SOME THOUGHTS ON RELIGION

Many believe that religion’s most useful purpose is in answering fundamental questions about human behavior and society and about the nature of reality and existence itself, particularly questions that there are no easy or simple answers to but which people feel compelled to ask.  Religious doctrine, particularly when supported by the authoritative figures in a society, can answer such questions quickly and allow people to feel confident and secure in the certitude of the answers.  Ideally, the great majority of people will accept the same answers to these questions which they can use to develop similar values and beliefs and build the foundation of their ethical and legal systems so that they can live in harmony.  Individuals inevitably have different interests which will lead to inevitable conflict, and minimizing the difference in values and beliefs can minimize these conflicts.  Note that problems arise when scientific investigation indicates that some of the answers of a particular religious doctrine are suspect.  The doctrines that are more likely to survive such an assault are those which do not depend too heavily on the veracity of any of their claims about the physical reality or which are adaptable to new information about that physical reality.

However, there is another vital need that religion can fill.  Throughout human evolution, humans lived in small groups, often with an alpha male or female (usually male) at the head of the group.  The alpha made many of the decisions of the group and it was best for group harmony and survival that the other members not resist those decisions too often or too forcefully.  This created a tendency for the non-alpha members to shut off their analytical and creative abilities in order to become better followers and avoid conflict.

This trend of non-alpha members of the group shutting off their analytical and creative faculties can reduce conflict, but a group that can limit conflict while allowing most of its members to develop and use their own analytical and creative abilities can be more productive, wealthy, and secure.  Religious beliefs, particularly those allowing for some omnipotent and omniscient entity to watch over the members of the group as they go about their daily lives, evolved in some societies to serve the function of convincing those members to submit to an authority and accept its moral rules without that authority being in the form of a dominant and domineering individual or small number of individuals that could have the emotional effect of stifling the group members’ creative and analytical processes.

The invisible, omnipotent, non-human entity could be the source of values and moral rules and instill fear to restrict various types of harmful behavior while not depressing the productive behavior.  In an environment where such a religious doctrine is accepted, emotional rewards may result from the increased motivation with the removal of the alpha individual or individuals in control.  Some have labeled such emotional rewards as “a feeling of freedom.”

 

FEMINIST FUNDAMENTALISM

As someone who is atheistic and anti-religious I find it disturbing that current belief systems and cultural trends in the West are being heavily influenced by an ideology whose adherents defend it with blind faith like a religion – the ideology of Feminist Fundamentalism, which seems to be part of a broader trend to replace scientific rationalism with post-rational mysticism.  Feminist Fundamentalism in many ways resembles a religion in that it promotes beliefs that are mostly based on magical thinking and not based on science or on the weight of the evidence, including beliefs that men and women are the same intellectually, emotionally, and in ability (or even that women are intellectually superior, based on flawed comparisons that ignore that girls/women mature and peak earlier than boys/men).  Also, like most religions, it has fanatical followers, mostly consisting of over-privileged young women, many of whom glorify victimhood and are obsessed with acts of micro-aggression.

Feminist Fundamentalist beliefs are easily distinguished from, though they are often conflated with, the related moral imperative that women and men should be treated as having the same value to society and provided the same respect, nurturing, and concern and their needs attended to equally.  Also, note that these beliefs imply that men and women are equal in virtually all ways, except that only women can have babies so that women are a bit more equal, making men redundant, unnecessary, and expendable.

The Feminist Fundamentalism belief system, which is the source of most of the rules of political correctness and which has become accepted uncritically by much of academia, is backed by pseudo-science designed for the pseudo-sophisticated, is counterfactual, deviates significantly from what the best available evidence suggests, fuels hate-filled and divisive rants about “the patriarchy” which demonize half the members of the human race, and causes great inefficiency in the degree to which Western societies meet the needs of their members.  It is interesting that the proponents of Feminist Fundamentalism argue that it follows from applying Critical Theory to traditional beliefs, though a similar application of Critical Theory to the Feminist Fundamentalist belief system would demonstrate that it is at least as arbitrary as traditional belief systems while, unlike traditional beliefs, it cannot be said to have successfully built a modern civilization.

