Showing posts from May, 2017

Ideology and Violence

I often use the term "ideology", so I thought I should explain what I mean by it. The Wikipedia definition is: A comprehensive set of normative beliefs, conscious and unconscious ideas, that an individual, group or society has. I use the term in a more specific way. My definition is: A system of ideas that defines a social and moral dichotomy between US and THEM, GOOD and EVIL. In this essay I will expand on my definition of "ideology". I will explain the function of ideologies and how their form derives from their function. I will start with my favorite example of group conflict, Easter Island. I have described what happened there before: population explosion followed by collapse. Imagine Easter Island just before the collapse. Let's say there were about 5,000 adults and 10,000 children living on the island. The children were growing up and eating more and more food. Teenagers eat a lot. The island could only support about 10,000 adults. There was n

The Deep State and the Myth of Democracy

A lot of people are talking about the deep state these days, either to deny that it exists or to claim that it is attempting to overthrow the elected government of the US. I have been criticized for talking about such a crazy conspiracy theory. So be it. I do believe in the existence of the deep state, although I don't think it is run by reptilian Illuminati or grey aliens, or whatever. I think it consists of people who cooperate in covert ways to control the government. One reason why I believe in the deep state is that I don't believe in the myth of democracy. Before we can have an intelligent discussion of the way social power actually works, the myth of democracy must be debunked. The myth of democracy is that the government acts on behalf of the people because it is elected. First, let's review how democracy works. The people elect the top level of government, by choosing one politician versus another. The elected government has two main functions: to make laws and

Easter Island, Humanism and Ethno-altruism

The story of Easter Island has always fascinated me. Not just because of the huge, enigmatic statues, but because Easter Island was (before European contact) a miniature analog to the Earth. It was a little world, isolated in the Pacific, colonized by human beings only about 1000 years ago, and within a 500 year period there was a population explosion, environmental destruction, and population collapse. I will retell that story very briefly, and then I will discuss some of its implications for human nature. The original colonists found a paradise of abundant food. They brought no diseases with them, so for many generations they lived lives free of disease, hunger and war. At first, they could easily kill dolphins and seabirds for food, so they did. The island was covered in a lush forest of huge trees, which could be cut down for canoes or timber. Eventually, the dolphins and seabirds disappeared, so the Easter Islanders switched to agriculture as their main source of food. As their

Hawaii and Ecology

Recently, I went to Hawaii (both the state and the island) for a vacation. The island of Hawaii is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, and is often called “The Big Island”. I went with two of my kids: my 10-year-old daughter and my 14-year-old son. It was their first time on a plane and their first trip to the tropics. It was a great experience for all of us. Hawaii is a fascinating and beautiful place. The Hawaiian Islands are young, in geological terms, and Hawaii is the youngest of the islands. It is less than a million years old. The landscape is dominated by two massive shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, both of which have peaks over 13,000 ft high. On the south side of the island there is a smaller volcano, Kilauea, which is still active. Magma rises to the surface in its caldera and lava flows down its slopes into the sea. Hawaii has a variety of land and ocean ecosystems. There are coral reefs, lush forests, dry scrub-lands, high mountains and barren lava fields.

Does Evolutionary Theory Imply Genetic Tribalism?

Many people believe that the theory of evolution implies genetic tribalism. They believe that organisms act for the good of the species, or that organisms are altruistic toward others who share their genes. These beliefs are false. Evolutionary theory does not imply genetic tribalism or altruism. Belief in genetic tribalism comes from the idea that we have natural genetic interests in those who share our genes. This seems superficially plausible. We have a natural interest in our children, don’t we? That interest is because we share genes, right? If so, we should also have a genetic interest in our ethnic groups or races, by extension of the same principle. The fundamental misconception is that we have natural genetic interests based on shared genes. Evolution does not create entities with genetic interests. It creates reproducing machines. Those are different things. But isn’t reproduction an instrument of genetic interests? Isn’t the purpose of reproduction to spread our g