Adoption as Genetic Strategy? Americans, Indians, and the Mongols

If a man adopt a child and to his name as son, and rear him, this grown son can not be demanded back again. …

If a man, who had adopted a son and reared him, founded a household, and had children, wish to put this adopted son out, then this son shall not simply go his way. His adoptive father shall give him of his wealth one-third of a child’s portion, and then he may go. He shall not give him of the field, garden, and house.

The Code of Hammurabi, lines 185-191

This post was inspired by a friend’s question: Can adoption of non-kin be a viable genetic (or memetic) strategy?

The full version of the question was more like, “Liberals are more positive toward interracial marriage, leading to more genetic variation in liberal communities. Could adoption be a similarly viable strategy for Conservatives, by increasing the ethnic diversity of the people who believe in their memetic values?”

Adoption could also work by just increasing sheer numbers of conservatives, even if it does nothing to genetic diversity.

My first thought was, “That sounds a lot like what the Amercan Indians were trying to do when they kidnapped and adopted white children, and I think Genghis Khan did something similar with the children of subjugated peoples.”

These customs stand in contrast to groups that have historically attempted to wipe out their enemy’s children, like the entire rest of the Mongol conquests, so I thought this question worth exploring.

But there’s a lot here that first needs unpacking. For starters, despite what people claim to believe, conservatives actually have very slightly higher interracial marriage rates than whites and are more likely to live in multi-ethnic households.

Let’s get some graphs.

PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-03 PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-05 PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-06 PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-07 PP-2014-06-12-polarization-3-08 sdt-2012-rise-of-intermarriage-37 sdt-2012-rise-of-intermarriage-36 sdt-2012-rise-of-intermarriage-34

The data is clear: atheists are the most hated minority in the country, followed by gun owners. (I jest; people are actually pretty polite to atheists, and you’re rude to a gun owner at your own risk.)

America’s most prominent ethnic division is actually between “liberals” and “conservatives,” a feature reflected in attitudes toward “gun owners” and “atheists.” Most Ameicans don’t think of this as an ethnic difference (even though it is,) just because they aren’t all that conscious of the different ethnic settlement patterns that influenced the modern political distribution.

Jayman's map of the American Nations
Jayman’s map of the American Nations

Or to put it another way, there isn’t anything magical in the dirt in Massachusetts or South Carolina that has been turning the people there liberal or conservative for the past 300 years or so. The difference is mostly ethnicity–some ethnicities are just more liberal or conservative–but a lot of people (even people who loudly claim that there’s more intraracial than interracial variation,) regard all whites as one great big undifferentiated ethic mass that just happens to hold different opinions in different regions.

The majority of Americans (even the majority of very conservative Americans, however many of those there are,) claim to care more about one’s beliefs (and actions) than about superficial things like skin tone or the geographic origin of one’s ancestors.

This is anti-tribalism.

Tribalism (the human norm,) states that it is morally correct to overlook differences of opinion within your own group, (family, clan, tribe, nation, ethnic group, ethnie, thede, race, clade, take your pick,) and always side with your group against outsiders.

So Americans are perfectly okay with saying that they would not want to marry someone who holds belief they disagree with, but look askance at saying they have an ethnic preference. (Which explains why, even when people say things that are quite negative about outgroup members, they tend to quite vociferously object that they are not “racist” because their objection is not to the outgroup’s appearances, but to their behaviors.)

But what people say and what they do are different matters. According to Volokh:

…among families with step-children or adopted children, 11 percent of conservatives were living in mixed race households compared to 10 percent of liberals living in mixed-race households.

Similarly, 9.4 percent of Republicans living in step- or adopted families were in mixed-race households, compared to only 8.8 percent of Democrats in such families. (Again, this small advantage for Republicans is not large enough to be statistically significant).

And looking at all children instead of non-related children,

  • 11.9% of conservatives live in mixed-race families compared to 11.4% of liberals.
  • 9.5% of Republicans live in mixed-race families compared to 11.2% of Democrats.

Unfortunately, I am having difficulty finding statistics on the exact % of conservatives/Republicans who are in mixed-race marriages vs. the % of liberals in mixed-race marriages–we may posit that there is a difference between an interracial couple with three interracial children and a white person who, on their third marriage, marries someone who already has a half-white child, but just eyeballing the data, I don’t think there’s going to be a huge statistical difference.

(The difference between “conservatives” and “Republicans” in the data is due to may conservative blacks and Hispanics not voting Republican.)

The folks who are most strongly anti-miscegenation tend to be old people (over the age of 65,) and the folks who are most likely to be in mixed-race households, conservative or liberal, are the minorities themselves–many blacks and Hispanics are married to each other.

If you look only at whites, according to Volokh,

2.0% of non-Hispanic white conservatives live in mixed-race families compared to 2.4% of non-Hispanic white liberals. …

2.8% of non-Hispanic white Republicans live in mixed-race families compared to 0.7% of non-Hispanic white Democrats.

