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The Last Days of the Lilliputians

In Gulliver’s Travels the tiny Lilliputians attacked the much larger Gulliver while he was sleeping and tied him to the ground with thousands of threads. In a similar way the ruling elite have tied the working class in bondage. Small in number but great in power, the elite have designed myriad mechanisms of control to hold the much larger working class down and force it to work for them. These include institutions such as mainstream politics, media, schools, labor unions, police, courts, military, and patriarchal gender roles. They also include emotionally laden concepts such as rugged individualism, a false image of socialism, and the very way we conceive of social class.

This last, the encultured view of ourselves, robs us of our class identity. Very few of us consider ourselves working class. The term has been made to seem a musty relic of the nineteenth century, synonymous with lower class, a disreputable band of losers who are to be feared and perhaps pitied, but certainly not to be identified with. Instead we are offered a hierarchy of many classes: upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, and last and certainly least, the lumpen lower. Within these we are fragmented further by conflicting differences: ethnic, religious, gender, life style. We’re supposed to identify with our niche and our job and to strive to move up or at least not slip down in the hierarchy. But more and more of us are slipping down, losing the few securities we had. In our bewildered anger we find allies only within our isolated niche, so our struggles are ineffective.

Almost all of us are in fact working class. Everyone in the world who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class. Only when we join together in solidarity will we succeed.

The elite have also fragmented us geographically. The most exploited are far away from the centers of power and thus invisible to us except for media images of illegal aliens storming our borders or insurgents attacking our soldiers. They live under the heel of authoritarian governments held in power by the rich nations and are forced to work under deplorable conditions. The wealth extracted from their labor has enabled the corporations to pay their employees in the home country better wages, thus minimizing discontent here and stimulating consumption of their products.

That economic arrangement is changing, however, as global competition intensifies. Selling in the world market has become more important than selling in the home country. Competing globally requires low prices, so corporations are slashing wages and benefits. The international working class is being leveled. Our task now is to unite and overthrow the elite that rules us all.

This elite is composed of many nationalities and has many internal conflicts. They even make war on each other when economics demands it. But they always recognize their overriding interests as a class, and they will do everything in their considerable power to defend those interests. We, the workers of the world, need to recognize and defend our own class interests with as much determination as our rulers.

They have designed a political system in the USA that ensures their power monopoly. The candidates of both major parties represent their interests. Through winner-take-all elections, ballot-access laws, and slanted media coverage, they effectively exclude alternatives.

To break free of their political control and build genuine democracy, we must delegitimize in particular the Democratic Party, which exists to channel potentially radical discontent into dead-end streets. The Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements, capturing people’s hopes for fundamental changes, then burying them. It produces only superficial reforms that strengthen capitalism.

Each of us should examine the parties and organizations on the left, find one that matches our orientation, and actively support it. Just being angry at the system isn’t enough. Unless we are organized and militant, a viable alternative to the capitalist parties won’t emerge. This list is a good place to start looking: http://www.broadleft.org/us.htm

Labor unions, like the Democratic Party, have become merely reformist. They have been purged of any anti-capitalist leadership and now serve the same function on the economic front that the Democrats serve on the political front: to convince the working class to accept the dictates of capital. Union leadership collaborates with employers to worsen the conditions of their members. They have become functionaries of capitalism and are richly rewarded for it. Workers are going to have to build an independent base of power that will throw out this bureaucracy and militantly confront bosses worldwide.

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The reformism pushed by the Democratic Party and the labor unions is reinforced by the liberal media. They foster the idea that the system is basically good but just has some problems that need to be fixed. This is appealing because it’s easy. Instead of revolution to replace the system, we just need to repair it.

Reforms have in the past improved a few conditions. Social Security helped stave off abject poverty in old age, and Medicare helped protect a family’s savings from catastrophic health costs. From the 1950s to the ’70s unions were able to force through higher wages and better working conditions in many industries. But these hard-fought reforms are being reversed now because of capitalism’s need to reduce prices to compete with emerging industrial powers such as China and India. The pressure of international competition is being shifted onto us, the workers, and the Democrats and unions are implementing that. In this new economic reality, reformism has become a coward’s dream, a way of avoiding the unpleasantness of protracted struggle. We need to abandon its delusion and prepare to fight for fundamental changes that will replace oligarchic capitalism with democratic socialism.

Another thread that binds us is the image of socialism that has been burned into our brains. We are continually persuaded that it means brutal dictatorship, concentration camps, no freedom, a slave state. To counter this, we need to condemn the regimes of the Soviet Union and China and point out that they weren’t socialist. The totalitarian tradition in those cultures kept them from achieving anything close to real socialism. The government took over as the exploitative boss, and the workers had little power. Real socialism means economic democracy, where we decide together how economic life will be organized. It puts the resources and productive capacity of the world in the hands of its people, who use them to meet human needs rather than to generate private profits for a few owners.

We are educated to serve the system: to be obedient, to respect authority, to fit into a hierarchy. We are channeled into learning skills the corporations need, and our labor has become just another commodity. Our deepest interests and talents often remain undeveloped, unrecognized even by ourselves. This won’t change until students, parents, teachers, and other workers come together and educate one another to take power.

The mass media exist to control the masses by shaping our perceptions of reality. The pap they feed us switches off our brains, so we can’t analyze society as a system. Instead of thought, we are offered a dazzling array of personal emotions and sensory stimulation to distract us from the bleak reality of our lives.

Through entertainment and news the media fixate us on physical violence, so we don’t perceive the structural violence that causes it. We get lurid, fear-arousing accounts of violence committed by ghetto youths and Muslim guerrillas accompanied with commentaries calling for tough measures to combat these vicious berserkers. We get no accounts of the structural violence of poverty and oppression that capitalism and imperialism have created there. It’s this built-in structural violence that generates the physical violence.

The corporate media exist also to stimulate greed and consumption. Capitalism divides us from one another, and the isolation imposed by this false separation generates insecurity and a sense of incompleteness. It creates hollow personalities craving to fill an inner emptiness, then it comes to the rescue by promising satisfaction through consumption. First it causes the void, then convinces us to fill it with things — beautiful, fascinating, stimulating, extraordinary, sexy things. Lots of them. And so much the better that they never really fill our needs, because then we need more of them.

The Socjournal and other alternative publications are awaking people from the stupor induced by this mainstream propaganda. They deserve our support.

In the face of this mental manipulation, we must strive for inner self sufficiency so we won’t need all that garbage the media is selling us. This self sufficiency has its basis in our shared humanity, and if we tune in to that, the superficial substitutes of commercial products and entertainment will lose their appeal. A good way to combat such conditioning is a consumer strike. Buy as little as possible. Turn off the television. By overcoming our need for entertainment, we can develop our own authentic creativity. When we’re not consuming as much, the planet will breathe a sigh of relief. Instead of hiding behind fashion, jewelry, and cosmetics, let’s face the world as we are and let the beauty of our defiance show.

The media create images and myths that reinforce the existing ideologies. Rugged individualism, for example, validates the “every man for himself” ethos of capitalism. The belief that we are isolated beings striving for our own gratification is an axiom of our society. Men are particularly enamored of it, taught to identify with the mountain man, the lone wolf, the entrepreneur.

The separations between people are easy to see: each of us inhabit a different body. Our connections are much more fundamental, but they are invisible, so a shallow culture like ours doesn’t perceive them. We can overcome this by centered ourselves in our connectedness and acting from it. In our lives and in our art we can demonstrate the deeper commonality that underlies our surface separations. Our genuine individuality can be best developed within this context.

Reinforcing traditional masculinity is one of the chief ways in which the elite seek to keep the working class on its side. They exploit the fact that many men cling to maleness as the last power left to them. Working-class men have almost no say over their work lives; machismo has become their only realm of agency. This is exploited by elements of the media, who portray leftists as intent on rendering traditional males extinct. Admittedly, there’s a grain of truth in this. Traditions of dominance and aggression, whether practiced by men or women, need to be resisted. The real attack on working class men, though, is coming not from leftists but from economic forces that are increasingly constricting their lives and limiting their possibilities down to low paying, exhausting jobs. The rage this generates in them is deflected by the media towards leftists, feminists, and minorities, who are actually the core opposition to those economic forces.

We need to show traditional men that socialism will give them power in the work place. When they have that, they won’t need to dominate their wives and children. If they persist in doing so, society has to prevent them from that. The dominator mentality is a pathology we must overcome.

Gender politics by itself won’t build socialism. In fact in many cases it ends up serving capitalism. But gender studies can help break the patriarchal mold that keeps producing the same authoritarian personality type. It opens up new possibilities and fosters psychological diversity. By showing that our categories of feminine and masculine aren’t natural but cultural, it calls into question the naturalness of other institutions. It helps us see that capitalism also is not an inherent necessity but rather a product of social forces open to change. Gender subversion can lead to political subversion.

The enforcement mechanisms of society — military, police, and courts — are the bottom line of oppression. All three are licensed to kill and do so regularly. The military are the spear carriers of capitalism. Their job is to defend and expand the empire, and they slaughter millions for that goal. The police live up to their motto, To Protect and To Serve, but they are primarily protecting and serving an oppressive social structure, defending property and its owners against attacks by the deprived. The courts are run by judges who are for the most part members of the elite. They are the final arbiters of punishment, locking up anyone who threatens the system, primarily poor minorities. They have created an American gulag, an egregious, ever-growing prison-industrial complex that crushes those who dare defy its rules.

We need to show the soldiers and police they are workers too. We all have the same basic interests and the same common enemy: their employer. If we win enough of them to our side, they will stand with us rather than against us when a revolutionary situation develops. Winning the judges to our side is unlikely. Most of them are ruling class. We’ll probably just have to find some socially useful work for them, like sweeping the sidewalks.

 Our rulers (yes, we really do have rulers) try to convince us that there’s no solution to humanity’s problems, no alternative to the way things are now. This is human nature. Get used to it.

Fortunately the international working class is refusing to get used to it. It is resisting this new wave of impoverishment the corporations and their governments are trying to force onto it. Our bound Gulliver is starting to awaken. It knows now it is fettered and is testing its strength against these bonds. In some places it has already broken a few. The rule of the Lilliputians is coming to an end. This won’t happen quickly, though. A long struggle lies ahead of us. But the tide has changed and is now running in our favor.

 The uprising began in the Muslim world because they are under the most direct imperialist attack. It has spread to the NATO countries, the chief instigators of the attacks, because their populations are having to pay the bills for this war through social cutbacks and lower wages. As the uprising spreads globally, the elite will do everything they can to crush it. They will try to divide us and make us fight one another. They will offer tempting reforms and compromises that will allow them to maintain ownership. They will bribe some of our opportunistic leaders with promises of token power if they cooperate. They will jail us. They will even kill some of us. But if we persist, holding to a militant rather than a reformist course, we will eventually free ourselves of them and build a system that emphasizes the humane in humanity. This is our time, an historic battle for liberation.

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William T. Hathaway is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. His latest book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, presents the experiences of war resisters, deserters, and peace activists in the USA, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Chapters are posted on a page of the publisher’s website at http://media.trineday.com/radicalpeace. He is also the author of Summer Snow, the story of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. Chapters are available at www.peacewriter.org.

Cite This Article

William Hathaway (2012). The Last Days of the Lilliputians. The Socjourn. [http://www.sociology.org/the-last-days-of-the-lilliputians/]

The Rocket Scientists' Guide to Money and the Economy: Accumulation and Debt

By: Dr. S.

Have you ever opened up an economics textbook and looked for a definition of money? Chances are you haven’t but if you have chances are you didn’t find the definition. Introductory economics texts, and even advanced economics text, do a remarkably dismal job of revealing the nature of money. The closest the common man gets to a proper definition of money is that it is a medium of exchange, but a medium for exchanging what? To add to the problem, consider the fact that money is just pretty colored paper with no intrinsic value. It only becomes valuable because we (i.e. humans) give it value. But how do we give money value? Is it economics, politics, or black magic?

The global economy is teetering on the brink of collapse and even the uber wealth admit it is true (as this Youtube interview demonstrates). Find out the truth about the nature of money and find out why debt and the easy way money can be accumulated is behind the growing crises of today. Find out what you need to know, and what we all need to do, to stave off global catastrophe. Discover the truth, save the world. Read the Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Money and the Economy: Accumulation and Debt.


