THE CRACKPOT CORNER

This post, which is similar to the “about” page on this website, is devoted to discussing crackpot ideas.  First, I must say that I believe that outside of the hard sciences, where rigorous scientific experimentation is possible to validate ideas, virtually all ideas about the nature of reality, and especially social reality, may potentially be crackpot ideas.   Also, I believe that all of us, given that we have finite mental resources in a world of unbounded complexity, are often overwhelmed by all the data and so we from time to time believe in crackpot ideas, though undoubtedly some people do more so than others!  I am here to discuss a number of such crackpot ideas, some of which I agree with and some of which I don’t, and some of which are popular and some of which are not.  I find that, at least in our quickly unraveling society, there appears to be virtually no relationship between the degree to which an idea is popular and the degree to which it appears to be crackpot. Some people seem to believe that if an idea is repeated often enough by enough people, then it is not a crackpot idea. I would call that idea a crackpot idea.  I am not even sure that the most fundamental ideas we live by today are not crackpot ideas, and I wonder whether it is a crackpot idea that by examining closely each and every idea that we hold dear then somehow we may be able to claw our way back to a healthy and sustainable approach to life.

If all ideas regarding social reality cannot be validated by scientific experiment and therefore are potentially crackpot ideas, then all ideas forming the basis for rules to govern a society, and all ideas regarding optimal or practicable forms of social organization, are potentially crackpot ideas.   Given that there are innumerable such ideas and potential narratives to support them, it seems that the only way that people have ever been able to coalesce around any one set of ideas sufficiently to develop a system of rules to live by and a stable social organization to live under has been through maintaining a narrowness of vision.  It also appears that such a narrowness of vision has typically been enforced by the dominant members of a society.

If most people were to realize the ideas underlying governmental organizations or legal systems are imposed by elites and based on a narrow, self-serving vision of social reality, would that not lead to social chaos?  Not necessarily.  There are any number of alternatives that individuals aware of a broader vision could coalesce around.  I explore a new conservative philosophical approach that is based on just such a broad vision in another blog post here titled “Sustainable Conservatism.”

The philosophical foundation for many of the ideas expressed here can be found at:    https://www.third-millennium-ethics.com

I also have a youtube channel under “J M Nightingale”

Feel free to comment on the crackpot ideas presented here or to add your own.

I start with a number of liberal crackpot ideas, followed by some  other crackpot ideas, and I finish with my own crackpot ideas.  I present so many crackpot ideas of social liberals, particularly Social Justice Warriors, because I find them to be the most numerous and extreme.   I would argue that  crackpot ideas of social liberals mostly derive from viewing social reality as a set of snapshots instead of viewing it as an evolving process composed of complex feedback loops. Simple snap judgments are made based on those snapshots and demands for change in the interest of social justice follow from that.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 LIBERAL CRACKPOT IDEAS

LC1:  Left-wing government can succeed by being soft

LC2:  Inevitable progress in social justice

LC3:  Social liberalism goes together well with economic equality

LC4:  People should be grouped so that those disadvantaged can be identified

LC5:  World would be a better place if women would perform the same jobs as men

LC6:  Christians invented differences between the sexes

LC7:  Only explanation for boys performing better is discrimination against girls

LC8:  No need for people to control their sexual urges in a large society

LC9:  When people give in to their urges it does not influence the behavior of others

LC10:  Undergoing a transgender procedure, is a healthy and reasonable choice to make

LC11:  It is important to love yourself in order to have high self-esteem and be happy

LC12:  It is healthy to teach children that they are “special”

LC13:  Goal of life should be “self-actualization”

LC14:  Arc of moral universe bends toward justice

LC15:  Non-human animals should have rights

LC16:  Spanking does more harm to children than psychoactive medications do

LC17:  Domestic violence would be reduced if women were to become more aggressive

LC18:  The patriarchy is responsible for over-sexualizing young girls

LC19:  Heterosexuality is in no way superior to homosexuality

 

OTHER CRACKPOT IDEAS

OC1:  Warren Commission provided accurate accounting of the Kennedy assassination

OC2:  Society with completely unfettered free markets would be ideal

OC3:  Libertarianism is the best political philosophy because it provides “freedom”

OC4:  Money is the same as speech for the purposes of the Free Speech clause

OC5:  Free Speech clause was intended to protect artistic or commercial expression

OC6:  American belief system will make life go smoothly for most people most of the time

OC7:  It is possible to “know everything”

OC8:  Either something like the Christian god exists or there must not be any god at all

OC9:  Christianity has no value if the fundamental beliefs about Jesus are incorrect

OC10:  Commercial pornography does not involve prostitution

OC11:  Identity over time is absolute

OC12:  Individual humans are imbued with some sort of “free will”

OC13:   Events are predictable

OC14:  Self-aware AI robots

OC15:  AI-programmed computers/robots would  develop human consciousness

 

MY CRACKPOT IDEAS

MC1:  Life should be seen as self-perpetuating feedback loops

MC2:  Phenomena in a society are the result of innumerable different chains of causality

MC3:  Government should establish boarding schools for disadvantaged youths

MC4:  Child custody presumption should be in favor of the parent of the same sex

MC5:  Nature of death

MC6:  US Congress should be half female

 

So let’s first examine some liberal crackpot ideas…

LC1:  One of the most fundamental liberal crackpot ideas is that a left-wing government can succeed by being soft, gentle, and permissive. I suppose that such an approach could possibly work in a small group, but in a large society the free rider problem* would lead to too many taking advantage of the lax rules to their advantage. Most conservatives understand that the free rider problem means that left-wing systems must be strict and even harsh if they are to be sustainable.  Moreover, a sustainable left-wing political system must implement some form of meritocracy, as the alternative is interminable bickering and jockeying for position of individuals and groups demanding a greater share of the pie.
* The free rider problem is that in a society with voluntary contribution for services, whether contributing with money or contributing in other ways, those who are best off are those who use the services but don’t contribute, and most people would realize that over time and copy that behavior, to the point the services are not funded or provided for sufficiently and are discontinued, at which time everyone is worse off than they would have been if everyone had contributed. Note that in a small group the free rider problem is less of an issue because there is no anonymity and social pressure can be applied to those who shirk their duties.

LC2:  A somewhat related liberal crackpot idea is that there is natural or inevitable progress in social justice. That would not be true even if social justice were well-defined, which it is not as its meaning continues to evolve and that evolution is always influenced by those in power. Moreover, what happens in any given space and time is the result of all the forces acting in that space at the time, all the different pressures being applied, and the history of social justice is just one of those pressures, one that is without solid foundation as those in power mostly determine what is the history. Now, it may be that there is an appearance of progress, as human technology, particularly related to communications, creates the conditions for building a bigger and bigger tribe or group, to the point that most people feel that the group includes the entire human race, and so some form of social contract appears to apply to virtually all the human race, eliminating much of the extreme treatment that people deemed “outsiders” often receive. However, this large group can become quite unstable as so many of the connections are not personal and traditional but are more abstract and tenuous, and the pressures for the elites in control to take personal advantage will likely at some point exceed the pressures to keep true to the social contract with the members of the large group.