One of the most dangerous and destructive Feminist Fundamentalist beliefs is that homosexual relations are equal to heterosexual relations.  Like the other beliefs, this is counterfactual and not based on any scientific evidence but instead is based on what those promoting the ideology wish to be true.  Evolution designed heterosexuality, as it designed gender differences, over millions of years to serve purposes related not only to reproduction but to the creation of group harmony and cohesion.  The attacks on the value of heterosexuality and the poisoning of the relations between men and women by the advocates of Feminist Fundamentalism erode the fundamental bonds that hold a society together, creating a plethora of associated short- and long-term costs, many of them unforeseeable.

Among other costs of adopting Feminist Fundamentalist beliefs, including increased confusion of self-identity and social chaos resulting from more unmet expectations, the legal system is burdened with the task of limiting and punishing behavior, mostly by males, that results from the adopting these beliefs and ignoring the differences in the sexes. The ignoring of the differences leads to not only criminal prosecutions that overburden that system, but creates a great many broken and bitter people who will become burdens on, rather than contributors to, human society.  Even more concerning, it becomes impossible to design an efficient, harmonious society on a scientific basis with these nonsensical and non-scientific beliefs dominating social relations.

One place where the legal system does recognize significant difference in the sexes is in child custody preferences.  Here, a flawed assumption is made that women should be given custody of children after divorce.  It was decided long ago that child custody cases would operate under a presumption that the mother should receive custody as it was assumed that the mother was the more necessary parent.  However, I think the data developed over the past few decades of how poorly boys do without a father in the house makes it imperative to abandon the earlier presumption.  Also, children learn more from the parent of the same sex so the presumption in child custody cases should be in favor of giving custody to the parent of the same sex as the child.  I would further add that while the earlier practice was in part based on the assumption that children would fare better if siblings were not separated, the need of a boy for the constant oversight and companionship of a father appears to far outweigh any benefit the boy might receive from being placed with female siblings.

Note that Feminist Fundamentalism is not any more scientific or rational than the traditional deity-based religions that it is apparently supplanting.  Similar to what these religions did in the past, it is ascending because it corresponds with the interests of those with the most power, which in today’s world means globalist elites and the giant corporations that they control.

As these globalist elites have divided the common people and made it more difficult for them to resist their subjugation, they have corrupted Maslow’s ideas about personal fulfillment and have glorified tedious office work while devaluing motherhood and the importance of nurturing.  By this they have not only elevated financial concerns above broader human needs, but have pushed more women into the labor force, depressing labor costs, and normalizing the viewpoint that the common man or woman should strive to be, and should expect to be, nothing more than an interchangeable, disposable, corporate worker bee.

No man or woman dares to challenge Feminist Fundamentalism for fear of being targeted and labeled as someone socially undesirable.  Just acknowledging that there may be questions regarding the validity of some of its premises can end or seriously damage someone’s career – just ask Larry Summers.  The oppressive environment fostered by the priests of Feminist Fundamentalism in protecting this irrational belief system in some ways rivals that created by the Catholic Church in Medieval Europe.

SOME THOUGHTS ON CULTURE

A currently popular  idea is that all cultures are equal.  This arises from a misguided attempt to show respect for and provide dignity to those who come from other than the dominant culture, though it only serves to further disempower them.  The culture that a group of people develops in a particular environment is an adaptation to that environment and as such has been molded by the forces present to allow the individuals to effectively operate in that environment.  Those from a different environment who have been shaped by a different culture will likely not be as effective in the new environment unless they adapt to its culture.  To encourage them not to adapt to the culture or even to advise them to mix in equal proportions their prior culture with the culture of this new environment is doing them a disservice.

