Posts Tagged ‘Realism’

Scientists Supporting “Nurture” Theories Are Less Likely To Believe in The Scientific Method

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

We are told that scientists are our new overlords because they are “objective,” which means a combination of lacking self-interest, not having one team over the other to root for, and being free from the normal superstitions and neuroses that make people unreliable narrators. And yet, none of this is true.

The first thing to know about scientists is that they are employees, but for them, the profit motive is direct. In academia and independent research, those who make the headlines are those who get promoted and eventually get to positions of high salary and high stability.

That in turn means that scientists are dependent on audience. Like politicians, they have constituents, but in this case, the constituents are those who buy the media products that enable those headlines to occur. If there is public interest in some topic, they want scientific heroes, and there is big money in being the next Craig Venter or P.J. Meyers.

What that tells us is that scientists are far from unbiased or lacking in self-interest. On top of that, we are now seeing that their ideological biases — part of finding constituents — are also just as “subjective” as those of anyone else, as a recent study finds that scientists who support theories of nurture over nature tend to disbelieve the scientific method itself:

For instance, on the topic of gender identity, an evolutionary social sciences scholar said: “I believe gender identity reflects a mixture of genetic and culture inputs, with the genetic being somewhat more important”, while a literary studies scholar said: “I agree that biological characteristics play a role in gender-identity formation but I suppose I absolutely disagree that they do so ‘predominantly’”.

Perhaps most worrying, in the sense of undermining hopes of any future consensus on understanding human behaviour and culture, is that the scholars who favoured environmental and cultural explanations for behaviour also tended to doubt the scientific method:

“Human behaviour is not subject to immutable laws, and, therefore, can’t be studied scientifically,” said a religious studies scholar. “Scientific knowledge has something to tell us about material artefacts and their production, but ‘human nature’, ‘human experience’ and ‘human behaviour’ are not empirically stable,” said a literary studies scholar.

The scientific method, a general procedure for verifying the empirical basis for any observation, is the core of science itself. To disbelieve it is like being a Pope who is an atheist, although at this point, we probably have one of those too.

Those who favor “nurture” are the ones who believe that education, training, self-help books, government films and social pressures are more important than genetic ability. That is: they are “magic dirt” believers who think you can take anyone, regardless of genetics, and make him into an ideal citizen.

Naturally, this is a denial of Darwinism, since the theory of natural selection finds that general inclinations toward behaviors are genetically-coded, as are abilities. Nurture plays some role, mostly in that it is possible to damage potential in a child, for example, but nature determines the raw material with which nurture works.

Specifically, intelligence is heritable, and since we now know that many genes contribute to intelligence, it is not possible for a random mutation to make someone a genius. They might have a few of these genes tweaked, but will not get the whole intelligence package, which is why hereditary caste systems are more functional than “meritocracies.”

In the meantime, we can stop worshiping scientists and science because they are clearly just as fallible as any other human effort.

As The Idols Fall: The Future Of Dark Matter, Climate Change and Racial Equality

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Over at Aeon, Pavel Kroupa writes an intense critique of the tendency of Science, Inc. to use theories as assumptions:

The modern argument for dark matter begins with the assumption that the Universe is described by Albert Einstein’s field equation of general relativity, and that Newtonian gravitation (that is, gravity as we measure it on Earth) is valid in all places at all times. It further assumes that all the matter in the Universe was produced at the Big Bang. Simulations based on that scenario make specific predictions about how quickly cosmic structures form, and also about the motions of galaxies and stars within galaxies. When compared with observations, those simulations indicate that gravitational effects in the real world must be stronger than can be accounted for by the matter we know. Dark matter provides the additional gravitational pull to bring model and reality broadly into alignment.

…I was studying the dynamics of small satellite galaxies as they orbit our galaxy, the Milky Way. From observation, we expected that these satellite galaxies must contain a lot of dark matter, from 10 to 1,000 times as much as their visible, normal matter. During my calculations, I made a perplexing discovery. My simulations produced satellite galaxies that look much like the ones actually observed, but they contained no dark matter. It seemed that observers had made wrong assumptions about the way the stars move within the satellite galaxies; dark matter was not required to explain their structures.

