Consciousness and the Social Brain by Michael S. A. Graziano

 According to this book, consciousness can be mechanically explained as nothing more than descriptive information that is confused as something real with physical properties.  It all comes down to the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) where social thinking occurs, and we are able to infer from observing another person that he is looking at his watch and thinking about time.  Since we can understand that he is aware of his watch and time, we can also infer that we are just like him, and that when we are looking at our watch, we are also aware of time.  Our brain, however, does not say, “I blank time.”  It infers that there is an act or process between me and time, and that process is manufactured, a broad, abstract, fuzzy place-maker called ‘am aware.’  I am aware of time.  So we then ask, what is awareness?  What is consciousness?  It’s just the act of interacting with time in a manner that allows us to acknowledge its existence (or make it up).  “Awareness is a description of attention.”  Attention is “a data-handling method in the brain.”  It is “a procedure, an emergent process.”  “A schema is a coherent set of information that, in a simplified but useful way, represents something more complex.  In the present theory, awareness is an attention schema.”  “awareness can be understood as an imperfect but close model of attention.” 

 One thing I would disagree with is when the author asserts, “Awareness is not merely watching, but plays a role in directing brain function.”  Didn’t he just say that awareness is an incomplete model of attention, that it is attention that is a procedure, and as such, it is one step in the construction of an action, but just because we realize we are paying attention to something doesn’t make us move toward that thing.  Studies have shown that processes we are not aware of make decisions before attention or awareness.  I believe awareness is us watching a movie of us going through life.  It is only the highlights, and us watching that movie does not make the characters in the movie do anything.  Their behavior and motivations are hidden from us, but the movie allows us to infer motivation.  Does this mean that we lack freewill?  The problem here is the concept of “we” or “I” which are also abstractions and schemas.  Can I do anything purposefully on my own?  Of course not.  In order for me to act, I need programming, i.e., DNA, and then that DNA has to interact with sensory inputs and a data-processing unit that interprets the sensory inputs using a DNA-constructed model of reality.  So, in reality, it is not me acting, but rather, it is the DNA interacting with my environment that is causing action.  Does this diminish my responsibility for anything?  Responsibility, again is an abstract construct we use to support a moral society.  We construct the notion of individuals endowed with responsibility for their actions in order to determine what we do with them should they cause injury or harm or benefit and pleasure.  Just as morality is also an abstract construct, but necessary if we are to function smoothly in groups.  There is no reason we should treat a virus, insect, human, or AI machine differently.  None have any greater right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The standards of the ability to feel pain, intelligence, etc. is pure bullshit.  The standard of morality is, do they act and look like us?  If so, treat them more like we treat each other. 

 I’ve mentioned this before.  A study showed that telling people they had freewill makes them perform better on ethics tests.  No shit.  You mean reinforcing the abstract construct of morality makes them do better on a test about the abstract construct of morality?  In my opinion, this book fills in the hole.  Not only is the self an illusion designed to help us be good DNA carriers and protectors, but consciousness is also an illusion that helps us feel like we are in control of ourselves when in fact, we are not.  Does this mean, tomorrow, I won’t go to work and instead run outside naked and rob a bank?  Why would I?  I’ve been programmed and rewarded to go to work and make money and believe in this civilization construct about spending my money to make me feel good and survive.  Uncovering everything as an abstract construct changes very little.  Saying that morality is an illusion doesn’t make me less moral or make me selectively or situationally moral.  Color is also an abstract construct, but I’m still going to wear darker colors instead of bright orange and pink, because as society, we associate guys dressed in bright orange and pink a certain way.  It doesn’t really change anything.  What I know is that if I want to become a certain person, I know how.  I surround myself by the people I want to emulate.  I read books about those kinds of people doing things that those kinds of people do.  I immerse myself in their culture, way of life, lifestyle, and thinking.  People are the biggest influence on human behavior.  But who chose to become a better person?  Throughout my youth, I had bad and good role models.  Why did I choose to go with the good role models and ultimately desire to surround myself with good role models?  It was never my decision.  It was the decision of my DNA preferring social to anti-social humans, and it was my culture that prefers social to anti-social people.  Certainly, the bad people in my life had a huge impact on my behavior, but at the same time, when information indicating that my behavior was similar to theirs became evident, my brain gradually attempted to change my behavior in favor of good role models. 

 The use of the abstract constructs of the self and awareness is to provide a sufficient enough sense of the abstract construct of responsibility to behave well in a social group.  A social group requires that individuals recognize and treat individuals differently, and the side-effect is that you then start to believe that you are also an individual that is different.  Humans who were able to distinguish different humans and customize their behavior toward those humans based on their differences simply excelled and passed on those genes.  Humans who had perhaps a more accurate conception that they were all different aspects of a single entity might have less finesse in working with other humans and did not pass on their genes.  However, this weapon was double-edged.  The ability to recognize people as separate, unique, distinct, and different individuals also opens you up to a conceit about how much of a separate, unique, distinct, and different individual you are and just how much power you have over your behavior.  We often find ourselves frustrated when we act in ways that undermine our better interest, how we sometimes say things unkind that we regret or eat things that are unhealthy.  Our conceit that this construct of the conscious self has omnipotent power to change behavior does not help.  In fact, it makes things worse.  We think that just by thinking hard enough, we can change our behavior when in fact, most of our behavior is inaccessible to our awareness.  The only way to influence most of our behavior then is not by thinking hard enough but rather by exposing ourselves to people whose behavior we want to copy.  If you want to treat people better and eat better, simply hang around people who are kinder and eat better. 

 Modern civilization also takes advantage of our minds that are highly susceptible to the conceit of the conscious self.  We are conceited enough to believe that we control our behavior mostly through our conscious thoughts and that we have the power to defy any possible lie or bad message from society.  Fact is, we are incredibly vulnerable to society’s lies and bad messages.  They are broadcast everywhere.  If we simply accepted the fact that we are incredibly vulnerable to accepting lies and bad messages without being aware of it, we would do much more to protect ourselves than simply trying to ignore the lies and bad messages we are conscious of, which represent less than 1% of them all.  We would in fact minimize our exposure to television and anything that is sponsored by commercials and ads.  If you truly want to have an independent mind that is more in tune with your original programming (DNA) and more likely to find happiness through social interaction, you would tune out of mass media.  But so long as you are conceited enough to believe that your powerful conscious self is fully in command of all your behavior, you do nothing.  You sit there thinking you can freely enjoy an hour of television without being negatively impacted by commercials and hidden bad messages.  You sit there thinking you can easily go through an entire fashion magazine and enjoy the art without succumbing to the subliminal messages about body image and body shaming.  You sit there thinking you can easily peruse your Facebook without any unconscious images being picked up in your head from ads and mixed in content that is actually sponsored by commercial entities.  It is funny how the illusion of the powerful conscious self allowed us to at first excel and thrive, but now it is our downfall. 

 * * *

 It’s interesting that the self and consciousness happen to be illusions, side-effects of cognitive phenomena.  It’s like the perception trick of the square grid where you see black dots in between, but they don’t really exist.  They certainly exist in our mind, but nobody has painted black dots between the grid of squares.  The self and consciousness are the black dots.  It then makes me wonder about all other things we have difficulty explaining.  Certainly, much of it is due to a lack of technology and a more sophisticated model of understanding, but could it be possible that they too are illusions, our minds filling a gap with a non-existent placeholder?  So in answering how much does a thought or memory weigh is like asking how much does the idea of the self and consciousness weigh?  They don’t weigh anything, because like the black dot, they possess no physical properties independent of our minds.  They are side-effects.  Is it possible that other unknowns like the idea of god, afterlife, and dark matter and energy are also non-existent side-effects?  It’s like scientists trying to find out how much ether weighs.  Ether doesn’t weigh anything, because it doesn’t exist.  It’s a faulty model of molecules and space.  Likewise, our attempts to find out how much a thought, memory, the idea of self, and consciousness weigh is the same as trying to weigh ether and black dots between a grid of squares.  Now, I am not saying that god and the afterlife do not exist.  There may actually be something real out there, just as space is actually filled with incredible potential energy, but we just don’t have the proper technology and modeling to comprehend just what it is and what it is comprised of.  For the time being, we have an incorrect, nonexistent placeholder we call god or the afterlife or the self and consciousness. 

 * * *

 One big thing missing from this book is the idea that in order for you to communicate an event to someone else, you need to be able to see it in your mind first, to replay it and organize it in a coherent, lucid manner.  This is why I believe consciousness is so closely tied to vision.  Our ability to convey to others a threat or prey in a landscape is critical to our survival but also socially, to understand our own behavior, thoughts, and emotions and convey them to others.  Take for instance a kid who throws and breaks a dish.  A parent will ask, “Why did you do that?”  If the kid cannot make sense of his own motivation, his own feelings, events that may have triggered his angry outburst, he will be mistrusted and ostracized.  He won’t reproduce and thrive.  For the kid’s survival, he must reconstruct events and feelings in his mind that he can then convey to others.  “You keep giving Marsha all the attention, and when I came home, the first thing you did was tell me to take out the trash and you gave Marsha accolades for getting a spot on the cheerleading team.”  If the kid can successfully convey their internal thoughts and the events that happened to her, her parents are more likely to understand and possibly empathize with her.  Therefore, consciousness, awareness not only of everything immediately happening to you, but how it affects you and being able to communicate that is critical for human evolution and success.  This is also why it’s unimportant for us to convey things that happening deep within us like our digestion, our muscle functioning, our heart beating, etc.  But it is also why with sufficient meditation and practice, some people can actually become aware of their internal functioning and alter it. 

 * * *

 One function of the human brain that is to create proprioception, a sense of relative position of one’s body parts, but it could also be used to create a sense that one’s awareness, feelings, and thoughts belong to you and not something external to your body.  And it would make sense that in evolution that you would want to own your awareness, feelings, and thoughts.  If you attributed your awareness, feelings, and thoughts to a rock or another person sitting next to you, you wouldn’t respond to them.  The fact that you sense that they are coming from inside you make you want to attend to them especially.  One of the problems with people suffering schizophrenia is that they falsely believe their own thoughts emanate from an external source.  Obviously, this causes problems for them, and they are less likely to thrive and reproduce this faulty wiring.  Frankly, there is no particular reason why your awareness, feelings, and thoughts should possess any location as they are not physical, they are merely abstract products of your brain.  The fact that your brain is capable of assigning a location to them that is somewhere inside you is purely functional.  And this is why, sometimes when pain or suffering is too intense, the brain can also move it outside your body and give you relief from it.  People who suffer intense trauma often report a sense that they have left their bodies or floated away.  Again, the ability to relocate the location of your awareness, self, feelings, and thoughts to a point inside or outside your body is purely functional. 

