Tuesday, September 13, 2011
John Dillinger Cabal, Position Paper 23 = Stupidynamics by Simon Moon
Evolutionary perspective suggests the following propositions may be true or may serve as plausible working principles until we understand the brain better.
1. Stupidity is partly genetic and partly acquired.
2. The genetic portion of stupidity is programmed into all of us and consists of "typical mammalian behavior." That is, a great deal of the human nervous system is on autopilot, like the closely related chimpanzee nervous system and the more distantly related cow nervous system. The programs of territoriality, pack hierarchy, etc., are evolutionarily stable strategies and hence work mechanically, without conscious thought. These evolutionary relative successes became genetic programs because they work well enough for the ordinary mammal in ordinary mammalian affairs.
They only become stupidities in human beings, where the higher cortical centers have been developed as a monitoring system to feed back more sophisticated survival techniques and correct these stereotyped programs with more flexible ones.
In short, to the extent that a human follows the genetic primate-pack patterns, without feedback from the cortex, that human is still acting like an ape, and hasn't acquired facility in using the New Brain.
3. The acquired portion of stupidity is the result of enculturation, which is the process by which the flexible, multivalued human nervous system is brainwashed into surrendering its flexibility and repeating (miming) the stereotyped behaviors, beliefs, values, etc., of the tribe into which it is born.
4. Primate behavior only changes under the impact of new technology. A band of chimpanzees will repeat, robotically, the same behaviors over millenniums or longer; if somebody teaches them how to use sticks to obtain food, or a simple sign language, they will immediately change their behavior under the "shock" of this new technology. Human societies (e.g., China, Byzantium) can also remain static and repetitious for long times, until new technology triggers new behaviors.
5. Domesticated primates (humans) have changed more in die past hundred years than in all previous history, under the impact of an accelerated acceleration of new technologies. The Wright Brothers, Edison, Einstein, Ford, etc., have triggered more behavior change man all the political revolutionaries, Right or Left, of this century.
6. From points 3,4, and 5, it follows that the quickest way to change primate behavior is to introduce a new technology, and that technology is the strongest medicine that can be administered to cure stupidity or at least to alleviate it somewhat.
7. Genetic behavior changes more rapidly than acquired behavior when new technology is introduced, because the genetic code contains what Lorenz calls "holes" or points of imprint vulnerability, where new imprints (networks of new neurogenetic circuits) can be formed. Shock and confusion, two side products of new technology, trigger this sort of imprint vulnerability.
8. High intelligence is the ability to receive, integrate, and transmit new signals rapidly. (This follows from Wiener's Cybernetics, especially his classic definition, "To live effectively is to live with adequate information," and from Shannon's Mathematical Theory of Communication.)
9. Stupidity is a blockage in the ability to receive, integrate, and transmit new signals rapidly. Genetic programs, if uncorrected by new imprints, can cause such signal-blindness: genetic behavior is mechanical, "unconscious," uncorrected by the subtle feedback circuits of the higher nervous centers. Enculturation (identifying the tribal reality map with "reality") can also cause signal-blindness: signals not consistent with the tribal mythology are repressed, ignored, covered over with projections or distortions until they do fit the local mythos, or are simply "forgotten" very quickly.
10. Domesticated primates, like wild primates, want chiefly an alpha male to lead them. The more closely this figure approxi-mates the primordial archetype—i.e., the meanest-tempered baboon in the herd— the more fervently the other primates will follow him. (This explains the otherwise inexplicable elevation to power of distinctly subhuman types, e.g., Mussolini, Nixon, Hitler, Stalin. The primate logic is "If he's that baaaaaaaad"—in the sense in which baaaaaaaad is used in Black ghetto argot— "he'll scare hell out of competing primate bands.")
11. After finding an alpha male to lead them, domesticated primates then seek a scapegoat on whom to blame their troubles. They do so because solving problems requires intelligence, and there is still more stupidity than intelligence on this planet. Domesticated primates are not optimistic about solving their problems, which seem hopeless in their confused state, midway between mammalian reflexes and objective consciousness. It is easier, to a stupid mind, to find somebody else to blame for the problems.
12. The chief function of the alpha male in a domesticated primate pack is to find, denounce, and lead the persecution of such scapegoats, internal and external.
13. To wild primates, as to other mammals, emotions function as emergency signals, mobilizing energy for "threat" situations, i.e., challenges to territoriality or to status in the pack hierarchy.
14. To domesticated primates, emotions serve both of the above functions, but also serve two new functions made possible by the new brain and its symbolizing capacities. These new functions are (1) to stave off boredom and (2) to gain status or power.
15. Wild primates, like other mammals, have no defense against boredom. They simply go to sleep when nothing exciting is happening. (This is also an evolutionarily stable strategy, since it keeps them out of trouble. You are less visible to a predator when still than when moving; you are less likely to get your nose or your paws into a beehive, etc.) Domesticated primates learn, by mimicry of their elders, a skill that has been passed on among hominids for millen-niums: how to use emotions to stave off this existential boredom.
16. The only other way to stave off boredom, in a complex domesticated primate like humankind, is to increase one's consciousness and intelligence. This is not appealing to the average primate, who instead invents emotional games (soap-opera and grand-opera dramatics) to keep life exciting. The writings of Eric Berne and the Transactional Analysts are mostly concerned with cataloging these emotional games, or cons.
17. Among domesticated primates, emotions also confer status and power. That is, the most emotional person in the room "dominates" everyone else in the room: they must all react to his or her emotions, one way or another, or surrender the turf by retreating from the room entirely.
18. Almost all children begin to learn some of these stereotyped emotional games or cons from parents and siblings by about the age of two. They then experiment with these power tactics (mammalian politics) until they have learned how to score points (symbolic victories) by means of emotional blackmail.
