One of THOSE Discussions / God, Free Will and Absurdities

This post has gained momentum from having one of those “late night” discussions with a friend – the type that is popular when one is in college, a bit drunk (or otherwise deranged) and which, as one gets older and wiser, one vows to never again participate in. The gist of the argument was:

Determinism (God) is totally compatible with Free Will (The Declaration of Independence), so we have both.

I could stop right here, because this “set up” is thoroughly American “wacky” thinking. It demonstrates the absolute belief that “America” is a special case = exemption from reality, that was/is made possible by American Democracy (in case you weren’t aware, democracy is not a political creation of human origin) which came about by an Act of God. “Freedom” is a basic American goal: Free Will is therefore a mandatory human endowment (by virtue of the word Free appearing in both “concepts”). God created everything, so he must have created Free Will. Jesus is a kind of “sponge” that suffices to “soak up” all those bad choices Free Will allows, that is, if you turn over all your choices, decisions and Free Will to Jesus.

The irony is that this absurd, pointless discussion “cleared the air” over previously unspoken conflict with a dear friend, like blowing up the Berlin Wall; getting it out of the way, and establishing that friendship is not “rational” at all, but an agreement about what really matters; good intentions carried into actions, loyalty and a simple “rightness” – agreement on what constitutes “good behavior” on the part of human beings and a pledge of one’s best effort to stick to that behavior.

This entire HUGE neurotypical debate is nonsense.

God has nothing to do with Free Will, the Laws of physics, or any scientific pursuit of explanations for “the universe”. The whole reason for God’s existence is that He, or She, or They are totally outside the restrictions of “physical reality”. That’s what SUPERNATURAL means. So all the “word concept” machinations over “God” and “science” – from both ends of the false dichotomy – are absurd. Free Will is also a non-starter “concept” in science: reality proceeds from a complex system of “facts” and mathematical relationshipsthat cannot be “free-willed” away.

Total nonsense.

If one believes in the “supernatural” origin of the universe as a creation of supernatural “beings, forces and miraculous acts” then one does not believe in physical reality at all: “Physics” is a nonexistent explanation for existence. One can only try to coerce, manipulate, plead with, and influence the “beings” that DETERMINE human fate. Free Will is de facto an absurdity, conceived of as something like the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, (inspired by God, after all – not really by the intelligence of the people who wrote it). In American thought, (political) rights grant permission to “do whatever I want”. The concept of responsibility connected to rights has been conveniently forgotten. Free Will in this context, is nothing more than intellectual, moral and ethical “cheating”.

So, the immense, complicated, false dichotomy of Determinism vs. Free Will, and the absurd 2,000+ year old philosophical waste of time that has followed, and continues, is very simple (at least) in the U.S. 

Whatever I do, is God’s Will: Whatever you do, isn’t. 





Light Skin and Lactose / Recent Adaptations to Cereal Diet

IFL Science

Why Do Europeans Have White Skin?

April 6, 2015 | by Stephen Luntz (shortened to get to the point)

The 1000 Genomes Project is comparing the genomes of modern individuals from specific regions in Europe with 83 samples taken from seven ancient European cultures. Harvard University’s Dr. Iain Mathieson has identified five features which  spread through Europe, indicating a strong selection advantage.

At the annual conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Mathieson said his team distinguished, “between traits that have changed consistently with population turnovers, traits that have changed apparently neutrally, and traits that have changed dramatically due to recent natural selection.”

… most people of European descent are lactose tolerant, to the extent that milk products not only form a major source of nutrition but are a defining feature of European cultures…that the capacity to digest lactose as an adult appeared in the population after the development of farming. Two waves of farmers settled Europe 7,800 and 4,800 years ago, but it was only 500 years later that the gene for lactose tolerance became widespread.

…hunter-gatherers in what is now Spain, Luxumberg and Hungary had dark-skinned versions of the two genes more strongly associated with skin color. The oldest pale versions of the SLC24A5 and SLC45A2 genes that Mathieson found were at Motala in southern Sweden 7,700 years ago. The gene associated with blue eyes and blond hair was found in bodies from the same site. H/T ScienceMag.



From: Civilization Fanatics Forum

Debunking the theory that lighter skin gradually arose in Europeans nearly 40,000 years ago, new research has revealed that it evolved recently – only 7,000 years ago

People in tropical to subtropical parts of the world manufacture vitamin D in their skin as a result of UV exposure. At northern latitudes, dark skin would have reduced the production of vitamin D. If people weren’t getting much vitamin D in their diet, then selection for pre-existing mutations for lighter skin (less pigment) would “sweep” the farming population.  

New scientific findings show that prehistoric European hunter-gatherers were dark-skinned, but ate vitamin D-rich meat, fish, mushrooms and fruits. With the switch to agriculture, the amount of vitamin D in the diet decreased – and resulted in selection for pale skin among European farmers.

Findings detailed today (Jan. 26, 2014) in the journal Nature, “also hint that light skin evolved not to adjust to the lower-light conditions in Europe compared with Africa, but instead to the new diet that emerged after the agricultural revolution”, said study co-author Carles Lalueza-Fox, a paleogenomics researcher at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain.

The finding implies that for most of their evolutionary history, Europeans were not what people today are known as  ‘Caucasian’, said Guido Barbujani, president of the Associazione Genetica Italiana in Ferrara, Italy, who was not involved in the study.





Who’s Safe With a Gun? Don’t Ask a Shrink

The Daily Beast, May 2013 Background Checks


Forget any guidance from psychiatry’s bible, the DSM-5, when it comes to background checks for gun buyers, writes the psychotherapist author of The Book of Woe. (Gary Greenburg)

Many years ago, a man I was seeing in therapy decided he wanted to take up a new hobby: high explosives. The state he lived in licensed purchasers of dynamite and other incendiaries only after a background check. He wanted to know: Would I write a letter declaring him fit to blow up stuff in his backyard for fun?

Aside from the fact that this was how he wanted to pass the weekend, I didn’t have any reason to think otherwise, so I gave him the note. He got the license. A few years after he stopped seeing me, I had occasion to visit him at his office. He had all his digits and limbs and, to my knowledge, had committed no antisocial acts with his legally obtained explosives. My note attesting to his mental health was framed on his wall.

I’ve been thinking about this guy recently, ever since our politicians’ imaginations have fastened upon background checks as the solution to our gun problems. I’ve also been thinking about a couple of other patients. One of them, a middle-aged professional, a ramrod-straight retired Marine, father of a little girl, faithful husband, the kind of man who buys a special lockbox just for transporting his weapon between home and gun club. The other: a 27-year-old hothead, an absentee father who never met a drug or a woman he didn’t like. His idea of fun was riding his motorcycle between lanes on the interstate at 100 mph, and he was the proud owner of (by his count) 37 guns. In the three years prior to arriving at my office, he’d been fired from four jobs, arrested for six or seven driving offenses and a few drug charges, and helped to bury three of his friends who met untimely and violent ends.

