Say it ain’t so, RL: Is the West doomed?

In a post on the hypocrisy of the “self-”critical left, Diane left a note on the ominous signs that the West was committing suicide. I didn’t answer it at the time, but I’d like to address it now.

I just started Ibn Warraq’s “Defending the West” last night. It promises to be a slow but highly rewarding read. And a couple of days ago I finished Shelby Steele’s “White Guilt.” Is it my imagination, or are there increasing numbers of books out there by serious and credible people challenging the “progressive” anti-Western, anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Zionist orthodoxies?

Or am I allowing myself to be lulled into a false sense of security/hope by completely tuning out the MSM?

oao would have us think the end is near. Say it ain’t so, RL. You’re the milleniallism scholar. The end is never near, right?

You may think — as do I — that Ibn Warraq and Shelby Steele are “serious and credible people,” but, like Khaled abu Toameh, these folks tend to be dismissed by the progressive camp. On the other hand, unlike oao, with whose analysis in detail I often agree, but with whose overall conclusions about the utter collapse of Western educational systems and the doomed state of the West I disagree, I think the future remains undetermined, and in fact, we still have great power and resources if only we’d use them. (And that’s not military power, I’m talking about.)

On the contrary, this battle is far from over. And although every day and week that we delay in dealing with it (e.g., Iranian nuclear power) seriously, the eventual costs are all the higher. I don’t think that Europe, for example, will start fighting back until some significant area — a city like Malmo or Rotterdam — gets turned into a toxic Sharia-zone.

On the other hand, I think that events like the debacle of Durban II are hopeful signs, not only the defection of so many key Western nations, but the walk-out of Ahmadinejad’s rant, to the accompanying cheers of the peanut gallery. On the other hand, having a schizophrenic president, who takes away with one hand what he gives with the other, doesn’t help.

While it’s true that “the end” has yet to happen, immense catastrophes have — like the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the “apocalyptic” World War II (which made the unimaginable World War I look like small potatoes, and which the Germans would have won had the US not entered). So I take no comfort in the fact that the apocalypse hasn’t yet happen.

Indeed, unlike in the past, where only God could bring about the end, now — even as we no longer believe in God — we now have the power to destroy human life on earth. So especially for atheists, who think that the reason the End hasn’t come has nothing to do with God’s involvement, the present offers the first serious threat of annihilation.

On the other hand, I have a perhaps irrationally optimistic sense of the resilience of the West. In particular I don’t think that most “liberals” are intentionally suicidal (unlike the radicals), and I do think they can and will wake up.

The issue is still how long it will take and how high the eventual cost. But we can wake up too late. At least a new dark age will reduce our carbon footprint.

78 Responses to Say it ain’t so, RL: Is the West doomed?

  1. Tom says:

    Can we please become a bit more realist and cut the crap about “having the ability to end human life on earth”. We don’t.

    A nuke can destroy 4-5 city blocks and kill everyone inside for sure. about 1 sq. km. Let’s assume that these destruction zones are perfectly matched (which they’re not, they’re circles, meaning you’ll need 100% overlap to assure destruction of all possible locations on earth, meaning you’ll need enough bombs to hit every sq. km. on earth TWICE, but hey).

    We also ignore the timing. In order for this to work you mus prevent people from walking about during the attack. Now one might say, just detonate all bombs simultaneously. Other than the fact that just synchronizing that many devices over a sattellite grid is a herculanean effort, let’s just say this : if one (1) device misses it’s target detonation time by 1/300000th of a second, you get to start over, since that would create a place where it would be possible for a human to survive.

    Next, this obviously only targets the surface of the earth. Anyone 2 meters underground is likely to survive. Anyone 10 meters underground is sure to survive. I don’t know how these “we can end all life on earth” idiots propose to kill these people, let’s just say I don’t know of any weapon that can do it (given you don’t know the location of every last cellar on earth).

    It also ignores the simple fact that one of the main factors that makes a human vulnerable to a nuclear blast oor any other, for that matter) is his size. The height of the individual and the area of the skin. This makes it so that little kids (say < 10 years) kan survive at half the distance of the blast an adult would require.

    So how many 10 megaton nuclear warheads would it take to “end life on the surface of the earth”, ignoring all above comments ? Well :

    510.072 million

    How many bombs are in existence ?

    Somewhere between 6000 and 20000.

    All the might of humanity combined, we are capable of eradicating “most” life in a small country (and we’re talking at best a belgium or a holland). Not quite the same as “ending life on earth”. It is not possible to prevent the survival of at least 10-20% of the target population. Nukes simply can’t do it.

    Let’s stop the idiocy. Yes, they’re powerful weapons. They’re nowhere near as powerful as they are declared.

  2. Thanks for one of the more pessimistic pieces of optimism I’ve seen lately. I think that for homo sapiens the good outweighs the bad by 51/49% (though when pessimistic, I peg it at 50.1/49.9%.) It seems likely to me that we are in the early to middle stages of a period where my theory will be tested to the fullest.

  3. Cynic says:

    Tom,

    It’s not that you won’t come out of it breathing but that the life that’s left to you won’t be worth living.

