What kind of god would you LIKE?
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20-11-2011, 12:36 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
I have to hand it to you, Matt, you do make me think.

However, this debate has been long enough and now we can summarize our positions and state those points we still disagree on.

You seem to be saying that culture and genes are equal, my conviction is that they are not: genes dominate and culture is a thin veneer that crumbles and disappears under strong enough genetic pressure.

I agree that, given time, culture would influence the genetic selection, however, I think it takes far longer time than we have to make any noticeable effect.

You think that predation has nothing to do with the human (and animal) condition, I am convinced of the opposite.

You think that before this culture became dominant, humans lived in harmony with their environment. I agree that there have been small pockets, here and there where it was true, however, as soon as the numbers in human tribes grew large enough and their technology became powerful enough, they became invariably destructive to each other and to their environments.

You have your meme theory that convinces you of your point and I respect that. I am not familiar with the details of the theory and have not studied its data and its arguments.

On my side I have my (71 year long) life experience in 2 fundamentally different cultures, at least 50 years of studying history, several books written by experts I find convincing (Lyall Watson and Jared Diamond among others) and my fairly reliable analytical mind that brings all of these together in my head.

I am not saying that I have proven my points, but I don’t see that you have proven yours to me convincingly enough to change my stand on these issues.

Neither meme theory, nor anthropology is an exact science (comparable to Physics) with precise measurements to arbitrate our disagreement so, in final analysis, we will just have to agree to disagree and keep on trucking.

That is what I will do, unless you come up with something new I have not considered yet and powerful enough an argument that I have no choice but to revise my conclusions.

In mathematics I like to end a Theory wit a Q.E.D. but, in this case, I can not do that. I treat my existing theory as a Conjecture and will keep my mind open to more information, wherever they may come for.

Smile
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20-11-2011, 12:59 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
I'm still on the opposing side as well. For an anthropological look at how important culture is I suggest watch the intro to "the gods must be crazy" =p That intro explains the strength of culture over impulse. Simple tribe living in Africa becomes violent with eachother due to the introduction of a foreign object.

I've looked at many civilizations, and while often anthropology seems to make tribal life sound amazing there is always the thruths behind it. Take the pygmies of the Congo. I like them as a case because at first it seems they live with nature. They adapted to living within a rainforest, eating what comes and fighting for survival. Of course by the time they were studied westerners had interfered, but the thing is if culture is truly stronger than nature it shouldn't matter. The pygmies hunt every day and try to bring as much food back as possible. Lucky for everything else there aren't enough of them to cause serious harm. They travel around the forests like a farmer moves his fields. They've learned to use hunting dogs which they kick and beat. Why would a culture so close to nature be so cruel? to them pygmies are the only important life. It goes against their own survival to care about food. They plan to eat it. Of course they have many other interesting cultural functions, but the fact remains they live for the hunt which is a constant truth among all cultures. Even the ones deemed civilized live for the hunt they just act like they're better.

If meme's could be wholly altered then Americans wouldn't be drinking alcohol. The attempt at removing alcohol was huge with an amazingly large campaign and force at the start. It fell similar to how the anti-drug campaign can't possibly succeed. A meme might seem to change a lot, but really there are just certain things that have periodical changes. Yes ideas can bring great impact to the world, but people will always find ways to bring things back to the beginning.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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20-11-2011, 01:17 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(20-11-2011 12:59 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  If meme's could be wholly altered then Americans wouldn't be drinking alcohol. The attempt at removing alcohol was huge with an amazingly large campaign and force at the start. It fell similar to how the anti-drug campaign can't possibly succeed. A meme might seem to change a lot, but really there are just certain things that have periodical changes. Yes ideas can bring great impact to the world, but people will always find ways to bring things back to the beginning.