The exception to this is when the newcomers from the different culture are able to achieve dominance through force or technological superiority.  Then they may provide pressure for structures and patterns in the culture to conform to their alien culture, and individuals may be required to adapt to the alien culture.  Also, note that some cultures have relatively more universal attributes that empower the individuals who absorb them to dominate others in other environments, so these cultures more often become expansive

On another related point, it is often said that “Politics is downstream from culture.”  While not disputing that, I think a more complete representation would be an Escher-like endless loop constructed as follows:
(1) Politics is downstream from culture;
(2) Culture is downstream from both technological innovation and law;
(3) Technological innovation and law are downstream from economic policies;
(4) Economic policies are downstream from politics. (Loop back to (1))

PRIVILEGE

There are innumerable ways in which people can be divided, including by social class, income or wealth, educational level, intelligence (along any dimension), race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, age, health, height, weight or body shape, physical attractiveness, athletic ability, sexual practices or preferences, hobbies, geographical location, job or profession, etc…  Grouping by focusing on any one of these characteristics can make sense in some context.  Also, the same individual may be labeled as “underprivileged” because of membership in a group that has been traditionally disadvantaged if one characteristic is examined and labeled as “privileged” because of membership in a group that has been advantaged if another characteristic is examined.  Actually, the odds are that the great majority of individuals are in at least one advantaged and at least one disadvantaged group of some significance.  So any reasonable attempt to judge whether a person is “privileged” or “underprivileged” would require a holistic approach to consider all groupings with any significant impact.  For example, a wealthy, well-educated, physically attractive African-American woman with wealthy parents is certainly more privileged than a poor, uneducated, unattractive male immigrant from Eastern Europe.

What is particularly disturbing is the growing trend for individuals that are more advantaged than disadvantaged, when considering the totality of characteristics, who label others as “privileged” because of a single characteristic, disregarding whether those others would be deemed advantaged from a holistic perspective.  What is ironic is that the labeling usually involves bullying the weak and vulnerable, from a holistic perspective, by those who claim they are in search of equal treatment for all.

A common instance of this is when young women verbally assault young men, especially white young men, by claiming the latter are “privileged” with the implication that they should lose some of their social status and possibly even their rights as a result.  The sentiment behind this is not based on proof that the young men have engaged in any harmful behavior or that they themselves have received any significant undeserved rewards, but that people who looked like them in the past engaged in such behavior or received such rewards.  However, not tying rewards, punishments, or social feedback generally to behavior is very dangerous.  This is equivalent to indicting a defendant for a crime even though it is certain that the defendant was not personally involved in the crime, as it is deemed sufficient that someone who looked similar to the defendant was involved.

What makes this even worse is that these verbal assaults are part of a pattern of unrelenting attacks on innocent and vulnerable young men by bullying young women who will keep pressing their advantage as long as there is no pushback.  Certainly there are young men who are privileged and there are those who are bullies, but they rarely as the victims of these attacks and they rarely suffer the consequences.  It is mostly vulnerable young men lacking social confidence, those who are not privileged from a holistic perspective, who are most often attacked and who feel each cut of the seemingly endless stream of cuts most deeply.  The jackals always attack the most vulnerable, not the strongest, but only human jackals would claim that it is just and honorable to do so.

One last point is that an essential element of the narrative that white male privilege requires corrective action to achieve justice is the belief that only white straight males were better off before the current focus on social justice while everyone else was worse off.  However, according to surveys regarding satisfaction in life and several other indicators of quality of life, virtually all racial and ethnic groups and both sexes have seen a decline in quality of life in the last number of years.  Ironically, those who were instrumental in manipulating public perception to make white male privilege a dominant narrative were mostly very wealthy white males, a subgroup of the one group that has seen an improvement in quality of life in the last few decades — the very rich.

VALUES & SUSTAINABILITY

Large groups of humans living together, including large human societies, develop values and rules that follow from those values that to some degree provide for the welfare, sustainability, and survivability of the group or the groups perish.  As the elites in the society generally design, implement, and enforce the rules, they feel constant internal pressure to mold the rules to serve their own narrow interests and external pressure to develop rules that serve the broader interests of the entire society, i.e., utilitarian rules.  This results in a a set of rules that contains some rules for the exclusive benefit of the elites and other rules for the benefit of the whole, including non-elites.