About William T. Hathaway

William T. Hathaway began his writing career as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, then joined the Special Forces to write a book about war. A World of Hurt won a Rinehart Foundation Award for its portrayal of the psychological roots of war: the emotional blockage and need for patriarchal approval that draw men to the military. Summer Snow tells of an American warrior in Central Asia who falls in love with a Sufi Muslim and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality. CD-Ring is a young-adult novel about a boy learning the futility of violence and the need for peaceful communication. Radical Peace: People Refusing War presents the true stories of activists who have moved beyond protest into direct action, becoming criminals for peace by defying the government's laws and impeding its capacity to kill. Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness is set in 2026 as an old woman and a young man battle the corporations that control the remaining water resources after the earth's ecosystem has broken down under human abuse. Hathaway was a Fulbright professor of creative writing and American studies at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

48 comments

  1. Before I make my point, I would like to declare that for the past year I have been working as a temporary worker on minimum wage. I am not the ‘elite’ and never have been.

    While it is popular to blame the ‘elite’, these declarations that all we have to do is throw off the chains and all will be well misses a key point: if you don’t gather money faster than those around you, you get relatively poorer. As obvious as this is, people forget that this works for countries as well.

    As a country (or community, or individual) the moment you engage in any activity that hinders the gathering of money (or economic wealth), you will be rapidly disempowered. While I didn’t support Mugabe’s goals, a recent case in point is Zimbabwe. On a larger scale, the USSR showed us what happens when people think they can gather money in a more efficient manner than the market.

    I would suggest that it is not the ‘elite’ creating these societal chains, but the structure of global market system itself. Blaming people for doing well will not solve the problem. Equally, blaming people for not doing well does not work. If everyone lived at the average consumption level of the USA, the resources of the earth can only support 1.4 billion people. It is literally impossible for the world to match the US’s standard of living. That is why, according to the UN, 58% of every person born on earth dies as the result of a lack of food,

    As an aside, I just want to mention that poor people are just as greedy when opportunities arise as rich people. For example, how many people are happy to cheat on an insurance claim and equally happy to ignore the collective impact on the cost of insurance premiums. They rationalise that their one little deception is but a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. Equally, one rich person using his/her financial strength to their advantage is also a drop in the bucket. None of this matters until we add up the behaviour of everyone. Then it all matters very much.

    Tim gooding

    • Hi Tim. While I agree with you that there is no point blaming people who do well, or people who don’t do well, it is also not important to reify the economy or the market. These things don’t exist sui generis. They are created by the actions of the people on this earth. If you and I trade a service or product, it is our actions that have created a “market.” If somebody else takes “interest” on our exchange, that is also an action, made by a human, interfering with the market. When you say “the structure of the global market system” is the problem, you’ve removed human agency and you can’t do that because when it comes to politics, economics, education, or anything else, human agency is the key. If you want to understand something, you have to look at what the humans are doing, and why they are doing it. Even the elite accept this, or at least some of them. Last year Warren Buffet, arguably one of the world’s top elites, admitted that it was the actions of his class in government have created an extraordinary situation where they benefit laws they have created to privilege themselves. You can check out the article below.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/19/idUS176364188120110819

      I also find this book

      http://www.amazon.com/Rocket-Scientists-Guide-Money-Economy/dp/1897455119

      particularly enlightening. it makes the “invisible hand” of the marketplace visible after all, and points out that the problem isn’t reified global economic structures, but the actions of individuals interfering with the market, that is the primary problem we must face down an solve.

  2. There is a debate to be had here.

    To what extent does nature or nurture define a person?

    My life’s agency is largely controlled by the needs of the market.

    Consider: have you ever done something you didn’t want to do because circumstances forced you to? If the answer is ‘yes’ then your agency was being shaped by those circumstances rather than by personal choice. Choice was made under duress.

    Social statistics such as crime rates stay very steady. But if they were the sum of personal free will with no guiding factors they would fluxuate wildly. The larger the group, the more accurately we can predict their aggregate behaviour. Doesn’t that suggest that something is operating beyond individual choice that is guiding behaviour into certain set channels? Sure, we cannot predict the behaviour of any single human being, but we certainly can predict quite accurately the behaviour of millions. We can even predict how many children they are going to have and how many will survive.

    How many people are forced into jobs they don’t really want, to participate in convoluted and sometimes bizarre bureaucratical rituals, or even kill people they really didn’t want to kill? The question isn’t whether human agency is a factor, but who or what is creating the circumstances that is guiding human agency at the aggregate level.

    By the way, of course rich people bend reality to suit themselves wherever they can. All people do. All animals do as well. That is a natural life instinct. The question is what allows rich people’s needs to be so much more urgent than those less rich.

    Rich people can only live those lifestyles if we all agree they can. What would a rich person have if no one responded to the money they had in their hands? How long could they maintain their vast possessions without the help of an army of poorer people? The super-rich are rich only because we all allow it.

    The big question is why are we supporting this reality?

  3. Excellent Article!!!!

    Bravisimo!!!!!!! Encore Encore!!!

    I have read two other books written by William Hathaway. Radical Peace and Summer Snow, both explain how the energy of one individual can do very great things.

    Tim Gooding,
    I have a background in architecture and I do believe that you have poured some wonky concrete into the foundation of your human agency that needs some serious repair..

    • No, I think Tim’s right. Social structure does impose on us, and in powerful ways. Take a look around you. The world is filled with people who don’t do the “right” thing because of the social structure imposed on them. This doesn’t erase human agency of course, since it is humans who build the structures in the first place. But it also doesn’t obviate the controlling and constraining functions of structure. The core of the work I do is getting people to examine those structures, and change them.

  4. To what extent does nature or nurture define a person?

    That is variable and depends on things like the state of the physical unit (i.e. whether it is stressed and operating on lower level impulses), and the level of awareness. An infant is defined largely by the instinctual responses of the body. However as the cortex develops, cognition, consciousness, and free will become prominent features of experience.

    My life’s agency is largely controlled by the needs of the market.

    First of all, the “market” has no needs. The market is what economists call the aggregate action of, now, billions of people when those economists are trying to hide the fact that people make up the market. Of course, to say the market is made of of the aggregate action of billions is not to suggest that “the market’ is in any way a manifestation of democracy. Certain market players are more powerful than others and their hand in the marketplace exerts considerably more influence on said market, and consequently “your life” than others.

    Consider: have you ever done something you didn’t want to do because circumstances forced you to? If the answer is ‘yes’ then your agency was being shaped by those circumstances rather than by personal choice. Choice was made under duress.

    yup. that’s not very fair is it?

    Social statistics such as crime rates stay very steady. But if they were the sum of personal free will with no guiding factors they would fluxuate wildly. The larger the group, the more accurately we can predict their aggregate behaviour. Doesn’t that suggest that something is operating beyond individual choice that is guiding behaviour into certain set channels?

    ya, I think we call that “social structure” in sociology.

    Sure, we cannot predict the behaviour of any single human being, but we certainly can predict quite accurately the behaviour of millions. We can even predict how many children they are going to have and how many will survive.

    Mr Gooding, are you trying to scare people?

    How many people are forced into jobs they don’t really want, to participate in convoluted and sometimes bizarre bureaucratical rituals, or even kill people they really didn’t want to kill? The question isn’t whether human agency is a factor, but who or what is creating the circumstances that is guiding human agency at the aggregate level.

    ya well that’s easy. The media does does. Schools do that. Work places do that. banks do that when they require you to transact a certain way. governments do that when they make rules. Our entire entire lives are governed by the structures around us. But that doesn’t mean we are powerless. There is this concept in sociology called “human agency” and that trumps all social structures, IMHO.

    By the way, of course rich people bend reality to suit themselves wherever they can. All people do. All animals do as well. That is a natural life instinct.

    Well, it’s a survival instinct, I think, not a “life” instinct. But the real issue here is why do rich people have more power to bend reality to their wishes than the rest of us? and the answer to that is money. The more money you got, the more you can bend reality to your wishes. the less money you got, the more powerless you are.

    The question is what allows rich people’s needs to be so much more urgent than those less rich.

    money, money, money.

    Rich people can only live those lifestyles if we all agree they can. What would a rich person have if no one responded to the money they had in their hands?

    indigestion.

    How long could they maintain their vast possessions without the help of an army of poorer people?

    Not very long.

    The super-rich are rich only because we all allow it.

    Amen my brother!

    The big question is why are we supporting this reality?

    because we’ve been convinced that this is the only reality there is.

    m

  5. It seems the key argument boils down to whether the evidence supports human agency or the agency of the social structure as dominant. If we are to discuss agency then we should perhaps also include the work of sociologists such as Latour, Pickering etc, who suggest ‘things’ have agency as well. However,I would suggest the biological concept of stigmergy is a clearer and more concise form of this argument than those currently existing in sociology.

    Regardless, I have a mountain of evidence supporting the hypothesis that social agency is dominant. For example, if human agency is dominant, then why is obesity so hard to tackle? Don’t overweight people want to be ‘normal’, healthy, and/or ‘beautiful’? If human beings have so much trouble expressing their agency in areas where they have total control and knowledge (eating more calories then you burn makes your overweight), then how can we expect them to effectively express their agency to control aggregate social phenomenon such as the ecosystem decline (30% down between 1970 and 2001) or the fact that the UN informs us that approximately 58% of all human beings born on earth die of the effects of starvation? To the point of this discussion, how can individuals know what to do to stop the free-market values from permeating their needs and desires? Even if they did, would they be any more successful than we, as a (western) society, are at losing weight?

    Are you aware of the recent research in the role of the subconscious in our actions? For example, one researcher had people chase a toy flying helicopter with the goal of catching it when it fell. He asked them all to describe how they planned to catch it (their strategy … or the execution of their agency) and predictably they had various strategies such as anticipating the helicopter, keeping underneath, etc.

    In order to test the execution of their ability to wield their agency (‘agency’ is my insertion; it was not his term) he strapped cameras to the heads of everyone so he could analyse their actual strategies. It turned out that in reality all the volunteers used the exact same strategy being dictated to them by their subconscious regardless of what their conscious strategy had been. Meanwhile, all of the volunteers believed they had successfully acted out their conscious strategies.

    In other words, people think they have effective agency where they do not. Additionally, anything that can successfully access your subconscious has you by the short and curlies. To this point, I would again bring up stigmergy.

    I think there is a debate to be had here. I keep repeating this because I was pushed out of my PhD programme (University of Exeter) for suggesting their was an argument to be had here.

    Best,

    Tim

    • It seems the key argument boils down to whether the evidence supports human agency or the agency of the social structure as dominant.

      Why does one or the other have to be “dominant” Tim? That’s not a good question, if you ask me. A far more sophisticated question would be, under what conditions is agency “dominant” and under what conditions is structure “dominant.” Clearly that’s a key issue because sometimes people do seem to be victims of circumstance, or driven by coded programming, but at other times they break out of those molds, go in new directions, act outside of the controls of society and structure.

      If we are to discuss agency then we should perhaps also include the work of sociologists such as Latour, Pickering etc,

      I’d rather not.


      who suggest ‘things’ have agency as well. However,I would suggest the biological concept of stigmergy is a clearer and more concise form of this argument than those currently existing in sociology.

      I looked that up, seems reasonable to me.


      Regardless, I have a mountain of evidence supporting the hypothesis that social agency is dominant.

      Even so, this could be the result of other factors. More interesting question for me is under what conditions is social structure dominant.


      For example, if human agency is dominant, then why is obesity so hard to tackle? Don’t overweight people want to be ‘normal’, healthy, and/or ‘beautiful’?

      Because obesity is often the result of addiction to carbohydrates and sugars. This addiction arises as the result of long term exposure to garbage food. Breaking the addiction is difficult not only because there are physiological components, but psychological and emotional components as well.

      If human beings have so much trouble expressing their agency in areas where they have total control and knowledge

      This is a massive simplification of the complex psychological problem of addiction and at this point I have to ask, why are you simplifying phenomenon just so you can prove a point? You’re not being objective or rigorous here.


      Are you aware of the recent research in the role of the subconscious in our actions? For example, one researcher had people chase a toy flying helicopter with the goal of catching it when it fell. He asked them all to describe how they planned to catch it (their strategy … or the execution of their agency) and predictably they had various strategies such as anticipating the helicopter, keeping underneath, etc.

      I don’t need research to tell me that people are governed by subconscious programming. We’ve known this since Freud. It does not obviate free will however. The question becomes, undre what conditions are genetic programs activated, or not.

      I think there is a debate to be had here. I keep repeating this because I was pushed out of my PhD programme (University of Exeter) for suggesting their was an argument to be had here.

      That’s too bad you were pushed out like that, but I can see why you’d make people nervous. My question to you is, what’s your agenda? Why do seem so hell bent on proving the “dominance” of structure. Why are you oversimplifying complex phenomenon like addiction? There are excellent reasons why people can’t break their addictions that don’t have anything to do with structure. ALthough, having said that, I wouldn’t say that structure, or stigmergy.

      what are you thinking here? Don’t be afraid. spit it out!

      m

  6. I agree with you Dr. Michael Sosteric. It is a matter of getting a group of people who can identify the problems in the structure and also have the ability to fix them, with of course the consent and will of others. It is a matter of switching on the light to the dark closet we have all been standing in so that we can find the handle to the door to get out.