The pressure in Hungary to stamp out religion and semi-feudalistic alliance structures was immense during the Russian occupation that lasted for 53 years. As soon as it was over, religion rebounded overnight reaching now epidemic proportions, as well as the massive corruption and ruthlessness that was the hallmark of the pre-Soviet Hungarian elite.
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20-11-2011, 01:46 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
I'm not sure either communism or prohibition is a valid example of the kind of cultural evolution Matt is talking about. These things were imposed, top-down, on populations that never fully embraced either one, and for a very short time - one decade? for prohibition and one generation for communism in Eastern Europe. Culture can't evolve that quickly, even without the strenuous resistance both of those ideas encountered.

Something like wearing clothes might qualify as a human convention that's caught on across many peoples. Though everyone doesn't wear the same kind or amount of covering, it's usual to protect and/or hide the genitals, at least. Body decoration has been going continuously for the entire time we know about. Music making and story-telling. Sexual taboos, loyalty rituals, family groupings. There are probably a dozen more habits that we've adopted everywhere and never discontinued, through fat times and lean.

It's the adaptation of that kind of lasting and universal idea that would affect genetic selection and change the attitude of peoples. For example, writing changed the method of story-telling and the keeping of collective memory, and that was a huge shift in how peoples lived. How we produce energy changes every society in which a new method is introduced.

I have no confidence in any of that leading to a change that saves the species - but if it could happen, that's where i'd look for signs.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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20-11-2011, 01:56 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
(20-11-2011 01:46 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Something like wearing clothes might qualify as a human convention that's caught on across many peoples. Though everyone doesn't wear the same kind or amount of covering, it's usual to protect and/or hide the genitals, at least. Body decoration has been going continuously for the entire time we know about. Music making and story-telling. Sexual taboos, loyalty rituals, family groupings. There are probably a dozen more habits that we've adopted everywhere and never discontinued, through fat times and lean.

You are right about that, Peterkin, however, none of the examples you brought up threatened the genetic imperative of the people involved.

Communism did.

ETA:

Communism wants you to be a cell in a superior being: the social body.

Your genes want you to be an individual, at the expense of other individuals, if necessary.

Communism was an attempt at cultural change that your genes did not approve of.

Guess which of them won? Undecided
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20-11-2011, 03:20 PM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
I agree with your assessment Peterkin, but at the same time, prohibition and communism were the examples of attempts to lead the memes. You're simply discussing what has happened. Ghost is talking about directing the flow artificially. I would also like to say that most of the things you've discussed have lasted primarily due to enforcement. Laws are what keep a lot of those things in place be they laws by a governing body or social institution. None of these things have truly become habitual to human beings. All of these things must be taught to every generation.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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20-11-2011, 04:42 PM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
I have never seen it this clearly before -- thanks Matt, Peterkin, Lilith!

If we are intelligent, informed (of history) and honest, we can't avoid realizing that only some kind of communism could save the human species. It is so logical: cooperation, efficiency, maximizing resources, minimizing damage, doing away with destructive competition, organizing society as a top-notch scientific project.

Our logical minds would approve of that, want that, but we cite 'human nature' why it would never work. And we are right -- it wouldn't.

Our genes do not want it.

Our genes want us to be individuals. However, our genes are very short sighted, always concentrating on the next meal. They want each of us to win the next meal, even if all the rest will starve to death, and we will follow them a day later. They still want to win the next meal.

That is why capitalism is perfectly suited for self-destructive genes: "the survival of the fittest" for the duration of the next meal, whatever comes after.

What inevitably comes after is the Titanic and the ice-berg.
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21-11-2011, 08:50 AM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Hey.

I don't have a lot of time.

Meme theory is real. We all need to be very careful when we say, "yeah, but it's just a theory." Tongue

It has been established. Memes and genes are co-competitors. Meme theorists are unanimous on this point.

I love Diamond. But when you look at overhunting by the first humans in the Americas, Diamond has it wrong. He assumes that they set out to overhunt. To understand the process, you need to go to EO Wilson. Humans were an invasive species. Invasive species commonly cause extinctions. Watch with tears in your eyes for the next couple of decades as the Asian carp destroy the ecosystems in the Great Lakes.

