« Roissy vs. McArdle | Main | Warrior Song - Marine Corps Version »

July 14, 2010

Must Read Essay

Here.

I'm not going to even attempt to excerpt it because it deserves to be read in its entirety and anything I might say would only detract from it.

A truly fine piece of writing, whether or not you agree with the premise. I do, unequivocally, but I would recommend it even if I did not agree with the writer.

Posted by Cassandra at July 14, 2010 10:33 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3781

Comments

But, what's so important about survival?

Isn't the point of existence, nihilism? Isn't that the way to Nirvana?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2010 10:42 AM

I will have something to say on this later, but I thought this piece deserved a thoughtful reading.

I don't think it's nihilism so much as complete and utter self-centeredness that's at work. An awful lot of folks these days truly don't think beyond what they want at the moment and what will make them "happy" (read: gratify their desires) at the moment.

That kind of attitude isn't conducive to the formation or advancement of civilization. It's not even compatible with maintaining the world we inherited.

Posted by: Cass at July 14, 2010 10:49 AM

Looking backwards is just as important as looking forwards. A sense of permanence, as he puts it, is best achieved by awareness of deep roots.

Posted by: Grim at July 14, 2010 11:15 AM

While it is possible for individual humans to survive anarchy, violence and poverty, it is impossible for human society to progress under such conditions.

The sound of ladyfinger firecrackers popping in the distance is the sound of thousands of Progressive crania exploding with the realization that their pet term has been co-opted...

Posted by: BillT at July 14, 2010 11:23 AM

I would think a true Darwinian would be very much in favor or marriage, because it is a cultural artifact developed (evolved?) by human beings that, when it works, protects people throughout their lives.

A marriage between capable, loving people protects children and gives them the nurturing they need to become vigorous adults.

The marriage also confers benefits on the couple, who are protected from disease. There all kinds of diseases associated with infidelity, not just STDs, although those alone can destroy an individual's ability to effectively reproduce.

Infidelity is also associated with metabolic disorders: depression, starvation, poor co-ordination, poor sugar metabolism, sleeplessness, elevated cholesterol, elevated stress hormones, lowered testosterone and increased accidents. It can physically weaken both members of the married couple, over a substantial period of time.

The marriage also confers benefits on both the family and the individuals after the children are raised. An intact marriage produces grandparents, experienced people who can greatly contribute to the well-being of of the whole family by virtue of their wisdom and help, which may include intact family resources (money, shelter). And, the family, in turn, figures largely in the longevity, health and well-being of its elders.

Infidelity disrupts the essential support of human beings in a family from all directions and at all ages, because it shatters the familial bonds that are so advantageous for people of all ages and positions in the family.

For all these reasons, I would think that a true Darwinian evaluation would recognize the value of supportive cultural artifacts such as marriage and the family.

Posted by: valerie at July 14, 2010 11:35 AM

Short term gratification is anathema to long term contentment because it doesn't allow one to focus on the future. Progress is derived from desire, and the immediate graification of desire removes all motive for advancement. Their true desires remain, and the yearning for them grows over time. Eventually one realizes that their true desires cannot be satiated immediately, which creates a dearth in their self-worth and the overall loss of contentment.

My solution is simple. To keep a positive attitude, some desires must be met, so get Netflix! For long term desires, surround yourself with good friends who will help you along your path, pick you up if you stumble, and have understanding spouses who will bail you out if need be.

Posted by: Smart Grunt at July 14, 2010 11:37 AM

For all these reasons, I would think that a true Darwinian evaluation would recognize the value of supportive cultural artifacts such as marriage and the family.

not if that Darwinist wanted people to become extinct, as opposed to survive.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2010 12:25 PM

The comments here and over there bring up the idea that always interests me: your genes don't care so much whether you survive as whether you reproduce successfully, and part of reproducing successfully is bearing offspring who live long enough to reproduce successfully. I find the usual "genetic" explanation of stereotypical male desires to broadcast sperm unconvincing. If it were that simple, you'd see women dropping off their infants any old place in order to get pregnant again right away. No sexual strategy that's indifferent to the survival of the children can be explained as a genetic compulsion. Fertilizing the most eggs can't be the sole issue for either men or women.

That's just from the point of view of genetic explanations, of course, and says nothing useful about the goal of a life worth living for people who have consciousness as well as genes.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 14, 2010 01:28 PM

I enjoyed the part about applying reason to the world outside of the tribe. I have seen this in raising my children and teaching them about why in delaying gratification.

Outstanding.

Posted by: Cricket at July 14, 2010 02:02 PM

A must-read-and-share essay for all parents raising children. We have taught our Young Men and Lady that self-control is best learned when they are young and have the strength of their hormones. Their minds must be toughened enough to think about what the consequences can be. You can choose your action, but not the consequences thereof.

Posted by: Cricket at July 14, 2010 02:12 PM

No sexual strategy that's indifferent to the survival of the children can be explained as a genetic compulsion. Fertilizing the most eggs can't be the sole issue for either men or women.