    Afterall, ( I am going to quote someone here), “Because of the nature of consciousness and the basic equality of light beings, nobody can force you to do anything you do not want to do. (Sharp,2006:69).

  7. To Rucy: ‘It is a matter of getting a group of people who can identify the problems in the structure and also have the ability to fix them, with of course the consent and will of others,’

    What I question is the evidence of this on big problems. Band Aid and Live Aid happened in the mid 80’s. Millions of people and billions of dollars got involved. In a rare demonstration of solidarity, no one objected to the goals. Eventually, even government and big corporation money got involved. The result? In 2001 the UN reports that 58% of all people born on earth die from the effects of lack of food. So, if individual human agency is the cause of this, whose fault is this?

    The concept of environmental carrying capacity is well established in biology. The earth’s carrying capacity for human beings differs depending on a groups consumption. The carry capacity of the earth for people living at the average level of a US citizen is 1.5 billion people — meaning the earth can support a maximum of 1.5 billion people at the US’s consumption rates. If we all wish to live as an average Bangladeshi does, then the earth can support 14 billion. It is literally impossible for the rest of the population to live as the US does.

    If human agency is the problem, then whose fault is this? Do we blame all the people of the US? (The earth can support 2.5 billion people living as Western Europeans if you’re interested).

    Either we are murderously selfish and greedy, or something else is in play. What I am suggesting is people are not naturally murderously selfish. What I am suggesting is that the social structure is empowering harmful behaviour and disempowering loving responsible behaviour.

    What do you think?

    • Either we are murderously selfish and greedy, or something else is in play. What I am suggesting is people are not naturally murderously selfish. What I am suggesting is that the social structure is empowering harmful behaviour and disempowering loving responsible behaviour.
      What do you think?

      I agree with this, but that’s not a new insight Tim. Karl Marx would have said the same thing, although he would have said “capitalist social structures” empower harmful behavior. From the laws which are set up to protect the privileged, to economies based on extraction and accumulation of money, this is not new sociology. You also have to be very careful not to reduce everything to social structure, or to REIFY social structure, which is the tendency to see social structure as existing sui generis, or independent of, the human actions which make it up. You also have to be careful about drawing too much insight from the natural world of animals and instincts since humans have a much greater capacity to modify environment, structures, and conditions than animals do.

      This is basic Sociology.

  8. To Mike:

    Mike says: *A far more sophisticated question would be, under what conditions is agency “dominant” and under what conditions is structure “dominant.”

    Well, yes. I am trying to use as few words as possible. The actual truth is that neither is ‘dominant’. Emergent behaviour, which is what I’m really talking about here, means that both co-exist at the same time. However, there are forces that exist at the macro level that simply do not exist in any form at the micro level. That is how emergent behaviour works.

    The most common example is flocking birds. Who in the flock designed and executed the flocking behaviour? All of them? None of them?

    Mike says: *Clearly that’s a key issue because sometimes people do seem to be victims of circumstance, or driven by coded programming, but at other times they break out of those molds, go in new directions, act outside of the controls of society and structure.

    Any single person can do anything at any time. That is free will in action. Where the aggregate forces come in is where it is easier or harder to do a certain thing. The book ‘Pandora’s Seed’ describes the immense benefits in health and happiness that people living the hunter/gatherer lifestyle enjoy. In times past, it was easy to live this way. There is practically no where I can do it today in England, for example. The reason for this is social structure. So while I have free will, the social structure offers me different choices at different costs. It is the quality of the choice/cost that creates global aggregate movements in human society. It would cost a person a very great deal if effort to try to be a hunter/gatherer in Toronto for example.

    Mike says: *this could be the result of other factors. More interesting question for me is under what conditions is social structure dominant.

    That is why I designed and built an experiment complete with a null hypothesis.

    Mike says: obesity is often the result of addiction to carbohydrates and sugars. This addiction arises as the result of long term exposure to garbage food. Breaking the addiction is difficult not only because there are physiological components, but psychological and emotional components as well … why are you simplifying phenomenon just so you can prove a point? You’re not being objective or rigorous here.

    What this is is evidence of circumstances override human voluntary agency even in deeply personal matters.

    Mike says: Why are you oversimplifying complex phenomenon like addiction? There are excellent reasons why people can’t break their addictions that don’t have anything to do with structure.

    Are you sure about this? Hunter/gatherers had large amounts of free time that they could have easily been converted into more food. Obesity was well within their capability and yet obesity was not a problem in these cultures. The modern structure creates the availability of a certain type of foods. As you probably know, if you are very poor, you can get more calories by buying the really trashy foods than you can buying ‘good’ food. If you can’t afford to eat right (or worse, people believe they cannot afford to do so) then obesity becomes more likely.

    How can social structure NOT influence obesity, especially as it clearly follows in the wake of modernisation?

    Of remote interest, the most recent research demonstrates that the tendency towards obesity is most influenced by the time in the womb and the eating habits and stress during pregnancy.

    Cheerio,

    Tim

    • Are you sure about this?

      Sure about what? the psychological, emotional, and biological components of addiction? ya. what do you know about addiction Tim, other than your driving need to REDUCE IT to structure. You won’t make a very good sociologists if all you want to do is reduce the complexity of our social world. That’s a theoretical step backwards, Tim.


      Hunter/gatherers had large amounts of free time that they could have easily been converted into more food. Obesity was well within their capability and yet obesity was not a problem in these cultures. The modern structure creates the availability of a certain type of foods.

      Modern structure doesn’t do that, Tim, people do that. People running corporations like Macdonalds make that food available.

      As you probably know, if you are very poor, you can get more calories by buying the really trashy foods than you can buying ‘good’ food. If you can’t afford to eat right (or worse, people believe they cannot afford to do so) then obesity becomes more likely.

      ya. but the argument here isn’t in your favor because its the choices of corporate CEOs to make food as addictive as possible that is the real culprit here, not social structure. Macdonalds could quite easily make their food healthier, without sacrificing taste. But if they did that they’d run the risk of reducing people’s addiction to it, and that would effect the bottom line.

      How can social structure NOT influence obesity, especially as it clearly follows in the wake of modernisation?

      If a few corporate CEOs decided to put nutrition before their bottom line, and instead of creating crap food, high in addictive sugars and devoid of nutritional value, there wouldn’t be such a problem. It is not social structure that is the culprit with obesity, it is human agency.

      Once people are addicted, for emotional, psychological, and biological reasons, it is very hard to break the addiction. YOu ever look at a MacDonalds add? What are they selling to children when they target them? They are selling the children a happy family experience. They are attaching emotions to food and creating the structures of addiction. The corporations know how to addict people, how to hook them. If structure comes in to play here it is a legal system, and an economic system, that is built on the immoral foundations of capitalism which puts profit above all other consideration.

      Your ideas are interesting, Tim, but they lack some basic sociological common sense.

      you don’t even have an undergraduate degree in sociology, do you? You are in economics right? What makes you want to graduate work in Sociology?

    • However, there are forces that exist at the macro level that simply do not exist in any form at the micro level. That is how emergent behaviour works.

      what kind of “forces” are you talking about here?

  9. When I read your replies point by point, it seems you disagree with what I am saying. But when I read it as a totality it seems we are very close.

    If I am understanding your arguments correctly, you are saying that human agency dominates in modern society but largely expressed by the most powerful. The aggregate little people agency is being guided or manipulated by the agency of the rich. Therefore, what the little people have to do (those with the greatest collective human agency) is wake up and smell the coffee.

    So first, can I ask if I am interpreting your view correctly? If not, would you please elaborate.

    A quick specific response:

    Mike said: If a few corporate CEOs decided to put nutrition before their bottom line, and instead of creating crap food, high in addictive sugars and devoid of nutritional value, there wouldn’t be such a problem.

    Corporations have tried to make money by serving nutritious food. The reason they don’t continue to serve nutritious food is they don’t remain profitable by doing so. The directors of corporations feel dictated to by the market place. If you speak to many of them, they will tell you that they would like to do things differently but market forces (the collective agency of the people) won’t let them.

    Think about it. Corporations don’t care how they make money. If they make money serving rubbish, they serve rubbish. If they made the most money serving healthy and nutritious food, they would do so. So who has the power (agency) here? The ads? Same thing. If they control what people do, then they could just as successfully advertise good food. Then there would be more money available to spend on corporation instead of having to foot the enormous cost of the presence of unhealthy people. School performance would be better. Workers would work better with less absenteeism. According to some recent research, there would be less crime and rioting. So what possible benefit is there to rich people to purposely make the population obese, unhealthy and discontented through evil corporate ploys? (I’m not saying corporations are intrinsically good either)

    If you want to hear it from the horses lips, here’s a documentary about corporations and includes an interview with a CEO describing just how narrow his command choices really are. It features people like Noam Chomsky.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pin8fbdGV9Y

    As to Marx: I studied Marx (and Engels) in University in 1986. I know social structure is not new. What is new is what I’m suggesting shapes social structure. What I’m saying is the principles of emergent behaviour are in play. If you don’t understand emergent behaviour, then I can see how you would think I’m trying to reduce all human characteristics and traits to a simple single causal force.

    But the reverse is true. I’m not a reductionist,

    Saying a table is flat and stable does not take away the immense complexity of the quantum physics that is taking place right now under your fingers. It is both flat and stable and mind-boggling complex at the same time. Both are true at the same time. Telling me I’m a reductionist for describing emergent forces is like telling a carpenter that using a plane is useless because it ignores Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

    Complex systems tend to go from chaos (scientifically defined) to order and back to chaos … repeat. What I’m doing is purposely seeking the areas of order in global human society and describing them.

    As to your accusation concerning my sociology qualifications: you are quite right. I am completely unqualified to debate as a classically trained sociologist. If you feel that makes me unqualified to participate in this conversation, feel free to say so and I will quietly bow out.

    • If I am understanding your arguments correctly, you are saying that human agency dominates in modern society but largely expressed by the most powerful. The aggregate little people agency is being guided or manipulated by the agency of the rich. Therefore, what the little people have to do (those with the greatest collective human agency) is wake up and smell the coffee.

      ya

      Think about it. Corporations don’t care how they make money. If they make money serving rubbish, they serve rubbish. If they made the most money serving healthy and nutritious food, they would do so.

      I use that documentary in my Sociology 290 course actually, so I’m familiar with it. But tell me, how many corporate CEOs are going to willingly admit they degrade their food in order to addict people, to a camera?! Are you kidding me? That would open them up to law suits and they would never do that. It took a decade or more of investigation to get the North American cigarette companies to come clean about their nefarious activities, and the fact that they actually did make board level decisions to make their cigarettes more addictive. But I do get your point. The entire structure of corporate activity is set up to control the behavior of CEOs, to tie them not to the marketplace as you suggest, but to profit. A typical public CEO with board members and SHAREHOLDERS is concerned only with the bottom line, because that is the way things are setup. Annual reports convey profit and loss to shareholders who then fuck around with the market value of the corporation, thereby punishing executives who did not show enough respect for the almighty god of profit, and rewarding those who do. That’s basic psychology, Tim, and an that is one of the ways that human action is controlled. And you don’t need to go to emergent behavior or chaos theory to explain it. It is simply a function of how the corporation is setup. And that’s a running theme in the movie, i.e. how the legal entity that is a corporation was set up a certain way to encourage a certain behavior. But does a corporation have to be setup like that? Hardly. Humans are ingenious and ways could be found to create corporations that did not put profit above all else, that structured things to encourage places like MacDonalds to provide healthy food. A health tax could be applied on all corporations, for example, that did not overhaul their food lines and provide healthier alternatives.

      And anyway, the corporate CEO that says they serve rubbish because the market depends it is no different than the drug dealer who sells crack because, well, the market demands it. The only difference? on the one hand structures are setup to reward and control, and on the other structures are setup to punish and control.

      I’m sure your supervisor was an idiot, but you still haven’t convinced me that importing concepts relevant at the lower level of the natural sciences is explaining anything at the higher level of human society. To me this sounds like just another attempt by a natural scientist to explain something they really don’t understand that well (i.e. human society), by using concepts relevant at a lower level of creative aggregation, and stuffing as hard as they can, whilst all the while presuming they know better. I’m not saying this is you, or that you’re not onto something here, ’cause I believe you are, I’m just saying, I can see why a sociologist might be put off with this. It’s a lot easier to understand chaos and emergent behavior in nature than it is to understand society, I’m afraid. What’s worse, it is a lot harder to convince the arrogant natural scientists that they have something to learn from sociologists, and not the other way around. There is a reason Comte felt Sociology was the “king” of the sciences. Human society is complex and understanding it involves understanding physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and sociology. And while a phenomenon relevant at the biological level might be relevant at the psychological, or sociologically, I don’t think that is given. Which is where I suppose the graduate work comes in. That’s where you take your idea and pass it through the “mill” so to speak. I think physicists, biologist, economists, and sociologists should talk more, but personally I think its the biologists and economists who should be doing most of the listening, especially when they start talking about an area of expertise they don’t even undergraduate training in. Its kinda hubris otherwise, don’t ya think?

