I’ve been avoiding writing about the whole ‘Woke’ phenomenon, mostly because I’ve written about it before, in smaller pieces throughout this blog. But I decided it was important enough for folks to understand the memetic implications of what Woke is all about, and decide whether they want to promote this or not.
I define Woke as the current social justice movement to relationally define everything outside a given individual’s agency and judgment. If you meet a Black/Hispanic/Lesbian/Whatever (the list is almost endless) you must follow a predefined script, created by a cross-section of academics and ersatz intellectuals, or in the preferred end game of these self-appointed elites, you lose your livelihood. That’s been the defining characteristic of the Woke playbook. You will do what you’re told, or you will starve. There is nothing more darkly humorous than hearing a Wokie say “Free speech has consequences!” Which means, of course, if you step outside the lines to color, you will deserve to starve.
Wokism is often portrayed by its proponents as a high empathy strategy for a better society. But it is far from that. What wokism really is is a relational power grab, with increasingly complex set of protocols, that functionally neuters and isolates everyone in the society outside a given, and small in-group. It’s targeted currently against white folks, and justified as a strategy to redress past wrongs (slavery, discrimination and so on.) But considering my own experience with the larger population in the U.S., where basically any coherent version of history has been under attack for the last 30 years, it’s mostly arbitrary, and outside large-scale documented phenomena, like chattel slavery, it lacks any detail or meaningful narrative besides a top level perspective. Your character is defined by your phenotype, and there is simply not much you can do to change it.
From a memetic perspective, this makes it a combination of the Tribal, Authoritarian and Legalistic v-Memes, with the largest weight given to the Authoritarian knowledge structure — what you see is what you limbically get. Once we understand this, there are a couple of larger memetic questions we should be asking. Caste systems of all sorts have shown up in history around the globe, and have proven to be remarkably stable. India and China both have them, with India’s being explicit, and China’s far more implicit. Maybe it IS better to leave relational definition to some group of societal betters, and just go along with it.
And make no mistake — Wokism is a call to a caste system, since moving beyond such a system inherently implies mixing of the various castes to establish a new, synthetic normal. And that will require independent relational definition.
In a modern society like the U.S., in order to move into an explicit caste system, some level of relational devolution is mandatory. What that means is that, at least for a time, psychopaths must be in charge of its implementation, in that people must be broken down and lose some culturally asserted agency in establishing it as the de facto protocol. This then inherently leads to warping of the concept — psychopaths are going to use mental models extant to establish their own power and control — until either the population’s larger spirit is crushed, or people kill each other in the numbers necessary to correspond to the amount of complex information available to run the society. Those are the social physics, folks. You’re going to bubble up with your assigned in-group, only approaching the other out-groups under Legalistic, dictated protocols.
The problem with all of this, besides the fact that the emergent goal is to make everyone as miserable as possible, through some societal level of narcissistic “Golden Child/Scapegoat Child” dynamic, is that it profoundly cuts down on a society’s ability to deal with change of any sort — but especially rapid change. I have been a strong proponent of diversity my entire professional career (check my resume’ sometime) and still am. But the way agency-driven diversity works is create interaction scenarios between different groups where individuals decide whether to trust, or not trust others. This pushes the society much higher up on the evolutionary scale, as well as driving community-building and goal-based knowledge structures and behaviors.
But Wokism responds to this with increased fragmentation and a multiplication of reconcilable strategies of intersectionality. You have to have that as well, in a country with 331 million people. Which then might lead to a more sophisticated society, but one increasingly out of the control of all outside the priestly caste generating the rules. And sooner or later, that’s going to get down into the infrastructure of actual society — food webs, transportation, and so on — and cause the material disruption and migration to the Survival v-Meme it needs to get people to start killing each other, which is, unfortunately, the outcome of that simplification.
And if anyone thinks it is somehow going to be executed fairly, or within the bounds of some nonexistent, universal moral code, well, that’s not in the social physics. The psychopaths propagating will also likely be killed, but the timescales in their brain indicate they don’t care. I love this clip from the Dark Knight of the Joker and Two Face in the hospital. Chaos, as the Joker says, from a moral position, is fair.
There are larger population dynamics going on with all this, that I can only surmise. My Taiwanese wife insists the caste system in China was set up during the Song Dynasty, and most was an outflow of intense rule-followers, likely autism spectrum disordered, who became promoted through the introduction and modest social mobility of the Chinese civil service exam, which didn’t focus so much on executing civil service. More, it was a knowledge sophistication test through the lens of ancient Chinese poetry. Societies before my writing had implicitly figured out the whole relational mapping to other subjects’ complexity before me (remember my tagline is ‘As we relate, so we think.’ ) But as I have noted, doing so freezes societies and their aggregate cultures in time. Not so good for dealing with wide-scale disruption that might occur in a global society.
There also is no doubt that looking at Chinese history, with its frozen-in-time model (they didn’t call it Jungguo — The Middle Kingdom for nothing) gives important insights on psychopathy in such a society. Psychopaths will, over time, get shunted to the side even in Authoritarian societies, often through cultural adaptations. No one knows psychopathic games played better than the general Chinese population, and things like chengyu spring up. People need happiness, and will find ways to find it through intimate understanding.
But you have to get there first. And in a country with 331 million people, we either double down on creating people in our society that navigate issues on their own. Or we have to expect the inevitable decline our memetics serves up, along with depopulation. Wokism is both a coupled cause and a symptom of where our own society and culture is at this moment.
One last thing. Advancing societal sophistication — increasing the cascades of categories that our academic elites dream up — may start as an imposed exercise of equality, equity or what have you. But in the end, the people who benefit from these sophistication cascades will be the elites. Why? Complicated cultural codes take spare energy and time to master, lest you make a mistake and get canceled yourself. That implies those with the best proxy — money — for both energy and time, are the only ones that will master them. What may start as an attempt to recognize the huddled masses really isn’t for them. What is fascinating is that we’re starting to see this adaptation increasingly in corporate America. The winners are going to create codes even if it is against their monetary interest — that’s simply how powerful the downward evolutionary pressure of the memetics are.
And odds are if you’re reading this blog, you ain’t it. You can’t fight social physics. So the next time you are getting called out for some element of nonsensical BS, you might remember this. The multi-faction civil war that is emergently being promoted is going to kill your children too.
One more note — recently listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast with Naval Ravikant and David Deutsch. I’m not really a David Deutsch fan, but his concept on Wealth Creation — which is essentially cross-conceptual and paradigmatic mapping to create a culture of optimism– is spot on. One might think about how Wokism intrinsically affects wealth creation (basically destroys it, which then fits into the devolutionary relational spiral I’m discussing here.) David doesn’t do so well in the actual Theory of Everything category. But he’s still a smart guy.
Well, at my younger son’s urging, I finally broke down and went to the movie theater to watch Avatar 2 – The Way of Water. The first one had a tighter plot, and I didn’t have great expectations for the second, other than I was sure it would be a visual feast.
And even though I only got to watch it in 2D (I’ll bet the 3D version was unbelievable) it was still exactly that. The plot was notoriously weak, and was an obvious set-up for the next round coming out, theoretically around Christmas. But once you’ve 3D generated all those various space and land craft, as well as the animals, you’ve got to expect James Cameron might want to use them again. They are something to watch.
What is Avatar 2 really about in The Matrix? You can read plenty of plot summaries, but I’m assuming you’re coming here to understand how Agent Smith is attempting to manipulate you. Unlike the original version of Avatar, which was far more memetically complex, Avatar 2 really stays down in the Tribal v-Meme and below.
You can do a little Spiral Dynamics review and see the different colors matching to the different scenes in the original movie
Ostensibly, it’s about how women can be badass and ferocious (didn’t disappoint — and I can tell you, don’t mess with lower v-Meme society women, because they almost always are.) But it wasn’t made so much to play with audiences that might actually identify with the characters. We’re past that down the spiral drain of civilization.
Nope — it was a constant brain implant for a romanticized view of the nuclear family, and in particular a generalized form of ‘Father Hunger‘ — a term dating back at least to 1993. The roles of the kids in the family are pretty contrived — older, noble son, younger son as the one the dad looks down on, two munchkin kids, and a girl who fills in as the pagan sorceress. The best played role would have to be the young male human, Spider, who shows what happens when you attempt to separate someone from daddy. He actually captures the berserker spirit better than anything. And he does it with a personal respirator on, that I had to sit around and wonder how it kept working as anything but of a plot device. Pandora has an atmosphere that can kill people quickly, so they don’t get the latitude to just go outside and play.
The sad thing was as this contrivance was unrolling, all I could think of is how in the last ten years, things have really taken a dive for kids and both parents — but especially dads. Dads are really considered irrelevant, and I have 10 years of dealing with our own supposedly enlightened (boy, they sure aren’t) school system in the university town of Pullman, WA. After one particularly horrific incident, that I can’t go into detail about, involving my kids, I had finally won over the child’s therapist, after I had been attacked only two weeks earlier. The therapist looked at me and said “well, you know everyone in this town thinks you’re crazy. Everyone knows that when a successful man gets divorced, he goes out, finds a more suitable partner, and has kids with the new woman, and leaves the other children to the mother. It’s the way it works.” I kid you not.