No one asked me which of these two men I’d rather was a gun owner, let alone which one ought to have a firearms license. But I know what my answer would have been. Or I would have known until about a year ago, when the ex-Marine, inexplicably and without warning (although he’d just been put on an antidepressant as part of a treatment for chronic pain), sat at the base of the tree holding his favorite deer perch and shot himself in the mouth. Meantime, the hothead has cooled down. He’s been with the same woman for two years and the same job for one. He sees his son faithfully twice a week. He’s sold his motorcycle and more than half of his guns, and become obsessed with bodybuilding and responsibility. The transformation is not complete—he’s still dead certain the government wants to come to his house and confiscate what’s left of his arsenal, for instance—and I can’t take too much credit for it. He’s pursuing the pleasures of self-control with the same manic intensity as he once chased adrenaline. But I’m not all that worried about his guns anymore, and I’m really glad no one asked me if he should have them.

Because one thing they don’t teach you in therapy school: how to tell the future. Clinicians can assemble a story out of the ashes of a person’s life; we might even be able to spot what we think are the seeds of catastrophe, but we generally do that best in retrospect. And that’s why, if one of us insists he or she knows for sure what’s coming next, you should find another therapist. It’s also why, to the extent that background checks involve people like me, it wouldn’t do much more than reassure politicians that they are doing something about gun violence without simultaneously threatening their National Rifle Association ratings.

But wait a minute, you may be saying. Don’t mental-health workers have a whole huge book of diagnoses to turn to that can help you assess a person’s fitness to own a gun? No, we don’t. We have the book, of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is about to come out in its fifth edition. But while some of those disorders seem incompatible with responsible gun ownership, even a diagnosis of a severe mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder isn’t a good predictor of who is going to become violent. Indeed, only about 4 percent of violent crimes are committed by mentally ill people. We are not going to diagnose our way to safety.

There’s a reason for this. A diagnosis of a mental disorder is only a description of a person’s troubles. A neurologist presented with a patient suffering loss of coordination and muscle weakness can run tests and diagnose amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or a brain tumor. They can explain the symptoms and predict with some accuracy what will happen as the disease takes its expected course. The 200 or so diagnoses in the DSM, on the other hand, explain little and predict less. Until the book contains a diagnosis called Mass Slaughter Disorder, whose criteria would include having committed mass slaughter, it’s not going to offer much guidance on the subject, and, obviously, what guidance it provides is going to come too late.

With the mentally disordered, as with all of us (and let’s remember that in any given year, something like 30 percent of us will meet criteria for a mental disorder, and 11 percent of us are on antidepressants right now), there is no telling what will happen next. No matter how many diagnoses are in the DSM, and no matter how astutely they are used, they will not tell us in whose hands guns are safe. The psyche is more unfathomable, and evil more wily, than any doctor or any book.




American Pop Chart Toppers / 1940-2016 WEIRD!

What a strange trip! Pretty damn “kitschy” 

I think Americans are the weirdest people on the planet, but in our own estimation, we set the standard for NORMAL. Aye, yai, yai!


SHY? / Be prepared for predatory rage…

To be “shy” in the U.S.A. is a social crime.

Shy people are relentlessly attacked. Note the implications:

You have a genetic defect; you’ve experienced child abuse; you have a social anxiety or a social phobia; you’re a narcissist; you have “negative thoughts”; you have low self-esteem; you’ll never have a boyfriend or girlfriend; you’re a bad person; you stutter; you’re ugly; you can’t win: (either you don’t talk enough or you talk too much). And on, and on.

Shyness is a deficit that one must overcome, otherwise life is not worth living: 

You probably hate people and must be anti-social:

Shyness carries a life sentence of social exile and failure:

Some weak links found. Shy 3 yr-olds become cautious teens. Difficult 3 yr-olds remain difficult. Well-adjusted 3 yr-olds also. Current research. Temperament and Big 5 related. May carry-over into adulthood.

And if that isn’t enough, let’s detail the social horrors:

How much more depressing can it get?

Propaganda: Shyness is pathologic. Your life is a mess; buy this crap.

Dear World: Be afraid; be very afraid. American psychology is coming for you…


A culture in flux

— Kirsten Weirm 2014, Vol 45, No. 10

When Heather Henderson, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo, lectures to students about her shyness research, she often shows videos of young kids playing. The response is predictable. “People laugh and smile at outgoing kids, and they become uncomfortable watching shy kids,” she says.

Were she to show that same video in rural China, she might get a very different response. In any culture, there’s a range of temperaments from very reserved to more outgoing. But culture strongly affects how those temperamental differences are judged.

In the 1990s, Xinyin Chen, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that while shy behaviors were linked to problems such as anxiety in North America, they were associated with positive school adjustment outcomes in China. Behaviorally inhibited students in China were held up as leaders in the classroom and rated as more likable by peers, says Robert J. Coplan, PhD, a psychologist at Carleton University in Ottawa who has collaborated on cross-cultural studies with Chen and colleagues in China.

But China has changed dramatically since the 1990s, with rapid modernization and strong influences from the West. Correspondingly, in large urban areas, shyness is starting to be seen as a detriment. “The same behavior, in a very short period of time, seems to have done an about-face in terms of its perceived adaptiveness in Chinese culture,” Coplan says.

While social inhibition is still praised in many rural areas, he says, “assertiveness and independence have now become more positively valued in the big urban centers.” The rapid turnabout could have major implications for Chinese society. Whereas an older teacher might admonish an outgoing child, the younger teacher down the hall might offer praise. Children born in cities versus rural villages may receive very different messages about how to behave.

For psychologists interested in the influence of culture on behavior, the change is astounding. Little more than a decade ago, Chinese teachers wished more children would act more reserved, Coplan says. And now? “On my latest visit, they were talking about setting up intervention programs to help young shy children.”

From Finland / Eye contact as “personality” preference

Gee whiz! In Finland, apparently, one has the hope of being considered merely “neurotic” rather than being labeled a total failure as a human being. LOL!


Personality shapes the way our brains react to eye contact

June 5, 2015
Story Source:  Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland).
Eye contact plays a crucial role when people initiate interaction with other people. If people look each other in the eye, they automatically send a signal that their attention is focused on the other person. If the other person happens to look back, the two will be in eye contact, and a channel for interaction is opened. Some research has suggested that eye contact triggers patterns of brain activity associated with approach motivation, whereas seeing another person with his or her gaze averted triggers brain activity associated with avoidance motivation. However, many people find it discomforting and may even experience high levels of anxiety when they are the focus of someone’s gaze. Now researchers have set out to study what lies underneath these individual psychological differences. Note: (as yet), no claim of disorder, abnormality or developmental defect has been “invoked” to “dehumanize” people for whom eye contact of a certain type is “discomforting”. 