Assuming these numbers are correct…

61% of whites say they’re okay with intermarriage, but only about 2% of them have mixed or other-race children, including step and adopted kids. Given the number of minorities in the country + random chance, about half of the whites who say they’re okay with intermarriage ought to have a mixed-race family–30% of whites, not 2%.

Of course, these folks would object that it’s not that they don’t like minorities, they just happen not to be around any they’ve fallen in love with. It’s not about superficial skin tones; it’s just something else that happens to be incredibly well correlated with superficial skin tones, like paying exorbitant rents in order to live in neighborhoods without any minorities in them. But those Republicans, dude, they’re like super racist.

What about the numbers on adoption?

The Wikipedia page on Adoption starts out nicely, then descends into gibbering mush. It has, tragically, very little information on non-Western adoption customs, and not as much as I’d hoped for on historical adoptions in the West. For that, we’ll have to search elsewhere.

But we’re still going to make use of it for the stats:

Australia 270 (2007–2008)[52] 254,000 (2004)[53] 0.2 per 100 live births Includes known relative adoptions
England & Wales 4,764 (2006)[54] 669,601(2006)[55] 0.7 per 100 live births Includes all adoption orders in England and Wales
Iceland between 20–35 year[56] 4,560 (2007)[57] 0.8 per 100 live births
Ireland 263 (2003)[58] 61,517 (2003)[59] 0.4 per 100 live births 92 non-family adoptions; 171 family adoptions (e.g. stepparent). 459 international adoptions were also recorded.
Italy 3,158 (2006)[60] 560,010 (2006)[61] 0.6 per 100 live births
New Zealand 154 (2012/13) [62] 59,863 (2012/13) [63] 0.26 per 100 live births Breakdown: 50 non-relative, 50 relative, 17 step-parent, 12 surrogacy, 1 foster parent, 18 international relative, 6 international non-relative
Norway 657 (2006)[64] 58,545(2006)[65] 1.1 per 100 live births Adoptions breakdown: 438 inter-country; 174 stepchildren; 35 foster; 10 other.
Sweden 1044(2002)[66] 91,466(2002)[67] 1.1 per 100 live births 10–20 of these were national adoptions of infants. The rest were international adoptions.
United States approx 127,000 (2001)[68] 4,021,725 (2002)[69] ~3 per 100 live births The number of adoptions is reported to be constant since 1987.

America has about 3 times the adoption rate as the rest of the West, and 15x Australia’s rate!

What’s up with that?

The most commonly given reason for wanting to adopt is infertility, and one of the big drivers of infertility is being overweight, (the other big one is being too old,) so perhaps Americans are just more prone to infertility.

We probably have a larger population of children in orphanages/foster care than the rest of the West, which might have inspired people over time to be more receptive to adoption.

Or perhaps we have a relatively unique view on the idea that family doesn’t have to be blood-related.

International adoptions, though they get a lot of press, are less than 15% of overall adoptions in the US; in Sweden, by contrast, they are over 99.999% of adoptions. (This may be due to few Swedish children being up for adoption.)

Also, according to Wikipedia, only 1.4% of ever-married American women adopt. (What about unmarried women?) So it sounds like the average adopting family adopts 2 or 3 kids.

 

Overall:

Unfortunately for our original inquiry, a 2% intermarriage rate is not going to do much, short term, to white genetics.

By contrast, intermarriage may be an effective strategy for forging genetic/memetic alliances among minorities.

An adoption rate of 3%, even if it were confined entirely to conservatives, isn’t doing much to overall numbers. As a memetic strategy, it is also constrained by the fact that political orientation, in adults, is determined largely by a combination of genetic personality factors and random chance.

The Shakers did an experiment along these lines: none (or extremely few) of the Shakers had children, because they didn’t believe in having sex. However, many Shakers adopted children, raising them in Shaker communities. No one forced these children to become Shakers, but it was certainly hoped that they would.

Most of them didn’t, and the Shakers have died out. (Technically, as of 2012, there were three elderly shakers left in Maine.) You just can’t replace yourself though adoption.

 

So tomorrow, let’s look at some cases where adoption might have played a larger genetic role: the Mongols, the Indians, and if I can find anything interesting on it, ancient Europeans.

The Neurology of Cross-Cultural Authority? pt 2

As we were discussing yesterday, I theorize that people have neural feedback loops that reward them for conforming/imitating others/obeying authorities and punish them for disobeying/not conforming.

This leads people to obey authorities or go along with groups even when they know, logically, that they shouldn’t.

There are certainly many situations in which we want people to conform even though they don’t want to, like when my kids have to go to bed or buckle their seatbelts–as I said yesterday, the feedback loop exists because it is useful.

But there are plenty of situations where we don’t want people to conform, like when trying to brainstorm new ideas.

Under what conditions will people disobey authority?

As we previously discussed, using technology to create anonymous, a-reputational conversations may allow us to avoid some of the factors that lead to group think.