Movies like Avatar 2 tap into that sentiment. Once again, I cannot give any potentially identifying details with my real life experience, but I see the results of less and less parenting, especially by dads, in my students. They’re 20 years into this crisis, and I spend more and more of my time demonstrating a kind, successful but tough masculine figure to my students, who simply have not had one in their lives. The obvious go-to statistic can be found in reports like this one — ~25% of kids are raised in single parent homes. But the problem, from my vantage point, is far worse than that. Many of the kids in my class — all seniors in engineering — have been (non) raised by emasculated, inactive fathers. It’s gotten to the point where I can identify the most affected after only two weeks. And these are relatively privileged kids. No manual skills, poor understanding of benevolent authority (they tend to have lots of experience with the other kind) and even the idea that behavior should be modeled upward.
What’s even more morbidly humorous is that James Cameron has recently come out against ‘manly men’ — making blanket statements about the evils of testosterone, all the while making a movie about how it’s a (blue) man’s job to protect his family. The mind reels.
But that’s how The Matrix works. And Avatar 2, as of February 19, 2023, has brought in some $2.25B in box office receipts. The desire the public possesses to see the movie is a jumble of emergent, incoherent philosophies (save the whales!) while being expected to be served a true visual adventure. The best part of the movie is the last part — the choreography of the action scenes is high art. But the sad part I walked away with is the utter destruction of the nuance of healthy, appropriately masculine/feminine family dynamics. That’s what postmodernism has served up to kids not raised by fathers, that’s for sure. Kids simply have no clue what it means to even have a dad.
What does that leave? Avatar 2 is really not much different than the cartoon Disney flick, Moana. Maybe with better, Maori-inspired face paint and hakas. Part of me would like to see the 3D version. But I just don’t think I could take it twice.
P.S. This piece that I wrote on Fatherless Young Men should be considered a must-read. Watch the embedded video as well. This is a civilization-ending crisis we’re facing.
Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of showing up (uninvited) in a Twitter Space with three very smart doctors — Anish Koka, Venk Murthy, and Sai Medi. I have quite a bit of fun with Sai on Twitter, but only see posts from the first two occasionally. The subject of the Twitter Space was AI in medicine, and whether it will be helpful or not. All three docs. are deeply intuitive, and at some level, I’m writing this for them so that they can calibrate their intuition better, as they move in far different social circles than I do.
The subject of the hour was the recent emergence of ChatGPT, which as far as academia is concerned, should be heralded as an asteroid in the sky, with us playacting the role of the dinosaurs. ChatGPT is really the first useful, nontrivial chatbot I’ve seen, and has already created waves in our world by doing such tasks as writing computer code, solving thermodynamics problems, as well as the more widely recognized issues of writing papers and abstracts.
But what is poorly understood in the AI community (usually met with handwaving, if they understand at all) are the implications of how an AI is created, and what we can reasonably predict a given level of AI can successfully execute. Before this moment, none of it worked well enough to be of serious interest to anyone — easily chalked up to arbitrary responses, or mimicry out of computer codes. That has changed.
Any AI that actually works, including ChatGPT, inherently must reflect the v-meme development/mindset of the designers. And it is highly unlikely, especially considering how modern AI is trained, that we are going to end up with something people would recognize as generalized intelligence — primarily because humans don’t understand generalized intelligence themselves.
But if we go back to the knowledge structure stack, some light glimmers in the darkness. See below.
ChatGPT is inherently constrained by the social structures creating it — at least as far as knowledge evolution goes. Though it is also true that when it comes to aggregation of already extant knowledge, something like ChatGPT has obvious advantages to any human brain on the planet. ChatGPT does not, and cannot yet operate in any knowledge structure above the Trust Boundary. What that means is it’s constrained to algorithms of increasing complexity, with defined or stochastic inputs, as well as factoids, documented opinions, and foundational stories/myths. But ChatGPT is fast, and can run constantly, learning and aggregating knowledge set in social structures at or below the level of complexity it can understand. Isolated in its own inland sea of knowledge, it can do many useful tasks — most of our undergraduate engineering curricula operates in the bottom four knowledge structures as well. Stanislaw Lem wrote about ChatGPT over 60 years ago, with his character, the Pirate Pugg — a pirate with a Ph.D., known for his hunger for facts of any kind — relevant or not.
But it cannot parse its own experience, and extract larger lessons. It cannot look at others and realize they might (at least at this point) know something more that it knows, unless it is explicitly instructed. What this means is that it can have no metacognition, other than what has been granted to it by its outside trainer. It cannot know that it doesn’t know what the surface of Pluto looks like unless someone has programmed (or trained) it to know that there are characteristic list of things all planets have, and it has a hole in its database.
When it comes to medicine, indeed, given a list of diagnostic characteristics, well characterized, it can go through the list. I suspect it will also be possible to search/scan case studies with standardized terminology (e.g. count the # of cases with metabolic syndrome, or people suffering from a heart attack.) I would also suspect in the presence of standardization, it might expand that list with other categories, and it’s not a huge improvement to note changes in training data.
But in order to evolve in sentience, just like other sentient agents (like humans) it needs others. It would have to be able to vet that outside sentience for reliability, as well as validity. An AI is constrained by exactly the same attempts at sentience that we are. It’s easy to see how an AI like ChatGPT could come up with its own refined, data-driven estimates. It’s above ChatGPT’s level to synergize results with others — it intrinsically has to have an authority stack in order to pay attention. It will have a very difficult time figuring out the truth with anyone attempting to gaslight it.
The more interesting point is to understand that many doctors have problems with these things too, and start the larger conversation how to make medicine more empathetic. That’s a big lift — it will involve changing the very status-centered authority structures already present in it. And those folks aren’t going down without a fight. They simply have too much to lose.
To sum up — algorithmic knowledge and below — ChatGPT will own the space. Heuristics and above — evolved humans still have a large contribution to make. What’s not clear with medicine is with what I’ve been calling the McKinsey-ization of medicine — efficiency and siloing of procedures, and elimination of cross-doctor consultation, relying only on scribbled notes — hey — ChatGPT is gonna own that. All the more reason for docs to set down and review cases together, and argue them out. In the process, they’re not just serving their patients better. They’re also evolving their own knowledge structures, increasing their own metacognition, and tuning up their nuance. And then turn to ChatGPT to do the fact aggregation that it inherently will do better.
P.S. This was a tricky post to write. One of the things I’ve found is that any system with enough validity grounding/contact with reality can get to a reasonable, proximal truth with enough fractal branching. Down and down in detail we go. Higher knowledge structures can get to big-picture views and truths far more quickly. Think of it this way. Let’s say every time you move to a new locale, you have to test for gravity to make sure it’s there. That’s pure Legalistic/Absolutistic thinking. But if you’re armed with Guiding Principles knowledge, you can right away assume you know the answer, and you’ll be correct. As the old masters used to say, Enlightenment cuts like a knife.
With the release of the Cochrane Review — a large, prestigious meta-study on something like 78 different random controlled trials with masking for viruses — the reality is once again hammered home. Masks don’t work on a population level. This was obvious basically since forever, and I mean forever. There was a brief period between March 2020 and October 2020 where we could delude ourselves into thinking that masking might work, since the science before 2020 (WHO report and a ton of others) was pretty cut and dried on the efficacy of masking.
But the Cochrane Review has not been well-received inside The Matrix. The Matrix wants people to believe masking works because it emergently advances its own psychosocial goals of social devolution, fragmentation and creating passive and relatively insane/depressed agents stumbling around. That much is true.
So various lesser agents inside the Matrix are now stumbling around claiming we need more research on how individual masks work, since the reason that masks don’t work is that those pesky humans just aren’t wearing them correctly, and then if everyone did, then masks would work, and we’d have no more respiratory viruses. Because even though on the surface, the aerosol physics of masking says they don’t work, we need to study them some more because they must work, even if they don’t work. Amirite?
And certain professors have made a healthy living off what is probably a combination of their OCD and the realization they’re in on a great grift (Zeynep Tufekci and Linsay Marr come to mind.) The problem is that there’s an entire field that has studied masking since forever in a far more serious and sincere light. That field is called Industrial Hygiene, and they looked at what you need to not get sick when you, as an individual, are exposed to Bad Stuff. Industrial Hygiene looks at things like aerosols, which is what COVID is, of course, and in combination with all the other stuff that can kill you.
And because of this, long before all this ridiculousness propagated by Agent Smith got out of control, they came up with the BSL protection scale. BSL 3 and BSL 4 are the operative levels for understanding what you need to keep yourself safe. Let’s review them.
From the HHS.gov webpage. In general PPE includes basically clean room gear (masks, headgear, and face shields) with all work done inside a positive pressure (air pulling away from the user, basically) cabinet. The cabinet is a big thing — without it, you’d really have to have full respirators that also supply some positive pressure. Here you go — from the web page.
Once you move up into BSL-4 territory, you’re now talking about wrapping the person in a Moon Suit, and pumping air in from a filtered source outside. From the HHS website. Do note that they have NOT changed these requirements because of political cover for the pandemic. The folks responsible for this stuff may be silent, damnably, but they are not fools. They KNOW.
One of the key elements in BOTH BSL-3 and BSL-4 designations is that you don’t get someone else sick on the outside of the facility. So much for just popping off your mask when you get home to give your sweetie a kiss — or your dog a pat. The standards intrinsically recognize the presence of fomites and other touch-spread opportunities. Hence, air showers, specialized rooms for changing clothes, and so on are also required. It’s a system, when you really must stop a bug.