Also, note that the long held and well-supported belief that a kinder, gentler approach to human relations would provide greater economic efficiency and productivity did have some effect in molding modern society, but in a future world heavily dependent on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics the connection between keeping the social contract, maintaining that kinder world, and economic efficiency may vanish and the entire history of building on that connection could become irrelevant.

LC3:  Another related liberal crackpot idea is that social liberalism goes together well with economic equality. This idea illustrates the blind spot that liberals have regarding the needs of non-elite men. With economic equality and social liberalism, non-elite men have no control and no hope of ever gaining control over satisfying their emotional needs. With economic equality, a woman does not need the offer of economic security that she might otherwise get from a non-elite man, and with social liberalism, the woman does not have much need for a non-elite man in order to have family and emotional security, so there is not much incentive for the woman to commit to a long-term relationship and the creation of a family with a non-elite man. This leaves the majority of non-elite men broken, bitter, and disconnected from the mainstream society.

LC4:  A liberal crackpot idea, popular with the Social Justice Warriors, that is particularly annoying is that people should be grouped by certain characteristics so that those disadvantaged can be identified and appropriately compensated.  A problem with this is that individuals have many different dimensions, including social class, income or wealth, wealth of one’s parents, educational level, intelligence (which can be multi-dimensional), race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, first language, age, general health, height, weight or body shape, physical attractiveness, athletic ability, sexual practices or preferences, hobbies, geographical location, job or profession, etc…

Note that an individual may be, with respect to one dimension, in a group that has been traditionally disadvantaged, and with respect to another dimension,  in a group that has been advantaged (e.g., an African-American from a wealthy family).  Actually, the odds are that the great majority of individuals are in at least one advantaged and at least one disadvantaged group for some dimension of some importance.  Any reasonable attempt to judge whether a person is “advantaged” or “disadvantaged” would require a holistic approach to consider all the dimensions with any significant impact on overall quality of life.  For example, a reasonable conclusion would be that a physically attractive, well-educated African-American woman with wealthy parents is certainly more advantaged than a poor, uneducated, physically unattractive white male immigrant from Serbia who was a child of poverty.

Instead of following a somewhat sophisticated and consistent approach to determining whether an individual is holistically advantaged or disadvantaged, it has become common to focus on just two dimensions – sex and race, with the implication that white males are the most privileged group.  This is troubling not only because it ignores the great majority of dimensions that could be considered, but because those are not particularly powerful indicators of advantage or privilege in the USA in the 21st Century.  Wealth and income, followed by educational level of the individual or the individual’s parents, are much more powerful indicators of advantage.  And if one does focus on race, it is problematic that  Asian-Americans outperform Caucasian Americans in wealth and income and in professional success.  Also, if one focuses on sex, it is problematic that female college graduates outnumber males by a significant percentage and the gap continues to grow.

Moreover, the selection of which dimensions to focus on to address grievances is inevitably going to be influenced by power relationships, meaning that rather than reducing unfairness, this method offers another avenue for the powerful and well-connected to use government to increase their advantages. In short, discrimination is multidimensional, and focusing on only one dimension at a time can lead to more unfairness, rather than less. The one dimension that incorporates other dimensions to the greatest extent, and so would be the most appropriate if one were to focus on only one dimension, is wealth, but the most powerful and influential do all they can to keep that from being the focus. Note that the groupings along various dimensions, other than by income and wealth, are often used by the wealthy and powerful to divide the common people.

However, I should add that I believe that sex is fundamentally different from the other dimensions, in part because sex differences, to be distinguished from the other differences, were found to be significant by the Human Genome Project, involve clear anatomical differences, including anatomical differences in the brain, and were clearly developed through evolution to lead to different abilities, propensities, sensitivities, and sensibilities, and these should be recognized and valued as the two sexes were designed by evolutionary pressures to complement each other. Also, though it is sometimes done, thinking in terms of tribe in grouping by sex makes much less sense than using tribe to refer to an ethnic or racial group. Actual human tribes required having both males and females in order to survive short-term and long-term and both sexes are essential elements in any real tribe, so trying to apply the tribe concept to one sex is problematic. As a side issue, note that discrimination by sex has no inter-generational effects as racial discrimination does, because each individual has male and female ancestors that they inherit from and is capable of having male and female heirs, so the effects of past discrimination on the basis of sex, as opposed to race, do not pass down from generation to generation.

LC5:  One related popular liberal crackpot notion is that the world would be a better place if women would perform the same jobs and tasks as men, ignoring any sexual differences, including jobs as firefighters and Marines, among other traditional male roles, and that they should be employed in equal numbers in engineering and computer science even if men on average show more aptitude. This notion is based on the idea that women can only be treated equally and have equal access to resources if we pretend that there are not any differences. This rough and crude early approach to equality of the sexes is doomed to failure because it ignores real physical and cognitive differences that developed, for survival purposes, over the course of evolution. We need to accept that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and that they are both essential for the survival of the human group. Pretending they are identical not only contradicts virtually all the evidence on sex differences but is not even an effective method of achieving the result of equal status for women, which is really at the heart of the matter.

LC6:  A somewhat related crackpot idea of the past few decades is this notion that somehow Christians invented differences between the sexes. It seems that hundreds of millions of years of animal evolution, including millions of years of human evolution, distinguishing males from females in anatomy and physiology and in behavioral propensities had nothing to do with it. A corollary crackpot idea is that the millions of years of evolution designing female parts and male parts to fit together offers no advantage and does not imply that other aspects of male and female were designed to fit together.

LC7:  Another related liberal crackpot idea is that if girls perform better than boys on some subject at a young age, then the only explanation for boys performing better at a later age is discrimination against girls. However, just as it is apparent that girls mature intellectually at a younger age than boys, it is clear that girls peak at a younger age then boys. That is why it is common for boys to pass girls in aptitude in certain subjects as they grow older and why comparing young girls with boys of the same age on any subject is a poor method for predicting long-term potential.

LC8:  Another liberal crackpot notion is that there is no need for people to control their sexual urges in a large society . Humans evolved in small groups and whatever behavioral propensities they developed during evolution are designed to improve survival and reproduction chances in those small groups. As humans have come to find security, economic efficiency, and a much greater quality of life in large groups, they have had to make adjustments in order to fit into the larger group, in order to maintain some level of stability and harmony in that group, and that includes controlling a number of urges, including sexual urges. Only a crackpot would assume there is no trade-off for gaining the advantages of living in a large group.

