Emergence of “humans” / Berkeley.edu + Comments

slidec8

Simplified socio-cultural guide to identifying male / female.

 

The evolution of Primates – Gender dimorphism /

Top: Orangutan male and female. Middle: Modern social human; all “cases” of allowable bathroom use. Bottom: Idiot’s guide to gender ID; U.S.

 

Low sexual dimorphism in modern social humans? Really? Sexual dimorphism is created culturally in humans, and wow! Gender assignment is all mixed up! In fact, one might observe, that body alteration, decoration, behavior and costume are how Homo sapiens compensates for being a strange hairless ape, born without the elaborate fur, plumage, texture, color and behavioral displays of other species. We “copy” other animals and utilize materials in the environment to socially broadcast our sex and gender  – from the violent hyper male to the “big boob” sex object that is the “ideal” American woman. Some cultures  disguise or blur a person’s sex / gender. Neoteny promotes childlike appearance in males and females – the current trend is toward androgeny.

Any questions about this guy’s gender? 

papua13

Old school “gun”

50%20cent

Below: Modern neotenic “feminized” male – androgeny is the popular goal.

jaejoong-jyj korean

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How bizarre can the “story” of human evolution get?

The following chapter “The Emergence of Humans” is from Berkeley.edu, a site about evolution for students. I confess that to my Asperger type of thinking, this review of evolutionary studies is excruciating: One (dumb) point of view is especially mind-boggling; that chimpanzees are a legitimate focus of “study and research” into ancestral humans and modern human behavior, merely because “they are alive” and eligible for torture in labs’; they don’t have “souls” or “suffer.” And they appeal to neotenic social humans, by scoring high on the “cute” scale.

The apparent inability of researchers to get past this 19th C. world view is stunning; instead of a thorough examination of assumptions across disciplines, we again see “warfare” between disciplines, and the ongoing attempt to assemble a human “dinosaur” from bits and pieces of fossilized thinking. In fact, paleontology has exploded with new ideas since “old” dinosaur reconstructions were discovered to be highly inaccurate. Hint, hint.

FOUND! The last common ancestor of Humans and Chimps.

imagesZYC0W6GI

Berkeley.edu / The emergence of humans

The narratives of human evolution are oft-told and highly contentious. There are major disagreements in the field about whether human evolution is more like a branching tree or a crooked stick, depending partly on how many species one recognizes. Interpretations of almost every new find will be sure to find opposition among other experts. Disputes often center on diet and habitat, and whether a given animal could occasionally walk bipedally or was fully upright. What can we really tell about human evolution from our current understanding of the phylogenetic relations of hominids and the sequence of evolution of their traits?

Hominid evogram

(consistency problem)

To begin with, let’s take a step back. Although the evolution of hominid features is sometimes put in the framework of “apes vs. humans,” the fact is that humans are apes, just as they are primates and mammals. A glance at the evogram shows why. The other apes — chimp, bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, gibbon — would not form a natural, monophyletic group (i.e., a group that includes all the descendants of a common ancestor) — if humans were excluded. Humans share many traits with other apes, and those other “apes” (i.e., non-human apes) don’t have unique features that set them apart from humans. Humans have some features that are uniquely our own, but so do gorillas, chimps, and the rest. Hominid evolution should not be read as a march to human-ness (even if it often appears that way from narratives of human evolution). Students should be aware that there is not a dichotomy between humans and apes. Humans are a kind of ape.

