- Nov 2022
Weare on record as holding that unlimited educational opportunity-or, speaking practically, educational opportunity thatis limited only by individual desire, ability, and need-is themost valuable service that society can provide for its members.
This broadly applies to both oral and literate societies.
Desire, ability, and need are all tough measures however... each one losing a portion of the population along the way.
How can we maintain high proportions across all these variables?
- Apr 2022
Humans’ tendency to“overimitate”—to reproduce even the gratuitous elements of another’s behavior—may operate on a copy now, understand later basis. After all, there might begood reasons for such steps that the novice does not yet grasp, especially sinceso many human tools and practices are “cognitively opaque”: not self-explanatory on their face. Even if there doesn’t turn out to be a functionalrationale for the actions taken, imitating the customs of one’s culture is a smartmove for a highly social species like our own.
Is this responsible for some of the "group think" seen in the Republican party and the political right? Imitation of bad or counter-intuitive actions outweights scientifically proven better actions? Examples: anti-vaxxers and coronavirus no-masker behaviors? (Some of this may also be about or even entangled with George Lakoff's (?) tribal identity theories relating to "people like me".
Explore this area more deeply.
Another contributing factor for this effect may be the small-town effect as most Republican party members are in the countryside (as opposed to the larger cities which tend to be more Democratic). City dwellers are more likely to be more insular in their interpersonal relations whereas country dwellers may have more social ties to other people and groups and therefor make them more tribal in their social interrelationships. Can I find data to back up this claim?
How does link to the thesis put forward by Joseph Henrich in The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous? Does Henrich have data about city dwellers to back up my claim above?
What does this tension have to do with the increasing (and potentially evolutionary) propensity of humans to live in ever-increasingly larger and more dense cities versus maintaining their smaller historic numbers prior to the pre-agricultural timeperiod?
What are the biological effects on human evolution as a result of these cultural pressures? Certainly our cultural evolution is effecting our biological evolution?
What about the effects of communication media on our cultural and biological evolution? Memes, orality versus literacy, film, radio, television, etc.? Can we tease out these effects within the socio-politico-cultural sphere on the greater span of humanity? Can we find breaks, signs, or symptoms at the border of mass agriculture?
total aside, though related to evolution: link hypercycles to evolution spirals?
- imitation > innovation
- Big History
- urban vs. rural
- Joseph Henrich
- city vs. town
- comparative anthropology
- human evolution
- follow the herd
- group think
- spatial relationships
- evolution spirals
- Jan 2022
I can't help but think about comparative anthropology here. The definition of progress is an important one as what may be perceived as progress by one group of people may not be judged so by another.
“It was kind of fun. Like even though I was green, that doesn’t mean my green tops your yellow right? Whatever I did, I just did it with a lot of energy.”
There's been a normalization of providing exterior indicators of internal ideas and people's mental states. Examples include pins indicating pronouns, arm bracelets indicating social distancing or other social norms.
But why aren't we taking these even farther on the anthropological spectrum? Is one society better or worse than another? One religion, one culture? Certainly not. Just like Leah McGowen-Hare's green band indicating that she's a hugger isn't any more valuable than someone else's yellow fist bump indicator. We need to do a better job of not putting people into linear relationships which only exist in our minds until we realize how horrific and dehumanizing they are.
- Dec 2021
Order RelationsA relation C on a set A is called an order relation (or a simple order, or a linear order)if it has the following properties:(1) (Comparability) For every x and y in A for which x = y, either xCy or yCx.(2) (Nonreflexivity) For no x in A does the relation xCx hold.(3) (Transitivity) If xCy and yCz, then xCz.Note that property (1) does not by itself exclude the possibility that for some pair ofelements x and y of A, both the relations xCy and yCx hold (since “or” means “oneor the other, or both”). But properties (2) and (3) combined do exclude this possibil-ity; for if both xCy and yCx held, transitivity would imply that xCx, contradictingnonreflexivity.EXAMPLE 7. Consider the relation on the real line consisting of all pairs (x, y) of real
Link to idea from The Dawn of Everything about comparative anthropology.
‘Noble’ savages are, ultimately, just as boring as savageones; more to the point, neither actually exist. Helena Valero washerself adamant on this point. The Yanomami were not devils, sheinsisted, neither were they angels. They were human, like the rest ofus.
This is an interesting starting point for discussing the ills of comparative anthropology which will tend to put one culture or society over another in some sort of linear way and an expectation of equivalence relations (in a mathematical sense).
Humans and their societies and cultures aren't always reflexive, symmetric, or transitive. There may not be an order relation (aka simple order or linear order) on humanity. We may not have comparability, nonreflexivity, or transitivity.
(See page 24 on Set Theory and Logic in Topology by James R. Munkres for definition of "order relation")
Among the most eloquent commentaries on this wholephenomenon is to be found in a private letter written by BenjaminFranklin to a friend:When an Indian Child has been brought up among us,taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet ifhe goes to see his relations and make one Indian Ramblewith them there is no persuading him ever to return, andthat this is not natural merely as Indians, but as men, isplain from this, that when white persons of either sexhave been taken prisoner young by the Indians, and livedawhile among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, andtreated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail withthem to stay among the English, yet in a Short time theybecome disgusted with our manner of life, and the careand pains that are necessary to support it, and take thefirst opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, fromwhence there is no reclaiming them. One instance Iremember to have heard, where the person was to bebrought home to possess a good Estate; but finding somecare necessary to keep it together, he relinquished it to ayounger brother, reserving to himself nothing but a gunand match-Coat, with which he took his way again to theWilderness.30
Franklin, Benjamin. 1961 . Letter to Peter Collinson, 9 May 1753. In Leonard W. Labaree (ed.), The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, vol. 4, pp. 481–3.
