13 September 2010

13/09/10



The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
-W.B. Yeats

138 comments:

  1. Since the Guardian seems convinced by the 'logic' of cuts...to the point where they are only just short of announcing they're good for us..I'd like to enquire why they continue to employ Julian Glover

    Handsomely rewarding a writer for providing copy which Tory Central Office would doubtless be only too willing to send gratis doesn't seem in keeping with this new found passion for austerity...

    Come on Guardian..you know it makes sense

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  2. I see AllyF's excellent comment underneath Glover's drivel has been removed despite it not contravening any "guidelines". I daresay others will also be removed now that the mods have had their coffee.

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  3. Glover’s one of those… smarty-pants speccy four eyes who realised at an early age that he was clever and a cut above. He never really lost the precocious schoolboy outlook, and remains endlessly pleased at his own cleverness, which he parades for all to see. Sadly, he can’t understand when sometimes it earns him a smack in the gob, not a pat on the head. He’ll always remain bewildered about this most fundamental of points, and will thus continue to garner unwanted, incomprehensible-to-him blows from the rougher, tougher lads (and lasses!) in the class.

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  4. Swifty,

    got it in one. In fact here he is here- Dennis the Menace's enemy Walter the Softy

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  5. @13thDuke:

    To be honest, it's odd for me that I dislike him so much, given that I never joined in the taunting of the class swot at school (despite being “good at games” as they say), and that “cleverness” is, after a sense of humour, generally as good a reason as I can think of for liking someone… in his case, though, I’ll gladly make an exception.

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  6. Just read the Glover piece - don't trust myself to comment and anyway others, (His Grace for instance), have already said what I'd want to say - only better.

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  7. My thoughts tended more towards this Your Grace, than Walter, where Glover and his like are concerned.

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  8. I dont understand why they publish Glover at all. As if the Times or Tele would make a gesture towards "balance" and get a weekly article from someone as far to the left as Gover is to the right.

    Interesting insight into the rationalisations of the market zealots though - they arent smashing the state to reduce taxes and open up more opportunities for profiteering; they tell themselves they're actually helping people.

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  9. Yes, plenty of Tory paywall dodgers on the Glover thread.

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  10. they tell themselves they're actually helping people.

    heh..heh..heh...you have to laugh. This is the wrong time of the year to take to the hills

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  11. My mate is hedging bets on a revolt within the Lib Dems that could scupper this bunch of bastards that Glover is nursing a stiffy for.

    Wishful thinking ? Or will I lose my fiver ?

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  12. Beat the Liberal Dems into submission and the Tories will fall.

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  13. Really, really hope you are right, BW!

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  14. I agree Martyn but then what? A full on Tory majority? or New Lab led by a Milliband doing pretty much the same? We need more than another election but how this can be solved I don't know. Not without a full on revolt by ordinary people and not just in the UK either.

    Re the debate on EP - pile of bobbins basically - EP not the debate! It takes what it wants from anthropology, sociology, history and psychology and makes a new pseudo science with very few facts, just lots of just so stories to fit what a load of priveliged, wealthy, right wing, men (and a few women too) believe - along with some deeply unpleasant justifications for the worst of human behaviour.

    Good comments from Monkeyfish, Alisdair, Leni and Sheff amongst others on that one. Why am I not surprised that PB is a fan?

    On the dog front news is not good. Vet rang today - the tumor is cancerous and very aggressive. He might be the lucky one in a thousand where it was caught before it could spread but the vet says that is very rare as it is so aggressive. However he did say he removed it all so if we were incredibly lucky then he will be fine.

    Realistic prognosis is a few months. He will be doing exceptionally well if here in six. Bit devestated to be honest and not quite sure what to do with myself. Can't even really find the appetite for a good row - it must be bad :)

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. It's one fiver I'm hoping to lose...

    @PCC
    -hugs-

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  17. I've been wondering why there are so many Tory HQ posters on the CiF threads today. Swamped with them they are. Until I got a spam mail from Tory HQ who are actively seeking posters.

    I didn't open the Job application attachment but I did read the foreword which I cut and past here for you:

    Foreword by David Cameron & George Osborne

    Dear prospective employee,
    Thank you for considering an exciting post working for Conservative United Network Technology Solutions.

    Working for CUNTS opens you to a whole world of exciting opportunities as you spray messages of hope(lessness), economic (il)literacy and (ir)rationality like dysenteric, amoeba infested diarrhea all over comment sites.

    As a stooge for CUNTS, you will excel in promoting policies, rhetoric and laws which fundamentally undermine your own socio-economic position but are too stupid to realize.

    With over 300 years of experience in defending landed interests, promoting the benefit of the elite and screwing everybody else, you’ll be joining a team custom designed to fuck you over if it meant we would gain an extra penny back in tax you thick bastard.

    Personal specifications for the job must include:
    - Suspicion of absolutely fucking everybody.

    - A hatred of Marxist dogma such as the minimum wage, employee rights, fair taxation and efficient nationalized services.

    - Believing that Jeremy Kyle has had every single poor person in Britain on his show.

    -The ability to use spurious anecdote to promote reactionary message as evidence eg

    “I saw a bloke in a wheelchair in the pub once. Turns out, not only is he not disabled, he also has a family of 26 illegal Somalis living in his council house which he rents to them, using the rent money to live in Knightsbridge and snort cocaine off hookers breasts.

    -Thinking all public servants are able to retire at 29 with a £6 million per annum retirement entitlement.

    If this is you, why not fill out the application. Spread the word, promote intolerance, hate and suspicion. Join us CUNTS today.

    David & George.

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  18. I've been wondering why there are so many Tory HQ posters on the CiF threads today. Swamped with them they are. Until I got a spam mail from Tory HQ who are actively seeking posters.

    I didn't open the Job application attachment but I did read the foreword which I cut and past here for you:

    Foreword by David Cameron & George Osborne

    Dear prospective employee,
    Thank you for considering an exciting post working for Conservative United Network Technology Solutions.

    Working for CUNTS opens you to a whole world of exciting opportunities as you spray messages of hope(lessness), economic (il)literacy and (ir)rationality like dysenteric, amoeba infested diarrhea all over comment sites.

    As a stooge for CUNTS, you will excel in promoting policies, rhetoric and laws which fundamentally undermine your own socio-economic position but are too stupid to realize.

    With over 300 years of experience in defending landed interests, promoting the benefit of the elite and screwing everybody else, you’ll be joining a team custom designed to fuck you over if it meant we would gain an extra penny back in tax you thick bastard.

    Personal specifications for the job must include:
    - Suspicion of absolutely fucking everybody.

    - A hatred of Marxist dogma such as the minimum wage, employee rights, fair taxation and efficient nationalized services.

    - Believing that Jeremy Kyle has had every single poor person in Britain on his show.

    -The ability to use spurious anecdote to promote reactionary message as evidence eg

    “I saw a bloke in a wheelchair in the pub once. Turns out, not only is he not disabled, he also has a family of 26 illegal Somalis living in his council house which he rents to them, using the rent money to live in Knightsbridge and snort cocaine off hookers breasts.

    -Thinking all public servants are able to retire at 29 with a £6 million per annum retirement entitlement.

    If this is you, why not fill out the application. Spread the word, promote intolerance, hate and suspicion. Join us CUNTS today.

    David & George.

