Why does shit always rise to the top?
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25-08-2011, 07:30 AM
 
Why does shit always rise to the top?
Humanity’s problems seem to come from one not well understood and studied natural law: “In human organizations, small and large, sooner or later, shit always rises to the top” – Zatamon

The obvious examples are large organizations like political bodies, corporations, church, etc. But I have seen it in very small ones too like a local barter group, or an art co-op, etc.

Why is that so?

Is it universal? Inevitable? Is there a configuration of conditions in which it won’t happen? Has anyone got an example where petty little tyrants do not run the show?

Maybe I am just unlucky but I have not seen it yet.
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25-08-2011, 02:55 PM
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
Solon? Ralph Nader? Ed Broadbent? Dr. Brown (my first boss, a very decent man, competent pathologist and able department-head.)

No, it's not a universal law. It's prevalent, but i think that's because of several factors present in civilization.
1. Large membership in the organization, so that most are unknown to one another, except by reputation.
1a. In anonymous groups, reputation can be manufactured or sabotaged.

2. A big payoff. Winner gets, or is able to appropriate, benefit disproportionate to the risk and effort involved in the contest.

3. The selection process. How leaders are chosen, according to what criteria and prerequisites.

4. How many ways and places can error/ graft be introduced into the system?

5. What members are actually involved in the selection process, and how they communicate/ receive information about the candidates.

6. The level of intellectual attainment, access to accurate information, aims and purpose, awareness, self-interest/ civic duty ratio of the membership.

and, crucially, 7. Whose idea of shithead vs. whose idea of glorious leader?

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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25-08-2011, 05:05 PM
 
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
To my great regret, I have spent years doing technical/scientific work for corporations.

We took it for granted that the managers were idiots and that is where the expression “shit rises to the top” comes from.

When the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, I read everything about the ensuing investigation. As it turned out, at the critical meeting deciding the launch date, the engineering manager (who was against the launch, based on his engineers’ grave concern) was told: “take off your engineer’s hat and put on you manager’s hat and vote with us". He did. The shuttle exploded, killing (with all the others) the school teacher who was scheduled to have an online televised interview with Ronald Reagan. It had already been announced. It was to be a major PR coup for Reagan. That is why they had to die.

Decades later, after I retired, I joined a small barter group. Trying to make barter easier and more efficient, I designed and implemented a database-driven website and accounting system that enabled the membership to store and update personal information about their trade online, find out about each other, record transactions and dozens of other useful features. The old-timers revolted: “Zatamon has too much power” they cried, we don’t want any of this stuff, we want to get back to the old ways! I quit and the group slowly atrophied.

Two examples, large and small, of incompetence, jealousy, envy, resentment, cowardice, power-lust driving human organizations into the ground.

Peterkin, you raised many important points, but missed one (or I did): what kind of person wants to get to the top? What drives these people to be kings on small or large ant-hills? Why do they think in terms of power? I never did, all I ever wanted to do was to help. Why are they willing to do brutal battles, elbowing each other as they are clawing their way to the top? Is there a psychologist who can explain it to me? Is it some kind of mutated survival trait? Do they want to be the last to die at the inevitable end?
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25-08-2011, 05:32 PM
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
(25-08-2011 05:05 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  
Why are they willing to do brutal battles, elbowing each other as they are clawing their way to the top? Is it some kind of mutated survival trait?

Hell, yeah! Why do elk and mountain-goats butt heads till they're near dead? Nothing mutated about it: leaders get benefits. (Ask Bill Clinton. Don't ask Jack Kennedy, because the people around here will look at you funny.)

As to your examples, in the first instance, look to the selection process. In the second, something else might be at play - Luddites? tradition? clannishness?

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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25-08-2011, 05:36 PM
 
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
(25-08-2011 05:32 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Hell, yeah! Why do elk and mountain-goats butt heads till they're near dead?

Elk won't run the whole herd into disaster/extinction by risking individual death. Humans do.

You have a very good point about the selection process.

When I said: "mutated survival trait" -- I meant this difference: the elk risks individual death at the battleground, not endangering the herd. If he wins, the strongest prevailed.

Human contestants often risk the survival of the whole human herd, and that, at the end, would kill them, even if they won at the battleground. Just look at the battle over global warming. That is why I said: "mutated" because it is not survival -- it is often suicide.

Reminds me of a story about how monkeys are captured in the jungle: a treat is put into a leather bag with an opening large enough to let the monkey reach in, but too narrow to allow it to pull its hand out with the treat. Often they won't let go and get captured.