LC9:  A related liberal crackpot idea is that when people give in to their urges it does not influence the behavior of others. This seems particularly inconsistent when the people who hold this belief also believe that every human act has innumerable repercussions for the environment because it is all interconnected. But the human society is an extremely connected subset of the environment. Every time someone gives in to an urge, particularly if it directly involves other people, there are innumerable repercussions. Our social environment is probably the most interconnected part of our environment. Moreover, if we should consider sustainability issues when we propose to impact the natural environment, as liberals repeatedly tell us, we should consider such issues when we impact the human social environment.

LC10:  Another slightly related liberal crackpot idea that is particularly troubling is that changing from one sex to the other, i.e., undergoing a transgender procedure, is a healthy and reasonable choice to make. First off, maybe medical advances will change this in the future, but as of now even with surgery and hormone therapy one can only resemble the other sex in a superficial manner. The years of brain and body development as the other sex can not be completely, or even mostly, erased. Also, much of the knowledge of how to survive as a member of one’s birth sex will lose its value, and one will have missed out on gaining the corresponding knowledge that members of the other sex developed during youth.

Another problem with accepting the idea is that one’s physical sexual characteristics at birth are objective and anything but arbitrary, while a culture’s association between one’s sex and personality traits (“feminine” or “masculine”) is somewhat subjective and arbitrary. Rather than changing the non-arbitrary body to fit with arbitrary and subjective notions about gender, it would make far more sense to change the arbitrary and subjective notions about personality characteristics of a particular sex to fit with the body.

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

LC11:  Another common liberal crackpot idea is that it is important to love yourself in order to have high self-esteem and be happy. I find this to be nonsense. To declare love for something is to declare a strong connection with something outside oneself. Of course one is connected with oneself so the concept of love is misapplied to the self. Promoting self-love becomes harmful in that it encourages inflexibility as it reinforces connections to current behavior patterns that may be maladaptive. Also, conflating connections with oneself with love leads to overvaluing one’s characteristics in others, encouraging individuals to seek the company of others who resemble them rather than others who complement them, the latter being the healthier and more reasoned approach.

LC12:   A related crackpot idea is that it is healthy to teach children that they are “special.” This can lead to harmful levels of narcissism in the individual and society at large as it tends to convince people that they need not worry about the needs and welfare of others (who by implication are less special and less important as the descriptor means nothing if everyone is special). However, if the individual can keep in mind that the individual is part of different groups, a more intimate group composed of family and loved ones in which the individual is special and important, the recognition of which can fill important emotional needs, and a larger group of the broader society in which the individual keeps a social contract and does that which is expected without trying to assume a special or unique position with extraordinary privileges, the individual can have emotional needs met while simultaneously acting in harmony with the larger group. Note that the often sought after celebrity status in American society does appear to allow certain individuals to feel special in the larger group, but since one cannot have intimate relations with large numbers of people and maintain one’s emotional stability, the mismatch created between the type of relationship and the size of the group usually leads to far more trouble than it is worth.

LC13:  Another somewhat related liberal crackpot idea is that the goal of life should be “self-actualization,” as described by Maslow. There may be some merit to the idea of a hierarchy of needs, as Maslow claimed, but the notion of self-actualization is pure poppycock. Humans evolved for most of their history in small hunter-gatherer groups, with some more rapid evolution in the past few thousand years in large agricultural societies, and they struggled to adapt to various environments in order to reproduce and to survive as best they could as long as they could. Did a Cro-Magnon man self-actualize by killing a Mammoth? Did a Cro-Magnon woman self-actualize by finding a medicinal root? One’s goals and one’s assessment of whether they have been achieved are completely determined by one’s interpretation of one’s needs and the group’s needs, in a particular setting, a particular environment, and this is malleable. There are an infinite number of possible needs and goals to meet those needs and it is completely arbitrary as to whether achieving any of them results in “self-actualization.”

LC14:  A particularly soft-headed liberal crackpot idea was expressed succinctly and somewhat elegantly by Martin Luther King, Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  This is an illusion that arises from the virtual inevitability that contemporary rules and laws will more closely conform to, and more likely be trending towards, contemporary beliefs and values than rules and laws from past eras will.  What happens at any given point in time is simply the result of all the different forms of pressure being applied at that moment.  But under the influence of this crackpot idea, it is assumed that there is some sort of inevitability of improvement in social policy over time, which creates pressure to recklessly abandon what has worked in the past in order to experiment with something new, usually making changes to address some particular social ill that appears on the surface to have an obvious solution.  However, addressing one social ill often leads to the creation of two or more new social ills.   Human society is one giant, interconnected, complex machine, and so unintended consequences, not progress toward a more just system, are what is inevitable with every radically new policy.

LC15:  A really annoying liberal crackpot idea is that non-human animals have rights. This comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what rights are. Rights are part of the social contract of every individual in a society that offer an inducement for that individual to participate constructively in that society. Rights are also accorded to those who are unable to participate because of age or disability, but this is justified by their close kinship to, other connections to, and similarity with other humans who can participate. The system of rights creates harmony and stability in a large society as it convinces most to be productive and contributing members of that society. Extending this system to animals that do not understand it makes little sense as it provides no inducement to cooperate. Also, given that for every benefit there is a cost, every consideration given to non-human animals leads to some cost to humans. That means that the more rights given to non-human animals, the fewer rights that humans have, and given that the weak are usually bullied by the strong, ultimately this means that the most weak and vulnerable humans will bear the costs of the rights given to the non-human animal friends of the strong, which is somewhat ironic because the justification for extending rights to animals is to protect the most vulnerable beings. Also, if rights were extended to non-human animals, what would constitute the boundary of those with rights? Would it be restricted to pets, when they constitute a tiny percentage of the animals in the world? Would it be restricted to primates, when some aquatic mammals (e.g, dolphins) are more intelligent than some primates? Would it be restricted to mammals, while some birds and even invertebrates (e.g., the octopus) are more intelligent than some mammals? There are no defensible boundaries, except for the already established human boundary.

LC16:  One quite harmful liberal crackpot idea is that spanking does more harm to children than psychoactive medications do. At some point it became mainstream thinking that spanking does irreparable harm to most children even though the evidence from centuries of widespread use of the practice showed that it rarely had that effect. Also, note that humans evolved in a manner such that children would grow more slowly physically than other primates, allowing adults to physically control them somewhat easily until their post-pubescent years, implying that there was an evolutionary advantage in adults physically controlling young children. But instead of continuing to use spanking to control children’s behavior, it became common to use psychoactive medications for that purpose. However, after years of this practice, a mountain of evidence suggests that these medications are far more harmful than spanking ever could have been, and yet no movement has formed to curb this dangerous practice.