That’s really the absolute minimum, because it doesn’t couple the before/after procedures you’d actually need if you wanted to contain even a respiratory, mostly non-fatal virus like COVID-19.
Here’s the more upscale version for COVID-19 at Stanford. They have positive pressure helmets on, probably with super-duper HEPA filters. You can go to their propaganda page to see what they’re doing
And BSL-4 is even more full-on than that. Here’s what you really need — BSL-4 gear, where you simply cannot afford to have a viral pathogen released. From the Honeywell webpage — they sell these suits.
Not to mention the procedures involved in getting on the suit, also working in a cabinet, and getting out without bringing along through contact the bad stuff.
Here’s the point. It’s actually WELL KNOWN what it takes to contain viruses like COVID-19. EXTREMELY well known. But the question, which I ALSO!!! answered incorrectly so long ago, was “is there a dilution effect in infection from COVID-19 if everyone wears cloth/surgical/KN-95 masks, that will also affect population dynamics of the virus?” We know on an individual level we cannot stop this sucker with these trivial safety measures, but might there be a population variation if EVERYONE’s on board?
The answer is clearly ‘no’. Moralizing your neighbors about wearing masks is just that — moralizing. And once we realize that, we now realize that masking is a social dynamic inside The Matrix, and has nothing to do with preventing viral spread. Moralizing and shaming are powerful social physical techniques. Shaming, in particular, is a powerful form of memetically spreading depression. Ostracism, and the other forms of isolation that go along with it, are designed to get others in a given group to submit directly, or defer through inaction. And these are EXACTLY the dynamics you need to create Authoritarianism.
Agents of Authoritarianism simply cannot give up their desire to depress people. They are in The Matrix, their bubble of awareness is small, and they are largely incapable of thinking in terms of changed conditions, or learning. They’re waiting for their next order, because that is the way the memetics work. Expecting them to change their minds is ridiculous.
Here is an agent of Agent Smith at work — Jennifer Nuzzo, a professor of public health at Brown University.
And herein lies the memetic rub. We actually KNOW what it takes to stop COVID-19, or any respiratory virus at the individual level. That is BSL-3 PPE. Gotta give the Chinese CCP credit — at least they dressed their goons appropriately. EVERYTHING recommended on the INDIVIDUAL level wouldn’t work. Researchers in good faith attempted to find some ameliorating effect on the POPULATION level, through some reduction in dose in transmission. The Cochrane Study showed that many people, trying, failed.
So are professors like Nuzzo advocating because their bubble is so strong they are unaware of the INDIVIDUAL requirements for PPE? Or are they maliciously continuing the grift (Nuzzo wants more studies, of course) because it serves their larger, egocentric purposes? Here’s the thing, and this is what is interesting. Regardless, their v-Meme structure, promoting an Authoritarian social structure, is supported and reinforced by their views. Masking causes isolation and depression, and additionally, when applied to children, makes them more compliant (as well as mentally ill) so they can serve inside the social structure that Nuzzo emergently desires. Whether she realizes it or not.
They are in a positive feedback loop from an informatics perspective inside their community. I’m sure if you asked Nuzzo if she was acting in good faith, in the context of the general welfare, she would say ‘yes’. But that says more about her empathetic scope (extremely limited) and her ability to link complex, cross- paradigmatic situations than any real opinion. She would likely say things like “but BSL standards are in a lab, and people aren’t in a lab,” instead of looking at the BSL standards as what you actually need to contain viruses (which is what they truly are.) It just goes round and round from there. And reminds me of Humpty Dumpty’s famous quote:
“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
To sum up — because it took me quite a long time to summarize effectively the individual/population-based masking question.
We know what it takes to stop transmission of respiratory viruses on an individual level. None of the current PPE does this (cloth, surgical and N-95 masks.)
We didn’t at the start of the pandemic know if some effect of dosing might be present, and prevent worse COVID outcomes if everyone, in whatever fashion, wore masks.
We now know that it makes no difference.
No more research is needed.
PS — after a round of comments, for those confused, I’m posting this addendum.
The pictures that show BSL3 workers masked with face shields are accurate. Those masks and face shields are there to deflect droplets or spilled material. All actual work on trays of viruses must be done in a negative pressure cabinet, basically meaning that air is being sucked away from the researcher, and into some type of hood that exhausts into a purification system. The clothing alone is not meant to stop aerosols, because theoretically aerosols are never supposed to reach the person. They are contained in the separated system. Any fomites attaching to the researcher are supposed to be cleaned off in the air shower at the entrance to the BSL3 facility.
This is very similar to clean room standards for microchips. Except in that case, humans are the contaminant, and the systems exist to keep any sub-micron particle off the chips, as that would cause the process to yield lower.
Do note on the BSL3 standard that respirators may be required. The Stanford lab has people posing in what are called PAPR helmets. The idea is the same — positive air pressure respirators are incorporated into the helmet so only sub micron aerosol free air reaches the person in the helmet.
I have one of these that I use for woodturning. It’s not quite as sophisticated as the ones in the pictures. And if you fart into the waist pack that contains the HEPA filter, trust me — you still smell it. But it’s pretty amazing for a dusty environment.
All these are well-established technologies. I am very lucky indeed to have been in at least three clean room facilities in my life (not BSL3 labs) so I speak from some level of experience.
Acropolis View, 2017 — where it all started. Sorta.
It’s another kinda “Night of the Long Knives” on Twitter today. And instead of relentlessly responding to nonsense from the Elon Musk haters, I thought I’d just write this instead.
First off, I want to be clear that I’m an Elon supporter. I support him not because he is a perfect human — he’s far from that, as we all are. I support him because Elon appears to be the only self-reflective billionaire we really have left, with connections to deep, traditional cultural roots. You can look at groups of elites like the Pritzker family, transhuman champions that are actively advocating castration, both chemical and physical, of depressed youth. Or Bill Gates — attempting to do good, somewhat arbitrarily, but profoundly limited by his own memetic development (Bill’s authoritarian as it gets) and the resilience of his bubble.
Elon actually takes seriously the idea of existential threats to humanity. And because of this, his entrepreneurism, while obviously of a technical bent, attempts to solve the big problems. In order to avoid human extinction due to a bizarre accident on Earth (meteor, asteroid, or nuclear war) Elon proposes a multi-planet civilization. Elon says the biggest threat to human survival is likely population collapse. And if you look at the spread of metabolic syndrome across the globe (the most obvious vector) or even the release of a super-bug, this seems not such a crazy notion. Population decline/collapse is already happening in Europe. His Boring Company champions a technology I’ve thought was long underserved — moving transportation underground.
And with his latest acquisition of Twitter, he is also confronting what he viewed as an existential threat to humanity. Most people on the planet don’t pay any attention to Twitter. But I can tell you, after about 4 years on the site, Twitter is a powerful organizing force of what John Robb has termed the Network Swarm, that has absolutely terrifying possibilities. Twitter was a chief organizing force against Donald Trump, showing it can rival the power of US Presidents. And Twitter most definitely prolonged the nightmare (and continues to do so) of ineffective COVID interventions, long after they should have been retired. Twitter has been a powerful organizing platform for ‘woke’ culture, and many academics AND journalists have flocked there, previously unknown, to largely espouse relationally disruptive positions that various governments — especially the U.S’s, have espoused. The trans fight is a great example, and I’ve written extensively about this here.
I think Elon fundamentally realized this — though he obviously has no access to my own work. Make no mistake — he’s in his bubble as well. However, there is an inherent sense when psychopaths are at play. And Elon figured out that Twitter, with its preferred mode of 280 characters — a perfect Authority-driven knowledge structure — was being overwhelmed with, well, Authoritarianism — mostly from the Left. So he bought it.
And then he started in applying the rules of civilization as he sees them, which are profoundly Enlightenment-era, and well-scaffolded. Very little of what was going on on Twitter had anything to do with the Enlightenment — in fact, it had turned into a white-hot center of destructive, egocentric relational disruption. Ideas which would never travel memetically if there was not social media would never get off the ground in real life — the current trans controversy is a great example.
As an example, only a couple of days ago, a prominent journalist attempted to link the term ‘groomer’ to a slur against LGBT folks — exactly the kind of linkage prosocial LGBT have been fighting for literal decades (for those context-impaired, LGBT folks are NOT groomers, while the term has historically been used to describe pedophiles, even in the technical literature.)
Yet here he was, going on about it, saying it WAS linked, and because it was, it became off-limits to talk about it. Which is just about as psychopathic as you can get. You can always tell a real psychopath because they want to co-opt language, subvert its meaning, and then force the cognitive dissonance from that co-option to drive conflict and take over your brain. As well as shut down legitimate debate.
So Elon, spurred by two events — one his doxxing AND broadcast of his private plane flying his kid(s) around , which he rightfully considers a real threat — suspended a bunch of journalists, including some of the biggest arbitrary psychopaths in the journalism community. They’ve written about it here, which shows how they basically have no concept of scale, as well as their willingness to seize on any issue to bring down Twitter, which through modifications in Twitter’s mis/disinformation policy was no longer favoring the COVID misinformation they DID favor, as well as other generic ‘Woke’ philosophy points. The people banned started RT’ing the flight information link to Elon’s page. So he, well, suspended them for seven days.
