nhaliday + simler   25

The first ethical revolution – Gene Expression
Fifty years ago Julian Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Seventy years ago Karl Jaspers introduced the concept of the Axial Age. Both point to the same dynamic historically.

Something happened in the centuries around 500 BCE all around the world. Great religions and philosophies arose. The Indian religious traditions, the Chinese philosophical-political ones, and the roots of what we can recognize as Judaism. In Greece, the precursors of many modern philosophical streams emerged formally, along with a variety of political systems.

The next few centuries saw some more innovation. Rabbinical Judaism transformed a ritualistic tribal religion into an ethical one, and Christianity universalized Jewish religious thought, as well as infusing it with Greek systematic concepts. Meanwhile, Indian and Chinese thought continued to evolve, often due to interactions each other (it is hard to imagine certain later developments in Confucianism without the Buddhist stimulus). Finally, in the 7th century, Islam emerges as the last great world religion.


Living in large complex societies with social stratification posed challenges. A religion such as Christianity was not a coincidence, something of its broad outlines may have been inevitable. Universal, portable, ethical, and infused with transcendence and coherency. Similarly, god-kings seem to have universally transformed themselves into the human who binds heaven to earth in some fashion.

The second wave of social-ethical transformation occurred in the early modern period, starting in Europe. My own opinion is that economic growth triggered by innovation and gains in productivity unleashed constraints which had dampened further transformations in the domain of ethics. But the new developments ultimately were simply extensions and modifications on the earlier “source code” (e.g., whereas for nearly two thousand years Christianity had had to make peace with the existence of slavery, in the 19th century anti-slavery activists began marshaling Christian language against the institution).
gnxp  scitariat  discussion  reflection  religion  christianity  theos  judaism  china  asia  sinosphere  orient  india  the-great-west-whale  occident  history  antiquity  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  canon  philosophy  morality  ethics  universalism-particularism  systematic-ad-hoc  analytical-holistic  confucian  big-peeps  innovation  stagnation  technology  economics  biotech  enhancement  genetics  bio  flux-stasis  automation  ai  low-hanging  speedometer  time  distribution  smoothness  shift  dennett  simler  volo-avolo  👽  mystic  marginal  farmers-and-foragers  wealth  egalitarianism-hierarchy  values  formal-values  ideology  good-evil 
april 2018 by nhaliday
Here Be Sermons | Melting Asphalt
The Costly Coordination Mechanism of Common Knowledge: https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/9QxnfMYccz9QRgZ5z/the-costly-coordination-mechanism-of-common-knowledge
- Dictatorships all through history have attempted to suppress freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Why is this? Are they just very sensitive? On the other side, the leaders of the Enlightenment fought for freedom of speech, and would not budge an inch against this principle.
- When two people are on a date and want to sleep with each other, the conversation will often move towards but never explicitly discuss having sex. The two may discuss going back to the place of one of theirs, with a different explicit reason discussed (e.g. "to have a drink"), even if both want to have sex.
- Throughout history, communities have had religious rituals that look very similar. Everyone in the village has to join in. There are repetitive songs, repetitive lectures on the same holy books, chanting together. Why, of all the possible community events (e.g. dinner, parties, etc) is this the most common type?
What these three things have in common, is common knowledge - or at least, the attempt to create it.


Common knowledge is often much easier to build in small groups - in the example about getting off the bus, the two need only to look at each other, share a nod, and common knowledge is achieved. Building common knowledge between hundreds or thousands of people is significantly harder, and the fact that religion has such a significant ability to do so is why it has historically had so much connection to politics.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Suspicious Banana on Twitter: ""platonic forms" seem more sinister when you realize that integers were reaching down into his head and giving him city planning advice https://t.co/4qaTdwOlry"
Plato mentions in his Laws that 5040 is a convenient number to use for dividing many things (including both the citizens and the land of a state) into lesser parts. He remarks that this number can be divided by all the (natural) numbers from 1 to 12 with the single exception of 11 (however, it is not the smallest number to have this property; 2520 is). He rectifies this "defect" by suggesting that two families could be subtracted from the citizen body to produce the number 5038, which is divisible by 11. Plato also took notice of the fact that 5040 can be divided by 12 twice over. Indeed, Plato's repeated insistence on the use of 5040 for various state purposes is so evident that it is written, "Plato, writing under Pythagorean influences, seems really to have supposed that the well-being of the city depended almost as much on the number 5040 as on justice and moderation."[1]