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  19. Very sorry to hear that, Princess - here's hoping he's one of the lucky ones. :-(

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  20. I've been wondering why there are so many Tory HQ posters on the CiF threads today. Swamped with them they are. Until I got a spam mail from Tory HQ who are actively seeking posters.

    I didn't open the Job application attachment but I did read the foreword which I cut and past here for you:

    Foreword by David Cameron & George Osborne

    Dear prospective employee,
    Thank you for considering an exciting post working for Conservative United Network Technology Solutions.

    Working for CUNTS opens you to a whole world of exciting opportunities as you spray messages of hope(lessness), economic (il)literacy and (ir)rationality like dysenteric, amoeba infested diarrhea all over comment sites.

    As a stooge for CUNTS, you will excel in promoting policies, rhetoric and laws which fundamentally undermine your own socio-economic position but are too stupid to realize.

    With over 300 years of experience in defending landed interests, promoting the benefit of the elite and screwing everybody else, you’ll be joining a team custom designed to fuck you over if it meant we would gain an extra penny back in tax you thick bastard.

    Personal specifications for the job must include:
    - Suspicion of absolutely fucking everybody.

    - A hatred of Marxist dogma such as the minimum wage, employee rights, fair taxation and efficient nationalized services.

    - Believing that Jeremy Kyle has had every single poor person in Britain on his show.

    -The ability to use spurious anecdote to promote reactionary message as evidence eg

    “I saw a bloke in a wheelchair in the pub once. Turns out, not only is he not disabled, he also has a family of 26 illegal Somalis living in his council house which he rents to them, using the rent money to live in Knightsbridge and snort cocaine off hookers breasts.

    -Thinking all public servants are able to retire at 29 with a £6 million per annum retirement entitlement.

    If this is you, why not fill out the application. Spread the word, promote intolerance, hate and suspicion. Join us CUNTS today.

    David & George.

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  21. Sorry to read the news Princess - it's always tough to get that kind of news. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

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  22. Princess

    So sorry to hear about your beast...everything crossed for him.

    Some real shits on silverwhistles thread.

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  23. Thanks all very much for your thoughts.

    Deano - how you doing?

    Just read the government are cancelling the Queens speech for next year as part of their totally undemocratic parliamentary reform. It does seem to have some major constitutional issues attached to doing so - something to do with them being able to push more stuff through parliament - but not in space to quite get head around it all. Looks like yet another sinister move though?

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  24. I find the strength of opposition to EP, even in principle, strange, i must say. Bracken's claim that EP supports "market based economies" is laughable and the effects of EP are often overstated, but to reject its primary assertion that there are evolutionarily determined behavioural tendencies, and that these differ slightly between males and female, seems to require rejecting quite large parts of scientific theory.

    To use Pinker's terminology (Ryle's), the "ghost in the machine" view of the mind is largely discredited by various areas of science. Its not a particularly plausible position, at all. That the mind and behaviour are linked to physical aspects of the brain is now largely beyond question.

    For instance, the recent news on autism that a simple brain scan could detect certain physical features that showed autism with 90% accuracy, as well as a host of studies in neuroscience. Or the effects of hormones (or drugs) on behaviour - these are physical substances which alter the mind and actions. The ghost in the machine is a dead end.

    The "blank slate" view of the mind has similarly been largely debunked (in combination with the above). To stick with the autism example and the brain scan, autism overwhelmingly affects males. It can also be detected by a physical scan of the brain. Hence, that itself is pretty strong evidence for slight differences between male and female - actual physical brain differences (in terms of overlapping groups and tendencies).

    Similarly the difference of hormone levels in male and females - these are facts, regardless of the politics of either their supporters or detractors.

    So the theory that there are slight biological differences between male and female, physical differences in brains and hormones, has pretty strong evidence. Either you reject all that, or you accept it but claim these changes were not caused by evolution. Considering how much of our physical bodies evolution explains i dont think this second option is plausible at all. So the only half credible position is that there are no physical differences (including the brain and its effects) between males and females (with massive overlap), and that all the science currently pointing in this direction is false propaganda.

    There are plenty of female EP proponents, and also some undeniably "progressive" ones, like Peter Singer. If it were shown, hypothetically, to be true, i dont understand what the terrible consequences would be, removal of female rights, work restrictions, removal of access to abortions, contraception, back to the kitchen? I dont see how on earth one would justify the other, in the slightest.

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  25. [EP] a new pseudo science with very few facts, just lots of just so stories to fit what a load of priveliged, wealthy, right wing, men (and a few women too) believe - along with some deeply unpleasant justifications for the worst of human behaviour.

    This is just a ridiculous, pathetic comment, princess. Evolutionary psychology doesn't peddle prejudices; but it clearly excites the prejudices among those who know fuck all about it.

    Par for the course round these parts, I might add.

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  26. Princess

    sorry to hear news from vet. A sad, sad day for you. Hugs.

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  27. Or, an example of something extremely hard to explain in purely cultural terms, ie rejecting all the above, is the oft mentioned study about female attractions at different times of the month. Cant remember which way round it goes (doesnt matter to the point in hand), but one end tends towards attraction to "masculine" blokes, and at the other end "feminine".

    I could be wrong, but im guessing this is not a conscious difference in taste but rather subconscious or, more likely, derived from hormone differences throughout the cycle.

    Is there really a cultural-social explanation for this phenomena which is more compelling than an EP explanation? I really struggle to think what that could be.

    I think a debate about the limits of EP is far more worthwhile than rejecting its basic premise.

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  28. Very sorry to hear about your pooch, Princess, hope he's ok.

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  29. Cherry pick EP 'till your heart's content, Jay, but market economies chime with nature in the way planned economies don't. It's a fair case to plead that's why they are the prevailing, dominant system.

    Societies rarely cut across the grain, n'est-ce-pas?

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  30. Jay

    I don't really know enough about EP to judge although but I do get a bit suspicious when it is used to justify particular ideological positions.

    is the oft mentioned study about female attractions at different times of the month. Cant remember which way round it goes (doesnt matter to the point in hand), but one end tends towards attraction to "masculine" blokes, and at the other end "feminine".

    Is it oft mentioned? Can't say it's something I've heard much about it.

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  31. @princess & @deanno

    since PCC brings up the subject i will tell you
    that i lost DD on the last day of August after 11yrs together 24/7,,still cant talk about it to people,,

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  32. We’re rational beings (well, some of us), but a lot of our rational thought must be a front for urges and instincts we’d find hard to put into words. As we have a rational brain, and as our brains have evolved over time, it would be odd if our thought processes hadn’t evolved with them.

    But ultimately, Dawkin’s notion of the selfish gene works best for me – we exist to ensure, through sex, that we continue to exist. The rest of it is just veneer.

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  33. Peter

    I dont even know where to start on how silly your claim is. But i'll give it a go. EP says nothing about personal self interest, it speaks only of self interest at the genetic level. That is frequently manifested in altruism and cooperation at the level of the organism. I trust you agree so far otherwise you're clearly not even worth speaking to on the subject. And as for cherry picking, christ, the irony...

    Secondly, your claim requires that market based economies are actually the most beneficial for the individual and that most individuals recognise this. Again, clearly false.

    Tit for tat comes up time and again in EP as the most credible model of social evolution. Tit for tat is absolutely compatible with cooperative, social democratic systems with significant state reach, far more so than the individualism you espouse as part of your "market based economy" fantasy. Someone explained this to you a few days ago on here, i must have missed your response?