  4. oao says:

    I think the future remains undetermined, and in fact, we still have great power and resources if only we’d use them.

    we have increasingly less resources, given the collapse of education and the self-destruction consequences shared between the utterly corrupt financial elites/corps and the incompetent govt.

    i would agree that we could still defend ourselves IF we used the resources we still have, but this won’t happen for various reasons. and those resources are running out.

    could rome still use its resources against the barbarians? possibly, but it did not because it was already too decadent. its time was up. so is the west’s.

  5. oao says:

    I don’t think that Europe, for example, will start fighting back until some significant area — a city like Malmo or Rotterdam — gets turned into a toxic Sharia-zone.

    that’s not how it’ll happen, unless the jihadists overrreach (which they well may).

    you can see the pattern: western institutions self-dhimmify even before islamists have considerable political power. once they do, it’s over.

    not only the defection of so many key Western nations, but the walk-out of Ahmadinejad’s rant, to the accompanying cheers of the peanut gallery.

    it means much less than you think. and it’s an indicator of weakness: they won’t DO much, they just walk out. big deal.

    Indeed, unlike in the past, where only God could bring about the end, now — even as we no longer believe in God — we now have the power to destroy human life on earth.

    oh, please, stop the god nonsense. boy was he good riddance. read Onfray.

    On the other hand, I have a perhaps irrationally optimistic sense of the resilience of the West. In particular I don’t think that most “liberals” are intentionally suicidal (unlike the radicals), and I do think they can and will wake up.

    it isn’t IRrational, it is NONrational. psychologically it is clear why optimism exists. it is the same mental mechanism on which faith/religion operates so effectively. but nonrationality is bound to fail, for obvious reasons. it is a form of denial/untruth.

  6. oao says:

    iow, it is in one’s mental “interest” to be optimistic rather than realistic when reality is adverse. the realist position does not have that “interest” and therefore is more accurate perception.

  7. oao says:

    tom,

    with all due respect, your analysis may be accurate but irrelevant.

    that expression is just symbolic. quite a few nuclear exchanges and their consequences can bring the world to stages close to the pre-civilized world and depending whose culture survives…

  8. oao says:

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/33435_Reports_from_the_Durban_II_Fiasco

    it’s silly to complain about what the “UN allows to happen”. this is a obviously logical result from a int’l system in which “states” like iran, lybia and sudan have equal weight to the civilized world’s members.

    as long as the UN exists things will become worse, not better.

  9. oao says:

    in case you wonder what is the relevance of these links, they are all evidence of western decay. this kind of stuff cannot be stopped, let alone reversed.

  10. Eliyahu says:

    oao’s comment in #12 well explains why the UN is so dangerous. The mass murderous Sudan is equal to civilized nations. Of course, one of the UN’s principles, stated in the charter, is the sovereign equality of states. But is a body where Sudan is equal to –let’s say– Czechia a body that can work for a better world?? A body that can or will promote human rights universally?

    Of course not. What’s happened with the so-called “Human Rights Council” that set up the Durban II conclave is that it is dominated by Libya, Cuba, Sudan and other states that either deny universal human rights [all the Muslim states involved] or violate them in practice [Communist Cuba]. So what good is the UN HR Council?? There might be some limited utility to having world leaders and diplomats meet from time. But the HRCouncil is obviously “demopathic” in RL’s terms, that is, it works against its ostensible, avowed goals. Moreover, when all the aggressive demagogues, like A-jad, can get a worldwide forum for their blasts of hatred, incitement to war and genocide, etc., then even an institution like the yearly General Assembly meetings are harmful, as Yeselson and Gaglione explained more than 30 years ago.

    Yet the West continues to hold onto the bloody UN farce.

  11. oao says:

    not to mention that the UN sec is an utmost clueless ass.

  12. oao says:

    it is not doomed, it is gone:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25361297-7583,00.html?from=public_rss

  13. Ray in Seattle says:

    No matter that I see the underlying causes as different from oao – belief systems vs education – I tend to see his conclusions as well justified. (Unless there is some possibility to correct our present course that discussion is just an academic side issue.) Many major and minor civilizations have become extinct in human history and long before the development of modern weapons of mass destruction.

    In fact, I’d guess that the rate of civilizational extinctions, if anything, has not only decreased over the last century and especially since the UN was formed, but it has just about disappeared as a possible outcome of war, generally. Perhaps the UN serves to prevent the pressure releases that more numerous smaller wars provided in the past. It certainly seems to have prevented the annihilation and even the major suffering of those who lose the aggressive wars they start.

    Maybe because of that the tectonic plates of Huntington’s half dozen civilizations have built up enough pressure now that the epic conflagration the Muslims pray for will be the only reasonable resolution. Perhaps te smaller crueler tribal wars are what humans are designed for by our present state of evolution and preventing them from playing out naturally will have rather ominous consequences. Maybe the enlightenment was just an arrogant wet dream for the cerebrally overdeveloped Westerners who appeared in Europe in the 1700′s.

    “A Canticle for Leibowitz” just blasted into my zone of attention.