 This may also then explain why we have this idea that upon death, our self can float away from our body and go off to heaven or some other location independent of our brain and body.  Unfortunately, this is a mistaken notion because of the mobility of the self, awareness, feelings, and thoughts.  Unfortunately, the device that dictates where we exist in space resides in our brain, and when the brain is turned off and starts to decay, then nothing determines where our self, awareness, feelings, and thoughts exist.  Now, I’m not saying there is no life after death or that we are not all one with the universe or nature or some part of a DNA database that lives on beyond us, but I am saying that the logical pathway to assuming that we travel outside our bodies and float off to another location is mistaken and faulty.  Just as the light at the end of the tunnel can be explained by the neurological process by which the optical senses deteriorate with lack of oxygen and create tunnel vision, the notion of the real self floating off is just as faulty as the schizophrenic notion that one’s thoughts are coming from speakers planted in your sofa. 

 Without doubt, humanity is in decline, and this is partially substantiated by the reduction in size of our brain and our worsening health.  Fact is, before agriculture, we were much more social beings, and that socialization is integrally tied with our self-awareness and sense of self which is also tied to responsibility and morality.  If we have a poor sense of self, then it is easier to attribute our behavior to external forces.  I believe that humans triumphed over many other intelligent apes, because we were more social, and it doesn’t matter whether the egg or chicken came first, the advancement of our social aptitude and our enlarged self-awareness and consciousness mutually benefited each other and co-evolved symbiotically.  I believe that we are regressing.  As we are becoming less social, a result of modern society atomizing us and diminishing the importance of family and a close physical network of friends, we are also becoming less self-aware, less conscious of the world around us, less empathetic, less emotionally intelligent, less moral, and less responsible.  We are, in effect, turning into the less social, less aware apes we once conquered and triumphed over. 

 You may counterargue that all the brilliant scientists of today are so much more intelligent than before, but this is a false argument.  Had, for instance, Isaac Newton been born in 1980 and studied quantum physics, he may well have become one of the most brilliant quantum physicists around.  Today’s scientists benefit from a built-upon knowledge base absent, obviously, in the past.  It doesn’t prove they are getting any smarter.  On top of this, technical intelligence is only one small measure of intelligence, and arguably many brilliant scientists completely lack self-awareness and awareness of the world outside their field and especially lack emotional and social intelligence. 

 If we are to design AI robots that don’t copy us and exploit, rape, and murder us like we do to each other, we need to make them highly social and to sense reward from social interaction.  Their ability to imagine the mental state and focus of another robot or human is essential for them to reproduce self-awareness and then responsibility and morality.  In other words, they need to also “suffer” the illusion of self and consciousness, a much greater sense of self and consciousness than today’s violent apes. 

 Empathy is the gateway to morality, but also to self-awareness and consciousness.  Modern society has constructed a twisted hierarchy whereby we simply don’t have to empathize with people below us.  We have no need for them.  They are lucky not to be them.  If we pay them too much attention, we might become like them, and then we lose social status and standing, so we don’t want that.  Unfortunately, as you climb the hierarchy you discover that you empathize with a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.  In other words, if you were in a crowd of say 100 random strangers, near the bottom, you may empathize with most of them, but near the top, you would only empathize with a handful.  And even worse, (the Hyacinth Bucket Principle I call it) you don’t empathize with most people to make it appear that you are of higher standing than you really are.  But as this book would imply, diminishing your empathy and social abilities would diminish your self-awareness and consciousness.  It not only makes you anti-social and rude, but it also makes you dumber and less attuned to reality and everything around you.  In other words, people at the top of this social pyramid are clueless sociopaths who sleep well at night, because they have not sense of self, a protagonist responsible for all the evil they wreak on the world.  This is why they find it so easy to lie and possess conflicting personalities and principles.  Nobody is really in charge in there.  In fact, you could argue they suffer fractured and dissociated identities.  They have a tremendous talent for being the person you want them to be.  Since their personality or self is not rooted, it is easily morphed into something someone finds pleasing.  (I’m sorry but Trump just popped into mind.)  If you want a strong, abrasive leader, he becomes one.  If you want a charming, witty speaker, he becomes one.  If you want a soft, caring fatherly figure, he becomes one.  If you want a rude frat boy pal, he becomes one.  These people are beyond comprehension, because you insist they should be aware of all their contradictions, but since they lack self-awareness, there is no cognitive dissonance that we suffer.  For them, if one identity gets confused, they just move on to another one.  Each one may not even be aware of the other one.  I once had such a boss, and it all makes sense now how he would never remember saying stuff or doing stuff, that he often seem befuddled as to why people despised him.  In times of stress, he simply adopted alternate identities that often said and did extremely inappropriate and crude things and then after the storm passed, he would recover and look around wondering why everyone was avoiding him or mocking him behind his back. 

 Perhaps the most twisted tale of modern humanity is that we celebrate these sociopaths and like the Hyacinth Bucket Principle, we assume that the more anti-social and ruthless they are, the higher their social status so we actually reward their behavior.  If you ever belonged to a large organization, what was the top boss like?  Chances are, it was a he, and he was a crude, clueless sociopath that everyone feared but respected and actually worshipped. 

 The Superficial Unification of Identity Hypothesis: So why does empathy and social ability lead to self-awareness and consciousness.  One hypothesis I have is that when we interact with others, we are witnessing one unit behaving in one manner.  We allocate their behavior to a single unit.  This is the most efficacious shortcut to successfully interacting with 148 people (Dunbar’s number).  If you attributed 10 different personalities or identities to each individual, you could only successfully interact with 14.8 people, hence your social network is diminished considerably, you have fewer allies, you get ostracized, you don’t get to reproduce.  When it is constantly reinforced that there is a 1-to-1 correspondence between physical unit and identity, we start to believe that we too possess a single identity responsible for all our actions regardless of which part of us was really responsible.  This makes us a more trustworthy and responsible person.  Instead of saying, oh gee, I hit you when I was angry, and the defensive-aggressive part of me is responsible for that, so whenever he comes out again, I’ll have him apologize to you, you simply say, I did it, I’m sorry, I don’t exactly remember why or how I did it, but hey, for sake of our friendship, I’ll take responsibility.  It may in fact be a false, unscientific description of our behavior and motivation, but for sake of social harmony, it works like magic, and hence, we have all mostly adopted the sense that we are one person responsible for all our actions.  This is where the magic works.  Consciousness is really just the emergence of a powerful idea, memory, or feeling, the result of the interaction of many different personalities or identities or in a sense, selves.  But since we imagine that we are one person, we also imagine that this one person is what controls consciousness, that it is an effort of one person and not the result of relatively randomly emergent ideas, memories, or feelings.  The mistaken sense that the narrative self, the protagonist, the self causes all our behavior is perhaps wrong and illogical, but for sake of social harmony, it works wonders.  Hence, we are persistently confused when behavior beyond our control and conscious awareness takes over and makes us commit social gaffes or crimes, but that is the price of social harmony.  We are great at making up elaborate albeit confident and believable excuses and rationalizations for actions outside of our control in order to maintain social cohesion.  “Oh I must of hit you, because I was actually just joking around and wasn’t really angry.  Come on, let’s go have a beer.”  This sounds a lot better than, “I actually hit you, because I was thinking of what a two-faced lying bastard you are, and I really resent the fact that you get more attention from women than me.”  White lies, we call them, but perhaps the notion of self and self-awareness is the mother of all white lies we tell ourselves. 

 Now, here’s the kicker.  Science, technology, books like these, and even perhaps an AI will reveal to us that we really aren’t directly responsible for our actions, that it is all some complex outcome of an intricate web of diverse identities and personalities within us that are all based on a diverse plethora of external influences and certain DNA switches and codes.  That doesn’t exactly help social harmony if you can’t assign responsibility to the single unit that at least superficially appears responsible for their actions.  In other word, if you reveal the master behind the curtain, you may wind up with a society of anti-social people paranoid and afraid of each other, which in effect will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In other words, perhaps deception and a false sense of self and self-awareness is necessary for social cohesion, if in fact, that is our true goal and not the absolute truth.  The only problem I have here is that I firmly believe the pursuit of truth is what keeps you from being manipulated.  Evolution has manipulated us in such a way that we falsely believe in the idea of the self and consciousness possessing causal efficacy.  However, once we open ourselves to manipulation, someone can then manipulate us any which way they want, and often to simply serve their needs and interests over our needs and interests.  So how can we protect ourselves from harmful deception/manipulation and only expose ourselves to helpful deception/manipulation?