    Regardless of all this, there is no argument from what we are to what we should be; the naturalistic fallacy. How we have evolved for enviroment X says nothing about how best to live in environment Y. To compare our modern lives to hunter gatherers isnt particularly illuminating or useful as a guide to social policy.

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  34. Oh yes PeterB/Jay, meant to say - was listening to a prog on R4 this morning about why some people intervene when witnessing street crime and some don't'. One bloke was saying how EP has identified altruism as an adapted strategy for survival and contrary to what you'd think reading the press people are more likely to try and prevent violence from erupting for example, than walk past and ignore it.

    Prog was called Walk on By and was on at 11am this morning - should think it'll be on iplayer for anyone interested - is definitely worth a listen.

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  35. Sheff - i've seen it a fair few times yeah, i think its quite well known. Its interesting in that its odd and so hard to explain socially, i think. On the scientific values of EP, falsifiability and the ability to make predictions are serious objections, but i think thats a good example.

    A social model would never predict the results of that study, whereas EP probably would.

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  36. One interesting fact that came up was - Germans are 60% likely to intervene, whereas Brits are 60% unlikely to intervene. This seemed to be affected by how safe people felt - in Germany they feel much safer than us. Also our culture of health and safety discourages us from acting individually - rather leaving it to someone in 'authority'.

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  37. "One bloke was saying how EP has identified altruism as an adapted strategy for survival and contrary to what you'd think reading the press people are more likely to try and prevent violence from erupting for example, than walk past and ignore it."

    Doesnt surprise me, but Major Bracken may well have a solid refutation. Peter?

    Altruism is undeniably a big part of EP theory. That is why claims that it validates some market fundamentalist agenda are so absurd.

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  38. God you're right Sheff. Some right wankers on the silverwhistle thing.

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  39. Jay - its certainly odd I agree. I can't recall it affecting my choices - never, ever effete middle class twits - whatever the time of the month!!

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  40. "That is frequently manifested in altruism and cooperation at the level of the organism."

    But only insofar as it satisfies the selfish gene. I hope we can agree on that, otherwise you're definitely not with talking to.

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  41. There is no selection pressure for altruism besides that which Hamilton has already catalogued; namely his theory of kin selection.

    Unless I'm missing something?

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  42. Listen to the prog I mentioned Peter - and let us know what you think.

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  43. "But only insofar as it satisfies the selfish gene. I hope we can agree on that, otherwise you're definitely not with talking to."

    I just said that, Peter. That you need to query this point suggests you havent got a lot else to say in response. Come on, you accused me of "cherry picking", back it up.

    Sheff - its weird isnt it. I wouldnt imagine its conscious change, i didnt read up too much on the study but my guess would be its due to hormone differences.

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  44. Best wishes to you too friend 3P4.

    I seem to recall that you said that you were preparing for it, nonetheless it still takes the wind from your sail.

    What can I say - only that with dogs there are few, if any, unhappy memories to spoil the pleasure of the pasty or relieve the pain of the future. Think well of the joyous occasions you had and be sure that somewhere down the road there is another dog just waiting and aching for the chance of the kind of life you can give it.

    I hope you meet each the other in due course and that the intervening sadness is not too severe.

    I'm getting there PCC - but slowly. I'm fortunate to still have Mungo and in due course I'll let him choose a new companion. Fingers crossed for you and yours in the meantime.

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  45. "Unless I'm missing something?"

    Yes, reciprocal altruism - that which forms the basis for tit-for-tat, which is currently the frontrunner for a solid model of social evolution. It benefits both the gene *overall* and also the organism, but does require penalities for breaking the rules.

    A computer program ran various models to see how different models affected organism expansion - TFT came out top. Cant remember the name of study, interesting though.

    It also helps explain certain emotions, shame, revenge, etc. So there isnt really a credible notion of EP that doesnt include TFT, and TFT really does not point to rampant individualism as a model for society.

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  46. Jay

    there is no doubt that certain physical traits are passed on genetically. The full extent of this can only be reliably measured in certain things - some genetically determined conditions for example. Attitudes and behavioural patterns are far less clear. This is still under discussion.

    Peter

    It is fundamentally the transference of EP ideas to economics that I object to. You are accepting as givens assumptions which are in no way proven.

    looking at food (resource) sharing in modern hunter gather groups suggests that the greater the risk in aquistion the less likely the goods are to be shared outside the aquiring group. We are not talking about physical risk here but the uncertainty risk. Spending a full day hunting game which may not be found is riskier than collecting regularly available vegetation which can also be stored. If the kill is small and insignificant there will not be enough for everybody.

    Meat - a luxury - cannot always be stored - in times of excess it may be shared rather than wasted. Market economics accepts this model as the end game of human development, translates it into money and spreads the idea that excess money (unlike jungle meat) for he few can be stored (hoarded) or translated into luxury goods and lifestyles. There is no need to share the excess because it doesn't 'go off' and become waste.

    An evolved society which uses money to purchase necessites does not need to hoard, it can afford to share. The cornering of essentials such as food or fuel by a small section of the population actually reduces the risk for the few - ensuring that 'bad hunting days'are covered by the resources now translated into money - and increases the risk to the majority in terms of resources be they food or jobs.

    A full larder or bank account enables risk taking - having very litle breeds caution and fear in uncertain times. The greatest risk to the poor and hungry are those who a) hoard excess goods and resources and b) use times of shortage to increase prices.

    The market operates on a 'kin system' - the clan in this case being those regarded as belonging to the group. The trickle down fails - it is the same as the crumbs from the rich man's table. Too many hungry mouths - not enough crumbs. The market is like a well guarded,fat and greedy man who stuffs himself until sick while others, with empty stomachs, can only watch and marvel at his greed.

    Having gained control of the resources it becomes necessary to blame those you have stolen from rather than admit to being a thief.

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  47. 3p4

    i understand how you are feeling. x

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  49. Altruism was a fancied fly in the ointment for EP for a while. Except that altruism itself proffers a selective advantage. You know, 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' type of thing.

    WD Hamilton is famous (in certain circles) for his prodigious work on kin selection. He demonstrated - with the use of some maths - why nature might select a propensity for selfless behaviour.

    Why might you or I, for example, re-enter a burning building to save our son or daughter? Strictly speaking, that's not compatible with the selfish gene. But it is at a deeper level, if the propagation of genes is the overriding impetus for behaviour - since ones progeny carry ones genes.

    Would one re-enter the said burning building for a neighbour's child? Well, one might, but the impulse would be much less clear cut, and even it (should it occur) would be accounted for according to EP: one'd be hopeful the favour might one day be returned.

    I can see why this might fuck with people's purist notions of selfless acts, but actually the motive for goodness shouldn't detract from the goodness itself - I mean, Godly people invoke God for their good works everyday of the fuckin' week.

    No, what's to be celebrated is the evolution of the impulse for selfless compassion. Now, that is amazing.

    Jay and Leni - I'll reply to your posts when the markets have closed, though I've alluded to reciprocal altruism in my comment, Jay.

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  50. Afternoon all

    Some years ago i watched a TV programme about altruism where gentiles who had saved jews during the Holocaust were used as case studies.And based on that the programme concluded that the most altruistic people are usually the most unassuming.People who rarely 'stand out' during the good times but nevertheless are quick to step up to the breach when the shit hits the fan.And then return to obscurity when their help and support is no longer needed.

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  51. Selflessness is a learned behaviour – selfishness is an innate one.

    In a nutshell.

