Respect for Religion
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21-12-2012, 07:58 AM
RE: Respect for Religion
Matt,
You seem to see diversity as a goal, something to be preserved.

I see diversity as a temporary result of the algorithm; it waxes and wanes. Trying to protect diversity is anti-Darwinian.

Cultures come and go, they change and evolve. Some work better than others, where better means their memes persist.

Protecting diversity is the ultimate form of patting the other on the head and saying 'you're valuable'. When cultures interact, we have the same algorithms as species interaction - competition, co-evolution, parasitism, symbiosis, etc.

I see meta-Darwinism in action throughout history, including the extermination of some cultures by others. It's all contained in the algorithm.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-12-2012, 12:11 PM (This post was last modified: 21-12-2012 12:14 PM by Ghost.)
RE: Respect for Religion
Hey, Chas.

No. Sorry. That's madness.

I want to be perfectly clear that I don't think that you yourself are mad. It's that mentality that is insanity.

You are suggesting that all of the attempts to protect biodiversity in the biosphere are anti-Darwin. That's insanity.

Competition is an integral part of Darwinism. As I hope to illustrate below, what constitutes competition is of the utmost importance.

Diversity does wane and wax. That's called the background extinction rate. About one species every million species years. But the overall cost to total diversity is negligible. Then there's things like ice ages and snowball earth, but these amount to natural environmental changes that result in a change in the overall carrying capacity of the planet. That's an entirely natural process that does affect biodiversity and overall biomass. But that's not at all what we're talking about.

We know, for fact, that diversity is what protects the biosphere from collapse. That's a fact. We also know that the greatest threat to biodiversity is what EO Wilson calls HIPPO (habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, human overpopulation, and over-harvesting) and that human activity is the prime force in that threat.

There have been eight mass extinctions in the history of this planet:
The Oxygen Holocaust 2.5 billion years ago
The Ordovician extinction 440 million years ago
The Devonian extinction 370 million years ago
The Permian extinction 250 million years ago
The Triassic extinction 214 million years ago
The Jurassic extinction 144 million years ago
The Cretaceous extinction 65 million years ago
The Holocene extinction 13 000 years ago – ongoing

The worst one, in terms of total species loss, was the Permian; which resulted in about 96% species loss. The second worst was the Cretaceous, which was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. The third worst, which is actually challenging the Cretaceous for the number two spot, is the Holocene extinction. That is occurring right now. All around us. We are living through what David Suzuki says is about 2 500 times the background extinction rate. Some people say that as many as 200 species are going extinct every single day. And the sole cause of this extinction is human activity. The sole cause. That means that human activity is having as devastating an effect on the biosphere as a thermonuclear explosion that carved the Gulf of Mexico into the planet's surface and blanketed the planet in nuclear winter.

Now there is the argument that anything that happens is natural, so human activity is natural. That's a fine argument, but it's essentially meaningless. There's a pretty big difference between an asteroid blindly striking the planet and a series of conscious decisions. One is beyond our control. The other is not.

The balance in the biosphere is maintained by a principal called the Law of Limited Competition. The law involves four rules:
-You may compete to the full extent of your abilities
-You may not exterminate your competition
-You may not destroy your competition's food
-You may not deny your competition access to food
---Paraphrased: Daniel Quinn, "Ishmael", page 129

The difference is analogous to a sports league. In a sports league there are many teams competing with each other. Every time there is a game, one team wins, one team loses, one team forfeits, or both teams tie (ties are analogous to both stalemates and compromises). Whatever the outcome, it is the result of limited competition between the two teams. It is limited in the sense that the game has a number of rules and restrictions and both teams operate within those restrictions. More importantly, we never see one team exterminate every other team they come into contact with. Even though this sort of strategy would technically earn them the victory and, at the very least, ensure that there was no one to lose against, it would very quickly negatively impact the league. Therefore that sort of behaviour is restricted; teams are limited to other strategies. It doesn’t mean they can’t employ that sort of behaviour, it means that they are better served if they do not.

In this way, we wind up with a balance in the biosphere. Sometimes lions get the kill, sometimes cheetahs, sometimes leopards, sometimes hyenas and sometimes the wildebeest gets away. When you look at predator/prey populations, there is a boom and bust cycle. When there are too many predators, the prey die too quickly, meaning less food, meaning the predators die off, leaving room for the prey to rebound, meaning there can be more predators. It looks something like this:
[Image: sine_cosine.gif]

Even if the lions decided one day to wipe out all of the hyenas, they don't have the requisite energy to perform that task.