Virtually all systematists and taxonomists agree that we should only give names to monophyletic groups. However, this evogram shows that this guideline is not always followed. For an example, consider Australopithecus. On the evogram you can see a series of forms, from just after Ardipithecus to just before Homo in the branching order, that are all called Australopithecus. (Even Paranthropus is often considered an australopithecine.) But as these taxa appear on the evogram, “Australopithecus” is not a natural group, because it is not monophyletic: some forms, such as A. africanus, are found to be closer to humans than A. afarensis and others. Beyond afarensis, for example, all other Australopithecus and Homo share “enlarged cheek teeth and jaws,” because they have a more recent common ancestor. Eventually, several of these forms will have to have new genus names if we want to name only monophyletic groups. Students should avoid thinking of “australopithecines” as a natural group with uniquely evolved traits that link its members together and set it apart from Homo. Instead they should focus on the pattern of shared traits among these species and the Homo clade, recognizing that each species in this lineage gains more and more features that are shared by Homo.

In popular fiction and movies, the concept of the wild “ape-man” is often that of a tree-living, vine-swinging throwback like Tarzan. However, the pantheon of hominids is much richer than this, as the evogram shows with forms as different as Paranthropus and Ardipithecus shows. For example, imagine going back in time to the common ancestor of humans and chimps (including bonobos). What did that common ancestor look like? In the Origin of Species Darwin noted that the extinct common ancestor of two living forms should not be expected to look like a perfect intermediate between them. Rather, it could look more like one branch or the other branch, or something else entirely.

Found! The last common ancestor of humans and chimps.

Did the common ancestor of humans and chimps conform to the ape-man myth and live in the trees, swinging from vines? To answer this, we have to focus not only on anatomy but on behavior, and we have to do it in a phylogenetic context. Apes such as the gibbon and orangutan, which are more distantly related to humans, are largely arboreal (i.e., tree-living). The more closely related apes such as the gorilla and chimps are relatively terrestrial, although they can still climb trees. The feet of the first hominids have a considerable opposition of the big toe to the others but relatively flat feet, as arboreal apes generally do. But other features of their skeleton, such as the position of the foramen magnum underneath the skull, the vertically shortened and laterally flaring hips, and the larger head of the femur, suggest that they were not just mainly terrestrial but habitually bipedal, unlike their knuckle-walking relatives. Most evidence suggests that the hominid lineage retained some of the anatomical features related to arboreal life and quadrupedal gait even after it had evolved a more terrestrial lifestyle and a bipedal gait. There is no fossil record of these behaviors, but the balance of the available evidence supports the hypothesis that the hominid ancestor was terrestrial and bipedal.

Much discussion in human paleontology surrounds the evolution of a bipedal, upright stance. When and why did this occur? One thing to keep in mind is that “bipedal” and “upright” are not equivalent terms. An animal can be bipedal without having a vertical backbone (think T. rex). It seems clear from the fossil record of hominids that habitual bipedality preceded the evolution of a recurved spine and upright stance. Other changes in the gait, such as how the relatively “splayed” gait of chimps evolved into the gait of humans, who put one foot directly in front of the other, involve studying the hip joint, the femur, and the foot. The famous Laetoli footprints attributed to Australopithecus afarensis are bipedal, but they are still relatively splayed compared to the tracks of living humans. (WOW! they are doing it again despite their own caution: humans did not evolve from chimpanzees!)

Another extremely interesting feature in hominid evolution is the degree of sexual dimorphism (i.e., physical differences between the sexes) in different species. Sexual dimorphism is linked to features of sociality and mate competition in many sorts of animals. To understand the evolution of this feature in humans, which have relatively low sexual dimorphism, we need to consider the other apes, in which sexual dimorphism tends to be moderate to high (with exceptions). 

(Again, culture is utterly ignored: the fact is; women and men “self-morph” according to socio-cultural “genders” into very dimorphic animals)

We don’t have sufficient evidence about Sahelanthropus, Orrorin, and Ardipithecus to understand much about sex differences in these species, but we do know that A. afarensis had relatively high sexual dimorphism: the males were considerably larger than the females. The difference seems to have been less in A. africanus, Paranthropus, and most of the Homo lineage. The evolutionary explanation for A. afarensis‘ dimorphism is not entirely clear. The larger males may have used their size to attract females and/or repel rivals, which would fit with an explanation based on sexual selection. Or the males and females may have been differently sized because they played different roles in their groups, the males hunting and gathering and the females caring for the young. Darwin thought that this differentiation of the sexes may have played a critical role in human evolution, but we simply do not know much about the role of this feature in A. afarensis. Some, all, or none of these functions may have been in play. (Novel-writing again! If we don’t have facts about a subject, why not say so? Speculation becomes dogma in the “magic word syndrome” social mind and people argue over imaginary histories and qualities.  Also – I suspect that once again the writers have “EuroAmerican humans in mind regarding sexual dimorphism: why?