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  52. You can test yourself for egotism/altuism here

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  53. Hmm..my post seems to been spammed

    You can test your altuism levels here

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  54. Schoolboy lookalike George Osbournet is planning to scrap child benefit for kids over 16.At present all kids aged 17-19 in full time education are eligible for it.No talk of means testing so the rich won't probably notice when they lose it whist the poor -yet again-will be hit hardest.

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  55. probably won't notice as opposed to won't probably notice-Duh!

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  56. Paul

    Isee he is using the same excuse again - that levels of spending on welfare can't continue. No explanation as to why , no alternative suggesions, no investment for jobs.

    It has become an empty mantra.

    Ths will cut competition for higher education as fewer kids will stay on beyond 16.

    Does he intend to reintroduce unemployment benefit for 16 year olds ? More kids will be living on the streets.

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  57. Oh well, I give up - two posts vanished. In the spam folder I suppose. That bloody thing is a real pain.

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  58. Jay:

    Once EP accounted for altruism it easily accounted for reciprocal altruism. But reciprocal altruism has its limits - the limits defined by the cheats that exploit it. That's why truly selfless acts are so few and far between.

    I'm aware that EP's ability to explain subtlety discredits it for some on this board, but in fact its power lies in its embrace. Show me a more powerful explanatory tool for human behaviour and I'll ditch EP tomorrow. Boys and girls are so socialised? Bollox. Homosexuals are a product of their upbringing? Bollox. Rape stems from the social objectification of women? Bollox. Selfishness is a consequence of a culture of rapacious capitalism? Bollox to that, too.

    Indeed, so much that passes for informed sociological opinion is bollox. It's not that I don't think humans can't transcend their evolutionary past; I think that, to some extent, they can - what is is not the same as what ought (to be) - but nor will I meekly cede to those who think that our biology is irrelevant.

    Leni:

    The market operates on a 'kin system' - the clan in this case being those regarded as belonging to the group. The trickle down fails - it is the same as the crumbs from the rich man's table. Too many hungry mouths - not enough crumbs. The market is like a well guarded,fat and greedy man who stuffs himself until sick while others, with empty stomachs, can only watch and marvel at his greed.

    This is so much hogwash. The market is a disinterested mechanism that values stuff. It is the sum of countless competing decisions, controlled by no one, dictated by no privileged force. If anything, it is like nature itself: indifferent about winners or losers, but selecting of winners.

    By which I mean that the market doesn't rig it for the 'clan', whoever they are. It's simply a restless sea of choices. Seriously, Leni, you speak of the market as though it were a religious cult. It's not. The market - to its credit - doesn't give a fuck about anyone. Rich and poor alike.

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  59. Leni

    Does he intend to reintroduce unemployment benefit for 16 year olds ?

    Fat chance of that - it'd be cheaper to keep child benefit. They'll no doubt be marched off to job centres on a regular basis to go through the palaver of getting a job - only there won't be any to get. This country is getting more and more surreal.

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  60. 1. Jay:

    Once EP accounted for altruism it easily accounted for reciprocal altruism. But reciprocal altruism has its limits - the limits defined by the cheats that exploit it. That's why truly selfless acts are so few and far between.

    I'm aware that EP's ability to explain subtlety discredits it for some on this board, but in fact its power lies in its embrace. Show me a more powerful explanatory tool for human behaviour and I'll ditch EP tomorrow. Boys and girls are so socialised? Bollox. Homosexuals are a product of their upbringing? Bollox. Rape stems from the social objectification of women? Bollox. Selfishness is a consequence of a culture of rapacious capitalism? Bollox to that, too.

    Indeed, so much that passes for informed sociological opinion is bollox. It's not that I don't think humans can't transcend their evolutionary past; I think that, to some extent, they can -what is is not the same as what ought (to be) - but nor will I meekly cede to those who think that our biology is irrelevant.

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  62. 2. Leni:

    "The market operates on a 'kin system' - the clan in this case being those regarded as belonging to the group. The trickle down fails - it is the same as the crumbs from the rich man's table. Too many hungry mouths - not enough crumbs. The market is like a well guarded,fat and greedy man who stuffs himself until sick while others, with empty stomachs, can only watch and marvel at his greed."

    This is so much hogwash. The market is a disinterested mechanism that values stuff. It is the sum of countless competing decisions, controlled by no one, dictated by no privileged force. If anything, it is like nature itself: indifferent about winners or losers, but selecting of winners.

    By which I mean that the market doesn't rig it for the 'clan', whoever they are. It's simply a restless sea of choices. Seriously, Leni, you speak of the market as though it were a religious cult. It's not. The market - to its credit - doesn't give a fuck about anyone. Rich and poor alike.

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  63. Peter

    The market itself doesn't give a stuff about anyone - I agree. It is blind to individuals as it is blind to need. It cannot see the hungry or the sick - it is threfore incapable of directing resources to those most in need.

    The human supporters and beneficiaries of the market are responsible for this failure. Those who manipulate it for their own ends. They do not have the excuse of being a blind system - they can both see and hear . They are the ones responsible.

    Can you give me one good reason - ethically - why the the resoures of the planet should not be more evnly distributed ?

    Can you explain how farmers in developing nations should get a minimal profit on their labours whilst a trader can make millions ? The mechanism of the market allows this to happen.

    The market did not arise on its own from nowhere. It was designed with in inbuilt failures. It is lauded as though it were a god . It is an artificial construct which is maintained for the benefit of the few.

    My metaphor og the greedy man was just that - a metaphor.

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  64. Sheff

    Many of these kids will be put on workfare or something similar. They will learn no skills, be expected to work for nigh on nothing and will grow up angry and resentful.

    Osborne is foolish, shortsighted and worse.

    This whole ida of the rugged individual deprived of the means to work - and ultimately to support himself - has been tested over the centuries. It has failed to produce much in the way of good results.

    Angry people - some will turn to crime, others to drugs (funded by crime ) - many others will kill themselves.

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  65. Evening all

    Drive-by post just to check in, and give huge hugs to 3p4 and PCC.

    Haven't had much time lately - back to work with a vengeance.

    Will try and say something useful later.

    BB x

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  66. I don't think that keeping the system as it is, but just wanting it to be fair, is really going to work. It's not capitalists that are the really the core problem, it's the economic system itself, and the fact that so much of democracy (for as little as there is) is subservient, in many respects, to the "markets".

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  67. Peter:

    The market - to its credit - doesn't give a fuck about anyone. Rich and poor alike.

    Agreed, although I think that's intrinsic rather than something meritorious.

    The market is quintessentially amoral.

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  68. JayReilly said...

    Tit for tat comes up time and again in EP as the most credible model of social evolution. Tit for tat is absolutely compatible with cooperative, social democratic systems with significant state reach, far more so than the individualism you espouse as part of your "market based economy" fantasy. Someone explained this to you a few days ago on here, i must have missed your response?

    If I remember correctly, there was a strategy that proved superior to TFT, that of GTFT, or "Generous" Tit-for-tat. The idea being that your default first move is to make the positive generous move, and thereafter depending on the response, you deploy Tit-for-tat. This is to avoid two parties adopting the tit-for-tat strategy getting locked into a loop of constantly making a negative response.

    Of course, this only works in scenarios where there is an expectation of frequently repeated encounters. Taking a big hit in a situation where the other party can simply walk away with the spoils after the first encounter isn't so cool. And that's easier to do these days in more mobile, anonymous societies.

