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Tue Apr 24, 2012, 03:20 PM

Are you a Doomer™?

I recently got into an onlline discussion about what it means to be a Doomer™. The exchange was worthwhile enough that I thought I'd post part of it it here as a potential conversation-starter. Names have been scrubbed to protect the guilty.

The discussion was kicked off by this explanation about why the writer did not consider themselves a Doomer, and declined invitations to become one.

Doomers seem to, somehow, "get off" on fear. At least as I know the breed. I don't know if it's just an adrenalin rush, or what. We could debate that another time. I don't get that. I don't seem to be into fear as entertainment. And here's why.

A long time ago I learned that EVERYTHING DIES. Everything. People, dogs, cats, trees, grass, even dandelions. Populations die, species die, ecosystems die, planets die, Solar systems die, on and on, etc. etc. Knowing this has taught me, if nothing else, that fear of dying is, well, silly. And knowing that we humans have come up with some really interesting, and unique ways to die is meaningless. There is not a single goddamn thing I, or anybody else can do to prevent it.

So I choose not to be afraid, not to worry about radiation, climate change, peak oil, economic collapse, chiggers, or people I don't like. This doesn't mean I don't see these as problems. And whole host of other shit I don't like. So I watch. I talk. I try to listen. I live my life as best as I know how, trying not to be too much trouble for anyone else. And then I'll die, like everything else. And THIS will go on without me. Somehow.

This prompted me to wonder about the term itself, and why I didn't resonate with that interpretation. I decided to take a stab at deconstructing the origin and usage of the word "Doomer".

The way you describe yourself sounds like most of the Realists™ I know.

The word Doomer™ was originally coined by people who objected to the Realists™ pointing out precisely the things you just said (essentially, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi). These are people for whom the mere idea that all things pass away is anathema. For them, such an idea is not Realistic™ but Defeatist™, and one must never read anything serious into Shelley's "Ozymandias". They especially object to the Realists™ insistence that they can detect signs that things are already passing away and, as you say, there is not a single goddamn thing anybody can do to prevent that.

The invention of the Doomer™ label was an act of rejection, an attempt to minimize, smear and belittle anyone who dared to imply that human civilization follows ecological rules, that perhaps it is already in overshoot and in order to Fix™ the Problem™ we need to acknowledge its true nature. This usage of Doomer™ has a lot in common with the current American use of the words Socialist™ and Malthusian™ as epithets. So, as always happens in the natural course of language, the targeted population adopted the word as a shibboleth and a badge of honour. To draw a parallel, this is exactly the same sequence of events that led to people of colour adopting the N-word.

It has nothing to do with getting a rush out of imagining large-scale suffering and death, though that accusation is immediately hurled whenever a Realist™ dares to raise their voice in defense of their position. That characterization is publicized by those who invented the Doomer™ label, and attached to it in order to make the position seem as odious and anti-human as possible - to beat the timid back into the corral of human exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny.

Most of the Realists™ I know have no fear of dying. On the contrary, most of us seem to have come to graceful terms with the Reaper. On the other side of the table is where you tend to find the life extensionists, the cryogenics folks, those who wish to spread humanity to the stars and thereby achieve Immortality™.

This conversation is a perfect example of why I've started using those little ™ flags - to point out the words like Doomer™ whose meanings may be shaded by unspoken assumptions, or outright dicked with by people with ulterior motives. The more I try out the convention, the more I see a need for it.

Another friend (who invented the idea of using the ™ flags that way) chimed in with his take on the subject:

As regards your comments re Doomers™, I feel as though I could write a book in response. When I get that feeling these days, I step back and wait. It takes a while, to tease apart that which I might say which would actually help the conversation, and that which I might say which is simply reactive to my various woundings. I find it very hard to write really long things in this forum, and mostly crave the face-to-face, where we can take the time to unpack and examine the various facets of what, to me, looks like a very complex topic. Perhaps one day...

For now, I will say, yes, there are those who are as you say, addicted to Fear™, just as there are those who are addicted to Anger™ and Grief™. And just as there are those who are addicted to Comfort™ and Happiness™ and Positivity™. And I'm thinking of some particular people at this point...

Speaking as Bobby Wan-Kenobi, I say: "These are not the Doomers™ you are looking for." And you are right to trust the Force™ that has you keep your distance. But I will invite you to consider that Doomers™ are a varied lot, and that some of us are not here for the hit of Fear™ at all, but are here for very different reasons: to Protect™ to Serve™ to Witness™ to Love™ to Mature™, Grow™, Learn™ and even Evolve™. One helpful place to look, when teasing apart the various responses to our Collective Global Predicament® is to view people through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief, and to observe people as they confront Death™ as it looms before them in the guises of Peak Oil, Climate Chaos, etc., and then move through those stages. Were I to concoct a Doomer™ Bestiary, I would use this model as a sorting device.