Humans, for the last 10 000 years have been an anomaly in this system. Through agriculture, humans have the capacity to arbitrarily increase their access to energy. We in fact produce a surplus at all times. This is what allows us to practice the form of agriculture that we practice (where we wipe out entire species or clear entire plains for a wheat field). It's also what allows us to grow our population with impunity (a 70 000% increase in the last 10 000 years). For us, it looks like this:
[Image: growth-chart.jpg]


If our production and our population are always increasing, then it means that population and access to resources for every other species on the planet has to be decreasing. This strategy of competing unlimitedly with our competitors is the sole reason that the Holocene extinction is occurring. We are literally devouring the biodiversity of this planet.

This mass extinction is occurring due to entirely identifiable forces and everyone knows that despite our seeming inability to stop what we are doing, if we keep doing it, we're dead.

Now I'm not going to get into any philosophical argument about whether or not humans are viruses or if we even deserve to live, because that's just a bunch of gobbledegook. As always, I focus on mechanics. The biosphere is healthy when it is biodiverse. Human activity is negatively impacting diversity and by extension, the biosphere.

Those are the facts.

The same can be said of culture. The ethnosphere is healthy when it is diverse. Even if you don't believe in memetics or Universal Darwinism, simple systems mechanics tells us that it is so. When cultures compete limitedly, that diversity is never threatened. Yes, there are always extinctions, evolution is a constant process, but there is no deliberate attempt to wipe out competition. But once again, the practice of cultural imperialism throws a monkey wrench in the system. There are about 7 000 languages in the world today and fully half of them will be extinct within one generation. Half. That's a disaster! An absolute disaster. And it isn't happening because of natural selection, it's happening because humans are making it happen.

When it comes to culture, surplus production is the reason we are able to compete unlimitedly. Surplus production allows for the complex division of labour and militarisation. Unlike lions, we DO have the ability to wipe out our competitors. Milatarised societies have such an advantage over non-militarised societies that the analogy is like people throwing mud across the Atlantic against people firing back ICBMs. Historically, there are exactly ZERO examples of a non-militarised society defeating a milatarised one. When a militarised society attacks, it is a foregone conclusion. Military conquest has been the primary form of culture loss for the last 5 000 years. The colonial period is a perfect example. In the Americas, due to what Diamond calls guns, germs and steel, approximately 19 million out of the estimated indigenous population of 20 million were killed. This is the effect of imperialism.

Cultural imperialism is similarly responsible for social genocide. Again, the ability to wage a war of cultural imperialism is made possible by our ability to produce at a surplus level. The chief export of the United States is culture. This is why American culture has such a presence everywhere in the globe. I live in Canada and we're victim to what's referred to as culture dumping. 90% of Canadians live within 200km of the US border. The us doesn't even have to sell their media to Canada, they just dump it across the border. It's a natural by-product of broadcasting that they don't even have to pay for. Growing up in Montreal we got US TV and US radio stations. Culture dumping is the reason that the majority of people in this country don't know how to pronounce lieutenant, don't spell honour with a u, or spell through like a mongoloid: thru. History is replete with examples of cultures actively trying to wipe out other cultures. The Residential School System in Canada is a particularly reprehensible example.

The point is that attempting to wipe out your competition is a very specific strategy that requires very specific conditions and that has very specific consequences.

And trying to wipe out doesn't mean Genghis Khan swinging a scimitar over his head as he descends on a town moments before he razes it to the ground. It means violating one or more of the laws of limited competition. If you're trying to enact legislation that inhibits someone else from practicing their beliefs or living without them, you're violating the law.

Diversity is not a goal. Diversity is the INEVITABLE RESULT of players that use the limited competition strategy within a system governed by Darwinistic forces. Homogeneity is the INEVITABLE RESULT of even just one player using the annihilator strategy; competing unlimitedly.

I could get into Smookler here and explain how the annihilator strategy inevitably infects the entire system, but for now I'm content to establish the importance of diversity and that the current drops in diversity, in both the biosphere and the ethnosphere, are due to entirely identifiable and avoidable forces.

Protecting diversity has nothing to do with patting people on the head. That's madness. Diversity, without our meddling, is typically robust and needs no help. But WE are the ones that are wiping out species and cultures by the truck load. Protecting diversity isn't about patting them on the head and telling them they are important, it's about ending our slaughter of them. That distinction is so important that I lament any failure on my part to make it clear. Please, please, please understand this point.