Eye contact plays a crucial role when people initiate interaction with other people. If people look each other in the eye, they automatically send a signal that their attention is focused on the other person. If the other person happens to look back, the two will be in eye contact, and a channel for interaction is opened. Eye contact is thus a powerful social signal, which is known to increase our physiological arousal.

Previous research has suggested that eye contact triggers patterns of brain activity associated with approach motivation, whereas seeing another person with his or her gaze averted triggers brain activity associated with avoidance motivation. This indicates that another person’s attention is something important and desirable. However, many people find it discomforting and may even experience high levels of anxiety when they are the focus of someone’s gaze.

Researchers at the University of Tartu in Estonia and the University of Tampere in Finland set out to study what lies underneath these individual psychological differences. Does personality modulate how a person reacts to eye contact? Can this difference be measured by brain activity?

“In order to test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment where the participants’ electrical brain activity was recorded while they were looking at another person who was either making eye contact or had her gaze averted to the side. We had assessed the participants’ personality with a personality test in advance,” Researcher Helen Uusberg explains.

The results showed that personality does indeed modulate the way one’s brain reacts to attention from another individual. The eye contact triggered approach-associated brain activity patterns in those participants who scored low on Neuroticism, the personality dimension related to anxiety and self-consciousness. However, if the participant scored high on this personality dimension, the eye contact triggered more avoidance-associated brain activity patterns. The high-scoring participants (on anxiety, self-consciousness personality traits) also wanted to look at the other person with a direct gaze for shorter periods of time and experienced more pleasant feelings when they faced a person with an averted gaze. (Ring any bells?)


Being SHY is a “crime” in highly aggressive and belligerent American culture – in fact, it is designated as pathogical behavior and aggressively and relentlessly condemned. Don’t believe it? NEXT POST.  


“Our findings indicate that people do not only feel different when they are the centre of attention but that their brain reactions also differ. For some, eye contact tunes the brain into a mode that increases the likelihood of initiating an interaction with other people. For others, the effect of eye contact may decrease this likelihood,” Professor Jari Hietanen explains.


What is important is the lack of presumption of “serious pathology” that American researchers use to pre-judge specific human behaviors that are “common to” specific personality types. The constant aggressive focus is on social conformity – non-conformity as the “measure of” human behavior. This is utterly unscientific. 


Journal Reference:

  1. Helen Uusberg, Jüri Allik, Jari K. Hietanen. Eye contact reveals a relationship between Neuroticism and anterior EEG asymmetry. Neuropsychologia, 2015; 73: 161 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.05.008

British Academics / For the Love of Logic…Please Shut Up

Science News

Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief ‘not linked to intuition or rational thinking’

The study challenges a growing trend that has attempted to show that believing in the supernatural is something that comes to us ‘naturally’ or intuitively
November 8, 2017, Coventry University

Religious beliefs are not linked to intuition or rational thinking, according to new research by the universities of Coventry and Oxford.

Previous studies have suggested people who hold strong religious beliefs are more intuitive and less analytical, and when they think more analytically their religious beliefs decrease. But new research, by academics from Coventry University’s Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science and neuroscientists and philosophers at Oxford University, suggests that is not the case, and that people are not ‘born believers’.

The study — which included tests on pilgrims taking part in the famous Camino de Santiago and a brain stimulation experiment — found no link between intuitive/analytical thinking, or cognitive inhibition (an ability to suppress unwanted thoughts and actions), and supernatural beliefs. (This is news???)

Instead, the academics conclude that other factors, such as upbringing and socio-cultural processes, are more likely to play a greater role in religious beliefs. (DUH!)

The study — published in Scientific Reports — was the first to challenge a growing trend among cognitive psychologists over the past 20 years that has attempted to show that believing in the supernatural is something that comes to us ‘naturally’ or intuitively. (Magical thinking is a feature of Neoteny in modern social humans)

The team started by carrying out an investigation on one of the largest pilgrimage routes in the world — the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain. (!!!)

They asked pilgrims about the strength of their beliefs and the length of time spent on the pilgrimage and assessed their levels of intuitive thinking with a probability task, where participants had to decide between a logical and a ‘gut feeling’ choice. (Here we have the classic assumption that “intuition” is somehow “located” in the digestive system, and not the brain. How sophisticated!)

Without a definition of “intuition” other than a “guess” based on stomach rumblings, we can have no confidence of what the article is talking about!

The results suggested no link between strength of supernatural belief and intuition. In a second study, where they used mathematical puzzles to increase intuition, (????) they also found no link between levels of intuitive thinking and supernatural belief.

In the last part of their research they used brain stimulation to increase levels of cognitive inhibition, which is thought to regulate analytical thinking.

This involved running a painless electrical current between two electrodes placed on the participant’s scalp, to activate the right inferior frontal gyrus, a part of the brain that controls inhibitory control.

A previous brain-imaging study had shown that atheists used this area of the brain more when they wanted to suppress supernatural ideas.

(Do atheists have supernatural ideas? I’m an atheist BECAUSE I don’t have supernatural explanations for ordinary, or extraordinary phenomenon, and never have had.)

OMG! We are totally off the rails at this point! Mumbo Jumbo…

The results showed that while this brain stimulation increased levels of cognitive inhibition, it did not change levels of supernatural belief, suggesting there is no direct link between cognitive inhibition and supernatural belief.

The academics say that it is “premature” to explain belief in gods as intuitive or natural.

Instead, they say their research supports a theory that religion is a nurture-based process and develops because of socio-cultural processes, including upbringing and education.

Leading author Miguel Farias said:

“What drives our belief in gods — intuition or reason; heart or head?

(False dichotomies, AGAIN! They’re everywhere!!!!)

There has been a long debate on this matter but our studies have challenged the theory that being a religious believer is determined by how much individuals rely on intuitive or analytical thinking.

“We don’t think people are ‘born believers’ in the same way we inevitably learn a language at an early age. The available sociological and historical data show that what we believe in is mainly based on social and educational factors, and not on cognitive styles, such as intuitive/analytical thinking.

“Religious belief is most likely rooted in culture rather than in some primitive gut intuition.” (So not only is intuition located in your digestive system, it’s PRIMITIVE!) 

Story Source:

Materials provided by Coventry University.

Wyoming Edition / “Survival Journal” Day 8030

If Asperger people all got together and signed a declaration that says, “Yes, we’re terrible, anti-social deviants and we apologize for victimizing normal people, so please forgive us;  we’re just lowly sub-humans who don’t deserve to exist in your perfect world,” would Neurotypicals leave us alone? NO. 