We do know that by the time the animals known as Homo evolved, they could make tools, and their hands were well suited for complex manipulations. These features were eventually accompanied by the reduction of the lower face, particularly the jaws and teeth, the recession of the brow, the enlargement of the brain, the evolution of a more erect posture, and the evolution of a limb more adapted for extended walking and running (along with the loss of arboreally oriented features). The evogram shows the hypothesized order of acquisition of these traits. Yet each of the Homo species was unique in its own way, so human evolution should not be seen as a simple linear progression of improvement toward our own present-day form. (But, we show it that way, anyway!)

More…. Should you need a mind-boggling experience:

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Survey_of_Communication_Study/Chapter_13_-_Gender_Communication

And to clarify all this: 

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The most important “developmental” fact of life

is death.

It just happens: We grow old. It’s a natural progression, without doubt. But not in the U.S., of course, where openly denying death is a frenzied passion. Getting old is a crime in a society terrified of “growing up” and becoming adult.

Old people are proof of the most basic facts of life, so much so, that being old has become taboo. And if one lives to the “new” expectation of 80 or so, that means 30 years of life beyond the new “old age” of 50. That’s a long time to “fake” being “young, beautiful, athletic and sexy”. 

Growing old is tough enough without a “new” set of instructions; don’t look old, act old, get sick, become feeble or need help (unless that help is covered by insurance.) Don’t remind younger people, by your very presence, that there is an end; it is believed now that one can “look good” until the end – which will entail a short, or long, period of degeneration. This period of “old age” is rarely seen as a “good” time of life as valid as one’s childhood, young adulthood, or middle age, unless one has the funds to at least pretend to be “youngish”.

Contrary to popular American belief, it remains a fruitful time of personal development. As long as our bodies continue to function, learning and thinking continue to be what humans do.

If life has been one long illusion that only “social” rewards count, and life has been a display of materials owned, status achieved, people “bested”, then one will likely keep up the illusion, with whatever “solutions” the anti-aging industry has to offer.

I live in a town in which most people are “getting old” – not much opportunity for the young to work, to develop a career, to join the circus of material wealth and ambition. Traditionally, young people have returned to the area after college, and a stint in corporate America, time in the military, or success in finding a spouse. Having “grown up” in this unique place, it was where they chose to establish families and to be close to loved ones. The Wyoming landscape and lifestyle have always been a fundamental fact in this choice to return, and it pulls relentlessly on those who leave.

Disastrous policies, and frankly criminal wars, prosecuted from Washington D.C. in league with corporate-Wall Street crooks, and funded by abused taxpayers, demonstrate the general belief on both coasts that the people who inhabit the “rest of the U.S.” just don’t matter. We are indeed worthless and disposable inferiors willing to enrich a ruling class that despises them, and to literally die for “blood” profits in their service.

Our town needs new people to survive as a community; we need children and young families, but opportunity is lacking. Small businesses are closing and not reopening: the owners have retired and are dying off. Competition from online retailers has siphoned off local spending and old people have very little to spend anyway. Every dime goes to necessities and the obscene cost of healthcare.

The American dream left our town long ago. Wyoming’s existence has been plagued by Federal and corporate control from the beginning, when the railroad opened the West to outright looting of it’s resources by far away “global” entities. Pillage of the land and it’s resources funded the American coastal empires; exploitation of immigrants provided cheap labor. “Colonialization” by U.S. and European nations was not limited to the invasion of “foreign lands” but happened here also – and continues to this day.

