The magic touch

I was reading Powerline the other day and discovered that I’m not the only one to have noticed that when Obama signals that he’s following precisely in Bush’s footsteps, whether making policy or appointing people, the same decisions that were derided as evil or stupid under Bush’s aegis are hailed as wise, temperate and even brilliant when Obama makes them. Apparently the Emperor makes all his clothes look better.

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  • ProtestShooter

    I’m starting to think it’s kind of like recycling. It was junk before, but look how new and shiny it is now!

  • cottus

    Black is white, 2 + 2 = 5. Can that failed institution, the American press, be compensated for by the internet? And how long will that freedom last? It’s the pornography don’t you know? It must be controlled for the children just as talk radio must be regulated to prevent hate speech. It’s about fairness, don’t you know?

    But what I really want to know is whether or not this brief period of calm presages a return to Democrat rule as usual ala` Clinton, or are we merely frogs in the saucepan, feeling those first sensations of warmth, thinking things really aren’t as bad as we feared.

  • kali

    Because it’s not actions that matter, it’s motivation. And they get to assign the motives.

    It reminds me of a long-ago argument I had in grad school–the lone Reaganite in a sea of Foucault-worshipping deconstructionists–that when it came to pornography, feminists should ally themselves with the traditional churches. After all, they all had the same goal of preserving human dignity. But no, my opponents knew all those Elmer Gantrys and Tammy Faye Bakkers had sinister motives. Ergo, their stance, the same as the feminists at the time, was invalid. And evil. And stupid. And only because traditionalists don’t like sex. And so on.

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s called doublethink, Book. What did you think the Russian NKVD was around for? When it came time to switch sides on Germany, you either adopted the new NKVD standards for seeing and thinking of Germany as fascist pigs or you were purged. If you even asked some question in your head about “how come the Colonial Western powers were our enemies before and German workers our allies, but now the great white Amerikkka is our ally against the fascist pigs?”, you’d get yours soon enough.

    And then came the Cold War and now you were expected to believe that both the Germans and the Americans that controlled Europe were the enemy.

    Doublethink is an extraordinarily useful tool in controlling large masses of human beings without any use of invasions or occupations. The more sophisticated, intelligent, and educated people are in their specialized civilian fields, the more easy they become targets for such manipulation. Only a few non-specific generalities, such as in Alaska, offers any real defense against such manipulation. Not even knowledge of psychology is a guaranteed defense for many psychologists are Leftist in motivation and bent and see nothing wrong with transference, doublethink, or what not.

    Shrinks get a bad name cause the normal population thought that they were going to screw around in your head and move your marbles around. Far be it for me to say that this has already happened under the Aegis of the Left with few people even suspecting the level of how their behaviors are inline with specific targeted conditioning.

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s a simple thing. People are blind to history not because the knowledge isn’t available but because people are incapable of comprehending and incapable of getting past their own prejudices, blinders, and conditionings to get at the truth. The truth is an elusive object that is only acquired by the worthy, not by the feckless and the tools.

    It was always apparent from Day 1, but, just like in today’s world, people don’t want to see or believe. They want to believe what they wish to be true. And if the truth of their fears are too much for them to handle, then they’ll just displace their anger and fear unto somebody else, somebody that can’t defend themselves.

    There were those that believed fascism to be the only defense in Europe against communism. They were fools and their descendants are still fools. The funny thing is, their descendants want to talk about US companies being sympathetic with Nazis, as if this is something different to when the Left is sympathetic to the Tookies, Saddams, and Islamic jihadists of this world.

    They don’t see cause they don’t wanna see. Tools aren’t designed to think for themselves, Book. They are only designed to be used by sentient and tool using beings, like us.

  • Charles Martel

    I use tools and I resent being called sentient, Ymarsakar.

    What’s that? (Hold on, my wife is telling me something.)

    Sentient means intelligent and conscious? Whew! I thought you were saying I stink.

    Never mind.

  • Ymarsakar

    It’s my version of hating the sin but loving the sinner, Charles. In this case, I’m not a subscriber to the Revelation religions which have adopted this kind of attitude towards their fellow man. My version separates hate and love by creating a fictional layer upon which the agent, the tool here, has no responsibility for the good or evil of their actions because tools are not inherently good or evil. Only agents, those with free will and conscious mind, can choose between evil and good. Tools are evil and good depending only on who they are used by. A gun is neither good or evil, it is only served for either purpose depending on the user.

    It is a paradox, in a sense. How can human beings both have free will and sentience yet also be tools and lacking in free will at the same time? Regardless, that paradox exists. It exists because human beings are both governed by instinct (from evolution) as well as our conscious wills. These two parts often function in a cycle or side by side. When instinct is ascendant, then the agents in question ceases to be agents and becomes tools, available for anybody with the knowledge and the desire to use. When the conscious mind dominates the instinct (instincts such as self-preservation, selfishness, guilt, et all) then the human being is an agent, as it is meant to be.

    It is pointless to hate the tool. You must eliminate the user. It is pointless to shoot the gun, for you must shoot the person using the gun.

    In this fashion, thus, do I feel no need to be angry with or feel hatred towards members of the Left. In so far as they are tools and not users of tools.