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  69. "Cherry pick EP 'till your heart's content, Jay, but market economies chime with nature in the way planned economies don't. It's a fair case to plead that's why they are the prevailing, dominant system."

    I don't think EP's being totally derided by anybody here and it can perhaps explain, just as its 'competitors' in the field human behaviour about 80% to 90% of social relations and interactions in what appears a plausible manner...in that sense, I might even go as far as describing it as a powerful explanatory tool..

    thing is, the missing 10% seems to be the 10% with all the 'good bits' in, the bits that single us out as human...the bits that make us able simultaneously to explain parts of nature while remaining part of it and question our place within it.

    How does EP explain: our unique status in nature as self-consciousness beings..in allowing to wonder why we're here..in allowing us to dream up theories such as EP in the first place...in allowing us to contemplate our own mortality...in giving us a conscience, guilt..in fact how does EP discriminate between us and sophisticated programmable machines?

    the thing EP can't touch...our 'basic' humanity

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  70. Leni

    The market did not arise on its own from nowhere. It was designed with in inbuilt failures. It is lauded as though it were a god . It is an artificial construct which is maintained for the benefit of the few.

    Yes! Good posts and I really admire your tenacity!

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  71. Peter

    Considering all thats happened the last few years your faith in the market as a natural, efficient mechanism is almost touching. It didnt select the winners, did it, "it" hugely misvalued trillions of dollars of assets leading to a global crisis. And funnily enough, it misvalued in favour of the wealthy financial elite. It didnt underprice their assets, of course, it hugely overvalued them.

    The closeness of government, regulatory bodies, banks, ratings agencies etc is completely incompatible with the pure, "natural" market you like to imagine exists. The world is full of corruption and idiots and 'the market' gives full voice to both.

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  72. peter bracken said...
    2. Leni:

    "The market operates on a 'kin system' - the clan in this case being those regarded as belonging to the group. The trickle down fails - it is the same as the crumbs from the rich man's table. Too many hungry mouths - not enough crumbs. The market is like a well guarded,fat and greedy man who stuffs himself until sick while others, with empty stomachs, can only watch and marvel at his greed."

    This is so much hogwash. The market is a disinterested mechanism that values stuff. It is the sum of countless competing decisions, controlled by no one, dictated by no privileged force. If anything, it is like nature itself: indifferent about winners or losers, but selecting of winners.


    The difficulty with this, of course, is that the market IS dictated to.

    ACcruing capital, gives a potential advantage in future economic engagements. You can buy up rivals, undercut them, buy extra resources, sustain failure better, buy influence etc., thus rigging the playing field in your favour.

    On our planet, more money lets you buy preferential access to healthcare, to educational resources, to safer neighbourhoods and better accommodation, more mobility and enriching social networks, safer cars, and more time to look after yourself and those you care about. Among many other things.

    It's a stacked deck that reinforces itself, particularly in conditions of structural employment, where wealth has a tendency to trickle up not down, as the unemployed are marginalised and the rest see wages depressed. Meanwhile those who profit from this entrench advantage...

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  73. 3p4 - So sorry to hear that. Sending you big, big hugs.

    Deano - Mungo is a fine fellow! Lovely beasty. I am glad you take comfort from him. Sending you a big hug too.

    Peter B - Whatever - no need to be so nasty but really can't be arsed today of all days mate.

    Right all am off for the nite. xx

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  74. particularly in conditions of structural UNemployment, rather...

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  75. Evening all.

    Even theIMF Director Generalthinks that the UK public sector cuts are a mistake:

    'Strauss-Kahn said: "The labour market is in dire straits. The Great Recession has left behind a wasteland of unemployment, and this devastation threatens the livelihood, security and dignity of millions of people across the world."

    He said the severity of the recession was in part to blame, but also how the fallout from the recession affected particular sectors.

    In a reference to the UK, Ireland, Spain and the US, which suffered a banking crisis made worse by the after-effects of a housing bubble, he said: "Job loss was greatest in countries where housing and financial markets collapsed. Most of this came from manufacturing and construction, showing that ordinary workers have paid the price for mistakes made elsewhere".'

    Listening to the radio on way home from work and noted with some anger that the pilot's union spoke against the rest of the unions at the TUC today.

    Of course, pilots are somewhat better paid than your average worker in the UK so can't be expected to give a toss about the rest of us.

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  76. hevers

    there is a classic games theory ploy which says you repeat the last 2 moves of your opponent - thus giving leeway for doubt.

    This does give enormous advantage to the con man who plays nice for everal moves and then suddenly steals all or completely fells his opponent.

    It works better if all agree to play nice and then all agree to smack down anyone who cheats or attacks an opponent.

    Here again we have to take into account the variability of human nature and behaviour.

    life is not a game.

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  77. 3p4, deano & princess

    My thoughts are with you all.
    x

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  78. "what is is not the same as what ought" And that's where EP, for all of its intriguing,possible,plausible explanations falls down, in the reverse manner to sociology. If the latter is guilty too much of talking of what ought to be,seeking to impose it upon what is, EP gets used to justify what is, and to shut down debate on what ought to be. EP gives a possible explanation, just a possible one, and sometimes that's with unverifiable hypotheses, or debatable causal chains. An explanation though is not the same as a justification or an excuse, but those are the ends to which EP is too often employed.

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  79. @Leni

    Yes, the deployment of sanctions. If there are several players in the game, you can gang up. This is why those who love the con tend to prefer the elderly and vulnerable, or anyone not in a position to deploy sanctions really.

    An alternative approach is to insist the others invest in the situation so that they stand to lose more if screwing things up.

    Or, play a game where you can manoeuvre the buggers.

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  80. @alisdair

    Yes. Even if we accept EP determines our behaviour, it does not mean that our evolved psychology is necessarily acting in our best interests. There are many examples of irrational behaviour as a result of emotions and heuristics that have evolved but mislead us in various modern-day situations.

    Advertisers make a living out of that sort of thing.

    So even if Capitalism did evolve as a result of EP, doesn't mean it's rational for most of us. And poorly regulated capitalism in conditions of structural unemployment is shot through with issues.

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  81. "How does EP explain: our unique status in nature as self-consciousness beings..in allowing to wonder why we're here..in allowing us to dream up theories such as EP in the first place...in allowing us to contemplate our own mortality...in giving us a conscience, guilt..in fact how does EP discriminate between us and sophisticated programmable machines?"

    I'm not sure if it can, tbh MF, not yet at least. But consciousness is really the big problem not just for EP but for philosophy and lots of areas of science as well. I cant really think of any discipline which gives a satisfactory account of consciousness or the difference between us and machines (assuming there is such a difference which is in itself a big debate).

    I dont think EP is really a guide to life or social policy, but certainly does seem to cast light on a few specific areas, certainly not the basis for an entire political/social system.


    Hevers

    Thats right, the negative TFT never really gets off the ground so you need that initial slant to get it going.

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  82. I find myself in the very unusual position of being 100% behind Peter Bracken regarding the importance of EP's.

    The Buzzcocks "Spiral Scratch" EP is seminal, My Bloody Valentine's "Tremolo" EP rewrote the sonic landscape and Aphex Twin redefined dance music with the "Xylem tube" EP in 1992.












    Do I win £5?

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  83. Duke

    have you lost a post. As I refreshed i saw a comment from you about AllyF being deleted flash before my eyes.

    Can't find it upthread - or am I stupid?

    Off to cook.

