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Mike Roberts

Thanks for this, Dave. Though I haven't read Jordan Peterson's book, I suspect your rules to live with render his suggestions pointless, since we can't really fight against this primitive behaviour. (Apart from in rare cases.)

Brian M

These are truly excellent, in that sort of, "Well, that sucks." kind of way. ;-)

Aside from a likely high degree of cognitive dissonance, what do you think the impact is of the fact that people are always part of many "in-groups", some with essentially conflicting "norms". Obviously, most people are not aware of these contradictions, as they can probably only place themselves in any one group at any given instance. The rest of the world and all those inconvenient contradictions are probably safely filtered in that context, until the context changes and the filtering needs to change with it.

Anyway, good to read your thoughts.

Be well.


Great stuff. My over-generalized thought is that politics as a whole are about who gets the money. Although, I know there are other important issues for self-interest such as social status and power (point 7). This post puts the matter more completely.

It's why there are so few true 'mavericks' in politics - why it's so rare to see politicians, or even just regular citizens, cross party lines to support an opposing position.

Mike Roberts

Yes indeed, Jim, regarding crossing party lines. There was an incredible example here, about 5 years ago. Our local representative in parliament (NZ) had a clear message from his electorate (even including a referendum of sorts) that the people he represented didn't want a local government change that his party was pushing. He didn't cross party lines, though, defending it with something like "it wouldn't have made a difference to the vote". But more incredible (until you think about the in-group mentality) was that he wasn't punished in the next election for ignoring his electorates wishes. Not even a reduced majority. So it doesn't really matter what a member of your group does; the group bond will not be broken.

Dave Cohen

At the age of 65, knowing that my life could easily be ruined by something I allegedly did in high school, I am greatly assured that our nation's future is bright.

-- Dave

Mike Roberts

Hah! Are you trying to prompt for some comments on the Kavanaugh hearings, Dave?

I have no idea who is right and wrong (though have some private thoughts on how those involved have reacted) but I know the political system is completely messed up when the appointment of a high court judge for life is decided almost strictly along party lines. Isn't a judge supposed to be impartial and objective? I know, that is impossible, as they are, allegedly, human too. But just saying ....

Dave Cohen

The Kavanaugh thing is merely another example what I was talking about in the post on a larger scale.

It's all about power, who will have and it and who will not. In that tribal fight, anybody can be destroyed. It's happening every day on social media.

From a different perspective, as Carl Jung observed, everybody has an unacknowledged shadow side in the unconscious -- the stuff which you can't acknowledge, the stuff that gets projected onto others. Kavanaugh has one. Christine Blasie Ford has one. None of these people are believable. Who knows what lies in the unconscious? Not us and certainly not them. Hell, Carl Jung had a big shadow problem too. Some of his behavior was despicable.

We are witnessing the death throes of western civilization (rule of law, due process, freedom of speech and religion, etc.). It was nice while it lasted, but in Flatland the baser instincts will always reassert themselves. Culture is ephemeral. Instincts are forever.

-- Dave

Mike Cooper

Great to see you've written a piece again Dave, sorry I was so late to see it.

Agreed, maybe one way to see the times we are living through is that fossil fuel energy has allowed us the luxury of time and resources to override some instinctive behaviours, and now that the party is ending, human behaviours are reverting to type?



The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life—A Review

"In their new book, The Elephant in the Brain, authors Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson extend the concept to one the most important and obvious, yet unspoken, facts about the human mind: that we are masters of self-deception, equipped by evolution with an “introspective blind spot” that hides our deeper, selfish motives, even when the same motives are easy to spot in others. The result is an entertaining and insightful book that sheds light on a diverse collection of perplexing human behaviors — from laughter to religion to the origin of language."


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