But in person, people may disobey authorities when they have some other social systtem to fall back on. If disobeying an authority in Society A means I lose social status in Society A, I will be more likely to disobey if I am a member in good standing in Society B.

If I can use my disobedience against Authority A as social leverage to increase my standing in Society B, then I am all the more likely to disobey. A person who can effectively stand up to an authority figure without getting punished must be, our brains reason, a powerful person, an authority in their own right.

Teenagers do this all the time, using their defiance against adults, school, teachers, and society in general to curry higher social status among other teenagers, the people they actually care about impressing.

SJWs do this, too:



I normally consider the president of Princeton an authority figure, and even though I probably disagree with him on far more political matters than these students do, I’d be highly unlikely to be rude to him in real life–especially if I were a student he could get expelled from college.

But if I had an outside audience–Society B–clapping and cheering for me behind the scenes, the urge to obey would be weaker. And if yelling at the President of Princeton could guarantee me high social status, approval, job offers, etc., then there’s a good chance I’d do it.

But then I got to thinking: Are there any circumstances under which these students would have accepted the president’s authority?

Obviously if the man had a proven track record of competently performing a particular skill the students wished to learn, they might follow hi example.

Or not.

If authority works via neural feedback loops, employing some form of “mirror neurons,” do these systems activate more strongly when the people we are perceiving look more like ourselves (or our internalized notion of people in our “tribe” look like, since mirrors are a recent invention)?

In other words, what would a cross-racial version of the Milgram experiment look like?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone has tried it (and to do it properly, it’d need to be a big experiment, involving several “scientists” of different races [so that the study isn’t biased by one “scientist” just being bad at projecting authority] interacting with dozens of students of different races, which would be a rather large undertaking.) I’m also not finding any studies on cross-racial authority (I did find plenty of websites offering practical advice about different groups’ leadership styles,) though I’m sure someone has studied it.

However, I did find cross-racial experiments on empathy, which may involve the same brain systems, and so are suggestive:

From Racial Bias Reduces Empathic Sensorimotor Resonance with Other-Race Pain, by Avenanti et al:

Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, we explored sensorimotor empathic brain responses in black and white individuals who exhibited implicit but not explicit ingroup preference and race-specific autonomic reactivity. We found that observing the pain of ingroup models inhibited the onlookers’ corticospinal system as if they were feeling the pain. Both black and white individuals exhibited empathic reactivity also when viewing the pain of stranger, very unfamiliar, violet-hand models. By contrast, no vicarious mapping of the pain of individuals culturally marked as outgroup members on the basis of their skin color was found. Importantly, group-specific lack of empathic reactivity was higher in the onlookers who exhibited stronger implicit racial bias.

From Taking one’s time in feeling other-race pain: an event-related potential investigation on the time-course of cross-racial empathy, by Sessa et al.:

Using the event-related potential (ERP) approach, we tracked the time-course of white participants’ empathic reactions to white (own-race) and black (other-race) faces displayed in a painful condition (i.e. with a needle penetrating the skin) and in a nonpainful condition (i.e. with Q-tip touching the skin). In a 280–340 ms time-window, neural responses to the pain of own-race individuals under needle penetration conditions were amplified relative to neural responses to the pain of other-race individuals displayed under analogous conditions.

In Seeing is believing: neural mechanisms of action-perception are biased by team membership, Molenberghs et al. write:

In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how people perceive the actions of in-group and out-group members, and how their biased view in favor of own team members manifests itself in the brain. We divided participants into two teams and had them judge the relative speeds of hand actions performed by an in-group and an out-group member in a competitive situation. Participants judged hand actions performed by in-group members as being faster than those of out-group members, even when the two actions were performed at physically identical speeds. In an additional fMRI experiment, we showed that, contrary to common belief, such skewed impressions arise from a subtle bias in perception and associated brain activity rather than decision-making processes, and that this bias develops rapidly and involuntarily as a consequence of group affiliation. Our findings suggest that the neural mechanisms that underlie human perception are shaped by social context.

None of these studies shows definitevely whether or not in-group vs. out-group biases are an inherent feature of neurological systems, or Avenanti’s finding that people were more empathetic toward a purple-skinned person than to a member of a racial out-group suggests that some amount of learning is involved in the process–and that rather than comparing people against one’s in-group, we may be comparing them against our out-group.

At any rate, you may get similar outcomes either way.

In cases where you want to promote group cohesion and obedience, it may be beneficial to sort people by self-identity.

In cases where you want to guard against groupthink, obedience, or conformity, it may be beneficial to mix up the groups. Intellectual diversity is great, but even ethnic diversity may help people resist defaulting to obedience, especially when they know they shouldn’t.

A study by McKinsey and Company suggests that mixed-race companies outperform more homogenous companies:

web_diversity_matters_ex_mk_v2

but I can find other studies that suggest the opposite, eg, Women Don’t Mean Business? Gender Penalty in Board Appointments, by Isabelle Solal:

Using data from two panel studies on U.S. firms and an online experiment, we examine investor reactions to increases in board diversity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that appointing female directors has no impact on objective measures of performance, such as ROA, but does result in a systematic decrease in market value.