In other worlds, all of Science, Inc. was relying on a theory converted to an assumption for a simple reason: it provided them jobs!

When studying humanity, it makes sense to apply Occam’s Razor in the oldest and simplest way: if an activity can be explained by the “Four Fs” — feeding, fighting, fleeing and reproduction — that is most likely its origin.

In this case, the F is Feeding. People need jobs because we have disrupted the aristocratic hierarchies of the past that gave every person a place and also limited population to what the land could support.

This means that theories like dark matter gain popularity because the science community needs them to generate jobs, not because they are any closer to to truth than “it’s turtles all the way down.”

The same will come true for Climate Change.™ People will discover that covering earth in concrete has strong local effects, and that our climate is slowly shifting toward a new ice age as it does every ten thousand years or so. At that point, the discrepancies in “established theory” will be resolved, and the solution will be clear: drive whatever car you want and eat steak when you want it, but keep your national population confined to a third of the land area, which will regulate your numbers, and everything will be fine.

Another domino will fall with the notion of racial, sex and class equality. Right now, it is taboo to point out that the upper classes are generally a lot smarter than the people working food service, lawn care, customer support, and clerical jobs. This does not mean that the lower classes are stupid, only that they are lacking the wiring required to do more complex things, and per the Dunning-Kruger effect, are oblivious to this fact so will go ahead and make decisions on those things anyway, resulting in a situation like the incompetent reign of an Angela Merkel, Barack Obama or Tony Blair.

Humans specialize in deception because most people are low-grade wicked. They think only of their wants, justify those with good intentions, and then after a symbolic act (giving canned food to The Poor™) they go about their lives as greedily and selfishly as possible. There are only a few people who rise above this, and we either make them leaders or we are ruled by the worst in humanity.

Science defeats liberalism

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Pity circa 1795 by William Blake 1757-1827

“If a fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise,” wrote William Blake in his Proverbs of Hell.

This proverb is widely misinterpreted as meaning that we can make a wise man out of a fool. That is not so; what it means is that a fool who tries new versions of the same foolish thing will eventually discover the truth of the thing he’s undertaking. It’s another way of saying we learn by error.

In 1789, with the French Revolution, the West formalized its enlightenment ideal: the human form comes before nature and God, and is the ultimate ideal.

Enacted into political form this notion becomes egalitarianism, or the insistence that all people are equal. A form of pacifism, egalitarianism exists to eliminate internal strife by making sure everyone is accepted everywhere.

This idea of equality is the foundation of liberalism and unites all liberal concepts into one. All people are equal; nature/God comes second.

But now something else must come second, or be politically controlled at least. That thing is science which, fumbling toward the light of truth, has uncovered some rather un-political/social facts.

Thus it’s not entirely odd — at this point in history’s cycle — to see an article entitled “The rise and rise of ‘neoracism'”:

New forms of discrimination, known as “neoracism”, are taking hold in scientific research, spreading the belief that races exist and are different in terms of biology, behaviour and culture, according to anthropologists who spoke at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago.

This comes despite decades-long efforts to reverse attitudes that were used to justify the slave trade and the Nazi ideology.

This dovetails with what has been writing about for the past few years and what I have been writing about since 1997, which is that race is not a social construct, it’s a linguistic descriptor for a biological reality. See also The Race FAQ and The Nationalism FAQ.

But the fact is that science has recognized race with increasing frequency, and not just because genetics shows it. Race-targeted medicine is the opposite of what happened in Hitler’s camps; doctors are using it to improve survival rates among populations which do not respond well to a Euripid-normalized average. Race-targeted histories let people discover who their ancestors were. It’s likely we will find race useful in prescribing diet, lifestyle habits, and even educational path.

All of this is separate from the attack I make on diversity, which posits the following simple rule:

Diversity — of any type: ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic or other — increases internal division and distrust in a society, requiring greater degrees of institutional enforcement and thus ushering it into tyranny and internal collapse.

It doesn’t matter what the ingredients of diversity are. It’s the diversity itself that’s the problem. Even if it’s Swedish and Japanese, the mixed society is destined for fragmentation that will reduce it to tyranny, then collapse, and thus leave behind the shattered husk of a third world nation.