And yet we see in a vast number of animals that the males have absolutely no involvement in the raising of off-spring. They simply impregnate and leave. And in not a few of them the female leaves the off-spring to their own devices immediately after birth as well (Think fish, frogs, turtles, crabs, & snakes).

None of this applies to humans, but they are sexual strategies which are indifferent to the survival of off-spring (At least individually: when you have a million off-spring dumb luck will mean that a handful will survive).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 14, 2010 05:16 PM

They simply impregnate and leave.

Given the fact that man is top of the food chain, that is pretty solid evidence for which survival mechanism nature favors.

(At least individually: when you have a million off-spring dumb luck will mean that a handful will survive).

Nature likes diversification in order to preclude extinction and mass die offs. Given that, many methods will be tried, and even those inferior and obsolete ones will be kept so long as resources are adequate.

However, the optimal survival strategy is determined by the most powerful species on Earth, factored by number if not technological prowess. Insects may beat humans on the absolute numbers, but not on various other factors.

Besides, it's unfair competition anyways.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2010 06:31 PM

Dinosaurs used to be the top of the food chain, and most evidence points to absent fatherhood in them. And they were around a lot longer than we have been so far. So to say that nature prefers our particular survival mechanism seems a stretch.

I agree that nature prefers that survival mechanism for *us*, but I don't think that we can say it does generally, much less universally.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 14, 2010 06:58 PM

I don't think you can compare animals whose offspring don't have a prolonged period of helplessness to animals (people) whose offspring have an ENORMOUS learning curve to surmount before they can do the most basic things (stand up, walk, etc.).

It's really no surprise that human beings developed elaborate social networks when you consider how much help a human mother needs to bring her children to adulthood. It ain't a one person job.

Posted by: Cass at July 14, 2010 07:21 PM

Dinosaurs used to be the top of the food chain

Key phrase, used to be.

Tool use and technology will be required to get rid of the next asteroid, which is probably why we're here and not the dinosaurs. And should we fail the test, something smarter will take our place in the hierarchy. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2010 07:28 PM

Cassandra's exactly right: it's not a question of how "advanced" or "primitive" a species is so much as whether its offspring can be expected to survive abandonment at birth. If human babies were born in batches of 1,000 and were really good at unaided survival, people would have different instinctive strategies about nurturing. Human men didn't get turtle instincts built into them on the subject of reproduction.

It's just as devastating to male genes as to female genes if the babies don't grow up and have babies themselves. Sometimes we talk as if the male genes' strategy were 100% fulfilled by fertilization. The critical life-or-death need for nursing an infant with milk makes us lose sight, I think, of the medium- and long-term (but equally critical) need of the pregnant mother and infant to be protected from violence and hunger, to say nothing of the value of the father's cultural role in teaching survival skills.

I'm not trying to equate evolutionary pressures to right codes of conduct. I'm only doubting whether evolution explains as much "natural" contemporary male behavior as is often assumed.

Posted by: Texan99 at July 14, 2010 08:15 PM

And should we fail the test, something smarter will take our place in the hierarchy. Nature abhors a vacuum.

It's quite possible that the opposite is true.

Posted by: Grim at July 14, 2010 08:24 PM

Failure in this case would mean we let an asteroid in and kill us all ; ) On par with the dinosaurs.

Of course, maybe some will survive, but they will have to be enough to start over from almost scratch with a depleted DNA pool.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 14, 2010 08:44 PM

The sound of ladyfinger firecrackers popping in the distance is the sound of thousands of Progressive crania exploding with the realization that their pet term has been co-opted...
Posted by: BillT at July 14, 2010 11:23 AM

Ah...music to my ears! :-D

Posted by: camojack at July 15, 2010 03:37 AM

It's quite possible that the opposite is true.

Scientists assume the "Great Silence" means the absence of intelligent life Out There. My theory is, having been blasted by sixty years of American sitcoms, intelligent life analyzed the relevant frequencies and switched channels...

Posted by: BillT at July 15, 2010 07:25 AM

Or moved further out into the cosmos. Billions and billions of counties away.

Posted by: bt_location-location-location_hun at July 15, 2010 08:09 AM

Oh yeah, one last comment on the Great Silence as it relates to distance and the good old 186k miles/second speed limit. Most of our Milky Way exurbs have yet to see the first episode of George Burns and Gracie Allen, The Jack Benney Show, Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, etc. Life in the MW exurbs don't know that The Shadow does.

It's a phenomenon I've noticed, from time to time, around Hunville. For instance, let's say that I do or say something I shouldn't have, and later attempt to communicate with Walkin' Boss. After one of these incidents, let's say that I shout a question to Walkin' Boss, from the shed to the vegetable garden. This distance, by cosmic standards is a relatively short distance... Even so, I've noticed that the sound of my voice sometimes does not reach her for hours, if not days!

Now that is a Great Silence.

Posted by: bt_location-location-location_hun at July 15, 2010 09:03 AM

Scientists assume the "Great Silence" means the absence of intelligent life Out There.