(Solal argues that investors may perceive the hiring of women–even competent ones–as a sign that the company is pursuing social justice goals instead of money-making goals and dump the stock.)

Additionally, diverse companies may find it difficult to work together toward a common goal–there is a good quantity of evidence that increasing diversity decreases trust and inhibits group cohesion. EG, from The downside of diversity:

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

As usual, I suspect there is an optimum level of diversity–depending on a group’s purpose and its members’ preferences–that helps minimize groupthink while still preserving most of the benefits of cohesion.

Cathedral Round Up #6: Dartmouth’s Diversity Scam

This month, I decided to take a look at Dartmouth, better known for drunken frat parties than Ivy League-style academic excellence.

Keggy the Keg, Dartmouth's mascot, even if the administration doesn't officially endorse him.
Keggy the Keg, Dartmouth’s mascot

So it turns out that being part of the Ivy League actually has nothing to do with academic excellence; it’s just an athletic conference. That’s right, the entire perception of academic prestige is due to Dartmouth and Harvard occasionally playing football together.

Dartmouth’s motto is Vox clamantis in deserto, which is Latin for “Help, I’m stuck in New Hampshire!”

Technically, that’s still better than Cornell’s motto, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

(That’s… not a motto.)

Dartmouth comes across like a culturally blue-tribe white frat guy who’s never actually met any black or Hispanic people, but knows that anti-racism is the difference between people like him and beer-swilling rednecks from the South.

Don’t ask me why; I hail from one of those regions where Prohibition is still in force.

As you would expect, Dartmouth is therefore trying to correct its “whiteness problem.”

From The Dartmouth, which bills itself as America’s Oldest Student Newspaper, Vice Provost Aims for Faculty Diversity:

Vice provost for academic initiatives Denise Anthony, who assumed the position last October, has been entrusted to help retain and recruit a diverse faculty at the College.”

Anthony is a sociologist whose specialty appears to be patient trust of electronic health care records, which doesn’t seem like an ideal background for the job, but then, it’s probably not hurting her. The article continues:

Anthony’s new position was publicized during College President Phil Hanlon’s “Moving Dartmouth Forward” speech late last month, in which he also said the College has committed $1 million per year to further this diversity initiative. …

Diversity is big business these days.

“To the extent that we are an educational institution and really training the next generation of thinkers and leaders, it is also necessary to have a diverse faculty to be training those leaders to recognize the value of diversity,” Anthony said.

If you were my student and you produced a sentence like that, I would circle it in red and tell you to fix it. There is no “extent” to which Dartmouth is an educational institution; Dartmouth is an educational institution.

Her goal, she said, is to increase recruitment and retention for underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans in a variety of fields and women in science.

I’m circling this one in red, too.

Any time a department does a faculty search, that department works with the dean to create a search committee. The $1 million in annual funds will go in part toward increasing resources for department search committees, such as websites and literature on unconscious bias that search committees can utilize before they commence a search, she said. These resources will be available to any department.

Wow, a million dollars to recommend a website!

The sheer level of scam astounds me. This woman is being given $1 million dollars a year to email links to other professors. Hey, Dartmouth, I’ll make you a deal: pay me a measly $900,000 per year, and I’ll email you all the links you want. You get to save $100,000, and my links will be much more entertaining.

Plus, I’ve got much better credentials.

Success for the program would mean an increase in the number of underrepresented faculty and in their retention, along with the full engagement of those faculty members.

Not the production of knowledge or education of students or any of those silly, results-based measures of “academic” success. After all, Anthony thinks Dartmouth is only an educational institution “to an extent.” Perhaps its other purpose is simply “to hire people.”

Anthony said she meets with faculty and staff from the Geisel School of Medicine and the Thayer School of Engineering daily to talk about diversity on a student and staff level.

Every day? What do they have to talk about?

Day One

Anthony: So, is the Engineering Department still mostly white?

Engineering Faculty: Yes.

Anthony: Well, that’s enough talk to justify billing this lunch to the department. Let’s get started on our appetizers.

Day Two

Anthony: So, is the Engineering Department still mostly white?

Engineering Faculty: … You know new students only really start school once a year, right? And that day wasn’t yesterday.

Anthony: Is that a yes?

Engineering Faculty: Yes.

Anthony: Well, that’s enough talk to justify billing this lunch to the department. Let’s get started on our appetizers.

Repeat ad nauseam. But moving on with the article…

Chair of the African and African American studies program and English professor Gretchen Gerzina, who has been teaching at the College for 10 years, said that she thinks faculty of color leave Dartmouth for a variety of reasons…

Gretchen Gerzina is about as black as Rachel Dolezal, complete with the fake-permed hair:

g-gerzina-photo

Rachel Dolezal
Rachel Dolezal

Yale has this same problem:

Elizabeth Alexander, poet
Elizabeth Alexander, poet, Yale professor

You know, I might think this is funny, but I bet actually black women don’t think it’s funny when majority white-DNA women perm their hair and take jobs meant for blacks.