Our modus operandi for the past century has been to pretend that race doesn’t exist, thus pretend that diversity can work despite all historical evidence to the contrary, and thus to assume everything’s A-OK and we can continue shopping.

Not only has science taken a big fat swing at that illusion, but it has shattered another illusion, which is that our altruism is anything but a callow manipulative technique.

Most people would like to think that they and other people are fair in their dealings with others because of some inherent goodness, i.e. some form of altruism. In this new study, Fober and Smead suggest that the real reason people are fair with one another is because they fear being the victim of a spiteful action.

Spite, the researchers note, is the opposite of altruism—it’s when people cause something negative to happen to someone else, at their own expense. And it too, they add is a part of fairness, or at least in its perception.

In simple terms, egalitarianism arises from our desire to appease (or “buy off”) people who might be angry that we have more than they do.

It’s not an impulse of kindness, peace, love and happiness. It’s an impulse of fear. Similarly, the left’s paranoia about race is a form of fear, too. Fear that someone might be different and we might not all be on the same level.

Perhaps as Jonathan Haidt suggests, liberals and conservatives care about different things. Now we see the reasons behind why they care. One group wants to appease the herd, the other group to restrain its destructive impulse through values like loyalty, sacredness and authority.

As Blake said, even the fool will find truth if he keeps applying himself to the question. It’s worth closing with another epigram from Blake: “One law for the lion and ox is oppression.”

Anatomy of a modern lie

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014


“Single-sex education unlikely to offer advantage over coed schools, research finds,” says the headline. Seems straightforward, right?

“Proponents of single-sex schools argue that separating boys and girls increases students’ achievement and academic interest,” said author Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, of University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Our comprehensive analysis of the data shows that these advantages are trivial and, in many cases, nonexistent.”

They’ve even got a woman writing this. It’s a victory for The People, folks, as they fight back against the evil sexist cisgender aggressors.

Oh, wait…

The studies examined students’ performance and attitudes in math and science; verbal skills; and attitudes about school, gender stereotyping, aggression, victimization and body image.

What are “attitudes about school, gender stereotyping, aggression, victimization and body image” doing in there?

Answer: it’s a way of evening out the data. Like pouring concrete over rocks, it smooths out any oddities that are discovered.

If the scores are too high in favor of the bad evil sexist empire’s single-sex schools, just use a lower metric for those “attitudes” to lower its score.

Typical liberal propaganda.

If science wonders why people are defecting in droves from faith in it, this is the reason, not some reliance on their religion.

Science has allowed itself to become corrupted, politicized and now, to have zero sense about its methods.

I’m sure there’s a study somewhere designed to validate these methods and if we were to read it and pick it apart, we’d find its weakness too.

Reminiscent of the Soviet Union, liberals are using “science” to validate political propaganda which means there’s not a feedback loop between reality and political decisions.

That is a path to empire collapse.

Liberals claim gun rights are “racist”

Friday, November 1st, 2013

gun_rights_are_racistWe all know that “science” has jumped the shark. Science hasn’t; “science” has.

Science is the idea of using the scientific method, investigate-hypothesize-test-repeat, of learning about our world. “Science” is the idea that an organized consensus exists in the scientific community on issues that are important to liberals, and that thus liberalism is proven by science.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Liberals are in fact in denial of science every day, starting with the Darwinism they like to claim conservatives deny. The very basis of liberalism, enforced equality, is anti-Darwinian in its nature.

Recent articles have been pointing out that science is not self-correcting and the peer review system in “science” isn’t working. Scientists need to get paid, after all, and there’s two ways to do this.

First, they could find a wealthy corporation that needs a certain result. Want to prove that eggs will kill you, and so we should eat cheese instead? Hire some scientists. Do ten surveys, and pick the one that has the results you want. Can’t replicate results? Not your problem; science works by proving correlations and implying universality, not proving it.

Second, they could find a popular notion, like what Malcolm Gladwell does for neat ideas. They could then create some innovative research that makes that idea seem palatable to a lot of people. They could then in turn get lots of people to buy their books, watch their interviews, and make them famous, so they get their own labs someday and/or retire rich.