LC17:  A slightly related liberal crackpot idea is that domestic violence would be reduced if women were to become more aggressive and physical. Given that men are programmed by evolution to resist violently any attempts to dominate them physically, the more aggressive and physical women become, the more aggressive and physical the men will become, likely leading to more domestic violence. Evolution provided women with other means to control men that allow a couple to build and maintain a strong bond over a period of years, and it makes little sense for women to be discouraged from using those methods or encouraged to use the traditional male method of physical force.

LC18:  This might not be among the most commonly believed liberal crackpot ideas, but it is one that I have come across — that somehow the dreaded “Patriarchy” is guilty of over-sexualizing young girls in the US.  This seems particularly preposterous because the most patriarchal societies, including those where most of the members adhere to radical versions of Islam, go as far as they can in the opposite direction.  They view young girls as innocent and do all they can to protect them and their innocence.  On the other hand, in Western societies, feminists constantly encourage young girls to embrace and promote their sexuality, as the feminists believe this empowers girls relative to boys.  Some feminists, particularly the performer Madonna, encourage this over-sexualization as a means to win fans and to increase their personal profits.

LC19:  At the risk of being accused of bigotry, stupidity, or maliciousness, I must add that I believe that one of the most problematic liberal crackpot ideas is that heterosexuality is in no way superior to homosexuality. Heterosexuality and the associated preference for heterosexual behavior were created by millions of years of evolution to provide certain advantages, not by the Catholic Church or any other religion. Among the many advantages, one simple and obvious one is that it made male parts fit into female parts. Mother Nature spent millions of years fashioning male bodies and female bodies to complement each other and to go together in harmony.  Mother Nature also made the sexes complementary emotionally and provided them with a wide variety of complementary strengths and weaknesses.  Throwing away those advantages, not to mention the power of reproduction that heterosexuality provides, is like a giant waste of millions of years of effort. It makes about as much sense as having one’s thumbs converted to regular fingers. It would be a very inefficient use of resources, and it is nonsensical to claim that the most adaptable animal on the planet cannot modify its behavior from the inefficient to the efficient on learning of the advantage.

Also, one of the greatest benefits of the traditional prohibition against homosexual behavior is that it enabled societies to set up sex-free zones for children and adults by the establishment of same-sex activities and clubs.  This was of great benefit to children particularly as it allowed them to develop mentally and emotionally in such sex-free zones where they would be free of sexual tension and sexual distractions.  Sure, there would always be a few instances of homosexual behavior anyway, but for the great majority of children for the great majority of the time these sex-free zones were an essential part of personal development, and were a critical part of the maturation process that children went through in Western society that led to the development of modern Western civilization.

I will add that I understand that male homosexual preferences are often formed early in life and, even though humans are the most adaptable creatures on the planet, rewiring to produce different preferences can be quite difficult, so it may be unnecessarily harsh or cruel to try to force different choices on the male homosexual population.  However, female sexuality is generally much more malleable and few even try to argue that lesbianism is hardwired.  Even hardcore militant feminist lesbians claim that lesbianism is a choice, in part because that is consistent with their agenda to turn all women and girls into lesbians.  So lesbians make a choice to avoid sexual and romantic relationships with the half of the population that evolution spent millions of years to make them sexually and romantically compatible with.  Given that, I do not believe it is a stretch to identify lesbians as misandrists or lesbianism as a form of misandry, and misandry is hate.  Also, note that when misandry becomes fashionable, the very survival of the society is in jeopardy, as human behavior responds to social pressures, and if all the social pressure is in one direction, then there is the danger of creating an accelerating downward spiral leading to catastrophic levels of disharmony and discord.

It also should be mentioned that while the West was in the battle for world hegemony with the Soviet Union, stable heterosexual families were promoted by the elites to not only increase the population but also its productivity and the overall wealth and social stability of the society.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, a world market could be formed that did not depend on US or other Western labor or consumers, and overpopulation because of Climate Change and resource depletion became a serious issue, it appears that the elites began to promote homosexuality over heterosexuality in order to reduce the birth rate and thereby reduce the population over time, as well as make the society more chaotic to make an organized revolt by the common people more difficult.

 

Other crackpot ideas…

OC1:  One very popular crackpot idea is that the Warren Commission provided a full and accurate accounting of the Kennedy assassination. Not only did a congressional investigation in the 1970’s, following the release of a great many confidential documents related to the assassination, find the Warren Commission report to be seriously flawed, but it concluded that the assassination most likely involved a conspiracy. I suppose that a “magic bullet” could theoretically have done everything it was claimed to have done, but other highly unlikely events including Ruby shooting Oswald before he could talk, the alleged extremely fast and accurate marksmanship of Oswald who had never been a top marksman, and the forgiving nature of the US government with regard to Oswald’s prior traitorous activities, as well as many other odd phenomena associated with the shooting, should make any rational observer extremely suspicious.

OC2:  Another crackpot idea is that a society with completely unfettered free markets would be ideal. Though it appears that given a good number of capable, knowledgeable, healthy, and creative people in a society the implementation of something like a free market can help to create a high level of motivation and creativity leading to significant increases in innovation and productivity, the focus by all the economic actors on the narrow and short-term, which they must focus on in order to survive in an unfettered free market, means the broad and long-term goals are ignored, including the goal of maintaining the conditions necessary for the system to continue to operate. The natural and inevitable decay of all systems that are not actively maintained, that do not receive a consistent input of constructive energy, means that the unfettered free market system on its own is unsustainable. Also, the energy devoted to narrow, short-term goals in pursuit of maximum profit while taking advantage of the lowest common denominator applies pressure to force the lowest common denominator lower and lower and creates a downward spiral that vulgarizes the culture and leads to disintegration of the society.

OC3:  A related crackpot idea is that Libertarianism is the best political philosophy because it provides people with the most “freedom.” The main problem with this idea is that Libertarianism is not so much about liberty as it is about private property. It might more accurately be called “Propertyism” as it provides that the government’s main purpose is to protect private property. And what about private property makes its protection such a fundamental right? Note that there is no private property in Nature. Private property is an abstraction that creates a connection (generally called “ownership”), usually an exclusive one, between an individual and some non-human thing. The other members of the society are expected to honor this exclusive connection, and a Libertarian government’s main role is to make sure that they do. Certainly there is some value in honoring the connection as the connection can be used as a reward for positive contributions of the individual to the group. Also, establishing the connection can signal which individual has the responsibility for the thing, providing motivation that it be used for positive rather than negative effect. But these reasons are more consistent with Utilitarianism, i.e., honoring the connection is justified because it serves the greater good. However, if Libertarianism is to be preferred over Utilitarianism, then that must mean that a society should honor the connection when it does not serve the greater good, including when it means the unnecessary loss of life or harm to others, which most would find unjustifiable.