      Your ideas are interesting, and its great you want to contribute to Sociology with them, but they are a little rough around the edges, and your not thinking deep enough into the mystical, magical, thing we call society. You got some insights, but you are floating around on the surface, and sometimes even taking propaganda as fact. That doesn’t mean your wrong about your thinking. I in particular am quite interested in what you said about creating structures that would encourage altruistic and cooperative behavior, about the evolutionary implications of such (competition being a “lower” form of behavior, for example), and so on. I’ve written about the damaging effects of cooperation, for example, and devote an entire course to the examination of competition, power, agency (of the elites) and the negative impact all this has had on the formation of social movements. So I’m liking where you are going with this. But, if you want to have an impact on Sociologists, if you want to get these ideas out to the world, you need some guidance on how to frame your ideas, and how to not look like a puffed up natural scientists making arrogant assumptions about a discipline they only think they understand.

      I’m still recommending http://mais.athabascau.ca/. I hope you seriously consider this. I know you’ve been burned in the past but I think this approach would be a good way for you to move forward in a productive way with your interests. I would even give you space on the socjourn, a discussion forum, where you could discuss these ideas, solicit feedback, and so on. My role would be to help you find a way to present your ideas in a convincing way, incorporating sociological and psychological insights where necessary, and finding a satisfactory multi-disciplinary synthesis. It is exactly what you are trying to do, Tim. What you are trying to do here is multidisciplinary by nature, and really worth pursuing I think. What you are trying to say is ahead of its time, but not too far ahead (cause things move so fast these days). If you don’t say it, someone else will. And if you don’t say it right, nobody will listen, and somebody else will say it right, leaving you with nothing but some great ideas that somebody else got to put on paper first.

      http://mais.athabascau.ca/ -> check it out

      m

  10. “What do you think?”

    I would agree with you here: “What I am suggesting is people are not naturally murderously selfish. What I am suggesting is that the social structure is empowering harmful behavior and disempowering loving responsible behavior.”
    About Farm Aid and Live Aid, to give an example, I watched a youtube interview with George Harrison about all the charity gigs they did and how they became less effective in actually helping the cause, because the record labels and money issues of who gets ‘how much’ and who pays for what, or as you had mentioned in your comment, “big corporation money got involved”.
    “The concept of environmental carrying capacity is well established in biology. The earth’s carrying capacity for human beings differs depending on a groups consumption. The carry capacity of the earth for people living at the average level of a US citizen is 1.5 billion people — meaning the earth can support a maximum of 1.5 billion people at the US’s consumption rates. If we all wish to live as an average Bangladeshi does, then the earth can support 14 billion. It is literally impossible for the rest of the population to live as the US does.”
    Lifestyles are taught habits. Over consumption in the US is a learned behavior that is deeply rooted in marketing which affects all classes. We (US citizens) are immersed in advertisements about lifestyles that we should strive to be rather than identifying that the true values are found within ourselves thus cutting ourselves off from our full potentials as divine beings we are designed to be. I was blessed with the opportunity to study a culture that identified the importance of self-awareness, the benefits of attaining knowledge (via education) and values to base their behaviors on that actually made sense and were not full of religious dogma. Even the way they interact with one another- and others- is with respectful words. Knowledge is part of their spiritual life in that it is a pursuit to learn throughout life and share with others your experiences of that knowledge attained. On the other hand, in the US knowledge-education-is an ideal taught in order to collect a bigger paycheck, have more things, to be better than the Johnsons…blah-blah-blah.
    I think about this community often and how they are a role model for other communities to follow. It appears to me that problems seem to arise when communities get too big, they have a tendency to get too complicated. Maybe part of the solution is organizing in smaller manageable groups in order to keep the ideals and values of the community pure and focused. Greed is not an American invention but is something that seems to go hand in hand with a need to control the people.
    Take Africa, for example and World Bank and the IMF, and look at all the aid projects that go to Africa in efforts to drive poor nations towards capitalism (a four-lettered word in my book) and incorporate them into the global market, because it serves a few elite. These generous loans afford these countries a debt that includes: cuts in spending for health, education, and all forms of social welfare; privatization (another fowl word-don’t get me started on the evils of privatization) of all state-owned enterprises; opening the economy to foreign competition and direct foreign investment; allowing the market to determine interest rates; and managing currency exchange rate to keep them stable to mention a few of the necessary changes needed in order for funding of the loan. In other words, the IMF and World Bank are the new landlords of the said countries in need of help and often the necessary conditions to be followed through on for the loans end up making poverty and crime more rampant.
    Then you have the human agency of the Middle East where hatred and retaliation due to endless wars have been the habits taught and learned for centuries.
    To say that the human agency is something that just happened because of a number of external uncontrollable circumstances is like saying, “yah, we know that murder is evil but it happens and it has always been that way.” A very wise man used to say all the time that a statement like that only empowers more of the same ill behavior. It takes individual responsibility to NOT accept these old ways of thinking. To make the individual sacrifice that is necessary by saying ‘no’ to the fist full of money, is what it is going to take. There was this guy I once knew who called himself Judas x7 who said, “quit buying shit, stop watching TV [your only feeding the System].”
    Using the example of the culture that I described as a role model to a community beginning with healthy and stable beginnings for the children who will teach their children the healthy values that they acquired is a start in the right direction. There is so much poison or potential for poison out there we must start at the roots –the children so that they have the wisdom to separate the wheat from the chaff, milk from the water. Limited access or stronger controls on technology and media poison, setting a limit to the amount of accumulated wealth a given kin has access too are a very few steps towards making the big changes that are needed.
    As I gaze up at the sky through an opening through the branches over me at my favorite spot, (hat tip to Oxo Halo for knowing), I realize that this is Our Calling. As Michael Sharp-the real one- states in the book of the Triumph of Spirit, “And as we remembered, the pure light of our divine intent, coupled with the energetic momentum that we had built over a millennia of dialectical swinging of the pendulum’s arc, coupled with our own kundalini contribution, coupled with the energy of Sol, Gaia, Mars (and other key entities) would lift this world and plunge it through the barrier that separates the dimensional levels.”

    Sorry if I drifted.

  11. I feel I need to say that my supervisor, Andrew Pickering, is not an idiot. He was simply acting rationally in accordance to the structure in which he found himself. His only ‘sin’, from my point of view, was that he criticised my work without understanding it. Because I was saying things that he (and much of sociology) did not agree with, he couldn’t see past the ‘fact’ that I was somehow misunderstanding sociology. Therefore, I couldn’t have good solid reasons and or real evidence to back up my position, could I? It never occurred to him that I did understand but didn’t agree so he spent a great deal of time trying to make me understand something I already understood.

    From his point of view, I refused to see reason. How could I complete a PhD in a discipline that I didn’t understand? He had no choice other than to abandon me.

    Please notice I accurately stated your point of view. It has been 10 years since this all first occurred to me. In that time, I have noticed that it goes against what most sociologists hold to be true. It has made me question whether I was wrong, several times. When I was in university as a Sociological PhD student, I closely examined the key sociological arguments in this area and batted them around with those near me.

    Now, it seems to me that you are disagreeing with me without understanding what I am saying concerning emergent behaviour. A growing number of neuroscientists now believe that emergent behaviour is the process that is creating human consciousness. Arguing from the point of view of a humanist (which I’m not) — if it is good enough for human consciousness how can it not be good enough for human society? Please excuse my frankness: claiming it is a ‘lower level’ science compared to that which is practiced in sociology seems to be an uninformed qualitative statement made from position of arrogance to me. If you go through recent sociology papers I think you will find that emergent behaviour is increasingly represented.

    At this point it is probably important that I mention I am open to knowledgeable criticism and a key part of my theory had to be recently changed because of constructive criticism (even though I resisted for months). I’m re-working my website right now to accommodate the change … which I’m very pleased to say makes the theory far more robust and applicable to reality.

    I challenge you when you say ‘your not thinking deep enough into the mystical, magical, thing we call society. You got some insights, but you are floating around on the surface, and sometimes even taking propaganda as fact.’

    I totally agree with you when you say, ‘if you want to have an impact on Sociologists, if you want to get these ideas out to the world, you need some guidance on how to frame your ideas, and how to not look like a puffed up natural scientists making arrogant assumptions about a discipline they only think they understand.’

    However, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m on minimum wage and paying for a masters is out of the question at the moment.

    Tim

    • Please notice I accurately stated your point of view. It has been 10 years since this all first occurred to me. In that time, I have noticed that it goes against what most sociologists hold to be true. It has made me question whether I was wrong, several times. When I was in university as a Sociological PhD student, I closely examined the key sociological arguments in this area and batted them around with those near me.

      And by “battling” do you mean ignoring what they were trying to say to you? Because now you are not dealing with the substantive criticisms of your evidence I am offering. You point to corporate CEOS who blame the market for their toxic food to prove structure, and I say “but that example doesn’t prove anything because a) they aren’t going to admit the truth, especially on camera, b) human agency manipulates the market. Corporate CEOS are wonderful at passing the buck, and so are economists. Economists blame the “invisible hand” for all the shitty evil that they have a hand in creating. I point out that the legal structures within which corporations are set up confine the behaviour of CEOs to narrow profit considerations, and that’s lost in a “oh boo hoo Dr. Sosteric, now you are not understanding.” Frankly you’re not at all convincing, Tim. You’re not saying anything other than making some vague suggestions about structure, misusing sociological examples, and reifying social structure.

      I can totally get your example with the flocking birds but so what, you haven’t demonstrated that this sort of emergent behaviour is relevant in humans. You can’t assume it is and you can’t point to animal behaviour as a rationale. And no reasonable academic trained in Sociology is going to buy your arguments if you can’t address the failures in your choices of human examples. If you don’t address these examples, and if you just descend to suggesting that “I (Tim) do understand, its you damn sociologists that don’t,” you won’t make any progress. You’ll just be another natural scientists trying to push low level biological theories on the higher level behaviors of humans, and causing untold damage to human life in the process.

      deep breathes Michael.

      Anyway, having said all this, I know there’s a discussion to be had here. Consider this

      http://www.sociology.org/columnists/michael-sosteric/ding-dong-the-alpha-male-dead

      Here’s a dumb ass natural scientists recanting a concept that he introduced (the alpha male) because, as he said, its total bullshit. Alpha behaviour doesn’t occur in the wild, like he thought, but only under artificial laboratory conditions, when wolves are separated from their families.

      WTF?

      Did he just say an “alpha male” behaviour EMERGES from abusive environments?!?!. (and if you think taking wolves away from their families, and confining them into pens isn’t abusive, then I got some more words for you). Wow. the implications are stunning and I am discombobulated even thinking about them.

      Frankly, though, I don’t find this example amusing in any way. As you are no doubt aware, the concept “alpha” male is prevalent in our popular culture and it is used to justify horrible behaviours. From school yard bully to predatorial CEO, people use this concept as a medal of honor whenever they hurt someone else. It is a major linchpin in ideologies that justify competition, control, and violence against others. This biologist has done incredible damage to human life on this planet. And I’m not saying he did it intentionally, I’m just saying, you biologists and economists and physicists talking about human society, be *bleep* careful. Make sure you have a clue and don’t arrogantly presume that studying a wolf pack, or looking at the flocking behavior of geese, gives you the expertise to say anything about human society at all. IF you get it wrong, like mr. alpha dog did, people in society, and when I say people I’m thinking about children, pay the price.

      But I’m drifting.

      The point of introducing that article wasn’t to get pissed off at epistemologically simple natural scientists, it was to point out the importance of structure to behaviour. It seems Wolf behaviour can be almost totally determined by their environment. Put them in jail and they become hypercompetitive, but leave them alone and they are family oriented and tribe like.

      Your theory doesn’t explain the actions of fast-food CEOS, or the actions of the people who eat it (who are manipulated daily by sophisticated advertising machinery). BUt maybe it can help with the wolf thing. How would your theory explain this alpha wolf phenomenon Tim. How come wolfs go all aggressive, violent, and alpha when under the control of biologists, but act totally different in the wild?

      Be careful, and be specific.

      m

  12. Hi Rucy,

    I agree with much of what you said, but I want to pick up on something you said:

    To say that the human agency is something that just happened because of a number of external uncontrollable circumstances is like saying, “yah, we know that murder is evil but it happens and it has always been that way.”