  14. oao says:

    It certainly seems to have prevented the annihilation and even the major suffering of those who lose the aggressive wars they start.

    i doubt the UN had anything to do with it. It had more to do with the type of actors who had and could use WMD’s: they were very few and reasonably rational actors to whom mutual deterrence was effective. that is increasingly not the case in either numbers and type. it’s a matter of time until some irrational actor accesses WMD’s.

    but even if not, the problem are not the barbarians, but the civilization. that’s what defeated rome and that’s what defeats the west: the self.

    Maybe the enlightenment was just an arrogant wet dream for the cerebrally overdeveloped Westerners who appeared in Europe in the 1700’s.

    the enlightenment was gradually dumped over time, reaching the current state. that’s the root of the problem.

  15. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: the enlightenment was gradually dumped over time, reaching the current state. that’s the root of the problem.

    It’s hard to be in it and also step back and see it for what it is. We do live with and enjoy the fruits of the legacy at least. Living in Seattle is still vastly different than living in Cairo or Damascus.

    But you make a good point. Has the Enlightenment reached its apogee and we are now in the ballistic phase of our descent? Are we now coasting and consuming the stored momentum of the past struggles and sacrifices of our predecessors?

    I think it’s human nature to devalue what you have and to desire what you don’t. Maybe the best thing that could happen would be for England or Finland (or Berkeley) to institute Sharia in some cases. Maybe the best thing is to let people experience what they say they want.

    Maybe Obama’s attempts at rapprochement with the likes of Iran and Venezuela will have a therapeutic effect in the regions affected as those who have tasted freedom realize that we don’t have their backs.

  16. Ray in Seattle says:

    Also, we should minimize immigration to US from those places. I think the attitude of many leftists in those places is that if things get bad enough they can always move to San Fransisco.

  17. oao says:

    It’s hard to be in it and also step back and see it for what it is. We do live with and enjoy the fruits of the legacy at least.

    that it’s hard to see is only an indicator of the dump.

    we are enjoying less and less and more and more the judeao-christian legacy whose effect is the what we really don’t see because it is so entrenched.

    Living in Seattle is still vastly different than living in Cairo or Damascus.

    or meah-shearim. but for how long?

  18. oao says:

    Also, we should minimize immigration to US from those places.

    good luck with that.

    I think the attitude of many leftists in those places is that if things get bad enough they can always move to San Fransisco.

    problem is I live in SF. and i already have too much of them, as you can imagine.

  19. oao says:

    btw:

    I don’t think that Europe, for example, will start fighting back until some significant area — a city like Malmo or Rotterdam — gets turned into a toxic Sharia-zone.

    such areas elready exist throughout europe, where even the police and military don’t dare enter. they certainly exist in france and the UK, probably holland and sweden.

  20. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    I think it’s human nature to devalue what you have and to desire what you don’t.

    I’m not sure about the universality of this. Regarding material stuff it’s the other way around, see: endowment effect. Perhaps we only take “spiritual richness” for granted.

    Maybe the enlightenment was just an arrogant wet dream for the cerebrally overdeveloped Westerners who appeared in Europe in the 1700’s.

    oao:
    the enlightenment was gradually dumped over time, reaching the current state. that’s the root of the problem.

    The self proclaimed enlightenment of today is progressiveness.
    And until the “dark age” RL alludes to actually hits their bubbles (from Tel Aviv and Oxford to NYC and SF), they’ll keep dreaming. I wonder whether they’re actually capable of building their delirious world/society, or merely of destroying the present civilization.

  21. oao says:

    The self proclaimed enlightenment of today is progressiveness.

    let’s be serious, shall we? that’s not what I was referring to.

    And until the “dark age” RL alludes to actually hits their bubbles (from Tel Aviv and Oxford to NYC and SF), they’ll keep dreaming. I wonder whether they’re actually capable of building their delirious world/society, or merely of destroying the present civilization.

    oh, if they’ll live in that sort of world society, it won’t be of their making: the umma and khalifate. i sincerely wish it for them.

  22. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG (re: #32)

    http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=JwFKlm12QYQDmgJRrJCD7BTXrf3Gnf84kdk5Rj2Q1jDjNp1F081b!-1137335696!-665261309?docId=80933292

    The Psychology of Unavailability: Explaining Scarcity and Cost Effects on Value

    In 1983, Coleco Industries marketed a soft-sculpted doll that had exagger­ated neonatal features and came with “adoption papers.” Demand for these dolls exceeded expectations, and spot shortages began to occur shortly after their introduction to the market. This scarcity fueled demand even more and created what became known as the Cabbage Patch panic ( Langway, Hughey, McAlevey, Wang, & Conant, 1983). Customers scratched,choked, pushed, and fought one another in an attempt to get the dolls. Several stores were wrecked during these riots, so many stores began requiring people to wait in line (for as long as 14 hr) in order to obtain one of the dolls. A secondary market quickly developed where sellers were receiving up to $150 per doll. Even at these prices, the dolls were so difficult to obtain that one Kansas City postman flew to London to get one for his daughter ( Adler et al., 1983). The Cabbage Patch panic dramatically illustrates one of the psycholog­ical effects of unavailability. Popular to begin with, the dolls scarcity and expensiveness (in terms of money, time, and effort) intensified people’s desire to own one. Social observers have been aware of this effect of unavailability for some time. The Roman poet Ovid ( 1957 ) wrote that “Easy things nobody wants, but what is forbidden is tempting” (p. 65). Centuries later, the Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith ( 1876/1937 )noted that “. . . the merit of an object, which is in any degree either useful or beautiful, is greatly enhanced by its scarcity, or by the great labor which . . .