Human beings, by competing unlimitedly, negatively impact diversity. That is a direct threat to our life support systems: the biosphere and the ethnosphere. In both cases, humans need to return to the limited competition strategy or they will, on a long enough timeline, collapse both systems. The devastation of that collapse cannot be understated.

This is not hippy nonsense, this is a very real, entirely demonstrable threat to our species.

So yes, when I hear people say that they don't respect other cultures, that they'd get rid of them if they could, that they don't respect the importance of diversity, I hear the annihilator ideology reverberating in my ears. What I am trying to explain is that knowingly or not, anyone who thinks that way is an agent of that ideology; an ideology that threatens our species. I know that it is an ideology that has been naturalised, that it seems like simply the common sense view. But I'm asking people to deconstruct that ideology and return to the discourse. If we don't do that, if we continue to blindly enact that ideology, it means the death of our species and misery for billions. Just as biologists are calling upon us to respect the other species in the world, to ignore the notion that God made the planet for us to do with as we please and to work towards preserving biodiversity, I'm calling upon us all to respect the religious (for everyone to respect everyone really), to ignore the notion that Our way is the one right way and all others should be made to live like us and to work towards preserving ethnodiversity.

It all begins with looking at that person from the other culture and recognising, not out of some moral imperative, but from a demonstrated scientific perspective, that their difference is important to YOUR survival.

The ability to do that begins with the understanding that no one has it right. There is no one right way. There are only adaptive ways.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-12-2012, 12:26 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Hey, fst.

Oh, I'm sorry. Have your peer-reviewed paper links been fast and furious and I just missed them? I write very in-depth responses. If it's not good enough to get me my masters degree, so be it. But don't pretend that I offer nothing in the way of support.

Quote:He stated all models are ‘wrong’, because we cannot precisely simulate
every breath of wind, every raindrop, or every worm turning over the
soil. But this does not preclude their usefulness as tools to explore
the broad consequences of known physical laws. In other words, you are
equating a sentiment on simulations as tools for exploring natural
phenomena as some kind of support of cultural relativism.

Of course it doesn't preclude their usefulness. His entire point is that they're useful.

The known physical laws are wrong too. But useful.

It's not sentiment, it's a demonstrable observation. It's not some kind of support, it is the constructivist view in action.

Quote:And this demonstrates nothing. It's a neat way to show the processes
that we under go in communication, but doesn't negate the fact that in
order to interact with the world all a being needs is to exist in it.

Wow. You utterly missed the point. Keep clinging to that strawman of yours.

I don't think that positivism and the constructivist view are incompatible. Positivism says there is only one source of knowledge. Constructed reality suggests that that view point is a construction and that the knowledge gained through empirical inquiry, however useful, is not objectively true.

Feel free to start another thread.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-12-2012, 02:57 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(21-12-2012 12:11 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

No. Sorry. That's madness.

I want to be perfectly clear that I don't think that you yourself are mad. It's that mentality that is insanity.

You are suggesting that all of the attempts to protect biodiversity in the biosphere are anti-Darwin. That's insanity.

Competition is an integral part of Darwinism. As I hope to illustrate below, what constitutes competition is of the utmost importance.

Note: Partial response.

You keep putting words in my mouth and it's pissing me off.

We should protect biodiversity or cultural diversity from wanton, purposeful destruction. The wanton destruction would be anti-Darwinian. What we shouldn't do is coddle dying cultures, protecting them from their unfitness. Doing so is also anti-Darwinian.

Human intelligence is a product of evolution but it allows us to operate outside the algorithm.

Destroying habitats, driving species to extinction, planting millions of acres of monoculture crops are all examples of operating outside the algorithm - and we should avoid that.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-12-2012, 03:05 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Hey, Chas.

If you feel I misrepresented you, then I apologise. Straight up. I certainly had no desire to piss you off. In my defence:
Quote:You seem to see diversity as a goal, something to be preserved.

I see diversity as a temporary result of the algorithm; it waxes and wanes. Trying to protect diversity is anti-Darwinian.
Seemed pretty straight forward. I never in a million years would have gotten what you just clarified from that.

Protect from wanton destruction: check.

Who exactly is coddling dying cultures? Part two would be, what if they're dying from wanton destruction?

Human itelligence: check. I would add that intelligence + some very specific memes + some of our technology + our surplus energy = the problem.

Avoid habitat destruction et all: check.

Man, for people who disagree, we sure do agree a lot Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-12-2012, 03:26 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(21-12-2012 03:05 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

If you feel I misrepresented you, then I apologise. Straight up. I certainly had no desire to piss you off. In my defence:
Quote:You seem to see diversity as a goal, something to be preserved.

