Bad Biology & Its Adherents

Worth a read, how neoliberals’ ignorance of science allows them to wilfully misinterpret it to support their selfish pathologies, how social Darwinists are a fraud and chimps like to hug, (the author is rather too rosy in his views of some historic leaders but those are tangental items anyway to his main points). (ht2 James)

How bad biology killed the economy

An unnatural culture of greed and fear has brought the global economy to its knees. We need to start playing to our pro-social strengths, says Frans de Waal

The CEO of Enron – now in prison – happily applied ‘selfish gene’ logic to his human capital, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Assuming that the human species is driven purely by greed and fear, Jeffrey Skilling produced employees driven by the same motives. Enron imploded under the mean-spirited weight of his policies, offering a preview of what was in store for the world economy as a whole.

An avowed admirer of Richard Dawkins’ gene-centric view of evolution, Skilling mimicked natural selection by ranking his employees on a one-to-five scale representing the best (one) to the worst (five). Anyone with a ranking of five got axed, but not without first having been humiliated on a website featuring his or her portrait. Under this so-called ‘Rank & Yank’ policy, people proved perfectly willing to slit one another’s throats, resulting in a corporate atmosphere marked by appalling dishonesty within and ruthless exploitation outside the company.

The deeper problem, however, was Skilling’s view of human nature. The book of nature is like the Bible: everyone reads into it what they like, from tolerance to intolerance and from altruism to greed. But it’s good to realise that, if biologists never stop talking about competition, this doesn’t mean that they advocate it, and if they call genes selfish, this doesn’t mean that genes actually are. Genes can’t be any more ‘selfish’ than a river can be ‘angry’ or sun rays ‘loving’. Genes are little chunks of DNA. At most, they are self-promoting, because successful genes help their carriers spread more copies of themselves.

Like many before him, Skilling had fallen hook, line and sinker for the selfish-gene metaphor, thinking that if our genes are selfish, then we must be selfish, too. He can be forgiven, however, because even if this is not what Dawkins meant, it is hard to separate the world of genes from the world of human psychology if our terminology deliberately conflates them.

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To Those Who Resist The Idea of a Ruling Class

This is how it works.

Update: More.

Exterminate All Altruistic Thought II

Capitalism Short Circuits Our Moral Hard-Wiring
by Gary Olson
In a recent New Yorker piece, Naomi Klein astutely observes that “The crash on Wall Street should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian Communism, an indictment of an ideology.” One hopes so. The financial system’s collapse in 2008 offers a rare opportunity to question certain underlying assumptions about our state capitalist economy and its neoliberal ideology.

For the last few years I’ve been writing about neuroscience research which shows that the human brain is hard-wired for empathy, the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes. This is the discovery of the mirror neuron system or MNS, a finding some scientists believe rivals what the discovery of DNA meant for biology. The technical details showing how morality is rooted in biology, hardwired into our neural circuits via evolution rather than handed down from on high, lie beyond this article. But our understanding is increasing at an exponential rate and it’s compelling. Earlier this year, UCLA neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni’s superb book, Mirroring People (NY: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008, paper) made this important research accessible to the lay public.

However, this is not to underestimate the barriers to the public’s appreciation of these findings. At the apex of misunderstanding is the cynical, even despairing doubt about the existence of a moral instinct for empathy. From doctrines of original sin and Ayn Rand to Alan Greenspan and David Brooks, certain intrepretations of human nature have functioned to override empathic responses. In the words of famed primate scientist Frans B.M. de Waal “You need to indoctrinate empathy out of people in order to arrive at extreme capitalist positions.”

We know that cultures are set up to reward some people and disadvantage others. Capitalists maintain domination, in part, through subtly but actively creating society’s prevailing cultural norms. Antonio Gramsci’s writing reminds us that this control is achieved through the mass media, education, religion and popular culture as subordinate classes assimilate certain ideas as “common sense.” It isn’t that individual deviations don’t occur within the interstices of society but generally they don’t threaten elite control.