    There are many such biases as the endowment effect the unavailability effect and others that operate concurrently in the mind. They are resolved by their respective strengths in the current context. It’s not one or the other.

    I interpret the endowment effect as an outcome of identity emotions. People are likely to defend and value that which they believe is part of their personal identity. A devout Muslim would likely defend Sharia ideologically and politically. At the same time a young anti-Israel progressive might tend to defend the idea of Sharia the less they have any personal connection to it because it seems exotic and is part of a “noble savage” tribal culture (otherness) that must be defended from Western hegemony (me-ness, familiarity).

    These all operate on the emotional level and simultaneously. Which biases win at any moment is determined the their relative strengths in the mind of the actor at that moment.

  23. Lorenz Gude says:

    I agree with RL that the future is undetermined, but I can’t blame oao for thinking all is caput given that he lives in San Francisco. I suggest a move to Texas for a change in perspective and holidays in Zimbabwe where one can observe just how resourceful a tiny remnant of evil colonialists can be.

  24. oao says:

    I agree with RL that the future is undetermined, but I can’t blame oao for thinking all is caput given that he lives in San Francisco.

    nah.

    1st, it’s not SF that drives me. all is kaput because of what is systematically and continuously happens in the world.

    2nd, tx? where they are fighting to insert intelligent design in schools? thanks but no thanks.

    you can’t escape collapse.

  25. oao says:

    religion:

    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2009/04/barf_the_pope_p.html

    btw, that’s the guy spengler deems brilliant.

  26. E.G. says:

    oao: oh, if they’ll live in that sort of world society, it won’t be of their making: the umma and khalifate. i sincerely wish it for them.

    I charitably (still?) don’t wish it to my best enemies. Perhaps also because I doubt they’ll understand what’s happening to them.

  27. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    People are likely to defend and value that which they believe is part of their personal identity. A devout Muslim would likely defend Sharia ideologically and politically.

    You make an enormous leap between material goods and spiritual ones. Endowment was demonstrated about the first, not the second. And that was my point. Regarding identity, I think few people can be emotionally attached to a bottle of wine or a mug.
    But indeed, it’s plausible that multiple biases are at work, each specific to some domain.

  28. Rich Rostrom says:

    Is the West doomed? Possibly. But not at the hands of “Islam”. The ummah is, mostly, parasitical on world civilization, and physically incapable of threatening it with conquest or destruction. Only the windfall of petrodollars has made Islam more than a trivial danger.

    Furthermore, the ummah is far from united in support of Islamist rule. Many large “Moslem” countries are ruled by secularists who violently suppress Islamism (Syria, for instance; also Algeria). Many Moslems have become disillusioned with Islamist rule. The Iranian theocrats are widely despised in their country.

    Nor has Islam truly resisted the tides of modernity. All across the Moslem world, fertility rates have declined radically over the last generation: by 40% or more in Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, even Saudi Arabia. Iran is down 70%, and at 1.72 is well below replacement. Indonesia is down 29%: to 2.61, slightly above replacement. This demonstrates a shift in deep cultural values away from the reactionism of the Islamists.

    Having said that: I am not optimistic for the West. This essay (
    The Coming of the Fourth American Republic
    ) neatly summarizes our present condition as “The Special Interest State”, where there is no longer any constraint on looting the common interest through political scheming. The author notes that this is a case of “Prisoners’ dilemma”: it would be in everyone’s interest for the looting to stop, but no individual or faction will benefit by stopping unilaterally. He predicts some kind of revolution or transformation to end it.

    I predict that as the common economy withers from the looting, more people will become desperate enough to join the looting – a positive feedback that will end with a general breakdown of civil order and infrastructure.

    Islam will contribute substantially to this: the ummah is largely ruled by gangsters who plunder without creating, and who destroy rather than risk loss of power.

    The pathologies of academia will also contribute: note that the “hard sciences” are now being ordered to meet “diversity” targets and elevate women, regardless of actual ability.

  29. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG (re 40) said: You make an enormous leap between material goods and spiritual ones. Endowment was demonstrated about the first, not the second. And that was my point. Regarding identity, I think few people can be emotionally attached to a bottle of wine or a mug.

    I’d propose that when it comes to identity brains don’t make such careful distinctions. Identity is a matter of symbolism, flags that tell others who we are. Those flags can spiritual or material to serve the purpose. An uncle I had was quite a Chevy man. He was spiritually attached to the idea of being a working class guy and Chevy ownership was his preferred flag of identity. Higher level beliefs are always part of identity – both how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. My uncle felt as much emotional satisfaction from being seen as a Chevy man as his wife did from being a Catholic.