Fact is, it is actually trivially simple to hire black people if you want to. There are, after all, nearly 42 million black people in this country, and even though Dartmouth is, as Gerzina notes, located in an isolated backwoods with little to do on a Friday night but attend frat parties, it still would not take much effort to find a couple hundred who would be willing to come write poetry and opine for Dartmouth’s students on the “African American experience.”

These might not be folks with the kind of credentials traditionally looked for in Ivy League professors, but it is easy to wave that away by pointing out, quite accurately, that such credential requirements disproportionately rule out black (and Hispanic) applicants.

But finding (and keeping) qualified black professors, especially in fields with technical requirements that you can’t just wave away, is much harder, hence the continuous demands that elite institutions allocate more money to attract them. Being even vaguely black is a high-demand commodity.

Let’s finish the article:

Between 2006 and 2013, Yale University had a faculty diversity initiative, which focused on increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty members and women in science. The initiative set the hiring goal of 30 minority and 30 female professors from 2006 until June 2013.  As of February 2013, the University was able to retain 22 minority and 18 female faculty members, one year after the university hired 56 minority and 30 female faculty members.

And look what a harmonious place Yale has become:

Meanwhile at The Dartmouth Review, Eyes Wide Open at the Protest:

Black-clad protesters gathered in front of Dartmouth Hall, forming a crowd roughly one hundred fifty strong.  Ostensibly there to denounce the removal of shirts from a display in Collis, the Black Lives Matter collective began to sing songs and chant their eponymous catchphrase. Not content to merely demonstrate there for the night, the band descended from their high-water mark to march into Baker-Berry Library.

“F*** you, you filthy white f***s!” “F*** you and your comfort!” “F*** you, you racist s***!”

These shouted epithets were the first indication that many students had of the coming storm.  The sign-wielding, obscenity-shouting protesters proceeded through the usually quiet backwaters of the library.  They surged first through first-floor Berry, then up the stairs to the normally undisturbed floors of the building, before coming back down to the ground floor of Novack.

Throngs of protesters converged around fellow students who had not joined in their long march. They confronted students who bore “symbols of oppression”: “gangster hats” and Beats-brand headphones.  The flood of demonstrators self-consciously overstepped every boundary, opening the doors of study spaces with students reviewing for exams. Those who tried to close their doors were harassed further. One student abandoned the study room and ran out of the library. The protesters followed her out of the library, shouting obscenities the whole way.

Students who refused to listen to or join their outbursts were shouted down.  “Stand the f*** up!”  “You filthy racist white piece of s***!”  Men and women alike were pushed and shoved by the group.  “If we can’t have it, shut it down!” they cried.  Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting “filthy white b****!” in her face.

The Dartmouth has a rebuttal article, which claims that,

“These allegations of physical assault are lies to make white students look like the victims and students of color to look like the perpetrators,” Abera said. “The protest was meant to shut down the library. Whatever discomfort that many white students felt in that library is a fraction of the discomfort that many Natives, blacks, Latina and LGBTQ people feel frequently.” …

Many of the demonstrators then approached the sitting students and chanted “F**k your white privilege” and “F**k your white asses,” demonstrator Dan Korff-Korn ’19 said.

“It was important to point out that the students sitting there in the library at the computers represented this greater degree of ignorance, apathy and privilege that you see at Dartmouth, …” Korff-Korn said. …

Comments such as “F*** your white privilege” were not personal or racist attacks on individual white persons in the library, Diakanwa said. Instead, these comments were meant to target the legacy of white supremacy that many students have benefited from and students of color are fighting against, he said.

Got that? “Fuck your white ass” is not supposed to be a personal or racist attack.

The Dartmouth also brings us The Death of Peaceful Protests? about no, not the difficulties of studying at Dartmouth, busy highways being shut down, convenience stores burned down by protestors, a police precinct occupied by protestors, or a man wearing a “Stop Killng Black Men” t-shirt getting his head bashed in with a hammer by a “Black Lives Matter” protester:

protest-hammer-los-angeles

(Also from the article about the guy hit with the hammer:

Some of the protesters made their way to a freeway in Oakland and blocked traffic. The California Highway Patrol said some tried to light a patrol vehicle on fire and threw rocks, bottles and an explosive at officers. Highway patrol officers responded with tear gas. [source])

No, it’s about some dudes in Oregon occupying a building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which, while lovely:

Malheur_Wildlife_Refuge_(Harney_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(harDA0014)

Is not exactly densely inhabited.

The Death of Peaceful Protests? claims that:

If the armed men were African-American, they would be called thugs. If they were Muslim, they would be called terrorists. The showdown between the armed protestors and the government illuminates a tremendous hypocrisy. We label violent groups based on the race or religion of their members.