If we assume that the human brain or more specifically, the aforementioned mirror neuron system, is the implicit target of elite propaganda, then the current economic meltdown provides an almost unprecedented opportunity for us.

Perhaps not since the 1930s have our citizens been more skeptical of received wisdom about our socioeconomic system. That is, the carefully manufactured narrative of market capitalist identity and its assumptions about human nature are now thrown into sharp relief.

Not only has economic reality made a shambles of the canonical model of Homo economicus but robust empirical evidence offers promising alternative responses to basic questions about human nature. Parenthetically, other highly regarded cross-cultural studies reveal that the self-interested behavior predicted by the selfishness axiom simply fail to materialize and cooperation is the norm.

Of course there are also predatory and cruel urges within our nature, complete with their own neural correlates and evolutionary origins. But now we know that organizing an alternative to our vicious system of “natural” hyper-individualism will enhance the opportunity for the empathic aspect of our nature to flourish. Social historian Margaret Jacobs captures my optimism with her insight that “No institution is safe if people simply stop believing in the assumptions that justify its existence.” Therein lies both our challenge and responsibility.

Exterminate All Altruistic Thought I

Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Quantity

Idiots, idiots, idiots.

A genetically engineered organism that lives 10 times longer than normal has been created by scientists in California. It is the greatest extension of longevity yet achieved by researchers investigating the scientific nature of ageing.

If this work could ever be translated into humans, it would mean that we might one day see people living for 800 years. But is this ever going to be a realistic possibility?

Valter Longo is one of the small but influential group of specialists in this area who believes that an 800-year life isn’t just possible, it is inevitable. It was his work at the University of Southern California that led to the creation of a strain of yeast fungus that can live for 10 weeks or more, instead of dying at its usual maximum age of just one week.

Still imagine the sense of achievement on assassinating some 700 year old ruling class tyrant who tortured to death your great great great great great grandmother (because y’know of course they’ll hand out the treatment free to everyone and there’s no man made environmental crisis already happening or nuffink). Idiots, idiots, idiots.

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This Is Not News

This is an inevitable part of war-

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction. 

That’s why it must only be a last resort in self defence and not say…a choice by the ruling class in order to make profit and service empire. None of their children are in these figures.

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Thunderdome! One Party State

Well shock horror the tories use the usual whipping boy of welfare, Lenin writes about it nicely. And what does NuLabour say-

Some disability groups have criticised the plans, saying that levels of fraud are low. The Labour Party says the Tories have copied its ideas. 

So um, democracy? No, two parties being as vicious as each other in driving down the living conditions of the poorest and increasing the ‘flexibilty’ of the labour market. Already private corporations are contracted to deny benefit to claimants via spurious tests and routinely denying benefits that are only awarded after appeals (which invariably find the original test was fraudulently applied by the assessment corporation). I know from personal experience and subsequent research, I could bore you intensely with the details of this widespread scam, if you need help the best site to start at is Benefits & Work.
So where is the alternative? Where is the party representing people not business elites? As many say it is time the unions stopped automatic backing of Labour, either as part of a campaign to retake the party from the conservatives or to back a new party that represents people. One cost of this momentum to push people into simply being cogs of the economy is reported today in The Independent-

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, the medical director of the London Sleep Centre, is not at all surprised. “Insomnia is on the rise in all developed countries and fast-developing countries, because we’re changing to a 24/7, urbanised lifestyle that promotes sleep deprivation,” he says. 

Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in the late-19th century, it is estimated that the average person slept for 10 hours a night. Nowadays, we’re lucky to get six or seven – but many young professionals survive on much less.

The signs of sleep-deprivation propaganda are everywhere. There is the Rimmel advert on TV, in which Kate Moss goes straight from nightclub to work, aided by just a smear of foundation. There are the gossip columns, which report the late-night revels of a host of glamorous celebrities. Margaret Thatcher famously got by on just four hours a night – and it was a badge of honour, not a failure. The message is clear: sleeping is boring, ” winners” don’t need it.