"Now for divine begettings there is a period comprehended by a perfect number, and for mortal by the first in which augmentations dominating and dominated when they have attained to three distances and four limits of the assimilating and the dissimilating, the waxing and the waning, render all things conversable and commensurable [546c] with one another, whereof a basal four-thirds wedded to the pempad yields two harmonies at the third augmentation, the one the product of equal factors taken one hundred times, the other of equal length one way but oblong,-one dimension of a hundred numbers determined by the rational diameters of the pempad lacking one in each case, or of the irrational lacking two; the other dimension of a hundred cubes of the triad. And this entire geometrical number is determinative of this thing, of better and inferior births."[3]

Shortly after Plato's time his meaning apparently did not cause puzzlement as Aristotle's casual remark attests.[6] Half a millennium later, however, it was an enigma for the Neoplatonists, who had a somewhat mystic penchant and wrote frequently about it, proposing geometrical and numerical interpretations. Next, for nearly a thousand years, Plato's texts disappeared and it is only in the Renaissance that the enigma briefly resurfaced. During the 19th century, when classical scholars restored original texts, the problem reappeared. Schleiermacher interrupted his edition of Plato for a decade while attempting to make sense of the paragraph. Victor Cousin inserted a note that it has to be skipped in his French translation of Plato's works. In the early 20th century, scholarly findings suggested a Babylonian origin for the topic.[7]


Socrates: Surely we agree nothing more virtuous than sacrificing each newborn infant while reciting the factors of 39,916,800?

Turgidas: Uh

different but interesting: https://aeon.co/essays/can-we-hope-to-understand-how-the-greeks-saw-their-world
Another explanation for the apparent oddness of Greek perception came from the eminent politician and Hellenist William Gladstone, who devoted a chapter of his Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age (1858) to ‘perceptions and use of colour’. He too noticed the vagueness of the green and blue designations in Homer, as well as the absence of words covering the centre of the ‘blue’ area. Where Gladstone differed was in taking as normative the Newtonian list of colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). He interpreted the Greeks’ supposed linguistic poverty as deriving from an imperfect discrimination of prismatic colours. The visual organ of the ancients was still in its infancy, hence their strong sensitivity to light rather than hue, and the related inability to clearly distinguish one hue from another. This argument fit well with the post-Darwinian climate of the late 19th century, and came to be widely believed. Indeed, it prompted Nietzsche’s own judgment, and led to a series of investigations that sought to prove that the Greek chromatic categories do not fit in with modern taxonomies.

Today, no one thinks that there has been a stage in the history of humanity when some colours were ‘not yet’ being perceived. But thanks to our modern ‘anthropological gaze’ it is accepted that every culture has its own way of naming and categorising colours. This is not due to varying anatomical structures of the human eye, but to the fact that different ocular areas are stimulated, which triggers different emotional responses, all according to different cultural contexts.
postrat  carcinisation  twitter  social  discussion  lol  hmm  :/  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  cocktail  trivia  quantitative-qualitative  mystic  simler  weird  multi  wiki  👽  dennett  article  philosophy  alien-character  news  org:mag  org:popup  literature  quotes  poetry  concrete  big-peeps  nietzschean  early-modern  europe  germanic  visuo  language  foreign-lang  embodied  oceans  h2o  measurement  fluid  forms-instances  westminster  lexical 
june 2017 by nhaliday
When conquered pre-Greece took captive her rude Hellene conqueror – Gene Expression
For various reasons this was always less plausible for Southern Europe. The first reason is that Southern Europeans shared a lot of genetic similarities to Sardinians, who resembled Neolithic farmers. Admixture models generally suggested that in the peninsulas of Southern Europe the steppe-like ancestry was the minority component, not the majority, as was the case in Northern Europe.