  • Ymarsakar

    These are tools. Just off the top of my head, the fraction of people who even have a large enough base for knowledge numbers in less than 10%. The actual leaders, the tool users, number around the 1% range. For every 100 people you see around, including those in the video, there is maybe 1 leader with enough will, drive, charisma, or vision to control the rest of the 99. This why majority rules in democracies don’t work by itself. Majority rules in democracy just means rule by the One. It is whoever can control 51% of the pop. Who controls 99 out of 100? One person. Who controls 100 leaders that each control 99 each? One person. Who controls 100 people who control 100 leaders each with 99 followers (990,000)? One person.

    Most people, the 99 out of a 100, don’t even know how this social dynamic is used to control people. They are tools. You cannot expect anything more out of more unless you choose to use them yourself or to educate them or to upgrade them yourself. This requires investment. The conversion of one abortionist to Roman Catholicism is one such example. Although in that case, you had more of a user of tools than a tool. An abortionist certainly knew what he was doing. No ignorance can be used as an excuse for lack of free will there.

    In the end, there are only two approaches to defeat an organization built in this fashion. Either use counter-insurgency or American generosity to convert previous enemy leaders to friends, thus mass converting all their followers who you no longer now have to fight. Or you can convert them one by one via grassroots. The former is more effective than the latter, but the former is also more costly than the latter as well.

    If you look at the video, you will see people repeating back what they have been told and programmed. If they can be programmed that easily by the Democrats, why aren’t they as susceptible to the GOP? Because the GOP doesn’t use propaganda and indoctrination methods. You can’t fight fire without fire, at least not very quickly. You will always be trying to stop a wild fire once it occurs, whereas if you used fire beforehand, the fire wouldn’t be able to spread in the first place. The GOP is forever behind the propaganda curve since they are always reacting to Democrat propaganda. By the time the reaction has set in, those people on the video have already bought into the con.

  • Fink

    On a tangent, thought you might enjoy this:

    It’s Stephen Pinker’s TED talk on the history of violence. 21 minutes, so you might want to make a cup of tea first.

  • Ymarsakar

    The context in which I learned TFT as well as human history (not just the American history some Leftists want to concentrate on, and only the last 100 years of it only) bears Fink’s video’s thesis out.

  • Ymarsakar

    I wrote about war and some of the history of violence a few months ago.

    Stephen Pinker is very perceptive. Many of the things he says isn’t just generalities but actually specifics as related to the socio-economic elements underlying human social aggression and asocial violence.

    I’ve already acquired the knowledge beforehand, but from difference sources than the ones he referenced.

    By all means, watch Pinker’s vid. A great find to Fink.

    Before I go on further about violence (as most here should well know, a topic I go on about more than most), I wish to clarify some matters concerning majority rules.

    For a simpler model of understanding why it doesn’t work, simply visualize that 51% of the population deciding things looks good on the surface but then try carrying it out to the logical conclusion. If 51% of a society decides what is going to happen, who decides for that 51% what is going to happen? Human society is hierarchical, so who controls the majority if the majority controls the nation? It almost has to be a smaller subset of people. Let’s say 26% of the 51%. Majority rules with the sample pop of 51%. 26 +25=51. Another majority. So, then, who controls the 26%? The 14%. Who leads and convinces the 14% what policies to adopt and what actions to undertake? The 8%. Eventually in the end, you get to one person or a small group of people out of a huge pyramidal hierarchy that gets to decide for ALL of us what to do. That’s not majority rules. That’s rule by the few or the One.

    It is something fundamentally predictable by those that have taken the logic to its ultimate limits. But few people are taught logic in America and so they don’t know. They hear democracy and voting and they think Good Things (TM). They have no comprehension of the consequences of human social dynamics.

    Onto the history of violence.

    We start with fear. Civilization and societal rules that have evolved over time are nothing more than attempts to control human fear and thus control human aggression. It is why pack animals often attack, not because they want to kill you, but because they fear you attacking them. Dogs bite or growl because they are warning you away from themselves with a demonstration of their deterrence. This deterrence, due to social controls, have been stepped down from killing to something less permanent. Still dangerous, but more ritualized and following a set of rules so that both sides can have some certainty in a dangerous or unknown situation.

    It is the fear of the unknown, far more than the fear of certain death or loss, that drives reactions such as aggression, fear, or violence.

    The elimination of war requires the elimination of fear and yet at the same time, the elimination of war also uses fear. Society uses the fear of punishment to control human behavior. Other nations use the fear of their deterrence capabilities (MAD), to get other nations to refrain from attacking or launching first strikes.

    So in this respect we have a divide of fear into “fear of the unknown” and “fear of the known”. The former produces death dealing violence and the latter produces limited aggression or outright peace.

    The psychological example (OODA based) of the burglar in the video is the same as anybody armed in a combat situation dealing with enemies that use civilian hostages or have restrictive ROE or other stress inducing factors. The fear of the known quantities battle against the fear of the unknown quantity and in almost all cases, the natural response is to kill. Killing the enemy produces a certain result while not killing the enemy makes you vulnerable to potential possibilities which you cannot calculate well given the time compression you are under in combat. It is only with extreme discipline that the United States has gotten Soldiers and Marines trained to cease fire, obey orders, and not panic. Most armies in the world be fragmented and useless after 25% casualties have been taken. You would get things like massacres or routs or panic attacks or any number of other things. All due to the fear of the unknown and the stress and pressure it puts on human behavior.