    When I suggest that human agency is something ‘just happening’ I’m not suggesting it must be this way or that it is ‘natural’. What I’m trying to suggest is that something is happening outside our normal awareness and outside the expression of our conscious agency (emergent behaviour, or more specifically, the processes that are normally seen operating withing artificial evolutionary systems) and because we know how it works and we know how to influence it, we now have a powerful new tool to tackle some of the biggest problems in global society.

    By the way, murder, or any violence, is practically unknown in proper hunter/gatherer societies. So is disease (including tooth decay), as the geneticist Spencer Wells points out in his book, Pandora’s Seed.

    Have you ever seen the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy?

    tim

  13. What I’m trying to suggest is that something is happening outside our normal awareness and outside the expression of our conscious agency and because we know how it works and we know how to influence it, we now have a powerful new tool to tackle some of the biggest problems in global society.

    Could you clarify what “the something” is that we know “how it works and how to influence it”

    What is the “powerful new tool” that will tackle? the biggest problems in global society?

    Yes, I am familiar with the egalitarian ways of hunter-gatherer bands and was very near becoming part of that society of the homeless.

  14. Hi Rucy

    The first concept I’m using is emergent behaviour, though I feel it is important to keep its concise definition because I’ve seen its definition slide in some papers that I have read. Basically, it means that something ’emerges’ when a number of independent agents interact that does not exist before the interaction takes place. Many experts in emergent behaviour believe that the human brain is not wired to see it and that we need technology to see it just the same way we are not physiologically designed to see molecules (we need microscopes).

    This whole thing came up by trying to understand how birds flocked. For years biologists were trying to figure out how they did it. They looked into subsonic communication, chemicals and even telepathy. Eventually, it was a computer programmer that figured it out: flocking emerged from a few very simple rules that each bird followed.

    Here is one example of a set of rules that creates flocking:

    1) fly in the same direction at your neighbours.
    2) maintain distance
    3) avoid predators

    Here is a video that explains some of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdQgoNitl1g&feature=player_embedded#!

    Emergence is the first step. Let me know if you want to know more.

    Tim

  15. “Basically, it means that something ‘emerges’ when a number of independent agents interact that does not exist before the interaction takes place. Many experts in emergent behaviour believe that the human brain is not wired to see it and that we need technology to see it just the same way we are not physiologically designed to see molecules (we need microscopes).”

    Hi Tim,
    I see what you are saying. Thank you.
    However, I think when it comes to the problems that Hathaway is talking about it has to do more with controlled undermining rather than the impression the System would like you to have, that these problems came about by a concoction of independent agents or in my way of looking at things, a Steve Urklian Blunder-“oh, whoops did I do that?”

    My intuition tells me that maybe at one time these problem could or might have been emergent but are now used as a tool for controlling populations and the people who make up those populations. As i understand it, Sociologists are merely people studying groups of people and how they interact and who’s to say that some Sociologists study on the beehalf of those who want to oppress rather than uplift.

    I watched the video but I believe that humans differ in that they have the capacity to think and be independent thinkers rather than acting as a whole like the examples of flocking and schooling given in the video.

    I guess I am seeing ’emergence’ as an excuse or cover up for what really lies beneath the surface-the patterens- that the wiring of the human brain supposedly cannot see. I really believe that the hidden patterns are becoming more evident and unmask what was formerly believed to be the sum of many independent agents. Just as the System can use these forumulas to oppress so can we study the System and fix the problems.

  16. Hi Mike:

    First of all, let me address this statement. ‘I can totally get your example with the flocking birds but so what, you haven’t demonstrated that this sort of emergent behaviour is relevant in humans.’

    I spent a few seconds searching the internet and found this sociology paper about emergent behaviour as it applies to human beings.

    http://ann.sagepub.com/content/604/1/82.short

    The point is that emergent behaviour is an accepted understanding in sociology. That is not where I am deviating. The impression I am getting is that you are not familiar enough with emergent behaviour to criticise my stance concerning emergent behaviour. Please correct if I am wrong.

    Okay, the next thing — not dealing with substantive criticism: Re the evil CEO etc. that control our lives and the meta-patterns of society.

    Tim’s rebuttal: I would suggest they are acting selfishly in an environment that creates large rewards for selfishness. The environment makes it rational for them to do so, just as during the Stanford experiment students became so dangerous the experiment had to be stopped. Put someone in a war, and they become a murderer, legal or otherwise. Different circumstance generates different behaviour from the exact same person.

    My impression is that you think we ‘normal’ people are good hearted dupes (please correct me if I’m wrong). However, we are choosing to use electricity in the face of possible catastrophic climate change otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. We are choosing to live the western life of high energy consumption even though a huge number of people are starving and the eco-system is being destroyed. As I said, literature in the poorer countries stare in astonishment at the hypocrisy of people like us complaining about the evil selfishness of people richer than we are when we are the world’s rich elite from a world point of view. From the global point of view, we are the evil selish ones you talk about. We are the ones who take the resources from the poor countries (via the free market) and leave a large swathe of the world’s population starving or forcing them, through money, to work immense hours at mind numbing tasks to serve us. Perhaps you want to blame the rich(er) people for programming us to be evil, but what about you? Aren’t you aware of this evilness? Are you living a life that does not impact the poor people? Do you not use electricity, oil, and imported food? Or a computer?

    Why do you live this way? Let me suggest that the answer may be that circumstances make it the most rational thing for you to do.

    Now, let me tell you a real life story. During the flu ‘pandemic’ I worked on a government health service hotline designed to diagnose the flu and offer Tamiflu as a remedy. In regards to children, Tamiflu was banned in several countries due to the intense side-effects, but it was not banned in the UK (where I was working). As non-medically trained phone operators we were asked to follow a script precisely. I worked for a private company that had been hired by the NHS (National Health Service) to provide this service.

    After some weeks of prescribing Tamiflu to children, some parents started to ask me about the side-effects. I brought up the NHS website and told them. My supervisor got wind of this and told me to stop. I asked why. They said it was not in the script. I told them I was simply reading from the NHS website. They threatened to fire me if I did not stop.

    The very next time they laid off workers, I was chosen because I was still answering the parents’ questions about the side-effects. In all other respects, I was one of the best workers with one of the highest customer service ratings in that place.

    Now, this sounds exactly like a weird arbitrary power play by my supervisor. But it isn’t. I was laid off because if an operator deviates from the script by even one word, the company (and myself) was liable if a patient sued. Worse, it could lose the NHS contract. However, no one could successfully sue the ‘script’ so in order to provide this service, we all had to be robots to all the callers.

    So whose fault is it that this experience here became so dire for both the operators and the patients? The evil corporations? The evil CEO? The evil supervisors who practically fired me for being a human being? Evil me for not following the rules? Evil patients for suing when they feel aggrieved?

    I would suggest to you that none of them are, by themselves, responsible. I would suggest to you that all of them are responsible but only insofar as all these agents were acting rationally (except me) based on the circumstances that were present. Because I was not acting ‘rationally’ I was disempowered (by being laid off) … not by an evil corporation, or an evil CEO, or a conspiracy … but simply because of circumstances.

    If people were willing to take responsibility for themselves instead of going ‘for the money’ we could treat them like human beings. Just like CEO’s, they are acting selfishly and the result is that we have to treat them like robots in order to protect ourselves. So whose fault is it that the NHS was treating people like idiots? (The first question in the script was ‘Are you unconscious or not responding?’ … there was a good logical reason for that as well :-)

    Perhaps some believe that the world’s ills are the fault of the rich but I don’t because if poor people were not acting selfishly as well, we would live in an entirely different place. The reason they do act selfishly, I would suggest, is circumstance and society’s circumstance is emergent.

    So that is a specific response to your specific criticism. Does this convince you? No? I’m shocked and surprised.

    The problem is that this is a reductive detailed argument. The detail of reality, especially in something as complex as human society, allows both sides to be argued ad infinitum with nothing being resolved except in the minds of the participants. There is no slam dunk evidence at this level. What can always be found is evidence to support whatever it is that you already believe. The consensus becomes what most people choose to believe.

    The winner of this kind of argument will always be the person who best controls the definition of ‘evidence’. I’m not interested in winning an argument at this level because it doesn’t prove anything other than someone has succumbed or agreed to my definition of evidence. To me, this would be an empty victory.

    Tim

    • The impression I am getting is that you are not familiar enough with emergent behaviour to criticise my stance concerning emergent behaviour. Please correct if I am wrong.

      I’m trying, but you’re too stubborn to listen, and too arrogant to consider you might be wrong.


      I would suggest they are acting selfishly in an environment that creates large rewards for selfishness….[in an] The environment makes it rational for them to do so

      ya, I agree with this. But my question to you is, who created the environment within which they act, Tim? Invisible “forces” of nature maybe? Random circumstance? Are you kidding me? Are you absolutely blind to the significance of human agency in creating environments withing which actors may act.

      My impression is that you think we ‘normal’ people are good hearted dupes

      No, I agree with you Tim, and perhaps you’d see this if you didn’t keep pulling up these “cliches” in an attempt to dismiss what I’m telling you.

      Anyway, it is just as you say. The CEO and the peasant do the things they do because the environment makes it the only rational thing for them to do. Where we diverge is in our understanding of the “environment” and how that environment comes about. My questions, as a Sociologist, are:

      1) who creates the environment within which the CEO makes her or his rationale decisions and
      2) what kind of environment makes the provision of addictive, toxic, food “rational” in any way. IT seems to me what counts as “rationale” really depends on how the “environment” is organized. What is rationale in certain environments may not be rational in others.

      Also, I find it kinda amusing that you’re talking about organisms making “rational” choices while failing to see the agency behind those choices. I think that your toxic economic training is blinding you to the significance of human agency, frankly. Tell me Tim, how does an organism making rational choices, acting in a rational way, as you say, in any way support your theory of emergent behaviour? Doesn’t this point more to the importance of consciousness. Rational choice implies conscious consideration, doesn’t it? Certainly this would explain why people getting the tammul

      I would suggest to you that none of them are, by themselves, responsible.

      Ah and there’s the nub. Your an apologist for the status quo! People are getting hurt everyday but it’s nobodies fault, right?

      I would suggest to you that all of them are responsible but only insofar as all these agents were acting rationally (except me) based on the circumstances that were present. Because I was not acting ‘rationally’ I was disempowered (by being laid off) … not by an evil corporation, or an evil CEO, or a conspiracy … but simply because of circumstances.

      No, you were laid off because you didn’t follow the script that somebody else wrote to protect the agency doing the work they were doing. You were laid off because the agency didn’t want the peasants to know of the possible side effects, because the company didn’t want to take responsibility for any injury it might have caused. And if the people getting the vaccination new the company knew of the side effects, they wouldn’t get crushed in court pretty quickly. So the company made sure to hide that information from them so they wouldn’t get the idea that they might have an opportunity to sue, which I think, personally, would be a rationale decision given what the company was doing. But the company was working hard to create an environment that would it difficult for that sort of litigious behaviour to emerge.

      The winner of this kind of argument will always be the person who best controls the definition of ‘evidence’.

      You don’t even address the evidence, Tim. You run off on tangents every time you are challenged. Previously I asked you to explain, according to your theory, why wolves act “alpha” in incarceration, but not in the wild. Care to address that question or do you prefer to continue with your cliched dismissal of sociology, and your increasingly offensive suggestion that I’m not getting it?

      I have some other questions to.

      1) We already know that “the script” was rational (at least from the point of view of the organization trying to avoid responsibility for doing harm), but who wrote the script that you had to follow? And why did they write it?
      2) Was the script equally rational for all people who were receiving the vaccine? It seems to me that the script was rationale for the organization, but irrational for the people getting the vaccine. It also seems to me that the fact that the organization deemed it necessary to control information flow, even to the point of punishing violators, undermines your entire argument. It wasn’t rationale behaviour that motivated them to follow, it was fear of being punished.
      3) why did you not follow the script? According to your theory you should have acted rationally, and without question. So why didn’t you? Were you too stupid to make the rational choice (I don’t believe that for a second), or were you perhaps operating outside the corporate “framework.” Maybe you wanted to do the “right” think and let the people know they were being experimented on.

      Please don’t go off on a tangent, Tim. I’ve numbered the questions I have for you and I expect you to address them one by one. If you think you’re smarter than I am, more knowledgeable, better informed about sociology, psychology, and biology than I am, then fine. Prove it by answering my questions. You say I don’t understand, well, EXPLAIN IT TO ME THEN. Answer my questions. Address my criticisms. If you ever want to have more than a snowflakes chance in hell of getting into graduate school and completing it successfully, you need to learn to respond to questions. Otherwise you’re just blowing it out your arse.

      m

  17. Hi Rucy,

    You said: ‘I watched the video but I believe that humans differ in that they have the capacity to think and be independent thinkers rather than acting as a whole like the examples of flocking and schooling given in the video.’

