Nietzsche was correct: for all of us, and us as a species, a gulf awaits which we must cross to get to the other side.
This gulf is a challenge to our own minds:
Do we accept reality as it is, or do we retreat into a human world where our judgments about it and emotions about it matter more than how it works?
We moderns labor under schizophrenia because we cannot undertake this passage because it is socially unacceptable.
People like to hear that there are no consequences, that everything will be all right, that we’re all the same inside and that love is all we need. Reality suggests a paradox: that to love reality, we have to love it as it is, including its methods of death, conflict, defecation, natural selection, consequences and other ugly truths.
People do not like to hear that reality is exactly as it appears, and we cannot sweeten the bad parts. Death sucks. Defeat is horrible. Not everyone can see the difference in quality between a cheeseburger and a filet mignon, or be aware when a dumb decision is made.
Because individuals can prefer to avoid reality, and can form groups based on that denial of reality, and their votes and consumer dollars give them power, we have created a schizoid reality where truth is optional — people shop for facts and knowledge like they do clothing or movies, looking for things to (a) make themselves look good and (b) comfort themselves about their relatively small role in the universe.
When people like me say that we do not like humanism, and that we fear the creation of an anthrocentric consensual social reality that denies the ultimate reality in that world out there, we are talking about this schizoid approach.
When we say you live in fantasy, we mean that you read 1984 and then the first time you see a cop on the street using force, you assume it’s a Big Brother strategy.
You live in a simple, fragile world of yourself and what you know that you have decided about the world — without having applied the same exact inspection to yourself. Thus you know only the world as it has affected you personally, and your judgments about it, but you know nothing of the world as it is or of yourself as you are.
Modern people consider themselves witty when they reply: “What one person considers wisdom, another will not.” They do not consider that of these people, one is closer to correct, and that is the wisdom that predicts consequences from the world.
They will jauntily tell you that “Correlation is not causation,” not seeming to notice that correlation is just one of the points you’re making, such as that there’s a causal relationship and you can also see it in the correlation.
But they feel witty, superior and smart for having picked one (1) detail out of thousand, pretending it was the principle around which other points of fact are arrayed, and therefore by debunking it, they claim, they have smashed the whole organization of all facts against them. Obviously this is crazy, but only to those with the congenital intelligence and mental clarity to see that.
When we say you invert logic, it means that war requires weapons, so you figure that if you remove the weapons, you can stop the war. You cannot remove the implements, or pacify the bone of contention. It must be decided and yes, that will be inconvenient.
When we see you create a human-centric world, this is what we mean.
Just like buying SUVs or taking drugs, this human-centric consensual social reality is an escape from reality itself — with far-off but bad consequences.
The first inkling of that consequence is the simple, observable fact that we have little agreement on any facet of reality. Such as this week, when some climate-change scientists got in trouble for forging their climate data. But, if you’ll bear with me, because I am also tired of articles on this topic, you’ll see that they are examples of a more widespread phenomenon:
The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the internet.
But perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.
What’s interesting about this for me is not the particular research that forged, or that research was forged, but that people are surprised about it.
The climate-gate revelations have exposed an unprecedented coordinated attempt by academics to distort research for political ends. Anyone interested in accurate science should be appalled at the manipulation of data “to hide the decline [in temperature]” and deletion of e-mail exchanges and data so as not to reveal information that would support global-warming skeptics. These hacks are not just guilty of bad science. In the United Kingdom, deleting e-mail messages to prevent their disclosure from a Freedom of Information Act request is a crime.
The story has gotten worse since the global-cooling cover-up was exposed through a treasure trove of leaked e-mails a week ago. The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has been incredibly influential in the global-warming debate. The CRU claims the world’s largest temperature data set, and its research and mathematical models form the basis of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2007 report.