For myself, having worked my way through that model more than once, and having at least established a beachhead on the far shore of Acceptance and even Re-Investment, I find myself feeling more like a shaman or psychopomp than anything, here simply to sit in the Death Lodge with those who are ready and help them to shed their old egos/paradigms/assumptions, and to then accompany them as they cross the River of Death into the afterlife. What fear arises in that process is their own. Having largely passed through my own fear, my "little death," as Frank Herbert put it, I can now sit with theirs, and witness it.

Who I was, who I appeared to be through most of my life, has well and truly died away, which is exactly what is so confusing and confounding to my family, I think, and my kids especially, who are not supposed to lose a father so soon. I am living in my afterlife, and though it can be lonely as hell, the view from here is exquisite.

Ultimately, I don't feel like I work for human beings, or at least not primarily. I work for the seagulls and crows and chickens who call to me all day. I work for the seals in the bay and the pines on the head. I work for owls and bears and frogs and fungi I have only ever read about. My job is to say, over and over, and in as open and loving a way as I can manage, "let go... let go... let go... let go of that which is killing the life of this planet... let go of that which is making you miserable... let go... fall into uncertainty and helplessness and the opposite of control... let go, and see where it takes you." I have no Hope™ whatsoever that my voice will prevail. I just do it because I cannot seem to do otherwise, and because my Muse™ seems to kick my ass if I don't.

I'd be very interested to hear how this discussion sits with people here, who tend to have different views than the self-selected group this came out of.

Cheers,
Bodhi

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Arrow 64 replies Author Time Post
Reply Are you a Doomer™? (Original post)
GliderGuider Apr 2012 OP
xchrom Apr 2012 #1
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #2
xchrom Apr 2012 #4
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #16
xchrom Apr 2012 #18
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #20
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #34
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #35
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #36
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #42
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #49
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #50
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #51
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #52
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #53
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #55
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #54
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #56
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #57
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #58
pscot Apr 2012 #45
atheous Apr 2012 #3
kristopher Apr 2012 #5
XemaSab Apr 2012 #10
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #14
kristopher Apr 2012 #19
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #21
kristopher Apr 2012 #25
provis99 Apr 2012 #6
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #17
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #7
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #13
Speck Tater Apr 2012 #15
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #38
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #39
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #8
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #12
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #22
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #23
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2012 #24
XemaSab Apr 2012 #9
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #11
FirstLight Apr 2012 #30
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #31
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #41
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #43
RobertEarl Apr 2012 #26
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #27
RobertEarl Apr 2012 #28
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #29
hunter Apr 2012 #32
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #33
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #48
hunter Apr 2012 #59
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #60
hunter Apr 2012 #63
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #64
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #37
joshcryer Apr 2012 #40
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #44
pscot Apr 2012 #46
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #47
joshcryer Apr 2012 #61
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #62

Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 03:26 PM

1. Good conversation. I can't really add to it

Except to say that I want things to be Fixed.

We often know the way forward but are too afraid to do what we ought - because in some cases that could really turn things upside down.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #1)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 03:36 PM

2. What does the word Fixed™ mean to you?

It's a great sentiment, but without knowing what you mean by it, it's hard to talk about it (except at cross purposes, of course.)

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #2)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 04:02 PM

4. Well in government terms - for example - the EPA

Would stop being a compromised agency.

In other terms - pick coal - we know it's dangerous - and we are Crisis time - stopniy.

We operate out of Crisis too much.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #4)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:55 PM

16. Our brain structure helps lock us into crisis mode responses.

Rational (neocortical) risk analysis doesn't generate the emotional charge that produces fast, intense response. The emotional component is produced by the older parts of the brain - the reptilian and limbic systems. Unfortunately they don't have the long-range analytical capacity of the neocortex, and respond best to very immediate stimuli. So we sit still when the sabretooth is across the valley, and run like hell only when it comes out from behind the next rock. That's why the phrase "urgent action" is associated with strong emotion.

It sucks, but as drivers of action, emotional stimuli work way better than intellectual ones.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #16)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:14 PM

18. I think the Enlightenment gave us other structures

To work within.

Expediency is not our friend.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #18)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:30 PM

20. To what extent does the Enlightenment trump Evolution?

I always thought it did, then I started looking at our behaviour. Now I'm not so sure. It "should", but I don't believe in that word any more either.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #20)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 03:03 PM

34. Who says the Enlightenment is not Evolution?

It would appear that social behavior is selected for.

http://www.hbes.com/about/journal.php


http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html
Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals

Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity -- caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shares some surprising videos of behavioral tests, on primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #34)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 04:58 PM

35. It didn't change our brain structure or function

Cultural changes like the Enlightenment are overlaid on top of a brain structure that gives us certain behavioural tendencies. Cultural change causes us to express those behaviours differently, but I wouldn't expect them to alter basic behaviours like dominance-seeking, deference to authority, herding tendencies etc.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #35)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 06:29 PM

36. Actually I was suggesting that the Age of Enlightenment was a product of our evolution

For thousands of years, we have been adjusting our own behavior, civilizing ourselves if you will.