The second happened just today, where Twitter/Elon decided that people posting migration information to other accounts on competitors’ websites, usually with a chef’s kiss of insults along the way, would also be banned. That led his biggest critics to get whacked and then really start the Free Speech Wars on Twitter, which continue while I am writing this. Stay tuned.
Twitter/Elon did not explain this policy, though at some level it should be obvious. You don’t walk into Joe’s Hamburger Joint, and start hollering for everyone to go to Bob’s Hamburger Joint. But it actually is a deeper violation than that. And here is where it gets memetically interesting.
The first suspension rule — no doxxing (especially of Elon’s own kid!) is tied immediately to the Survival v-Meme. When your child is threatened, you do what you need to do. Doxxing is bad — especially in the social media arena — though it really is more of a paparazzi threat than direct violence, if you ask me. But the possibility exists. No question.
The second is more interesting, and involves a key element of Tribal/Magical societies on up. And that is the Guest/Host relationship.
What is the Guest/Host relationship? It governs how a guest must conduct him/herself inside a host’s house, as well as the obligations of the host. It is DEEPLY embedded in our relational stack, in that while the details vary, I can tell you it is exercised in all cultures around the globe. If you invite someone into their house, you have to treat them decently (food, beverage as prescribed by the dominant culture — you would never feed a Muslim pork inside your house, for example.) No charging someone for a beer you hand to them. And as a guest, you have to behave. No asking to sleep with the host’s daughter, or other such icks.
Why this matters is the Guest/Host relationship evolved BEFORE the idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness is actually an empathetic memetic evolution, where you attempt to (at least) emotionally connect to the other side’s pain, and find a way to synthesize their apology. What happened before this? Julian Jaynes talks about having the Old God installed in your head in his brilliant book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. What Jaynes says (and I agree with) is that prior to some level of conscious level of social evolution (I elaborate on this, but Jaynes is essentially correct) is that we all had an Old God installed in our head, and we didn’t really care what element of wrath we followed — even if it involved weeping with the person whose son we killed afterward. I’m talking about Achilles, the death of Hector and Priam, of course. The Iliad ain’t known as The Wrath of Achilles for nothing.
And when you violate the Guest/Host relationship, the Gods are angry. And when the Gods are angry, all sorts of unpredictable, terrible things happen. Odysseus lands on the Island of the Cyclops. The Cyclops bashes the heads of some of Odysseus’ men, and then eats them. Bad host! Odysseus follows suit by tricking the Cyclops and putting out his single eye. Bad guest! But the Cyclops is actually Poseidon’s (the God of the Sea) son. And then Poseidon blows Odysseus off course for 11 more years in getting home. Once more, thou shalt not fuck with the well-connected, as Kurt Vonnegut so astutely noted.
And so here we are back at Twitter. The same cohort of disruptive journalists are hollering at the top of their lungs that they are off to Mastodon, or other such site. Much like the gang of Penelope’s suitors, their behavior is lining themselves up in a mythical sense for when Odysseus shows up. So Elon kicked them off the platform. Of course, they’re busy screaming ‘free speech’ — a concept that is truly far up the v-Meme ladder from where they’re currently acting. Appropriate free speech requires a sense of agency, and responsibility to be executed. Something none of the screamers are advocating for at all. Their desire for free speech is directly related to their desire to disrupt Elon’s new home, which happens to be Twitter. So he threw those bad guests out with a rule. But it’s more mythic than that. Now the Gods are angry.
And when the Gods are angry, all those with Old Gods installed in their heads are also upset. It’s fascinating (well, pathologically) to watch people’s reactions to all this. Jaynes said the Old Gods had passed away. If you look at Twitter, and the various people’s reactions, hardly. And its memetic structure ensures it’s gonna be tough to evolve away from that. But it’s also interesting that in so many people (including many scholars) that they have no sense of what this means.
In other Greek classics (like the Oresteia) the Gods are actually called in to set up a tribunal and a set of laws that will evolve the society past the Tribal/Magical conflicts caused by violations of the Guest/Host relationship. It should be said that the Oresteia, when it came out was not a popular play, though it did win the awards for Aeschylus during its time. So that’s interesting as well. Kinda like our own Oscars.
What is more terrifying to me is that there are so many decision makers representing on Twitter that seem to have no idea about any of this. This means either one of two things. The first is that there are so many psychopaths out there in our ruling elites that they simply don’t care if they’re disrupting the peace, and could give a whit if war breaks out between the various memetic strata of society.
But in a way, it’s possibly worse in the second case. Which is that the grounding validity that comes from deep connection through understanding the memetic levels below the current one have been forgotten. And now the structure of modern society that exists is literally hanging in thin air. And as such, since the dominant myths, not only of Western society (this ridiculous constant criticism of the Greek classics is one of the most vapid I’ve ever seen) but around the world are under threat of being forgotten. It’s the End Game of Post-Modernism and fragmentation, that I talk about here. No one is going to be happy. And everyone will, in the end be isolated. Which is simply, terribly sad.
The problem is, of course, that this all leads to some type of war. How? We can’t predict. That’s what happens when you fuck with those Old Gods. And that should give us all pause.
Twitter pal and real-life friend, Joe Biello, posted an absolutely stunning video, by Good Kid Productions that every sentient human on the planet, who has any interest in us having a prosperous future, needs to watch. It is THAT good. It covers in-depth the August 2020 shooting of Jacob Blake, an African-American male whose arrest started the Kenosha riots, as well as fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. It demolishes the myth of Jacob Blake as some victim of white supremacist policing, while casting light on the other, downstream-cascade actors in the Kenosha riots, namely Kyle Rittenhouse, Joseph Rosenbaum, and Anthony Huber. Blake headlines the story as a fatherless man, whose father left his mother while she was still pregnant, to start another family with a woman he had impregnated. The hidden story behind Jacob Blake’s arrest was that he had sexually assaulted the mother of his own child that day, and was attempting to kidnap all her kids by piling them into her car. Which is why she called 911, that started the tragic series of events that day.
Apparently, you have to watch it on YouTube. The title is: The Broken Boys of Kenosha: Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse, and the Lies We Still Live By.
The one thing the victims all had in common were they were fatherless men, and makes the compelling case that the real root of all the actors’ dysfunction was the lack of a father in their lives. Of course, one can’t do a randomized control trial for this kind of thing. But I encourage everyone to watch it. It is THAT good.
Not surprisingly, the one documented psychopath in the mix — Joseph Rosenbaum, who had literally just left the mental institution CARRYING HIS DISCHARGE BAG after a suicide attempt earlier that day — that showed up at the protest, was severely sexually molested by his stepfather, who ended up spending time in prison for his crimes. The other victim, Anthony Huber, was an unwanted child, abandoned by his father, who found some refuge in the skateboarding community in Kenosha. He had spent most of his adolescence and young adult life in correctional facilities. Now Huber’s father is attempting to sue the city of Kenosha for wrongful death and his loss. Mind-boggling. Once again, in Structural-Memetic-land, what we’re seeing behind this particular situation is the development of a Disqualifying Narrative — a story so far out of the stretch of most folks’ comprehension, it literally beggars belief. Unfortunately, it’s only outside of contemporary narratives such as White Supremacy and Police Violence against African-American men, can one get close to understanding the root cause of the trauma.
And Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17 year old ostensible White Supremacist? His father is an unemployed alcoholic, who punches his mother in the stomach when Kyle is 4, causing the couple to divorce.
The other primary point of the video is how our understanding of the Jacob Blake situation got scrambled. It is an exemplar of this post — how psychopaths use well-worn mental models (in this case, racism and white supremacy) to distort the truth and gain power and control. I am at a loss on how to move the needle on this at a large scale. But at least now, I’ve plotted the dynamic.
What’s my view on this? I can’t really give a ton of personal details, but I’ll tell you when I left my marriage and my two kids’ mother when they were 8 and 10, I operated in some kind of fog that the narratives I had been fed were true — that my kids would be fine, as long as I wrote the check. That turned out to be profoundly not true, and what followed was a long conflict to get custody of my sons, which I did. What was amazing about that fight, though, was how profoundly all the institutions I had to deal with were against contact between a father and his kids. It was summed up in one session with one of my sons counselor, who told me “this whole town thinks you’re crazy. Everyone knows that after a divorce, a successful man like yourself leaves those kids behind and goes and starts a new family with another woman.” They couldn’t understand at all why I fought.
I know I’m leaving out a lot of story, and that is just the way it must be. My two sons, whom I got full custody of at something like 14 and 12 (I forget, to be honest) have gone on to be two of the most successful humans on the planet. I hung in there, and I’m glad (and grateful) I did. But if the system can continually kick someone as crazy-persistent as me in the face, a white male with the power and privilege of both societal status, and one of the best educations available — as Utah Phillips might say of my position, armed to the teeth with the weapons of privilege — what are the outcomes for more average, or disenfranchised populations?
From my perch as an engineering professor, having educated literally thousands of young men (and women) , I can tell you from interacting with them that fatherless children is another civilization-ending crisis. It is hard to grok how many of kids I’ve talked in the same situational boat. And while the outcomes for all are not nearly as radical as those involved in the Blake/Rittenhouse situation, when anyone asks me “so what do you do for a living?” I tell them succinctly — “I raise kids.” Young women too.