However, if the external pressure is reduced in some way, for example if the elites become more insulated because of the accumulation of wealth or other forms of power, then the balance is tilted towards the values and narrow rules that only serve their interests.  This can create self-reinforcing feedback loops as these self-serving rules may accelerate the accumulation of wealth and power of the elites.  This leads to the deterioration of the welfare of the non-elites, which eventually leads to general societal deterioration which even impacts the elites, regardless of the degree to which they have insulated themselves from the problems and suffering of the non-elites.   Unless this societal deterioration is addressed rapidly and forcefully, the economy of the society and the society itself begin to disintegrate and develop runaway feedback loops of self-destruction, caused by ever narrowing self interest, leading to complete disintegration and collapse.

Also note that while civilization offers a great improvement in the quality of life for humans, it is at the cost of suppressing certain behavioral trends and desires that naturally occur (that would be consistent with group survival and welfare in a small hunter-gatherer group but inconsistent with group survival and welfare in a large, complex civilization).  The best minds of most generations throughout the thousands of years of civilization have agreed that the benefits of civilization far outweigh the costs, but because of a confluence of several different forces many influential individuals in Western societies, particularly the United States, during the past few decades have become convinced that the benefits are not worth the costs and have successfully brought pressure to discard or reduce the civilized values, i.e., those that benefit the general welfare, from society.

MAINSTREAM NARRATIVES

There are an infinite possible number of levels of depth of the analysis of any phenomena over time, i.e., the depth is unbounded, so there are an infinite number of possible models of the phenomena, each with its own potential narratives built by weaving the data points together in particular ways.  However, in order to achieve some degree of commonly held beliefs, goals, and agreed-upon actions and rules, there must be a widely adopted model of reality as expressed in one mainstream narrative.  This is particularly true of any system where decision-making that affects the whole group depends on a significant degree to the formation of a consensus, e.g., in a democracy, democratic republic, or political system that purports to be either.  This implies that laws passed by such a political system will be based on consensus, which will be based on a widely adopted mainstream narrative.

Those who believe in a narrative not held by many others are sometimes subjected to ridicule as others doubt their mental stability.  However, sanity and mental stability are only indirectly related to whether an individual adheres to a broadly accepted narrative.  Mental stability is dependent on receiving continual and dependable rewards, positive feedback (including positive feedback from nature in finding perceptions consistent with predictions from models held), for behavior and it is quite possible for someone with a unique narrative to receive such rewards.  However, adopting a non-mainstream narrative and holding somewhat or completely unique beliefs can make it more difficult to harmonize and work in conjunction with others and that can create a deficit in positive feedback, which then can lead to a loss of motivation or social confidence and, as a result, to mental instability.

GENDER AND TRANSGENDER

The term “gender” has evolved from originally meaning the biological sex of an individual to meaning something about the social or cultural identity of the individual.  This is logically problematic.  A male gender identity is said to derive from engaging in behaviors that are generally classified as “male,” and similarly for a female gender identity.  The fundamental logical problem with this is that the classification of any behavior as “male” is subjective and imprecise and is a gross generalization that is only used for simplicity and convenience.  Engaging in any one behavior or even any set of behaviors does not make one male, as clearly females can engage in virtually any male behavior and vice versa.  A much more scientific, precise, and objective determination of whether one is male is based on the presence of the XY chromosome, while a determination of whether one is female is based on the presence of the XX chromosome.  To use a particular behavior or set of behaviors as an indicator of an individual’s sex when there is much more powerful evidence such as the individual’s chromosomes is not logical or reasonable.  One does not judge an individual’s age based on their behavior, even though many behaviors are correlated with age just as many behaviors are correlated with sex.  If one has evidence of an individual’s birthdate, that outweighs any evidence of age-related behavior.  The same should be true for sex or gender.

One particularly troubling result of this gender confusion is that some believe that changing from one sex to the other, i.e., undergoing a transgender procedure, is a healthy and reasonable choice to make. First off, maybe medical advances will change this in the future, but as of now even with surgery and hormone therapy one can only resemble the other sex in a superficial manner. The years of brain and body development as the other sex can not be completely, or even mostly, erased. Also, much of the knowledge of how to survive as a member of one’s birth sex will lose its value, and one will have missed out on gaining the corresponding knowledge that members of the other sex developed during youth.