They probably their own version of the Jihad and progressives, which put a wrench into the galactic cosmos.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2010 09:58 AM

I can hear it now. Planets with their own culture must not be contaminated by whatever centric beliefs or higher technologies.

And should a planet's natives begin to develop abilities that will allow them to contaminate other solar systems, then a judicious use of force may be called for. A species attempting to launch themselves to new horizons, may need to be aborted before they achieve the birth of stellar exploration. Or if they are in the process of giving birth, partial birth abortion may be what it takes.

"But look at these cute terrains flailing about on their planet and killing each other. Aren't they so noble and pristine."

I can just see it now, a whole galaxy where the Progressive Left has been given control of.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2010 10:05 AM

And it's got a name, ymar -- Borg.

Posted by: BillT at July 15, 2010 11:04 AM

I do believe I said that it didn't apply to humans. :-)

And should we fail the test, something smarter will take our place in the hierarchy.

Says who? There have been a great deal of mass extinctions in the Earth's history and no evidence that intelligence increased after each. Intelligence is just what created dominance *this* time. It could just as easily be strength, speed, armor, or any number of survival mechanisms next time.

Let's face it, unicellular critters have had pretty much run of the planet for almost as long as life has existed. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 15, 2010 12:16 PM

Here I was thinking that the great silence was
because The Engineer couldn't hear me. Love and learn. @$); iPod

Posted by: Cricket at July 15, 2010 01:01 PM

No, what you're thinking of is The Selective Deafness.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 15, 2010 01:17 PM

...what you're thinking of is The Selective Deafness.

The Unit actually has some hearing loss due to both a childhood accident and being an Arty guy. How conveeeeeeeeenient that it just happens to be limited to the range of the female voice :p

Posted by: Cass at July 15, 2010 01:20 PM

God planned it that way so we'd get an occasional respite from the HoneyDew List...

Posted by: BillT at July 15, 2010 01:32 PM

Except that I never give the Unit a Honey Do list :p

He is a Capricorn and they cannot be pushed, only gently coaxed. The surest way to get my husband to dig in his heels is to pressure him in any way. The thing is, left to himself he is very responsible, generous, and loving.

He just likes all of this to be *his* idea, not mine.

That's probably why we've always gotten along so well even though we're both very strong willed: I have absolutely no desire to control him, but so long as I don't try he treats me better than I could ever wish.

Posted by: Cass at July 15, 2010 01:37 PM

It also helps that I am patient :p

Posted by: Cass at July 15, 2010 01:37 PM

"The Selective Deafness" Bug or feature?

Posted by: bt_location-location-location_hun at July 15, 2010 01:41 PM

Yes.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 15, 2010 02:08 PM

Huh? =;-}

Posted by: bt_resident_neanderthal_hun at July 15, 2010 02:32 PM

boom

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2010 05:43 PM

There have been a great deal of mass extinctions in the Earth's history and no evidence that intelligence increased after each. Intelligence is just what created dominance *this* time. It could just as easily be strength, speed, armor, or any number of survival mechanisms next time.

And given the continued mass extinctions early on even though any number of survival mechanisms were tried, a niche slot may have been created for tool using sentients to avoid such.

The hypothesis that it is simply random chance can't be accounted for until you get beyond humanity, post humanity, times. Since we're not at that point, hypothesis still must explain the facts as we have them.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 15, 2010 05:49 PM

The hypothesis that it is simply random chance can't be accounted for until you get beyond humanity, post humanity, times.

Sure it can. If the hypothesis that mass extinctions lead to progressively more intelligent dominant species were true, it would already have been observed. But it hasn't.

If the hypothesis is more generalized that mass extinctions lead to more extreme expression of the dominant species survival mechanism that too, should have been observed. But it hasn't.

If your hypothesis is unable to "predict" history (backtesting) there's little reason to expect it to predict the future.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 15, 2010 06:26 PM

If your hypothesis is unable to "predict" history (backtesting) there's little reason to expect it to predict the future.

Multiple mass extinctions culminating in tool usage is the explanation in itself because that is what happened on this one planet we know of, simply by the order at which the events play out. It is not the only explanation, but the hypothesis does explain the order of events as they have happened.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 16, 2010 07:48 AM

The reasoning that the current strategy must be the optimal one because it is the current one is circular.

If I'm to accept that type reasoning why does it only apply now? Why didn't it apply to the dinosaurs. After all, at that time, mass extinction had culminated with *them*.

That's what I'm talking about with Backtesting.

If you take the entire Earth's history up until the point of the Dinosaurs, then apply the hypothesis that since mass extinctions had culminated in *them* and *their* survival mechanisms and that the next mass extinction would amplify those attributes, you predict a result vastly different that what is actually observed.

So since your hypothesis has never worked in the past, why should I think that *this* time it'll be different?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 16, 2010 12:36 PM

I'd think the Q would more apply, not the Borg, if one wishes to use the Star Trek universe.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 16, 2010 06:42 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)