We might start at least addressing the problem publicly. While we still can.
P.S. A final footnote — this is supposed to be a Quickie Post! — the mainstream media coverage clips shown will make you never believe any of the media figures ever again. What is the most interesting aspect of this? How NONE of them have ever apologized, nor fixed their original depiction of events. The mind reels. All of you waiting for Tony Fauci to say he’s sorry — you might consider this case.
And yeah — I know you expect me to say this, but the linked posts in this post are solid work. You should read them if you really want to understand how the mainstream media works. Do remember that I am usually critical of my own writing, but the upside is if I say the ideas are good, they are at least worth considering.
Nice, healthy elephants — not extinct. In the Greater Kruger Park, 2009
There’s tons to write about Twitter and Elon’s recent takeover, and I’m attempting to get through a longer, memetic war post on Elon, Trump, and agents like Paul Krugman. But this is ripe, as it were. Will Twitter collapse and everyone move to Mastodon, or actually, one of the other alternate platforms, like Parler or TruthSocial?
Never say never, of course. But the odds of everyone fleeing Twitter and moving to Mastodon, because of the created furor over Musk not driving the algorithms toward supporting the Legalistic/Absolutistic v-Meme, which is inherently institution-supporting, is pretty low. Everyone on the ostensible Left loves to underestimate Elon, partially because he represents publicly as a flawed human, while at the same time being the richest man in the world. This scrambles the status-driven circuits of the pundit class. But if you know anything about any of his companies (I have worked with SpaceX) his success is actually due to the fact that he operates them in a Performance/Goal-Driven (Orange) v-Meme, while possessing awesome reflective Guiding Principles insight on how all of it works. I highly recommend various Elon videos on the design process to my design class, primarily because he has the best advice (bar none) on how to accelerate the process of successful performance-driven design.
For those wondering what that might be, it’s basically SpaceX is more than happy to blow rockets up, learning all the way along the path toward rapid iteration. If you don’t believe me, then watch the video below.
People in Legalistic/Absolutistic v-Meme structures (like the current version of NASA) cannot learn enough about new systems because they refuse to push them at appropriate times to failure. And no — I’m not talking about when humans are aboard. But you don’t have to look far (about as far as the most recent Artemis program) to see that a status-driven organization that cannot tolerate failure just can’t learn and explore enough in the design space to push the envelope in space flight. We don’t only learn from failures, of course. But failures matter in broadening the envelope of the possible, as well as potentially illuminating Black Swans that show up out of nowhere.
But back to Twitter and Mastodon. From all outward appearances, Twitter was a bloated piece of Silicon Valley agitprop, a place heavily laden with status-driven thinking. It really hit its stride at the beginning of the Trump era, when no-reputation journalists and academics found they could gain some kind of a reputation through Twitter’s infamous ‘Blue Check’ verification process. I’m on Twitter, and the hassle of getting said Blue Check just seemed like a big pain in the ass (I am notorious, however, in not caring much about status.)
As I wrote in this piece, journalism (and the academy) has been adrift for a while. And its current mode has been cemented through learning that the path to status-driven heaven (actually perdition) is having access to famous people, and repeating whatever the most famous authorities would want them to repeat. You look at the embarrassing doubling-down of the journalistic and academic castes on the whole COVID lab leak fiasco, and I’m floored. It’s not that it’s 100% that COVID came from the Wuhan lab (I’m pretty sure it did) — it’s just the people the journalists and academics ended up defending, like the China’s CCP, as well as our own CDC, are so obviously off the rails when it comes to anything having to do with promoting agency of individuals, or any Enlightenment values. The CCP is competing with North Korea for the most oppressive state in the world when it comes to civil rights. Yet I’ve seen reporters from Nature, the pre-eminent scientific journal in the world (well, formerly) defend the CCP, even though the most conservative (not political, but truly conservative) viewpoint on the whole lab leak fiasco is that the affair is unsettled. The mind reels. Talk about memetic alignment.
At any rate, this sub-class has been seeing favorable algorithmic treatment on Twitter, which has turned Twitter into what John Robb calls the ‘network swarm’. And through its lack of grounding, coupled with the Ukrainian crisis, and its hatred of Trump’s anti-elitism, driven the world to the edge of a nuclear exchange. I could march through the whole list of issues that the current version of Progressivism has doubled down on (they’re even going in big on castrating young children in the name of reducing childhood depression) but I think it would just make me ill.
Twitter, though, likely due to its longevity and expansive user base, has resisted an overt takeover by the Progressive class, though one could argue only weakly. That has led to the binning of Left/Right opinion due to power law/Pareto dynamics. And with the ascension of the Biden claque, a group largely kidnapping an old man with obvious dementia, to use as a power token, their psychopaths, facilitated by the COVID pandemic, were making large inroads on collapsing the US, at any rate, into a true Authoritarian state. Musk derailed their plans (sometimes it helps to have $215B in your pocket) through Twitter’s purchase.
And almost immediately, that entire group were quickly threatening to leave Twitter because of so-called immoderate moderation. It’s all ridiculous — anything resembling real results of gross algorithmic change would at least taken a couple of months to show up. My feed, which is really Space Alien v-Meme stuff, changed nary at all. So it’s impossible to believe that somehow anything REAL happened.
But lower v-Meme systems exhibit radical bifurcation/switching behavior. And once the switch was thrown, the class of Twitter Progressive Illiterati were all threatening to leave for Mastodon, the ostensible champion of Truth, Justice and the well-moderated content Holy Grail.
Now it’s time to consider a.) the actual behavior of Twitter Illiterati, Robb’s Network Swarm, and what fuels their dynamic, and b.) what might happen if the group of journalists move to Mastodon.
Regarding a.) — it’s highly unlikely that most of the journalists will move off Twitter. Twitter is really great in providing both an echo chamber for journalists and academics that were previously unconnected (confession — I got on Twitter to reach out to people outside my own academic web.) What happened when they found each other is what happens in any memetic system where you actually create a place for Birds of a Memetic Feather to flock together. They, well, flocked. And having i.) a place where status is constantly being reinforced, and ii.) where they feel like they found their ‘Tribe’ and felt safe — something they could never delude themselves with if they went out into the Real World, they started enacting on their obliviousness and confessing their deepest intrinsic biases to each other. How anyone can believe anything, after reading many of their Twitter feed (there are notable amazing exceptions, BTW) these people write as anything other than an op-ed column is beyond me.
And on the darker side, Twitter also fed/feeds their intrinsic narcissism. This is a bad thing. If you are basically a Maoist, or anyone to the Right of that, you can find some sense of belonging on Twitter. The problem with that connection is it is not remotely grounding in others’ more diverse experience, or grounded to anything in reality. You really can form an empathy bubble on Twitter. And worse, it will be reinforced in 280 character Tweets (Authority-driven knowledge structure) over and over. It’s a potent, collapsing feedback loop, and really explains how even in the end of the pandemic, none of them will apologize for anything. It also puts their personal growth in suspended animation, and reinforces the mental age of the Authoritarian/Legalistic v-Meme, which centers around 16 years of age. If you wonder why this entire caste acts like teenagers, it’s because, well, they’re trapped in some kind of self-fulfilling suspended animation where teenage behavior is constantly reinforced. Mean Girls indeed.
Things were made worse by the pandemic, which gave a moral sense of purpose to ordering take-out and quite literally e-mailing it in. The ‘laptop class’ as pal Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford in public health calls them, really are just that. And humans have to be remind of physical reality in some form or another, or it all turns into one big LARPing exercise.
Regarding what happens if they migrate to Mastodon, and they actually do it, nothing good will come out of that either. First off, it’s extremely unlikely, for the reasons above. And there is the base-level Survival v-Meme fact that the platform is new and simply can’t be very good. The construction of the Twitter platform, like it or not, has refined lots of parts of it so that it is extremely reliable, and works well. That cannot be true of any of the Twitter migration paths (Mastodon, Parler, etc.) because refinement, especially in dealing with things at scale, is HARD. Ask any computer scientist. Low probability events pop up and must be dealt with. But in order to really get at low probability events, they have to occur. And that means lots of cycles/Tweets/whatever to ferret them out.
Secondly, though, if a platform establishes itself already in a relationally destructive v-Meme box, as Mastodon has had to do, it then ends up with other Pareto/power law anomalies in the information stream. All those comments (whatever they call them at Mastodon) are run through relatively strident algorithms about ‘disinformation’ or some such icks. They can’t be very evolved. And to top that off, if you’re stuck in the Legalistic v-Meme (at least on the surface) there’s simply no knowledge structure that can handle event probability. Someone raises their hand and screams that disinformation got through, instead of understanding there’s a law of statistics involved, ANOTHER rule has to be created. Populations and actual information diversity really don’t exist in their minds. They have an anecdote, the anecdote proves the rule, and as such, Mastodon has to come up with something because they have PROOF. This was an amazing quote/Tweet that just popped up today. Purity tests beget more purity tests.