That’s how it’s done in the Science Industry, which is what “science” really is.

Now there’s a recent study that tries to imply that gun rights defenders are the liberal’s favorite category for ideological enemies, “racists”:

Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). This study examined whether racism is also related to gun ownership and opposition to gun controls in US whites… logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism.

So let’s break this down.

First, they’re using a limited amount of data.

Next, they’re using proxies for racism based on… well, what? …based on the scientists’ interpretations of what “racism” is.

Then they’re assuming there’s no natural correlation between this perceived racism and other factors, such as distrust of impoverished people (who do commit more crimes, right, science guys?) and the stress of having ethnically divided neighborhoods.

Finally, there’s the use of “logistic regressions” which is a technique of attempting to disprove a false association. However, these all succumb to the same attack which is that not only is correlation not causation, but logistic regressions do not address causation itself. There can be other causes not included in the study to which these things can be attributed.

In short, a typical liberal hit piece. Cherry-pick data. Use arbitrary symbolic abstractions. Filter heavily. Draw broad conclusions. Claim liberalism = science as a result, even if you can only sneeringly imply it and not outright state it.

If you want a reason why people like myself refer to liberalism as a mental health disorder, you can see it here. They look at reality, and change what they see in their own minds in order to fit into what they want to see. They are projecting themselves on reality.

“Science” has become another tool toward that agenda and another means toward that ideological end. But that’s what happens to everything in liberalism, and if you don’t stop them, to everything in your life as well.

Science: a new religion

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Any sane religion will exist in parallel to science, meaning that the abstract descriptions in that religion will match what science discovers.

The problem occurs when religions decide to deny physical reality, or when science decides to politicize itself and create its own competing philosophy to religion.

Science after all by its own founding mandate consists of revelations of consistent details of the physical world. It does not speak to anything else, including morality or philosophy. It is a tool for discovering our world.

Yet in the power vacuum left behind by culture, every person is scrabbling to be on top — not just for the power, and the existential purpose that provides, but for social power and the money it bestows.

After all, if governments become corrupt, corporations go bad, and even ordinary people make bad decisions, why would “science” (which is composed of human beings just like the others) be immune? Time has shown us how any form of authority becomes desirable for those who would abuse it.

Many want science to be like a religion and to have all the answers, because that way they feel like they are important and knowledgeable while all others are ignorant. You will recognize this behavior from the schoolyard: “No, my Dad/football team/friends are the best ever! You are nothing!”

In fact, it is usually those who are most incapable of independent analysis who want some absolute, universal, God-like truth authority to appeal to. Science is the modern choice, especially among those who cannot think beyond the immediate and material. It re-inforces the views they already have.

Further, as a deconstructive force, science is handy for those who want to argue against anything but the immediate and material. Those beliefs that sustained your ancestors for 5,000 years? They’re ignorant, because some guy (whose parents grew up in a trailer or asylum) read an article that says so.

Yet then we come face to face with the fallibility of science because scientists are human beings, and for money or social prestige they’ll cherry-pick data, broadly interpret results, extrapolate to levels best reserved for religion and philosophy, and in short do anything to create the headlines and perceptions that the “educated” proles find desirable:

Dr. Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who studies research methods at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. In a series of influential analytical reports, he has documented how, in thousands of peer-reviewed research papers published every year, there may be so much less than meets the eye.

These flawed findings, for the most part, stem not from fraud or formal misconduct, but from more mundane misbehavior: miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis. “There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims,” Dr. Ioannidis said. “A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true.”


Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. “People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual,” Dr. Ioannidis said. – WSJ referencing “Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science” and “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” (others: The Economist and New Scientist).

This is the oldest form of superstition in the book: out of your results, pick the ones that re-inforce your existing beliefs.

In the vernacular, we call this “cherry-picking,” after the practice of looking over the cherries on a tree and only picking the ones you want to eat. Leave the rotten behind. It’s our foraging instinct, worn into us by millennia of survival.

We tend to avoid cherry-picking if we want accurate results because in life, results tend to vary relatively widely on individual attempts, but when we take the whole together (a statistical view) we can see a norm that expresses the normal function of the event.