    Civilization, as Hobbes’ Leviathan, makes a good point that social constructions and centralized legal systems allows the individual to be distanced from reprisal, punitive actions, punishments, and decisions dealing with death and killing. The decision is no longer yours, but the legal system’s. You don’t have to decide on your own where your instincts may call out for certain measures. You also don’t have to worry about being killed before you can make a decision, for the government will enforce the punishment on the attacker anyways. You know that the attacker will face a deterrence capability far greater than yours, even should you die from his first strike. This is not peace or safety, but it is far better than the fear of the unknown.

    Human empathic capabilities do indeed exist and they indeed only exist for people we know, can see, have talked to, know by name, sight, or sound. To human beings, one million deaths truly is nothing but a statistic. It means nothing unless we know one or more of the million. Societal standards, thus, have evolved around this capability or limitation, depending on how you see it. American Jacksonian tradition stipulates that you belong to the tribe if you act with honor. If you keep your word. If you don’t kill women and children not intending or capable of killing you. If you get married, settle down, raise children, and be a law abiding and productive member of society. Then you are considered “one of us” and both acquire the benefits of the common laws as well as its restrictions.

    Those who want to break down the national boundaries in favor of transnational progressivism will turn families upon families. Full warfare through Balkanization. Class warfare. Race warfare. And yet, they know exactly what they are doing because they can recognize that Iraq has violence precisely because it has no strong national government and they believed that the US could not give Iraqis a national government of their own for Iraq had “no history of strong nationalism”.

    The terrorists, by stepping outside not only the national boundaries called America but by also stepping outside the restrictions human beings put upon themselves to remain civilized, are now outside the Jacksonian sphere of protection. I can now disembowel them without guilt, not because of fear that they will do the same to me, not because I think they are using it so I must use it as well, but simply because they are enemies of humanity and enemies of humanity must be exterminated by humanity for the good of us all: no matter what it requires. It is simply an extension of the Jacksonian tribal notions, the American sense of nationalism, and the basic love between family and lovers: extended well past most normal cultural boundaries and interactions. Because no matter how far you extend it, there will always be those that are outside it. Even if you should extend the human empathy capability to all of humanity, even if you should extend societal and legal standards and protections to all of humanity, animals would still be excluded. We would still be slaughtering animals because their lives are worth less than our own, no? And if we extended protection to animals, would we also extend it to fleas? To mosquitoes? To algae? To plants? To the wheat that feeds our civilization? No, we wouldn’t, would we. There are limitations and I choose to place my limitations on a very strict, yet broad, scale.

    This is the source behind factionalism, fanaticism, nationalism, and any other kind of “ism” you may think of. Tribalism in Iraq foremost among them. Human beings need to regulate our aggression and fear and societal standards are the way to do. Civilization is an elevated or evolved form of basic society. Wars happen either because somebody didn’t have enough fear on things they were certain about or they had too much fear of an unknown factor.

    To those forming policies on war or peace, they must understand far more than just a piece of this information. They either understand it all or they understand none of it. Sadly, most of our Main Sewer Media commenters, media personas, journalists, editors, and corrupt politicians would be lucky to understand one tenth of it. Even if they did understand it, it also doesn’t guarantee that they would use it for the benefit of humanity. The Islamics, for example, understand quite well how to motivate people with fear, yet the Islamics cannot be said to be a “force for good”.

  • Ymarsakar

    One thing I learned from Target Focus Training is the amount of limiters current civilization, in America or even other places, have put on us concerning the use of violence. Essentially, the normal societal conditioning makes most people into sheep. You are more afraid of government and legal punishment than you are afraid of the “unknown” factor of criminal aggression. This conditioning was set in us from a young age, where all forms of violence or aggression were only permitted the government. Our fears of the “unknown” were converted to our “fear of the known”. The known in this case is the government, police, laws, etc.

    We now no longer strike out to kill because we do not fear that the other person will kill us. We fear that the government and the law will punish us. We now no longer have a reason to conduct first strikes because of fear or anger. We live under a “social compact” where we all assume the other guy obeys the law until he demonstrates that he doesn’t. If he obeys the law then that means we don’t have to fear death from him. That is a certainty. This certainty breeds complacency and a certain response from us.

    This conditioning would never have been possible if we had been exposed to violence at an early age or if we had been required to use violence to survive. Those kinds of people cannot really depend on the law or government to protect them cause they know from personal experience. Most Americans, however, have no real personal experience with violence. The only violence they have ever experienced or feared was government violence. Being locked up for life or sued now replaces our fear of being murdered.

    This is why people like Sarah Palin from Alaska are so different from normal politicians in the continental US or even Hawaii. Hawaii and the state in the US have been safe and coddled for so long that their people no longer need to use violence for anything. The state is the only one that has to use violence. The police, the poultry slaughterers, et all. The military does the killing and the civilians just go to the mall. In Alaska, however, you have to kill your own food. You have to use violence. You have an intimate knowledge and acceptance of the reality that human social constructions are just that: constructed by humans. It is not a law of physics, for example.

    When you study the use of violence and you start undermining and fighting the conditioning society has put into you from birth, you start to realize certain things. You start to realize that the government, the law, or the police doesn’t really give a damn for your justice, your needs, or your safety. If you want those things, you had better get them yourself. The law only cares about greater society in that it makes people unwilling to murder each other simply out of panic or fear. If you get killed by a criminal then that is the price society is willing to pay for law and order. The police won’t save you, they will just clean up your body and try to catch the killer afterwards. You, who have died, will be a sacrifice to the continuation of civilization and social standards.