Individuals who exhibited antisocial behaviors were killed. This (of course) would represent a form of selection in favor of socialization.

The fact that the “Age of Enlightenment” was even possible says something about the state of our evolution as a species.

However, we’re learning that evolution does not necessarily require a change of physical structure, or even of our DNA, see “Dual inheritance theory.”

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #36)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 10:29 AM

42. Sorry, but I don't see culture in Darwinian terms.

I agree with the criticisms expressed in the Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_inheritance_theory#Criticisms

I also put a lot of weight behind the objections of people like Lewontin and Kauffman.

Cultural change is a valid historical force, but DIT strikes me as yet another attempt by social scientists to arrogate to their own field the legitimacy of biology. Let cultural forces stand or fall on their own, let's not confuse the issue with half-baked attempts to link it to unrelated sciences.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #42)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 03:42 PM

49. Darwin did

Last edited Thu Apr 26, 2012, 05:23 PM - Edit history (3)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781880/


‘Now, if some one man in a tribe, more sagacious than the others, invented a new snare or weapon, or other means of attack or defense, the plainest self-interest, without the assistance of much reasoning power, would prompt the other members to imitate him; and all would thus profit.’
(Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man 1871, p. 155)




‘It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe, yet that an increase in the number of well-endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another … At all times throughout the world tribes have supplanted other tribes; and as morality is one important element in their success, the standard of morality and the number of well-endowed men will thus everywhere tend to rise and increase.’
(Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man 1871, p. 159)




In regard to the moral qualities, some elimination of the worst dispositions is always in progress even in the most civilized nations. Malefactors are executed, or imprisoned for long periods, so that they cannot freely transmit their bad qualities.
(Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man 1871, p. 166)






“Evolution” isn’t as simple as people want to make it, and it’s not limited to DNA (remember, Darwin knew nothing about the existence of DNA.) You may want to do some reading about Epigenetics.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/598822

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #49)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 05:51 PM

50. I know about epigenetics

Hypothesizing that cultural developments might have epigenetic effects is a bridge too far for me.

Darwin also didn't know about Cultural Materialism.

Morality is a learned trait that is passed on through teaching. Moreover, morality tends to be an outgrowth of the physical circumstances the population lives in - see Marvin Harris' concepts of infrastructure and superstructure.

I will agree that a society that adapts well to its physical circumstances (through adopting appropriate customs, morality, taboos etc.) well has an evolutionary advantage over another society that doesn't adapt as well in the same circumstances. However, that advantage tends to evaporate when the circumstances change. Physical circumstances change a lot faster than genetic structure.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #50)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 06:18 PM

51. Morality appears to be much more than a “learned trait”

http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/03/02/bad-behavior-leaves-bad-taste-in-mouth/4482.html
Bad Behavior Leaves Bad Taste In Mouth

By Rick Nauert PhD
Senior News Editor



In the study, the scientists examined facial movements when participants tasted unpleasant liquids and looked at photographs of disgusting objects such as dirty toilets or injuries.

They compared these to their facial movements when they were subjected to unfair treatment in a laboratory game. The U of T team found that people make similar facial movements in response to both primitive forms of disgust and moral disgust.



“We found that people show activation of this muscle region in all three situations — when tasting something bad, looking at something disgusting and experiencing unfairness,” says Chapman.

“These results shed new light on the origins of morality, suggesting that not only do complex thoughts guide our moral compass, but also more primitive instincts related to avoiding potential toxins,” says Adam Anderson, principal investigator on the project and the Canada Research Chair in Affective Neuroscience.




http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2007/April/April%2016/DeWaal.htm
April 16, 2007
De Waal sides with Darwin: Morality is instinctual, evolved

by emily rios

"Darwin was right,” said Frans de Waal during his “Morality and Primate Social Behavior” presentation to a capacity-filled room at the recent 2007 Sheth Distinguished Lecture. De Waal, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and a C.H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory, agreed with Darwin’s emphasis on continuity with animals even in the moral domain: “Any animal endowed with well-marked social instincts . . . would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well developed, or nearly as well developed, as in man.”

Contradicting this theory are the beliefs of 19th-century philosopher Thomas Henry Huxley. De Waal noted that Huxley believed that humans are selfish and competitive, and human morality is nothing more than a facade. This “veneer theory,” as de Waal calls it, suggests human morality is a departure from nature and humans are essentially bad to the core.