Look, I am the first person to complain about inconsistent language use, but I’d like to see one credible news source that has called Time Magazine’s #4 Person of the Year “thugs.” I’d like to see a single non-violent (and until violence happens, I’m going to call this non-violent) Muslim take-over of a building in some rural part of the country called a “terrorist” act.

The author further argues:

The federal government has not been quick to respond due to its experience with right-wing militant groups in Waco and Ruby Ridge in the 1990s. …

Additionally, the occupation has exposed the government’s fear of antagonizing right-wing groups. Our nation’s leaders have given such extremists carte blanche. They can act with impunity. If the armed men were African-American or Muslim, the government would have mustered all of its strength to crush the opposition.”

Actually an image of the government crushing Black Lives Matter protesters
Actually an image of the Obama administration crushing Black Lives Matter protesters. Loretta Lynch is driving the first tank.

The government hasn’t been “hands off” with the Oregon militia thing because they’re afraid of antagonizing right-wing groups, (goodness knows militias aren’t exactly one of Obama’s core voting demographics,) or because we’ve somehow become more pro-white guys with guns since 1993, but because everyone basically agrees that this:

Waco Compound in Flames (source)
Branch Davidian Compound in Flames

is a really bad way for a standoff to end. From Texas Monthly, The Fire that Time:

We found the women and children huddled together, under blankets. There were 27 bodies, two of them pregnant women. They were covered in debris—not just construction debris but spent rounds of grenades and ammunition. I suspect that the blankets were moist, to try and keep out the smoke. But there was such a rip-roaring fire that they were trapped. That was the most profound and distressing aspect of this entire case. To see that mass of human remains was a horrific thing for all of us. …

Many of the Davidian children’s remains went unclaimed because whole families were dead or their relatives were too poor to pay for funeral services or no one wanted them. And so all those bodies that had been at the coroner’s office were buried, without markers, in paupers’ graves in a Waco cemetery.

Martin We had to stand behind the caution tape. We watched them bring out coffin after coffin and drop them in the ground. It was a horrible thing.

No one really cares about some random building in rural Oregon, even if there are some guys with guns holed up in it.
In our final article from The Dartmouth, Educated Action reminds us that young people vote liberal, therefore, be sure to vote, because who could argue with logic like this?

cathedral round up #2

In the WTF file: Ex-Harvard Student Brittany Smith Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

“On May 18, 2009, just two weeks before Smith’s graduation from Harvard, her boyfriend Copney and two accomplices shot and killed Cosby in the basement of Kirkland’s J entryway.

“An aspiring songwriter from New York City who frequently visited Smith and stayed in her room, Copney was convicted of felony murder of the first degree at the conclusion of his trial in April. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. …

“A senior in Lowell House at the time, Smith watched Jiggetts load the gun in her room before the men brought Cosby to Kirkland House to arrange the drug rip. Smith gave Copney and his accomplices her Harvard ID to gain access to the Kirkland basement, where Cosby was shot. Cosby later died from a bullet wound to his abdomen.

“Upon Copney’s return from Cosby’s shooting, Smith hid the gun in her blockmate’s room in a bag under her bed. She then called a taxi to help with the men’s getaway to South Station, where the four boarded a bus to New York. Smith returned to Harvard the next day.”

According to HuffPo,

“Prosecutors said Cosby, 21, was shot during an attempted robbery by Smith’s former boyfriend, Jabrai Jordan Copney, and two other New York City men.”

Harvard, is this the kind of student you’ve sunk to admitting?

In a related matter, Education Department Dismisses Admissions Complaint:

“The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint filed against Harvard this spring by 64 Asian-American groups accusing the University of discriminating based on race in its admissions practices.

“The complaint, filed in May, accused the University of unfairly denying admission to highly qualified Asian-American students while admitting similar applicants of other races.”

Everyone knows they do it, but they still get away with denying it. (A similar lawsuit is ongoing, though.)

Also, via iSteve: MIT shits on one of its minority groups, white men:

“The MIT Physics Department is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty and student populations to improve our excellence and to better serve the society that supports our work.”

“Like in many physics departments, white males are over-represented in our student and faculty populations.  There are several reasons to pursue change, seeking to increase the number of women and under-represented minorities in our community:”

Make that two minority groups: “Under-represented minorities” is code for “Piano-playing Asians need not apply. We have enough of you already.”

The whole thing is a painful ball of nonsense and lies. Putting more of group X, Y, or Z into the MIT physics department has zero effect on whether or not the department serves the society that supports its work. For that matter, who the hell do you think supports the MIT physics department? Asian men, white men, and Jewish men. THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT SUPPORT YOU. Don’t shit on them.

When I need some physics, maybe a quark proven to exist or a new state of matter created, do I care the race or gender of the physicist? No! I just want them to prove that quarks exist and create new states of matter.

MIT, stop hurting my soul.

Meanwhile, Yale Law’s professors have been focusing on police:

Law professor Tracey Meares is interviewed about Sandra Bland in Sandra Bland Video Shows An Argument With Police Officer:

“TRACEY MEARES: It’s a pretty good example of a police officer. He’s angry because she said no.