It helps to think about this in terms of the “normal distribution”:

Image courtesy of Wolfram Mathworld.

Over time, the same event spreads out from one extreme to another. The extremes, both good and bad, are a minority of the results, and the majority are those in the middle. None fit into discrete categories so much as “clinal” or graduated ones. To figure out the real value of an event, it must be tested many times.

Supposing you did one of those tests, and threw out everything but the middle — handy for jumping to a conclusion, especially if it supports the product your donors are selling:

The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs’ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.

In published trials, about 60 percent of people taking the drugs report significant relief from depression, compared with roughly 40 percent of those on placebo pills. But when the less positive, unpublished trials are included, the advantage shrinks: the drugs outperform placebos, but by a modest margin, concludes the new report, which appears Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Previous research had found a similar bias toward reporting positive results for a variety of medications; and many researchers have questioned the reported effectiveness of antidepressants. But the new analysis, reviewing data from 74 trials involving 12 drugs, is the most thorough to date. And it documents a large difference: while 94 percent of the positive studies found their way into print, just 14 percent of those with disappointing or uncertain results did. – NYT via an excellent discussion at Slashdot: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.

We forget at our own risk that science is not a religion or a philosophy, and in fact by its very nature is incompetent for being one of either. Science studies the details, and builds up linear connections between discrete events; philosophy studies the patterns of life and their tendencies, and religion tries to find a transcendental (connection between timeless mental concept of “meaning” and tendencies of the cosmos) explanation for those philosophies.

You can ask science whether mixing several chemicals will produce a salt, or the boiling point of lead, but it’s a mistake to ask it for more than that. It cannot tell you how to live your life, or what values to keep. When we try to use science for such things, we end up with superstition based on the error of thinking that says a correlation between events in an abstract, idealized circumstance somehow translates into reality. It does not.

Unfortunately, in our time we’ve relegated philosophy to memorization of argumentative positions that then translate into our modern ideals, and we’ve corrupted religion with money, politics and mass media. Or maybe religion corrupted itself. Or more likely there is one form of corruption, dishonesty, and it infested religion at about the same time it began infesting politics, but before it infested science.

It’s time to update our mental maps and realize that “science” does not give definitive answers. It gives linear results in a theoretical work-in-progress. Some theories, like evolution or gravity, remain very stable for a long time and then suddenly expand with our knowledge. This does not make them wrong, but like all things science, it makes them contextless, and so we should be careful with our interpretation.

As said above, in a healthy time science and religion describe the same things and are in accord, also with philosophy. In our time however we have made the individual, through equality which translates into every viewpoint being “valid,” irresponsible to truth and clarity, and as a result corruption has set in.

Even to science, which sounds so abstract we’d guess it would be above such things, if it weren’t an activity of humans who still need to feed their families and send their kids to college.

More Scientific Observations That Humans Are Not Important

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Not on the evolutionary scale, and certainly not on a cosmic scale. We might think we’re special, but the reality is, we’re a very tiny piece of a puzzle so large that our species and its history counts for nothing in the truly big picture.

The scientists deduced that whatever is driving the movements of the clusters must lie beyond the known universe.

A theory called inflation posits that the universe we see is just a small bubble of space-time that got rapidly expanded after the Big Bang. There could be other parts of the cosmos beyond this bubble that we cannot see.

In these regions, space-time might be very different, and likely doesn’t contain stars and galaxies (which only formed because of the particular density pattern of mass in our bubble). It could include giant, massive structures much larger than anything in our own observable universe. These structures are what researchers suspect are tugging on the galaxy clusters, causing the dark flow.


Realize how small you, your religion, and your existence are; live life in harmony with this reality instead of inventing false drama like most of the herd in our “enlightened” society.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

-Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Bisphenol-A, Part 2

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

A new study links the dangerous, and widely used, chemical with heart disease and diabetes.

BPA is used to line most canned goods, from soups to soft drinks, to prevent corrosion. It helps make sunglasses and compact discs durable. And it strengthens virtually all transparent, light-weight, hard plastic bottles.
Today’s study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, released early to coincide with a US Food and Drug Administration hearing this morning, finds evidence for broader concern in adults.