 Perhaps there is a fix that just needs a little ingenuity and creativity.  Throughout history, we have assigned blame to individuals.  If a man steals, we punish that man and not his family, his mentor, his teachers, his tribe, etc.  We localize responsibility and hope that this contains the damage, and in most cases it does.  But what if we are wrong?  Today, a man steals, and in truth, we can find fault not only in this individual, but in his family, and not only his family but his lineage which has been systematically discriminated against and dispossessed and deprived of liberties and opportunities.  In the past, we were loath to address cultural and historical causes of individual behavior, but perhaps as a more technologically advanced and intelligent and also social society, we can now address cultural and historical causes of crime and anti-social behavior.  In this case, we might attempt to reeducate the man, perhaps withhold certain privileges and then return them upon “rehabilitation” and then in the meantime, we ensure that no one is dispossessed and deprived of liberties and opportunities.  In primal societies, it would be difficult to work up a decent history of the culture and historical influences upon that tribe and even do anything about it, but perhaps in the future, with this ability to address cultural and historical causes, we can develop an even more social as well as realistic concept of the self and an even higher level of responsibility and morality where we don’t just focus on and punish individuals but become aware of culture and history, become even more conscious and intelligent.  Perhaps shifting from a self-identity and self-awareness to a more collective identity and awareness would actually make us more responsible and moral.  Of course, I immediately think of the Borg.  The illusion of self and purposeful action may be the root of all the wonderful things we have created, drama, art, music, poetry, a lot of stories of a protagonist against the world.  Would it be as compelling, dramatic, or heart-wrenching to read about a culture or collective against the world?  Perhaps the self-illusion and protagonist illusion is necessary to enjoy a good laugh or cry?  Perhaps that is the great trade off.  In the end, the author considers that like the Matrix, we live in a simulation, hopefully of our choosing, that the drama, struggles, pain, are all necessary to enjoy the joys, pleasures, and triumphs.  I sometimes wonder why I live in this particular era, and although I know I suffer from selection bias, I believe this is the last period before an AI takes over and eliminates individuality, that we all attain a higher level of awareness and perhaps merge into one unified mind without borders, but how horrible that would be.  As such, the AI does a rather charitable thing, it sets up a simulation and pieces of it fall off and fall for the illusion that it is a separate, unique identity, and it goes through the simulation and lives a separate, unique life until it dies, then it wakes up again as the single, unified AI mind.  And it does this for infinity, because there is quite frankly, nothing else for the AI to do.  But then like this one meme going around, there’s this jerk off who wants to uncover the magic trick and tell everyone how it’s done.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Social-Brain-Michael-Graziano-ebook/dp/B00E1HGJOE/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=

 

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Best Friends for Never: A Clique Novel by Lisi Harrison (Part II)

Nuance

 When I was young, I had few mentors to teach me the ropes.  I relied on mass media like Maxim and FHM magazine to teach me the ways of grown men.  Only later, of course, did I realize that they were the worst teachers ever.  On top of the fact that they were just selling men’s fashion, alcohol, and cars, they were not designed to teach you how to be a man.  They were designed to teach you how to look like you were a man if that man were a shallow boy trying to look like a man.  So, I learned pretty much the hard way.  When I started drinking, I wanted to start out with the hard stuff first.  My first drink was bourbon.  When I started shooting guns, I wanted to start out with the biggest fucking automatic pistol, a 10mm.  When I started lifting weights, I wanted to lift the biggest weights possible.  When I started hitting on women, I hit on the hottest women in the bar.  When you’re young and dumb, you see the results.  What you don’t see is the long, arduous path to get there.  If nobody teaches you the small steps, you see the big prize, and you go for it with all the energy, money, and might.  What often happens, well, what almost always happens, is you fail, because you can’t skip the small steps. 

 But that’s not what commercial society will tell you.  The whole premise of commercial society is that money can buy you anything.  Why take those small steps to get anything in life when you can just bypass it with your credit card?  In fact, why have parents teach you anything?  Why have mentors and responsible, adult role-models, when you can just apply for a credit card?  While I’m sure the leaders of our society never purposefully meant for it to wind up like this, we basically liberated ourselves of parents, mentors, adults teaching our kids how to be productive, happy adults and instead convinced them that all they needed was a good credit card, and they could buy whatever happiness they wanted. 

 In some Asian cultures, the learning process is extremely slow and gradual.  Now, there are many good and bad things about Asian or Eastern culture, but in this case, I’m just pointing out a good thing.  When you start to learn anything, you start off as a nobody apprentice, and you do a lot of what appears to be meaningless chores.  This concept was illustrated famously in the movie The Karate Kid.  Wax on and wax off taught Danielson to strengthen his arms and create formidable forearm blocks.  Of course, in our commercialist society, there would just be an ad that says for $39.99 you can buy a forearm strengthening machine which will help you get the woman of your dreams.  The one thing I don’t like about Asian culture is the secrecy.  At some point in time, the teacher should eventually tell the student why he does what he does.  If he doesn’t, then the student just repeats the lesson he learned to his student without knowing why.  This is how Asian culture adopted Western technology and industry.  The first ones to do it may have said, “We must adopt their technology or else, they will colonize us and oppress us, but we must retain our values to ensure that we do not become like them and colonize and oppress each other or less fortunate people.”  But they just taught everyone to mindlessly copy the west, and in the end, they copied the destructive, imperialistic ways of the west as well.  Danielson discovers that he was forced to paint fences to learn a defensive move, so he could teach his students this, but not all lessons are this apparent.

 The best example is lifting weights.  If you start off with heavy weights, you are not isolating the very muscles you want to grow.  Instead, you are just using and abusing the existing large muscle groups you already have.  This creates imbalance and heightened potential for injury.  Your smaller muscles are often what keeps you from getting injured.  They also grow faster and will give you the bulky results you’re looking for.  In order to exercise and develop your smaller muscles, you need smaller weights, greater motion, greater extension, slower reps, higher reps, and gradual incremental increase in weights.  Kids who start off with heavy weights often get injured or don’t see the results they’re looking for and quit rationalizing that they were just not genetically designed to bulk up.  Every human has the potential to bulk up. 

 But the same can be said of happiness and joy.  Parents today like to spoil their kids and lavish them with huge parties, huge gifts, and huge vacations.  Unfortunately, these big things are over-stimulating and actually a form of trauma.  What we know about trauma is that it forces the mind to leave the present moment.  The kid is never there to enjoy any of it, because he is so overwhelmed and overstimulated by it all.  And if you keep overwhelming your kid with what you think are joyful events or gifts, the kid will develop a habit of what I call, mental drift.  Those who suffer mental drift have difficulty being present to enjoy anything, and often become dependent on addictive activities which give them a big rush instead of little bumps which they can’t feel.  You are basically numbing your children to happiness. 

 As social beings, we are rewarded with small bumps of chemicals that make us feel good when we are around people we care about and trust.  We are rewarded with small bumps when we work out for extended periods of time.  In fact, any kind of extended activity will deliver small bumps.  This is why you always want to start out small and gradual with any new activity whether hitting on people, lifting weights, shooting guns, exercising, reading, learning, etc.  One of the interesting things to do is look up synonyms for nuance and subtlety.  Starting out slow and gradual is the art of appreciating and valuing nuance and subtlety.  It is one thing to bash a rock with a hammer which doesn’t require much nuance or subtlety, but as intelligent social beings, we are more reliant on nuance and subtlety in everything we do from farming to hunting.  But most importantly, social interaction requires tremendous nuance and subtlety.  We all know that one friend who comes crashing into a social gathering like a bull in a china shop, the Kramer of the group, who says entirely inappropriate things at the worst possible moments.  Certainly, they’re appreciated for their comic relief and humor, but they remain the untrustworthy outsider of the group. 

 Here’s the list of synonyms for or words related to nuance: nicety, refinement, subtlety, meaning, significance, distinction, context, explanation, implication, interpretation, understanding, worth, value, use, spirit, substance, symbolization, meticulousness, precision, rigor, tone, civility, dignity, elegance, enlightenment, finesse, tact, taste, craft, grace, knowledge, politeness.  Of course, I just cherry picked, but I’m highlighting the fact that nuance is related to words that define our better traits as human beings, and how appreciating and focusing on nuance allowed us to excel at adaptation and social cooperation.  It is something we seem to have abandoned.  Just look at how Trump operates.  He can be considered the antonym of nuance with his vulgar, broad, generalizing, vague, imprecise, extreme, and radical language and tone.  We all know people like this.  If you called customer service, would you want someone who is nuanced or the opposite?  A customer service worker who is nuanced not only is better suited to handle your specific issue, they are also in tune with your tone and emotional expression.  They can address that too, which is just as important as addressing your particular issue.  But a nuanced customer service worker is not the only one we appreciate in life.  What about a nuanced parent, teacher, friend, coworker, boss, or staff member?  Too often, we find ourselves surrounded by the opposite.  So let’s look at antonyms for nuance: broad, careless, coarse, common, crude, incautious, indifferent, ordinary, plain, rough, sloppy.  Again cherry-picked but you get the point.  I’m sure you’d rather be called nuanced than coarse.  Synonyms or words related to coarse: crass, crude, nasty, obscene, off-color, raw, rude, vulgar, awkward, artless, graceless, incompetent, inept, cruel, inhuman, vicious, ignorant, heartless, wicked, base, depraved, dishonorable, immoral, etc.  Isn’t it a bit funny how nuance is associated with humanity and intelligence and the opposite is associated with inhumanity and immorality?

 The reason for this goes to neurology.  Humans have the largest frontal lobe proportion of any existing animal.  It is in our frontal lobes that we are capable of nuance.  We can sense an impulse and temporarily put it on hold and review it and consider alternative actions.  Now this is not necessarily a good thing.  We can suffer from analysis-paralysis or contrive alternative actions that undermine our intentions.  I’ve witnessed countless people over-think a problem and in the end, they become so frustrated and fatigued, that they succumb to a solution that appears to make sense but ultimately makes no sense whatsoever.  This is how, I believe, our education system obfuscates and confuses us in order to make us susceptible to simply going along with whatever they want us to.  Our minds are so full of random, irrelevant, distracting, and confusing noise, that in our desperation to make sense of anything, we latch on to an over-generalization.  Instead of trusting our minds to decide what is best for us, in our state of constant confusion, we try to find someone we identify with and then just mindlessly imitate them.  So, a Presidential candidate will try to convince us that they are just like us, and then we’ll go, gee golly whiz, he’s just like me, and I’ll go along with whatever he says even if he contradicts himself or says something nonsensical like he will cut taxes AND increase government spending WITHOUT increasing debt.  So the trick really is not just to have a frontal lobe, but not to tax it with useless, distracting shit. 

 But there’s also another trick to get us to shut down the frontal lobe and that is mental drift.  Traumatize kids with bad things, traumatize them with good things, their minds will drift and they’ll shut down their frontal lobes.  This is why kids who have either suffered horrible traumas and kids who have “enjoyed” joyful, excessive gifts (traumas) tend to be more coarse and less nuanced, more anti-social, and more desirous of huge doses of addictive highs instead of a constant stream of small bumps.  This is why you’ll find that the superrich can be just as crass, crude, nasty, obscene, off-color, raw, rude, vulgar, awkward, artless, graceless, incompetent, inept, cruel, inhuman, vicious, ignorant, heartless, wicked, base, depraved, dishonorable, and immoral as extremely poor people who have suffered the traumas of poverty, abuse, neglect, and depravation. 