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  84. Alisdair - i think thats a problem of how *some* people try to use EP rather than an issue of EP itself, just as sociology is of course used by people to try and further their own agendas and ideas. They are two sides of the same coin in that regard, as you say, the moralistic versus naturalistic fallacies.

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  85. I think posts are being eaten by the spam folder again leni. His Grace's post is probably being digested as we speak.

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  86. "I'm not sure if it can, tbh MF, not yet at least. But consciousness is really the big problem not just for EP but for philosophy and lots of areas of science as well. I cant really think of any discipline which gives a satisfactory account of consciousness or the difference between us and machines (assuming there is such a difference which is in itself a big debate)."

    I see your point but our consciousness is precisely what enables us to sit back and contemplate evolution while simultaneously acknowledging its (disputed)influence/ hold over us. Presumably since we can sit back and consider evolution (EP for instance) we can also transcend it; negate those competitive impulses that EP suggests are so fundamental.


    This next question is not well phrased since it seems to imply either an intelligence behind or a teleology of evolution..but fuck it here goes anyway...

    If evolution has made us so we are conscious of its own existence and workings then surely it 'wants' us to feel free to release ourselves from it grip..what other 'purpose' would be served by our evolving to the point where we are conscious of evolution if not to set ourselves free of its 'imperatives'?

    In so far as the notion of evolution 'wanting' us to do something obviously implies a will to change, then short of a creator...that will is surely to be supplied by those evolved creatures aware of evolution and wanting and willing to change...ergo Socialism

    [The seeds of EPs destruction are clearly inherent in its own contradictions...evolution has provided 'its own gravediggers' as the saying goes.

    So, basically evolution is nature's bourgeois capitalism...it's had a good run..but...]

    feel free to ignore the bit in square brackets...it started as a joke..well..an attempt to wind a certain person up...then it became half serious..but now I read it back..hmmm?

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  87. Leni,

    I can still see the AllyF comment however I had an expletives strewn post eaten this afternoon. I was going to enquire to its whereabouts but couldn't be arsed.

    Nows as good a time as any I suppose...where did my post go? The sweary mary post dungeon?

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  88. @ Jay. Exactly my point, but and this is a big but, because both covet some kind of scientific status, project themselves up as objective they as disciplines undermine themselves and lay themselves open to manipulation:history long got past that stage and is more open about uses,abuses, competing and contradictory narratives (witness the growth of historiography).

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  89. MF

    "Presumably since we can sit back and consider evolution (EP for instance) we can also transcend it"

    I dont think logically that jump holds, though I agree with the sentiment in that a knowledge of what human nature is should not stop us from trying to change it, or at least socialise ourselves to the point where its negated.

    We already do this in a number of places, like violence - i think a lot of people would accept a degree of violence in human nature but still strongly agree that eradicating violence is an unqualified good thing. But that isnt the same as removing or even altering that violent impulse (assuming it exists). Battling our impulses is itself part of human nature i think.

    The evolutionary benefit of consciousness is another big debate, i've never heard a solid answer. But from memory, someone did make the good point that not all traits are advantageous in themselves, some are simply side effects of traits and changes which are advantageous.

    Though it seems much more likely that consciousness has given us evolutionary advantage. But the major stumbling point with suggestings its purpose is to allow us to overcome nature is that evolution is a very recent human discovery, and we were already top of the tree by the time we found it out. So it must have had other benefits (unless its a case of side effects, as above).

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  90. On a side issue..

    Can you be an alpha male if you're skint?

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  91. "Exactly my point, but and this is a big but, because both covet some kind of scientific status, project themselves up as objective they as disciplines undermine themselves and lay themselves open to manipulation"

    Very true, though perhaps this is just a sign of their relatively short lifespan, maybe in time a healthy, critical appreciation of both will emerge. Though in some senses they seem to do the job for each other relatively well, sociology pointing out the bias of EP, and EP the biological downfalls of sociology.

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  92. "Can you be an alpha male if you're skint?"

    Of course, just tag along behind a genuine alpha male, like the Major, and some of his alpha status is conferred on you. Grunt, beat chest 3 times and watch the ladies pour in...

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  93. @MF

    I can see what you're saying, I think.

    At the base level, the evolution of self-awareness allows us to transcend the base impulses that may be rooted tens of millennia back in time, and have not kept pace with modern requirements. The development of our brains in general allow us to adapt much more readily to complex and rapid change.

    However, this can still be regarded as part of the selfish-gene paradigm. Self awareness giving us an advantage in the survival of the fittest, in allowing us to adopt more rational, appropriate responses to the environment to better ensure survival.

    Where it gets interesting... is when awareness transcends the needs of the self. When people invest in advocating, protecting, propagating and otherwise supporting things that don't necessarily benefit the self at all, or one's gene. May even be detrimental.

    Some of this may be considered selfish in the sense that some altruism may reap reciprocal benefits, or at least the survival of one's kin if not oneself.

    But there are various acts that do not fall even into this category. People who advance and cherish stuff simply because they appreciate the value of it, regardless of any personal benefit.

    Cynics might claim that this is still a "selfish" motive, in that it produces satisfaction, and so you are only doing what makes you feel satisfied.

    But regardless of that, if you take a hit to your genes' survival chances, then you are no longer behaving according to the survival-of-the-fittest paradigm, hence questioning EP.

    The minute people consider there are things more important than their genes' survival, then EP starts to lose its lustre. Which greater awareness of the self, and the comparison of that with all that's going on in the world, may lead to.

    Of course, there can be pseudo-evolutionary imperatives at work in some cases. Wanting one's ideas to live on, or contribution in some other sense. But it isn't necessarily genes any more, so there may be a conflict of evolutionary imperatives, at times.

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  94. Jay

    take your point about side effects..but isn't all evolution just side effects..some of which turn out quite useful and then become adapted within a species?...maybe some just haven't found a 'role' yet...maybe conciousness (especially consciousness of evolution is one such..and maybe its day will come?)

    "We already do this in a number of places, like violence - i think a lot of people would accept a degree of violence in human nature but still strongly agree that eradicating violence is an unqualified good thing."

    ..but there's also an evolutionary advantage in negating violent tendencies...I'm actually wondering whether there may be an evolutionary advantage in consciously negating the effects of evolution...or at least evolution in its selection of the best adapted, strongest, fittest whatever (what you might call "evolution 0")...although by consciously negating evolution, would we be simply acting in accordance with a kind of meta-evolution with a much broader scope (including the transcendence of 'evolution alpha') which we might as well call "evolution 1"...and so on within a nested infinity of evolutions.

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  95. MF

    On side effects, see what you mean but there are changes which produce an evolutionary advantage, and sometimes its the very same mutation, or set of mutations, which unwittingly have other, non advantageous effects. They stay with us for reasons other than this side effect, so mutation X might cause A, B and C, only A is useful and only A causes the mutation to survive etc. But in broad terms, yes, since the changes are non-teleological, they are all side effects in that respect.

    On violence i suppose its a classic case of conflicting drives. As a species we clearly benefitted from size, strength, and often violence. But in-group violence is obviously problematic. So evolutionary advantage both in violence and negation of violence in different situations.

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  96. Right gotta go do some work, final OU essay, interesting one though - on the knowledge argument against physicalism (materialism):

    Mary knows every physical fact about colour yet has been confined in a room all her life completely devoid of colour. Everything is black and white, she learnt all the facts about colour from black and white textbooks.