Zat, you attribute a lot to genes. If I can't convince you otherwise, so be it. But peep dis. I can tell you which memes are problematic. What genes do you attribute these behaviours to? Anyhoo, if we had more time, I'd demonstrate why many of the problems you attribute to genes are not genetic problems but cultural ones.

Pete, I never said that memes disappear. Memes exist in a meme pool. Sometimes a meme can have near total representation, say 99%, and seem unstoppable, then poof, something changes and then it drops to 3% representation. It's not gone, but that constitutes massive cultural change. So there are still a billion Catholics, but they have nowhere near the kind of influence that they used to on global politics. That’s significant change. Like Daniel Quinn says, it's not that nobody can live the way Our culture lives, just not everybody.

Zat, I agree, hierarchical organisation, needed for human systems beyond the Dunbar number, pose a significant problem. But it's not the entire problem.

Lilith, egalitarian tribal societies aren't nice, they're sustainable. That's what's important.

The prohibition thing is a good example. Intervention in human systems is a science. I mean that, people get their PhDs in it. Prohibition was an intervention imposed on the people. It was an attempt to change the culture. But memetic engineering WILL one day be a science and that's just an example of a poor attempt to memetically engineer a society. It failed utterly to apply leverage to the system. If you try to intervene in a system without understanding systems theory, you have about as much chance of succeeding as someone trying to build a plane without understanding aerodynamics. It just decided that one part of the system was the problem and tried to cut it out without addressing the lines of tendential force; the connections to other parts of the system that made drinking resistant to removal from the system. Look, conversely, at anti-smoking campaigns. They took a comprehensive intervention approach. They looked at cultural significance (smoking in films) health issues, money, corporate lies and cover ups, underage smoking, etc... It was a far more successful intervention. People still smoke, but it's viewed entirely differently, the laws have changed and you can't smoke indoors anymore, and I bet you money, the changes haven't stopped yet.

But that's one type of intervention. Generally speaking, memes change without interference because of, like all replicators, mutation. Like all systems that evolve, you do not need a designer. It does everything on its own.

Pete, your clothes example is a good one. A dictator could ban clothes tomorrow. But how long would that last? There are so many other parts of the cultural system that keep clothing in place that clothing will come right back again the moment that dictator stops putting pressure on the clothing node. You have to cut out God knows how many parts of the system for a ban on clothing to hold.

This needs to be clear. Genes and memes are SELECTION PRESSURES on each other. Take glasses. Bad eyesight, on its own, is unlikely to be selected on the savannah. But with the cultural advent of glasses, bad eyesight is not selected against. Simple example. Vermin populations thrive because of human garbage sites. Pre-marital sex bans fail because of genetic sex drives. The list is extensive.

Anyhoo, give me enough time and I can explain memes thoroughly. But perhaps that should be done elsewhere. For this thread, memes mean to me that we don’t need God to intervene to make the world a better place. If the counterargument is, yes we do, that’s cool. That’s just conflicting viewpoints. But if it comes to meme theory in general, that’s something I will defend to my grave, along with Darwinism, along with genetics. If people are not willing to accept meme theory, so be it. If they are, there are a few simple truths... and the will change the way that you perceive things.

I'm out of time.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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21-11-2011, 09:06 AM
 
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Matt, you have not addressed my many historical examples (see Post #128).
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22-11-2011, 08:59 AM
RE: What kind of god would you LIKE?
Hey, Zat.

In my defence, I did pretty clearly say that I didn't have a lot of time. And you didn't address my anything anything from post #138 Tongue

[After I wrote this post I reread it. I’m certain that it would be very easy to interpret the following as a dismissal of you, your ideas, or both. I implore you to ignore that interpretation if you should come to it. I’m honestly trying to grasp what you’re saying. I cannot do it with what you wrote, so I’m trying to get some clarification.]

Quote:It would be nice to believe that what you said is true, however: I don't see how you can explain what seems to be the sudden, drastic and dramatic resurgence of genes over culture when the pressure on individuals reaches an unbearable threshold, like it happened in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and many other places.