This also gets reinforced by the set beliefs of the journalistic and academic castes about how AI works (or actually, really doesn’t work.) Current SOTA machine learning is really just fuzzy linear (or meta-linear) interpolation. And to make the extremes happy (trust me that Mastodon will at least initially attract its share of High Conflict psychopaths — it’s inherent in the social structure of the thing) you’ll see opinions on a whole raft of issues converge to a Singularity relatively rapidly. Well, assuming the platform holds up. This geometric/Pareto distribution thing is real, whether anyone outside a small group of us can understand it. Not good. So you end up with the largest amount of people with extreme views on the edge of the distribution. That’s the bottom line.
And then things will get boring. Boring is bad. Boring means your core empathy-disordered folks are simply not entertained. And boring means that the inherent narcissism that runs a base layer in social media also goes away. That means clicks go down. And the Network Swarm moves back to Twitter, though in an attenuated form.
Emergently, the Network Swarm realizes this. Which is why they’re/it is hollering so loud to give them their Twitter back. They can’t vocalize, nor describe this. But you as well can’t describe most of how your body works, nor anticipate much besides being hungry or having to go pee. There really is so much we don’t know about emergent behavior of social networks.
Interestingly enough, the conservative/Right social media, mostly existing in the Authority-driven space, actually has more opportunity for thought diversity (not to be confused with the whole DEI mess) than the liberals. The problem is that since it is even more fragmented, you might end up with some more empathetic, personal perspectives than the Left might put forward. But lots of these folks will be utterly bonkers, as actual Authority shifts back and forth to whoever can tell the best story. Which then puts you down in the Tribal v-Meme, and the land of myth. Short version — more diversity and different ideas. More crazy.
Will Twitter survive? The best somewhat-contemporary author, that I enjoy as a childish pleasure, is Michael Moorcock, who describes the universal fight as one not between good and evil, but Law and Chaos. To the extent that society captures that conflict (and that really is profoundly enhanced in the dynamic by free speech) and learns something from it, we can move forward. Twitter might yet do that.
Will Mastodon survive? To end with some kind of analogy, mastodons require a great Ice Age in order to survive. And as things warm up, with the memetic dynamics described above, it is looking like a warming trend. I’m betting on its extinction, or at a minimum, a placeholder at the polar caps of the meme-sphere of planetary debate.
Adventure doesn’t come cheap. Smoking clove cigarettes in West Papua
The hillbilly in me wants to use the phrase “In all my lived, born days, I ain’t never seen nuthin’ like this…” Such is the furor approaching the mid-term 2022 elections. Life appears, pretty much, to go on like it always has outside the Matrix. But inside the Matrix, which is really only plumbed through watching the various factions of dark and light (dependent on your own view of the world, of course) on Twitter, have turned the volume up to 11. Elon Musk closed the deal on Twitter. And lotsa voices on the ‘general Left’ came unglued. I particularly do not like the tags of Left and Right, because they are inherently topical. I prefer instead the more difficult dichotomy of pro/con scaffolded independent agency, and relational creation/disruption, as it’s a more incisive viewpoint.
But I digress. Several linked items showed up in The Matrix in the last couple of weeks. First and foremost has to be AB2098, the California State medical disinformation bill. It basically says doctors can be punished for spreading disinformation if their view on treatment is reported to authorities (political, institutional authorities) as going against the current zeitgeist.
And if there needs to be a rough, albeit somewhat fuzzy dividing lines between recommended treatments in this day and age, it also falls out along memetic lines. The owners of institutional control (and proponents of AB2098) are very much into boundary violation (unwilling uptake of vaccines, for example) and coercive behavior, such as forced masking, while the voices against are far more about high agency treatments, like immune system boosting (more Vitamin D) and cross-over treatments like Ivermectin.
The problem with bills like AB2098 is they advanced a stated goal using a virtuous shield – disinformation, which is keyed supposedly to people’s core health and well-being, but is in reality about a problem that Authoritarians everywhere are all about. Authoritarians do not want disruption of information flow from the top of the power structure. The meta-problem, which is why the medical community is so prone to this type of memetic shift, is that physicians are already socially structured in tightly siloed, non-holistic organizations, and prone to the uptake of this kind of meta-pattern already. Look at how many licensing tests they already have to take.
But it’s even worse than that. What AB2098 really does is subsume the medical community inside the knowledge structure extant to the political structure. And outside influences not only will not be welcomed. Doctors breaking the rules of what the politicians say will be thrown out of the whole shebang. Think about the sunk cost of an entire medical education, and you’ll understand both their concerns, and their cowardice. If you need some examples, consider this. From COVID vaccines to saturated fat, don’t expect any doctor to warn you about the side effects of either vaccine boosters or statins. It ain’t gonna happen. Orthodoxy in treatment isn’t now just the rule. It’s the law.
What that does from an informatics/memetics perspective, though, is shut down innovation inside medicine everywhere. Established kingdoms/medical schools, with their own pathologies, may innovate incrementally on various treatments. But it really throws a wrench inside the innovative practice of physicians meta-identifying different treatments, with similar cellular mechanisms, and then running experiments or trials. Drug companies, already enmeshed with medical schools for a variety of reasons, will indeed be allowed to develop NEW drugs, as they have deep controlling mechanisms inside the Colleges of Medicine anyway. But innovation through cross-paradigmatic, or heaven forbid, trans-paradigmatic concerns, is basically done. At least in California. The upshot of this is that a field, already mired in treating symptoms and not root causes, will be even more hamstrung. Example — doctors continue to demand a drug to stop obesity, while ruling out large-scale dietary changes from mechanisms like the keto or Low-Carb/High Fat (LCHF) diets. And that means, even if the pill works against obesity, people will continue to eat toxic diets that potentially compromise their mental functions. Now you’re going to be skinny with Alzheimers.
But there are other insidious side-effects (or rather, global overarching effects) of AB2098. These involve demonstrating patterns for the capture of institutions across society, and particularly other professional communities, by what I call “vampire colonies.” What is a vampire colony? Let’s take a little segue.
I’ve written pretty extensively on this blog about my thoughts on psychopaths — how they act and interact in the various v-Meme structures that human communities are built on as they evolve. It’s quite easy to say something like “psychopaths are abnormalities in how social systems operate,” and few would argue.
The reality is considerably more complex. In low v-Meme, Tribal/Magical systems psychopaths are part of the homeostasis of these systems. How? Basically, if you don’t have enough of those crazy-ass Bear Warriors, when the neighboring tribe comes over and attempts to kill all the men, and capture the women, they get to do it.
The unpleasant side-truth in all this is that while psychopathy may be an essential part of the bottom v-Memes describing the human condition, how we ensure, from an EMERGENT perspective at those same v-Meme levels, that our subgroup has enough of them, is through sexual abuse. Simon Baron-Cohen writes extensively about the phenomenon, and I’ll leave you to find his work, instead of bogging this blog post down with something I’ve already covered. You need trauma applied across the society, at an appropriate scale, with actually appropriate healing rituals to ensure enough people have their boundaries torn down, and statistically enough being built back up, in order to see stability of the given tribal social structure. It’s not a bug, folks. It’s an emergent feature. Think about that the next time you hear folks arguing solely in the positive for ‘rites of passage.’ Like everything humans participate in, it’s a mixed bag.
As we move out of the Tribal/Magical v-Meme, and into the Authoritarian/Legalistic v-Meme, there are also transitions AND variations in what we see as far as relational formation AMONG psychopaths. Ideally, healthy Legalistic systems have stable social structures, well-grounded to reality, that provide the rule and algorithm sets for larger and more dense populations, that allow for that scale-up in population density such features also demand. And those institutions have a small, but critical number of individuals capable of speaking against the groupthink that naturally flows from these same social structures.
But what happens if there is an imbalance in homeostasis, or an ossification in those institutions? Then the psychopaths reach a critical mass and start taking over. And that’s a bad thing. I call these social structures ‘Vampire Colonies’, in that now their intention is not toward relational harmony and dedication to the well-being of larger populations, with some manageable level of healthy disruption. What we actually see is organizations now reinforcing other psychopaths, which inevitably means CREATING more of these same brain wiring types.
And once this happens, where the psychopath balance is thrown out of whack, we see a larger metastatic growth of these organizations. And since they ARE psychopathic (because of self-similar replication of value sets) they want to create more of the same. And once they have outgrown the natural feedback control mechanisms of a given society (math majors out there can think of this as eigenvalue sign reversal from negative to positive – some kind of parameter shift driving a bifurcation) they want to control everything and everyone.
There is simply no better example than what happened to the epidemiological and virology communities during the pandemic. When people are afraid they’re going to die, and they are under stress, their social structures are basically compromised. And when the psychopaths sweep in, with their fundamental collapsed egocentricism, it’s anyone’s bet what might happen. Look at the behavior of teachers’ unions, and pediatricians’ organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics. How could either of these organizations advocate so consistently against child well-being? Yet they consistently did, and still do. Mask up, little three-year-old. And take your 8-mouse-tested booster shot.
From an emergent perspective, it’s no surprise that psychopathic vampire colonies would focus on today’s youth. First off, youth are the easiest to recruit in creating more of the same (once again, see Baron-Cohen’s work on Empathy 0 +/-) . And secondly, if they are transitioned into the community far earlier, they are capable of much great relational disruption over the course of their lifetime, in that their memetic development can be frozen at an earlier v-meme (so they’re less likely to question the BS) and they have that many more years to become more sophisticated — picking up more and insidious techniques to both establish control, and hide their tracks. One need only look to the modified Authoritarian culture in China, developed over 2000+ years, to see the increase in both sophistication and proliferation of the v-Meme.