Sun! There is sun this morning. I peek out from beneath my “tent” improvised from an old quilt and a lightweight sleeping bag.

Sunlight; red and amber bark edges the trees outside the window, and beyond, through streaks of flat gray clouds: Blue sky.

The dog is somewhere in the pile of warm coverings: I find her head and pat it: “C’mon, Old Lady. Time to face the wilderness.”

She’s not convinced. Why would an 80-year old dog want to be disturbed?

My feet hit the ice cold floor; bare wood with a dirt “hole” directly beneath. Years ago I set the thermostat to 62* at night, and left it there. I could reset it, but for some “Aspergerish” reason, don’t. I could wear socks or slippers; I don’t. Bare feet feel normal.

I shuffle to the kitchen; boil water and make a cup of instant coffee. A specific brand a “gourmet” instant that a cook friend gave me one day, to save me the trouble of using a percolator or other coffeemaker. I think she got tired of seeing “the mess” of grounds, spilt coffee stains and, “once again” a broken carafe in the trash. I’m still drinking the same concoction 35+ years later. She is long gone, but still present in my cold, primitive kitchen each morning when I take my first sip of “that awful crap you call coffee” as normal people with pickier palates refer to it. The sight and taste of the hot concoction conjures images from that long ago time; days of happiness. Why would I change?

The dog peeks around the door; is there breakfast in her dish? I divert her to the porch and open the back door; to the east, brilliant silver light washes the odd collection of “housing” in the neighborhood. Brilliant flares emanate from sagging power lines; telephone poles rise like relics from a failed attempt at civilization.

I have to literally shove the Old Lady dog out into the ice-frosted gravel yard. While she’s out, I fill her water bowl, and empty a big glop of that “manufactured from anything that will fit in massive grinder” canned food, into her bowl, which she never refuses to “wolf down”. In two seconds she’s back to bed; asleep in a moment; a big sigh. Life is good.

The sky is blazing blue above the roof top next door; another cup of “coffee extraordinaire” and I’m at the keyboard. What now?

My “unconscious mind” is already at work during the ten minutes or so taken up by my primitive morning routine, so some topic, or feeling, or question will float into focus; I can count on that.

This morning, I started laughing, while drinking my second cup of coffee: Why I was laughing took a few seconds longer to arrive. It’s like that: it’s automatic. A “cloud” may linger over my body – a gray amorphous feeling that something is wrong, or just the opposite: I’ll feel energized, enthusiastic, “delighted” by the ordinary look of the kitchen or the scene outdoors. No reason. “Normal” people jump to the conclusion that some “pathology, disorder” is in evidence: they are wrong.

My body feels thoughts long before my “word conscious processing” knows what’s going on. Like an old telegraph system sending Morse code. The “wires” are alive with the electrical signal that is being transmitted, well before the “little man” sitting at a desk hundreds of miles away, hears the tap-tapping of the telegraph key, and jots down the code. Anyone in the room at the time, may be pushing him: “What does it say,” but he still must translate the dot-dash code into “words” for the “neurotypical” bystander, who is pestering him to hurry up. 

This may seem to be an inferior, archaic system in the judgment of people, whose foremost interest is in speed. They don’t care what the act of communication “feels like” – what the experience of “thinking” in pictures, sensations, or movements has to offer; how it enriches the “message” by connecting it to timeless “truths” or by revealing heretofore unknown patterns.  

Neurotypicals want to know if their package from Amazon will arrive at 10:02 am as promised, and they want to know it now. Right now, because being demanding makes them “feel” important. And being “too busy to care about other people” is mandatory: at 10:03 am a “scheduled” text from the dog-walker is due, which won’t arrive until 10:05 am, providing the perfect opportunity to excoriate a “lesser being” on the social pyramid. And at 10:06, a phone call from the dog-walker’s boss, apologizing for the inexcusable 2-minute delay will result in further degradation of a “peasant”. WOW! How important can one human being be!

Meanwhile, back in Wyoming, I stop typing and open the refrigerator door. Breakfast? Yes, another boring same-old-same-old choice. Ham and eggs; sausage and eggs. Potatoes, ham and eggs; cheese on top? Or a banana smoothie made with yogurt, carrot juice, and something to “sweeten” it up? I like these foods for breakfast. Maybe a wild departure in winter for a creamy-hot bowl of oatmeal. No one to scream at; no subservient types to step on. I must be totally unimportant, unfortunate, disordered and disabled.

Why would I “force myself” to eat anything else, just to satisfy some imaginary “judgment” made by a gang of social typical busybodies who have decreed that a “lack of embracing novelty” has cosmic meaning? Oh – I forgot: To be considered “a normal human” I must take a “selfie” with a slice of watermelon,  on an otherwise naked plate, and post it on social media with the earth-shaking declaration that I’m trying a new “slice of watermelon” diet. The goal? So people I don’t know, or will ever encounter in real life, will declare that I’m SOOOOO skinny already that I don’t need to loose weight. They must say this, even if I weigh 300 pounds. Like any proper neurotypical, I throw the watermelon slice in the trash and devour a tray full of “low fat” croissants.

That idiotic scenario dispensed with by a millisecond of thought, I scandalously “fry up” a mess of sausage; add eggs, cheese, leftover potatoes; make toast with gobs of real butter on top – add jam – and pour more coffee. Life is good. The Old Lady dog hears the usual morning commotion and wanders in. She stares at my plate.

Of course; I always share my food with her. Just the stuff that suits her canine digestive system. She loves vegetables; I don’t. She eats most of the vegetable matter that I cook. I drink carrot juice, and other vegetable juices. Easy, fast, efficient. Asperger. 

Nearly forgot: What was I laughing about earlier? The fleeting realization, that superficially, I live like one of those “outdoor extremists” who (supposedly) are abandoned in the wilderness and forced to show off their well-honed skills for survival: no “cheating allowed”. By the book; ancient survival; burning up hundreds of calories and precious fluids by “doing things the hard way”. Burning daylight, creating emergencies, eating worms, doing stupid, high risk things – looks good for the camera and drives the repetitive clichéd plot, as if “being there” in stupendously beautiful and interesting landscape, is totally without merit. They certainly do work hard! The goal? A pre-arranged rescue: back to civilization. Totally phony – neurotypical “playing at” survival. Our wild ancestors weren’t airlifted back into town for a hot shower, fresh clothing, and a sit-down meal with friends. A soft bed, and a paycheck.

The difference between how I live, and these “romanticized novelty shows” made for neurotypical entertainment, is the GOAL: I don’t live “way out here” in Wyoming to prove anything. I have no interest in “testing” how close I can get to dying by hypothermia; or in showing the “audience” how “macho” my eating habits are (bring on the grubs, old shoe leather, and potentially deadly fungi). Or in getting lost, needing rescue, or any other “stupid” calamity that has a “magical resolution”.