In utilitarian societies, where what most people consider to be good for themselves is the rule of law, there are two vectors of control: institutions and economies. Both reward producing results that people want to consume in exchange for money, and now that we’ve got many different groups with enough people in them to be profitable, there are rewards for spinning facts to appear to confirm the opinions of those groups.
In other words, if you want to tell a truth, you need to find someone who wants to pay for it already. Preferably before you find that truth. Which means you’re not going to look for it in unpopular places.
It may be the most effective method of censorship in history. Instead of directly banning what you don’t like, indirectly reward everything else and so make it even better than taboo, make it unprofitable.
Sure, there will be a network of diehards who labor in poverty insisting on truth, but they’ll get treated like UFO researchers. The remaining 98% of society will ignore it and thanks to their superior numbers, outvote it not most but all times.
My daughter came home from school re cently with a spring in her step and a song on her lips. With no foreshadowing — or time to call an exorcist — out came this chilling refrain:
” . . . You can hear the warning — GLOBAL WARMING . . . ”
By the time her father and I removed our jaws from the floor, we had learned that:
A) All the kids had been coerced into singing this catchy ditty, which we called “The Warming Song,” at a concert for parents.
B) Further song lyrics scolded selfish adults (that would be us) for polluting our planet and causing a warming scourge that would, in no short order, kill all the polar bears and threaten the birds and bees.
C) There was no deprogramming session on the menu. And no arguing allowed.
The international “Climategate” scandal is now moving into its third week. And reaction from folks on the scientific and political left — or is that redundant? — who treat global warming as a cult in which naysayers must be crushed has been depressing:
The markets work in parallel with social trends to keep certain items on or off the menu that most people will see, and from which they’ll pick what items they are willing to act on.
Like monkeys, we cluster in groups, and when there are too many of us we start forming little ingroups. This is at a level smaller than race or nation or even locality; it’s people within a city deciding that fans of the other sports team are fags, declaring yourself a Chevy man or Ford man as far as pickup trucks are concerned, or even making it clear that the Macintosh you own is a superior computer and others should acknowledge that.
With social trends, it’s the infamous bucket of crabs yet again: make yourself rise by pushing other people down, even if that means you’ll just be higher up in a deathtrap.
If you want to appear higher than others, and by so doing have them react to you as if you were higher in social status, you can appear more benevolent, altruistic, generous or accepting than others. This is called passive aggression: you’re using a very public behavior, being nice, to cover up your private motivations which are exclusively self-serving.
The somewhat surprising answer at which some biologists have arrived is that babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Of course every animal must to some extent be selfish to survive. But the biologists also see in humans a natural willingness to help.
When infants 18 months old see an unrelated adult whose hands are full and who needs assistance opening a door or picking up a dropped clothespin, they will immediately help, Michael Tomasello writes in “Why We Cooperate,” a book published in October.
As children grow older, they become more selective in their helpfulness. Starting around age 3, they will share more generously with a child who was previously nice to them. Another behavior that emerges at the same age is a sense of social norms. “Most social norms are about being nice to other people,” Dr. Tomasello said in an interview, “so children learn social norms because they want to be part of the group.”
Herein lies the fundamental problem of human societies: we are torn between knowing what is right or realistic, and knowing what the group wants to hear. Like the climate change scientists, we often opt for a pragmatic route and change things up a bit so the message we offer — a message that others act on and take as reality — is one that they will accept. We win in the status game, at the expense of truth.
At this point, people are using social norms to protect their devious behaviors. The animal kingdom offers us a parallel vision:
So, what happens when you place 80 [rats] in relatively small cage?
Calhoun made sure that they had enough water, food and shelter necessary to survive but the rest would be up to the rats. Soon enough, the animals descended into what Calhoun described as a “behavioral sink.” This term is used to explain the behavior of animals that gather or are forced to live in a space too small to accommodate them.
The rats at first developed a sense of order, but that soon went ‘haywire.’ At the ends of the cage an alpha male took over and kicked the other males out. According to Wolfe, the alpha males would take eight to ten females as concubines. This meant that from 58 to 62 Norway rats would be forced to live in the middle two compartments.