I see diversity as a temporary result of the algorithm; it waxes and wanes. Trying to protect diversity is anti-Darwinian.
Seemed pretty straight forward. I never in a million years would have gotten what you just clarified from that.

Protect from wanton destruction: check.

Who exactly is coddling dying cultures? Part two would be, what if they're dying from wanton destruction?

Human itelligence: check. I would add that intelligence + some very specific memes + some of our technology + our surplus energy = the problem.

Avoid habitat destruction et all: check.

Man, for people who disagree, we sure do agree a lot Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Yeah, I see that I wasn't entirely clear.

We mostly agree.

There are those who wouldn't expose a 'primitive' culture to modern technology. That I would term as coddling.

More later - I have to make cookies.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-12-2012, 03:46 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Lol.

Not expecting you to be a baker.

Quote:There are those who wouldn't expose a 'primitive' culture to modern technology. That I would term as coddling.

I'd call it the one thing that would have saved us from cultural genocide during the colonial era.

I'd call it a violation of the prime directive.

Gene Roddenberry was a genius. He realised that meme flow could be a profoundly dangerous thing in and of itself and that that danger was magnified when it was intentional.

I'm not saying that we need to protect other cultures from our technology, but we shouldn't tell them that they have to adopt it, or our ways and in so doing, dismiss their technology and their ways as "primitive"; a profoundly pejorative term. The continent of Africa is a perfect example. Many of the cultures there anticipated high infant mortality rates. Birth rates were adjusted accordingly. When the Europeans arrived they were like, "We'll solve all of your problems. Won't it be great?" And they reduced infant mortality and prolonged life expectancy. But the underlying cultural predilection for high birth rates wasn't addressed. Because of that, there has been a population explosion across Africa, well beyond the ability of the local carrying capacity to support. A prime example was the ecological collapse it caused in Ethiopia in the 80s, an event that resulted in the death of over a million Ethiopians in a matter of months. Now, Ethiopia and many other countries are reliant on food aid to artificially increase their carrying capacity. But the political and economic cost essentially turns them into vassal states for Western corporate powers.

What I feel inherent in your statement is the notion that it's inherently good for us to expose them to our ideas. But a clear historical record and a clear understanding of memetic theory tells us that no such thing is true.

Anyhoo, enjoy your cookies Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-12-2012, 04:01 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Matt,

I respect you and your knowledge enormously. I have learned much from you but...

(21-12-2012 02:57 PM)Chas Wrote:  You keep putting words in my mouth and it's pissing me off.

You did this to me too.

Can I humbly suggest it might be a small deficiency in 'Empathy'?


And, btw, I will continue to 'like' you even when I do not agree with you because of the quality of your posts... even if your 'like' standards are much higher than everyone else's.



(no need to respond, that was just catharsis)

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21-12-2012, 04:05 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(21-12-2012 03:46 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Lol.

Not expecting you to be a baker.

Quote:There are those who wouldn't expose a 'primitive' culture to modern technology. That I would term as coddling.

I'd call it the one thing that would have saved us from cultural genocide during the colonial era.

I'd call it a violation of the prime directive.

Gene Roddenberry was a genius. He realised that meme flow could be a profoundly dangerous thing in and of itself and that that danger was magnified when it was intentional.

I'm not saying that we need to protect other cultures from our technology, but we shouldn't tell them that they have to adopt it, or our ways and in so doing, dismiss their technology and their ways as "primitive"; a profoundly pejorative term. The continent of Africa is a perfect example. Many of the cultures there anticipated high infant mortality rates. Birth rates were adjusted accordingly. When the Europeans arrived they were like, "We'll solve all of your problems. Won't it be great?" And they reduced infant mortality and prolonged life expectancy. But the underlying cultural predilection for high birth rates wasn't addressed. Because of that, there has been a population explosion across Africa, well beyond the ability of the local carrying capacity to support. A prime example was the ecological collapse it caused in Ethiopia in the 80s, an event that resulted in the death of over a million Ethiopians in a matter of months. Now, Ethiopia and many other countries are reliant on food aid to artificially increase their carrying capacity. But the political and economic cost essentially turns them into vassal states for Western corporate powers.

What I feel inherent in your statement is the notion that it's inherently good for us to expose them to our ideas. But a clear historical record and a clear understanding of memetic theory tells us that no such thing is true.

Anyhoo, enjoy your cookies Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
I did carefully choose the word 'expose'. Forcing the technology on the culture is anti-Darwinian.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-12-2012, 05:04 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Ghosts version of reality.



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The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
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