Siding with Darwin, de Waal discounted this theory in his presentation just as he does in his latest book, “Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved.” De Waal shared his belief that human morality grows from our genes and the traits that define morality — empathy, reciprocity, reconciliation and consolation — can be seen in many animals, most particularly in primates.



De Waal cited an example of a female bonobo who attempted to help a small bird. “Kuni picked up the starling with one hand and climbed to the highest point of the highest tree where she wrapped her legs around the trunk so that she had both hands free to hold the bird. She then carefully unfolded its wings and spread them wide open, one wing in each hand. Having seen birds in flight many times, she seemed to have a notion of what would be good for a bird.”

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #51)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 06:29 PM

52. Try a morality that's a little more complex and problematic than altruism.

Try wrestling with the morality of infanticide. Compare it in H-G societies and in modern Western culture.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #52)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 06:33 PM

53. The Moral Instinct

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?pagewanted=all
The Moral Instinct

By STEVEN PINKER
Published: January 13, 2008



“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them,” wrote Immanuel Kant, “the starry heavens above and the moral law within.” These days, the moral law within is being viewed with increasing awe, if not always admiration. The human moral sense turns out to be an organ of considerable complexity, with quirks that reflect its evolutionary history and its neurobiological foundations.

These quirks are bound to have implications for the human predicament. Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings. We seek it in our friends and mates, nurture it in our children, advance it in our politics and justify it with our religions. A disrespect for morality is blamed for everyday sins and history’s worst atrocities. To carry this weight, the concept of morality would have to be bigger than any of us and outside all of us.

So dissecting moral intuitions is no small matter. If morality is a mere trick of the brain, some may fear, our very grounds for being moral could be eroded. Yet as we shall see, the science of the moral sense can instead be seen as a way to strengthen those grounds, by clarifying what morality is and how it should steer our actions.

The Moralization Switch

The starting point for appreciating that there is a distinctive part of our psychology for morality is seeing how moral judgments differ from other kinds of opinions we have on how people ought to behave. Moralization is a psychological state that can be turned on and off like a switch, and when it is on, a distinctive mind-set commandeers our thinking. This is the mind-set that makes us deem actions immoral (“killing is wrong”), rather than merely disagreeable (“I hate brussels sprouts”), unfashionable (“bell-bottoms are out”) or imprudent (“don’t scratch mosquito bites”).

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #53)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 06:55 PM

55. Interesting that you should quote Pinker

Why They Kill Their Newborns
By Steven Pinker

Killing your baby. what could be more depraved? For a woman to destroy the fruit of her womb would seem like an ultimate violation of the natural order. But every year, hundreds of women commit neonaticide: they kill their newborns or let them die. Most neonaticides remain undiscovered, but every once in a while a janitor follows a trail of blood to a tiny body in a trash bin, or a woman faints and doctors find the remains of a placenta inside her.

What makes a living being a person with a right not to be killed? Animal-rights extremists would seem to have the easiest argument to make: that all sentient beings have a right to life. But champions of that argument must conclude that delousing a child is akin to mass murder; the rest of us must look for an argument that draws a smaller circle. Perhaps only the members of our own species, Homo sapiens, have a right to life? But that is simply chauvinism; a person of one race could just as easily say that people of another race have no right to life.

No, the right to life must come, the moral philosophers say, from morally significant traits that we humans happen to possess. One such trait is having a unique sequence of experiences that defines us as individuals and connects us to other people. Other traits include an ability to reflect upon ourselves as a continuous locus of consciousness, to form and savor plans for the future, to dread death and to express the choice not to die. And there's the rub: our immature neonates don't possess these traits any more than mice do.

Several moral philosophers have concluded that neonates are not persons, and thus neonaticide should not be classified as murder. Michael Tooley has gone so far as to say that neonaticide ought to be permitted during an interval after birth. Most philosophers (to say nothing of nonphilosophers) recoil from that last step, but the very fact that there can be a debate about the personhood of neonates, but no debate about the personhood of older children, makes it clearer why we feel more sympathy for an Amy Grossberg than for a Susan Smith.

My point is that in many (most?) H-G societies there was no moral proscription against neonaticide. At worst it was seen as an unpleasant necessity. Reviewing the commentaries posted about the above article on the web is instructive in what it reveals about the state of this taboo today. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that the physical circumstances of the cultures have changed - there's more food and physical security available today. I would expect that if food supplies and security were to decline significantly, the immorality of neonaticide would fade to a distant memory. It would still be an unpleasant event, but unpleasant does not equal immoral.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #52)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 06:55 PM

54. Babies embrace punishment earlier than previously thought, study suggests

I posted this study before…

http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2011/11/28/babies-embrace-punishment-earlier-than-previously-thought-study-suggests/
Media Release | Nov. 28, 2011
Babies embrace punishment earlier than previously thought, study suggests

Babies as young as eight months old prefer it when people who commit or condone antisocial acts are mistreated, a new study led by a University of British Columbia psychologist finds.