    I, however, do not choose to be a sacrifice in such affairs. There is such a thing as being too civilized. The old ways and methods still have their place.

  • Ymarsakar

    Remember the worker who got stampeded to death by the mob outside a Walmart recently.

    He went down like sheep under the carnivore cause he was conditioned that way. He was conditioned to react passively and rely upon the law to protect him from predators and aggression. He waited for others to help and he died. He did not lash out and kill. He did not summon up the beast within to bite, tear, and rip out throats and eyes. He did not do anything except curl in a ball and die. Or maybe a small shout. And his co-workers? They just stood by and watched, or ran away, like a herd will do when a weak member gets taken down by predators.

    The Brownian Motion dynamics of a mob are very simple. Even if the ones in front want to stop moving forward because they don’t want to bum rush you, the ones behind have no idea what is going on except that there is space in front, thus the ones behind force the ones in front to move forward or be trampled underfoot.

    Horses, tear gas, flashbangs, and machine guns stop mobs precisely because horses are large enough for those behind to get the picture, tear gas stops the Brownian motion by affecting large swathes of the mob, flashbangs stun the minds of the mob, while machine guns mow down those in front to the point where those behind them are more afraid of going forward than stopping and being trampled underfoot by those behind them.

    When confronted by a mob and you are few or one, your only chance is to either outrun the mob or to turn on the mob and tear it apart to the point where the mob recognizes you as a greater predator and threat than itself.

  • Ymarsakar

    Mobs don’t run towards killers. They run away from them. Mumbai is one example. Any incident with criminals with guns or anybody killing others is another example.

    Mobs don’t run towards killers. If they know that they are doing so, anyways.

  • Mike Devx

    >> It’s Stephen Pinker’s TED talk on the history of violence. 21 minutes, so you might want to make a cup of tea first. >>

    “Violence explodes where anarchy rules, and where life is cheap” is one of Pinker’s arguments (toward the end of the video) on why violence has declined over the centuries. His statistics and graphs surprise me, and I’ll wait for a confirmation on those numbers. I trusted Al Gore’s graphs, after all, until they were refuted, and I’m not making that mistake again. Corroboration is necessary.

    I disliked intensely Mr. Pinker’s moral equivalency argument between the homeowner with the gun and the burglar with the gun in the homeowner’s basement. That kind of reasoning has led me to wonder what Mr. Pinker is leaving out, or what else he might be shading/distorting. That moral equivalency is quite disgusting.

  • rockdalian

    Mike Devx,

    I disliked intensely Mr. Pinker’s moral equivalency argument between the homeowner with the gun and the burglar with the gun in the homeowner’s basement. That kind of reasoning has led me to wonder what Mr. Pinker is leaving out, or what else he might be shading/distorting. That moral equivalency is quite disgusting.

    The latest Batman movie has a similar plot point. Two ferries are set with explosives and the firing devices for each ship is given to the opposite ship. The people on each ship are given the ultimatum of destroying the other ship before the other ship destroys them. As an added incentive, the Joker tells both ships that unless one is destroyed, both will be destroyed. The subtext, shoot before the other can.
    Ultimately, a third way emerges, with neither ship wanting to be the first.

    Thinking people are able to find alternatives.

    On a different note, I was troubled with the speakers inclusion of Singer.
    Singer once proposed that parents have the right to terminate a baby’s life, within the first 30 days of life, if memory serves me correctly.

  • rockdalian

    This piece dovetails into your points.

    Mumbai photographer: I wish I’d had a gun, not a camera. Armed police would not fire back.

    Found through Instapundit. He also posts this comment from an e mailer.

    UPDATE: Reader Jeff Brown emails:

    Having a lot of people in a group carrying would increase the odds of having an armed person who is willing to engage the terrorists. This would not only provide resistance but also spur others, i.e., frozen police officers, to engage. In an emergency, the first person to engage is the catalyst to move the crowd from onlookers frozen by indecision to action, either to provide assistance or in situation such as Mumbai, to confront.

    Force Science Institute research at Minnesota State University found that even naive shooters are effective in mid to close combat ranges that such an attack would entail. Their research covered police engagements with inexperienced shooters but it has relevance here. Even a complete neophyte can be effective in a gun fight. What is needed is a willingness to engage.

    What was missing at Wal-Mart was a willingness to engage.

  • Ymarsakar

    I disliked intensely Mr. Pinker’s moral equivalency argument between the homeowner with the gun and the burglar with the gun in the homeowner’s basement.

    I didn’t take that as his meaning. I took his meaning to be one of many numerous examples of OODA loops between combatants. The burglar and the American homeowner are just popular examples to be used to get people used to the idea of that type of confrontation, rather than assigning a moral value to the action itself.