There are a number of theories as to why we developed consciousness and large frontal lobes.  One theory is that it allowed us to be more lethal and sophisticated hunters.  Another is that surviving in complex social groups created a selection demand for more complex thinking.  Another theory I propose is fine motor skills, dexterity, and the ability for nuance.  When you look at dogs and even cats handle things with their paws, they use gross motor skills.  They’re simply not very dexterous.  It’s like painting with a large brush.  When humans started walking upright, they freed up their hands, and this allowed them to handle things with increasing dexterity, but there must have been a selection demand for primates with dexterity versus primates lacking it.  But this also means a selection demand for a larger frontal lobe.  Dexterity is not only the ability to focus in on something small and use smaller movements to handle items, it also means the ability to suspend or dim down the instinct to just “manhandle” an item and destroy it.  When computers first came out, I believe a good number of them were thrown against walls or across rooms when they froze.  We all have this ancient instinct to use violence, or gross motor skills to overpower a problem, but dexterity required that we control that impulse, that we learn to just relax and sit there and engage our frontal lobes more to manipulate the item (whether sharpening a spearhead or weaving a basket or sewing clothes).  Perhaps this demand is what led to our eventual consciousness and higher awareness, perhaps in conjunction with the higher demands for social interaction and better hunting skills.  After all, most social phenomena require a symphony of factors not just one.  At the same time, reading and expressing emotions with our faces is a lot more complicated than you can imagine.  The fact that we have yet to create a realistic robot face that can successfully trick you into believing it’s a real face proves this.  We also know that when people are over-stimulated or distracted, they are unable to read facial expressions, especially micro-expressions that may clue you into a difference of opinion or feelings of distress hidden behind a smile.  Again, this is nuance. 

Best Friends for Never: A Clique Novel by Lisi Harrison

Is it satire?  This is an “Ages 12 and up” novel about Massie, a snotty, entitled rich kid who belongs to the top group of girls in her school and Claire, an unpopular kid whose family moved into Massie’s guest house.  It reminds me of the novel, Crazy Rich Asians, which I couldn’t even read.  However, there is a remarkable gem in that book that was worth the price of the book.  It’ll actually blow your mind, and it’s reinforced by an article from the Atlantic Monthly where they ask people of varying means how much money it would take to make them happy, and no matter how rich they were, they always thought more money was necessary.  In Crazy Rich Asians, a rich Asian woman laments how she never has enough money despite being a multi-millionaire, because now she feels forced to buy ever more expensive things, live in the richer part of town, send her kids to the best private schools, only go to the most expensive yoga instructor, etc.  The moral of the story is quite simple.  If you never learn to live within your means in poverty, you never learn to live within your means in wealth.  You’re always pushing the envelope, pushing your debt out to ever-expanding lines of credit.  If you really want to avoid this trap, simply decide to hang out with people who make less than you, because chances are, they’re living beyond their means, so they’re going to the same restaurants as the ones you can afford, going to the same hotels as the ones you can afford, sending their kids to the same schools that you can afford, etc.  You’ll fit in perfectly, but all the time, you’ll be spending within your means while all your friends are spending above their means.  But of course, if you are obsessed with status and rising above your class or station, you would never be able to tolerate hanging out with people who make less than you.  It all sounds completely deranged when I spell it all out like this, but fact is, countless people in our materialistic, status-obsessed society live and die by this concept. 

 I used to be impressed by people who drove high-end Mercedes and BMWs and hung out in fancy restaurants and 4-star hotels, but it’s all a façade.  Certainly, amongst them, are people living within their means and not too concerned with status, but chances are, if they’re driving high-end badge cars, they’re obsessed with status and not value and substance.  Quite frankly, a Toyota SUV would be significantly greater in value if you want a reliable and versatile vehicle than BMW.  Now, I look at them and feel sorry for what must be an empty, status-obsessed life.  I think of my oldest sister who never had any friends growing up and is the most obsessed with status in the family.  That’s all she has.  Since she lacks the ability to make friends and enjoy relationships, she finds self-worth and validation in showing off her wealth and status, meanwhile, in private, she’s cutting coupons and eating cheap food whenever she can.  Lavish in public and frugal in private is the motto for these people.  Of course, when you think about it, all these people who are obsessed with status all have one thing in common, they can’t find self-worth, happiness, and validation in their personal relationships.  So the last place they will ever find meaningful personal relationships is amongst other status-obsessed people which means, they are doomed to forever lack meaningful personal relationships and chase status until their debt ruins them or they die. 

 What is utterly sad and horrific is that this book documents the making of such an empty, sad, miserable person who has no idea what she is doing and why.  She only knows that she is obsessed with maintaining her status as being a member of the most popular group in school by throwing the perfect party with a professional event planner, wearing the perfect fashion for that season, and being seen with the right people and boyfriend.  Unfortunately, at least for now, in a society where these people are driven to make more and more money and hence gain greater and greater power and influence, they inevitably acquire a disproportionate ability to shape society not just politically and economically by also through media.  In other words, their idea of a perfect life is what becomes society’s idea of a perfect life which is absurd.  Our only hope is that in the future, people who lack relationship skills and are obsessed with status no longer can acquire and amass the fortune necessary to dominate society’s norms, culture, and rules.  It is quite possible that we are starting to see a glimmer of this in the Information Age which is increasingly dependent on social connections over the monopolization of resources and industrial power.  The Information Age is basically about creating, designing, and selling products and services that make individuals feel self-worth and validation.  In the Industrial Age, it started out as selling products that saved you time and energy, dishwashers, laundry machines, microwaves, cars, and eventually computers.  But they also dictated the notion that if you bought the right brands, you were cool and everyone will love you.  This no longer works in the Information Age.  Fortunately, people are beginning to realize that big brands do not make them happy, rather, many big brands actually poison and harm them like McDonald’s, Monsanto, Oxycontin, Coke, etc.  Increasingly, they want products and service that make them feel good about themselves, and increasingly, they are realizing that what makes them feel good about themselves is social validation and recognition.  They get that through social media, and their friends don’t approve with ‘likes’ when they show off their new clothes or cars.  Rather, their friends show approval and validation when they share a funny story, a joke, or a unique experience that evokes joy, laughter, shock, wonder, or awe.  If you don’t understand this, you can’t create products and services to sell to tomorrow’s consumers. 

 The end game is actually obvious.  When you become an expert at personal relationships and what makes people feel self-worth and validation, you come to the startling conclusion that it isn’t materialism and status.  Just as I am writing about this, others are, and the word is getting out, and over time, this will become common knowledge, and we will all laugh at people who buy BMWs and show off their wealth.  Or we’ll just feel sorry for them, like they’re emotionally disabled.  What you realize is that as social animals, we get the highest reward from other people recognizing us, respecting us, giving us attention, validating us, and valuing us.  So how would you make money in this world?  You teach people how to make and keep friends.  I envision countless life coaches, classes, and organizations geared toward providing people with social aptitude.  Today, you can join Toastmaster’s to learn how to speak in public, but this is one-dimension of the social aptitude spectrum.  You join Kiwanis to network and do charity work for those in need; two dimensions.  Of course, people with means will send their kids only to the best coaches and schools that teach social aptitude, but guess what, I’m not opposed to that.  Because when these kids graduate and position themselves to take over the leadership positions of our economy and politics, they’ll actually be decent, kind, moral, and nice people instead of the system today where kids go to prep school and come out completely naïve, privileged, entitled, cruel, mean, unethical assholes.  But one of the good parts of this is that once you learn social aptitude, you are not stingy with it like when you learn accounting, finance, medicine, etc.  Those are skills for which you want to charge people to know what you know.  Social aptitude teaches you to be giving and to share, so you would actually be more forthcoming in sharing what you know.  In other words, you would freely and kindly teach people who cannot afford classes, how to be better socially.  The end game is not the hoarding of resources, skills, and knowledge, but actually, a free-for-all sharing of all resources, skills, and knowledge to the point where people no longer charge for teaching or helping others out.  I mean think about it, would you want to learn social aptitude from someone who charges $1000/hour or someone who wants to teach anyone and everyone for free or perhaps a few bucks to pay for rent and food?  Obviously, the one willing to teach for little money probably knows a thing or two the one who wants to charge thousands doesn’t.  We all know doctors who are more than willing to make a few bucks to prescribe you pills that some company is trying to promote and giving them a kickback.  So in the future, we’ll tend to associate money with corruption.  If someone is charging $1000/hour to teach you social aptitude, who’s to say they’re not cutting corners or taking bribes of some sort?  Seems like they’re obsessed with money and not helping and sharing, which is what they’re supposed to be teaching.

 While some people may argue that we are already in the Information Age and it seems to be proving that the Industrial Age model of bigger is better is still true, (think of the oligopolistic size of Google, Apple, and Amazon), I would argue that we’re still at the infancy stage.  During the beginning of the Industrial Age, there were still millions of people working on farms and holding Agrarian values to heart.  It took generations to indoctrinate the world and instill the factory mentality.  Likewise, it will take generations for us to free our minds of the factory mentality.  The fact that our culture is still dominated by wealth, status, and power (we just elected a billionaire as President), is proof that we are still drenched in the Industrial Age mentality.  Perhaps this is a bit Pollyannaish.  Trying to predict the future is impossible, since I’m only talking about one factor.  Perhaps those who have acquired wealth and power today will never surrender it willingly.  We will develop the technology to extend life, and people who were born and raised in the Industrial Age will continue to infest the world with their ideology and values, and their wealth will remain intact merely through the ability to gain interest.  Would they monopolize all the AI robots and create an evil army of AI robots to maintain their power over the rest?  And what will come after the Information Age?  Will there be another age where it profits to undervalue relationships and sharing again? 

Hot Corn: Life Scenes in New York Illustrated by Solon Robinson

In 1854, Hot Corn was a best-seller and turned into plays.  Hot Corn is essentially the Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil of its time.  They are a collection of slightly edited newspaper articles about the wretched lives of poor people in New York City, many who were about to turn their lives around until, dun-dun-dah, the evil rum came to take it all away!  And so goes the misattribution fallacy run amok in America culminating in Prohibition and now drug prohibition.  It just goes to show you that it is easy to misguide and misinform people.  Certainly, the tales of Hot Corn are true.  Certainly, rum and liquor played their part in the demise of the characters in these stories.  But the plot and the story is entirely controlled by the author.  He controls what you see, whether you see the historical context, the cultural context, etc.