Beyond the party politics this is an anthropological crisis, we are fashioning a future of great inhumanity, quite apart from the mental and spiritual deprivation we are denying basic physiological requirements. The ironic thing is what might alter this course is the damage it causes to the environment, if worse case scenarios play out humans are going to experience a die off and radical alterations to lifestyles and cultures. Where wiser minds & compassionate politics have failed the planet will produce a smackdown on the irrational greed of the system where we will all suffer. However in that chaos let’s remember who lead us to this and act accordingly and the viciousness they have shown to the most vulnerable, should not be forgotten.

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The Future Will Be Paved With Genocides

Because even in the midst of one we deny it and even 90 years is not enough for the guilty to be made contrite, even 1 and a half million murdered can’t make a politician tell the fucking truth

Bush 2000-  “The Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign that defies comprehension and commands all decent people to remember and acknowledge the facts and lessons of an awful crime… If elected President, I would ensure that our nation properly recognizes the tragic suffering of the Armenian people.”

Bush 2007- “I urge members to oppose the Armenian Genocide resolution now being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915. But this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror.”

The US political establishment has previously been bribed by Turkey to deny the Armenian genocide and zionists wish to deny it as…erm they have a monopoly? And as for the Congo? Not as strategically important as war on terror relevant Sudan. Problem is, it’s a human failing hard wired in-

Humans cannot be trusted to deal decisively against genocide, new research showed, indicating that mounting death tolls are usually mirrored by rising indifference.

Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, said his research found that mankind is less likely to intervene in cases of mass slaughter than in cases where only one victim was involved.

Slovic, who specializes in human judgment and decision making, presented his findings in an address at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences’ annual conference in San Francisco.

In the research carried out in Sweden, participants were shown a photo of a starving African girl and were given details of her individual story and the conditions of the nation in which she lives. Another photo contained the same information but for a starving boy. A third photo showed both children.

The feelings of sympathy for each individual child were almost equal but dropped when they were considered together.

Donations followed the same pattern, Slovic revealed, being lower for two needy children than for either individually.

“The studies just described suggest a disturbing psychological tendency,” Slovic said. “Our capacity to feel is limited.”

Accordingly, people were less likely to react when genocidal atrocities erupted. If humans saw a collapse of feeling at just two individuals, “it is no wonder that at 200,000 deaths the feeling is gone,” Slovic said.

Civilisation would require we mitigate against this flaw, rather than encourage it.
(h/t fitness for the occasion)

Ennui On Me

So a President who took power because they disenfranchised voters then engineered the decision on who ‘won’ the election was decided by a court which they knew had a bias towards their candidate, lectures Russia and China on democracy. While China arrests people connected to Tiananmen square massacre to minimise remembrances of its 18th anniversary and Russia continues to be ruled by strong men who have journalists assassinated. Meanwhile the US finds that its court system is able to convict a senior member of the government for lying about his criminal activities in support of the administration and its wars but the made up military tribunal system is on the brink of collapse. It finds itself unable to try two men because the made up non-laws are even more stupid than the people who dreamt them up.

And it’s mostly pantomime because the most important thing is the push to maintain and expand the American Empire by means of dotting its missile bases all over the place. Which means the future will be the same as the past, govts. that are merely a means to funnel public money to corporations and their partner militaries. More wars, more inequality backed up with lethal force, the worst humans beings amongst us remaining the most powerful. Meh!

Animal Factory

The assault involved at least six men at the Catterick Garrison. One of the gang is said to have pinned down the unnamed victim as another attempted to rape him It is claimed the solider, one of 300 trainee paras at Catterick, was accused of being gay and, after the alleged assault, was curled up on a bed crying: “Help me”.

Accused of being gay? Hey Paras in case you don’t have a calender it is 2007, shut the fuck up you repressed cowards. Or hey how often does a dirty lefty get to say this- Go back to Russia!