Who says monkeys and humans are not related?

(One more proof for evolution).

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26-08-2011, 02:53 AM
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
What's with the caps Zatamon? kinda threw me off. I'll just insert a simple idea as the answer here though. Entropy is a (for some reason) integral part of life. It could also be an integral part of anything which exists, even ideas. Entropy is a law which would suggest all systems will eventually crumble, and it's definitely observable within ideas.

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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26-08-2011, 04:21 AM
 
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
(26-08-2011 02:53 AM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  What's with the caps Zatamon? kinda threw me off.

I am not sure what you mean, Lilith -- I was using larger fonts to make it more readable. Peterkin said she liked it. I am not using caps except for emphasis, sometime.

Quote:I'll just insert a simple idea as the answer here though. Entropy is a (for some reason) integral part of life. It could also be an integral part of anything which exists, even ideas. Entropy is a law which would suggest all systems will eventually crumble, and it's definitely observable within ideas.

Again, I am not sure what you mean. Entropy within which ideas? Paraphrasing the question of the OP: I asked why do, almost always, incompetent and self-serving people rise to positions of power? Like hack-of-a-job-Brownie at the Katrina disaster?
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26-08-2011, 04:44 AM
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
I didn't realize that, just came in and your text was big. You can keep the larger text, it just confused me because you had only recently started using it.

It's because entropy must always prevail. There would be a mental desire to weaken the idea as it grows larger. The basic principle here is that the original idea can only reach the original audience, but as the idea expands less of the original audience agrees with it. Those in charge are the ones expanding the idea in order to propagate it, therefore they push the entropic force as it becomes more and more their personal belief. If the idea doesn't grow the original audience eventually grows tired of it and it dissolves.

It may seem awkward to discuss assholes as regular people who are being selfish, but often times they kind of are. As long as someone is within the limitations they limit themselves on their views, and are able to be more empathetic. Once they reach outside of the boundaries they will constantly test their limits and lose their ability to empathize due to a separation from the norm. There are many priorities that people can look towards, and plenty of ways to consider other humans as rather inconsequential. If you know what needs to be done and they just have to follow your orders to do it well, then all of your workers have become irrelevant. You know what's best and they are just your tools.

The real confusion comes in with odd debates. For instance, in my kittenplay site I modded there was a large group of members who protested my addition of a live chat area with video since the forum had always been just a forum. To them I was ruining kittenplay by making it more accessible to those they did not wish to have there. To the general public I was making a change that increased members exponentially, There is always going to be a don't let more join, we need more members debate. Anyway, since each person has their own individual priorities, those in charge can often make "horrible" decisions due to the fact that they had no idea of someone's view.

Sorry for being wordy but you seemed to ask for it, my basic statement is that entropy within social circles happens as an idea becomes less a communal activity and more a directive.

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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26-08-2011, 08:22 AM
 
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
(26-08-2011 04:44 AM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  Sorry for being wordy but you seemed to ask for it, my basic statement is that entropy within social circles happens as an idea becomes less a communal activity and more a directive.

Being a Physicst, I can’t help myself -- quoting from the book I am writing on Physics: “for all irreversible processes of a closed system, the system’s entropy can only increase. If we apply this statement to the whole universe, as a closed system, then it is obvious that the entropy of the universe will keep increasing until all processes stop in a final state of equilibrium. This state has been dubbed “the heat death of the universe” by overdramatic physicists who like drama just like everyone else.”

Entropy is the measure of disorder in a closed system.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that ideas that were highly ordered at the beginning become less so with time and, eventually, dissolve into the “heat-death of an idea”. I tend to agree with you there.

It is possible, in some cases, that the originator(s) of an idea were competent and empathic at the beginning, but as the idea expanded (by the entropy law), they became more and more autocratic and undemocratic, turning into assholes at the end.

Once they reached that stage, they were seeking out similar assholes to promote into positions of power, so the whole system became more and more of a chaos, again following the entropy law.

An ingenious interpretation and application of the concept and law of entropy.


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26-08-2011, 08:24 AM (This post was last modified: 26-08-2011 08:47 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Why does shit always rise to the top?
Sounds as if both kinds of monkey have reached their level of incompetence.

Some are born assholes; some acquire assholery; some have assholedom thrust upon them..... and some gradually expand into it without any effort on their part.

You guys do make it sound inevitable.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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