    You would not want to discuss any mechanical shortcomings of Chevrolet engineering with him, especially after he’d had his evening shot. He was definitely endowed. As far as mugs, there is a multi-million dollar market for mugs that carry messages about our identity. Even a mug that just has a picture of Garfield the Cat says that you are a person who likes Garfield humor and that allows others who also appreciate Garfield to identify with you – and that’s a significant part of why you bought the mug.

    Then there’s wine. The kind of wine, the region, the label – can all be identity flags at times. This is an identity transaction that often occurs restaurants where there is a ritual about who orders, what they order, how they smell/taste for approval, etc. A multi billion dollar market.

    That’s not to say that material possessions don’t have utility value but the house red served in plain mug would do just as well in most cases. Most of what one owns is seen by their brain as part of their identity. That includes their material possessions and their spiritual beliefs. They will spend resources to acquire, maintain and advertise them and will engage in risk to defend them because they unconsciously consider them as part of their identity.

  30. oao says:

    Is the West doomed? Possibly. But not at the hands of “Islam”.

    my very point. the west is self-destructing with the help of islam.

    “The Special Interest State”, where there is no longer any constraint on looting the common interest through political scheming.

    that’s exactly the system produced in the eastern bloc by the fall of the USSR. for example, the political system of romania exists only for the purpose of looting on behalf of itself and various private interests. they reached the SPI state from communism, we are reaching it from capitalism.

    The author notes that this is a case of “Prisoners’ dilemma”: it would be in everyone’s interest for the looting to stop, but no individual or faction will benefit by stopping unilaterally. He predicts some kind of revolution or transformation to end it.

    again, my very point and what game theory teaches us.
    but i am not so sure about revolution, for the same exact reason: prisoner’s dilemma. particularly when most of the public is in denial.

    I predict that as the common economy withers from the looting, more people will become desperate enough to join the looting – a positive feedback that will end with a general breakdown of civil order and infrastructure.

    there are beginnings of it already.

    note that the “hard sciences” are now being ordered to meet “diversity” targets and elevate women, regardless of actual ability.

    we know what equalization does. the best evidence is our president.

  31. E.G. says:

    Ray in Seattle,

    Again our non agreement (≠ disagreement) is about generalisation. And a bit over the meaning of terms. I’m less sure than you that what “works” about material goods does so, and in the same fashion, about spiritual ones. And your view of identity is broader than mine. My training may have contributed to some narrow-mindedness.

    On the other hand, weren’t you arguing that there were multiple biases operating concurrently (#34) and then (#42) narrowing it down to one procedure?

  32. Ray in Seattle says:

    Yes, this stuff is interesting, isn’t it? To me the discussion is similar to playing bluegrass music in a band whereby each person alternately takes a turn at expressing their rendition of the solo. Jazz is like that too. So I don’t see it so much as non-agreement as a chance to air our differing views on this – our respective theories-of-mind. I can have a different one but still enjoy hearing yours – especially the contrasts in our views are interesting to me.

    About #34 and #42 – my view is that prior to any behavior, multiple emotional forces come into play from various circuits in the brain alerted to a particular problem requiring a behavioral response. Alternatives are considered in this way as emotional vectors, the pros and cons of each – all this almost instantaneously – unless reasoning is enlisted which takes a bit longer than instantaneous. Then, if this process results in some threshold for action being met a behavior is commenced and carried out by executive functions.

    I think, to answer your question, I am suggesting that a similar process occurs in all human brains that results in behavior – but that process takes inputs from many brain circuits at once, including sometimes the circuits that involve reasoning, to reach a conclusion or behavior choice.

    My theme is that reasoning is not in charge and does not direct this process. It is one input channel into the process that is occasionally engaged along with other circuits – and a chancy one at that. What we often describe as reasoning is really cleverly constructed justifications for the emotionally hot conclusions that we prefer (that feel good) – sometimes also described in the literature as motivated reasoning.

  33. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG – Just to tie my last comment back to identity – I see the beliefs we acquire in life as a very important source for the emotion vectors that automatically arise in our minds whenever a behavior choice is required in life – that drive our behavior.

    The beliefs that have the greatest potency to do this I describe as “identity beliefs”. These are implicit beliefs that we associate with who we are and how we want others to see us.

    Thus, we buy coffee mugs, order certain wines at dinner, buy Chevys or Fords, vote for Democrats or Republicans for president and wear certain clothes and haircut styles because of those strong emotional vectors that are stirred whenever our identity is challenged or we feel insecure. These give us the chance to defend “who we are” socially and therefore feel better about ourselves and more secure – which is the underlying goal of all behavior choice.

  34. oao says:

    Yes, this stuff is interesting, isn’t it? To me the discussion is similar to playing bluegrass music in a band whereby each person alternately takes a turn at expressing their rendition of the solo.

    works in art, not so much in science. the real question is how much in human/social behavior is art and how much science. i would prefer it’s more the latter, but could not vouch for it.