different for the Romans: https://www.quora.com/Were-the-Romans-Greek-or-Italians

book recommendations for Ancient Greece: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/08/02/when-the-ancestors-were-cyclops/#comment-3356

Roots of Mediterranean civilisations: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982217311740
gnxp  scitariat  history  antiquity  iron-age  mediterranean  europe  the-classics  gavisti  genetics  gene-flow  pop-structure  migration  sapiens  archaeology  conquest-empire  simler  dennett  👽  multi  q-n-a  qra  lived-experience  culture  myth  alien-character  study  org:nat  pdf  piracy  roots  the-great-west-whale  civilization  aDNA  books  recommendations  confluence  poast  occident  religion  christianity  traces 
may 2017 by nhaliday
Thursday assorted links - Marginal REVOLUTION
2. “A new study of English spelling practices demonstrates that the way we spell words is much more orderly and self-organizing than previously thought.”

3. Why we cry, and the economics of weeping. And Michael Cannon on the new health care bill.

4. Economic ideas we should forget (keep on clicking through to see the whole list). By no means do I always agree — the Coase theorem??
econotariat  marginal-rev  links  language  news  org:sci  nlp  emergent  history  medieval  early-modern  mostly-modern  economics  error  map-territory  simler  status  signaling  anthropology  evopsych  postrat  current-events 
march 2017 by nhaliday
Contra Simler on Prestige | Slate Star Codex
su3su2u1 challenged status/signaling theories of human behavior: can they make any real-life predictions? His example was a recent medical conference that threw together three groups of people – high-status top professors, medium-status established doctors, and low-status new residents. The women in one group (female doctors + male doctors’ wives/girlfriends) were wearing conspicuous fancy jewelery. The women in the other groups weren’t. Which group had the jewelery?

His point was that status/signaling theories don’t answer this question for us with any degree of confidence. Maybe the high-status top professors wear the jewelery to signal wealth and dominance. Maybe the low-status new residents wear it aspirationally and because they need to impress. Maybe the medium-status established doctors wear it, because the residents can’t afford it and the professors countersignal that they don’t need it.
ratty  postrat  yvain  ssc  simler  critique  status  signaling  thinking  essay  debate  paying-rent  models  gedanken  insight  empirical  operational  vague  info-dynamics 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Personhood: A Game for Two or More Players | Melting Asphalt
The point is, when we act as persons, wearing our person masks out in public, we're acting within the framework of an implicit social contract — one that's designed to help us get along smoothly with our fellow persons.

Of course, this type of "contract" isn't a binary, all-or-nothing proposition. Instead, like all social phenomena, it admits of degrees. The way it works is that the more you behave like a person, the more you'll be treated like one. So it isn't a question of "whether" someone is a person, but rather "how much personhood" she has, based on how well she carries herself.
simler  essay  thinking  anthropology  society  contracts  walls  postrat  legibility  social-norms 
october 2016 by nhaliday
Third Man factor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scientific explanations consider this a coping mechanism or an example of bicameralism.
wiki  reference  psychology  weird  mystic  simler  dennett  👽  volo-avolo 
september 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Two Kinds Of Status
prestige and dominance

More here. I was skeptical at first, but now am convinced: humans see two kinds of status, and approve of prestige-status much more than domination-status. I’ll have much more to say about this in the coming days, but it is far from clear to me that prestige-status is as much better than domination-status as people seem to think. Efforts to achieve prestige-status also have serious negative side-effects.

Two Ways to the Top: Evidence That Dominance and Prestige Are Distinct Yet Viable Avenues to Social Rank and Influence: https://henrich.fas.harvard.edu/files/henrich/files/cheng_et_al_2013.pdf
Dominance (the use of force and intimidation to induce fear) and Prestige (the sharing of expertise or know-how to gain respect)


According to the model, Dominance initially arose in evolutionary history as a result of agonistic contests for material resources and mates that were common among nonhuman species, but continues to exist in contemporary human societies, largely in the form of psychological intimidation, coercion, and wielded control over costs and benefits (e.g., access to resources, mates, and well-being). In both humans and nonhumans, Dominance hierarchies are thought to emerge to help maintain patterns of submission directed from subordinates to Dominants, thereby minimizing agonistic battles and incurred costs.