Native Americans (not being suited to corporate life and labor) were killed off with conscious purpose – a policy of mass murder; the remnants confined to “reservations” where their descendants are expected to remain “invisible” – to whither away and to eventually die off, by a slow suicide of formerly unique human beings. Diversity? A smoke screen.

These thoughts occupy my meditations as I pass through a human being’s last opportunity for personal development. It’s a time of recognizing that the universe goes on without us; that our deepest questions will not be answered. It’s a time to understand that the individual cannot correct or improve much that goes on in an increasing cluttered and entangled social world, which doesn’t mean that we ought not try to improve our ourselves and our small areas of influence.  Our lives are eventually “finished” for us by nature, in disregard for our insistence that our life is essential to the universe and therefore, ought to go on forever.

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It is shocking to confront the fact that so much human effort, inventiveness, hard labor, suffering, and resource depletion was, and still is, devoted to the imaginary “immortality” of a few (not so admirable) individuals; Pharaohs, emperors, kings, dictators, war lords, ideologues, criminals, Popes and priests; not the best of humanity, but often the worst.

The big lie is an old lie: Immortality can be purchased. 

Yes, there is a pyramid for immortality-mortality also: The Pharaohs of our time will not be mummified. (A crude process of desiccation, which however has been wildly socially successful! They continue to be A -List celebrities that attract fans of the “rich and famous”.)

Today’s 1% equivalents will not be made immortal by being dried out like fish, cheese or jerky – no, they will be made “immortal” by means of “sophisticated” technology. What an advancement in human civilization! 

These immortality technologies, and lesser life extension, of replacements of organs and skeletal architecture, part by failing part, are being promoted as “mankind’s future” – What a lie! As if the today’s Pharaohs really intend to share their immortality with 15 billion humans!

timecover

2045: The year Man becomes Immortal. Right: All estimate 15 billion of us.

A few elite at the top may manage to purchase immortality of a limited sort: machines designed in their own image.

The mortal King Tut, a product of incest who died at age 19. How much human talent and potential has been wasted on fulfilling the fantasy of immortality for a predatory class of individuals?

It’s not King Tut, the Insignificant, who is immortal, but the lure of his “real estate” holdings, elite addresses, golden household furniture and knickknacks, layers of stone coffins, granite “countertops”, Jacuzzi bath tubs, fabulous jewelry, and rooms with a view of eternity, that keeps the envious modern social tourist coming back. 


This is not King Tut. This is a fabulous work of propaganda made by artisans, (Pharaohs had to impress the Gods in order to become a god – you wouldn’t show up for “judgement day” in anything less than the most impressive selections from your wardrobe) who rarely get credit (nameless) for their “creation of brands and products” that supply the magical connections necessary for supernatural belief in the pyramid of social hierarchy as the “definitive and absolute model” of the cosmos.  

Magic consists of the “transfer of power” between the “immortal mask” and the unimpressive person; the “mask” has become King Tut in the belief system of the socially-obsessed viewer.  

 

 

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!

 

Mental Development / Genetics of Visual Attention

Twin study finds genetics affects where children look, shaping mental development

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171109131152.htm

November 9, 2017 / Indiana University

A study that tracked the eye movement of twins has found that genetics plays a strong role in how people attend to their environment.

Conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the study offers a new angle on the emergence of differences between individuals and the integration of genetic and environmental factors in social, emotional and cognitive development. This is significant because visual exploration is also one of the first ways infants interact with the environment, before they can reach or crawl.

“The majority of work on eye movement has asked ‘What are the common features that drive our attention?'” said Daniel P. Kennedy, an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “This study is different. We wanted to understand differences among individuals and whether they are influenced by genetics.”