OC4:  A  crackpot idea regarding the US Constitution is that money is the same as speech for the purposes of the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Virtually all rules come with the expectation that a reasonable balance should be struck when different rights conflict. Allowing one party to flood the medium, e.g., the airwaves, so as to drown out the other party clearly violates the second party’s right to free speech more than restricting the first party’s expenditures does. Speech that is drowned out is speech that may as well be silenced, and guaranteeing the right to silenced speech is not guaranteeing speech at all.

OC5:  Another crackpot idea regarding the Free Speech clause, one that has more of a libertarian flavor, is that the clause was intended to protect artistic or commercial expression or to allow frustrated people to “blow off steam.” The clause was intended to allow the citizens to shine a light on the situation in the society, particularly on the actions of government officials, in order to apply pressure to correct misbehavior or force a change in policy. It had nothing to do with artistic or commercial free expression or with some psychological need to “be heard” through an ineffectual exercise of speech.

OC6:  A popular American crackpot idea is that not only is it possible to design a belief system and set of rules that will make life go smoothly for most people most of the time, but that the current American belief system and associated rules are close to reaching that goal.  This is untenable.  Humans were designed by evolution to live in small hunter-gatherer groups. They came together into large groups for security and economic efficiency. There may also be some attraction for the young to the large group because it offers more possible mating partners. But there is great cost in being part of a large group, as the human emotional-motivational system is not designed to handle relations with large numbers of people. Insincerity and dishonesty, as well as a number of more serious harmful behaviors, become more common in the large group because they are often rewarded as the virtual anonymity in the large group greatly reduces accountability.

Belief systems regarding “good and evil” with accompanying rules of morality are usually implemented in the large group to attempt to limit the harmful behavior, but a complicating factor is that the elites in the position to develop the rules usually do so in a way that advantages them, so that rule systems are in part designed to serve the purposes of the elites and in part designed to serve the needs of the whole society. Furthermore, it is possible to imagine innumerable different belief systems and there is no practicable method for proving that one is clearly superior to another or for proving that there do not exist innumerable other belief systems superior to a particular system. That makes agreement difficult because everyone tends to look at the world in a way that is colored by their own experiences and that is most favorable to themselves or people like themselves and this influences their preferences. What makes it even worse is that there is no universally accepted understanding of what it means for one set of beliefs or rules to be “superior” to another. Does that mean that for the individuals in the group it leads to a desirable goal? What goal? Is the goal a higher quality of life (what constitutes that?), a greater chance for long-term survival of the group, or something else? And what is the group? Is it the whole of the human race or some subset, e.g., the people in one’s own tribe or nation? Is it for the majority, the great majority, or all of the people in the group? Is it just for individuals in the group who are alive today or does it include those expected to be born sometime in the foreseeable future or even those who come after that?

For these reasons it becomes very difficult to build and maintain a system of universally accepted beliefs and associated moral rules, and so to limit disruptions caused by disagreements and belief divergence a large group usually relies heavily on some form of criminal justice system (certainly the US does, with more prisoners than any other nation in the world), which often uses a hammer when a scalpel is required, and leads to many broken individuals who then spread their misery to others almost like a contagion.

OC7:  Another related crackpot idea is that it is possible to “know everything.” What is problematic about this is that the set of all things to be known is unbounded. Not only is the universe evolving continuously, and not only does every event affect every other event eventually, and not only are there innumerable different aspects to and repercussions from the interaction, and not only are there innumerable perspectives from which to perceive those events, but any realizable set of rules for analyzing those events is incomplete (see Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem). Furthermore, no scientific theory can ever properly be declared infallible, as theories are merely rules regarding the nature of reality that have proven to predict events correctly, usually in controlled settings, with some arbitrarily defined degree of accuracy and better than alternative rules. All models of reality are limited by the limitations of those making the models, and there is no justification for declaring any model to be complete and infallible.

OC8:  Another popular crackpot idea is that either something like the Christian god exists or there must not be any god at all. Now this comes from a complete failure of imagination. Not only are there a great many other current and past religions which each have their own gods, but it seems entirely clear that innumerable different forms of a god could map onto the patterns of perception that give rise to the concept of any particular god, i.e., just as Plato’s shadows on the cave could have been created by any number of entities of any kind of form, any form or kind of god could be behind any number of layers of reality that give rise to our perceptions, though such speculation can create unnecessary, apparently arbitrary, and unhelpful complexity.  Occam’s razor can provide a path out of this swamp (that the simplest explanation that accounts for the facts is the preferred one, i.e., that there is nothing to be gained by speculating on extra layers of complexity, as our experiences simply flow from the universe unfolding before us), but it comes at the price of abandoning the pleasant feeling of wonder and any comforting afterlife myths that belief in the supernatural may provide.

OC9:  Continuing on the subject of religion, another common crackpot idea is that Christianity has no value, or even has a negative value, if the fundamental beliefs about Jesus and the Christian god are incorrect. Regardless of whether the fundamental beliefs are correct, and it is my guess that they are not, Christianity helped to build one of the most successful civilizations in human history. Organizing humans, who developed in small groups, into sustainable large groups is apparently quite a feat as failure has been far more common than success. Christianity is often blamed for a great many wars and much human misery, but humans in large groups usually behave in a callous and self-serving manner, as they are far more connected to their own narrow interests and goals than to the broad interests and goals of the large group. Christianity did not create this narrow focus (often called “greed”) or do much to further it, other than serving as an organizing principle for creating large societies, which virtually inevitably create the conditions that allow for manipulation of large numbers of people to serve narrow interests. I suspect that the powerful with the will and opportunity to manipulate others for self-serving purposes use whatever tools are available, including the predominant belief system of the society. That should not reflect on that particular belief system.

OC10:  A slightly related crackpot idea, related in that it has to do with human morality, which seems trivial but which should be addressed because it is just so preposterous is that commercial pornography can be legal while prostitution is illegal.  Given that laws against prostitution ban the practice of engaging in sexual acts in return for remuneration, and commercial pornography involves providing remuneration for people to engage in sexual acts for the purposes of a video recording, it is an obvious contradiction to claim that commercial pornography does not involve violating laws against prostitution.  It may be a special kind of prostitution, but it still is prostitution as it involves engaging in sexual acts for remuneration.  The fact that those who produce it have sufficient resources to hire legal talent capable of obfuscating the undeniable connection does not alter the clear underlying reality.

OC11:  Moving on to the topic of the human mind, a very simple and problematic crackpot idea is that human identity over time is absolute. However, a human brain is changing, evolving, all the time as it loses old memories while it gains new ones along with new concepts and ideas, and it learns new skills and behavior patterns while it discards previous ones. We assume we as humans have identity over time for the sake of convenience, to simplify our world, not because it accurately portrays reality.