19. Very few children ever learn, from parents, teachers, or anybody else, the techniques of rational problem-solving.
20. From 18 and 19, it follows that, on this primitive planet, most people will try to handle their problems symbolically, by emotional game-playing, and relatively few will know how to solve their problems rationally.
21. Stupidity, being partly genetic, partly acquired by enculturation, and partly the result of mimicry of emotional status games, is highly contagious. The stupidest party in any situation drags all the others down to his or her level. Trying to reason with an emotional person is frustrating, because useless; the only way to "deal" with them, except by escaping the scene, is to challenge their emotional game with a strong counter-game.
22. Since primate behavior can be changed by new technology, the only cure for the stupidity of the human species must be a technology that itself immediately and permanently increases intelligence.
23. Such an intelligence-raising technology must be hedonic; i.e., it must offer greater pleasure to the users, or it will not come into wide use very rapidly.
24. When such a hedonic intelligence-raising device is invented, the rulers of society will attempt to repress it as a threat to stability.
(24a. If such a hedonic intelligence-raising device has been invented, it will have been repressed. Researchers will have been imprisoned or intimidated; distributors will have been pursued more vigorously than murderers or diieves; the device itself will be pictured as terrible and dangerous in all the mass media.)
25. Until the existence of such a hedonic intelligence-raiser is unambiguously proven, certain steps can be taken to decrease stupidity slightly.
26. Biosurvival stupidity is imprinted almost immediately after birth, is caused by traumatic fright (due to our primitive child-rearing practices), and takes the form of chronic anxiety. This is epidemic in our society; a 1968 US Public Health survey showed that 85 per cent of the population have some symptom of chronic anxiety, e.g., heart palpitations, frequent nightmares, dizzy spells, etc. Chronic depression usually accompanies this. In the extreme forms, one finds autism or catatonia, which are biopsychic or cellular "decisions" that human beings are just too nasty to be worth relating to, or paranoia, the fine art of finding enemies everywhere, especially among one's friends.
27. Biosurvival stupidity causes so much stress on the organism, and so much alienation from other humans, that it creates stupidity on all the other neural circuits as well, and thereby prevents the development of a high level of intelligence on any circuit.
28. Biosurvival stupidity can be alleviated by the practice of various martial arts (akido, karate, kung fu, etc.); by asana, the yogic technique of holding one posture for long periods of time every day; or by psychotherapy. Asana and psychotherapy take much longer to produce dramatic effects than martial arts do, but may be necessary in acute cases.
29. Emotional stupidity is imprinted when the toddler is first learning "family politics" (mammalian hierarchy games). Typically, the victim confronts all problematic situations in interpersonal relations with one stereotyped emotional game (e.g., a good long sulk, a temper tantrum, "depression," a drunken bender, suicide threats, howling or blustering in traditional angry-primate manner, etc). One or another of these robotic emotional reflexes can be found in about 99 per cent of the population.
30. Emotional stupidity can be alleviated by the yogic breathing technique known as pranayama, or by the Gurdjieff techniques of establishing an internal "Observer" who monitors the emotional reflexes, i.e., makes them conscious instead of mechanical. Prana-yama produces quicker results; the Gurdjieff techniques ultimately produce deeper, more long-lasting results.
31. Semantic stupidity is imprinted when the older child begins dealing with words and concepts (abstract artifacts produced by the higher brain centers after the human stock separated out from the other primates). The most pervasive form of semantic stupidity consists of confusing the local (tribal) reality map with the all of reality. Dogmatism, rigid ideological systems, and bizarre reality maps (ideational schizophrenias) are also rampant. Symbol-blindness, ranging from verbal illiteracy to mathematical or artistic illiteracy, is also common, and often found in those who are very skillful in handling one narrow range of symbols; e.g., the painter who can't solve a quadratic equation, the scientist who can't or won't read poetry, etc.
32. Semantic stupidity can be alleviated by a diet rich in lecithin and protein, by courses in remedial reading, logic, and sci-entific method, and by practice in General Semantics.
33. Sociosexual stupidity is imprinted when the DNA blueprint triggers the mutation to puberty. It consists of robotic repetition of one stereotyped sex-role, usually accompanied by a deep-seated conviction that all other sex-roles are abnormal ("mad" or "bad").
34. The only alleviations for sociosexual stupidity currently available are the various forms of psychotherapy, of which Group Encounter is probably most effective.
35. Alleviating or totally curing these four types of stupidity would produce human beings roughly matching the idealistic definition given by Robert Heinlein in Time Enough For Love:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiendy, die gallantly."
36. Roughly speaking, if you can handle 14 out of Heinlein's 21 programs, you have released 50% of your potential intelligence, and are 1/2 of a human being. If you can handle seven of them, you are 1/3 of a human being. Scores above 14 mean you're probably a genius and probably know it; scores below 7 mean you're certainly a moron, and certainly don't know it (i.e., you are convinced, are you not, that the world is really a terrible place and that your inability to cope is due to the world's evil rather than to your own stupidity?).
37. A quicker intelligence test, which also indicates the trajectory of your development, is this:
If the world seems to be getting bigger and funnier all the time, your intelligence is steadily increasing.
If the world seems to be getting smaller and nastier all the time, your stupidity is steadily increasing.
SIMON MOON is a second generation anarchist and holds advanced degrees in mathematics and computer science. Moon consumes gargantuan quantities of pot, hash, acid and peyote, bragging he hasn't "had an unhalucinated day since 1968." Easy to arouse, he is hard to pacify and most people prefer to just go away. "Bucky Fuller says he seems to be a verb," he told this journalist, "but I am most definately a gerund."