    About #34 and #42 – my view is that prior to any behavior, multiple emotional forces come into play from various circuits in the brain alerted to a particular problem requiring a behavioral response.

    dk if you noticed, but in the very long thread we had a while ago i posted a link to abook by Damasio, a neurologist, about reason and emotions which looked intriguing and which sort of argues for their interaction always. i requested it from my public library. you may wanna read it too.

  35. oao says:

    one more thing: since ALL dominant civilizations to date have collapsed and since the processes were almost identical to what we see happening to the west now, it is simply difficult to rely on nothing more than hope that we are not watching something similar.
    the evidence is simply overwhelming.

    whatever happens, the west will not be what it was.

  36. Ray in Seattle says:

    From oao (#49): I said Yes, this stuff is interesting, isn’t it? To me the discussion is similar to playing bluegrass music in a band whereby each person alternately takes a turn at expressing their rendition of the solo.

    oao said, works in art, not so much in science.

    It seems to me that the publication of peer reviewed papers, theses, dissertations, etc. can pretty much fit the same metaphor? BTW as you may have noticed, I am a lumper. That is, I am disposed to find insights from appreciating the similarities in concepts that others prefer to keep separate (splitters).

    oao said, dk if you noticed, but in the very long thread we had a while ago i posted a link to abook by Damasio, a neurologist, about reason and emotions which looked intriguing and which sort of argues for their interaction always. i requested it from my public library. you may wanna read it too.

    Damasio has published two books, “Descrates Error” in 1995 and “The Feeling of What Happens” in 1999. I have both in my library and have read each one several times over the last few years. I’m pleased that you will be reading one of them as that will make my ideas – which largely germinated from those two books – clearer. Not that you’ll necessarily agree (can’t have that) but at least what I’m trying to say should be clearer. He explains things much better than me. Which one did you order if I could ask?

  37. Cynic says:

    Yes, this stuff is interesting, isn’t it? To me the discussion is similar to playing bluegrass music in a band whereby each person alternately takes a turn at expressing their rendition of the solo. Jazz is like that too.

    Improvising?

  38. Ray in Seattle says:

    Cynic asks, “Improvising?”

    That depends on the skill level of each musician. Some players work out breaks at home to the standard tunes they like and embellish those as time goes by. More skilled players can make each time through a creative experience according to how they’re feeling at the moment. I’m in the former category – happy if I remember the break that I worked out previously and get through it without too many screw-ups. Fortunately the folks I play with are very forgiving.

    Bluegrass is similar to jazz in that there are a hundred or so standard tunes that you eventually pick up if you do it long enough. Jazz tunes typically have a wider range of chords than BG and jazz chords use more “color” notes in them – notes that give the tunes that jazzy feeling. Songs for jazz are usually sung solo while bluegrass typically includes one or two harmony parts especially on the chorus.

  39. oao says:

    Not that you’ll necessarily agree (can’t have that)

    dk about that — depends on the logic of his raguments and his evidence.

    but at least what I’m trying to say should be clearer.

    you’re not unclear. based on a review, my impression is that there is a difference between your argument and his, but i’ll have to judge after i read it myself.
    he has the advantage of studying the brain–stronger evidence at least on the face of it.

    Which one did you order if I could ask?

    descartes’ error. what’s the difference between the 2?

    It seems to me that the publication of peer reviewed papers, theses, dissertations, etc. can pretty much fit the same metaphor?

    only when the substance under consideration allows or requires it.

    BTW as you may have noticed, I am a lumper. That is, I am disposed to find insights from appreciating the similarities in concepts that others prefer to keep separate (splitters).

    having been trained first in the real (natural) science, and with a strong specialization in the methodology and philosophy of science, i require more rigor than what social science permits.

    either splitting or lumping or neither would be OK depending on the specifics. definitional rigor is another of my sensitivities.

  40. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao asks, descartes’ error. what’s the difference between the 2?

    Descartes Error is the best choice to start IMO. He lays the basis for his studies which focus on lesions and other localized brain injuries that cause specific types of behavior and personality differences – before and after. He starts DE with the story of Phinneas Gage, a railroad construction supervisor who in the mid 1800′s had an iron rod fly through his frontal cortex due to a premature dynamite explosion he was tamping in place. Gage lived but underwent some strange but well documented personality changes which was the beginning of this type of exploration of brain function. Fascinating story.

    oao said, based on a review, my impression is that there is a difference between your argument and his, but i’ll have to judge after i read it myself.

    I don’t disagree with him but I do make generalizations based on the core ideas he develops that he does not. He is pursuing consciousness – the holy grail of brain science – which becomes very evident in his second book. I’m more interested in understanding behavior. Although my ideas germinated in Damasio’s writings, I also take from several others, esp. Joseph LeDoux.

  41. oao says:

    I see the beliefs we acquire in life as a very important source for the emotion vectors that automatically arise in our minds whenever a behavior choice is required in life – that drive our behavior.

    when and how we acquire those beliefs, whether we are conscious of them and of how we’re used to acquire and ground them, is critical. the left, the right and the religious are well aware of this, the secular-atheo-humanists are not. we lose.