Chaos resulted as no sense of order or balance could come from that many rats being trapped so close together. The male rats fought constantly and began to ignore mating rituals and force themselves on female rats. They also began to perform bisexual and homosexual acts. Some rats wouldn’t even move in the daytime and would wait for the other rats to go to sleep before they would walk around. No rat was safe from molestation and any attempts to leave the confines of the middle compartments by male rats were checked by the alpha male at either end of the cage. They were trapped in chaos.
Like many things in life, we are our own worst enemy.
When we take over from nature, we define success through socialization — mainly because people react to social status and give us what we need.
That in turn creates a false little world, a consensual reality where people agree to think the same things so they feel comfortable, and in doing so, deny reality.
They become slaves to the positive. It is always sociable to claim the equality of all people, but never sociable to mention how radically untrue that is. Similarly, it’s always sociable to want to avoid difficulties and hardships like war, famine, disease, suffering and death, but never sociable to insist they exist for a reason. It’s also extremely unsociable to point out to someone that the consequences of their actions will be bad, albeit in a longer-term time frame.
We have created a nightmare out of our greater fear and desire to fit in than to be honest, forthright, and truthful. The result has engendered a crowd among our society that runs around telling people sociable things, which have negative consequences:
|“It’s not your fault”||Someone else must be to blame; let’s kill them.|
|“It’s a misfortune.”||Your actions weren’t illogical; life just screwed you, and now you can resent life itself.|
|“War is terrible, I wish you and I didn’t have the threat of having to fight over our heads”||We’ll back down from every conflict, which will allow maniacs, parasites and predators to rule our world.|
|“You don’t look fat.”||Feel free to go into denial about how much you’re eating.|
|“People should be more accepting of our individual tendencies, and things they think are perverse or weird should be tolerated.”||If you make weird the norm, soon people will compete on weird to stay weird, since because weird is the norm, being normally weird is no longer weird. Get ready for people with an erotic attraction to underage elephant dung painted silver.|
Your average human is hopelessly self-obsessed, so is group obsessed, because that’s where you get estimation for your self in the short term, instead of working toward long-term real-world rewards. That’s why we say it’s a surrogate reality. It feeds on itself and causes itself, because once self-pity convinces you to hate the world, you start feeling OK about stealing from it to make yourself feel better, because you’re here and it must be treating you unfairly.
This resentment of life, based in damaged self-esteem, creates a binary state by which we judge all parts of reality: do I accept this or not? Is it offensive or is it pleasing? Like shoppers, we pick and choose which “truths” we desire.
And by doing so, we lay the seeds of greater problems:
The United States is about to lose a key arms-control tool from the closing days of the Cold War — the right to station American observers in Russia to count the long-range missiles leaving its assembly line.
Republicans are worried by the previously undisclosed agreement between the Obama administration and the Kremlin in October, which formalizes the inspectors’ departure this Saturday. This, they warn, would cripple Washington’s ability to police Moscow’s compliance with agreed reductions in its nuclear arsenal.
While no one likes the thought of getting nuked, the fact of technology is that it spreads. That means that soon many nations will have the bomb; do we trust them not to use it just because they’re nice people, think we’re nice people, and therefore they wouldn’t want to?
Not on your life. Nice has nothing to do with reality. Reality is that everyone wants to be the person on top, and are willing to use whatever justification is required — we want autonomy, we’re not represented, you raped our goats — to compel themselves to use whatever forces they have at their disposal to conquer, rape, pillage, destroy and advance themselves to the top.
The thinking goes that if we hate war, we can get rid of our weapons and it will go away.
The reality is that if you hate war, you will need to be vigilant about smashing problems before they get too big.
The grouchy and therefore less gullible might also be less inclined to buy into the booming self-help industry, which Barbara Ehrenreich takes down in her new book “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.”