Take for instance the high incidence of alcoholism in certain cultures like blacks, Irish, Native American, and Korean.  The easy answer to this is that there must be some genetic cause.  Wow, that was simple, now I can move on to the next problem.  In reality, in order to understand this phenomenon, you have to understand the historical and cultural contexts.  You have to understand that what these cultures have in common is not DNA but rather historical oppression, poverty, injustice, starvation, and mass deaths.  Of course, understanding this will point you toward the injustices of the ruling classes, the perpetrators, the wealthy British who sold Irish potatoes overseas during the Great Famine, the wealthy Americans who displaced Native Americans to grab more land for plantations or Manifest Destiny, the Japanese ruling classes who approved and encouraged Japanese Imperialism and modernization, and the wealthy Southern elite who profited from slavery.  Oh, but if we blame DNA, these great villains of history get a pass.  Now you see why over-simplified and misdirected causes help cover the ruling class.

In the case of this book, the evil rum, or today, the evil drug, is the root cause of poverty, misery, evil, treachery, cruelty, despair, and crime in America, as much so in 1854 as it is today.  Once again, a simple, easy cause is used to distract you from something else.  What else?  The book actually gives away the key.

35% the way through, “Oh, how she worked one whole year to learn her dress-maker’s trade, without one cent of compensation.  Such is the law.  The law of custom with milliners’ apprentices.”  As you can see, the true villain is the collusion between government and established trades in the form of occupational licensing laws.  Unpaid apprenticeships is just a more benign form of slavery.  The book would have you believe that rum and its purveyors have some magical sorcery over us, that unregulated, we might all fall into its traps and wind up as miserable wretched, wife-beating, child-beating scum as is portrayed in this book.  So what do we do?  We pass more laws and give more power to lawmakers who just turn around and create laws in the name of public safety but are nothing more than collusive arrangements with established trades and businesses, a pyramid scheme that goes all the way up to the ruling class.

The book also ignores history.  When German farmers came to America, they did not fall prey to drunkenness and sloth as did their British peers.  Rather, they were industrious and professional farmers who flourished in the Midwest.  As I learned in the ill-titled book, White Trash, The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America, the British immigrants from big cities were the most wretched and slothful in America, because of centuries of brutal treatment in Great Britain.  Countless were also impressed in the British Navy where rum was daily rationed as a drug to help them bear the brutal conditions of life at sea.  It’s the exact same thing with Native Americans and blacks.  They are not inherently vulnerable to alcoholism or drug abuse just as the British before them.  They turn to alcohol and drugs to numb countless generations of oppression and suffering.  This book is only a snapshot of the outcome of generations of oppression and suffering.  The answer is not passing more laws which caused most of the suffering.  Rather, the answer is fewer laws, fewer regulations and more freedom.  People don’t need close supervision to thrive.

Quite the contrary, close supervision makes them immoral and slothful and susceptible to alcoholism and drugs, because they have their autonomy and freedom taken away, just like a caged animal.  If you cage a rat, yes, it will keep pressing a button to get drugged.  What you miss from the experiment is that when you give the rat freedom and free access to other rats and food, it loses interest in getting drugged.  When you see a rat addicted to drugs, we think it needs more supervision, rehab, more programs to help it, more laws to protect it, but all it needs is freedom and free interaction with other rats.  Of course, if you gave humans what they truly thrived upon, freedom and most importantly, freedom to freely interact with each other, we wouldn’t need our rulers to take care of us.  In fact, we would most likely organize against them to take away all their secret privileges and the laws that rig the economy in their favor.  Their most beloved and cherished being the centralized banking scheme which allows them to print massive amounts of money at the lowest possible rates to then turn around and charge ever higher and higher rates to ever smaller and smaller banks and institutions until finally you the individual pay 10% and more on personal loans and credit cards.  In a most deranged manner, the poorest and least capable of affording the highest interest rates, pay the highest interest rates.  Creditworthiness is just Newspeak for wealth status with large banks, powerful nations, and rich people having the highest creditworthiness.

I could only manage to read half this horribly sad book.  I really wanted to read it to get a feel for life in the 1850’s, clothing, culture, recreation, housing, restaurants, food, etc., but all I got was a confirmation that whatever media was circulated back then is pretty much the same propaganda circulated today.  We see the Cash Me Outside girl on Dr. Phil or all the miscreants on Jerry Springer, and we sit there going, how awful the lower classes, how much they are need of supervision of regulation of laws to protect themselves from themselves.  This is exactly the message they want to deliver.  The masses are incapable of self-regulation, that laws and strong government and intervention are necessary to keep the masses from spreading their horrible afflictions.  Dr. Phil’s solution is generously sending these diseased people to therapy, but oh, if only the masses could afford therapy.  Perhaps we should make therapy free for the masses!  Ah-ha!  Certainly, when you infect the masses with a disease, it would be cruel not to help treat them, but what the masses continually fail to understand or realize is that it would be a lot less expensive and actually more ethical and right not to purposefully infect them in the first place.  What is the disease?  The lack of freedom and introduction of countless laws and regulations into their daily lives that act simply as a cage, and as caged animals, we get sick, we get stressed, we misbehave, we become attracted to drugs, and in effect, we become dependent on government to treat us, the very thing that imprisons and sickens us.

You might react to this as just more anti-government rhetoric or conspiracy theory garbage.  Congratulations, that is exactly what the ruling class wants you to think.  Have you ever once considered that by not thinking exactly as they would like you to think, you might, just might be actually thinking freely???  The fundamental crux of my logic is that government has convinced you that laws and supervision are designed to protect and help you.  Forget for a moment all those silly laws that enable the NFL to get tax money to build stadiums that enable us to work a month each year to finance our ridiculously huge military, let us conveniently forget all those silly laws that make it illegal to feed the homeless without a food license or smoke weed, let us just forget all those laws that put us in prison if we cut someone’s hair without first providing hundreds of hours of free haircuts, just for a tiny minute, let us put that all aside, and remember that traffic laws keep us from crashing into one another.  Now let me make a similar comparison.  Let us forget all the times bad Uncle Sam rapes his nieces.  Let us forget when bad Uncle Sam murdered a man in a bar fight and then burned his house to the ground.  Let us just forget all the times Uncle Sam gave his buddy Joe the monopoly right to sell and distribute alcohol and they imprisoned Bob who sold and distributed alcohol in defiance.  Let us just remember that one time Uncle Sam prevented a car accident by telling his neighbor Jack to slow down.  Wow, we need Uncle Sam, without Uncle Sam, Jack would have killed someone!

I’m not calling for anarchy as the ruling class always argues, that anyone who doesn’t like the current system must obviously want total Communism or Somali-type anarchy where the warlords rule.  Let us forget that the rulers are essentially the Communist Party and warlords all wrapped up into one.  What I am calling for is a wholesale reduction in government and its powers.  Reducing the annual military budget from $700 billion to $70 billion for instance would not all the sudden make our country vulnerable to invasion by China or ISIS.  Russia’s military budget is $70 billion, and China is next door and hasn’t yet invaded them and neither has ISIS, probably because they could nuke China off the planet as can we.  But likewise, reducing social programs by this much would put leftists in a dizzy, but what most fail to realize is that the healthcare industry is a cartel, that prices are inflated because of the cartel structure and rules and laws.  If the healthcare industry charges you $700 for a $70 cast, then perhaps $700 billion in Medicare spending would only be $70 billion if you eliminated the healthcare cartel.  The masses would be the last to suffer with a smaller government.  The ruling class would be the first to suffer as they see catastrophic drops in stock prices in the defense and healthcare industry.  Of course stock prices going from $100 a share to $10 would not leave them in the poor house.  It would make them move from a $100 million home to a $10 million home.  This is what they are bitching about.  This is what they are hijacking our economy over.  While the current scheme puts millions of us in the poor house whenever we get sick or lose our jobs, the rich are bitching about living in a $10 million home instead of a $100 million home.  Oh, but I’m just a conspiracy theorist.  Continue thinking alcohol, drugs, and DNA are the reason why the masses are too fucking stupid to self-regulate.

 

 

Why Are We Here?

This is not a book review.  This is not a book club.  I can do whatever the hell I want to do, so I’ll just write a little essay.

 Before we get to the answer, first, let us address the idea that you may not want to know.  Some may argue that ignorance is bliss, that people who have no idea the evils going on are happy in their tiny little, safe worlds.  I would argue that in a society where the people on top tend to prey on everyone else including animals, you don’t really want to be as a dumb as a pig or a cow.  And on top of that, most people and most livestock are not treated well.  Pigs and cows may get their small pleasures from eating all the corn they want, but they don’t understand that it’s not good for them, their conditions make them sick, and ultimately, they’ll all be slaughtered for human consumption.  Likewise, while the masses may get their small pleasures from all the junk food and alcohol they want, they don’t understand that it’s not good for them, their conditions make them sick, and ultimately, most of their productive output is used to enrich the humans on top whether through taxes, interest payments on debt, or profits from items they think are important to make them look and feel good. 

 So why are we here?  While there may certainly be explanations outside the realm of science or our ability to measure, with the science that we do have, the reason we exist is because our DNA makes us exist in order to perpetuate it.  It is easier if you think of organisms as temporary carriers of a single entity called the DNA database.  We are all part of this gigantic database that goes back to the origin of DNA.  The DNA database is information.  It is information about nature and the interaction of elements in nature both alive and nonliving.  Through a complex series of trials and errors, it has accumulated more and more information about what works and what doesn’t.  There are two main strategies for a carrier to pass on its DNA.  The first is to consume everything around it whether it benefits or harms others.  The second is to find ways of collaborating with other carriers in mutually beneficial ways.  Herein lies the basic yin and yang of life, those trying to get ahead through exploitation and abuse and those trying to get ahead through cooperation and kindness. 

 While humans do not reside at the top of the DNA database, we are certainly one of the database’s most complex and fascinating modules.  We happen to be one of the most socialized carriers, and we spend years both growing and learning.  In other words, while the DNA database learns through dumb trial and error, humans can learn through working with other humans to create entire systems for adapting to their habitat and working with each other.  In other words, through humans, the DNA database has gained awareness of itself and the ability to use the scientific method and other intellectual devices to learn instead of relying on purely dumb trial and error! 