Now enter Stage Right the issue over trans kids. For those that get tired of my long-winded, technical analyses (you DO have my sympathies) below is an op-ed I wrote back in April on the whole trans-kids issue.
The trans kid issue is especially interesting in that it preys on the double whammy of depressed children, who are also likely being raised by a narcissistic parent. The way to understand this kind of child abuse (sometimes known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another – FSIA) is to understand the narcissistic parent as a spider — slowly poisoning and paralyzing their young, in the context of nurturing. Supposedly this disorder is more common among women than men, but I tend to think that empathy disorders such as this, while they manifest with different techniques due to gender, are more evenly spread across both. (It could be that women get away with it more often than men because the gender stereotype of women is the selfless caregiver, and so attracts less scrutiny. But it’s just hard to know.)
So let’s walk down a potential causal path toward more trans kids. First, you have decreasing social connection in society at large. This weakens normal individuals, while potentially offering new sources of energy to the relational disruptors, because if they get off on others’ victimhood, things are already going their way. Depressed people are far easier to group and control than healthy, happy people.
Add a social contagion that attacks these disenfranchised people, and whose power is also being boosted by campaigns by billionaires, that the narcissistic parents naturally gravitate towards. Tag on an extended, quantum-level morality in the already heavily fragmented relational landscape, that’s already creating more mental illness due to isolation and the dismantling of historic, scaffolding institutions, like the family, church, and anything with a historical basis. People in general, and especially children, profoundly need behavioral codes at all levels of the v-Meme ladder, regardless of the progression of social evolution. Take those away, as well as any avenue for grounding validity (more colloquially known as getting in touch with reality.) Trans advocates are very big on ‘you get to define your gender’ for good reason. None of this holds up to any viable external reality, and so has to be insulated from potential grounding.
But we’re not done. Add in a big dose of actual, physical health dysregulation due to diet. Metabolic syndrome, likely a root of much of the increase in trans-receptive individuals, dysregulates estrogen production due to fatty liver disease, or pre-fatty liver disease.
Then place this in a false-historical context as part of something strongly resonant with people in general — the struggle for civil rights, so you can use these kids as a weapon. Communicate across social media, that through the destruction of geography, allows the targets (and the psychopaths) to network to form critical memetic mass, even when there is no physically adjacent emotional support.
And then — the final coup de grace — change the law (or create laws like AB2098) to force the natural societal immune system into compliance with the chaos.
It’s no wonder the vampire colonies come running.
One of the big questions that is often asked is this: Why are the architects of this shift in the structure of The Matrix doing it? The answer is simple. They are doing it without empathy, or sense of consequence for their actions that exist in their pursuit of power and control. How can they do this to children? The answer is unpleasant — as the Joker in The Dark Knight says “I just DO things.”
The deeper problem with all of this is that it is emergent in the dynamics, and propagated by unknowing provocateurs that simply cannot care, or are dissociative from the immediate, personal misery they are causing. They’re in the Matrix as well. Societal forces have produced most of the situation above, and I’ve written in the past that much of this is due to increased population and transience of that population, decline of incomes, increased social isolation, and the bill coming due regarding dietary dysregulation, that anyone with half a brain can see when they go out into public. None of this knits a society more tightly together. And when coupled with a profound lack of emphasis, or even awareness, of what personal development and maturity actually means (when was the last time you heard a public figure talk about a definition of courage in a historical context that makes sense) , it creates a population vulnerable to kidnapping by groups of psychopaths. Psychopaths have a seemingly preternatural, but actually emergent sense of taking advantage of all of this. The psychopaths grab that ground wire through the standard methods of corruption of language, because that’s just what they do. And the larger community allows it because it believes that there must be some surface-level ‘reason’ behind all this, because most people build coherence among themselves at the top level due to their own level of development. Top level information is the stuff of most of our narratives, and is easily exchanged. But it’s also information that is easily corrupted. And so they project that belief, or mode of thinking, or as I call it, memetic processing on the people causing the chaos. But it’s not even close to reality. Because there really IS no reality to it.
But it’s a great tool for societal disruption and devolution, which is what relational disruptors emergently live for. What could be better for societal disruption than imposing the notion that castration and mutilation of children is for their own good? THat’s another double-whammy of both physical harm AND sexual abuse. Now we’re talking. Especially in a post-pandemic world, where we’re already self-identified with tribes supporting or denying with that insidious empathy-destroying mechanism, the face mask? It’s the closest we can get to turning ourselves into different species. Instant identification.
At some level, I’ve argued (probably because I create them) for a far better understanding of how societal dynamics create ebbs and flows in personal development, and truly different multiple perspectives. We don’t really have these, outside a couple of theorists, like myself. But this is truly an existential crisis. Maybe we’ll get off the dime and get with it.
And finally — is this about societal collapse? You betcha. That’s why we’ve got to wake up and start minding the multiple stores involved with all of this. Denial because of colloquial beliefs about the human species, projected from our own, egocentric biases, ain’t gonna cut it.
P.S. for those interested in psychopathic extreme warriors, there’s no better example than Audie Murphy — a true American hero. A nuanced case and worthy of reflection. Once you understand the dynamic described above, you’ll really start to get why war is hell. And why, at some level in the darkness of the human soul, it persists.
One thing that I have indeed discussed from a trans-paradigmatic perspective quite a bit, but probably not enough on the top level where most people’s brains live, is why you can’t give in to people functioning as if they can control an aerosolized respiratory virus. The people arguing for control, after a couple of waves have passed, that still remain, won’t be able to give it up. And if they’re humored in any way, it just makes them feel agitated — and want to do more to feed the fears in their heads through constraints of others. If one Corsi box, doesn’t have a big enough effect, then surely two would be better. If one mask doesn’t matter, then add another! Hand sanitizer every time you enter a new room! And before long, you’ve got everyone in positive pressure air suits. For them, it’s a completely logical outcome for where they’re at. New input? Apply some appropriate modification of the algorithm to whatever’s on the system boundary.
In particular, for the epidemiology/public health crowd, how this works is driven by beliefs and algorithmic processes emerging out of the Legalistic/Absolutistic v-Meme. This is for the rigid hierarchy/rule-following class, and its excesses have been well illustrated down through history. And always end up in terrible tortures for purity from its adherents. As well as anyone else in the neighborhood.
These interventions take the shape of a what I call a memetic cascade. Such a cascade is usually fractal in nature, where those propagating the nonsense start out at a large scale, then progressively move to smaller and smaller scales, both temporal and spatial. When you’re attempting to get control over a system you simply can’t physically control, no measure becomes too extreme. If it’s spatial scales we’re after for our cascade, we may start out banning large gatherings. But when something far more powerful (and tribal) shows up, like a National Baseball League championship game, then the global isolation policy falls apart. If the Legalistic/Absolutistic v-Meme folks are in charge, this then moves into ‘everyone has to wear masks’ to ‘everyone has to wear N95 masks’ to ‘everyone must spray hand sanitizer on their hands AND wear the mask’ to ‘no food will be sold because we don’t want folks to remove their masks’ (which is now a creep into the temporal space.) And on and on. People who have OCD, and especially OCPD rapidly come into their own, because they’re the only ones that have been thinking creatively about how to do this — following their passion — on smaller and smaller scales. There’s no better example of this, which interestingly dates pre-pandemic, as Sheldon Cooper, on the TV series ‘The Big Bang Theory’. It was funny pre-pandemic, to watch Sheldon run the cast around his pathologies, that borderlined on abuse. It’s less funny now when the Sheldons of the world have been in charge, and are using every moralism in the book to avoid giving up their belief system.
Any of the v-Memes taken to the extreme end up in severe pathologies, of course. That’s how you get whole societies doing things like sacrificing people on a daily basis to make the sun come up. And they all have their priestly caste to help out, programmed with whatever the appropriate informatics are for the society. In our world, they’re the legalistic hierarchies that make our institutional structures. We’ve gotten a ringside seat on how they fail, and refuse to apologize. Why would they? They still believe they’re right. Reversing any of this would involve reversing their entire worldview, on ALL scales. It would literally break their brains. Once you’re programmed to see the world a certain way, the line of thinking is not going to change by the outside world suggesting a different organizational postulate. Or (my favorite one) appealing to their professional training. All y’all are giving FAR too much credit to what people ostensibly learn in school.
The most extreme cases of this type of pathology have been on display in Los Angeles, with the reign of terror and error of Barbara Ferrer, LA County Director of Public Health. Despite overwhelming evidence that none of the nonsense works, and even having an adjacent control for population dynamics in Orange County, she continues to double down every chance where she is not driven down into her own personal Survival v-Meme. Masking everyone outside and inside? No problems. People completely resist, and that won’t work? Masking everyone inside? No problem. Until we finally arrive at masking 2 year olds, because they’re the only people without a strong enough political advocacy group that can affect the LA Board of Supervisors to stop the BS.