OC12:  A related very popular and persistent crackpot notion is that individual humans are imbued with some sort of “free will.” The basic idea is that individuals have a “choice” in what decisions they make and that they choose to make “good” decisions or “bad” decisions. First off, this approach to the concept of choice is wrongheaded. Human behavior, like all animal behavior and virtually all phenomena in this universe, is determined by the set of internal and external pressures operating at the place and time. As the individual’s brain grows and evolves, it develops internal pressures, which usually have their origin in past external pressures, that it may perceive as its “will.” This will operates in the context of current external pressures, which will shape the individual’s response. Note that what constitutes the will is determined by the time frame. As the individual has experiences, the brain evolves and the internal pressures are shaped, and later these internal pressures are considered part of the individual’s will, though taking a broader time frame these internal pressures may be seen as a function of the earlier external pressures and not considered part of the will of the earlier version of that individual. Also, I will add that I am not here advocating a simple deterministic view. Each and every part of the universe at each point in time can be both determiner and determined. How one views it depends on the time frame and perspective one uses.

OC13:  Another related crackpot idea is that just because the events that occur are the result of all the internal and external forces acting at a place and time, that means that any event is predictable. The problem is that the complexity of the forces and their interactions can be virtually unbounded, while the resources of the individual or entity making the prediction are limited. It is particularly problematic when the individual or entity making the prediction is involved in the interaction, meaning that the predictive process becomes part of the force involved, which would have a recursive effect (i.e., the prediction affects the prediction which affects the prediction, etc…), adding another layer of complexity that is virtually unbounded.

OC14:  Another crackpot idea from science fiction is that an intelligent robot or computer, one benefiting from sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming, would likely become self-aware. The flaw in this is that humans developed self-awareness as a survival technique, as there were survival advantages in distinguishing what is directly connected to one’s mind, i.e., one’s body, and what is not, which led to the development of the concept of self. Thus, evolution “programmed” self-awareness into humans, and a computer/robot with AI will not likely develop self-awareness unless the AI programmer intentionally includes that in the code or at least through the coding creates a situation where the AI program can recognize that it gains some advantage in accomplishing its goals by developing some form of self-awareness.

OC15:  A related crackpot idea is that the AI-programmed computers/robots would likely develop something akin to human consciousness. The problem here is that human consciousness is the direct experience of brain function, to be contrasted with the images, sounds, etc…, that are part of the model of the real world that the brain constructs from those direct experiences. That implies that this direct experience is likely a function of the particular processes involved in the brain, i.e., the neurochemical processes giving rise to the direct experience, which implies that a computer/robot with extremely different processes, e.g., the electrical processes of a silicon-based circuit, would have a very different direct experience if it had a comparable experience at all.

 

On to my crackpot ideas…

MC1:  One of my favorite crackpot ideas is that all of life should be seen as self-perpetuating feedback loops. All living things seek positive feedback that energizes them to grow and expand and seek out new positive feedback in a continuous loop. The human brain grows complex inner loops or circuits that connect with loops outside the brain to form sustainable and nurturing relationships with the environment. An individual has strong feedback loops within the individual’s own body, then somewhat weaker ones with the close family group, then weaker ones with larger groups the individual is a part of, as there is usually an inverse relationship between the size of the group and the strength of the feedback loops.  I discuss this further at:  https://third-millennium-ethics.com

MC2:  Another of my crackpot ideas is that societal problems, or, more generally, phenomena in a society, should be understood as the result of innumerable different chains of causality that converge in one space at one time. Each link in each of these chains is some process, and the chain can be broken by disrupting the process. Therefore, rather than following the usual and self-defeating approach of finding some easily identified scapegoat to blame for any given societal problem, a better approach would be to identify the most significant chains of causality and find the best links to break in those chains.

Note that the point of assigning blame is to identify the causes of a negative outcome so that such outcomes may be prevented or mitigated in the future. The difficulty is that each event is one in a succession of innumerable events, i.e., each chain of causation is of unbounded length (and my involve feedback loops).  Also, each event may be influenced by innumerable different factors, so that there are innumerable interconnected chains of events, each of unbounded length, that converge at a time and place to cause the negative outcome. So, how to determine which of these innumerable events to blame for the negative outcome? First, eliminate those that are completely or virtually unchangeable. Then eliminate those so far removed from the event that the connection is speculative. Then remove those that would be too costly to change. So the best candidates for blame would be those closely connected to the event that could be changed without great cost, particularly those for which the cost of change is less than the cost of the negative outcome. Assigning blame to other events would be inappropriate.

The corollary is that healthy or desirable phenomena in a society are also the result of different chains of causality and that breaking or severely weakening links in significant chains leading to those phenomena should be avoided if possible.

MC3:  Another one of my crackpot ideas is that the government (federal, state, or local) should establish boarding schools for disadvantaged youths. Just pumping money into local schools with children who go home to chaotic environments does not appear to be very cost-effective, as the children are not able to develop the emotional stability or the positive attitude necessary to take advantage of the academic material they are exposed to. That is why they need to be admitted to boarding schools with controlled environments that provide them with the stable environment and positive feedback they need to develop good study habits and a taste for academics.

MC4:  Another of my crackpot ideas involving child development is that children learn more from the parent of the same sex so I believe that the presumption in child custody cases should be in favor of giving custody to the parent of the same sex as the child.  It was decided long ago that child custody cases would operate under a presumption that the mother should receive custody as it was assumed that the mother was the more necessary parent.  However, I think the data developed over the past few decades of how poorly boys do without a father in the house makes it imperative to abandon the earlier presumption.   Also, it was assumed that children would fare better if siblings were not separated, but the need of a boy for the constant oversight and companionship of a father appears to far outweigh any benefit the boy might receive from being placed with female siblings.

MC5:  I have one crackpot idea on the nature of death. Let me first say that I do not believe that identity over time is absolute, and I do think that what identity one can have is based on the actual matter making up one’s brain and its organization or structure, i.e., an individual’s brain is a particular organization of particular matter, and the identity is changed if either of those is altered. So I do not believe that an individual with the same exact identity will ever again exist as there will not exist the same exact matter with the same exact organization. However, from one moment to the next, there is not the same exact matter or organization, so continuity does not require perfect identity. So, if the matter of the individual’s brain who dies continues to exist, and if there is a never-ending cycle of Big Bang to contraction to Big Bang, or alternatively if any Big Bang never contracts but instead at some point the matter created encounters matter from other parallel Big Bangs, there may be an unbounded number of organizations of any matter in the future, and some organization with some similarity to the individual’s brain with some of the matter of the individual’s brain may exist at some point in the future (even unimaginably far into the future), in a sense bringing the person back to life. Also, it may be that the eons that pass between the two points in time will seem like nothing, as the individual will not be conscious.