And what does the MOD do? Try to spin it using the most heinous rape denying techniques that unfortunately have been around forever, some progress-

But privately officials suggested it had been exaggerated by “salacious reporting”. They also claimed the incident was “consensual” and pointed out that the alleged victim had not filed a complaint.

Disgraceful. Of course not, he is scared, traumatised, probably being threatened to keep silent and somehow I doubt the paras have a proactive rape counselling service. The ‘officials’ are reprehensible to use those old lies & excuses and clearly demonstrate the neanderthal attitudes at play. Retards.

Take it away Bill…

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The Porn Of Sentimentalism

This is getting sick, sad as it is we are indulging in a hysterical idolatry while many other nameless souls suffer and die.

The hunt for Madeleine McCann rolled out across Europe yesterday as some of the continent’s largest multinational companies launched a poster and text messaging campaign and money poured into a fund whose website received 25m hits on its first day.

The problem is this-

Humans cannot be trusted to deal decisively against genocide, new research showed, indicating that mounting death tolls are usually mirrored by rising indifference.
Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, said his research found that mankind is less likely to intervene in cases of mass slaughter than in cases where only one victim was involved.

We can sympathise and empathise with named specific individuals but when the numbers get larger humans cannot effectively care. This is why genocides are possible and in an enlightened world we should recognise this failing and create structures that mitigate against this, not indulge in tabloid shmaltz while thousands across the world could be saved daily by some of the attention that is being given to this. Just one of many examples:-

Sukhdev Singh, the farmers’ union leader, said: “Ever since the WTO has been in existence, the rate of suicides among poor farmers in Punjab and other states has increased. There is a direct relationships to the WTO’s policies.”

Or

More than 60 people were killed and dozens wounded in mortar strikes, drive-by shootings, roadside explosions, suicide bombings and other violent attacks in Iraq on Thursday, as a study warned that the country was close to becoming a “failed state.”

Iraq, its government already largely irrelevant, is on the “verge of becoming a failed state” that risks collapse and fragmentation, a leading think-tank warned yesterday.

Or

Since intense fighting between Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents began in February, at least 1,000 people have been reportedly killed and more than 300,000 displaced.

Korova has shown what a massive deployment the Portuguese are making (and the racist tabloid lies that they are not doing enough). And multinationals? Erm every day they use mercenaries to achieve business ends, people are caused to suffer, they are doing this to feel good about themselves and as PR, just as the MSM are experiencing increased sales and higher viewing figures. In America this is known as ‘missing white woman syndrome’ where shitty media obsess over one pretty white girl to the exclusion of any other ethnicities and other legitimate news stories. And before you think I am a heartless monster, my family has experienced abuse by a ‘stranger’ paedophile who was never caught, so shut the fuck up.

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Blame The Messenger

So a student fulfills an essay assignment where:-

Students were told to “write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing,”-

And he writes a load of adolescent violent fantasies, proving he is no loss to the world of literature:-

“Blood, sex and booze. Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, s…t…a…b…puke. So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did.”-

So the school reports him and he is arrested and could stand trial for something he wrote:-

The teenager’s father, Albert Lee, has defended his son as a straight-A student who was just following instructions and contends the school overreacted. But he has also said he understands that the situation arose in the week after a Virginia Tech student gunned down 32 people before committing suicide.-

The kid is 18 and has just enlisted to join the marines. So there it is, a violent culture that denies free speech and artistic expression, ironically when the work reveals the violent mind of someone who wants to become a conditioned killer at a time his country is involved in a genocide (Darfur with 200,000 dead at that time was described as genocide by the US. Iraq, using the same methodology that was accepted in Darfur to calculate casualties has over 655,000 dead, so by their own standard Iraq is a genocide.) and a father who won’t stand up to the authorities, teaching his son to submit.

So the school and community are wrong to threaten someone with jail for something he wrote and the student is wrong for joining up in perpetrating a genocide. The moral of the story? America can’t stand to face the truth of what it is and if you wanna kill people, make it brown people ‘over there’. Out of sight, out of mind.