    But if this is true, then how is it that we can so accurately predict what large groups of people are going to do? For example, if people didn’t flock, the free market system would fall apart. Think about a grocery shop. If people didn’t act predictably, there would be shortages one day, terrible wastage the next. But instead, demand is pretty much constant and predictable.

    Equally, the crime rate remains steady otherwise the police force couldn’t make plans.

    So where is the evidence of people not flocking?

  18. Hi Tim,

    “But if this is true, then how is it that we can so accurately predict what large groups of people are going to do?”

    One word: Sheeple. [Editorial note, please don’t use derogatory terms to describe the people of this planet. people are not sheeple. that’s just a mean thing to say.]

    i was referring to those who can step out of the norm-who are usually chastised for doing so, or referred to as ‘odd’-who think independently from the group. Not everyone rushes to the electronic store for the latest Iphone and not everyone needs a flock to identify with.

    I agree, people can be predictable especially the ones who have a tendency to flock or school.

    As you stated emergent behavior is the unpredictable outcome that arises out of a combination of actions that occur beyond the naked eye, supposedly. What I am saying is that people have cognitive skills that allow them perception and conception and some people have more enhanced skills to where they can see beyond the surface of the maya. These independent thinkers can seperate wheat from the chaff and milk from the water. They have the ability to discern what is created illusion by the System by observing patterns.

  19. Hi Mike,

    Answers.

    1) A committee of medical doctors wrote the script for the NHS, the government funded and operated organisation tasked with keeping the English population healthy. It was designed to allow a layman to confirm there was no immediate need to call an ambulance, the symptoms were not indicating something more serious than the flu and, if all these criteria were satisfied and the patient was exhibiting flu symptoms, give them free (paid for by the taxpayer) Tamiflu of which there was a physically limited supply. It was also necessarily designed to be a legally sound operation.

    2) To the first part … in my opinion, no. To the second, I believe it was the best that could be done given all the circumstances. The information was not controlled, it was freely available on the website. The call centre was originally set up to help people who did not have access to a computer because this entire process was also available to people on-line. However, people prefer talking to people, even if they get robotic responses.

    3) Free will. I exerted my individual agency. To the second part … no, according to my theory any individual can do whatever they like but it predicts that the vast majority will do the easiest thing because, well, it is the easiest thing. That is exactly what happened. My situation was openly talked in the call centre and even though most admired my stance and openly told me so, no one followed my example. The rest all followed the rules. It would have been a disaster if they had followed me because the most likely thing was everyone involved would end up unemployed because the private company would have lost the contract. That is the second part of my theory: even though everyone can do whatever they want, there is an automatic disempowering if you don’t do what you ‘should’.

    Bonus answer. I am not presuming I am smarter than you, more knowledgeable than you, and I’m certainly not better informed about sociology in general. I was serious when I said I am unable to argue as a classically trained sociologist. I do, however, know a quite a bit about sociology in the area of my interest, which is concerned with why people are doing what they are doing at the aggregate level. Challenging your understanding of emergent behaviour is not meant to be a challenge of your intelligence, overall knowledge of sociology or your competence or ‘rightness’ in other areas.

    I do, however, object some of your phrasing where it is designed to belittle what I have been trying to say and I have been responding to it. If you want me to clearly point this out where I believe this has happened, I will be pleased to do so.

    To me, it seems you are flavouring your generous proportion of kindness and openness with a sprinkling of sarcasm and condescension. A little spice goes a long way.

    Tim

    PS – As to your accusation that I’m an apologist: what about our apology to the people we are harming through our western lifestyle? If the rich ‘They’ must be held responsible, then so must we for we continue to bathe in western riches that directly cause enormous damage to the world. The poor countries know this. To the rest of the world, we are the rich elite.

    Would you be willing for you and your family to stand up before a world court and answer to a charge living a lifestyle that recklessly and selfishly used up far more than our fair share of the world’s resources, contributing to the destruction of the world’s ecosystem, destabilising the climate, while leaving the rest of humanity to wallow in relative poverty?

    And to directly answer your question here: I believe people are responsible for their actions once they are adults. The more power they wield, the more responsible they become. And I believe some corporate executives have a very great deal to answer for. But so does everyone living a western life style.

    I also believe that as long as we have this social structure, we will always find terrible things being done in the name of money. I believe that personal awareness and/or personal choice or even law will not change this reality as long as this social structure remains intact because it empowers selfish choice. It makes it the easiest thing to do, the same way you will use a great deal of energy today even though you know it is costing the world a great deal.

    • 1) A committee of medical doctors wrote the script for the NHS, the government funded and operated organisation tasked with keeping the English population healthy. It was designed to allow a layman to confirm there was no immediate need to call an ambulance, the symptoms were not indicating something more serious than the flu and, if all these criteria were satisfied and the patient was exhibiting flu symptoms, give them free (paid for by the taxpayer) Tamiflu of which there was a physically limited supply. It was also necessarily designed to be a legally sound operation.

      clearly however the script was about more than just what you state above. You haven’t answered my question. What you’ve given is the “system” response, but other political and economic factors went into the creation of the script. no?

      To me, it seems you are flavouring your generous proportion of kindness and openness with a sprinkling of sarcasm and condescension. A little spice goes a long way.

      it seems the only way to get you to address questions. And anyway, despite the fact that you say you’ve addressed issues, you haven’t. You have tended to sidestep questions and just talk about how I, and before me your supervisor, didn’t “get it.”

      PS – As to your accusation that I’m an apologist: what about our apology to the people we are harming through our western lifestyle? If the rich ‘They’ must be held responsible, then so must we for we continue to bathe in western riches that directly cause enormous damage to the world. The poor countries know this. To the rest of the world, we are the rich elite.

      Ya.

      Would you be willing for you and your family to stand up before a world court and answer to a charge living a lifestyle that recklessly and selfishly used up far more than our fair share of the world’s resources, contributing to the destruction of the world’s ecosystem, destabilising the climate, while leaving the rest of humanity to wallow in relative poverty

      Ya, and I’d be able to answer those charges with “we’re doing are best and we’re working on it.” I’ve devoted close to ten years working on the emotional, spiritual, and psychological level, trying to come up with a way to undo all the indoctrination that keeps us “flocking,” as you say.

      I live in a house with five people, one handicapped. I know our ecological footprint isn’t great, but it’s better than most other people I know. Between us, in a week, we probably eat as much meat as some individuals eat at a single meal. Our diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and healthy grains. We live in a big house but we have a man in a wheelchair so we need the space. there are things we could do better. If I had 30,000 in my pocket I could upgrade all my windows to the most energy efficient option, which would lower our heating bill considerably. If I had another 30,000 I could put in geothermal, thereby totally disconnecting us from the grid. Perhaps if the government stopped bending over for big oil, and started funding this sort of thing, or giving us tax breaks, I could do these things. But right now, with three mouths to feed and cloth, I just don’t have the spare resources. So many instead of pointing an accusatory finger at me, you could help educate the world about the need for a shift in government funding priorities that would make the sorts of things that you and I both know are necessary, easier.

      And to directly answer your question here: I believe people are responsible for their actions once they are adults. The more power they wield, the more responsible they become. And I believe some corporate executives have a very great deal to answer for. But so does everyone living a western life style

      amen, brother.

      I also believe that as long as we have this social structure, we will always find terrible things being done in the name of money. I believe that personal awareness and/or personal choice or even law will not change this reality as long as this social structure remains intact because it empowers selfish choice. It makes it the easiest thing to do, the same way you will use a great deal of energy today even though you know it is costing the world a great deal

      Hallelujah and amen!!

      I think your right in the broad outline, I think its in the details where some refinement needs to take place.

      Personally, I believe that the first step in getting rid of The System as I like to call it is to change people’s ideas. this is not an easy process since it involves delving deep into the archetypes of this planet. Changing the structure of the system in order to facilitate “good” behaviour, what you want to do, comes as step two. The system is built by people and until you’ve changed the way people think, they’ll never change the system which they reproduce, whether consciously or not.

      that is why I keep pointing at agency. what makes agents act the way they do? you say structure, and sure structure has a powerful influence. But so do ideas. It is our ideas about things, the archetypes we use to govern the way we think about this world, that governs how we create the world we live in.

      “As above in consciousness, so below in matter,” as I like to say.

      Now ask me for some examples of how ideas govern action, and the creation of structure.

      m

  20. Hi Rucy,

    People are ‘sheeple’ where they aren’t paying attention. So someone who is conscious of the ethical problems in the meat industry becomes a home-cook vegetarian and tries to teach her children how to respect the environment. On the other hand, someone concerned with the approaching human population crisis eats main stream food but doesn’t have children. On the other hand, someone conscious of the approaching resource shortages hoards materials and tries to develop a non-consumptive life-style. On the other hand, someone who is concerned with the unfairness in the world tries to raise awareness by flying to different locations to protest.

    You are conscious where you are focused but the rest is on auto-pilot and it is all the rest where everyone is a sheeple.

    Tim

  21. “You are conscious where you are focused but the rest is on auto-pilot and it is all the rest where everyone is a sheeple.

    Tim”
    Touche Tim-

    and what a wonky quink!
    I was just discussing meat consumption with a couple classmates last night. How emergent! It must be that magic invisible hand at work once again, right? (Sorry, i have a tendency to over spice my food for some people’s bland taste buds).

    If I chose to eat meat it is a matter of choice and not becausee a flock eats meat. It is because I want to eat meat or not. Are you implying that people who consume meat do not respect the environment? Native Americans ate/eat meat and have a great respect for the earth. I am not following what sort of point you are trying to prove here.

    “On the other hand, someone conscious of the approaching resource shortages hoards materials and tries to develop a non-consumptive life-style. On the other hand, someone who is concerned with the unfairness in the world tries to raise awareness by flying to different locations to protest”

    I am not following what this has to do with following a crowd. It would appear to me that the people in the example are making choices but not seeing the full hypocrasy in them.

    Is this whole discourse about one upping the other? or is it a discussion?

  22. Hi Rucy,

    I sorry, can you please clarify your feeling that I am trying to ‘one up’ you? Examples might be helpful.

    About the meat: I personally don’t have a problem with eating meat, but the life our feed animals go through can be horrific. One ethical stance is that by eating meat we empower the torture of animals. Native Americans did not torture their food or act out of balance with nature.

    Here is a video hosted by Paul McCartney showing some of the cruelty that goes on in our industrial food supply. CAUTION: This is very graphic.

    http://www.meat.org/

    Tim

  23. clearly however the script more about more than just what you state above. You haven’t answered my question. What you’ve given is the “system” response, but other political and economic factors went into the creation of the script. no?

    No. I honestly don’t think so. I really am trying to answer your question. It seems to me you don’t believe my answer.

    I’m sure you know of the FORD case where they designed the Pinto, before it went into production discovered it could explode if rear-ended, did the math and discovered it would cost more to redesign and retool than it would covering the lawsuits, and so released it as is. We know this because one of FORD’s internal memos came out in court and the whole world learned of it.

    I mention this not to educate you, but to point out I am perfectly aware of corporate and government misdeeds. In the UK, there is a particularly aggressive media that has managed to ferret out all sorts of things from all the powerful groups operating in the country even utilising (it has been recently proven) illegal tactics such as hacking into private phone calls of the rich and powerful. The tables have turned on the media because they got caught hacking into the phones of the weak and vulnerable. In the meantime, it has come to light just how much and what the tools they were using to interfere with politics and the ‘opinion’ of the mass media (Rupert Murdoch in particular).

    I know a very great deal about how all this works. With the ‘script’ the only factors that were in play (as far as I’m aware) was the budget (after the fact, they were attacked for spending too much over this, by the way – the media featured a ‘reveal all’ story a few months that immediately and negatively impacted our jobs by making it far more regimented), the physical availability of Tamiflu, and the urgency with which they had to set up this new service for the public. As it turned out, there wasn’t much to this ‘pandemic’ but, as the NHS pointed out in their defense, had there could have been a more serious outbreak, what would the public be saying if thousands had been killed and they had spent less?

    So, if I am still not answering your question, please let me know what you think I am leaving out.

    Despite the fact that you say you’ve addressed issues, you haven’t. You have tended to sidestep questions and just talk about how I, and before me your supervisor, didn’t “get it.” Maybe he did get it, and you didn’t.

    Maybe.