Is Stockholm syndrome a temporary or permanent condition? Likely that it's not permanent and that basic lifeways may win out in a switch of lifeways.
It’s almost asif we feel some need to come up with mathematical formulaejustifying the expression, already popular in the days of Rousseau,that in such societies ‘everyone was equal, because they were allequally poor.’
Link this to
A thousand years ago, the world was flat, economically speaking. —Chapter 1 of Economy, Society, and Public Policy https://hyp.is/-XJOwkOjEeqNeL-phEONOg/www.core-econ.org/espp/book/text/01.html
I don't think we have to go back even this far. If I recall correctly, even 150 years ago the vast majority of the world's population were subsistence farmers. It's only been since the 20th century and the increasing spread of the industrial revolution that the situation has changed:
Even England remained primarily an agrarian country like all tributary societies for the previous 4,000 years, with ca. 50 percent of its population employed in agriculture as late as 1759. —David Christian, Maps of Time (pp 401) quoting from Crafts, British Economic Growth, pp. 13–14. (See also Fig 13.1 Global Industrial Potential from the same, for a graphical indicator.
people end up being told their needs are not important, and theirlives have no intrinsic worth. The last, we are supposed to believe, isjust the inevitable effect of inequality; and inequality, the inevitableresult of living in any large, complex, urban, technologicallysophisticated society. Presumably it will always be with us. It’s just amatter of degree.
People being told they don't matter and don't have intrinsic worth is a hallmark of colonialism. It's also been an ethical issue in the study of anthropology for the past 150 years.
Anthropologist Tim Ingold in Anthropology: Why It Matters touches on some of this issue of comparing one group of people with another rather than looking at and appreciating the value of each separately.
- Stockholm syndrome
- order relations
- human resources
- contests of civilization
- comparative anthropology
- intrinsic value
- Nov 2021
Context: Sonia was watching Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season 3: "Episode 1" and had previously been watching a documentary One of Us about people who had left oppressive seeming Hassidic Jewish communities.
I can't help but that that every culture could be considered a "cult" in which some percentage of people are trapped with comparison to all other cultures on Earth. Based on one's upbringing and personal compass, perhaps living and submitting to one's culture can become oppressive and may seem particularly unfair given power structures and the insidiousness of hypocrisy.
Given this, could there logically be a utopian society in which everyone lives freely?
Even within the United States there are smaller sub-cultures withiin which people feel trapped and which have the features of cults, but which are so large as to not be considered such. Even the space in which I freely live might be considered a cult by others who don't agree with it. It's only the vast size of the power of the group which prevents the majority who comfortably live within it from viewing it as a bad thing.
A Democrat may view the Republican Party as a cult and vice versa, something which becomes more apparent when one polarizes these communities toward the edges rather than allowing them to drift into each other in a consensus.
An African American may think they're stuck in a broader American cult which marginalizes them.
A Hassidic Jew may feel they're stuck in a cult (of religious restrictions) with respect to the perceived freedoms of broader American Culture. Some may feel more comfortable within these strictures than others.
A gender non-comforming person living in the deep South of the United States surrounded by the Southern Baptist Convention may feel they're stuck in a cult based on social norms of one culture versus what they experience personally.
What are the roots of something being a cult? Could it be hypocrisy? A person or a broader group feeling as if they know "best" and creating a rule structure by which others are forced to follow, but from which they themselves are exempt? This also seems to be the way in which authoritarian rules arise when privileging one group above another based solely on (perceived) power.
Another potential thing at play here may be the lack of diversity within a community. The level of cult within a society may be related to the shape of the bell curve of that society with respect to how large the center is with respect to the tails. Those who are most likely to feel they're within a "cult" (using the broader definition) are those three or more standard deviations from the center. In non-diverse communities only those within a standard deviation of the norm are likely to feel comfortable and accepted and those two deviations away will feel very uncomfortable while those who are farther away will be shunned and pushed beyond the pale.
How can we help create more diverse and broadly accepting communities? We're all just people, aren't we? How can we design communities and governments to be accepting of even the most marginalized? In a heavily connected world, even the oddball teenager in a small community can now manage to find their own sub-community using the internet. (Even child pornographers manage to find their community online.)
The opposite of this is at what point do we circumscribe the norms of the community? Take the idea of "Your freedom to strike me ends at my nose." Perhaps we only shun those extreme instances like murder and pornography, and other actions which take extreme advantage of others' freedoms? [This needs to be heavily expanded and contemplated...] What about the over-financialization of the economy which takes advantage of the unprivileged who don't know that system and are uncapable of the mathematics and computation to succeed. Similarly hucksters and snake oil salesmen who take advantage of their targets' weaknesses and lack of knowledge and sophistication. Or the unregulated vitamin industry taking rents from millions for their superstitions? How do we regulate these to allow "cultural freedom" or "religious freedom" without them taking mass-scale advantage of their targets? (Or are some of these acculturated examples simply inequalities institutionally built into societies and cultures as a means of extracting power and rents from the larger system by those in power?)
Compare with Hester Prynne and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
- Sep 2021
ing world. What needs to be said is not that one way of life is better than the other, but that this is a place of the most far-reaching conflict; that the historical record is not a simple one of neutral and inevitable 124
technological change, but is also one of exploitation and of resistance to exploitation; and that values stand to be lost as well as gained.
ect. It is not only that the highly- developed and technically-alert manufacturing industries (and the way-of-life supported by them) of France or England in the eighteenth century can only by semantic torture be described as "pre-industrial". (And such a description opens the door to endless false analogies between societies at greatly differing economic levels). It is also that
One needs to be careful with their language in comparing different societies as it can make it easier for others to create false framing and analogies about one society being better or worse than another.