Kennedy and co-author Brian M. D’Onofrio, a professor in the department, study neurodevelopmental problems from different perspectives. This work brings together their contrasting experimental methods: Kennedy’s use of eye tracking for individual behavioral assessment and D’Onofrio’s use of genetically informed designs, which draw on data from large population samples to trace the genetic and environmental contributions to various traits. As such, it is one of the largest-ever eye-tracking studies.

In this particular experiment, the researchers compared the eye movements of 466 children — 233 pairs of twins (119 identical and 114 fraternal) — between ages 9 and 14 as each child looked at 80 snapshots of scenes people might encounter in daily life, half of which included people. Using an eye tracker, the researchers then measured the sequence of eye movements in both space and time as each child looked at the scene. They also examined general “tendencies of exploration”; for example, if a child looked at only one or two features of a scene or at many different ones.

Published Nov. 9 in the journal Current Biology, the study found a strong similarity in gaze patterns within sets of identical twins, who tended to look at the same features of a scene in the same order. It found a weaker but still pronounced similarity between fraternal twins.

This suggests a strong genetic component to the way individuals visually explore their environments: Insofar as both identical and fraternal twins each share a common environment with their twin, the researchers can infer that the more robust similarity in the eye movements of identical twins is likely due to their shared genetic makeup. The researchers also found that they could reliably identify a twin with their sibling from among a pool of unrelated individuals based on their shared gaze patterns — a novel method they termed “gaze fingerprinting.”

“People recognize that gaze is important,” Kennedy said. “Our eyes are moving constantly, roughly three times per second. We are always seeking out information and actively engaged with our environment, and ultimately where you look affects your development.”

After early childhood, the study suggests that genes influence at the micro-level — through the immediate, moment-to-moment selection of visual information — the environments individuals create for themselves.

“This is not a subtle statistical finding,” Kennedy said. “How people look at images is diagnostic of their genetics. Eye movements allow individuals to obtain specific information from a space that is vast and largely unconstrained. It’s through this selection process that we end up shaping our visual experiences.

“Less known are the biological underpinnings of this process,” he added. “From this work, we now know that our biology affects how we seek out visual information from complex scenes. It gives us a new instance of how biology and environment are integrated in our development.”

“This finding is quite novel in the field,” D’Onofrio said. “It is going to surprise people in a number of fields, who do not typically think about the role of genetic factors in regulating such processes as where people look.”

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Comment: 

(Note: Many individuals can learn the “scientific method”- techniques, procedures and the use of math, without having an “understanding” of  “physical reality”. This is a problem in American “science” today.)

Why is the Asperger “attentional preference” for “physical reality” labeled a developmental defect? Because modern social humans BELIEVE that only the social environment EXISTS!

This “narrow” field of attention in modern social humans is the result of domestication / neoteny. The “magical thinking” stage of childhood development is carried into adulthood. This “arrested development” retains the narcissistic infantile perception of reality.  

A genetic basis for this “perceptual” knowledge of reality would support the Asperger “Wrong Planet” sense of alienation from neurotypical social environments. Our “real world” orientation is not a “defect” – our perception is that of an adult Homo sapiens. The hypersocial “magical” perception of the environment is that of the self-centered infant, whose very survival depends on the manipulation of “big mysterious beings” (parents – puppeteers) who make up the infant’s ENTIRE UNIVERSE.  

The Neurotypical Universe

 


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel P. Kennedy, Brian M. D’Onofrio, Patrick D. Quinn, Sven Bölte, Paul Lichtenstein, Terje Falck-Ytter. Genetic Influence on Eye Movements to Complex Scenes at Short Timescales. Current Biology, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.007

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!

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Personality shapes the way our brains react to eye contact

June 5, 2015
Story Source:  Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland).
Summary:
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?)

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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.  

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“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.

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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

I need to clarify my “view” of Asperger’s “the thing” in 2017

This is not going to be easy: I’ve been in a foul mood for days. Sick from reading, reading, reading the awful literature “about” Autism; the myriad denials, excuses, pompous exclamations and explanations of what?