  42. oao says:

    between the corporations and govt the west has not a chance:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/24/video-frank-in-2005-bubble-what-bubble/

  43. oao says:

    and this is an example of what rostrom referred to as “looting”:

    http://scoffery.com/?p=2120

  44. oao says:

    do yourselves a favor and pls read these 3 articles:

    Why the West is Boyle’d
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KD21Ad01.html

    Wishful Thinking and Indecisive Wars
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.securityaffairs.org%2Fissues%2F2009%2F16%2Fpeters.php&ei=KV_zSe72JIfQswOnwojyCg&usg=AFQjCNEWfrqZd3-OaZJqLdnqWV3Iih2uKg

    Heirs to Fortuyn?
    http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_pim-fortuyn.html

    then tell me, given the scope of the problem, that there is a solution and/or, that if there is, it will be implemented.

  45. oao says:

    who is responsible for america’s security:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/04/023405.php

    inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

  46. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao said: when and how we acquire those beliefs, whether we are conscious of them and of how we’re used to acquire and ground them, is critical. the left, the right and the religious are well aware of this, the secular-atheo-humanists are not. we lose.

    “secular-atheo-humanists”? That’s a new one for me. Can I be a “Sahmanist”?

    I understand your view. I think you (virtually everyone) gives too much credit though, to conscious cognition for the state of one’s mind (the important beliefs it holds).

    Asking how one acquires their identity beliefs (these are the beliefs that direct one’s most crucial life decisions and that lower level beliefs must support) is the same as asking how they acquired their personality. Identity beliefs are one’s personality.

    There are emotional events in childhood and teen years that occur to or near us. I suspect that we emulate significant adults, teachers, siblings, friends, etc. as they deal with these and we learn to see life as they see life. There are good and bad things that happen to us. We try what we learned and edit according to the results. Then one day we are adults who do or don’t believe in God, patriotism, capitalism, communism, personal loyalty, sacrifice for family, honesty, passion, and a million other things. It’s how we learn to act and react to life’s challenges and opportunities. It becomes who we are and our worldview.

    People always say that they arrived at their beliefs about those things by using their intellect. I don’t believe it. That’s where I differ from you and almost everyone else.

    I say we learned those things unconsciously as we matured and believing or not believing in those things is how we express our self-ness, our identity. That’s what I mean by “identity beliefs”.

    I don’t think that the left, the right or the religious are any more aware of this process (my view of this) than us Sahmanists.

    Almost anyone in any of those groups will say that they believe (or not) in what they do because of their intellectual skill at discerning the truth where others (who reach different conclusions) fail. You can go to blogs representing any of those groups and find members saying how their group possesses obvious superior intellectual ability and the others are obviously idiots – and they all completely believe it.

    As a result of my views on the power of identity beliefs to direct human behavior I now say that discerning the truth is difficult and I’m never really sure when I think I have it. The upside is that observing how different societies deal with truth, such as in the ME conflict, has become a lot more interesting.

  47. oao says:

    I think you (virtually everyone) gives too much credit though, to conscious cognition for the state of one’s mind (the important beliefs it holds).

    and i think you give almost exclusive importance to the subconscious. is your view NOT produced by conscious cognition, then?

    even if one agrees with you, it is imperative to bring as much as possible to the conscious cognition.

    I don’t think that the left, the right or the religious are any more aware of this process (my view of this) than us Sahmanists.

    the fact is that they indoctrinate from childhood, when a lot of beliefs start being acquired, while we gave up education altogether.

    As a result of my views on the power of identity beliefs to direct human behavior I now say that discerning the truth is difficult and I’m never really sure when I think I have it.

    you’ve paralyzed your intellect. which is what one could expect from such a view and why i think it’s highly questionable, to put it politely.

  48. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: and i think you give almost exclusive importance to the subconscious. is your view NOT produced by conscious cognition, then?

    “Gives too much credit” is not the same as “exclusive importance”.

    oao: even if one agrees with you, it is imperative to bring as much as possible to the conscious cognition.

    There is usually plenty of conscious cognition brought in. The problem is that when strong identity beliefs are at play, the conscious cognition will be used to defend those – not to examine them.

    oao: you’ve paralyzed your intellect. which is what one could expect from such a view and why i think it’s highly questionable, to put it politely.

    I’ve had people disagree with me more politely than by claiming that I have paralyzed my intellect.

  49. Eliyahu says:

    oao, just to make your day, I listened to a panel discussion on France24 the other day. One panelist, an American I think, said frankly that educational standards in both the USA and the UK were way down from what they were before. I hope that France and Italy may be trying to keep up standards.

  50. oao says:

    “Gives too much credit” is not the same as “exclusive importance”.

    but you did not answer my question.

    There is usually plenty of conscious cognition brought in. The problem is that when strong identity beliefs are at play, the conscious cognition will be used to defend those – not to examine them.

    if it’s not done systematically throughout childhood and youth, it isn’t effective. people must be given the mental tools to question what they think and to reason and appreciate knowledge. by your own theory when people are mature their beliefs are set and evidence is no longer effective. religions — regular and secular– realize this and indoctrinate children. secular-humanism used to but does no more. that;s how the west got secularized, but now it’s indoctrinated with leftist crap.

