At a reading at the Leipzig Book Fair, Ipicked up the following quote today.
Falling in love is just like handing over to someone the power to seriously harm you, but only those who don’t abuse deserve it.
At a reading at the Leipzig Book Fair, Ipicked up the following quote today.
Falling in love is just like handing over to someone the power to seriously harm you, but only those who don’t abuse deserve it.
March 23rd a massive explosion occurred in an ammunition depot near Kharkiv. Roughly 150 tons of ammunition were blown up. This is a video published on youtube. This is good news actually.
The best thing you can do with weapons is blowing them up without killing people or destroying infrastructure.
BTW the international weapon industry is happy too, and that’s for several reasons.
Thus this firework made all happy pacifists and war mongers alike.
A few month ago I published an article “What the Ukrainians Can Learn from the Swiss“. I’m glad to learn that Ukrainians are smarter than I previously thought. Thumbs up keep learning.
In an IKEA ad at youtube (“IKEA Werbung: TV Spot “Gekommen um zu Bleiben” (30 Sek)”). This women that already passed her prime time long ago complains that her husband misses his virility and it sounds as if a women can blame a man for not being sexually attracted to her.
My dear old girl, please take this message: “Nobody, absolutely nobody is attracted to you any more except maybe a necrophiliac.”
If you want to promote an irrational argument cloak it in wordiness.
Or even better create a movie.
The answer lays with psychology, human psychology. I found this remarkable quote in an Nature article that gives us the clue.
“Dogs are the only naturally occurring models of psychiatric [anxiety-]disorders.”
During human evolution two kinds of animals were domesticated.
In human culture, the former group is considered inferior so you can easily kill them, fleece them, and steal their eggs. The human culture needs this perspective of inferiority to not feel guilt when eating their meat for instance.
The other group of animals is rarely eaten. Though there exist some cultures that eat horse beef, in central Asia for instance, this habit is rather uncommon in Western culture. Also the exploitation animals are mostly flight animals. That is a horse is forced to plow by a whip and a dog into obedience by punishment. Dogs can fast learn to avoid punishment by simply complying to threats and commands (that are conditioned threats). Therefore we call dogs intelligent.
Donkeys are an exception they are not a flight animals. They cannot be taught by a whip. Therefore they are considered stupid.
Dogs, on the contrary, during their domestication were made even more fearful. According to the ruling opinion breeders believed they made them more intelligent, they made them more compliant though.
Similar to dogs humans were domesticated. By the rulers of all ages the breeding of the most fearful variety of humans was favored. It was not a question of intelligence. On the contrary, those more fearful humans showed even less creativity, but nevertheless they were easier to force into obedience.
In summary dogs and humans share the same burden of domestication which results in the same anxiety disorders, and as the publication says the same drugs seem to help . Dogs are therefore an excellent model organism to test antidepressants (the article claims), and for dictators dogs are the perfect role model to train their skills of oppression.
1. Cyranoski D. Genetics: Pet project. Nature News. 2010;466(7310):1036-1038. doi:10.1038/4661036a.
A few years ago a study appeared that tried to explain the growing popularity of beards. In a nutshell the theory goes that men’s attractiveness to possible mating partners depends on their uniqueness of appearance, so in times when most men are well shaved the bearded variety becomes more attractive and vice versa. I don’t believe that. Beards are not just a fashion. They are an important signal of manliness. Therefore its popularity is not triggered by a competition to appear extraordinary but has severe social reasons. In contrast to this study, my article ventures an other hypothetical explanation, a sociological one, which all the way seems more plausible to me.
When the above mentioned study was published it had many repercussions in popular newspapers including The Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, and The Washington Post for instance. The New Scientists even ventured a popular science article, and BBC aired a news report. All this regurgitation of the original study just focused on the point that by so many bearded men today we have reached a peak and the trend will go in the opposite direction now, which might be an eagerly welcomed news for Wilkinson and Gillette after all, but didn’t happen. On the contrary. And here is the reason:
It is true, the popularity of facial hair varies. It varies with time, culture, and geographical region. For instance the most religious men in Islam and Judaism feel it to be obliged to wear long beards. By contrast, a beard is unpractical in military service in particular if you have to wear a gas mask occasionally. Also it is well known that while in Europe beards were quite common in the 19th century, they were less so in the 20th century. Now frequency is growing again which in fact resembles a predator-prey-function. However, such a resemblance suggest that adaptive mechanism occur in a similar time frame, but it actually says nothing about the cause, and it is too naive to assume a similar predator-prey scenario.