MC6:  One of my other crackpot ideas follows from my belief in the special nature of differences between the sexes. In the long run, it benefits no one to pretend that men and women are indistinguishable or to use short-sighted and inefficient affirmative action policies that lower requirements for women in certain jobs, e.g., firefighters, Marines, engineers, or computer scientists. Mother Nature differentiated male from female over millions of years through evolution, so it is idiotic to expect the male and female populations to have the same distribution of talents or abilities. What women really want and need is equal power and the best way to achieve that in the US is not through the above-mentioned policies but instead by ensuring that half the members of Congress are women, which can only be done through a constitutional amendment that requires that half the members of the US House of Representatives (which would have to be reconfigured as there are currently 435 members – districts could be doubled in size and have both a male and female representative with all states getting at least two members, or the number could just be doubled to 870 ) and half the members of the US Senate be women. That would also require a provision to break ties in a potentially equally divided House, which could be done by the Vice President as is done in the Senate (the Vice President could have the same role in the House as in the Senate).

The US policy-making process clearly could use more input from women, but not from women trying to be or mimicking men, which is what the present system gives us. It needs input from women being women. Also, something radical needs to be done to end the current war between the sexes. As it spreads mistrust, anger, and even hatred, it is creating fissures in the very foundation of the society. As an old saying goes, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

 

SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATISM

This blog post describes a radically different approach to conservatism in the USA, with the goal of producing a social philosophy for building a society that is socially sustainable, i.e., that will not produce self-destructive pressures that will ensure its failure.  The difficulty is in aligning human behavioral propensities with social values, common goals, group survival, and the general welfare in a large group, given that humans evolved in small groups.

The motivation for this comes from the recognition that the USA government is becoming increasingly fascist while the powerful continue to promote an extreme form of cultural Marxism to the point of being Maoist, creating a culturally Maoist fascist state, a bizarre monstrosity that cannot prosper and is completely unsustainable.

Note that this is not an academic or scholarly work, and there is no attempt to reference historical philosophical developments or to put the presented ideas in a broader context.

Here is the fundamental philosophy:

SOCIALLY SUSTAINABLE CONSERVATISM

This is a radically different approach from traditional conservatism.  It is certainly not based on the currently popular and simplistic idea that conservatives should be liberal on the social issues and conservative on the fiscal or economic issues.  It also is not about the contrast between capitalism and socialism or about the merits of or problems with Christianity or any other religion.  It is instead an attempt to determine fundamental principles that follow from developing a broad view of what is necessary for human survival and human welfare over the long term, i.e., on what makes a social system sustainable.  The basic ideas are derived from my discussion of  building a system of ethics for a population that is not constrained by a narrow vision.  That discussion can be found at:  http://www.third-millennium-ethics.com

This new approach to conservatism is based on the following six fundamental principles:

(1) Conservatives should continue practices that work and should not conduct radical social experiments with the whole of society;
(2) Conservatives should acknowledge that humans have not evolved to live in large societies and therefore all humans are to some degree misfits in large societies;
(3) Conservatives should understand that there will always be a tradeoff between tending to the individual’s needs, the family or small group needs, and the nation’s or large group’s needs;
(4) Conservatives should be wary of the concentration of power in any entities, including private entities, and especially those with a narrow focus or short-term goals, such as corporations;
(5) Conservatives should accept that humans have certain propensities for developing behavior patterns based on evolutionary pressures during human history, and should try to understand what these are and apply that knowledge in designing societal institutions or formulating laws and rules for people to live by; and
(6) Conservatives should be against genetic enhancements, empowering Artificial Intelligence, and creating man-machine hybrids or otherwise artificial or synthetic humans, as they need to emphasize the importance of traditional humanness.

Now, to the first principle.  The first fundamental principle is that conservatism should be based on the idea that we should continue doing what works, or at least be very measured in the implementation of  different methods, if we do not have a thorough understanding of the phenomena, and we do not have a thorough understanding of much of the phenomena in human society.

Understanding of the hard sciences has improved immeasurably over the last few centuries because in investigations in the hard sciences virtually all the significant variables can be isolated and rigorous experiments can determine precisely the effects of independent variables on dependent variables.  On the other hand, as the social sciences attempt to describe phenomena of virtually unbounded complexity, the significant variables cannot all be isolated and no experiments are possible to determine exact or precise relationships between variables.  That means that social science theories are little more than guesses, which can be all the more problematic because, without hard proof, the theories that rise to the top are likely to be those favored by powerful groups rather than those with the greater weight of the evidence on their side.

There are innumerable policy choices for a society to make over time, and history has shown that most societies have failed, implying that policy choices frequently lead to failure.  Obviously, those making the decisions on policy thought they were good ideas at the time, but often they led to failure over the long term.  That is why it is essential to consider sustainability of the social systems implemented.  Just as sustainability is critical for ecosystems, it is critical for social systems if the society is to survive for the long term.

Note that one of the many implications of this is that it is very dangerous to put all the power in one body that can make decisions for the entire society.  As these decisions are just guesses, one bad guess can cause catastrophe if it is implemented universally.  That supports the wisdom of distributing power at different levels and among different entities.

The second fundamental principle is that since humans evolved in small groups except for  the last few millennia of human history, they are not well adapted to living in large groups, such as modern cities and nation-states.  So many social problems follow from the mismatch between the environment we evolved in and the environment we find ourselves in today.  As human technology and civilization evolved, it became advantageous for humans to join the larger groups, though often little choice was involved, as the larger groups offered greater security from outside threats and provided greater economic specialization leading to greater efficiency, greater wealth, and a higher quality of life for many, though certainly not all.  But humans have never been able to completely emotionally adapt to the larger groups and still are not there today.  Humans have the propensity for engaging in behaviors, and for the desires that motivate those behaviors, that are healthy for small groups but may not be healthy in a larger group, often because large groups provide some degree of anonymity along with a lack of emotional connections between most members of the group.

One approach to minimizing emotional adjustment issues in a larger group was the development of the institution of marriage and the nuclear family.  Many assume that these developments followed simply from the implementation of agriculture and the creation of the idea of private property.  Those practices played a part, more so in societies with polygamy (which of course only served the interests of a small percentage of males, i.e., elite males), but the more critical reasons for the development of marriage and one-man, one-woman marriage particularly and its associated nuclear family were that it provided a small group that could meet the emotional needs of individuals, needs that had been unmet for the great majority in the large group, and it could provide a degree of protection to the more vulnerable members of the family group (in the large group, in interactions between individuals without emotional connections, there often are more incentives to be abusive than to be caring).  The nuclear family provided a cohesive and well-defined small group within the larger group, which, if stable (and laws developed to try to maximize its stability), could provide dependable human relationships that could aid in survival of self and small group as well as meet emotional and sexual needs.  When these needs were met, antisocial activities would have decreased and productive economic activity would have increased, increasing the wealth of the society and the quality of life of the great majority of individuals within it.  Men particularly became more productive, as they could spend much or most of their time isolated from other adult males and not feel dominated by the alpha males, an emotional state that shuts off creative decision-making processes and lessens motivation.