While previous research shows that babies uniformly prefer kind acts, the new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that eight month-old infants support negative behavior if it is directed at those who act antisocially – and dislike those who are nice to bad guys.

“We find that, by eight months, babies have developed nuanced views of reciprocity and can conduct these complex social evaluations much earlier than previously thought,” says lead author Prof. Kiley Hamlin, UBC Dept of Psychology, who co-authored the study with colleagues from Yale University and Temple University.

“This study helps to answer questions that have puzzled evolutionary psychologists for decades,” says Hamlin. “Namely, how have we survived as intensely social creatures if our sociability makes us vulnerable to being cheated and exploited? These findings suggest that, from as early as eight months, we are watching for people who might put us in danger and prefer to see antisocial behavior regulated.”



Editors: Watch videos from the study, featuring the animal hand puppets, at:
http://cic.psych.ubc.ca/Example_Stimuli.html

http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1110306108

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #54)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 07:00 PM

56. Again, it's too easy.

Were those traits developed by cultural selection? After all, if bonobos share the perception of fairness with humans, it probably wasn't cultural inheritance that created it. It's more likely to have been a very long selection sequence coupled with the development of advanced perceptual and interpretational abilities. I don't think this supports your case.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #56)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 07:16 PM

57. You claimed (upstream) “Morality is a learned trait that is passed on through teaching”

It seems clear that it is not that simple.

Once again, Darwin was not talking about DNA. He was simply talking about natural selection for desirable traits. Some moral traits seem to be encoded at the level of our DNA. Others are clearly not.

However, when you look at something like “The Age of Enlightenment” such a thing can only occur, if the Human species is prone to accept it.

Somehow (for example) the Athenians embraced Democracy long before “The Age of Enlightenment.”

It appears that (as I originally claimed) “The Age of Enlightenment” was a product of our evolution.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #57)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 07:21 PM

58. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, at least for now.

I think it was you that talked me out of my view of humanity as innately selfish and competitive a few years ago. I would take a lot more convincing on this one. If I shift my views with further thought I'll get back to you.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #36)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 10:46 AM

45. That strikes me as a kind of latter day lysenkoism

Learning to think or behave in new ways really doesn't change our animal nature. Civilization is a thin veneer. If we drop our guard we're still perfectly capable of recreating the hotrrors of the holocaust, the 30 years war or the Inquisition.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 03:45 PM

3. ...and yet..

 

I'm almost willing to bet the 'doomer' finger pointer sits at home polishing his stock of assault rifles just awaiting the day Barrack Husain Obama himself, surrounded by tree hugging liberals knocks on his door demanding he relinquish his guns..

Sorry for misspellings.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 04:11 PM

5. Sounds like high school kids on acid. nt

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Response to kristopher (Reply #5)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:25 PM

10. You ever do drugs, kris?

Maybe you should try it sometime.

It might help with your condition.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #5)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:47 PM

14. It's only natural

to interpret new things as examples of something we are already very familiar with.

It's good that you feel so callow and carefree, kris. May you live a long and paisley life.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #14)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:27 PM

19. Sure GG.

It's sheer profundity.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #19)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:32 PM

21. The funny thing is,

it actually is quite profound. But you have to be able to let it in. Most people keep that door pretty firmly bolted.

No problem, there's room for everyone.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #21)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 07:06 PM

25. No, it isn't.

It is simplistic and pretentious.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 04:21 PM

6. these people play too many video games.

 

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Response to provis99 (Reply #6)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:56 PM

17. Video games? Why do you say that? nt

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 04:37 PM

7. The human race is doomed to extinction.

 

Maybe in a million years, and maybe in 50 years. Who knows.

Petroleum-based industrial civilization is doomed to extinction when oil becomes too expensive to use. Maybe in a hundred years, maybe in 50 years. Who knows.

Climate change could wipe out our economy and throw us back into the dark ages or worse. Maybe in 500 years, maybe in 50 years. Who knows.

I'm not building bunkers or stock piling ammunition because I have no intention of surviving the collapse of civilization. First because it probably won't happen in my lifetime (I'm already 67), and second, because at my age, even if it does happen in my lifetime I'm too old and out of shape to deal with it effectively.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #7)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:44 PM

13. I hear you - I'm 61.

There's something about being old and out of shape that contributes a certain equanimity to one's worldview.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #13)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:47 PM

15. Apathy -- I can't take it or leave it. nt

 

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #13)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 09:11 PM

38. AHA, I knew you were a Boomer *EVILGRIN*

Don't worry, when Gen-X and us Millennials put you out on the melting arctic ice we will finally be able to get stuff done!!!