    When she finally steps out the room she sees a red surface for the first time, she now knows what it is like to experience red. Has she learnt a new fact about the colour red? If so, is it a 'non-physical' fact? Or is it not a new fact at all, but a 'property', or 'know how', or a new 'ability'?

    Interesting topic, and with strong links to the idea of "consciousness".

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  97. monkey

    the so called selfish gene produces in animals such characteristics as camouflage - enabling to hide from predators and therefore more likely to survive and breed. It is adaptation to the environment at its simplest.

    We do not live in a simple environment and so need many adaptive traits - not all of which everybody uses. These traits can lie dormant and unused. If they are physical characteristics genetically encoded we may still pass them on even if not using them ourselves.

    The pepper moth community needs few adaptive traits so they are fairly uniform both physically and behaviourily. Human societies needs many expressions of our humanity - phsically, behaviourily and in terms of skills and abilities.

    I am trying to think of an adaptive trait which recorded history suggests we have now lost. So far - no luck.

    Mind sets have changed along with world views - but physical characteristics ?

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  98. Jay

    A question I pondered years ago.

    Vietnamese efugees - one blided in bombing raid when he was about 4.

    I and a colleague - black guy - were asked by one why he was so dark - was he African?

    It transpired they had nevr seen a black guy before. The blind boy was intrigued - he remembered seeing black coal - shiny black. He had problems envisioning my mate.

    Made me think a lot about our experience of colour.

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  99. "I am trying to think of an adaptive trait which recorded history suggests we have now lost. So far - no luck."

    ..chicken in a basket?..when did you last have one of them?

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  100. monkey

    cultural artifacts - chicken in basket or clay writing tablets - no longer used but still accessible and reproducable.

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  101. Some who abuse the EP concept take the worship of the "survival of the fittest" too far. They see it as "superior", when what it often means is simply better adapted to a particular set of circumstances.

    If circumstances change, they may no longer be the fittest. They may even be among the worst-adapted.

    You might say that the more adaptable therefore have an advantage but in times of stability specialisation might be favoured.

    A notable aspect of our own evolution, is that we are able to transcend our genetic inheritance somewhat. We can physically alter ourselves, and our environment.

    Once you can do this, it reframes the survival-of-the-fittest thing somewhat. You may not be the fittest in your environment actually, but if you can shape the environment to suit you...

    Simllarly, we can shape the situation to allow more to participate, contribute and benefit than would otherwise have been the case, rather than allowing crude selection to weed them out.

    In that sense, it kinda transcends evolution. Instead of obliging us to suit the situation, we bend the situation to suit us.

    Of course, there are those engaged in bending the situation just to suit their own narrow interest, and others who are concerned that more benefit.

    Technically, even transforming a situation may still help gene survival. But it may do away with some of the problems of "survival of the fittest" in that process.

    Of course, some argue that there are dangers in this process. For example, insufficient exposure to disease can maybe leave the immune system less developed. But you can do something about that...

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  102. hevers

    another point being that we, unlike the peppered moth - can adapt the environment.

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  103. "If so, is it a 'non-physical' fact? Or is it not a new fact at all, but a 'property', or 'know how', or a new 'ability'?"

    'non physical fact'

    It's certainly a 'physical fact' in that: certain receptors will be stimulated for the first time and presumably certain neurons firing along first time synapses to a virgin location; it's an entirely new phenomenal stimuli; and it's a piece of 'information' that she didn't posses before...don't see how it's non-physical unless you can't account for all these in a plausible materialist way..and I think you can.

    I'm open to the suggestion that non-physical 'facts' come into play when you are thinking about not physical facts, but the relationship between physical facts..notably "Mary hates red"..."prefers blue to red"..."Mary would like to paint the town red"..."I wonder who made 'red'?" but I'm a sort of ultra materialist and I like to think that somewhere these 'relationships' between physical facts are essentially physical processes at a microscopic, even quantum level involving interactions between the existing physical facts as represented by the arrangement of 'stuff'.

    'new?'

    think it's definitely new on many levels

    'property', or 'know how', or a new 'ability'?"

    I think all these are essentially synonyms for 'new fact'

    'property' is surely just an (previously unknown) aspect of the physical world..or fact about it

    'know how' and 'ability'

    ..just indicate a new facility stimulated by an awareness of 'redness'..which is not really new since it's already dealt with (encountered, considered, reacted to..) a multitude of previous new external stimuli: cold, hot, pain, hunger, fear, joy, light, dark, tiredness...red's a big story...but it's not going to blow her mind because that's got a genetic facility for taking red in its stride (unless her parents were locked up too...and her grandparents)...

    as you say above..the problem is

    consciousness...which you can't really put down as a physical fact..unless you regard it as the cumulative effect of every physical fact combined with every piece of current sensory data working, each to variable intensities at any particular time..which is kinda plausible..

    then you come to self-consciousness and you're fucked..cos you're suddenly aware of your own conciousness..so where the fuck..as they say....did that come from?

    turtles on turtles

    I've just had a very very big spliff btw

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  104. Your grace's splendid overview of great extended play phonograph discs by popular beat combos misses out the groundbreaking I Am A Walrus EP by The Beatles. It was gatefold with a booklet in the middle it was.

    PS I think the cnut word gets UT posts directed immediately to the naughty step, but I can't be sure.

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  105. Although the word seems to have been thrown liberally around the place without problem recently, so unless Montana's fishing them all out of chokey, maybe that's not the problem.

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  106. @Leni

    Yep, I agree. I thought I said that, but maybe I wasn't clear enough.

    In the context of neoliberalism, of course, they claim that their "survival of the fittest" approach will result in all being better off. That isn't how it works in nature, where the less fit often die out.

    Even worse, when it comes to economics, what happens is that those who secure an advantage - often involving luck - get to rig the situation even more to suit themselves than before. So stuff doesn't trickle down much. It's a con. It's even worse than in the jungle, in some respects. Your average Lion or Tiger can't create conditions of structural unemployment to exploit.

    Reward is a motivator, but when it gives advantage that stymies the potential for rewards for others, then it all goes tits-up.

    And to be honest, a lot of people aren't THAT bothered about surviving, if it means surviving in a shithole of a situation. That is why they will risk their lives to improve the situation, even if the situation doesn't necessarily threaten their existence.

    Basically what it comes down to, is a bit of a scrap between those who are mostly concerned with as much advantage as possible for themselves and their kin, versus those who see the benefit in having more of humanity in a position to contribute and benefit.

    Of course, empowering more of humanity is not the easiest thing to do, and so it can screw up at times, whereupon neolibs will scream that it's impossible, and we should just let them continue to suit themselves, and pretend it's the best way. But after the banking crisis, no one believes that shit any more.

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  107. I notice that the Gdn - CiF had Grover Norquist article on friday, and then we had Glover on sunday, which looks to me like an 'interesting' coincidence . I'm not suggesting that GuardianCentre is necessarily supporting this programme of "shrinking the State so it disappears down the plug-hole of History" ( half-remembered Norquist quote from several years ago ! ) , but that the TeaParty and associated TaxPayers movements are worth keeeping an eye on .

    There was a good link recommended on MikeWhite's thursday article on the TeaParty . Extract : --

    Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.” ( The Koch brothers .)
    ------------------------------------------
    Dunno if the vast powers of those mothas have anything to do with EP but i only discovered that term yesterday !