In those places people who lived together all their lives, neighbors whose children routinely played together, went to school together, suddenly started hacking each other's children and wives to death. Jared Diamond, in his book "Collapse", describes beautifully what, how and why Rwanda happened.

Do share the Diamond.

OK. What is the resurgence of genes over culture you’re talking about?

The political divides in Yugoslavia, a manufactured state, were cultural. Same in Rwanda between the Tutsi and Hutu.

You make a leap from friends to killers that I’m simply not following.

I mean, are you saying something like culture keeps us peaceful until our genes overwhelm it and force us to do unspeakable things to one another? I just don’t get it.

Quote:Same thing in Yugoslavia, when Serbian soldiers were ordered by their officers to gang-rape 10-year old girls in the villages "to break the morale of the enemy".

Explain to me how that has anything to do whatsoever with genes?

Quote:I toured Yugoslavia in the sixties and it seemed like a heaven of prosperity, peace an culture. What happened later would have been unthinkable.

Basically what you're saying is that it happened; therefore, it's genetic. But you're not providing any links.

Quote:Or what happened in India, during the partition years when the Muslims and Hindus were indiscriminately murdering and massacring each olther's families. Or what happened in Hungary in 1956, during the revolution, when ordinary, 'cultured' citizens were gleefully stringing captured state-security agents up on lampposts and setting them on fire.

A couple of things. Culture isn't a synonym for nice. There's no reason that the perpetration of atrocities cannot be cultural. Second, Islam and Hinduism are cultural divides, not genetic ones. Same with the security agents. So how do genes factor into your example?

Quote:These were not individual, isolated incidents but mass hysteria and brutality, involving the entire 'culture' and 'culture' was just sitting back and letting it happen.

Again, so what?

I'm not being facetious; I honestly don't understand how any of this supports your position.

Are you using culture as a synonym for civilised? Like, “That’s not civilised behaviour.”

In your estimation was it culture’s job to intervene?

This example popped into my head. Tell me if it helps or not. The KKK in Alabama were at one point quite fond of hanging black people from trees for the crime of being black. Those actions were culturally motivated. In that case, culture wasn’t sitting back and letting it happen, the KKK culture was instigating the behaviour. One might say that it was genetically motivated because of race, but there is nothing genetic impelling us to kill other so-called “races”. If there were, I would not exist because one of my parents is white and the other was black. If there were a genetic imperative, which would necessarily be universal, then my mom would have hung my dad from a tree instead of having children with him. Even race itself is a cultural construct. It has no basis in genetics.

Quote:It is difficult to see how genes and culture are equal, in view of what history demonstrates to us over and over.

You seem to have some interpretation of how culture works and how genes work that I just plain don't understand. This is why in my last post I simply said that you attribute a lot to genes. I didn't have time to address all of these points because they make no sense to me. I don't mean that in the, "you're dumb," sense, but rather in the sense that our fields of experience are not overlapping on this issue so I can't decipher what you're saying. We’re speaking different languages and Babblefish is giving us a shitty, “all your base are belong to us,” style translation.

Quote:This sounds slightly circular to me: we need to change the culture (by changing the memes), in order to change the genes (by gene selection influenced by the new memes).

My argument, on its own, is not circular. It only seems so when you impose your assumption on it.

Yes, we need to change the memes to change the culture. Example: smoking is cool is replaced with smoking is deadly, poof, the culture changes.

But I’m not at all saying that we have to change the genes. You think the genes are the source of the problem, I do not. For me, the issue is solely a memetic one. So there is no circular argument being made by me.

Quote:It may be true, that over time, cultural changes will change our genes enough to make us a less destructive, less violent species, but how long will that take?

You source the problem to genes. I do not. I also don't understand your argument. I haven't seen any support for your contention. You seem to be saying, "see, wars and atrocity happen; therefore, genes are responsible," but that seems like a logical fallacy to me.

Quote:We don't seem to have a lot of time before another Jared Diamond-type collapse happens, except it will be nothing like what we have ever seen before. Globalization will see to that -- it will be a global collapse.

I agree 100% with your prediction. I just disagree fundamentally with your explanation of why this will be so.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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