In order to understand the beard-habit of men it is necessary to understand what beards are good for. Actually, I can rather say what they are not good for. Beards are a hindrance in many aspects. With a long beard you have to perpetually be attentive to not dip into the soup. If growing thick around your mouth you have to be aware that some food get entangled in the hair, which is especially common with fast food. The ketchup a mayo squeezed out of a burger loves to drop into a those hair and it doesn’t even help to use a napkin. Even if the beard looks proper after a napkin cleansing, the smell remains and in particular with mayo becomes repugnant by the end of the day. What applies to food also applies to everything else a beard gets in touch with. For proper hygiene a beard requires shampooing at least once a day otherwise it would grow a considerable number of unpleasant germs and even pathogens.
That said the question remains what is a beard actually good for; why an increasing number of men goes through such an ordeal to grow it. The benefits should have been so remarkable to outweigh the drawbacks. What else could that be than attractiveness to potential mates, but the desire to appear attractive is constant and does not change over time, and a beard is by far not the only think that makes a man attractive, so it has to be something else that changes the balance between all the factors that determine a man’s attractiveness.
We know that facial hair is a hallmark of human males. According to aquatic ape theory, it was necessary to evolve such an unmistakable sex sign to determine the sex when the rest of the body is under water. If believing in this theory or not it is indisputable that facial hair is a key indicator of masculinity. It is even a gradual indicator as testosteron levels correlates with the abundance of facial hair.
Now, why men increasingly rely on facial hair to show their masculinity. The answer is pretty simple. It is a social problem. Society denies them to show masculinity by other means. It is exactly feminism spreading throughout Western societies that not just taught but even indoctrinated boys to behave like girls. To behave boldly is a typical male characteristic, but that is tabooed. Eventually the only socially acceptable way in present Western Societies to prove your masculinity is by not shaving.
Yesterday a saw an attractive women stopping her car right in front of me when I was crossing the street. She was smiling alluringly. I glanced a t her friend. A beard! I suddenly realized that though she was in in charge of that vehicle she already had a male companion. A beard seems also to a repellent.
After all these considerations I wonder if the social justice worrier and feminists likewise will fight for the removal of this last resort of masculinity, demanding that all facial hair has to be cut and sex exclusively shown by a tag that can be changed arbitrarily. Well its sounds sarcastic, but remember what sounded sarcastic 50 years ago is now reality.
In previous centuries, whenever British newspapers sensed a silly season, any evidence however spurious about Nessi the monster from Loch Ness was warmly welcome to fill the newspaper pages. It is similar with bird flu nowadays except that it is more dangerous. Not dangerous in the sense of contagion, but dangerous because it helps the media to scare people instead of just entertaining them and politicians to further cut freedom.
Now that the American election is settled, a new threat is desperately needed. As we learn from the media, Americans can be continuously scared by radical followers of either Trump’s or Hillary’s campaign, this doesn’t work so much in Europe though. On the contrary, most Germans are rather relieved by the outcome and by far cannot be radicalized on this behalf. So what’s up next?
Terrorism? Unfortunately terrorism doesn’t work (as expected yet?) either. The terrorists that were generously allowed to enter Germany without border control feel comfortable in Germany or are arrested by their fellow refugees and miraculously don’t feel the urge to follow their primary business.
Bird flu. Yes bird flu. Although the last time when a bird flu warning was issued, it was heavily ridiculed publicly, and although it proved harmless to people and not so damaging to chicken and other poultry, politicians did forbid free range rearing of any poultry because of bird flu, an they threaten all farmers with heavy fines who don’t put their birds in custody.
I can imagine the desperation spreading among politicians and media moguls when German people welcomed the end of the American election. I can imagine their fear from a populace without fear. We all know that fear suppresses rational thinking, and a populace rationality is what our establishment fears the most. What about an establishement that overcomes its fear of a rational populace, would it become rational too?
In general, there are two ways to handle pain: symptomatic and causal treatment. Symptomatic is pain relief without eliminating the cause of pain while causal is eradicating the pain at its root. Whenever possible a causal therapy has to be sought. Symptomatic therapy is reserved for incurable cases and conditions that need a temporary anesthesia.
These two therapeutic principles show similarities between organic and psychological reasons of pain. Drugs, known as pain killers or psychopharmaceuticals, are in use in medicine and psychiatry respectively. While the possibilities of distraction with organic pain is limited to methods like acupuncture, for psychological pain a broader spectrum of methods can be offered. The publication “DEALING WITH EMOTIONAL PAIN” gives some overview. Although this article focuses on emotional pain the techniques can be applied to all kinds of psychological pain, including anxiety.