It seems to me, that possibly, out of the vast wasteland of incomprehensible  misunderstanding by social typicals regarding Asperger-type behavior, the negative judgment of our penchant for efficiency (which NTs interpret as “being boring, stubborn, lazy, self-centered, resistant to change, developmentally disordered, and disabled; weird, geeky, timid, fearful and unacceptable”) is the most insulting. The incessant yatta, yatta, yatta of every conceivable “incorrect explanation” for our embrace of simplicity is exhaustive, and exhausting. These pejoratives are indeed apt to be hurled at any “thinking person”, Asperger, or not. 

Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe for some humans, “thinking” is civilized; it is society that is the dangerous wilderness.

Thinking is not some terrible affliction; it’s normal, pleasurable, exciting and rewarding. To be “free from social interference” – that is, free to learn about the “real planet earth“, and beyond, is to be free to explore the possibilities inherent in the “mental realm” (as neurotypicals must name it). It is to live in PARADISE. 

The goal, for Asperger types (unlike appearing to be socially “dominant” in the neurotypical world, with behaviors that “achieve domninance” being of utmost value), is then, to experience the “joy of thinking”. What to social people is a terrible and deviant sacrifice (thinking) is interpreted in Aspergers as “magical signs of disorder, illness and evil”. 

Here’s news! “Being a social human” is not new, novel, unique, brave, or original; it dooms the individual to perpetual dissatisfaction with one’s “place” in the social hierarchy and to endlessly repeating the conformity of behavior demanded by the social order.      











Help Site / Meltdowns / Hmmmm….

Hmmm… some insights, but also some strange assumptions about “cause” and strategies for “dealing with”…

Autism Meltdown-Management 101: Key Points for Parents and Teachers

A meltdown is a condition where (in which) the youngster with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism temporarily loses control due to emotional responses to environmental factors. It generally appears that the youngster has lost control over a single and specific issue, however this is very rarely the case. Usually, the problem is the accumulation of a number of irritations which could span a fairly long period of time, particularly given the strong long-term memory abilities of young people on the autism spectrum. (This implies that the “cause” of the meltdown is not trivial) 

Why The Problems Seem Hidden—

Aspergers kids don’t tend to give a lot of clues that they are very irritated: (We do, but these clues are non-standard and ignored) 

  • Often Aspergers child-grievances (!) are aired as part of their normal conversation and may even be interpreted by NTs (i.e., neurotypicals, or people without Aspergers) as part of their standard whining. (Another new symptom: Aspergers whine 1. sometimes 2. a lot 3. constantly (?) 

  • Some things which annoy Aspergers kids would not be considered annoying to NTs, and this makes NT’s less likely to pick up on a potential problem. (Only NT children count) 

  • Their facial expressions very often will not convey the irritation. (Ditto above) Hint: ever notice the Blank Stare? 

  • Their vocal tones will often remain flat even when they are fairly annoyed. (Goes with the blank stare)

What Happens During A Meltdown—

The meltdown appears to most people as a temper tantrum. There are marked differences between adults and kids. Kids tend to flop onto the ground and shout, scream or cry. Quite often, (Hearsay – I’d bet that the #1 behavior is yelling) they will display violent behavior such as hitting or kicking.

In adults, due to social pressures, violent behavior in public is less common. Shouting outbursts or emotional displays can occur though. More often, it leads to depression and the Aspergers man or woman simply retreats into themselves and abandons social contact. (A “logical” reaction, given the circumstances) 

Some Aspergers kids describe the meltdown as a red or grey band across the eyes. There is a loss of control and a feeling of being a powerless observer outside the body. This can be dangerous as the Aspergers youngster may strike out, particularly if the instigator is nearby or if the “Aspie” is taunted during a meltdown. (An acknowledgement that it takes “‘two to tango” – ie bullies – child or adult- love to pick on Asperger kids)  


Sometimes, depression is the only outward visible sign of a meltdown. (Then it’s not a meltdown) At other times, depression results when the Asperger youngster leaves the meltdown state and confronts the results of the meltdown. (A state of SHOCK may be a better description than depression.) The depression is a result of guilt over abusive, shouting or violent behavior. (This sets up a peculiar situation – one can feel disturbed, awful, guilty, contrite, etc due to one’s “bad behavior” but still be left with the UNRESOLVED issues that caused the behavior; everyone dismisses REAL HURTS AND COMPLAINTS as “not legitimate” because of the “offensive” character of the Asperger outburst. This sets up a life long recurring feedback: the ORIGINAL problem never gets addressed – the child’s feelings are routinely and automatically ignored, rejected and delegitimized by parents, teachers, and other children.)

Dealing With Meltdowns—

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do when a meltdown occurs in a child on the autism spectrum. The best thing you can do is to train yourself to recognize a meltdown before it happens and take steps to avoid it.

Example: (This sounds like a common “test” used by dog trainers to assess a puppy or adult dog being fit to be “adopted”. If you can “mess with its food” and it doesn’t growl or snap, it’s tame LOL) Aspergers kids are quite possessive about their food, (really?) and my “Aspie” will sometimes decide that he does not want his meat to be cut up for him. When this happens, taking his plate from him and cutting his meat could cause a full-blown meltdown. The best way to deal with this is to avoid touching it for the first part of the meal until he starts to want my involvement. When this occurs, instead of taking his plate from him, it is more effective to lean over and help him to cut the first piece. Once he has cut the first piece with help, he will often allow the remaining pieces to be cut for him. (What would an adult do if you rudely removed his or her plate, cut the meat into pieces, and then gave it back? Maybe Asperger kids are more adult than other children; they’ll ASK if they want help.) 

Once the youngster reaches an age where they can understand (around age 4 or so), you can work on explaining the situation. One way you could do this would be to discreetly videotape a meltdown and allow them to watch it at a later date. You could then discuss the incident, explain why it isn’t socially acceptable, and give them some alternatives. (Life as pedagogy: shall the child take notes, write an essay,  confess their social offenses and vow, “Never again, Sir / Madam!” Asperger children are highly sensitive to the “crude tactic” of humiliation. Please do not do this.)

Meltdowns And Punishment—

One of the most important things to realize is that meltdowns are part of the Aspergers condition. (We have the acknowledgement that meltdowns are not INTENTIONAL) You can’t avoid them; merely try to reduce the damage. Punishing an Aspergers youngster for a meltdown is like punishing someone for swearing when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

It won’t do any good whatsoever and can only serve to increase the distance between you and your youngster. My advice? Write this down and place it where you can see it EVERY DAY. READ IT.  Believe it. 