Since one’s physical sexual characteristics at birth are objective and anything but arbitrary, while a culture’s association between an individual’s sex and gender identity may be somewhat subjective and arbitrary, rather than changing the non-arbitrary body to fit with arbitrary and subjective notions about gender identity, it would make far more sense to change the arbitrary and subjective notions about gender identity to fit with the objective characteristics of the body.

But maybe the most compelling reason to condemn this idea is that it distracts and confuses troubled and unhappy individuals and prevents them from focusing on more reasonable means to improve their lives. A further problem is that as the idea gains momentum, it offers another opportunity for individuals to knowingly make behavioral choices that are disfavored by the general society, and then, after claims of discrimination, expect the society to make accommodations for that choice. This is problematic for behavioral choices because humans are quite flexible and adaptable animals, and there are innumerable possible behavioral choices they can make, and social chaos is only prevented, and some degree of social harmony achieved, by limiting that number through societal pressure to restrict apparently unhealthy or arbitrary behavior.

 

CHAINS

Every action, including every choice by individuals, is part of an infinite chain, with no link necessarily being more or less important than every other link.  The individual in making the choice is both determined and determiner.  The individual, as part of innumerable different chains, evolves into something that emits energy in its own unique way, unknown and unknowable, as each individual has a unique history and organization.  And so the uniqueness of the individual provides a unique link in each chain in which the individual participates that can influence the further evolution of the chain.

MORAL SYSTEMS; LEGISLATING MORALITY

Humans evolved in small groups, and these small groups grew, by various means, to become larger and larger groups over the evolution of human civilization.  The path to the development of a large society with sufficient social harmony to be healthy and sustainable has been long and torturous and only was achieved after much experimentation with different rules of social behavior.  Of course the social rules were often crafted primarily for the benefit of elites, but often enough the elites crafting the rules recognized that they would benefit from improving the general welfare of the society, particularly in the societies that survived long term.  Sometimes the rules were found to be inconsistent with general welfare by later generations, or by those leading rebellions in the same generation, and were overturned or modified, but this was always best treated as a delicate process as over time human rules become entangled with the values, belief systems, expectations, and patterns of behavior that are common in the society and which members depend on as they build and maintain the web of human life.

Also, note that moral systems developed in large cooperative groups as a means for regulating the behavior of members of the group for the benefit of the group.  It appears that moral systems developed before writing and before any rules were formally written or enforced as humans evolved the propensity to develop rules, based on feelings towards members of the group, to give the group an advantage.  That implies that the emotional components that often accompany moral rules may have evolved long ago as a means to regulate the behavior.  And that implies that any system of moral rules will increase its efficacy if its development takes into consideration the emotional components of the rules and the extent to which the rules were originally determined solely or mostly by those emotional forces.  And so any system of moral rules which claims to stand merely on “enlightened self-interest” of members of the group is fundamentally lacking.

Related to that, note that in the development of civilization to allow members of a large group to live together in harmony, moral rules were formalized into laws and enforced by a central authority.  These laws were designed to regulate social interactions by making explicit what the limits of acceptable behavior were, and in that sense the laws would dictate morality.  Virtually every law sets limits for legal or acceptable behavior and so virtually every law dictates morality, which makes preposterous the claim that we should not enact laws to dictate morality.

Obviously prohibitions against stealing, murder, slavery, rape, assault, child molestation, drug use, fraud, etc…  are based on shared beliefs about acceptable behavior and so one can make a strong claim that they have a moral basis.  Now, one might argue that there are economically based laws that can be distinguished from morally based laws but that is a false distinction.  Any economic goals must be based on some value system, prioritizing what is more valued in the society over what is less valued, which constitutes a system of morality.

It is not that governments cannot legislate morality, but that sometimes the totality of forces contributing to what is perceived as a social ill that should be addressed is simply too great for the legislative remedy that is prescribed, particularly when those implementing the remedy are not sincere enough, determined enough, or committed enough to devote sufficient resources, which could turn out to be substantial.