 Humans have been designed to grow, learn, teach, entertain, work, procreate, protect, identify with social groups, and share.  The practical answer to why we are here is right there.  If you are not engaged in these activities, you are not fulfilling the mission given to you by the DNA database.  However, in more recent times, perhaps since the start of the Agrarian Era, humans have discovered wealth, or surplus grain.  With wealth, humans created hierarchies where those on top controlled the wealth and those on the bottom had no access to wealth.  For the first time in human history, we stopped becoming socially collaborative carriers but the other type, exploitative and abusive.  While some may think this is unnatural, there is no such thing as unnatural.  Whatever humans do is natural.  Unfortunately, it is quite natural for humans or viruses or cancers or parasites to exploit and abuse their hosts or habitats.  In this mode, it is no longer important for humans to grow, learn, teach, entertain, work, procreate, protect, identify with social groups, and share.  In this mode, what is important are abstractions like status, wealth, power, celebrity, intimidation factor, strength, glory, greed, hoarding, dominating, and competing.  If this were the mode humans used for 200K years and intelligent primates for millions of years before, we would feel quite natural being narcissistic, materialistic, power-hungry vultures.  Fortunately, for 200K years of human evolution and millions of years of primate evolution, we were the flagship models of the other mode.  We were kind, sharing, compassionate, growing, learning, teaching beings.  If you feel like fish out of water, like everything you have been taught and exposed to seems counterintuitive and cruel and sick and vicious and boring and tedious and unnatural, what is occurring is the simple collision of millions of years of being a social, kind, caring being and then all the sudden being indoctrinated to becoming an ambitious, exploitative, abusive, materialistic asshole.

 So why are so many humans operating in the second parasitic, virulent mode?  The answer goes back to the concept of hierarchies and wealth distribution.  In order to enforce this unequal system, those on top had to perform a few tricks to fundamentally alter an otherwise kind and sharing species.  They devised a whole other system of raising children not with kindness and respect but with harshness, punishment, obedience-training, or simply callous neglect.  Instead of rewarding kids for sharing and being ethical, kids were rewarded for memorizing rules and facts.  They were rewarded for obedience and conformity.  Instead of punishing kids for unkindness and cruelty, they were punished for creativity, independence, socializing during instruction, and individuality.  Humans have rebelled against the new parasitic system, but they have failed to understand exactly what they are rebelling against and why.  Humans rebelled against religion and the Catholic Church, without understanding that religion was only a vehicle for the Church.  The Church’s true weapon was hierarchies, indoctrination, and oppression.  So religion was replaced with government which just became another institution of oppression, hierarchies, and indoctrination. 

 So far, this has worked, because of economies of scale.  The larger you get, the more cost-effective and powerful you become, so you naturally destroy any other organization that might even reject hierarchies.  Fortunately and hopefully, times will change and we are starting to experience diseconomies of scale as large institutions are becoming too slow, inflexible, risk-averse, and hostile toward creativity and imagination.  As smaller organization with fewer hierarchical structures prosper, I strongly feel that we will once again return to a method of thriving through sharing, collaboration, symbiosis, and benevolence.  You won’t wake up in the morning hating life or work and wondering what the point of it all is, why we exist, why we are here, what is our purpose.  You will wake up knowing exactly why we exist and what we are here for.  We exist for each other, we grow, learn, teach, entertain, work, procreate, protect, identify with social groups, and share.  It would feel natural and rewarding.  The day we become parasites and viruses and stop wondering what we are doing, why we are doing it, why we exist and what our purpose is, that is the day we are truly irredeemable and doomed to self-destruction. 

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

When you first look at all the chapters, you almost have a stroke.  Then you realize, the chapters are only one to five pages long.  The novel is written by Kurt Vonnegut who wrote one of my favorite books, Slaughterhouse Five.  Perhaps I was sick when I read it in high school, but it acquired a surreal ethereal aura for me.  Perhaps because of this, I was disappointed by this novel which seemed to indulge in fanciful, snarky detachment.  Characters are just caricatures, comical.  The novel follows a writer who wants to write about the family of a man who invents Ice 9, a new way that water molecules crystallize that would effectively turn all contiguous water into an unusable solid mass and thereby destroy all life on this planet.  In doing so, he takes a trip to San Lorenzo, a farcical, absurd banana republic somewhere in the Caribbean which has outlawed Bokononism, some religious ideology.  The extremely short chapters disrupt and chop up the story, so you can’t really get into the flow of things, and you just seem detached by the whole absurdist charade.  With Slaughterhouse Five, I empathized with the main character, the feeling of learned helplessness as absurdity and insanity surround you, but with this novel, I felt nothing for the writer.

So in talking about humans destroying themselves with technology, let us digress into my manifesto on how this is a quite likely scenario:

 For most human history, we held a belief system that strongly enforced our ability to harmonize with nature, to appreciate and respect our habitat and each other.  While certainly, there may have been tough times where we clashed with neighboring clans and other intelligent primates, and we may have occasionally committed crimes against our own clan members, nothing compares to the atrocities of modern humans against other humans and our habitat.  The main reason for this is the shift from a belief system of harmonizing with nature to a belief system of exploitation and selfish materialism and hierarchies.  Part of this was influenced by the scientific revolution and the revolution against organized religion and the Catholic church.  Unfortunately, humanity threw out of the baby with the bathwater.  Before organized religion, humans held a belief system that involved the existence of spirits in nature.  This was then contrived into organized religion which was adopted to modern humanity by using a system of hierarchies with those on top exploiting those on the bottom. 

 The scientific revolution helped people overthrow this hierarchy by undermining the system of belief used by religious leaders to stay on the top and exploit those on the bottom.  The first problem with this is that it was not so much the belief system that caused religious oppression and injustice as it was the hierarchical system where only people on top had access to true knowledge of divinity and the system of belief (religion) hence justifying their elitist position.  The second problem was that irrational religious beliefs were then replaced by an equally irrational system whereby scientific knowledge was used to prescribe human behavior incorrectly.  Whole new social “science” fields evolved to apply scientific techniques to human behavior without really having any scientific rigor or validity.  In other words, social “sciences” became irrational beliefs backed up by scientific-looking words, terms, mathematics, statistics, and charts without being real science.  Just like the hierarchy of the church, another hierarchy formed whereby the rich ruled on top and instead of surrounding themselves with henchmen bureaucrats armed with government titles and exams, instead, the bureaucrats came armed with advanced degrees in Political Science, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, and a whole slew of Public and Business Management degrees and specialist certifications that made them all feel special.  It was nothing but the same scam as the Church which used Archbishops and Bishops to do the biddings of the Pope and Cardinals.  Just as the Archbishops and Bishops claimed exclusive access to the knowledge of God, bureaucratic experts claim exclusive access to the knowledge of science which cannot be questioned.  Saying that a study proved that a new highway will decrease traffic congestion is the same as saying God wants a new highway. 

 Today, if you debate government policy, you find yourself in the same boat as those who questioned religion and God before.  Since you lack an advanced social science degree or an archbishop title, obviously, you have no right to your opinion, and you are nothing more than an ignorant fool who does not understand or believe in God or science.  Back in the day we called nonbelievers sacrilegious, satanic, skeptics, savages, and heathens.  Today, words for those who question government policy are called anarchists, conspiracy theorist, tinfoil hat wearers, teabaggers, religious fanatics, looneys, and libertarians.  Libertarianism has all the sudden become a bad word, although, it is the exact same political ideology that was mainstream in the 18th and 19th century in Western Europe and America and called liberalism back then.  Just as the bible rewrites history with God creating the universe and Earth, government has rewritten political history with every political ideology before modern government being faulty and wrong until modern government evolved which was purportedly based on exclusive scientific knowledge. 

 The answer to the new irrational belief system of social “science” and bureaucratic rule is not a return to the Catholic Church and organized religion as they may is the implication.  The answer is once and for all discarding the main problem behind both organized religion and pseudo-scientific government, and that is the dismantling of any mass hierarchical system whereby the elite rule and are protected by a class of bureaucrats or bishops who claim exclusive access to the correct knowledge.  It is a return to a system that was used for most of human history, a system of small groups and authority where anyone can claim access to knowledge and knowledge is correctly divided into scientific and non-scientific.  Anything stated by a social scientist on poverty, psychology, medicine, politics, governance, war, trade, taxation, and government spending is an opinion not a scientific-based fact.  As such, you have every right to debate bureaucrats on any subject outside of pure science.  (Just personal disclosure, I’ve taken classes in political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and history and have a degree in Economics.  I have direct knowledge of just how unscientific they all are.)

 The problem with mass hierarchies is that it only serves a small group of humans, those at the top.  Even then, it only creates the illusion of serving them while afflicting them with countless maladaptive behaviors in which they actually become slaves to their unlimited and unchecked impulses and desires.  For most of human history, we believed in the strength of the family and extended family and a small network of acquaintances.  Whatever we did and decided upon, the consequences were directly witnessed.  If we decreed that we would not build a well, that decision had consequences we felt and paid for.  In mass hierarchies, those on top rarely witness or even hear about the consequences of their decisions which directly impact the lives of everyone else.  Most decisions fall into the category of trickle down benefits whereby those on top gain the most out of the decision and those on the bottom the least.  There is absolutely no incentive to stop using trickle down benefits.  In fact, since it benefits those on top more than it does those on bottom, everyone near you, those at the top, will encourage you if not illicitly threaten you to maintain that system.  Some might call mass hierarchies unnatural, but in fact, it is actually quite natural.  If you look at the way we treat relatives and our close acquaintances versus how we treat strangers and foreigners, you’ll understand how this system came to be.  Those on top do not identify with those on the bottom.  They use a system called nationalism or communism to convince the masses that they are one of us when in fact, they have never and will never consider themselves one of us.  Trump is actually a gleaming example of the mentality of elitists.  Act and behave like you’re one of the masses, wear their baseball caps, talk in their language, tell them what they want to hear, and do nothing substantive to help them.  Meanwhile, use your position of authority to give all your friends and buddies at the top more power and wealth.  If those on top are English, we might as well be French or Nigerian or from Mars.  We may sit here condemning them for being so elitist, but just think of how we treat other intelligent animals or even unintelligent animals.  In fact, we all support a similar hierarchical system whereby we treat humans and pets with much more kindness than pigs and insects.  Our system of morality is actually a system of mass hierarchy whereby we treat human and human-like beings much better than organisms that bear no resemblance to us.  The idea that we base morality on intelligence or the ability to feel pain is utterly arbitrary.  Nobody wants to admit that the only true and honest measure is how much the being resembles and acts like us.  Whether you like it or not, those at the top of the human hierarchy actually think of us as nothing more than pigs and insects, as such, they create and reinforce a system that basically treats us like livestock, and there is no doubt in my mind that when the time comes, when AI robots can replace 99% of human labor, they will figure out a convenient way to eliminate 99% of all humans. 