Researchers led by Iain A. Lang of Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England, analyzed urine levels of BPA among 1,455 American adults, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004. Higher levels of BPA in urine were associated with the form of chest pain called angina, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and type 2 diabetes.

Feel free to digg and comment on a similar article here.

This is extremely disconcerting, but hardly surprising. Our government and the corporations that have bought it up piece by piece are not concerned with your health. They decided that Canada was jumping the gun when trying to ban BPA earlier in the year, when even they didn’t know the facts.

How does this chemical even get past our FDA? Because our FDA isn’t made up of an army of altruistic scientists looking out for the health of Americans, sadly enough. Maybe our tax dollars should go toward creating such an organization though, instead of, say, benefits for people who don’t belong here and a broken welfare system.

Full article on here: [+]


Sunday, May 1st, 2005

The pragmatically extremist core of the green movement has never been compatible with the mainstream of the same. Where middle of the road greenism is basically an extension of the democratic party, “extremist” (read: realistic, if we want to solve the problem) greenism has never fit into the leftist family of brands. Part of the reason for this is that, like the right, “extreme” greens refuse to praise the worker, the common man, “the people” and assume that, if power is simply turned over to these unfairly oppressed people, all things will turn out for the best. The assumption is that an elite of moneyed psychopaths holds us all hostage, and if we just overthrow them, the workers will do what is right.

Pragmatic greens recognize, like far-righters do, that in the past millennium what we’ve seen most commonly is not domination by a cruel elite, but the creation of cruel elites to control the mob that, having dominated the select few who can think, now cruises without a clue – and that always brings out the demagogues, in the same way that fresh blood in water attracts sharks. What, you have no direction? Not to speak too forwardly, but I’ll help – for a fee. And absolute allegiance. Those words, fifty years later, turn into the ruins of Soviet Russia: a once-cultured nation, now bereft of its genetics and values system, turned into a conformist machine which impoverished its population and killed the best of them. While there are signs that Russia is returning to health at the hand of Mr. Putin, there are also signs that something is missing – something which can never be recovered, a certain European-ness and also moral concept of civilization that is forever lost. It is perhaps true that Russia has forever joined the third world, not as much externally, but internally, as its own attitudes have come to have third world expectations and, lacking discipline, needs for third-world-style authoritarian rule.

It goes this way with every mass revolution. Some wise guy stands up and says, “It’s them” – the wealthy, or powerful, or good-looking, or gifted; take your pick, or combine – “they live well, while we starve. They oppress us! If we crush them, we will live in paradise!” And so the mob surges forward, and while they certainly murder a few people who deserve it, like decadent nobles and sex predator clergy, for the most part they exterminate or disable the few people with the brains to help them. Keeping your thumb on the fast-forward switch, you can see how in another generation, when the impetus of the revolution has run down, there are no more spoils left to divide, and no more excess wealth upon which one can feast. The nation is collapsing, and the revolutionaries are betraying each other in a desperate attempt to keep a grip on not wealth itself but the slippery concept of how to produce it on a consistent basis. At this point it becomes clear: being able to work a farm or factory does not imply being able to run one, from a design and decision perspective. Since the people are without direction, the demagogues rise, and soon authoritarian rule prevails.

Rightist authoritarian rule tends to be idealistic, and thus susceptible to problems because only a few people can actually understand the whole of its reasoning, thus underlings are without a clue how to make decisions until a generation has passed; mass revolts produce a different kind of authoritarian rule, close kin to “power for power’s sake,” but something closer to “power for paranoia’s sake.” When civilization comes unknit, and the rule of strength prevails, those who wish to endure take one of two courses of action: (a) hide or (b) gain more power than anyone else, and subjugate them, eliminating the constant threat. Hiding leaves one open to random predation, but becoming strong enables the group to not only survive but have a sense of planning for the future as well. It is this benevolent impulse that produces a climate of vicious leaders, and the generations shaped by this become true sociopaths, caring not about power for the sake of avoiding predation, but wielding power like a sick joke, pursuing it for the thrill of it and oblivious to consequences. When such men kill, they do not do so to make things better, as ideologues do; they do so to keep themselves from being bored.