(I'M JUST KIDDING!!!)

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #38)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 09:18 PM

39. Yep, I'm a BoomerDoomer™

Last edited Thu Apr 26, 2012, 03:22 PM - Edit history (1)

Actually, I'm now working toward a profound positive transformation of human society as well, just on the non-tech side.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 04:54 PM

8. I am not a Doomer™

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”


To my way of thinking:
  • The first thought of a Doomer™ upon reading the latest “bad news” is a self-satisfied, “I told you the world was going to Hell!” (If the news really isn’t as bad as the Doomer™ believes, there is a tinge of disappointment.)
  • The Realist™ upon reading the same news says, “Well, Damn! It’s not a surprise, but Damn!” (Some self-identified Realists™ feel akin to Eeyore.)
I prefer to be an Optimistic Realist™, aware of the risks, hoping to avoid them.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #8)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:42 PM

12. I like that - I identify alternately with Eeyore and Tigger.

About the "self-satisfaction" you attribute to Doomers™ - is that how they've told you they feel, or is it perhaps an aspect you're projecting onto them?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #12)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:37 PM

22. Neither really

My personal definition of “Doomer™” includes the aspect of “self-satisfaction.”

The “Doomer™” actually reacts negatively to “good news.”

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #22)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 06:41 PM

23. So now I'm confused.

It looks to me like your definition of Doomer™ is not what you think they actually are. Can you tease that out a bit more?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #23)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 07:00 PM

24. Perhaps I was unclear

(By my definition) a Doomer™ is so fascinated with the prospect of “Doom” that they react negatively to suggestions that “Doom” is not inevitable. (For a Doomer™, “Doom” has become a fetish.)

Cassandra was not a Doomer™.

Cassandra was a tortured Realist™, trying desperately to avert the doom she foretold, despite knowing that it was impossible to do so.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:01 PM

9. When the caterpillar builds a chrysalis and

totally looks like an inert object for a period of time, that would look like a catastrophe to someone who was not familiar with the process.

Similarly, when a spider spends the last of its energy laying a giant egg sac, then dies, that also looks like a catastrophe.

Finally, when an organism like the larva of a burying beetle devours the carcass of its host, that too looks like a catastrophe.

I feel like the old thing is passing away here, and while we can mourn the old we can also look forward with optimism for what's next.

Even though I am a doomer, I nevertheless have confidence that what's next will be worthwhile too.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #9)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 05:38 PM

11. That so resonates for me.

It's actually worse from the caterpillar's point of view - its whole body has to dissolve in order to become the butterfly. That's why I love it as a metaphor for what's under way now.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #11)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 03:43 AM

30. exactly!

thanks for this thread, bookmarking so I can get back here somehow in the morning

The last answer of the OP made the most sense to me, and that was pretty far out there, lol...so what does that say about me?

There is a part of me that wants to see the illusion crumble, because it's what is expected at this juncture... alternately, I am stoked for the freedom to create something completely NEW as a result of losing many of our 'comforts'. If that is what needs to happen to shake loose some of the ancient beliefs we all hold so closely, then so be it. I say Bring It...so am I a Doomer? or some kind of apocalyptic cheerleader?

What's even weirder is that I feel in the depths of my self that I knew this at a young age that I would witness something like this in my lifetime...was it the gas crisis in the 70s? was it a myriad of events leading to now and more.......was it being young and realizing that 2012 meant I was going to be 42 when TSHTF? who knows? exactly

more after coffee tomorrow lol




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Response to FirstLight (Reply #30)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 07:30 AM

31. There's a lot to be said on the ideas you've raised.

I aspire to the attitude and insights of that last answer too. The friend who wrote it has a crucial documentary film and a remarkable sci-fi novel to his credit. He's been doing a lot of inner heavy lifting on this topic - especially around the idea of wanting to see the illusion crumble. I have to go work for a living right now, but I'll offer some thoughts later.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #31)


Response to FirstLight (Reply #30)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 10:35 AM

43. A lot of people accused of being Doomers™ are actually Wayseers™.

The issue about "wanting to see the illusion crumble" is a contentious one, to use some British understatement. Expressing that desire seems to trigger an almost atavistic revulsion in many people. Their distaste is also reflected in their compulsive desire to keep the Civ/Tech game going as long and as high as humanly possible, as though stepping off that path somehow denies an essential aspect of our humanity. Wanting to see the game change and go back to a lower level is often characterized as treachery and defeatism.