One further point that could be made is that those who undergo a certain amount of intellectual development may be able to make moral calculations with regard to contemplated actions, based on the strength of their connections to various groups, such as concentric circles of intimacy (e.g., to self, nuclear family, extended family and friends, nation, human race), that consider degree of connection to affected individuals, probability of success and risk of the action, and benefit or loss to result from the action in order to determine the expected net benefit or cost of the action.  A functioning and healthy society could be composed of such calculating individuals, but only if the great majority of them are able to make such calculations competently.  However, no human society in the past or present has met that criteria as such individuals always appear to comprise only a small percentage of any given population.  So to create a functioning and healthy society it is necessary for the great majority to not try to make such moral calculations and instead to internalize some moral system, ideally created more to serve the general welfare than the interests of elites, that convinces the members of the society to act in most situations in a manner consistent with that moral system.

 

 

FREEDOM

“Freedom” is an often misused and abused term that has limited usefulness in political analysis. Certainly every political actor acts in accordance with the forces or pressures, internal and external, that are applied to the actor.

The word “freedom” is often used by elites to obfuscate and confuse and to keep the powerless non-elites from joining together to form a government to protect themselves from the predations of the powerful (i.e., “freedom” means the elites have the right to be protected from the possibility that the little people use a government to protect themselves from the elites).  The elites sell the idea of freedom as a substitute for equality as it suggests the equal ability to engage in a wide range of activities, with the implicit assumption that only governmental action would act as a restriction.  However, the lack of financial resources is usually what limits an individual’s ability to engage in various activities.  The elites usually tack on a promise of “equal rights before the law” but this type of equality also is generally subject to the financial limitations of the individual, as it usually requires financial resources to enforce the individual’s legal rights.  Moreover, the most important measure of equality, financial equality, is ignored while every other possible form of equality may be promoted and celebrated, including the equality of different types of behavior regardless of the negative implications for social harmony or for the development of common values and shared goals.

There is some value in the social freedom that comes from feeling that one is not dominated by other particular individuals in the society.  Through millions of years of evolution, people developed some resistance to other individual humans exerting control over their activities. This is unsurprising, as in many instances they were being controlled against their own interests, particularly reproductive interests, and so the survival of the individual’s genes depended in part on avoiding such control.  On the other hand, once people accepted and submitted to such dominance, evolution designed people to shut off their analytical and creative processes to minimize conflict and to allow the group to behave as one when competing with outside forces.  But people who are not so dominated and who do not shut down their own analytical and creative processes tend to be much more productive and contribute more to the society.

Some argue that the way to achieve this social freedom is to avoid all analysis, because inherent within any form of analysis is social programming by the elites to control the population.  However, analysis-free thought leads to perceptions or models with no depth, and these are the simplest and therefore the easiest to program.  The deeper the analysis, the more combinations of thoughts that are possible and the more complex the models that are created, such that they could not possibly be pre-programmed.

Also, the individual is a social being and survives and reproduces as part of a human social group, so avoidance of others to achieve the social freedom is not an option.  A balance must be struck, which would involve achieving harmony with others in the social group that the individual belongs to.  Harmony is achieved through agreements on the division of labor (made easier through specialization), and the remuneration that would accompany such (with consideration of the inevitable feelings of alienation and injustice from a wide distribution of income but also with a recognition of the need for a higher rate of remuneration to motivate some to perform the more difficult tasks), and the development of common goals based on common values with collaboration on achieving them.

However, it should be noted that social freedom through social equality is actually a weak substitute for financial equality.  Equality leads to social freedom, i.e., a lack of domination, but social freedom does not necessarily lead to financial equality.  Though it should be added that the goal should be a limit on inequality rather than complete equality, as discrepancies in income are necessary for motivational purposes and for promotion of best behavioral practices.

Note that some elites promote the idea of social equality because their self-image requires that they convince themselves that they are “fair” and “support equality” while other elites just recognize that non-elite individuals are more apt to contribute positively to the society if those individuals believe the society is “fair” and offers them a chance to have or aspire to some semblance of social equality.