Of course, these scenarios are extremes; what about mundane sorts of government, the day to day stuff we find ourselves dealing with in times of peace? Ah – like most mediocre things, they are hard to diagnose, as they give us few truly offensive statements and most of their incompetence is covered up by the time required for it to take effect. Much as when one works in the fields, a simple error is revealed in minutes, but a fundamental hour might not come to light until the next season, modern governments make a multitude of understandable tiny screwups and a few assumptions that create infinitely greater damage in the long term. By that time those who remember the decisions being made are dead, and the new generation knows only that something difficult happened, and endures it. There is no recollection of “we could have done it another way.” This is where one encounters the conflict that divides the green movements worldwide: they realize fairly radical changes need to be implemented to prevent the train wreck that is industrial society’s exploitation of its environment, but they also realize these changes will not fit into the realm of mundane decisions which governments and voters expect. How does one make a law that says we must expand no further, and must make thousands of decisions across the board in favor of the environment, for once?

For this reason, the greens are – like the rest of Europe and America, at least – divided by philosophy. One philosophy is the dominant one now, which says we must look after the interests of people and never curtail their rights, their desires, their hopes and dreams. The other, which is popular only in extremist circles, says that we must look not at individuals but at the effect of the whole of humanity, and only in that mindset can we see the damage and plan to control it. In this second mindset, instead of seeing uncountable individuals, we see one individual, divided up into many small organs. We don’t wish to destroy any organs that we need, but ultimately, what matters is the health of the whole, not the health of any one given organ. Organs are a means to an end, and that end is the whole. Thus individual organs are expendable, if expended to preserve or strengthen the whole. This type of thinking is completely alien to our modern society, and thus is also foreign to the mainstream greens, who are notable both for their opposition to it and their total lack of success in delaying environmental apocalypse. They won’t cross the line of the individual, and thus they cannot restrain humanity as a whole, since it is composed of – nay, driven by – individuals each seeking their own wants, desires, hopes, dreams.

The “extremist” greens have thus stumbled across the most important barrier in the modern time: like right-wing parties, they are willing to curtail the rights of the individual for the health of the whole. Further, like right-wing parties, they recognize that the worker would be something other than a worker if he or she knew anything significant about government; thus simply handing society over to “the people” is a recipe for continued selfishness, and not its abatement. They’re in a tough place, these greens, since they’ve seen enough to realize what must be done, but have no idea how to advance their political agenda. Mainstream right- and left-wing parties capitalize on this by accusing greens of having a lack of political vision. And in some ways, they’re right. Greens have an environmental vision, but in order to get to the place where they can put it into operation, they have to add to it a political vision, namely a plan for how the whole of society operates such that it can find reasons to want an environmental policy, and thus act on it. There’s another problem, too.

This problem is broader in implication and easier to trigger. It’s that one gets called a “sociopath” for endorsing any type of action that, in order to make the whole healthier, is willing to limit what any given individual can expect. If you suggest limiting population, you’re a sociopath. Euthanizing the elderly, the retarded, the hopelessly criminal – you’re a sociopath. Even telling people they cannot have giant cars, or oversized houses, is viewed as socially defective, violent, psychotic reasoning. This is how prevalent the barrier of the individual is. It does not apply to any known individual, but the idealized individual, meaning any of us and all of us. Bizarrely, the prohibition does not address outcomes but intentions; you are seen as sociopathic if you desire to use a certain method, because it is a banned mode of thought, regardless of what positive outcome it will produce. It’s blasphemy to even speak it. Naturally, in such a situation, most people give up on broader change and focus on having enough money for a house in a gated community, with air and water filters, radiation sheeting and health plans for the inevitable cancers. That is “survival,” and it’s the softer option than dominating one’s opposition, which is nearly impossible since their numbers are so great. That is, if one assumes that the rest of society is one’s opposition, something that to this writer does not seem entirely accurate.