    I’ve had people disagree with me more politely than by claiming that I have paralyzed my intellect.

    well, you see, when you do not give up the ability to see the truth, you are compelled to call a spade a spade. what would you call admitting that you can’t tell the truth?

    of course, there are circumstances when the truth is not obvious, or difficult to judge. but any general denial of ability to see the truth cannot get any respect from me because it would essentially demolish logic and science.

  51. oao says:

    One panelist, an American I think, said frankly that educational standards in both the USA and the UK were way down from what they were before.

    nobody has to say it, i know it because it’s so damn obvious. even when they say it, they don’t talk about education the way i see it.

    I hope that France and Italy may be trying to keep up standards.

    i don’t, and even if they do, it’s not my standards.

    I quote from Barry Rubin:

    Alas, a lot of these skills or ethical principles have been tossed out the window and thrown under the bus. Large numbers of academics and journalists now believe there is no such thing as truth (or at least the most accurate possible representation of it possible) and that people should be told what’s good for them rather than what’s accurate.

    got that, ray? don’t think you like the company.

    if you want to see an example of the consequences of lack of education of the kind I refer to, here’s another piece by Rubin on Stephanopoulos interview of A’jad:

    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2009/04/unbearable-lightness-of-wishful.html

    As robin points out, Stephanopoulos does have neither the necessary knowledge about the subject, nor the ability to reason about the meaning of A’jad’s comments. That’s why he has a list of superficial, sound-bite questions and has no capacity to interact with the answers, which allows even an A’jad to play him like the idiot he is.

  52. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao said, but you did not answer my question.”

    You are not trying very hard to understand me – a sure sign of dogmatic beliefs at play that must be defended at all costs. Even allowing a slightest possibility that you could be wrong causes you discomfort and shuts down your evaluative cognition preventing you from understanding my premise. Your posts are full of this kind of reaction – not just your posts to me. I’m not complaining. I appreciate the examples.

    I’ll try to answer more fully but you still will not consider what I’m saying so I’m doing it for other readers mainly. Any assertion, premise or conclusion is by definition a statement of belief assuming it’s not deceptive. Most conclusions (beliefs) are built on supporting premises which are also beliefs. In most intellectually honest minds the final and underlying supporting beliefs can not be self-contradictory.

    The supporting beliefs can come from memory or can be created at the time for the purpose of reaching a useful conclusion using reasoning and judgment along with past experience. The supporting beliefs may or may not be objectively true. The new beliefs one may conjure may or may not be accurate. Some problems are not solvable logically because there is not sufficient evidence.

    Also, some minds are not very good at reasoning, which is another source of cognitive error. However, the greatest source of errors in conclusions is that minds do not carefully consider evidence that might lead to conclusions that threaten one’s existing beliefs – especially when those are at the top of one’s belief hierarchy. Instead those minds will set to work devising ways to falsify or discredit the evidence.

    That’s what most blog discussions amount to. There is a constant din of people telling each other they lack critical thinking skills, they are bigots, ignorant, their intellect is frozen, etc.

    Example: Stephanopoulos does have neither the necessary knowledge about the subject, nor the ability to reason about the meaning of A’jad’s comments. That’s why he has a list of superficial, sound-bite questions and has no capacity to interact with the answers, which allows even an A’jad to play him like the idiot he is.

    I have found that people who are effective thinkers who can frequently come to objective conclusions about complex topics – don’t spend their time insulting the people they disagree with. They try to understand their opponent’s position and they openly accept the possibility they or their opponent might be wrong.

    My original statement was, “I think you (virtually everyone) gives too much credit though, to conscious cognition for the state of one’s mind (the important beliefs it holds). I stand by that statement.

  53. oao says:

    You are not trying very hard to understand me – a sure sign of dogmatic beliefs at play that must be defended at all costs.

    heh, heh, i ask a question which points out to a serious weakness in your theory and instead of answering it, you accuse me of not trying to understand you. why don’t you use the opportunity to answer–that’ll help me understand you. otherwise, you are doing exactly what you are accusing me of.

    That’s what most blog discussions amount to. There is a constant din of people telling each other they lack critical thinking skills, they are bigots, ignorant, their intellect is frozen, etc.

    perhaps. that’s why i don’t participate in blogs. if somebody is a bigot or an ignorant, then it is perfectly fair to state it. the islamists compalin that they are being offended by factual statements about them and their religion. do you want to employ the same approach?

    as to frozen intellect, what i said was that YOU HAVE TAKEN A POSITION which prevents you from making judgment about truth/falsehood. that’s something that you exposed yourself, i only made a logical inference.

    1st, let me assure you i understand you quite well. 2nd, i don’t even disagree with you insofar as the current situation is concerned. where we do disagree is
    this is sort of inherent in human nature and that this seems to be sort of inherent, rather than a consequence of a complete collapse of education, defined much differently than just the current schooling.

  54. oao says:

    let me put it this way: if the education I advocate were employed the way I think it should be and the result would be the same as is now, I would have no choice but to accept that part of your theory that I disagree with. but in the absence of that you cannot validate your hypothesis, which remains such.

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