In addition, meltdowns aren’t wholly caused by the current scenario, but are usually the result of an overwhelming number of other issues. The one which “causes” the meltdown is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Unless you’re a mind reader, you won’t necessarily know what the other factors are, and your Aspergers youngster may not be able to fully communicate the problem. (Or has been ignored so many times that he or she has given up.)

Every teacher of Aspergers students and every mom or dad of an Aspergers child can expect to witness some meltdowns. On average, meltdowns are equally common in boys and girls, and more than half of Aspergers kids will have one or more per week. (Hearsay again. Pay attention to YOUR child, not made up anecdotal guesses)

At home, there are predictable situations that can be expected to trigger meltdowns, for example:

  • bath time

  • bedtime

  • car rides

  • dinner time

  • family activities involving siblings

  • family visiting another house

  • getting dressed

  • getting up

  • interactions with peers

  • mom or dad talking on the phone

  • playtime

  • public places

  • visitors at the house

  • watching TV

Other settings include:

  • answering questions in class

  • directives from the teacher

  • getting ready to work

  • group activities

  • individual seat work

  • interactions with other children

  • on the school bus

  • the playground

  • transitions between activities

Hmmm… this focus on locations is “strange”, especially as it includes EVERYPLACE a child may “go” and is vague, generalized and “barking up the wrong tree”.

Meltdowns are “triggered” by exasperation, frustration, and total overload of sensitive sensory receptivity – “flooding” of the senses by environmental stimulae. This can happen anywhere that there are “people” who (from our point of view) have “blunted sensory capabilities”. They hear, see and sense nothing: an atom bomb detonated in the room wouldn’t get their attention. 

From time to time, all Aspergers kids will whine, complain, resist, cling, argue, hit, shout, run, and defy authority figures. Meltdowns, although normal, can become upsetting to parents and teachers because they are embarrassing, (the truth lies here) challenging, and difficult to manage. Also, meltdowns can become particularly difficult to manage when they occur with greater frequency, intensity, and duration than is typical for the age of the Aspergers kid.

There are nine different types of temperaments in Aspergers kids: (I have never encountered this set of “labels” in any other article or paper.) 

1. Distracted temperament predisposes the Aspergers kid to pay more attention to his or her surroundings than to the caregiver. (The narcissistic obedience thing)

2. High-intensity level temperament moves the Aspergers kid to yell, scream, or hit hard when feeling threatened. (Like any HEALTHY animal)  

3. Hyperactive temperament predisposes the Aspergers kid to respond with fine- or gross-motor activity. (Some kids are fidgety or run around like young animals.)

4. Initial withdrawal temperament is found when Aspergers kids get clingy, shy, and unresponsive in new situations and around unfamiliar people. Yeah – use jargon instead of simple English; like other children, we may hide behind mom’s skirt, clasp her hand, and not say anything to a stranger until mom or dad reassures us that the person is “okay”. Being “shy” in a hypersocial world is a crime) 

5. Irregular temperament moves the Aspergers kid to escape the source of stress by needing to eat, drink, sleep, or use the bathroom at irregular times when he or she does not really have the need. (No other human beings demonstrate these behaviors: the U.S. does not currently have an obesity, alcohol / drug addiction, or other stress-induced self-destructive epidemics.)

6. Low sensory threshold temperament is evident when the Aspergers kid complains about tight clothes and people staring and refuses to be touched by others.

(Okay – this drives me nuts! Where did social typicals get the idea that children OUGHT TO ALLOW any and every adult to “handle a child’s body”?  Isn’t this exactly what children are told NOT TO ALLOW in order to protect themselves from pedophiles, rapists and child abusers?) 

7. Negative mood temperament is found when Aspergers kids appear lethargic, sad and lack the energy to perform a task. (This is ridiculous – again – no other human beings do this.)

8. Negative persistent temperament is seen when the Aspergers kid seems stuck in his or her whining and complaining. (No “normal” children ever whine or complain – all those kids, in the line at the grocery, who not only whine, but scream, screech, throw packages, run at 90 mph down the aisles, run into and knock down displays and old people, ARE ASPERGER) 

9. Poor adaptability temperament shows itself when Aspergers kids resist, shut down, and become passive-aggressive when asked to change activities.

Around age 2, some Aspergers kids will start having what I refer to as “normal meltdowns.” These bouts can last until approximately age 4. Some parents (thinking in terms of temper tantrums) mistakenly call this stage “the terrible twos,” and others call it “first adolescence” because the struggle for independence is similar to what is seen during adolescence. Regardless of what the stage is called, there is a normal developmental course for meltdowns in children on the autism spectrum. (The “we’re more adult than other kids” thing. Could someone please “congratulate us” for being more mature about being independent, instead of “condemning” this behavior?)

Aspergers kids during this stage will test the limits. They want to see how far they can go before mom or dad stops their behavior. At age 2, Aspergers kids are very egocentric and can’t see another person’s point of view. They want independence and self-control to explore their environment. When they can’t reach a goal, they show frustration by crying, arguing, yelling, or hitting. When their need for independence collides with the parents’ needs for safety and conformity, the conditions are perfect for a power struggle and a meltdown. A meltdown is designed to get the parents to desist in their demands or give the child what he or she wants.

WOW! What happened to meltdowns being INVOLUNTARY reactions to sensory overload? Neurotypicals must revert to seeing every human behavior as being socially motivated: a power struggle for status and control. 

Many times, Aspergers kids stop the meltdown only when they get what is desired. (A projection of typical manipulative neurotypical behavior onto an Asperger meltdown.) 

What is most upsetting to parents is that it is virtually impossible reason (???) with Aspergers kids who are having a meltdown. Arguing and cajoling (lies, threats, punishment are not “reasoning with”) in response to a meltdown only escalates the problem.

By age 3, many Aspergers kids are less impulsive and can use language to express their needs. Meltdowns at this age are often less frequent and less severe. Nevertheless, some preschoolers have learned that a meltdown is a good way to get what they want. (OMG! This is so ignorant! And from whom do “social” children learn this manipulation? – Neurotypical adults!

By age 4, most Aspergers kids have the necessary motor and physical skills to meet many of their own needs without relying so much on the parent. At this age, these young people also have better language that allows them to express their anger and to problem-solve and compromise. Despite these improved skills, even kindergarten-age and school-age Aspergers kids can still have meltdowns when they are faced with demanding academic tasks and new interpersonal situations in school.

It is much easier to “prevent” meltdowns than it is to manage them once they have erupted.  Here are some tips for preventing meltdowns and some things you can say:

(These are tactics that “work” on NEUROTYPICAL CHILDREN. Asperger kids are SMART.)

1. Avoid boredom. Say, “You have been working for a long time. Let’s take a break and do something fun.”

2. Change environments, thus removing the Aspergers kid from the source of the meltdown. Say, “Let’s go for a walk.”

3. Choose your battles. Teach Aspergers kids how to make a request without a meltdown and then honor the request. Say, Try asking for that toy nicely and I’ll get it for you.”