    Would you be willing for you and your family to stand up before a world court and answer to a charge living a lifestyle that recklessly and selfishly used up far more than our fair share of the world’s resources, contributing to the destruction of the world’s ecosystem, destabilising the climate, while leaving the rest of humanity to wallow in relative poverty

    Ya, and I’d be able to answer those charges with “we’re doing are best and we’re working on it.”

    This is exactly the response most ‘elite’ will tell you as well. Some will be lying, some are crooks, but I would suggest most are honestly trying their best. For example, they will tell you they give billions to charities (Bill Gates) and use their fortunes for good. I would also suggest that the same crook/good ratio exists in our class, and the same can be said about the poorest people of the earth. However, I would argue, elite ‘crooks’ make a much bigger and more memorable splash in society.

    what makes agents act the way they do? you say structure, and sure structure has a powerful influence. But so do ideas. It is our ideas about things, the archetypes we use to govern the way we think about this world, that governs how we create the world we live in.

    Now ask me for some examples of how ideas govern action, and the creation of structure.

    Okay. Please show me some examples of how ideas govern action, and the creation of structure. I am honestly interested in what I would call the ‘border line’ here because I do believe ideas are powerful at one level, but I’m about to outline why I believe structure is dominant at the global level.

    ***

    Here’s my argument. Emergent behaviour is used by nature to create fantastically complex social structures that can build things that baffle our scientists today. The goal of engineers and scientists is frequently to be ‘as good as nature’ and we rarely succeed. Emergent behaviour is a force that human beings respond to which is why there are now organisations dedicated to using it to save people’s lives during large events, for example. http://www.safercrowds.com/

    Most experts believe human beings can’t perceive emergent behaviour without artificial aid – our brains simply aren’t built the right way.

    Artificial evolution is emergent behaviour operating through time (because the fitness test adds emergent temporal forces). That is the only difference.

    Fact: People respond to emergent forces.
    Fact: Emergent forces are the main forces utilised by artificial evolution.
    Fact: Every system we know of with the prerequisites to enter artificial evolution has done so.
    Fact: The rules of modern society precisely fulfil the conditions necessary to create artificial evolution. The rules dictate that the fitness test is creating emergent evolutionary solutions to solve for money concentration over all other things.
    Hypothesis: Modern society is acting as an artificial evolutionary problem-solving system with a goal of money concentration over all other things.
    Experimental evidence: if true, then regardless of the details within, anyone who creates a global societal simulator that fulfils the evolutionary conditions as stated will find their simulator closely matching historical human societal patterns.
    The Null Hypothesis: build a global societal simulator with the evolutionary conditions as stated and the patterns remain noticeably different from historical human society.

    I have built said simulator. Havng build over 200 versions, the detail within has been radically changed. They are all frighteningly close to historical societal patterns. It is likely that they could be used as a predictive tool.

    I would be very interested in your scientific argument against this and what evidence you have to back it up.

    • So, if I am still not answering your question, please let me know what you think I am leaving out.

      Nope, I’m happy now with your answers. now you’re answering my questions. before you weren’t, but now you are.

      Okay. Please show me some examples of how ideas govern action, and the creation of structure. I am honestly interested in what I would call the ‘border line’ here because I do believe ideas are powerful at one level, but I’m about to outline why I believe structure is dominant at the global level.

      Ok, I’m a psychopathologist. My wife and I deal with additions, victims of abuse, people with high levels of social trauma, and so on. Of the biggest struggles that we come up against is “archetypal.” Archetypes are basically “big question” questions, answers to questions like “why are we here” or “what’s the purpose of incarnation, etc.” IN developing successful therapeutic practice, dealing with these ideas is a major factor. People often believe that they have “chosen” their lives, or that they deserve to be punished, or that they are not strong enough, and end up with low motivation and low sense of self-efficacy as a result. If you’re not motivated to make changes, and if you don’t believe you can make changes, you tend to avoid action. Getting people to realize they haven’t chosen abuse, they don’t deserve it, and that they are strong enough (maybe with a little professional help), is a major goal of the initial phases of therapy. Otherwise people have a hard time taking action.

      Fact: ideas have a major impact on action potentials, or lack thereof.

      At very deep levels, how we perceive the world is a critical factor. Our beliefs about things are important because what be believe determines our action, or lack thereof. Lots of questions emerge from this, like where do our ideas come from, how can they be changed, what’s the relationship between Hollywood and our ideas, and so on.

      But anyway, back to your argument, which has a curious absence of the appreciation of ideas….

      and please bare with me as I try and figure out what you are saying.

      Fact: People respond to emergent forces.

      Ok, first of all, let’s pin down what an “emergent force” is. What is an emergent force? is this like a magical force of nature that just magically creates conditions for magical evolutionary success, or what?

      as a side note, you clearly understand the “invisible” hand in things. so why try and erase it with this talk of structure. and before you say “i’m not trying to erase it,” why does none of your theory include an analysis of ideas. You ever read Anthony Giddens? He takes into account structure and agency and has been doing so for decades, so my question is, why are you taking a step backwards to what appears to be a less sophisticated, more reductionist approach?

  24. Ok, I’m a psychopathologist. My wife and I deal with additions, victims of abuse, people with high levels of social trauma, and so on. Of the biggest struggles that we come up against is “archetypal.” Archetypes are basically “big question” questions, answers to questions like “why are we here” or “what’s the purpose of incarnation, etc.” IN developing successful therapeutic practice, dealing with these ideas is a major factor. People often believe that they have “chosen” their lives, or that they deserve to be punished, or that they are not strong enough, and end up with low motivation and low sense of self-efficacy as a result. If you’re not motivated to make changes, and if you don’t believe you can make changes, you tend to avoid action. Getting people to realize they haven’t chosen abuse, they don’t deserve it, and that they are strong enough (maybe with a little professional help), is a major goal of the initial phases of therapy. Otherwise people have a hard time tak!
    ing action.

    Well, my mother was a social worker who had impact in the practice and the two key publications in my house were New Scientists and Psychology Today. I’ve spent much of my life working with emotionally/physically damaged people and am very pleased to say that I have had great success.

    Now, I say this gently, but so what? Isn’t the purpose of science to work with argument and evidence in the absence of the subjective? Why does it matter who says it? How does any qualification or experience or gender or previous success or job or age alter the validity of anyone’s argument or evidence?

    The thing about my experience with academia that has been making me wince is how quickly sociologists leap to my (lack of) qualification/experience to argue against me. This has no place in scientific method at all. Worse, no one addresses the actual argument or evidence having felt they won an early victory on the grounds of qualification, or worse, semantics.

    You are the exception in that you are asking. Thank you for that.

    Fact: ideas have a major impact on action potentials, or lack thereof.

    At very deep levels, how we perceive the world is a critical factor. Our beliefs about things are important.

    Indeed. But isn’t it interesting just how far away many peoples’ common understandings support wealth creation and work against known human nature. If further explanation of this would help, please refer to http://humansos.org/hope.htm (scroll down to ‘Mind Games’).

    Ok, first of all, let’s pin down what an “emergent force” is. What is an emergent force? is this like a magical force of nature that just magically creates conditions for magical evolutionary success, or what?

    I don’t think it is my place to say when academic literature is groaning with the weight of articles about emergent behaviour. For the non-academic :-), there is always Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

    Samples in academic sociology (the result of a quick search, not necessarily recommendations)

    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/rev/110/1/3/
    http://www.mendeley.com/research/emergence-artificial-life-15/
    http://ann.sagepub.com/content/604/1/82.short
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/3135003
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.14.7049&rep=rep1&type=pdf
    http://www.springerlink.com/index/0w3p9cfh04gj49wq.pdf
    http://gendocs.ru/docs/17/16559/conv_1/file1.pdf
    http://www.mendeley.com/research/emergent-phenomena-and-multiorganizational-coordination-in-disasters-lessons-from-the-research-literature/
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/84/4/620/

    However, as I noted earlier, I think the physical sciences are much clearer about describing emergent behaviour.

    Another quick search:

    http://www.mendeley.com/research/exploiting-emergent-behaviour-in-multiagent-systems/
    http://candy.yonsei.ac.kr/courses/03EC/poon96emergent.pdf
    http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/11478/4/indexcodes.txt
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1360138500016484
    http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=4053581
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sres.3850060302/abstract

    Again, since I was kicked out of academia and cannot afford to access most of them, I cannot personally vouch for any of these. But that’s what peer-review is for, right. :-)

    As an aside, I think Bruno Latour’s ‘Science in Action’ is applicable to my academic experience.

    Have a good day.

    • Now, I say this gently, but so what? Isn’t the purpose of science to work with argument and evidence in the absence of the subjective? Why does it matter who says it? How does any qualification or experience or gender or previous success or job or age alter the validity of anyone’s argument or evidence?

      This is just a ridiculous statement and is so profoundly naive as to be virtually un-salvageable. gender isn’t important, but experience is. The books you’ve read, the training you have, the perspectives you have gained, are fucking critical. Are you kidding me? Of course, you don’t have to have a credential to say something, but that doesn’t mean you can say whatever, whenever, and not pay attention to those who are older and wiser than you trying to teach you something. Age, experience, wisdom, the decades spent teaching, the thousands of books and monographs, the countless hours thinking, these all count. My God, you sound like some arrogant 17 year old adolescent with self esteem issues.

      Maybe you got booted from graduate school because you were too dam arrogant to think you might actually have something to learn from your elders. Is that you think, Tim, you got all the answers already?

      The thing about my experience with academia that has been making me wince is how quickly sociologists leap to my (lack of) qualification/experience to argue against me. This has no place in scientific method at all. Worse, no one addresses the actual argument or evidence having felt they won an early victory on the grounds of qualification, or worse, semantics.

      see, now you’re whining. I am trying to address your arguments, but ever time I disagree with you or challenge you you say “boo hoo but nobody understand me and nobody gets it and nobody wants to deal with teh evidence.” For God’s sake Tim. You’re the one that is displaying avoidant behaviour here. So, I’m going to repeat my last question to you. Please try not to avoid my question by getting other people to answer it ok? And try and become aware of the rather profound contradiction in your approach. You accuse me of not listening, and not understanding, you accuse academics of jumping to conclusions, but that’s ridiculous. I am listening to you, I am trying to understand what you are thinking, and i”m not jumping to conclusions. If I was why would I press you to answer questions?

      Do you see what I’m saying here Time? I am interested in what you’re saying, and I’m asking you what you think. So instead of huffping and puffing at windmills why don’t you prove to me, like any good scientists would do, that you actually understand what it is you are talking about. And if you don’t understand, have the basic scientific good sense to admit that and keep working at it.

      Now, to return to my question…

      You say that humans respond to “emergent forces.”

      What is an emergent force? Is this like a magical force of nature that just magically creates conditions for magical evolutionary success, or what?

      Now, istead of avoiding answering this question Tim, put it in your own words. What do you mean when you say humans respond to “forces.” And FYI, in my opinion, you’re getting it wrong. there are no “forces” involved here. According to this article, emergent behavior is an algorithmic/programmed response to environmental conditions. There is no “force” here other than the “force” of evolutionarily coded “conditional decision rules,” which are INTERNAL to the organism. At the core this stuff on emergent behavior seems quite incompatible with any suggestion of “forces,” be they spiritual, cognitive, or even evolutionary.

      Correct me if I have this wrong.

  25. I apologise for posting twice: but one other thing –

    You said:

    Fact: ideas have a major impact on action potentials, or lack thereof.

    At very deep levels, how we perceive the world is a critical factor. Our beliefs about things are important.

    so anyway, back to your argument, which has a curious absence of the appreciation of ideas….

    This work arose on the foundation that something was influencing what people believed and what they believed was then generating action. My big question was: what was making people believe the same things at a deep level things that were obviously detrimental to people?

    And just to prove that I’m not pulling rabbits out of hats, the first public move I made in developing this work was to publish a book called Beyond Belief: Living Outside the Belief Box (2003). My core theory was not yet developed, but at the time I thought all people had to do was see the problem with what I called ‘belief boxes’. Naively, I was really surprised (shocked really) when people didn’t ‘get it’.

    • This work arose on the foundation that something was influencing what people believed and what they believed was then generating action. My big question was: what was making people believe the same things at a deep level things that were obviously detrimental to people?

      Ok, so if get this right, you are saying

      [something] generates -> beliefs generates -> action

      so what is that something in the box? Magical forces of nature I suppose, right?

      You also never answered by question about Giddens. I’m assuming you’ve never read any Giddens. The stuff he wrote on structuration is directly relevant to your thinking here. If I was your academic supervisor I’d require you to go read some Giddens. But you don’t like being told do you? You like to think you already got all the answers. And then, when that is challenged, you like to accuse your challengers of failing to understand.

  26. This is just a ridiculous statement and is so profoundly naive as to be virtually un-salvageable.

    To first order, all insults are projection. You know far more about yourself than anyone else. But let’s check.