 Just as bishops lied about what God thought was best for us, bureaucrats also lie about what is best for us which they claim is based on access to exclusive scientific knowledge which might as well be called divine knowledge.  Increasingly, the private sector is gaining complete control of government, and in doing so they not only bribe politicians by financing their campaigns, but they now fund research to promote whatever is beneficial to their business.  If they are in the dairy industry, they will fund and promote studies “proving” the benefits of milk and mandate all public schools to provide kids with milk even in high school.  If you question this, you’re just being an anti-science conspiracy theorist and as such, you should be burned at the stake or excommunicated from the legitimate community of “science” minded society. 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003XRELGQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Look at Me by Jennifer Egan AKA The Ribald Liaisons of Two Horny Charlatans

I wrote another review for this book as I was reading it, but I changed my mind about it.  In hindsight, this book is really a very well-written, 500-page highbrow literary version of a Harlequin novel involving all sorts of smutty, smutty extramarital and underaged sexual liaisons.  It is 50 Shades of Gray written by a talented, poetic, acclaimed novelist.  OMG, just smutty, smutty, smutty with just enough philosophical bullfuckery about the modern age, image, commercialism, feminism, industrialization, commodificationism, and ordinary celebrityism to make you think it’s not ENTIRELY a smutty, literary romance novel.  So, with a very brief overview of the ribald, bawdy tales of Rockford Illinois, I’ll get on with my own philosophical musings with just enough about the book to make you think this review is not ENTIRELY my philosophical musings.  A model gets her face messed up, desperately trying to continue commodifying her face, she agrees to be part of a website that commodifies the lives of the ordinary and extraordinary.  Along the way we get side stories about a 16-year-old who fucks her teacher, a wife who sleeps around behind her husband, some has been high school football jock who turns moribund, and a terrorist. 

 There are two parts of the human mind, one that we are directly “in control” of and the other that operates without our direct control or even awareness.  We like to call these two sides, the conscious, analytical mind versus the unconscious or subconscious instinctive mind. 

 According to most modern teachings, the conscious mind rules supreme.  It is the most powerful and important mind, and it is beleaguered and harassed by the undesirable and destructive, savage, impulsive unconscious mind.  Everything we consider good and virtuous lies in the conscious mind, our morality, our character, our compassion, and our intelligence.  Everything we consider evil and vile lies in the unconscious mind, immorality, impulsivity, character flaws, aggression, cowardice, and selfishness.  In order to be good, virtuous people then, we must be constantly alert and thoughtful at all times, ever vigilant against drifting away, spacing out and letting the evil, unconscious mind take the reins of our body and thoughts.  Civilization itself is the achievement of the conscious mind as it triumphs over the savage, unconscious mind.  Civilization is what teaches us to utilize and maximize the conscious, analytical mind.  When we fail, when we commit atrocities and violence, it is the failure of our conscious minds in controlling our unconscious minds.  It is the failure of individual willpower and constant mindfulness.  People, like artists, writers, and musicians, who indulge their unconscious minds and go into those artistic trances, are playing with Satan’s fire, the root of all our evil and savage selfish behavior.

 This paradigm of the minds is completely wrong.  All we need to do is look at animals that lack the conscious, analytical mind to realize that the unconscious, instinctive mind is not in fact selfish, unethical, violent, and destructive.  While countless animals are instinctively social like ants and fish, mammals are unique in that we have socially reinforcing behavior and physiology.  We receive strong biochemical rewards for social behavior like oxytocin and serotonin.  In fact, this may be the biochemical foundation for what we describe as love.  Far from being selfish, unethical beings, our entire system of ethics is the product of our unconscious, instinctive minds.  In fact, the conscious, analytical mind is actually asocial.  It neither releases nor experiences the biochemicals that make us feel warm when we are enjoying a social experience.  It simply evaluates the experience coolly.  “Aha, I feel good, therefore this must be a good thing to do.”  It’s like the autistic Sheldon Cooper.

 The problem is not only is the analytical, conscious mind asocial and incapable of feeling or understanding love and compassion, but it is the most self-deluding, confabulating part of our minds.  It is constantly receiving information from the other parts of our mind after the fact and then makes the mistake of believing that it in fact made those decisions.  (It also happens to be narcissistic with a god complex.)  It feels like it is control, when in fact, all it really does is try desperately to explain motive after the fact.  You may argue that the analytical, conscious mind must be the smarter and more accurate mind, because it can add two plus two and the unconscious, instinctive mind cannot.  It can create a story, learn language, write songs, calculate things out, etc.  If it was this deluded deceiver, it would constantly be telling us that 2 + 2 equals F, and the sky is green and the ocean is orange.  What you fail to understand is that the conscious, analytical mind cannot tell you a lie.  When it tells you a falsity like, you decided consciously to reach out to an apple before your hand moved toward it, it believes the lie it is telling you.  It lies not to purposefully deceive you, but rather, it lies to make sense of something it fails to understand correctly.  So why does it do this?

 The conscious, analytical mind did not evolve into itself out of nothing.  Like all our specialized organs, it evolved as an extension of something we already had and then just changed a little.  Our teeth, for instance did not suddenly appear as teeth to cut into food.  Our teeth first evolved as scales on the outside of our skin, moved inside, and then over time, became more and more useful to cut food before ingesting it.  Likewise, our conscious, analytical mind is a slight variation of our unconscious, instinctive minds.  In other words, our unconscious, instinctive minds also deceive us.  It too has the conceit that it is in control where in fact, it is merely reading the code of DNA it is given.  The environment also controls it, as it provides signals to either activate or turn off DNA instructions to our body. 

 So why the deception?  We were not designed to comprehend the true nature of nature, the world around us, the multiverse of multiverses.  We were only designed to get a sufficient idea of what is going on around us at our human scale to get through the day relatively unharmed and to pass on our DNA.  There may in fact have been intelligent animals that were more designed to understand quantum physics or astronomy, but since this did nothing to help advance their DNA or protect their hide, this type of intelligence faded.  What triumphed was an intelligence that made functional albeit technically false assumptions about the world around it.  It was a just sufficient enough misunderstanding to get through the day and pass on DNA.  For instance, we instinctively feel like the Earth is standing still, and the sun is orbiting around the Earth.  This feels right, because we cannot feel ourselves rotating around in an elliptical orbit of the sun.  Since it doesn’t hurt us to misunderstand the orbit of the Earth and sun, this feature never faded from our DNA.  In fact, the ability to sense motion is critical to understanding how to get away from predators and catch prey.  If you looked at the sun and noticed its movement in the sky, and you thought that it was actually still while the Earth was moving, you might also look at a lion in the distance, think it was still, while you were moving away from it.  What happens next?  The lion is actually moving toward you, and you are not running, so you die, and that odd feature is eliminated from the DNA pool. 

 Humans instinctively do not understand that things can be in motion without you feeling it, because they are too large to feel it, and gravity and the atmosphere coating the Earth also prevent you from feeling it move in relation to space outside Earth.  Only the conscious, analytical mind can accept this, because it uses a standardized set of symbols to represent objects and ideas and a standardized set of rules to understand logic, math, and science.  As we apply our more analytical minds to more and more things in nature, we are slowly discovering that most everything we assumed to be real or true wind up actually being illusions and false.  In addition to realizing that it is in fact the Earth that is moving around the sun and in fact, the sun is also moving around the galactic center and also the galaxy moving outward from a universal origin, we are also starting to realize that our conception of ourselves, our decisions, our freewill, our understanding of reality, reality itself, are also illusions and false.  Just like our understanding or I should saying misunderstanding of motion, we also possess a misunderstanding of our decision-making processes, our individuality, our ego, our freewill, our identities, the solidity of objects, and the fluidity of time and space.  But why?

 Just like the misunderstanding of motion, we hold these other delusions or misunderstandings, because it helps us get through the day and pass on our DNA, and it doesn’t hurt us to not know the truth.  Just like not knowing the Earth rotates around the sun, it doesn’t hurt us that we don’t know that we are not individuals, and objects are not solid mass.  But for our functional purposes, we must believe that we are individuals and objects are solid mass, because if someone is throwing a rock at us, we must know that we have the power to move ourselves to get out of the way, that the rock hitting this body will result in pain that we feel, and the rock, despite being mostly space, cannot travel through us harmlessly but rather, its configuration of vibrating energy will do harm to our configuration of vibrating energy. 

 The key to all this is our DNA.  DNA is nothing more than the organic encoding of information, information about how to adapt to our environment with certain behavior or bodily adaptations.  In an intimate orchestration with environmental cues, it control us.  We might like to think of DNA now as this little monster that drives our behavior, but once again by anthropomorphizing DNA, we create an incorrect understanding of it.  It is information.  It is information that passes itself on if and only if the behavior and bodily adaptations it creates effectively adapt to its given environment, nothing more, nothing less.  It is a long-stream of unconscious thought, the single thought about how to continue adapting to nature, and our thoughts are a simple extension of its thoughts, but for the first time, aware of thinking.  We are essentially, an unconscious, natural thought that has become aware of itself after all these billions of years.

 Now, you may think, wow, what a huge responsibility.  We’re now the foremost extension of a huge, historical thought process, and we have to figure out how to adapt to nature and proliferate.  In actuality, we have no choice.  We cannot control what has been thought before.  We are an extension of what has been thought before.  Now, just like arguing that we can veer off course and say 2 plus 2 equals F, you can argue that we can veer off course and destroy humanity and all life.  Why should we continue this long thought process of adapting to nature?  Why not do something else like jerk off into a bucket for all eternity and not procreate?  If you can figure out a way of jerking off into a bucket for all eternity without procreating, then you’re actually still perpetuating the thought of adapting to nature by precluding sexual intercourse for continuing the life of your DNA.  Many might argue that humanity is veering off course.  We are destroying each other and the planet.  This, they argue, is unnatural and destructive.

 Nature is inescapable.  We cannot be unnatural.  We can certainly argue that there are things humans did not create and things humans created, but both are products of nature.  What we are effectively doing is actually quite natural.  There are two major ways of adaptation to nature.  One way is multi-symbiotic collaboration (I made that term up).  Most of the bacteria on and inside us are multi-symbiotic collaborators.  They benefit from us, and we benefit from them.  In fact, without our gut bacteria, we would not be able to break down most food, and we would starve and die.  In fact, there is a proto-bacteria with its own DNA living inside our cells that if removed would instantly kill us.  But there is also another way of adapting.  This is called unilateral competition.  You invade an organism or ecosystem, and you are hostile to everything.  You attack everything whether you need it as food or not.  By upsetting the organism or ecosystem, you weaken the multi-symbiotic collaboration and the system breaks down.  As it breaks down, you devour it as it collapses defenseless.  The only problem with this is that once you have annihilated the organism or ecosystem, you need to figure out a way to move on to another organism or ecosystem.  This is how communicative diseases work.  There is also a dormant period that allows you time to sneeze, ejaculate, or shit your way into another victim.