IMO this view is the direct result of the Education for Empire™ program implemented through schools and the media. That program is devoted to making sure that we Fit the Machine™, while accepting the characteristics of the machine as a given. In the words of Daniel Quinn, it is dedicated to fostering the belief that this is the only possible way humans can live, and that we have always breen meant to live this way.

A lot of people have started to question those Imperial™ assumptions. They have the sneaking feeling that it's OK to be who they are, even though that's at odds with the Program™. Even worse they have begun to suspect that maybe the Program™ itself (the one we've been following for the last 10,000 years or so) night be a crock of shit - that its goals are antithetical to Life™ and its methods intrinsically harmful.

What's more, many of us are starting to realize that the way we've been treated by the Program™ - had our egos twisted, our values warped, and even been taught to believe that were were wrong or even broken for feeling as we do - is the source of much of our alienation, misery and self-loathing.

Now (finally) some of us are starting to say,

"Enough! I am not broken. There is nothing traitorous about wanting to live a simpler life. There is nothing sacred about flat screen TVs, cars and the waterfall model of software development. There is nothing vile about wanting fewer people on the planet. There is no treachery in wanting humanity to do less in order to leave more space for other life. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a Leaver™ instead of a Taker™."

This feeling is very well expressed in the remarkable Wayseer Manifesto video. It's also the underpinning of the Occupy movement, of Via Campesina and other such grass roots movements.

I have always loved big, revolutionary change. It excites me to see old orders summarily swept away, and something brand new and unexpected take their place. I hope with my whole heart that we will see such a change explode through our civilization as its calcified carapace begins to crack under the stress of the multiple organ failures its own actions have precipitated.

I suspect you're a Wayseer. Good luck!

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 11:54 PM

26. It is what it is, whatever it is

And what it looks like is that on the current trend mankind as we know it is doomed. If that makes one a doomer, so be it.

As we sit and contemplate the doom we must also contemplate that life is everlasting. It's easier to do if you can grok the idea that there is no such thing as time.

I think it was you, GG, who Op'ed that we are 14 billion years old? That our bodies are made up of atoms that are 14 billion years old. That is as good a truth as any to help realize that time as we know it, tic-toc, is nothing.

Whatever we are now is not what we were. And in due process will not be what we are now, but we will still be. We-have-been™. We-will-be™. But not what we are now.

Jump to religion: Religios is the ancient Greek word for source of man.
We seek our source. Only a fool does not. And knowing that we once were not what we are now, and we won't be what we are now but will still be, makes one wonder: what is IT™ that drew together these atoms into this shape at this time? What force, what source is it that assembled this 'structure"?

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #26)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:05 AM

27. Ah, you're walking nice and close to the edge there!

Out of those 14 billion years, we have only this infinitesimal moment in which to express IT™. It sort of feels incumbent on us to make the most of IT™, doesn't it?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #27)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:18 AM

28. I dunno

What is the best™ we can be? Richer? Prettier?

The qualitative is problematic. Who decides what is better?

If we look at mankind as a whole we are not better than what we as a whole once were. Or are we?

But were i to attempt to quantify my life as making the best of it, i would have to say i am doing pretty damn good. But others who know me think my potential has not been reached. Should I have been the president? A Guru? What?

I know this: i do love this life and it pains me deeply to know that in the next now life as we know it will have all been changed and then can anyone else ever have the same experiences? Will the next assemblage of the atoms from the force which forced me to be, be able to be a human?

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #28)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 01:25 AM

29. Nobody else gets to decide what is best. Just You™.

I think "should" is the single most pernicious word in the English language. It's coercive and guilt-ridden, riddled with uninvited expectations. It doesn't even rate a ™. I'm expunging it from my vocabulary. Srsly.

Speaking as a Buddhist or a Presocratic Greek philosopher, "life as it is" ceases the instant Now becomes Then. It's impossible to step into the same river twice - it's not the same river, you're not the same man. So I choose to revel in our continuous co-creation of the universe. No matter how it unfolds, You™ will always be human, at some deep level of meaning for the word Human™. At that level You™ are IT™, so just find a partner and dance.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 01:22 PM

32. I suffer severe depression. I take meds.

Even when I'm happy I suspect my unmedicated, pessimistic, dysfunctional state most accurately reflects the reality of human civilization. Life sucks, and then you die.

Optimism is a perverse unrealistic mental state, a product of natural selection that increases our reproductive success. Nature doesn't care about the wretched circumstances of our deaths, we die like animals because we are animals, the only thing that really matters is that our reproductive rates keep pace. The winners have grandchildren, and their grandchildren have grandchildren.

Yet pessimism also persists within the human population because it too can increase survival rates. My ancestors displayed a remarkable ability to walk away from societies that were collapsing. They dodged wars, religious persecutions, pandemics, and genocides in Europe by coming to America. They dodged the U.S. Civil War by moving west.