In contrast, Prestige is likely unique to humans, because it is thought to have emerged from selection pressures to preferentially attend to and acquire cultural knowledge from highly skilled or successful others, a capacity considered to be less developed in other animals (Boyd & Richerson, 1985; Laland & Galef, 2009). In this view, social learning (i.e., copying others) evolved in humans as a low-cost fitness-maximizing, information-gathering mechanism (Boyd & Richerson, 1985). Once it became adaptive to copy skilled others, a preference for social models with better than average information would have emerged. This would promote competition for access to the highest quality models, and deference toward these models in exchange for copying and learning opportunities. Consequently, selection likely favored Prestige differentiation, with individuals possessing high-quality information or skills elevated to the top of the hierarchy. Meanwhile, other individuals may reach the highest ranks of their group’s hierarchy by wielding threat of force, regardless of the quality of their knowledge or skills. Thus, Dominance and Prestige can be thought of as coexisting avenues to attaining rank and influence within social groups, despite being underpinned by distinct motivations and behavioral patterns, and resulting in distinct patterns of imitation and deference from subordinates.

Importantly, both Dominance and Prestige are best conceptualized as cognitive and behavioral strategies (i.e., suites of subjective feelings, cognitions, motivations, and behavioral patterns that together produce certain outcomes) deployed in certain situations, and can be used (with more or less success) by any individual within a group. They are not types of individuals, or even, necessarily, traits within individuals. Instead, we assume that all situated dyadic relationships contain differential degrees of both Dominance and Prestige, such that each person is simultaneously Dominant and Prestigious to some extent, to some other individual. Thus, it is possible that a high degree of Dominance and a high degree of Prestige may be found within the same individual, and may depend on who is doing the judging. For example, by controlling students’ access to rewards and punishments, school teachers may exert Dominance in their relationships with some students, but simultaneously enjoy Prestige with others, if they are respected and deferred to for their competence and wisdom. Indeed, previous studies have shown that based on both self- and peer ratings, Dominance and Prestige are largely independent (mean r = -.03; Cheng et al., 2010).

Status Hypocrisy: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/01/status-hypocrisy.html
Today we tend to say that our leaders have prestige, while their leaders have dominance. That is, their leaders hold power via personal connections and the threat and practice of violence, bribes, sex, gossip, and conformity pressures. Our leaders, instead, mainly just have whatever abilities follow from our deepest respect and admiration regarding their wisdom and efforts on serious topics that matter for us all. Their leaders more seek power, while ours more have leadership thrust upon them. Because of this us/them split, we tend to try to use persuasion on us, but force on them, when seeking to to change behaviors.


Clearly, while there is some fact of the matter about how much a person gains their status via licit or illicit means, there is also a lot of impression management going on. We like to give others the impression that we personally mainly want prestige in ourselves and our associates, and that we only grant others status via the prestige they have earned. But let me suggest that, compared to this ideal, we actually want more dominance in ourselves and our associates than we like to admit, and we submit more often to dominance.

Cads, Dads, Doms: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/07/cads-dads-doms.html
"The proper dichotomy is not “virile vs. wimpy” as has been supposed, but “exciting vs. drab,” with the former having the two distinct sub-groups “macho man vs. pretty boy.” Another way to see that this is the right dichotomy is to look around the world: wherever girls really dig macho men, they also dig the peacocky musician type too, finding safe guys a bit boring. And conversely, where devoted dads do the best, it’s more difficult for macho men or in-town-for-a-day rockstars to make out like bandits. …

Whatever it is about high-pathogen-load areas that selects for greater polygynous behavior … will result in an increase in both gorilla-like and peacock-like males, since they’re two viable ways to pursue a polygynous mating strategy."

This fits with there being two kinds of status: dominance and prestige. Macho men, such as CEOs and athletes, have dominance, while musicians and artists have prestige. But women seek both short and long term mates. Since both kinds of status suggest good genes, both attract women seeking short term mates. This happens more when women are younger and richer, and when there is more disease. Foragers pretend they don’t respect dominance as much as they do, so prestigious men get more overt attention, while dominant men get more covert attention.