    Basketball player Stephon Marbury was widely criticized for telling reporters, “We don’t say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dog fighting is a sport.” Do you think his comparison was valid?————–

    Well, the aim of a hunter is to kill the animal with as little pain as possible–or it should be. That’s the ethic that you get in sport hunting, at least. I’m not condoning or supporting sport hunting but there is a distinction in that the good hunter will shoot the animal in a vital place where it will drop dead immediately. It won’t suffer. It seems pretty clear that the dogs that didn’t fight well that Michael Vick and his associates killed were not killed instantly at all. They were drowned, for example. Drowning is obviously a much more distressing death than being shot with a bullet through the brain or in the heart.
    Has the reaction to the Vick case exposed a schizophrenia in the way the public judges offenses against animals?—————

    That comparison that you just asked me to make between dog fighting and sport-hunting is interesting in itself because these are both really very minor cruelties in the terms of the scale of things. The big thing that is going undiscussed here is the industrial raising of animals for food. Just in terms of the numbers, it’s so vastly greater than sport-hunting, which in turn is a lot bigger than dog fighting. We’re talking literally about billions of animals each year being reared in conditions that don’t enable them to have a minimally decent life and then being killed in mass-production factory ways that again often are not painless. So that’s the schizophrenia, that all of this hidden suffering that’s engaged in by supposedly respectable corporations and that people then buy in their supermarkets is the thing that is unspoken. It’s not the recreational activities that we should be focusing on.,21985,22304219-5000117,00.html

    Interview of Peter Singer. Assuming that this is the same person mentioned in the vid, I have some comments to make.

    Peter Singer is a utilitarian who values the sum total of quality life over actual life or the intrinsic and fundamentally philosophical value placed on life. Life is not valuable to Singer if that life is one of hardship, challenges, or genetic defects.

    On Abortion, Singer values the quality of life for the mother, concerning the personal cost of pregnancies, over the life of the fetus for he sees the fetus as human yet as non-sentient, unconscious, and unable to feel pain for it is not self-aware. In the aspect of empathy, Singer empathizes with the mother for Singer sees the mother as someone like him, but the fetus is alien and part of the “Other”.

    Singer’s position on animals is consistent. So long as the animals are killed quickly and without pain, Singer has little complaints. Again, Singer attaches value to a life depending on how much the happiness balances out with the pain. If a person or animal’s life is full of pain, then Singer would choose to end that life. For animals, however, Singer seems to adopt a more utilitarian position in that many many animals raised in farms is considered by Singer to be an exceptional cruelty. One that should be resolved by removing the need to raise animals in cruel conditions. You eradicate the need by removing human beings from the planet, so that those who are alive and who can live a more joyful life should get the chance. This helps the mother, through abortions, the human species, through getting rid of resource problems, and animals, through getting rid of the need to breed them for food (you can just kill them off now).

    As for Singer’s views on the expansion of human empathy, the highlights given by Pinker is valid. If you disagree with Singer’s views, you need not also reject his other ideas. The hallmark of analysis is to grab data and lock them in separable partitions, after all. You need not discard the entire field of ideas simply because one part is contaminated. That is not how to defeat an enemy in the end.

    For example, you may simply say that Singer’s empathic capabilities are faulty and while the human species, via political evolution, are able to empathize more and more with others, including animals (look at Arabia on dogs vs a vis America on dogs), Singer is unable to use that function because he has intellectually made fetuses and what not less than human. He says fetuses are still human, as in part of the human species, but when I say human, I mean fully aware and able to exercise free will. Thus a person in a coma is not human, he is a vegetable instead. He has the potential to become human, which is why he is not terminated. His life is his own to end and unless he threatens me, his right to life is protected by the US Constitution, regardless of any state or federal laws that may be enacted or enforced.

    The additional factor of the strain on families is interesting. Families have a duty or an instinct to protect each other. They are part of your blood and symbolize your eternal immortality, in addition to the emotional bonds. If the husband wants to terminate and the family wants to keep alive, we have an interesting problem. Singer has no answer for such except to say that painless death is to be preferred. He, however, cannot say for certain whether it is painless or not. We do not have telepathy and any death inflicted on a person can be classified as euthanasia if that person hasn’t given consent, has given consent, or is incapable of giving consent. While Singer did make some comments about the abuse of the power of euthanasia by the state, Singer did not really answer the problem of conflicts in loyalty and duty.

    In Terry Schiavo’s situation, we have a husband with another family who has the legal power to terminate his current disabled wife. We don’t allow politicians to even have the whiff of a conflict in interest yet the law in this case overrides the family, the blood relations, desire in favor of the husband, who has already broken his vows and certainly his loyalty to his wife.

    These are a matter of philosophical duty, not the quality of life, joy, or lack of pain. Because duty produces conflict and pain, Singer wants human beings to discard all such connections through killing human beings. He has justifications but they would never pass my Meta-Golden Rule.

    For example, given Singer’s utilitarian philosophy that says that the totality of the happiness from an action justifies it against less options which produce less happiness total, I can dissect Singer apart, take his brain, hook it up to a life support system, stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers, and I would be justified in doing so. Regardless of whether Singer has approved or not.

    If a family wants to kill one of their members, they can do so. Take a weapon and blow their brains or heart out. But don’t expect civilization, law, or the hospitals to do it for you by starving them to death, aborting the child, or killing the child after being born. Duty demands nothing less if you have a real interest to the life of the subject in question.

    People can always support “killing”, so long as it is not their hands doing the deed. That is the limiter, both by human society and by human instinct. Humans are social animals and very aggressive due to our pack structures, but we don’t have the natural instinct to kill. That has to be cultivated through experience, although some people, serial killers, are naturally sociopathic and thus does not have the same inhibitions as normal humans. Rabid dogs also don’t have the same inhibitions as normal dogs, thus rabid dogs must be put down, same as serial killers. Such a decision can be made by me and it has nothing to do with the potential “happiness” or “pain” caused. It is the duty of any human being to kill rabid members for the good of all. If you have a friend or family member in pain, and you must conduct a mercy killing for their own good, then you are expected to do the deed yourself. Otherwise you are a coward and no good for any body’s quality of life, including your own.