Interestingly, many of these techniques are offered by laypersons, friends, or relatives; some may contact a member of the clergy, but rarely a professional psychotherapist is visited. That’s probably because psychological pain is so common and professionals so rare.
The most common strategies to cope with psychological pain include alcohol or other drugs, blinding out the pain by avoiding to think about it, and diversion by doing something that consumes all attention.
Alcohol and drugs are quite effective but only temporarily, so if the pain doesn’t go away after a booze, an other shot is needed and this repetitive intake will cause addiction in susceptible people.
Blinding out the problem was first investigated by Sigmund Freud. He primarily focused on psychological pain based on suppressed sexual desires. His seminal contribution to psychology consists in his discovery that such suppression causes cognitive inhibition, the inability to think straightforward and rational. This kind of blinding out is so common and by far not limited to sexual issues. In fact the cognitive inhibition caused by blinding out psychological pain is endemic in Western societies. It is one of the fundamental health problems, not appreciated because blinded out, collectively, too.
Diversion by engaging in something that takes full attention has become a huge industry in Western societies stricken by so many causes of emotional pain. Disney World’s and Universal’s roller coasters exist for just that purpose. Movies and video games became but attention grabbing devices to forget about the pain. Sex exhibitions and music excesses serve the same purpose.
All these three methods are widespread in Western societies, and some people even venture to call it Western culture and try to preserve it. But it is not a kind of culture, and it is not worth preserving. These are just signs of a society in which psychological pain becomes so endemic, of a society in decline. Consequentially, the article favors other methods to cope with psychological pain: meditation and expressive writing.
Meditation has positive and negative aspects. It includes thorough mental analysis of pain and its physical repercussions. Then by learning to mold symptoms gradually detach them from their source, the psychological pain. Some people combine this technique with physical stimuli, even physical pain. The effect is that the pain is not gone away, but is not felt as much any more. In that respect, this method is similar to the roller-coaster methods of diversion, but it has the advantage of self control, of not being dependable from the diversion industry.
Expressive writing is even more self control. As it includes a higher order cognitive ability, writing, it promotes rationality. Expressive writing allows to free your thinking from subconscious influences caused by the pain. It is a good way to prevent cognitive inhibition and to keep your mind open and free to accept new ideas. If writing down, as the author of the article suggests, also includes feelings and their effects on the physical level, physical symptoms can be handled rationally, which makes them easier to control compared to diversion industry dependency and meditation.
An other method not mentioned by the author of that article is to consult a therapist. It might not always be a good choice too. It heavily depends on the therapist’s expertise and goals. You may end up dependable as from the diversion industry or ultimately cured because the reason of the pain was found an eliminated.
And that’s my crucial point of critique concerning this article. It only lists symptomatic therapies. As with organic pain, symptomatic therapies might be appropriate with short-lasting pain when self healing can be expected or with chronic pain that comes from an incurable cause. But whenever there is an opportunity to cure your pain by the root, to eradicate its source give it a try.
There are multiple causes of psychological pain, and there are also several ways to treat causally. The causes of psychological pain may be grouped into organic, personal, and social. Organic causes may include organic psychoses, brain tumors, physical exhaustion, and organ failure. Personal causes include reactive psychosis, psychological misconceptions, self-inflicted psychological damage as with unattainable goals, and psychological exhaustion. The most difficult to treat causally, however, are social causes. They require group therapy, displacement, and in case of an endemic pain a revolution even.
The most progressive point about causal therapy is that it entails social advancement. It is pathognomonic of societies that exclusively use symptomatic pain relief fall behind in all aspects of social life. That can be witnessed in Roman culture that was known for its decadent entertainment in amphitheaters. The meditation so common in Eastern culture also brought their social progress to a halt.
By contrast Old Europe developed a method to cure socially caused psychological pain causally. This method is based on Christianity but further developed into humanism. It is the way to solve social causes of pain from an independent humanistic point of view. It was Christianity before all other religions on this planet that started to celebrate a men who was but a looser, lost his life even, for the merits of giving relief to those who suffer from oppression, which might had been enormous in his time figuring the pressure of a dying Roman empire. The celebration of such a man led into the more general concept of enlightenment and humanism.
The crucial point of humanism to favor social advancement is its capability to analyze social problems from an independent individual rational point of view. Not being confined to a set of rules imposed by a God or an emperor even, humanism allows to make decisions exclusively based on private judgments about the public good. With humanism all people are allowed do decide by themselves what is the pubic good they want to devote themselves to.