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  108. Hello everyone, just got back from Ireland. Tried to link to some interesting stuff going on there but the internet connections kept crashing and what with twelve hour shifts and the abysmal sign posting in Dublin and Belfast there was precious little time to do anything other than sleep!
    Anyway, the good news is my Brother in Law has managed to restore the internet connection on my laptop.

    BTW:although the work was a bit of a slog, the hospitality of the Irish, both North and South was top notch.

    I'll try the links tomorrow

    BTW:(again!): What's "EP"?

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  109. chekhov-- glad to see I'm not the only ignoramus around here . Bunch of intellekshall polymaths that they are :)

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  110. Chekhov ...

    I think it's this ... never really noticed it before today:

    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/papers/bussconceptual05.pdf

    LINK

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  111. cekhov

    Evolutionary psychology

    Welcome back x

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  112. frog

    you and me will sit in the corner and talk gardening.

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  113. Martyn -- I didn't notice anyone seriously disagreeing with your fundamental ' tenets of neo-liberalism' to day . Very well expressed .

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  114. Great article by Arundhati Roy

    The Trickledown Revolution


    Can we expect that an alternative to what looks like certain death for the planet will come from the imagination that has brought about this crisis in the first place? It seems unlikely. The alternative if there is one, will emerge from the places and the people who have resisted the hegemonic impulse of capitalism and imperialism instead of being co-opted by it.

    Here in India, even in the midst of all the violence and greed, there is still immense hope. If anyone can do it, we can do it. We still have a population that has not yet been completely colonized by that consumerist dream. We have a living tradition of those who have struggled for Gandhi’s vision of sustainability and self-reliance, for socialist ideas of egalitarianism and social justice. We have Ambedkar’s vision which challenges the Gandhians as well the Socialists in serious ways. We have the most spectacular coalition of resistance movements with experience, understanding and vision.

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  115. Leni - I can talk gardening, derivatives and antique tractors, but am useless on abstract philosophy where you do hold your own ...

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  116. Monkey

    We still have vestigial tails.

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  117. Frog

    you can talk about its application to economics though - better than I.

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  118. "We still have vestigial tails."

    so what happened to the rest?..surely a long tail was an adaptive trait that we lost?

    ..or the adaption to the use of brontosauruses as cranes in quarries...try reproducing that?

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  119. Sheffpixie 22.31 " That man, says Mitra, was Manmohan Singh.
    Over the years he has stacked his cabinet and the bureaucracy with people who are evangelically committed to the corporate take-over of everything—water, electricity, minerals, agriculture, land, telecommunications, education, health—no matter what the consequences.


    -------------------------------------

    Thanks for the link Pixie . From the beginning I felt that guy was a stooge, but had no idea how bad the Reality on the Ground was . I was up-to- date on the 40,000 + + farmers' suicides but escaped knowledge of nearly all the rest.

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  120. Sorry if I missed the thrust of rhis thread but I don't know bugger all about "Evolutionary Psychology"
    Can someone explain it to me?

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  121. Chekhov --- Martyn link on EP ?

    Haven't clicked myself, becos age tells me I can't possibly hope to understand absolutely everything that other people are discussing sufficiently to add to a debate .

    That is one of the problems of our age, that so much info is available that we forget to trust our instinct on what is right, but go on looking for pseudo-evidence to prove it .

    Information over-load.

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  122. chekhov

    don't worry about EP - it is not a proven case.

    Psychology has many ways of spawning money. Each 'school' has its followers and practictioners and each generates a plethora of publications.

    You are as free to speculate as to how we became what we are today - as individuals or societies - as everyone else.

    How much is the result of evolutionary forces ? As we evolve within cultures, societies and economic systems the question is which comes first ?

    Its another form of Darinism - without evidence. Do we shape he culture or it us. Does 'the law of the jungle' apply to man ? What exactly is the law of jungle anyway ? There is no correspondence between the mixed denizens of the jungle and human societies. Etc etc. We can argue forever.

    one thing is clear to me - evolutionary forces do NOT demand that man lives in layered societies with the wealth held in a few hands while the rest scrabble for existence. Economic EPers like to argue that they do - that this is 'just the way it is '. it justifies them.

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  123. MF

    Too late for a long post so briefly:

    Its an interssting question. The physical process of her seeing red for the first time is itself a physical process, but the question is has she learnt a new fact about red (is her physical reaction a fact about the colour?). She already knew about the neurons firing, its spectrum and wavelength, etc, she knew every fact about red she had just never seen it herself.

    Here's the wiki page on it which probably explains it a bit better, but refuting it isnt as straightforward as it seems at first:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary%27s_room


    night all

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  124. Hello Leni, that's a good enough explanation for me!

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  125. On the issue of Mary seeing red.

    She hasn't uncovered any new facts about the properties of red, necessarily, but she has learned to PERCEIVE it. To put an experience or sensation to the name and facts she knows about it. She can now associate the facts she knows about the colour red with the experience and recognition of it.

    Clearly, this confers know-how and ability. She can recognise the colour red on a traffic light, which could be quite useful.

    Clearly, there are no new facts about red in terms of its properties. Its wavelength hasn't changed. It's still a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Just because Mary can now perceive red, does not mean that red has changed in any way.

    The learning is to do with Mary's perception and association. Similar in some respects to putting a name to a face. One can quibble over whether learning to perceive and associate something is a "fact", depending on how one defines a "fact", but clearly learning has taken place and there are new abilities.

    That's my guess, anyway.

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  126. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  127. Evening all

    @welcome back to blighty chekhov.

    Does anyone here have an in-depth understanding of MS.Thanks.

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  128. Paul

    It is not even certain that MS is a single condition. I know this much as it was suspected in my case - it is an autoimmune condition. Would not presume to give advice. (I haven't got MS )

    I read your now deleted comment and the only thing I can suggest is that you are as supportive as possible.

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  129. Hi Leni

    Thanks for that.There's so much info on the net and i,m too knackered to take it all in.But we're trying to deal with someone who thinks her life is not worth living.From what i can gather the fact she has had 27 years in remission since her first diagnosis is a postive factor.And that her symptoms will hopefully be manageable.But like so many of us she's a few pay checks from disaster and can't afford not to work.We talk so much about here about plight of the sick and disabled but maybe don't get across the heartbreak,fear and desperation people feel when diagnosed with a serious illness.People shouldn't feel that if they get ill they'll lose everything.Yet this is what our friend feels.If she can't work the mortgage won't get paid she'll lose her home and she's got nowhere to go.Sometimes 'tea and sympathy'aren't enough.

    Anyways thanks for replying.I,ve got an early start tomorrow so i need some shut-eye.

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  130. Pay cheques even.

    Nite Leni x

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  131. PaulBJ -- excellent posts on waddya recently .

    Whatever some rather over-aggressive people here have said, I believe that JessicaReed is doing a good job in getting many good articles out there .

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  132. Paul

    sorry not to be more helpful.

    As anyone who has faced serious illness will tell you depression is a danger. MS is a daunting thought. Many people do continue to work - sometimes after arrangement with employer to change hours etc. Only your friend will know if her her boss is approachable and likely to be supportive.

    There are MS support groups - some online. They can advise. You may be able to find a local one - if your friend is willing to go you could perhaps accompany her to the first meeting.

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  133. Leni - the Night Owl of UT -- goodnight soon .

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  134. Dave

    I usually write things up between midnight and about 2 am. I have done it since student days. I come and go on UT - between thinking. I am a night owl - in the morning the last thing to wake up is speech ! Love silence.

    Night night x

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