    This links with Mike’s article on learning the ethics of dealing out life and death through training in the capability to do so (being armed).

  • Ymarsakar

    It is only intellectuals like Singer and their ilk, who do not deal personally in the creation of life, its hardships, or the deaths that lie at the end of life, that can talk about such things in their differently located empathic and ethical spheres.

    It is not real to them. It is more abstract than human. It is more of a numbers game than personal contact. Their empathic ability has been dulled and they believe their focus on utilitarian philosophy is an adequate substitute for it. It is not adequate.

    Those that have delved deep into the abyss of the human soul know exactly why it is not adequate.

    Armed police would not fire back.

    Human evolution has produced numerous mechanisms like this one. Hysteria is another one. All are designed to ensure the maximum number of human beings survive. Not win, btw, just survive. Hysteria ensures that some fight, some flees, some freeze, and some does any number of other combinations of things in the HOPE that this will ensure the maximum statistical probability for survival of the most number of humans. Hysteria is not for solving problems or ensuring protection of certain members of the human species (women, children, you, et all). Hysteria is designed to save the human gene pool, period.

    Combat freezing, such as this one, is notable due to certain interesting mechanisms. One mechanism is called by me the “group inhibition”. People in groups or mobs don’t tend to “start” doing something unless they see somebody else doing it. This is like the monkey see monkey do trick. It is actually hardwired in our visual brain boxes. We learn to mimic and to do by mimicking. Voice artists, for example, use the Foley method to produce emotion and depth in their voices by acting out, physically, what they think the thing they are voicing is doing. People learn best by watching and emulating, rather than one or the other solely. So in a crowd, everybody may be thinking about rushing the gunman, but the person that does it first is special. That person is probably called a sacrificial piece in nature’s evolution. That person is often the person that will die first. Anybody that does something first often dies in nature’s evolution. When the group sees that it is safe to do so, they do so as well. The leader is, in a sense, both the sacrificial gambit as well as the controller of the behavior of the group.

    The group, because it is passive, needs to follow a leader and a leader often has to lead in the front, which results in the leader’s death. (A common enough phenomenon if you study military history. Check up Gustavus Adolphus)

    What this tends to mean is that combat shock or freeze wears off the moment they see somebody doing what they were only thinking of doing. The number of people with either the innate will power (to resist the group inhibition to do nothing and be safe) or the discipline acquired to do what one has trained to do, is vanishingly small compared to the regular population.

    I’ve seen this kind of behavior many times. It is not that I am always the first one to do something, it is just that I have the knowledge base to understand precisely why I hesitate and why that hesitation disappears when I see another person doing it. And I find it amusing to see how Nature’s evolution’s hooks are still in us, in ways that most of us do not even phantom or suspect.

    In most cases, what is going on are social interactions not worth it to override the inhibition against taking action first. However, I have learned that the moment things get physical or violent, my inhibitions disappear. It is not my doing. It is the berserker’s doing. An alternative personality that harkens back to a time when the human being had to become savage to live in a savage world. That kind of response package is like a nuclear package in today’s violence sensitized world. And the primary reason why I feared becoming angry early on in life. There is no guilt, no hesitation, and no weakness in such a personality. You do not want to bring that personality up unless you want people to die, and die horribly. My inbuilt conditioning for peace and safety rebelled at such a state without limitations, for I knew of no situation which required it.

    This was before 9/11 and my study under Target Focus Training and my study of terrorists, criminals, et all.

    Some people are crazy, they say. They warn regular citizens like me to be careful of them because you never know what they are gonna do.

    Please, they don’t want to know what I am capable of doing. It doesn’t matter what they are capable of, for I am capable of more. That was an unsettling and horrific realization before 9/11, now it is just comforting. Ironic how such things occur.

    In this vein, Americans are more crazy than most law abiding citizens of the world. You never know what they are gonna do given the right external stimuli. Flight 93, probably the only example of its kind.

    See, “crazy” means not being a sheep 100%. Some are predators 100% and some are sheep 100% and this is “normal”. The crazy stuff is when “sheep” become “predators” (youths in England become jihadists and murderers). And they see the Islamics as crazy and therefore something to be avoided. What they don’t get is that this also happens to the targets of the Islamics, as well. The human instinct for self-preservation is incredibly powerful. Oftentimes more powerful than societal conditioning.

    If you ever combine this fact with somebody with an innate hate or aggression personality and you have an interesting package. You need at least one leader, as in Flight 93, to organize and lead an attacking force. But so long as you have that leader, the rest will perform well enough.

  • Ymarsakar

    “They were shooting from waist height and fired at anything that moved. I briefly had time to take a couple of frames using a telephoto lens. I think they saw me taking photographs but theydidn’t seem to care.”

    Don’t tell me these idiots are still using the “spray and pray” method.

    Any marksman could have obliterated such cannon fodder at a proper distance.

    Another reason for the 2nd Amendment is that you need to have actual experience and marksman training to be able to fire a weapon. It ain’t like in the movies where rate of fire does the deed for you at point blank range.