Damaged Children.

  1. In my considered opinion, Aspergers “as I know it”, both by experience and investigation, is a PERSONALITY TYPE in modern Homo sapiens.
  2. “Disturbances” in behavior result from the extreme rarity of this personality in the modern social context.
  3. Asperger’s is closely associated with the MBTI “introverted thinking” types.
  4. Asperger’s as the “pathology” (which is identified-defined by modern social demands for conformity to “approved human behavior” – dictated by Western psychological theory) is “real” in that Asperger children  experience social trauma from a very early age, resulting in anxiety, withdrawal from social interaction, focus on private mental experiences, and resistance to “dog-training” methods of socialization; reward – punishment schemes that let’s face it – are the limit of American imagination and effort when it comes to raising children. “Dog-training” is suitable for domestic animals. 
  5. Positive characteristics such as advanced maturity (independence, self-motivation and learning), curiosity, visual thinking, and reliance on a specific egalitarian set of values that determine, for us, “proper” human interaction, are denigrated, attacked, and falsely represented as “defective” “subhuman” “inferior” and symptoms of developmental disability. These values are basic principles of democracy; fair play, justice, equality and honest human communication were, until recently, principles at least promoted to children as goals to establish “good character” and necessary to a stable and free society.  Now? It’s social warfare that it is demanded; any and all ugly behavior is sanctioned in the battle for power over other human beings.
  6. Asperger’s was ‘eliminated’ from the DSM – 5. Why? The “reasons” are rather mysterious. “It’s simpler to have socially problematic people under one big diagnostic umbrella,” seems to be the official explanation. The “Autism Spectrum” is imaginary; an inflated pool of behavior “problems” with myriad presentations, sources and causes. It’s a “sanitizing” word-concept that covers up the damage done to fetuses, infants, toddlers and children by careless and selfish adults, and by random “mistakes” inherent in natural processes. Many of these “causes” are preventable, but the “cult” of denial of personal responsibility for reproductive choices is in control in the U.S. today. It’s so much easier to “blame God” for a mind-boggling supernatural system of “baby-making disasters”, which have  preventable “real” causes. God must be fed up by now with being blamed for human social behavior. 
  7. Irrational, painful, disastrous – but Autism is a highly profitable imaginary realm for psychologists who function as ‘middle men’ in a vast industry built on fear. ASD is the latest version of a socially-motivated growth industry: Convincing human beings that they are inherently “defective” – and must obey the priests who can supply “salvation” (for a price; a sacrifice, a donation – cash or insurance). Psychology is def facto, a religion. And – so thinly disguised that it is embraced without question by highly religious Americans. 
  8. Asperger’s “the thing” has become a joke. A fad, a novelty, a tool for discrimination; a shabby “socially-approved” label for “disobedient”  children upon which people can safely express prejudice, hate, bigotry, ignorance. Asperger’s, the pejorative label, has been co-opted by the great American pop-culture machine, which trivializes anything and everything “culturally distinct” out of existence. (Assembly-line “Mexican” food anyone? Gang signs and tattoos for suburban moms? Camo clothes and toy AK-47s for soldier-toddlers?) Asperger’s isn’t a diagnosis; its an extreme minority designated as traditional outcasts; the list of “designated targets” – those scapegoats who can be blamed for society’s failures, is very long in human social history.

Who will be next?

The mentally ill, disabled and “social defectives” are once again front and center in the Eugenic Dream to perfect humanity – a distinctly American Dream. A resurgence of traditional Eugenic focus  is rapidly expanding to include “genetic” mistakes – at the most deterministic level – “cleansing of the human genome”. “Autistic” children are being used to identify defective genes which will be “removed”. 

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.

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)  

Depression—

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: https://aspergerhuman.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/arena-sand-sand-strewn-place-of-combat/

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.