Women seeking long term mates also consider a man’s ability to supply resources, and may settle for poorer genes to get more resources. Dominant men tend to have more resources than prestigious men, so such men are more likely to fill both roles, being long term mates for some women and short term mates for others. Men who can offer only prestige must accept worse long term mates, while men who can offer only resources must accept few short term mates. Those low in prestige, resources, or dominance must accept no mates. A man who had prestige, dominance, and resources would get the best short and long term mates – what men are these?

Stories are biased toward dramatic events, and so are biased toward events with risky men; it is harder to tell a good story about the attraction of a resource-rich man. So stories naturally encourage short term mating. Shouldn’t this make long-term mates wary of strong mate attraction to dramatic stories?

Woman want three things: someone to fight for them (the Warrior), someone to provide for them (the Tycoon) and someone to excite their emotions or entertain them (the Wizard).

In this context,

Dad= Tycoon
Cad= Wizard

To repeat:

Dom (Cocky)+ Dad (Generous) + Cad (Exciting/Funny) = Laid

There is an old distinction between "proximate" and "ultimate" causes. Evolution is an ultimate cause, physiology (and psychology, here) is a proximate cause. The flower bends to follow the sun because it gathers more light that way, but the immediate mechanism of the bending involves hormones called auxins. I see a lot of speculation about, say, sexual cognitive dimorphism whose ultimate cause is evolutionary, but not so much speculation about the proximate cause - the "how" of the difference, rather than the "why". And here I think a visit to an older mode of explanation like Marsden's - one which is psychological rather than genetic - can sensitize us to the fact that the proximate causes of a behavioral tendency need not be a straightforward matter of being hardwired differently.

This leads to my second point, which is just that we should remember that human beings actually possess consciousness. This means not only that the proximate cause of a behavior may deeply involve subjectivity, self-awareness, and an existential situation. It also means that all of these propositions about what people do are susceptible to change once they have been spelled out and become part of the culture. It is rather like the stock market: once everyone knows (or believes) something, then that information provides no advantage, creating an incentive for novelty.

Finally, the consequences of new beliefs about the how and the why of human nature and human behavior. Right or wrong, theories already begin to have consequences once they are taken up and incorporated into subjectivity. We really need a new Foucault to take on this topic.

The Economics of Social Status: http://www.meltingasphalt.com/the-economics-of-social-status/
Prestige vs. dominance. Joseph Henrich (of WEIRD fame) distinguishes two types of status. Prestige is the kind of status we get from being an impressive human specimen (think Meryl Streep), and it's governed by our 'approach' instincts. Dominance, on the other hand, is … [more]
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september 2016 by nhaliday
The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everday Life

A Book Response Prediction: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/03/a-book-response-prediction.html
I predict that one of the most common responses will be something like “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” While the evidence we offer is suggestive, for claims as counterintuitive as ours on topics as important as these, evidence should be held to a higher standard than the one our book meets. We should shut up until we can prove our claims.

I predict that another of the most common responses will be something like “this is all well known.” Wise observers have known and mentioned such things for centuries. Perhaps foolish technocrats who only read in their narrow literatures are ignorant of such things, but our book doesn’t add much to what true scholars and thinkers have long known.


Elephant in the Brain on Religious Hypocrisy:
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august 2016 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Evidence for (very) recent natural selection in humans
height (+), infant head circumference (+), some biomolecular stuff, female hip size (+), male BMI (-), age of menarche (+, !!), and birth weight (+)

Strong selection in the recent past can cause allele frequencies to change significantly. Consider two different SNPs, which today have equal minor allele frequency (for simplicity, let this be equal to one half). Assume that one SNP was subject to strong recent selection, and another (neutral) has had approximately zero effect on fitness. The advantageous version of the first SNP was less common in the far past, and rose in frequency recently (e.g., over the last 2k years). In contrast, the two versions of the neutral SNP have been present in roughly the same proportion (up to fluctuations) for a long time. Consequently, in the total past breeding population (i.e., going back tens of thousands of years) there have been many more copies of the neutral alleles (and the chunks of DNA surrounding them) than of the positively selected allele. Each of the chunks of DNA around the SNPs we are considering is subject to a roughly constant rate of mutation.