    In situations where tactical prolonged battles are fought, accuracy is what decides things, not necessarily rate of fire. Although that helps. As well as having nice supply of ammo, although looting the dead bodies of thugs should suffice.

  • Ymarsakar

    But what angered Mr D’Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,” he said. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”

    Knock them out and take their guns. What, exactly, is the problem here? Is your life so cheap that you will not destroy those that stand in your path, if they should be your feckless “allies”?

    What world do people think they are in, anyway?

  • Ymarsakar

    “Violence explodes where anarchy rules, and where life is cheap” is one of Pinker’s arguments (toward the end of the video) on why violence has declined over the centuries. His statistics and graphs surprise me, and I’ll wait for a confirmation on those numbers. I trusted Al Gore’s graphs, after all, until they were refuted, and I’m not making that mistake again. Corroboration is necessary.

    I believe it is true. I don’t base it solely on the graphs, of course. In lawless areas, violence tends to be the solution to problems because they don’t have a trusted middle man, arbitrator, or central government to do things any other way.

    This is true, absolutely, regardless of what the graphs show or don’t show.

    Pinker has gotten so many other things right in the vid that I don’t believe the graphs are inaccurate enough to change the fundamental truths here.

    This may or may not qualify as collaboration, but I do support Pinker’s arguments.

  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, there are alternative explanations for things like decrease in Civil Wars after the end of the Cold War. The Russians were stirring up numerous civil wars in order to move their sphere of influence, so it would be logical that the rate of civil wars would decrease after the power of the uSSR had been broken.

  • Mike Devx

    What do you think are Pinker’s views on citizens owning guns? Or on the use of TFT as a violent defensive tactic?

    Also, it’s not that I found him inaccurate – as in lying – but I fear that he was using that kind of deception (as with Al Gore) where only part of the story is being told. Such deception might even not be deliberate, but bias.

    What about living in a climate of fear? It may be that the spasms of violence in the past resulted in large numbers of violent death, but that most of the time when there was not violence, there was actual peace. Whereas a resident of urban Chicago lives under the threat of constant violence.

    I’m saying that I’m not yet convinced, because I found in Pinker’s tone and presentation a sense of bias. I’ll therefore wait for further evidence.

  • Ymarsakar

    What do you think are Pinker’s views on citizens owning guns? Or on the use of TFT as a violent defensive tactic?

    He didn’t seem to cover those topics, so unless I research him, which I haven’t done, I won’t know.

    This is the first I’ve ever heard about him, unless I saw one of his other speeches on TED.

    I’m saying that I’m not yet convinced, because I found in Pinker’s tone and presentation a sense of bias. I’ll therefore wait for further evidence.

    What exactly aren’t you convinced of, though? Do you believe he was wrong to say that academia often refuses to recognize that there are benefits to Western civilization? That people should look at what we have done right rather than focus on all the mistakes? Or are you specifically focused on the thesis that violent deaths have decreased as modern civilizations, like the US, have arisen?

  • Ymarsakar

    I found in Pinker’s tone and presentation a sense of bias.

    His “bias” is clear for he himself listed his thesis, his claims, and the fact that he would provide evidence for it. Obviously when you are arguing one viewpoint against other viewpoints, your evidence is going to be “biased” towards proving yourself right as opposed to wrong. There is no problem with bias in this sense and your “sense of bias” produces nothing greater than simply listening to Pinker’s opening statement of his thesis.

  • Mike Devx


    Well, you forced me into viewing the entire presentation again. A subject as weighty as an examination of violence at the millenial, century, decade, and yearly scale can scarcely be covered well in nineteen minutes. So perhaps as he ran through – speedily – his summary, I can be forgiven for wondering how much is being left out, purely based on the surface-level examination that such a speedy presentation requires.

    In particular, a flipping back and forth between the violence of warfare and the violence of one-on-one encounters, with in each case a small sampling of supportive data, left me again wondering how much I could trust.

    As one example, his graph on the 1990’s plunge in violence also simply corresponds to the time frame when the “first abortion generation” reached maturity, with its smaller number of young adult males; this phenomenon has been often interpreted as the cause of the drop in crime and violence, not merely some tendency toward civilizational reduction in murder and violence. In particular Mr. Pinker noted that he must thank Mr. Clinton for that drop, which hardly seems justified.

    That last statement is indicative of a number of such statements that, on my first view, led me to wonder about Mr. Pinker’s bias. I am willing to state that on second view, I can accept the idea that he was pitching his speech toward his audience, and the many anecdotes he used along with his several asides can be interpreted as either bias or as a deliberate attempt to connect with an audience which at these TED conferences tends to be very liberal. Certainly as you pointed out, his entire thesis, at a high level, and particularly in his two-minute introduction and his wrapup, were definitely challenging to liberal orthodoxy.

    I still do not like his use of the burglar in the basement of the homeowner analogy. This was sandwiched into his discussion on the drawbacks of detente and Hobbe’s Leviathan. In particular it was used to illustrate the drawbacks of detente, where “armed neighbors” would be likely to attack each other preemptively to remove the threat of violence from the neighbor. In no way does a burglar entering a home – with a gun – and the homeowner rising to defend his home – with a gun – match the concept of two neighbors with guns, and ONE attacks the other to REMOVE the threat of violence. The concept simply does not match the burglar analogy. You can concentrate on the OODA loop if you wish, but I do not like the example itself at all.