    Ad hominem is a fallacy. It is a fallacy when used as insult or as praise. If you’re really experienced and trained, you should be able to explain your perspective. Your age and wisdom should give you the power to communicate better; you should not have to resort to browbeating.

    Does not sagacity imply patience? Perhaps I need to rethink this implication….

    Caring so much about credentials makes it look like you don’t think your explanation can stand on its own merits.

    If you really think the exchange is so worthless, why are you prolonging it? Your words and actions are dissonant. Either you’re misleading us about how worthless you think it is, or your actions are ignoring your own rational conclusions. I can safely conclude you’re either in the habit of being misleading, in which case this debate isn’t worth the effort to decode, or I can safely conclude you’re in the habit of being irrational, in which case I cannot safely assume the unstated underpinnings of your points are what they seem to be. In which case decoding the debate isn’t worth the effort.

    I don’t know about Tim, but no, I really don’t like being told to go read something. Are you going to sell Giddens, convince me it’s not a waste of time, or is respect for your self-proclaimed age and wisdom supposed to be sufficient? Going to offer a teaser, maybe?

    There should be a latin name for ‘go read X, ‘ as it seems like a fallacy. ‘Go read X’ is not an argument, and should not convince anyone of anything.

    For comparison, the rational, patient response, if you really think Tim would agree with you after reading X is to simply say so. “Hey Tim, I think you’ll agree with me after reading Giddens, and I’m not willing to seriously debate with you until you do.” As you were unwilling to state that Tim was unqualified to debate with you, I can safely conclude you do not think this. This comparison is deeply unflattering to you.

    Which means I’m forced to conclude you’re being dishonest. Worse, I cannot determine whether you’re doing it on purpose or by carelessness. At least I can, on the available evidence, safely rule out irrationality.

    In conclusion, your debate style is lethally flawed, and it is readily apparently to anyone with the skill to think in straight lines. Approval of it is almost unambiguous indication of incompetence.
    The combination of rationality and dishonesty is well summarized as sophistry. The evidence is that you are a sophist.

    I would perform the same analysis on Tim. But, as I paraphrase, a “well-read, well trained, older, wiser professional,” I hold you to a higher standard. A standard which you have spectacularly failed to live up to.

    You should tremble in the face of the standard I hold myself to, which is higher even yet.

    • This is just a ridiculous statement and is so profoundly naive as to be virtually un-salvageable.

      To first order, all insults are projection. You know far more about yourself than anyone else. But let’s check.

      Um, I didn’t attack anybody. All I said was the statement was ridiculous. People make ridiculous statements all the time, this is not necessarily a reflection on them, but simply a reflection on the statement. Anybody who is going to get by at graduate levels of education is going to have to be able to deal with direct criticism without crumbling, or running away.

      If you really think the exchange is so worthless, why are you prolonging it

      You’re putting words into my mouth. I don’t think the exchange is worthless. In fact, quite the opposite. I think the exchange is valuable not only for what it teaches about critical discourse, but also because I believe Tim is onto something. The problem is Tim’s hasn’t thought it through properly, for whatever reason. And I’m guessing he’s not going to now because his bodily ego is bruised. He’s not going to want to expose his assumption to the light of critical reason because I think if he does, he is afraid his pet theory is going to go down in flames. Which is too bad really because I think he’s onto something, and so it may not go down like he thinks. Question for me is, has he got the intellectual gumption to “put it out there.”

      I don’t know about Tim, but no, I really don’t like being told to go read something

      Well, I wasn’t talking to you. And even if I was, tough cookies. That’s the nature of higher education. In higher ed one person is always telling someone else to go read something. This is especially true in graduate school and beyond. If you don’t want to go read it, fine, your choice. Whatever. Just don’t waste our time here and don’t try and tell us you know better, because you don’t. Graduate levels of education are all about a co-operative, learning process. Heck, even undergraduates need to learn to “read” what they are told to read. Which kinda makes me wonder, where are you coming from?

      As you were unwilling to state that Tim was unqualified to debate with you

      I don’t think I said that, I just said “I know a lot more than you Tim, so you should listen to what I”m saying, because maybe its relevant, and maybe I can help you.” Again, that is the nature of graduate school. That’s what having advisors and supervisors is all about. If you can’t deal with that, then you’re going to wash out of graduate school. Bottom line. I guess though if Tim thinks he has it sorted then that’s his conclusion. I don’t agree, and neither did his graduate adviser either, since he didn’t complete his graduate training.

      In conclusion, your debate style is lethally flawed, and it is readily apparently to anyone with the skill to think in straight lines

      Well I think you’re building a straw man, associating me with that straw man, and then beating that straw man with a stick. That started when you put words into my mouth and continued with your accusations of dishonesty, and so on. I’m not being dishonest. I have a lot of respect for Tim’s thinking, but I don’t feel he’s “out of the woods” so to speak. I think there are some things he needs to think about, and some books he needs to read, and some ego-blockages and attitudes he needs to fix, before he can present his thinking to the world in an acceptable fashion. But that’s just what I think. He’s probably thinking he knows better than me at this point, as are you I guess, and that’s fine.

      Whatever.

      I mean, I really have no interest in arguing. If Tim doesn’t think I have something useful to contribute to his process, fine. If not, fine. Nobody was holding a gun to his head and forcing him to post.

      You should tremble in the face of the standard I hold myself to, which is higher even yet.

      lol. oh ya?! What standard is that? and why should I be afraid of it? That’s a funny way to end a conversation Mr. With a threat? Are you going to have the gumption to expose your thinking to the the world and tell us what you really mean by that phrase? Or are you going to hide behind ambiguity and private self-satisfaction like so many other “brothers” who think they know, but really don’t.

      m

  27. The problem is Tim’s hasn’t thought it through properly, for whatever reason. And I’m guessing he’s not going to. He’s not going to want to expose his assumption to the light of critical reason because I think if he does, his pet theory is going to go down in flames. Which is too bad really because I think he’s onto something. Question for me is, has he got the intellectual gumption to “put it out there.”

    No, actually Tim is frustrated by the apparent lack of comprehension of what he is saying. For example:

    Tim said:

    Now, I say this gently, but so what? Isn’t the purpose of science to work with argument and evidence in the absence of the subjective? Why does it matter who says it? How does any qualification or experience or gender or previous success or job or age alter the validity of anyone’s argument or evidence?

    Mike responded:

    This is just a ridiculous statement and is so profoundly naive as to be virtually un-salvageable. gender isn’t important, but experience is. The books you’ve read, the training you have, the perspectives you have gained, are fucking critical. Are you kidding me? Of course, you don’t have to have a credential to say something, but that doesn’t mean you can say whatever, whenever, and not pay attention to those who are older and wiser than you trying to teach you something.

    To re-word what I quote of myself: Once the argument is formed, it lives or dies on its own merits. Consider ‘On a Heuristic View Concerning the Nature of Light’ (Einstein’s paper). Once the argument is formed, it matters not whether it is a senior physics academic, a nine year old kid next door, or a young (relatively ignorant) patent clerk who wrote it. It matters not whether they have huge life experience or almost none at all. It matters not whether they are acknowledged leading thinkers or a homeless person who had a stress induced dream. The argument is formed. Now, the only question remains is does it stand up to scrutiny?

    Can you please expand on your point as to how this is a ridiculous statement and is so profoundly naive as to be virtually un-salvageable?

    Then you build on your arguments by saying Maybe you got booted from graduate school because you were too dam arrogant to think you might actually have something to learn from your elders. Is that you think, Tim, you got all the answers already?

    Can you please expand on how this builds on our discussion? Perhaps I misunderstood and withdrew prematurely.

    Thank you,

    Tim

    • Now, I say this gently, but so what? Isn’t the purpose of science to work with argument and evidence in the absence of the subjective? Why does it matter who says it? How does any qualification or experience or gender or previous success or job or age alter the validity of anyone’s argument or evidence?

      This is a ridiculous and naive statement Tim because obviously qualification, past experience, age, gender, job experience it is all relevant. To say otherwise is so naive, I just don’t know where to start educating you on it. I mean, this isn’t to say that somebody with lots of education and qualification can’t be an idiot, they can. But to say that their education and qualifications are de facto irrelevant is… ridiculous, on a number of levels. And if you think otherwise, next time your car breaks down, bring it to me and I’ll charge you a thousand dollars and fix whatever is wrong with it. No guarantees though cause I have absolutely no experience, or training, with motor vehicles. But if you’re fool enough to ignore credentials and experience and qualification them I’m more than happy to take your money.

      And it’s not just this. Experience, credentials, gender, it all plays to how you see things, even how you think. If you think that the fact that your while maleness isn’t relevant to how you see and think, I got news for you. The fact that you have a penis means that every single person you’ve ever met has treated you differently and had different expectations, than if you had a vagina. And if you think that doesn’t impact you, or your thinking, or your perspectives, or even your mental health, then I don’t know what else to say but take a sociology 100 class and disabuse yourself of your sociological naivety.

      And it’s not just gender. Do some research in the Social Studies of Science because frankly, Tim, your epistemology is extremely naive. It’s undergraduate level at best. The fact that you can say “Once the argument is formed, it lives or dies on its own merits” shows just how naive you are to social, political, even economic factors that surround “arguments” and evidence. Take the placebo effect. That “little” effect is the single biggest piece of evidence for the power of consciousness over physical matter that there ever was. But the naïve materialism of the western mind totally discounts it, ignores it, and spins it as a “problem” to be controlled. The evidence has been there for a hundred years, but few people grok the significance. Why? Because of their experience, education, credentials, naïve materialist perspective, and whatever makes them blind to the significance. I suppose that naivety is “ok” coming from a psychologist or a natural scientist (and by OK I mean, not a surprise), but from somebody who is presuming to speak sociology, it’s not acceptable. You should display a more sophisticated epistemological and ontological awareness and if you don’t, then you shouldn’t presume to speak sociology. Stick with the natural sciences where things are simpler and more “black and white,” and where your statements about “invisible forces” will be less likely to raise eyebrows and draw challenge.

      And honestly Tim, that kind of statement is usually made by a polemicist, or an ideologue, or a propagandist, or or apologist for the status quo, or an arrogant S.O.B., convinced of the superiority of their position. Are you one of the above Tim? I don’t know. I think so because you haven’t addressed a single one of my questions. Every time I ask a question, or make a statement (like “go read Giddens”), you come back with this bullshit that I don’t understand what you’re saying. Well if that’s true Tim, and I don’t understand, then SCHOOL ME. Answer my questions starting with the one below which I’ve asked multiple times now.

      You say that humans respond to “emergent forces” and that that therein lies the solution to all the world’s problem. Ok. But what is an emergent force? Is this like a magical force of nature that just magically creates conditions for magical evolutionary success, or what? I this “god” in another guise? Or are you pretending to be Yoda. Are you going to start talking about the dark side and the light side now and asking us to “use the force” or what?

      Time, what’s an emergent force? And please, put it in your own words in a way that this dumb ass Sociology professor can understand because I really want to know where you’re coming from and what you’re talking about.

      Last time I asked you this question you pointed me to this article which I thought was basically saying that emergent behavior is an algorithmic/programmed response to environmental conditions. To me the article is saying there is no “force” here other than the “force” of evolutionarily coded “conditional decision rules” which are INTERNAL to the organism. The irony here is that the first article in the list you pointed to me makes an argument that seems quite incompatible with any suggestion of “forces,” be they spiritual, cognitive, or even evolutionary. According to the article, emergent behaviour is what happens when organisms respond to the environment in a collective fashion. No “force” needs to be involved there. Just evolutionary programs. So am I right or wrong in that interpretation Tim? If I’m wrong, please explain what you mean by “force.” If I’m right, please tell me how you are going to preserve your “faith” in emergent forces.

      And please, stop avoiding the questions. These are legitimate questions on your position and if all you can do in response is accuse me of not understanding, or cite articles that seem to contradict your position, then I don’t know what to say except this conversations ends now unless you answer the questions.

      As for you getting booted from graduate school, all I’m saying is, maybe it was your confounded, stubborn, refusal to answer questions and listen to advice that got you booted from graduate school. I know if I was your supervisor and you didn’t take my reading advice, and you didn’t answer my questions, and you repeatedly accused me of not understanding, and you assumed that my credentials weren’t relevant, and you repeatedly made it known that didn’t have anything to learn from me, I’d have kicked you out to. Why would I waste my time trying to teach someone who clearly knows it all already.

  28. You might be interested to know that the research referred to in this discussion just got accepted by a peer-reviewed academic journal.

  29. The idea I present above are now published in a peer-reviewed academic journal called JASSS.

    http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/17/3/3.html

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