Looking at the current population, one would then expect a larger variety of mutations in the DNA region surrounding the neutral allele (both versions) than near the favored selected allele (which was rarer in the population until very recently, and whose surrounding region had fewer chances to accumulate mutations). By comparing the difference in local mutational diversity between the two versions of the neutral allele (should be zero modulo fluctuations, for the case MAF = 0.5), and between the (+) and (-) versions of the selected allele (nonzero, due to relative change in frequency), one obtains a sensitive signal for recent selection. See figure at bottom for more detail. In the paper what I call mutational diversity is measured by looking at distance distribution of singletons, which are rare variants found in only one individual in the sample under study.

The 2,000 year selection of the British: http://www.unz.com/gnxp/the-2000-year-selection-of-the-british/

Detection of human adaptation during the past 2,000 years: http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/05/07/052084

The key idea is that recent selection distorts the ancestral genealogy of sampled haplotypes at a selected site. In particular, the terminal (tip) branches of the genealogy tend to be shorter for the favored allele than for the disfavored allele, and hence, haplotypes carrying the favored allele will tend to carry fewer singleton mutations (Fig. 1A-C and SOM).

To capture this effect, we use the sum of distances to the nearest singleton in each direction from a test SNP as a summary statistic (Fig. 1D).

Figure 1. Illustration of the SDS method.

Figure 2. Properties of SDS.

Based on a recent model of European demography [25], we estimate that the mean tip length for a neutral sample of 3,000 individuals is 75 generations, or roughly 2,000 years (Fig. 2A). Since SDS aims to measure changes in tip lengths of the genealogy, we conjectured that it would be most likely to detect selection approximately within this timeframe.

Indeed, in simulated sweep models with samples of 3,000 individuals (Fig. 2B,C and fig. S2), we find that SDS focuses specifically on very recent time scales, and has equal power for hard and soft sweeps within this timeframe. At individual loci, SDS is powered to detect ~2% selection over 100 generations. Moreover, SDS has essentially no power to detect older selection events that stopped >100 generations before the present. In contrast, a commonly-used test for hard sweeps, iHS [12], integrates signal over much longer timescales (>1,000 generations), has no specificity to the more recent history, and has essentially no power for the soft sweep scenarios.

Catching evolution in the act with the Singleton Density Score: http://www.molecularecologist.com/2016/05/catching-evolution-in-the-act-with-the-singleton-density-score/
The Singleton Density Score (SDS) is a measure based on the idea that changes in allele frequencies induced by recent selection can be observed in a sample’s genealogy as differences in the branch length distribution.

You don’t need a weatherman: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/
You can do a million cool things with this method. Since the effective time scale goes inversely with sample size, you could look at evolution in England over the past 1000 years or the past 500. Differencing, over the period 1-1000 AD. Since you can look at polygenic traits, you can see whether the alleles favoring higher IQs have increased or decreased in frequency over various stretches of time. You can see if Greg Clark’s proposed mechanism really happened. You can (soon) tell if creeping Pinkerization is genetic, or partly genetic.

You could probably find out if the Middle Easterners really have gotten slower, and when it happened.

Looking at IQ alleles, you could not only show whether the Ashkenazi Jews really are biologically smarter but if so, when it happened, which would give you strong hints as to how it happened.

We know that IQ-favoring alleles are going down (slowly) right now (not counting immigration, which of course drastically speeds it up). Soon we will know if this was true while Russia was under the Mongol yoke – we’ll know how smart Periclean Athenians were and when that boost occurred. And so on. And on!


“The pace has been so rapid that humans have changed significantly in body and mind over recorded history."

bicameral mind: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/#comment-78934

Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Ashkenazi Jews all have high levels of myopia. Australian Aborigines have almost none, I think.