In Medieval times, the Swiss were sought-after soldiers throughout Europe. They were brave and well trained. Though quite expensive, feudalistic rulers were eager to employ the Swiss wherever they could afford it. Out of that tradition, the Vatican even today maintains the so called Swiss Guard.
The Swiss soldiers were absolutely loyal. For the time of the battle they never changed sides but it was perfectly normal to do so in the next battle when the other employer payed more. Although ruthless against every strange enemy on the battlefield, there was one exception. They didn’t not do any harm to each other. When accidentally both sides employed Swiss soldiers they wouldn’t fight. In those cases the battle was won by the army that first entered the battlefield without any drop of blood being lost.
I’d like to see the same degree of rationality among Ukrainians. But what we witness at the moment is just the opposite in every aspect. Not only do Ukrainians kill each other, they do so in the behalf of strangers that go unscathed. While the Swiss demanded a great deal of money for their dangerous job, Ukrainians fight almost voluntarily. That is so preposterous, but these simple differences might explain why the Swiss experienced a stable society and peace for several centuries while Ukrainians have war all the time.
People are not keen to be reminded of the limitations of their cognitive abilities. That’s a psychological problem. It’s a matter of self defense in those who are not fully conscious of what they are thinking and why, and who are unable to distance themselves of their own thoughts and to rationalize them separately. Those people usually mistake the critique in flaws of their thinking as personal attack. Me, on the contrary, a rational thinker through and through, I’m happy to learn about flaws in my thinking. I eagerly accept any substantial critique.
That said, I want to turn to a subject that is often treated irrationally because so many zest and fanaticism involved that blinds out the view to the most obvious facts. I’ll talk about war and more precisely about those who profit from it. I call it sutlerism. Sutlers are merchants that go along with an army providing combatants with all kind of services from food, through sorcery all the way to prostitution. Sutlerism is almost neglected in history books, but it is as old as the war itself. The first time, I learned about it actually was in a play written by Bertolt Brecht “Mother Courage and Her Children” which not only exposes the incentives to stay in that business but also the tragedy and personal conflict involved. Mother Courage first enthusiastic about the war that generated her so much profit lost all her children to it which eventually changed her mind. She is a metaphor for all those Germans who at the beginning of WW2 believed to become rich and prosperous by the war but lost everything at the end.
Sutlerism has changed in modern times. Two aspects that actually changed are dimension and character.
Dimensional changes are easy to spot. While in Roman times the weaponry was limited to not much more than a sword and a shield, the diversification of weapons today offers much more possibilities for profits. Also the front lines are easier to cross and arms dealers usually make businesses with both sides. That arms are sold to both sides in a grand style became first obvious in WW1 when France and Germany attacked each other with poison gas from the same production. In an even grander style profits are made by banks and other money lenders when giving money with hight interest rates to the fighting parties. That all wars are bankers wars today is well illustrated by this video that I want to recommend here.
By contrast, the character changes are more difficult to spot. In particular the service provided for the participants has improved substantially. It includes all kinds of superficial entertainment and distraction, the psychological manipulation is accomplished by a huge machinery of propaganda, and plundering and looting is obfuscated by an intricate system of money laundering. In fact a huge obfuscation and diversion industry accompanying each war evolved stealthily.
Usually the whole war industry has a bad reputation. Naturally, people don’t like it because not only they have to pay for it but also have to suffer its consequences. Anyway its an industry as many other that make their profits in the market, and though it not might be so obvious but many other industries cause damage, environmental and otherwise.
My point is a different one. The lack of rationality. I hate irrational people everywhere, but obviously they are most common in the war industry. To give an extreme example just to illustrate my point. A professional killer gets about 50,000$ per victim if we are inclined believe Hollywood movies. By contrast, a soldier in a war kills many more for just a small portion of that amount. Usually, a soldier’s job is much more dangerous being killed every moment, still some even volunteer. What is going on here can only be explained by profound irrationality.
That such irrationality exists not only with soldiers but also with other branches of the war industry, I became aware of when I read about a film project that asks for sponsorship. Again if in Hollywood a film like this would easily get millions of dollars, but the humble producer of that film modestly asks for just a few thousands. In order to help those hapless amateurs in that business and to improve their returns, I composed the following recommendations.
If you have studied point 2 carefully you know what you can ask for. I would even encourage you to break up negotiations if the offer is inappropriately low, when your business partner returns you will be in an even stronger position.
Though I don’t know if the film is worth it, it was definitely worth to give it a thought. It is always a winning game if rationality is promoted not only personally to stay undisturbed by any critique in you opinions but also socially by evolving a society that is more predictable.