“KASTE: Tracey Meares is a professor at Yale Law. She was also on President Obama’s police reform task force. She’s actually surprised by how well this traffic stop went at first. But the cigarette was the turning point. Meares says it looked like a case of contempt of cop. That’s when a police officer tries to reassert authority in the face of disrespect. And she says it’s not justified.

“MEARES: Given that he is a police officer with the power to take her life that it’s incumbent on him to make the first move and maybe tolerate a little bit more disrespect.”

and in State Child Advocate; Policing in the 21st Century:

“Also, we’ll sit down with a Yale Law professor who is on President Obama’s task force examining policing, as America grapples with a series of deaths of African Americans after confrontations with police.”

(The rest of the interview is audio, so you’ll have to listen to it yourself.)

Professor Wishnie is quoted in, “Lynch visits Connecticut in stop on community policing tour“:

“Despite the improvements, East Haven police still have work to do, including fulfilling the remaining requirements in the consent decree, said Michael Wishnie, a Yale Law School professor who represented the plaintiffs in the civil rights lawsuit.

“The kinds of structural racism and practices that have long existed in East Haven take a long time to change,” Wishnie said. “I think it’s far too soon to claim victory.”

San Francisco slaying case likely would have played out differently in Connecticut:

“In Connecticut, California slaying suspect Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez would have been held for pickup by Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials only if he had a violent felony in his background or there was a court order in the case. …

In February 2013, as part of a settlement with a legal clinic at the Yale Law School, the Connecticut Department of Correction said it would review each request on a case-by-case basis.

It agreed to hand over the person if they already were the subject of a removal order; they were gang members or part of an anti-terrorism database; of if they had been convicted of a felony. This was codified into statute as part of the Connecticut Trust Act. …

“Under the revised policy, the Connecticut Department of Correction will no longer enforce ICE detainer requests and Administrative warrants solely on the basis of a final order of deportation or removal, unless accompanied by a judicial warrant, or past criminal conviction unless it’s for a violent felony,” Commissioner Scott Semple wrote in a memo to ICE.

Maybe I’m just too tired, but I can’t figure out what this article is trying to say about the difference between Conn and CA law.

Could One Soldier Derail ISIS War?

“President Barack Obama’s war against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq currently is illegal, many scholars say, and as the one-year mark for U.S. intervention approaches one constitutional law expert has an idea for how to prove it in court.

“Yale University law professor Bruce Ackerman, like other critics of the war’s current legal grounding, says Obama is violating the War Powers Resolution by committing the U.S. military to hostilities without specific authorization from Congress.

“It’s historically been tough to establish standing to make such claims in court. But Ackerman has a plan.  …”

What was that about chicken butts?

Robotics and the Law: When software can harm you sounds like an interesting article, but I can’t read it because UW Today’s website is shitty. However, I did make it through to How Makerspaces Can Be Accessible to People with Disabilities:

“The effort is part of a broader National Science Foundation-funded AccessEngineering initiative, which supports students with disabilities in pursuing engineering careers and promotes accessible and universal design in engineering departments and courses.

“A lot of universities are creating these more casual prototyping spaces where students can have more of a DIY experience, as an alternative to a traditional machine shop,” said AccessEngineering co-principal investigator Kat Steele, a UW assistant professor of mechanical engineering whose Human Ability & Engineering Lab focuses on developing tools for people with cerebral palsy, stroke and other movement disorders.

“Because this is a big growth area for engineering schools, we wanted to help with some best practices and guidelines so that as these new spaces are being created they can be accessible to the widest group possible.”

Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain damage, and somewhere around 30-50% of sufferers are also intellectually disabled. While I know personally a very capable engineer who must use a wheelchair, severely disabled people, on the whole, tend to have things wrong with them that also impact their brains. Making cerebral palsy accessible labs will catch only a very small number of geniuses who happen to have cerebral palsy; by contrast, just spending the same money to hire people who have already graduated with STEM degrees and can’t find jobs would do far more to create more science in the world. Instead of actually hiring scientists to do research, universities want to throw buckets of money at specific identity groups just to look good.

Just in case you thought Harvard’s business was educating students: Harvard’s Controversial Romanian Forest Sold to Ikea Group:

“The move distances Harvard from a corruption case involving one of the contractors who helped oversee the land, and comes shortly after a change in leadership at Harvard Management Company, which invests the University’s $35.9 billion endowment. …

“HMC began purchasing timberland in 1997. It invested heavily in timber under the guidance of then-President and CEO Jane L. Mendillo, who resigned in 2014 after a tumultuous six-year stint as the head manager of Harvard’s endowment. Her replacement, Stephen Blyth, comes from a background in public markets and faces high expectations to bring Harvard back to its pre-recession dominance in investment returns.”