    I also find the Leviathan concept to be one Pinker supports, and in investing in the Leviathan power ALL responsibility for the defense of the citizenry and the reduction of violence, he does appear to not support armed citizenry. I see no reason to abandon my own concept that the police cannot protect me if I am suddenly under assault; they can only investigate after the violence has passed, and by leading the effort to capture and punish the perpetrator, can assist in the reduction of violence for all of us, over time; which does not help me, as I’ve already suffered or died, were I unable to defend myself. So personal self-defense via violence is a concept Pinker would apparently be against based on how he presented his Leviathan argument, and I would oppose him should that in fact be his conclusion.

    In sum, I’m still not convinced. There’s plenty of good information there, especially on war-level conflict. I remain unsure that his summary is comprehensive, and I’m still going to shelf this and while keeping it in mind, I’ll wait on further information and evidence.

  • Ymarsakar

    I remain unsure that his summary is comprehensive, and I’m still going to shelf this and while keeping it in mind, I’ll wait on further information and evidence.

    That’s a fair position, even though I don’t agree with your characterization of the derivations of what Pinker’s arguments are.

  • Mike Devx

    The TED talk appears to be based on this article:

    The article is organized somewhat differently than the speech. Interestingly, the burglar analogy is one of the few items that does not appear in the article, along with reference to Hobbes’ Leviathan (though Hobbes is mentioned), the opening “Iraq” remark, and “a thank you to Mr. Clinton”.

    The section relevant to my concern on individuals not being allowed to enact self-defense remains valid to me, based upon this from the article:

    Any beings with a modicum of self-interest may be tempted to invade their neighbors to steal their resources. The resulting fear of attack will tempt the neighbors to strike first in preemptive self-defense, which will in turn tempt the first group to strike against preemptively, and so on. This danger can be defused by a policy of deterrence–don’t strike first, retaliate if struck–but, to guarantee its credibility, parties must avenge all insults and settle all scores, leading to cycles of bloody vendetta. These tragedies can be averted by a state with a monopoly on violence, because it can inflict disinterested penalties that eliminate the incentives for aggression, thereby defusing anxieties about preemptive attack and obviating the need to maintain a hair-trigger propensity for retaliation.

    A review of Pinker’s extensive list of Harvard articles and others available (see the Wikipedia references for many sources of his articles) shows that he has not published very much, if it all, on violence before this. It will be very difficult to discern his attitude towards the legal and ethical correctness of individual self-defense. I didn’t review enough articles to know whether he is libertarian or leftist in philosophy, but he has little respect for religion and the religious, and especially a deep disrespect for Biblical literalists.

    If you look at the above paragraph I quoted, it is an odd one. The start of the paragraph refers to neighbors invading each other to steal resources, and then cycles of bloody vendetta. That can be taken as Hatfields vs McCoys, or communities, or nations – but cycles of bloody vendetta do not seem to apply to a detente for individual neighbors. But the end of the paragraph discusses the monolithic state and its “disinterested penalties”, which can only refer to police and the courts. Either the paragraph *is* odd, or it’s just me: perhaps I just can’t seem to connect with, nor understand his meaning of, his mode of argument on this issue.

  • Ymarsakar

    His argument is designed to reinforce his thesis that violence has decreased from earlier ancient times to current modern times, as a proportion of their population.

    This is why he speaks on a continuum from tribes raiding each other for resources, cycle of bloody vendetta in family feuds (Romeo and Juliet or just regular Italian mafia), and finally Hobbes’ Leviathan.

    The fact that he didn’t make mention of checks and balances on the power of a government, can be taken to mean that political theory was beyond the scope of his presentation. His presentation is on why violence has decreased in human life, not how the solutions to violence works.

    For most of human history, there was no strong central government or even stable government. You either had coups all the time, or economic upheaval, or external invasions, or even internal squabbling. The benefits of strong central government far outweighs the detriments. America’s Articles of Confederation proved that out. Even inspite of the problems of FDR’s New Deal and what not, without strong central government the US would have been conquered from within or from without.

    If you want to debate the topic of what a strong central government is or should be, however, then I believe you are getting past the scope of Pinker’s presentation on the history of violence. THen you are getting into political arguments on good government.

    But the end of the paragraph discusses the monolithic state and its “disinterested penalties”, which can only refer to police and the courts.

    Since Pinker has to argue against the belief that the noble savages living in America as AMerindians didn’t have a “peaceful and law abiding lifestyle until invaded by whites”, Pinker has to demonstrate that unified and central government is better than fractious tribes spread out on the Great Plains. He has to demonstrate that the rates of violence decreases when many are under a government that monopolizes the use of legitimate force. The fact that this government only gets that mandate from the power of the people is a side issue, for one could easily argue that the Amerindian tribes were democratic and so their leaders and government structures also had a monopoly on force. That is not what matters. What matters is unified government, not monopolization of force. What matters is that each faction knows that they can’t gain anything from striking pre-emptively or that taking their part in government is more beneficial than doing things on their own.

    The genocide in Rwanda would have been stopped or prevented had the US gone in and monopolized the use of violence. Without the fear of one local group wiping out your own, the need to strike first and kill everybody on the other side decreases. If an outside force is capable of wiping both you and your enemies out, and has proven it can and will do so, then you will pay more attention to that threat than each other.