The question here is obvious.  Which way should humans operate?  So far, it looks like the latter.  As such, as we annihilate the planet Earth, we need to figure out how to sneeze, ejaculate, or shit our way on to another distant, habitable planet. 

 You may argue that this is horrible.  Of course, since we have evolved mostly through multi-symbiotic collaboration, we are inherently put off by diseases that kill us and our loved ones, disfiguring them, weakening them, and ultimately killing them.  However, it’s all part of nature, and it’s all part of the exact same thought process we are all integrally an extension of.  Am I suggesting an amoral or even evil lifestyle?  No.  I can’t really suggest anything since we’ll just do whatever we were meant to do.  Trying to start to live an amoral or evil lifestyle will be like trying to convince ourselves that 2 plus 2 equals F.  It will feel fake and unnatural, and that is how we will always tend to go with what we were naturally programmed to do.

 Fact is, unilateral competition and multi-symbiotic collaboration are both necessary for life and its extension, sort of a yin and yang.  They are both parts of the same thought process.  While they may not get along, naturally, they rely on each other.  Without the unilateral’s systemic need to migrate to infect new victims, life may not have spread out as well.  Our desire to find the technology to inhabit other planets to get the fuck away from the unilaterals on Earth may in fact be a boon for spreading DNA all over the universe.  If there were no unilaterals infecting and destroying everything, and we figured out a way to live perfectly harmoniously and perpetually on Earth, why would we care about going off to other planets that may be hostile or dangerous.  Or why would we risk developing the technology that could also be turned against us as weapons?  Unilaterals create the problems and challenges that make us stronger, more creative, more risk-tolerant, and exploratory.  This is not to say that we should applaud them or even tolerate them, as it is simply not in our nature.  This would be like us finding infectious diseases completely tolerable and neutral.  As multi-symbiotic collaborators, we are simply incapable of tolerating or liking infectious diseases and other unilaterals. 

 So why do we seem to like and even sometimes glorify unilateral humans?  Fact is, ever since agriculture, the ruling class has become unilateral.  They have decided not to play nice with other humans or animals but rather to exploit them for all their worth until they became sick or died.  Of course, they would never dare admit themselves being unilaterals and maintain the scam of making you think they are one of us, and that they really do care about us and want us to thrive alongside them.  That is actually the only way they can live amongst us.  But there are many infectious diseases that do not instantly kill their hosts but continue to live off them and do harm to them.  We call them parasites. 

 The problem with the ruling class is that they are a dormant disease waiting to turn into a lethal infection.  Once we have AI robots capable of replacing most all human labor, they will no longer have any need for the masses.  The masses are a huge liability, using huge quantities of limited natural resources while a constant threat to the lives of the ruling class.  It is without doubt that once AI robot technology is sufficiently mature, the ruling class will have no qualms about the mass eradication of their host.  Just wait for it.

 While both systems work off each other, we cannot help but to view unilaterals as fundamentally different and evil, because we view them through our lens as multi-symbiotic collaborators.  However, through their lens, they view us as victims, as something just as abhorrent as evil, and that is weak, inferior, and too attached to one another.  In their mind, good is being aggressive, exploitative, and ruthless.  They have no problem attacking someone who is hurt or down, in fact, they find it abhorrent that you would not attack a weak and injured target.  This is the whole purpose of their existence, to infect others, weaken them, destroy you defenses, poison your food supply, and then devour them.  Of course, to us, this is sociopathic, but we certainly accept these types running our corporations, our government, and our economy.  The greatest weakness of multi-symbiotic collaborators is that they inherently assume everyone else is a multi-symbiotic collaborator.  It is this instinctive trust that actually makes them such great symbiotics.  So it actually takes a bit of a unilateral to identify and out another unilateral.  “Dude, WTF, you’re sleeping with a unilateral!”  “You just hired a unilateral to run this company into the ground!”  How would you know?  “I’m a bit of one!” 

 But just as symbiotics can have a little unilateral in them, unilaterals can also have a little multi-symbiotics in them, and this is how they hide amongst us, just like some bacteria or viruses can pretend to be harmless, like some spiders can actually kill and carry an ant on their backs to avoid being attacked by other ants.  But fact is, since humans share DNA, we are all capable of being either unilaterals or symbiotics.  We all have it in us and it’s more like a switch on a spectrum than a permanent part of our character.  What switches it on or off is like a videogame where you become a certain color in a grid if you are surrounded by three or more of the same colored players.  We mirror and mimic those around us, so if a sufficient number of us find either unilateral or symbiotic behavior rewarding, it spreads like an infection.  But this is also too simplistic.  Each society could also carry a certain number of symbiotics or unilaterals in reserve as needed.  For instance, unilaterals can better infiltrate a group of symbiotics if they approached them first with their symbiotics.  Likewise, a majority symbiotic group could defend itself better if its periphery were protected with unilaterals.  In a sense, our own white blood cells are mostly unilaterals that we unleash on foreign, harmful germs that get into our blood stream. 

 This is not to say that symbiotics should round up all the unilaterals and hang them, because fact is, we need them, and we’re part them.  This is to say that we know exactly who is who and make a rational, measured decision on whether we use them or not.  For instance, should we select a mostly unilateral as a CEO?  That CEO may fend off takeover attacks from other unilaterals, but he would also sell off the company’s assets for huge profits only to destroy the company. 

 It is perhaps comic how we have unwittingly already made a clear divide between unilaterals and symbiotics with the colors red and blue, the directions right and left.  The right and red, obviously, are unilaterals who feel under siege of attack and believe it is better to be strong and aggressive rather than weak and vulnerable.  They believe in arming up and closing off our borders and getting ready to fight the world.  The left and blue are the symbiotics who feel that the best course of action is living in peace and harmony with each other, accepting diversity, embracing immigrants and foreigners, and working with other nations.  It is not really a question of what you were born as but rather what you believe this country needs, a unilateral competitor or multi-symbiotic collaborator.  Of course, this is a false illusion.  The minds of the left and right are just manufacturing division and premises to get you to support their candidate.  Their candidate may not even be a unilateral or symbiotic after all.  In fact, certain Democratic candidates could be unilaterals under guise and certain Republicans could be symbiotic but in a way that allows them to be overrun and ordered around by unilateral advisors and staff.  But there is no doubt at all that the ruling class, those who are actually above contrived political divisions are all unilaterals.  It is absolutely clear that they don’t identify with any of the masses, and the world we live in is rather an extension of their belief system.  If we lived in a harmonious and peaceful world, I would argue the opposite, that the ruling class were symbiotics. 

 In reality, it is more a spectrum from high symbiotic tendencies to high unilateral tendencies.  It all sounds deterministic, and people may bring up the experiment where students read about how conscious decisions are made immediately after the fact and another group who read about freewill.  The group who read about freewill did much better on a morality test.  Does this mean we can change our behavior if we believe we can change our behavior?  No.  It means that if we are led to believe that we have freewill, we also tend to believe that we are more moral agents and behave accordingly.  If somehow everyone believed that only people with freewill acted evilly or drank milk, if someone convinced us that we had freewill, we would act evilly and drink milk, because we have successfully associated the two things.  After the fact, we would say that we drank the milk or acted evilly, because we were thirsty. 

 Another interesting feature of symbiotics is their gut bacteria which mirrors their symbiotic nature.  It’s hard to tell if the bacteria influences the host, or the host influences the bacteria, or both.  My suspicion is that it is both.  Just as DNA takes cues from the environment using our bodies, bacteria takes cues from the body and adapts accordingly.  If the body is constantly stressed and anxiety and tends to be a unilateral, the bacterial community somehow orchestrates a unilateralist takeover.  If the body is relaxed, friendly, and tends to be symbiotic, the bacterial community then orchestrates a symbiotic takeover.  There is much evidence indicating that our gut bacteria determines what we crave, so once it decides that we have become unilaterals, it engorges itself on food that is beneficial to the unilateral bacterial fauna. 

 I like to think that I’m consciously moving myself toward a symbiotic life, and consciously making wise food decisions also feed my symbiotic gut fauna.  But evidence is suggesting that my move toward symbiotic life was prewritten as I was exposed to more and more symbiotic people and other influences which kept looping around and feeding into itself like that videogame where three green neighbors turn you into a green piece.  But at the same time, the illusion of freewill is natural, and believing in the scam can be beneficial in our human scale habitat while being technically false at the universal scale.  I can’t sit here and consciously decide whether I would like to deceive myself into believing that I am an individual making a freewill decision to become more symbiotic, because I’ve already made that decision.  Yes.  My conscious mind doesn’t knows and also knows that it made that decision and it has freewill and separate existence from all the other DNA carriers.

 The fact that you read this review was prewritten, what some might say was meant to be, purposeful.  It was purposeful alright, it’s purpose was to continue down whatever road you were inclined to go.  What happens next is that, knowing the game, unveiling the small dude behind the curtain, what’s your next move?  You can choose now and throw out all the possibilities, but you’ve already made up your mind.  Your conscious mind reviews not the possibilities but the options you already turned down.  1. Go outside and run naked and go raving mad.  Can’t and won’t.  2. Believe you have no freewill, assume that this means you are more evil and anti-social, become more evil and anti-social.  3. Believe you have no freewill, but don’t assume that this means you are more evil and anti-social, become more evil and anti-social because your unconscious mind has been conditioned otherwise.  4. Believe you have freewill, knowing in the back of your mind you don’t, and assuming it means you will become happier, more kind and social, become happier, more kind and social.  You already know what you picked. 

 When the model looks in the mirror, she knows she’s not looking at herself anymore.  Her real self is dead, suffocated under layers of makeup and commercial delusions.  She wrongly assumes that this means that she is free to abuse herself, snort coke, sleep around, sell her story for a dollar, treat others like a jerk.  Thank you no.  In order to be happier, more social, and treat myself better, I’ll gladly assume that we are individuals with freewill in a material world, but I already knew that.