4. Create a safe environment that Aspergers kids can explore without getting into trouble. Childproof your home or classroom so Aspergers kids can explore safely.

5. Distract Aspergers kids by redirection to another activity when they meltdown over something they should not do or can’t have. Say, “Let’s read a book together.”

6. Do not “ask” Aspergers kids to do something when they must do what you ask. Do not ask, “Would you like to eat now?” Say, “It’s dinnertime now.”

7. Establish routines and traditions that add structure. For teachers, start class with a sharing time and opportunity for interaction.

8. Give Aspergers kids control over little things whenever possible by giving choices. A little bit of power given to the Aspergers kid can stave-off the big power struggles later. (Neurotypicals see EVERYTHING as a struggle for power; this is hierarchical social system thinking that is ALIEN to Asperger types.)  (e.g., “Which do you want to do first, brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?”).

9. Increase your tolerance level. Are you available to meet the Aspergers kid’s reasonable needs? (Being a parent is just like being a dog owner) Evaluate how many times you say, “No.” Avoid fighting over minor things.

10. Keep a sense of humor to divert the Aspergers kid’s attention and surprise him or her out of the meltdown. (OMG!)

11. Keep off-limit objects out of sight and therefore out of mind. In an art activity, keep the scissors out of reach if the child is not ready to use them safely.

12. Make sure that Aspergers kids are well rested and fed in situations in which a meltdown is a likely possibility. Say, “Dinner is almost ready, here’s a cracker for now.” (Dog parent again)

13. Provide pre-academic, behavioral, and social challenges that are at the Aspergers kid’s developmental level so that he or she doesn’t become frustrated.

14. Reward Aspergers kids for positive attention rather than negative attention. During situations when they are prone to meltdowns, catch them when they are being good and say things like, “Nice job sharing with your friend.” (How much more “phony” can this reward / punishment psychology get?)

15. Signal Aspergers kids before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now, it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”

16. When visiting new places or unfamiliar people, explain to the child beforehand what to expect. Say, “Stay with your assigned buddy in the museum.” (Sure: This will block all the PHYSICAL triggers in the environment that cause meltdowns) 

There are a number of ways to “handle” a meltdown that is already underway.  Strategies include the following:

1. Hold the Aspergers kid who is out of control and is going to hurt himself or herself (or someone else). Let the Aspergers child know that you will let him or her go as soon as he or she calms down. Reassure the child that everything will be all right, and help him or her calm down. Moms and dads may need to hug their Aspergers kid who is crying, and say they will always love him or her no matter what, but that the behavior has to change. This reassurance can be comforting for an Aspergers kid who may be afraid because he or she lost control. (Aye, yai, yai! NONSENSE. This is neurotypical thinking.)  

2. If the Aspergers kid has escalated the meltdown to the point where you are not able to intervene in the ways described above, then you may need to direct the Aspergers kid to time-out. If you are in a public place, carry your child outside or to the car. Tell him that you will go home unless he calms down. In school, warn the Aspergers student up to three times that it is necessary to calm down, and give a reminder of the rule. If the student refuses to comply, then place him in time-out for no more than 1 minute for each year of age. (This is neurotypical insistence that the Asperger meltdown is “disobedient, manipulative and intentional.” This “lab rat psychology” doesn’t work on typical children)

It’s that point again: Neurotypicals are idiots!

3. Remain calm and do not argue with the Aspergers kid. Before you manage her, you must manage your own behavior. Punishing or yelling at the child during a meltdown will make it worse.

4. Talk with the child after he has calmed down. When he stops crying, talk about the frustration the he has experienced. Try to help solve the problem if possible. For the future, teach the child new skills to help avoid meltdowns (e.g., how to ask appropriately for help, how to signal an adult that he  needs to go to “time away” to “stop, think, and make a plan” …and so on). Teach the Aspergers kid how to try a more successful way of interacting with a peer or sibling, how to express his feelings with words, and recognize the feelings of others without hitting and screaming.

Just tell the child to STOP BEING ASPERGER. Act normal. While you’re at it, tell black people to stop being black, and gay people to stop being gay.

This stupidity is guaranteed to produce incredible hurt and frustration in any Asperger, adult or child.

5. Think before you act. Count to 10 and then think about the source of the Aspergers kid’s frustration, the child’s characteristic temperamental response to stress (e.g., hyperactivity, distractibility, moodiness, etc.), and the predictable steps in the escalation of the meltdown. (Yeah – don’t be a parent; be a cold, distant psychologist) 

6. Try to intervene before the Aspergers youngster is out of control. Get down at her eye level and say, “You are starting to get revved up, let’s slow down.” Now you have several choices of intervention.

7. You can ignore the meltdown if it is being thrown to get your attention. Once the Aspergers kid calms down, you can give the attention that is desired.

8. You can place the Aspergers youngster in “time away.” Time away is a quiet place where he goes to calm down, think about what he needs to do, and with your help, make a plan to change the behavior.

9. You can positively distract the Aspergers kid by getting her focused on something else that is an acceptable activity (e.g., remove the unsafe item and replace with an age-appropriate game).

Post-Meltdown Management—

1. Do not reward the Aspergers kid after a meltdown for calming down. Some kids will learn that a meltdown is a good way to get a treat later. (Intentional neurotypical manipulative behavior interpretation, AGAIN. 

2. Explain to the Aspergers kid that there are better ways to get what she wants.

3. Never let the meltdown interfere with your otherwise positive relationship with your child. (What relationship: your kid is being treated like a lab rat!)

4. Never, under any circumstances, give in to a meltdown. That response will only increase the number and frequency of the meltdowns.

5. Teach the Aspergers kid that anger is a feeling that we all have, and then teach her ways to express anger constructively.

Neurotypical Dichotomies / Basis of Social Structure, Judgment, Behavior

This follows up on a previous post:

The prime contention of that post is that the “estrangement” of mankind from the natural world, which was the consequence of a new survival strategy, agriculture,  forced a fundamental evolutionary change in Homo sapiens. The concentration of large numbers of “wild humans” into close quarters, and the fact that many would be strangers to each other, was a greater challenge than we recognize, thanks to our fantasies about agriculture, myths about “happy peasant life”on the farm and convenient loss of memory as to what “hand farming” is like. (Remember slavery?)

The evolution of a “complex of domesticated (neotenic) species” was the result, with humans being “part of” that domesticated stock, and not “Masters over Nature” – a concept that is a narcissistic misunderstanding of what occurred.

