more aggressive soldiers.

I wonder whether parents who have little time for their kids automatically breed more aggressive offspring. Since we are on that growth trip facing stress through energy shortages, future generations may very well turn out to be more predisposed to fight on the way down.

George Mobus

@Oliver,

As I am sure you are aware, there are so many factors involved in nature-nurture kinds of problems. While personality traits are generally highly heritable it does not follow that you will end up like one of your parents. Many of the contributing factors to brain development do not need to be homozygotic in order to be expressed. A dominant factor (gene or control element) that one parent possessed need not have been passed on to offspring.

Of course developmental environment plays a crucial role in shaping whatever personality qualities one inherits. There just is no simple or single thing that we can afford causal blame to in how we come out!

Sapience (the strength of it) is like the other main psychological constructs (intelligence, creativity, and affect) in having a large range of variation within the species. I reserve the notion of eusapience for a future potential species of Homo that has crossed an essential boundary of mentation just as our species crossed into sapience (abstraction, language, and higher order judgments and intuitions). I would not expect to meet a eusapient individual today, by that definition. What I do see today is a range of sapience strength that seems to be distributed to the low end of a sapience strength scale. Most people have very modest sapience (and as a result little real wisdom). But there are a few who seem to me to have relatively high sapience by virtue of the kinds of judgements they make. It is people like this latter group that I hope make it through the bottleneck to see a future population with some really good genetic material!

In the meantime, as to the question of education, I think that, as with intelligence and creativity, whatever propensity toward sapience a child has, living in a sapience-nurturing environment will surely help bring out the best in them. We cannot make geniuses of our children through education, but we can help them achieve a maximum expression of their inherent intelligence. So I think it goes with sapience. It certainly couldn't hurt!

What I envision is one or more colonies of highly sapient beings having children and rearing them in a highly sapient culture; something we clearly do not have now. Those higher sapient beings would more likely make the preparations for the bottleneck because they are just wise enough to see it coming and smart enough to find ways to survive. There is a beauty in that idea for me: it means I do not have to take responsibility for making something happen. There either are such beings or there aren't. They either will or won't. For me it is an intellectual exercise - perhaps if I were a younger man...

Anyhow, genetics, development, culture, etc. are all too complex to try to ferret out a simple causal connection. All that really counts is the outcome. I'm glad you came out the way you did!

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@k256

Thanks for the link and contribution to discourse.

I, myself, would like to ban the word "unnatural" from the language! What you describe is un-normal or sub-normal, but is actually a "natural" outcome of the conditions described. And my thinking is that the conditions that produce more of these sub-normal behaviors are part of our culture (esp. in the USA). In fact, my point is that all of our obsessions are in fact an outcome of sub-normal living conditions. I'm speculating that removing the constraints, e.g. a more healthy sexual attitude in society, would allow us to escape those obsessions. But that may not happen in our society which I think is stuck in the mud. It will take an evolutionary event such as the bottleneck to break our genus free from the now ossified beliefs that keep us mostly nuts.

BTW: I had to dig your post out of the spam bin for some reason.

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For All.

More posts are ending up in spam and I don't know why. Neither do the service people at Typepad. In some cases it might be because you are not a registered reader/commentator and some little turn of phrase gets caught in the spam filter. In other cases it might be that you failed the posting test. In any case I will routinely go to my spam folder as often as I can and try to publish the legitimate posts. Patients would be appreciated.

George

Oliver

@George - Thank you so much for that crystal-clear elucidation, it helps me very much. I agree that there's beauty in this intellectual exercise, and that the eventual outcome of the bottleneck re. eusapience will fall to younger people and probably the yet to be born. I certainly am enthused by the future possibilities you discuss, which is a far more practical use of my mind than dwelling on the doomsday scenarios rather gleefully "discussed" elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Thanks again for taking the trouble to post on QE. I'm not sure I'd be able to keep up if I attempted to pick up this information in academia!

Cantab

The idea of a 'directed die-off', staged by the 0.1%, is a most interesting theme these days: but it is, I suspect, most easily held by those who have had no personal contact with the 'elites' and feel excluded here and now, looking enviously in.

Having had an elite education, and indeed knowing personally and intimately members of the 0.1%,(I'm a drop-out myself) I can only say that it really makes me laugh.

They are not a monolithic bloc, they are not Spectre from the Bond movies. They are not planning to get us any time soon. But they may do it by mistake. Let's think Berlusconi here....

Rationally considered, a mass die-off engineered by the sapient would indeed be not a horror, but perfectly desirable,would it not? We might then live much happier lives without the thugs and cretins and power-junkies intruding on our much nicer empathetic, creative, plurisexual lives?

I'm also reminded of the suspicions voiced by peasants in 18thc Europe when agricultural improvers tried to get them to eat potatoes regularly: it was all surely a 'plot' on the part of the wealthy to feed them a 'poisonous' root and so save on the taxes charged to feed the poor......

Siddharth

Pertinent beautiful thoughtful writing. I can relate especially to the 'language' related part.

To share my experience at very mundane levels, I've talked about the idea of a 'shared vocabulary' with so many people around, but everyone's got a different axe to grind so far.

I'm still not out of wit though. Shared vocabulary is the future.

Tony

Hi George

While we do not need to exclusively mating for life, promiscuous sex is likely problematic either. It's fine as long as not over.

By the way, you might be interested in this experiment http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001547

fine as long as not over • Moderation • balance
Tony

George Mobus

@Tony

Thanks for the link. I will try to get to it soon. As for promiscuity, I do not see pluerisexuality as the same thing. Among bonobos, as I understand it, they limit their sexual encounters to just those near and dear to them in the tribe. I think that what we see a promiscuous behaviors are a result of the psychoses brought about by repression of sexual urges. Promiscuity involves sex with many anonymous persons rather than a loving relationship. I suspect balance would come naturally to a pleurisexual species unbound by invented moral conventions. But, it is just a guess.

George

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