The larger groups also brought problems associated with anonymity, including free rider problems and many varieties of abuse of the weak and vulnerable by powerful or predatory strangers.  In a small group, everyone to some degree has emotional connections with and trusts the other members of the group, so the powerful are restrained in abusive behavior by these human feelings.  Also, because all members of the group are known to each other, behavior inconsistent with the group welfare is easily identified and addressed, but these advantages disappear with the anonymity that a larger group provides.  So the larger groups had to develop new means to regulate behavior among people who are strangers to each other and have no emotional connections.  Laws and customs had to be developed for the purposes of maintaining social harmony and ensuring group survival, including those that would protect the weak and vulnerable from abuse by strangers.

But in order to have a sustainable system of laws, there must be an authority structure, with a government or state, which almost inevitably forms into a hierarchy, because that is a simple and easily achievable form of effective and efficient organization. This usually creates a class of powerful elites at the top of the hierarchy who can abuse the common people without serious repercussions.  And this abuse is virtually inevitable, given that all individuals behave according to the array of pressures that they face, internal and external, and so the powerful will often indulge in their most frivolous desires at great cost to others if no push back exists (note that push back can include internal forces such as conscience that has been cultivated through training or education).

The third fundamental principle is that there will always be the need to strike a balance between tending to: (1) one’s own needs; (2) the needs of the small group, usually the nuclear family; and (3) the needs of the larger group, often the nation.  There is an argument that we have come to the point where the larger group should be the human race, though the needs of the human race could even be considered as something else to be balanced along with the other three.  Conservatives have traditionally put more emphasis on the first two elements on the list, whereas socialists and communists have put more emphasis on the third element.  Liberals, on the other hand, usually put the most emphasis on the first element, then the next most emphasis on the third element, and the least emphasis on the second element.

I would argue that conservatives should value all three elements roughly equally, though one must address one’s own needs in order to adequately address the needs of the small group, and one must address the small group’s needs in order to properly address the needs of the larger group.  One cannot be very helpful to the small group, the family, unless one is healthy mentally and physically, so one has to tend to oneself in order to tend to the small group.  And if one is part of a healthy and vibrant small group, then one can be more productive and more helpful to the larger group.  Also, I believe that over the long term, the needs of the individual, the small group, and the large group of the entire human race converge, that is unless the human race becomes fragmented by subgroups receiving genetic enhancements or otherwise being fundamentally changed.

The fourth fundamental principle, that conservatives should be wary of concentration of power in any one government or in any entity, is based not just on Lord Acton’s maxim that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but also on the idea that all policies are to some degree guesses, and we should not allow ourselves to all be doomed by one entity’s very bad guess.

Also, note that the danger of concentration of power is not just that powerful entities can and usually do bend and shape the rules for their own narrow and short-term purposes at the expense of others.  For a society to survive long term, the needs of all members of the population must be considered to some degree in lawmaking, as human societies are interconnected and the needs of all converge over the long term, so even the elites are affected negatively when too many of the common people are suffering.  Too much concentration of power will often lead to the powerful entity shaping the rules exclusively for its own narrow and short-term purposes, which will weaken the entire society over the long term, possibly to the point of collapse, dooming the powerful as well as the weak.

The problem can be even more acute when private entities, such as large corporations, acquire excessive power.  While a government is expected to, and thus must make at least an appearance of trying to, provide for the general welfare, a corporation is tasked with and expected to only maximize the welfare of the shareholders.  It is usually the case that in the short to medium term the welfare of the shareholders and the general welfare differ to a considerable degree, but their interests generally converge over the long term.  However, as explained in the discussion of the sixth fundamental principle, the welfare of a subgroup of humans, such as the owners or managers of a powerful corporation, can potentially continue to diverge from that of the entire human race over the long term.

The fifth fundamental principle is that conservatives should accept that humans have certain propensities for developing behavior patterns based on evolutionary pressures during human history, and they should try to understand what these are and apply that knowledge in designing societal institutions or formulating laws and rules for people to live by.  As stated in the first principle, conservatives should be faithful to traditional practices to the extent they have served their purpose well, but when seeking improvements efforts should be made to discover and develop an understanding of human potential for developing new behavior patterns that are healthy and sustainable.  This requires an examination of the evolutionary pressures during human evolution that shaped and formed human propensities for behavior.  Analyses of these evolutionary pressures and the impact they would have had on human potential should be incorporated into any determination of recommendations regarding any significant changes in expected behavior or cultural norms.

The sixth fundamental principle is that conservatives should be against human genetic enhancement, empowering Artificial Intelligence, and creating man-machine hybrids or otherwise artificial or synthetic humans, as they need to emphasize the importance of traditional humanness (to paraphrase a Christian saying, “what benefits us if we gain the whole world, but lose ourselves”).

Conservatives should value humanness, as that is valuing what we have been and what has worked for us throughout our history.  Obviously we are evolving and our evolution has accelerated in the last few thousand years, and we should not see that as a negative, but at some point the acceleration in evolution departs to such a degree from the past that it creates an unhealthy disconnect.  If our patterns of thought and behavior change too rapidly, then we do not sufficiently nourish or preserve the feedback loops (the human ecosystem) that we have developed over millennia that we need to survive.

Note that the interconnectedness of the welfare of all members of the society follows from all members being of the same species and participating in the same economy.  If some subgroup starts to use genetic enhancements or other physical modifications, that could reduce the interconnectedness and result in a divergence of needs, not convergence, over the long term.  Also note that as more and more of the labor is done by Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, an elite subgroup may come to completely rely on machines for all labor and become less connected with the common people even without genetic enhancements or physical change.

If separate classes of people are created either through genetic or other physical change or through economic changes that remove interdependence and interconnectedness, a divergence between the classes in terms of needs, expectations, desires, values, goals, and outcomes would be created, inevitably resulting in competition and ultimately conflict and likely even annihilation of the weaker class.  And after the extermination of the weaker class, a new divergence would likely emerge as this dynamic repeats itself in cycles, with a probability of some cataclysmic event presenting a significant probability of human extinction in each cycle, until it become a near certainty that the human race would go extinct.

FEMINIST FUNDAMENTALISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOME THOUGHTS ON CULTURE

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

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

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

PRIVILEGE

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

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

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

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

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

 

VALUES & SUSTAINABILITY

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

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

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

MAINSTREAM NARRATIVES

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

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