The “point is” that not only did this break with nature occur, “Nature” became a hostile beast; grudgingly providing crops one season and destroying them in the next. The dichotomy of Good vs. Evil, became the subjective judgment of farmers, a radical departure from the previous relationship of “Homo sapiens” to nature, as a creature within the “web of life”. Natural forces were indeed powerful; those powers were respected as being much more powerful than humans, and used carefully. The perception was that “power” is both positive and negative in its potential for human use; power cannot be divided “against itself”.

Modern humans live today with the unfortunate, and perilous division of the universe, as a subjective creation of the agricultural mind, into Good and Evil and the endless application of this principle, as conceptual word dichotomies to divide what is in reality an undivided natural system. 

di·chot·o·my / noun
plural noun: dichotomies – a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different. “a rigid dichotomy between science and mysticism”
synonyms: contrast, difference, polarity, conflict; gulf, chasm, division, separation, split; “the great dichotomy between theory and practice”

The following article on false dichotomies explains why Modern Social Typical BLACK or WHITE THINKING drives Aspergers BATTY!

What kind of conversation results from the modern social typical (American) addiction to dichotomy? Pointless reinforcement of racism, political stalemate, “the blame game” and the inability to solve important questions around global warming, the education of children, where and how money is spent and invested – (military, infrastructure, human services, healthcare, and ALL THINGS personal, social, governmental, economic, and behavioral.

Two of the issues stalled in the “false dichotomy” belief system are:

It’s the “guns” or “mental illness” false dichotomy that prevents actual analysis of mass gun violence and attempts at prevention. This leaves us with “gun violence – mass shootings” are the NEW NORMAL. Prevention is impossible because 1. Only total removal of “all guns” from citizens is the answer. 2. You can’t take away my guns; it’s in the Constitution. 3. The “middle ground” is conceived of as “chipping away” at these absolute positions. 4. Give Up. 

Immigration Reform: Enough false dichotomies to keep the U.S. from ever establishing a “sane” policy. 1. Let everyone who can get in, get in. It’s the American Way. (Not really; The U.S. has always had immigration restrictions, many quite severe). This categorizes all immigration as “good.” No one is here illegally; in fact, all immigrants are “good, not evil” people. Illegal immigrants who commit heinous crimes “magically don’t exist” (poor misunderstood people) and cannot even be mentioned as a public safety problem. The current extension of this belief is that (illegal) immigrants are BETTER CITIZENS than native born Americans, and ought to be “rewarded” for coming to the U.S. What a propaganda accomplishment! Since Americans are dichotomy thinkers extraordinaire, this of course, makes “perfect sense”. 2. Thus,  the “good or evil” false dichotomy has become the most important question in immigration policy. 3. Another false dichotomy is the Christian immigrants are Good vs. Moslems (and any of those other not-Christian religion people) are Evil – Exemptions considered if the applicants bring lots of money. 4. The “middle ground” requires some sort of legal sorting system that could distinguish between which immigrants will both flourish and contribute to the “good of the nation”, but this is an impossible and inconceivable task, given sole reliance on false dichotomy judgments based on categories of Good vs. Evil people. 5. It is impossible therefore to prevent crime and terrorism: Give up. 


False Dichotomies 

by Joseph Rowlands Note: “RAND” refers to AYN RAND (And I’ve lost the link: keep getting, page does not exist.)

In studying the ideas of Objectivism, it’s hard not to notice how often the term ‘dichotomy’ comes up. There’s the is/ought dichotomy. There’s the mind/body dichotomy. There’s the moral/practical dichotomy. The list is a long one.

A dichotomy is defined as “division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions”. It’s when you classify things into two mutually exclusive categories. Dichotomies are a useful conceptual tool. If properly used, they divide things into two groups. They’re mutually exclusive, meaning something can be in only one group or the other. But the categories are also exhaustive. If something is not in one, it must be in the other.

Objectivist literature mentions dichotomies frequently, but usually in a negative sense. The dichotomies mentioned above and many others are false dichotomies. This means that the two categories are either non-exhaustive, or they overlap some. Either case can lead to conceptual mistakes. You count on something fitting in one, and not fitting in another. If the groups are not mutually exclusive, you might see that an idea fits in one group, and falsely assume that it doesn’t fit in the other. Similarly, if it’s not exhaustive, you may see that an idea doesn’t fit in one, and assume it must fit in the other.

An example of the non-exhaustive categorization occurs in the false selfish/altruist dichotomy. In this sense selfish is meant to be actions that benefit yourself and hurt others. Altruism is hurting yourself to benefit others. If you believe this is a real dichotomy, then you only get to choose who to hurt. Rand attacked this false alternative by showing that it’s possible to act in your rational self-interest, which doesn’t require hurting others, and might even benefit them.

An example of a dichotomy that isn’t mutually exclusive is the moral/practical dichotomy. This is the belief that an action is either morally praiseworthy, or it is useful, but not both. If you run a business, it’s practical, but not morally praiseworthy. If you give until it hurts, it’s morally praiseworthy, but not practical. Again Rand attacked this as a false dichotomy, showing that not only can the moral and the practical overlap, but that they should.

So the question is, why are there so many false dichotomies? Why did Rand spend a lot of time debunking them? Why do these false dichotomies trick philosophers and laymen alike? What accounts for the prevalence?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that the dichotomies seem to present the full range of possibilities. You’re given a choice between two options that are presumed to be exhaustive. And often one of the options is obviously bad. This explains why these dichotomies can stand the test of time. It’s not just a bad idea accepted without merit. The ideas are seen as the only possibilities, and you just need to pick the best of the two. Altruism wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t believed that the only other choice was brutish selfishness. Communism wouldn’t be as appealing if the other choice hadn’t been enslavement by the wealthy few.

This also means that these dichotomies are often self-reinforcing. If one of the categories is particularly bad, people will avoid leaving the safety of the first category so they don’t get labeled as part of the other group. For instance, few people would want to speak up against altruism when they’ll be immediately labeled as a selfish brute who thinks nothing of anyone but themselves.

Think of other examples. A reason/emotion dichotomy would make everyone either cold, calculating and heartless on one hand, or compassionate and loving on the other. If you try to argue using logic, they can dismiss you as a heartless, cruel person. A common view of capitalism vs. communism is a system supporting the rich versus supporting the poor. The choice only seems to be who is the beneficiary of the looting. If you don’t support communism, you must want poor people and children to die! There are many more examples.

This shows the power and the survivability of a false dichotomy. These false alternatives are difficult to challenge. If you assume they’re true dichotomies, you may never question the hidden assumptions. And once accepted, they have mechanisms that reinforce them. Fortunately, once the dichotomy is clearly seen as a false one, it’s can be easy to convey that information. The strength of these ideas is in them being viewed as exhaustive and mutually exclusive. Once that assumption is challenged, the house of cards can come tumbling down. And that’s a good reason to remember to check your premises.