Both my grandfathers avoided the firefights of World War II. One was a conscientious objector who wouldn't carry arms so they put him to work as a shipbuilder. The other was an engineer who wanted to build airplanes, but they put him to work in Washington D.C. as a demon wrangler, a task he was well equipped for since he carried so many of his own. I'm pretty sure I inherited my pessimism from him.

My primary course of study in college was evolutionary biology. I'm comfortable with billion year timescales. I've dug up fossils, mapped geology. I can imagine what our remains will look like in ten million years. I've got no good reason to believe humans will last.

Some mornings I wake up wondering if it's time to walk... I'm a Doomer™ it's in my genes.

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Response to hunter (Reply #32)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 02:16 PM

33. Well put.

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Response to hunter (Reply #32)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 03:36 PM

48. BTW, "demon wrangler"?

Can you translate that?

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #48)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 07:36 PM

59. He managed drunk and disorderly Captain Americas and Mad Scientists essential to the war effort...

He signed up to be an engineer and didn't do any engineering.

He wanted to fly and they sent him by train.

He wanted to see the world and they gave him an office.

And in victory the Army Air Force couldn't wait to get rid of the whole lot of them.

Some bring home wrecked airplanes, some bring home wrecked people.

My grandfather's greatest pride was work he did for the Apollo moon project.

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Response to hunter (Reply #59)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 07:47 PM

60. That's quite a story. Thanks.

I was a rocketboi in the early '60s, I'd have given my eyeteeth, my pride and both nuts to work on Apollo. Your grandfather was one fortunate guy. What did he do with them?

Me on the right, in the spring of '65:

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #60)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 09:25 PM

63. They wrestled with titanium. The metal was not yet domesticated.

That's a nice rocket in your photo. What kind of motor?

I'm enjoying the renewed interest in sugar rockets. I probably won't build one, but I can watch on YouTube.

When I was young and sent to buy fertilizer for my dad's orchards I always picked up some extra potasium nitrate for myself. I'm sure the guys in the ag-chem supply place knew I was up to no good, but those were simpler times.

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Response to hunter (Reply #63)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 09:43 PM

64. The whole main casing was motor - home-packed Zinc/Sulphur

SAE 1020 steel tubing, machined nozzle, tracking flares of aluminum powder and potassium nitrate. We got about 3000 feet out of that baby, IIRC. Those were the good old days...

I found an Estes rocket lying by the side of the road in my neighborhood a couple days ago - a beginner's kit with a C-series engine. Probably launched from a nearby park, and the chute didn't open. It really took me back.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 09:07 PM

37. I'm a long-term optimist.

The next few decades are going to suck, but that suckage is going to be a catalyst for very profoud social and technological advancement.

I think the Doomers play a useful roll in lighting the fuse under people's asses and make them give a damn, but too much leads to hopelessness akin to the "Learned Helplessness" found in many disadvantaged communities.

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 10:00 PM

40. I'm an alarmist, though partially a doomer I still think something can be done.

So you could say I'm an alarmist optimist or a doomer antagonist.

However, I do not see a geopolitical of socioeconomic solution to the problem.

We're fucked if we don't work together in a socialist sort of way to create and use technology to fix the problems.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #40)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 10:43 AM

44. How do you define Fucked™, Josh? nt

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #44)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 11:44 AM

46. Good post

You are fortunate in your friends. I particularly liked Bobby wan Kenobi's insight. I'm a decade older than you. I had a close brush with death a few years back. I haven't been able to stop laughing since. The world has become a different place. I'm a doomer, in the sense that I feel an acute sense of loss at the things that have gone missing in the natural world just in the short time I've been watching it. That makes for an underlying feeling of sorrow, but doesn't cloud the essential joy of life. As a species, we're in trouble, and we deserve to be.

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Response to pscot (Reply #46)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 03:32 PM

47. Thanks. Yes, I have acquired some very good friends.

Some are willing to leave their egos at the door and dig deep for their personal truth in the midst of all this chaos. Some are willing to kick my ass when I forget to do the same. Some have sharp, hard edges, some are full of compassion, some are bitterly angry, some are full of joy. Sometimes, as with "Bobby Wan Kenobi", I find all those qualities in the same rare person.

I can't go as far as "deserve to be" any more. I used to, though. Lord did I ever. But the situation is too sad and serious for blame now. These days I prefer compassion.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #44)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 09:07 PM

61. Global economic collapse and resource wars never before seen.

It won't be WWIII because the economics won't be able to support it, it'll be more of a scorched earth policy by the western states as they let out their dying breath.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #61)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 09:21 PM

62. Fair enough.

But it's still not Toba II.

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