In her examination of the positive-psychology industry, which she dates back to Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Ehrenreich finds that it bears an alarming resemblance to brainwashing.
“We have seen the enemy,” she writes, “and it is ourselves, or at least our thoughts. Fortunately, though, thoughts can be monitored and corrected until .¤.¤. positive thoughts become ‘automatic’ and the individual becomes ‘fully conditioned.’¤”
We like to pretend we are positive people by limiting our focus to the positive, and the socially acceptable, but really by eliminating our ability to pay attention to the negative and to deal with it, we’ve made ourselves into a zombie state of denial maniacs.
We cannot discuss unpleasant issues — we must think positive instead. We cannot publicly take into account death, defecation or sadness — think positive! Really, who needs to think positive so much, except someone who is by default inclined toward the negative?
And why are we inclined to the negative:
Turns out that I didn’t find any good reason to keep Facebook. Who cares where I live? Which are my favorite movies? Which of my friends partied with me last weekend? I recalled a term I read on Internet some time ago… It was about the Ego-Web.
It happens that Web 2.0 is not about fancy Ajax animations, beautiful gradients, and fancy graphics bouncing here & there… Is about user generated content… But not any kind of content… It’s content that people writes hoping everybody sees and approve of it…
Maybe it’s the illusion of sharing knowledge. Maybe reddit, digg or hacker news are the new place where humans share philosophical ideas, something like the ancient greek square, where Plato and big philosophers spread out their ideas, listen to new ones, and if everybody knows about them, and judge them, we will end with a better world, with more informed people, with more objective points of view. After all, as Churchill once said: “The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.”,
But what really happens is quite disappointing: The internet has evolved in a Meme-culture, where people use words like “FAIL” as full sentences, and eloquent, smart comments are becoming obsolete. It’s all about to make the right joke at the right time…
And it get worst, not only people lose interest in sharing ideas and Thoughts: Now people just want to twit trivial and non-interesting things.
Remember up above, how I said that climate change scientists publish false results because there are rewards for doing so, and no rewards for doing the right thing? Our society has become so competitive that we’re waging a war of memes, but these aren’t memes about reality. Rather, we’re fighting for the best distraction — and that means we end up using our own personalities as ammo, which in turn corrupts ourselves by externalizing our vision of ourselves. “Am I a good person? I don’t know, I’d have to ask someone, or run an opinion poll, or take a vote on it.”
That leads us to a sickening state where we pay attention to how things appear, but never how they are, which defeats our actual aims by replacing them with a never-ending struggle for social supremacy:
His own example of absurdity (it occurred in his home department) is a faculty appointment that was derailed when it was discovered that the candidate, then teaching in New Zealand, had written a letter to a newspaper criticizing the practice of going barefoot in public places on the grounds that it promoted the spread of disease. A department member decided that the letter “was an attack on the Maori people and thus racist,” and even when it was determined that it is not the Maori, but “white hippies, who go barefoot in New Zealand, the majority voted against pursuing the candidate in order, says Nelson, to prove “themselves to colleagues of color.”
We are schizoid and it fails us every day, but we only see those failings once every few months or years, so it’s easy to blow off. Not to mention that since our society is neurotic, there are many problems, and we’re busy working around those! Any fixes we attempt would be unsociable because they’d involve telling people that some things are their fault, we’re not all equal, not everything will be OK, and that if you do stupid things you get a stupid result — and most people do stupid things in most cases because they’re out of their league.
History tells us that our ancestors exterminated Neanderthals because they were a previous evolutionary branch, and one that was then obsolete. That took place over thousands of years. If we survive our technology, any future group of smart people that emerges will most likely enact world genocide on all those below, say, 120 IQ points who also lack the genes for collaborative behavior and paying attention to both logic and reality.
Three thousand years from now, the morality of our time will seem like a childish conceit, a self-mockery made of an infant stamping its food and not eating its broccoli, a mere phantasm of the monkey mind within the human.