I expect that the fall of all great empires is based on long term dysgenic trends. There is no logical reason why so many empires and civilizations throughout history could grow so big and then not simply keep growing, except for dysgenics.
I can think of about twenty other possible explanations off the top of my head, but dysgenics is a possible cause.
I agree with DataExplorer. The largest factor in the decay of civilizations is dysgenics. The discussion by R. A. Fisher 1930 p. 193 is very cogent on this matter. Soon we will know for sure.
Sometimes it can be rapid. Assume that the upper classes are mostly urban, and somewhat sharper than average. Then the Mongols arrive.
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august 2016 by nhaliday
Hallucinated Gods | Melting Asphalt
Somehow, between about 1250 and 500 BC people stopped experiencing their gods as hallucinations. Jaynes calls this period the "breakdown of the bicameral mind."

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may 2016 by nhaliday
Goodreads | Gwern's review of Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
- book about the Pirahã and their language/culture
- reminds me of julian jaynes
- some interesting analysis in comment

They seem to need relatively little sleep, mature quickly, never plan ahead or make long-term investments (such as making wicker rather than palm leave baskets) or talk about the distant future/past (and will very rarely talk about anything they learned from someone now dead: "generally only the most experienced language teachers will do this, those who have developed an ability to abstract from the subjective use of their language and who are able to comment on it from an objective perspective"), and will casually throw away tools or things they will need soon. They know how to preserve meat, but never both unless intending to trade it; food is eaten whenever it's available, and since they fish at all hours, everyone might wake up at 3AM for fish.


They have difficulty understanding foreigners are like them, and can understand language, in a bizarre echo of the Chinese room:

Then I noticed another bemusing fact. The Pirahãs would converse with me and then turn to one another, in my presence, to talk about me, as though I was not even there.


Their language, in their view, emerges from their lives as Pirahãs and from their relationships to other Pirahãs. If I could utter appropriate responses to their questions, this was no more evidence that I spoke their language than a recorded message is to me evidence that my telephone is a native speaker of English. I was like one of the bright macaws or parrots so abundant along the Maici. My "speaking" was just some cute trick to some of them. It was not really speaking.

All of this is part of Everett's case that the Pirahã are, like Luria's peasant, ruled by an "immediacy of experience principle" and this yields an extraordinarily conservative culture on which new ideas and concepts roll off like so much water off a duck's back.

Their supernatural beliefs are particularly fascinating: dreams are simply interpreted literally and discussed as supernatural events that happened, and any random thing can be a 'spirit', with regular theatrical performances of 'spirits' who are obviously tribe men (but when asked, Pirahã deny that there is any connection between particular men and spirits, part of their weak grasp on personal identity (I was particularly amused by the Heraclitean tone of one anecdote: "Pirahãs occasionally talked about me, when I emerged from the river in the evenings after my bath. I heard them ask one another, 'Is this the same one who entered the river or is it kapioxiai [a dangerous spirit]?'"), where names change regularly and are considered new people). Some of the spirit appearances are group hallucinations or consensus, and Everett opens Don't Sleep with the anecdote of being part of a group of Pirahã staring at an empty sand bank where they see the spirit Xigagai saying he will kill anyone going into the forest that day. This example is a bit perplexing: what could possibly be the use of this and why would they either perceive it or go along with it? Similarly, it's hard to see how the spirit outside the village talking all night about how he wanted to have sex with specific women of the village is serving any role, and the tribesman reaction when Everett walks up and asks to record his ranting is hilariously deadpan: "'Sure, go ahead', he answered immediately in his normal voice". Other spirits make more sense:

Pirahãs listen carefully and often follow the exhortations of the kaoaib6gi. A spirit might say something like "Don't want Jesus. He is not Pirahã", or "Don't hunt downriver tomorrow", or things that are commonly shared values, such as "Don't eat snakes." Through spirits, ostracism, food-sharing regulation, and so on, Pirahã society disciplines itself.
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april 2016 by nhaliday
List Of The Passages I Highlighted In My Copy Of Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” | Slate Star Codex
“Words are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in collective ritual.”

reminds me of http://www.meltingasphalt.com/music-in-human-evolution/
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april 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : peeps

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