There’s simply not much that can be done with such people, of course. But folks on the outside need to realize they are attempting to penetrate a closed information system that the various proponents occupy. And that closed information system has extremely hardened boundaries. Once that happens, the only thing you really can do is get rid of them, or at a minimum, never let them have authority over others again. Their brains work on beliefs, and the processing of any inputs through the algorithm in their brains, no matter what the scale of the information, is going to go through a very rigid belief system. When you add in the hardening of self-inflicted trauma through all this (death is around every corner!) any data-driven change, or measured probabilistic risk has no circuits in their head with which they can process. Think of the system boundary around their decision making apparatus as a membrane with only an affinity for what they already know. Call it confirmation bias if you must, but it’s really more profound than that. Any really new information would be considered a memetic virus itself, and these folks have been inoculated against reason. It would disrupt the homeostasis of their entire system. And information systems, like all systems, work to maintain their own homeostasis.
And once the crazies are in charge, they aren’t going to easily let go. Their extreme behavior enables those outside their inner sanctum, over time, to mythologize and sacralize the craziness. Do a study sometimes of the Catholic holy orders if you need reinforcement from this idea, or other various Hindu orders. They’re in every culture, so get off whatever racial/ethnic high horse you might be on. People are people, with the same biological brain, and once a population gets to be a certain size that can support a certain non-productive percentage, these things just pop up. They are emergent. And inevitably, the society also locks these people up in monasteries. See a pattern here?
And we’re in The Matrix. Which mean severe dismantling and handicapping of Public Health and the epidemiological communities have to be pursued. Because those in those organizations couldn’t literally give a damn if all this is making the rest of us crazy. The circumstance has finally allowed them to finally establish some level of personal homeostasis. They knew they were right all along.
PS — I’ve been having some interesting thoughts about how the habituation circuit in people’s heads that display this type of behavior somehow is broken. It’s like whatever they’re afraid of is stuck in some kind of positive feedback loop, and is continually refreshed as a threat in their mind, instead of having them lose interest as time marches on. That would imply it would further ingratiate into their sense of self, and make it basically impossible to break. It would likely be explained through some of the recent work using psychedelics to treat trauma. Basically, the various psychedelics induce momentary extreme neuroplasticity that allows them to reformulate their thinking.
I don’t think it’s one-size-fits-all, though, and know that this positive feedback loop is an issue with psychopaths. They simply can’t stop carving up whoever’s hanging on the meat hook (a la ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘) regardless of how much the person hanging is screaming. In fact, it provides even more stimulus, instead of what one might expect would be a standard revulsion reaction. I just don’t know enough about the actual neurobiology to give a blow-by-blow. But the surface level pathology is easy enough to witness.
One of the more pathologically fascinating things to watch, as the COVID pandemic winds down for the rest of the world, but is in full swing in China, is to watch the various riot/panic videos as the forces of the CCP implement various instantaneous quarantines on the ground. I’ve discussed this before in this piece — that at some level, the more extreme measures are political moves against certain memetic factions in the larger Chinese landscape. Which should come as no surprise. If you don’t think the government bureaucrats are jealous of the wealth being generated in Shanghai, think again. The video below is from an IKEA in Shanghai, where a child was found to be exposed, and the security staff immediately attempted to trap the population inside the store. At this point in the pandemic, the population is having far less of it than in earlier days.
At some level, I’m limited in the videos I can post, because of fear of them vanishing. The ones from major news sources are more likely to be here a year from now. But the really wild ones are on my Twitter feed. People are getting fed up.
But the government is still doubling down. Here’s a video of barricades going up in Shenzhen, which is China’s version of Silicon Valley (and having been there, it really is.)
I suppose if you were going to get stuck in a store, an IKEA might not be the worst option. Dibs on the bed!
But why would China persist in this? That’s the real question. And why would a population of 1.4B people go along? The answer is, as always, in the v-Memes.
Authoritarian societies can persist only if they, like every government, follow a social contract based on a given population’s aggregate level of development. China is no different. And for the last 35 years, China has been lurching into the future, dangling improvements in quality of life in front of the population, while maintaining the baseline promise of any Authoritarian regime — utter safety for the majority of the population. China has it relatively easy as far as population homogeneity — some 90% of the populace is Han Chinese. Those that are not occupy an ambiguous circumstance that ranges from ‘OK’ (a lot of the small ethnic minorities, isolated in various spots across China, but still following the party line) to ‘Awful’ (the situation in Xinjiang Province with the Uyghurs is appalling and approaches full scale enslavement.)
China’s governmental elite, in the CCP, have managed to walk a thin line between rewarding the majority population for obedience and personal sacrifice with increased material prosperity, while maintaining almost total information control over much of the country. To the extent that there are real problems that might fuel unrest (like environmental issues) the government then even creates GONGOs (gov’t organized NGOs) to release pressure. You can protest. Just sign up at your local government office.
But COVID has radically rewritten the script. As I discuss in this piece, I believe that COVID was an accidentally released bioweapon (its release was NOT deliberate – but rather a system failure in a weapons development trajectory) from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. China’s racial homogeneity offered an angle that its bioweapons designers took to heart. Through extensive genome research, my hypothesis is that China was not able to engineer a virus that would deliberately target, say, white people, or brown people. Pandemic history curves basically bear this out. But they could create a virus that would not affect East Asians, or rather, affect them less. Looking at population spread and infection curves have convinced me that this is a worthy hypothesis.
The problem with all bioweapons, however, is they are nigh on impossible to control once they’ve escaped. And once escaped, they will continue to mutate. If one looks at the original strand of SARS-COV2, it was likely successfully contained inside a virally naive population in Wuhan, especially considering that there may have been residual immunity in the Asian populace from the SARS version from 2003.
But the problem with engineering a virus is what I call the ‘sharp knife/dull knife’ problem. Any particular specificity one puts into a virus, like a sharp knife, will erode over time. That is fundamental entropy at work. And then you end up with a virus that anyone, including the native population that might have had some a priori protection from, can get infected with. And once infected, even with extreme measures, the viral cat is out of the proverbial bag. You then are facing a disease that you created, without the lack of affinity that was originally programmed into it. And your population, especially if you’ve been disrupting normal civic life for a couple of years, are now profoundly virally naive, with weakened immune systems.
It is now this bed that China and the CCP, having created it, must now lay in. And it’s worse than that. As embodying a preeminent narcissistic authoritarianism with 2500 years of history behind it, trust me that the CCP has convinced everyone (like Zero COVID activists) everywhere that their lack of the disease was a direct result of a eugenic and cultural superiority.
So when you promise, especially in regards to safety concerns, AND you’ve actively undermined any validity grounding on the issue, you better deliver. Or you compromise the entire idea that the current emperor, Xi Jinping, actually has the Mandate of Heaven. I’m not an expert in Chinese history, though I’ve read quite a bit. But believe me when I tell you that the Mandate, unlike the Western, genetic version, is allowed to pass to other houses.
That’s what has the CCP fired up, especially in the run-up to the CCP’s big meeting, the 20th Communist Party Congress, on who should be the new emperor. Xi is running on being granted a third term, which is basically against the rules. But Xi is devious in a way that only a country with 2500 years of history in mastering deception can be. All this was in the bag until COVID came along. But here we are.
And China, like many of our modern states, is facing major economic misalignment from the usual suspects — real estate, banks, and building disruptions from COVID Zero policies that have disrupted supply chains across China and the rest of the world. China has built much of its recent economic success on importation and partnership of foreign talent into its factories. But COVID Zero has shut that down. To get into China now is a two-week quarantine, followed by an additional week if one moves out of the gateway city to another part of the country. No American engineer I know wants to sit in a Chinese military hotel, being served food behind a locked door, for three weeks. Having slept in those hotels, with their rock-hard beds, I can tell you it’s a non-starter.
So what do you do, if you’re the CCP, and especially if you sit on the Central Committee of the CCP, who extremely likely knows the whole backstory (as do our various organs, like Fauci/NIAID and the CIA)? You double down. Because you now know that you’re in Nazi High Command territory, where when the Big Lie comes due, your head will roll. Forget about Grandma. People in China love their kitty-cats too, and no one wants to be the one that tells the general public they murdered their pet for a failed governmental strategy. (Note — I am not inserting easily found Youtube videos on this because it is so upsetting.)
If there’s a meaningful analogy behind today’s high tech., hyper-efficiency economies, it’s something near and dear to my heart — a spinning piece of machinery in the 100K RPM range (some aircraft component rotors spin that fast.) When such a piece of equipment becomes unbalanced, it rapidly, and unpredictably shakes itself to death. There is so much inertial energy stored in such a piece, that when balance is lost, it shakes itself apart. China is looking at exactly this problem. There is no way that COVID can be restrained from mutating. And with a virally naive population of enormous extent, there’s also no way it can prevent it from spreading. Large economies — especially manufacturing systems –are highly socialized, peer-to-peer systems. So China will have a choice to make. Roll back the veil on the Big Lie, which is the linchpin of its reinforced Authoritarian promise to its people, aka Mandate from Heaven, or watch its developed manufacturing capacity move offshore to Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
That places the inevitable grounding validity of Mother Nature against the bullshit spread for the last 2.5 years by the CCP. And Nature bats last.
PS – there’s some actual good news in this post — and it’s about the potential for creating bio-super-weapons. Not bloody likely. The epidemiological/bio-engineering physics are fundamentally against this. My super-bright son actually told me this after playing the various viral simulation games over and over. “Spread vs. lethality, Pops.” Remember that the next time someone tells you about engineered super-weapons.