The slur “sociopath” operates by the same principle as the terms atheist and theist: if you are not one, you must be the other, since they are opposites – correct? Nevermind that pantheists and polytheists exist, as we can group those under “theist”; this dichotomy does not admit any variation in the definition of God. If your god(s) require no belief, then you’re an atheist; if you believe, but not in gods, then you’re an atheist. In short, either believe in the singular God of the dominant religion, or be lumped in with the “non-believers.” My way, or the highway. They’re either with us, or against us. A binary worldview – this also extends to sociopathy, which is the opposite of being a good citizen. Nevermind that there are reasons to criticize society; it recognizes only one definition of good, which is its own, and any methods or ideas outside of its own method are thus seen as deviant. In our society, the founding principle is that the individual is supreme. Therefore, anything which seeks to limit the “freedom” and “needs” of the individual is sociopathic, fascist, amoral, etc. Anything which is not what already exists is by predefinition an illness which requires diagnosis and excision. For this reason, the term “sociopath,” normally applied to those who feel no concern for the consequences of their actions, is applied to those who feel so much concern for the consequences of our collective action that they are willing to limit our abilities as a whole. It makes more sense to say that the people who believe individuals should never be limited, even if they are destroying the world, are sociopathic, but no one will mention that on television.

Where did this kingdom of the individual start? To see this, we have to look not only at belief systems, but the sociopolitical shifts behind them. Clearly the highest degree of value is placed on the individual in non-idealistic, materialistic (meaning: addresses only physical reality, not a second spiritual “world” like dualistic systems) religions like Judaism, but the point of this exercise is not Judaism but the behavior of placing emphasis on the individual. It’s likely that as Christianity expanded in Europe, Judaic ideals went with it, encouraging a focus on individual drama, personal relationship to God, and expectation that if one acted well reward would come. However, this is only part of the picture, because simultaneously, other revolts were occurring. Ever since the domestication of livestock, technology had been allowing human beings to magnify their own ability through the use of tools, equalizing the war-strength of a hero to that of the hidden sniper taking aim at him. Arrows, guns, the internal combustion engine… and finally, as all open land ran out and it become required to get all items of sustenance from others, money. Each of these means narrowed the gap between the genius and the idiot, the priest and the con man, the warrior and geek. If in any society there are a fortunate few of high ability, and a large mass of those with lesser ability, this technological progress amounts to a rebellion of the many against the few.

It is the order that these people created that calls “sociopathic” anything which limits the abilities of the individual; this is because a crowd is formed only when every person thinks only for their own self-interest, and thus dumbs down the intent of the crowd to the lowest common denominator, causing it to act as if of its own accord. Crowds demand rights of the individual, because each wants to be able to hatch whatever scheme or indulge whatever weakness she is keeping hidden behind social politeness. Crowds demand democracy, because each wants to feel important but is dependent on others for his source of power, therefore gladly grants others the same rights and plans in secret to manipulate them. Crowds insist upon “proof,” that being the demonstration of something to the point where every idiot gets it, requiring that the questions to be proved be re-adjusted to deal with simpler topics. Crowds love public image displays, because every single person can see the “proof” offered by image, and agree, which allows those who can to manipulate behind the scenes. Interestingly, Plato offered this diagnosis among the ancient Greeks: democracy breeds self-importance in every individual, and thus they act as an unthinking mass, responding only to public image and demagoguery. For this reason, they’re easily manipulated, not by a conspiracy, but by the invisible but pragmatic bribes of an oligarchy of the wealthy. When the two candidates you see on TV differ by inconsequential but dramatic “beliefs,” and when all the newspapers report the same basic news, but you feel something is missing, remember Plato – he realized quickly that “sociopathy” is how a crowd labels behavior that will take away its power.

Returning to the question of environmental politics, it’s clear that there is no way to “prove” that our damage to the earth is worsening; those who don’t want to believe will pull out some “study,” however flimsy or lacking any grasp of the meaningful questions that would solve the debate, and loudly proclaim that the study has not been “disproved” and therefore the debate is open. This passive tactic is designed to outlast an adversary by insisting upon the impossible: change my mind, and then I’ll stop resisting your attempts to change my mind by reason. Because people are persistent, and act for individual reward, this behavior nullifies debate on the issue time and time again by dragging it into a standoff. And with a standoff, those who favor no radical change rule over those who do. Why? Because to brush aside the passive tactics of those who desire no change is “sociopathy,” of course.

Recommended Reading