After Federal Feedback, Law School Implements New Title IX Standards:

“Unlike the procedures for students at other parts of the University, Law School students involved in cases of alleged sexual harassment will now be guaranteed access to an attorney, paid for by the Law School, during the different stages of a case. After professional investigators examine a case, a separate adjudicatory panel, whose members are not affiliated with Harvard, will determine guilt, potentially after a hearing. A school-specific Title IX committee, staffed by tenured professors, will oversee the process for investigating and adjudicating cases of alleged sexual misconduct between Law School students. …

“The apparent implementation of the school’s procedures marks the close of a lobbying process that Law School professors, unhappy with Harvard’s new approach to Title IX, began last year. Harvard’s new policy and procedures, unveiled last July, altered its new definition of sexual harassment and centralized its process for handling cases, a fact administrators lauded as a positive step forward. It also adopted the preponderance of the evidence standard for determining guilt.

“But quickly afterward, both in closed-door meetings with top University officials and in an open letter published in The Boston Globe, several Law School professors pushed back. They charged that the University’s framework was biased against the accused and did not offer adequate due process. …

“The discord between the Law School and central administrators has also made some Law professors increasingly wary of centralized administrative rule at Harvard.”

This is perhaps an excessive level of formality given A. the number of people who get raped at HLS every year, and B. the fact that rape is already illegal under completely normal criminal laws, so I don’t see any reason why universities should set themselves up as parallel court systems in the first place instead, but at least HLS appears to be holding back from the full madness.

And over at the Harvard Crimson, we get some student opinions:

A Police Officer’s Bullet, The People’s Ballot

“Today, Ferguson, Missouri will be holding its first city council elections since Michael Brown was shot and killed last August. The city of Ferguson has been around for 121 years; during those first 120 years, only three black candidates ran for city council. This year, there are four black candidates for the Ferguson city council. This is no coincidence. Many of those in Ferguson realize that to prevent the next police officer’s bullet from killing another unarmed, black teenager, they need the ballot.

Yet, fresh off the heels of the 2014 midterm elections, which saw the lowest voter turnout since World War II, I am still worried. I am worried that our generation is losing sight of what it means to even have the right to vote. I am worried that not enough young people, people of color, and people who care about social justice are participating in the political process.”

Written before Trump came on the scene: A Threat to Moderation: Cruz’s candidacy will only drive Republican candidates further right

“It is difficult to believe that the Republican Party will win a presidential election in the near future when Tea Party candidates like Ted Cruz—whose announcement speech included numerous religious references and alluded to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating the Internal Revenue Service—run in the primaries and pull the eventual nominee into supporting more ideologically extreme platforms.”

Yup, Ted Cruz sure did turn out to be the right-wing ideologue for liberals to fear.

The Utility of Anxiety

Disclaimer time: I am not a doctor. I am not a psychologist/psychiatrist. If you have a mental illness/disorder/concerns, take them up with a trained professional who knows what they’re talking about. For the love of god, DO NOT make medical/mental health decisions based on my speculative babbling about what might have been useful to our ancestors.

Carrying on…

Americans are an anxious people.

According to the Kim Foundation (I don’t actually know who they are, but they are the first hit that comes up when you Google “Percent Americans with anxiety,”) about 18% of us have some form of anxiety disorder, such as, “panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias.”

An additional 10% of us have mood disorders, eg, “major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.”

(The Anxiety and Depression Association of America gives the same stat, citing the National Institute of Mental Health as their source.) The NIMH made some lovely graphs:

 

NCS-R_AnxietyDisorders-Chart2-360_147928_2 NCS-R_AnxietyDisorders-Chart1-360_147927_2

Also from the NIMH:

NSDUH_AMI-_2012_GRAPH_148270_2

There’s a lot of interesting data in this graph. For simplicity’s sake, from here on out, when I say, “Women,” I am referring primarily to “white women,” but remember that no group is entirely lacking in crazy.

Also, the graphs for mood disorders:

NCS-R_MoodDisorders-Chart2-360_148105_1 NCS-R_MoodDisorders-Chart1-360_148104_1

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, those numbers don’t add up!”

They don’t have to add up. You can get diagnosed with two things at once. Or five. It just depends on how often you go pester the shrinks.

It’s no secret that women are kind of crazy, but I still find the numbers a little shocking. According to the Huffington Post, 25% of women are on psychiatric drugs of some sort. The article also claims that, “One in four women is on antidepressants,” so I guess 100% of women taking psychiatric drugs are on anti-depressants, or the math got fucked up somewhere.

Why do 22-25% of women feel so bad that they need psychiatric medication just to deal with their lives? (Not to mention 15% of men.)

Some quick possibilities:

1. Shrinks are handing out pills like crazy, whether patients are actually mentally ill or not, because who wouldn’t like to be happier and better-adjusted?

2. Something about modern life makes people (especially white women) very anxious.

3. Highly anxious people are a side effect of low infant mortality + the baby boom expanding the class of parents.

4. Anxiety/depression are actually adaptive, and so we are supposed to feel this way.

5. Some combination of all of the above.

Personally, I lean toward #5.

Now, a quick aside: I don’t really like feelings. Oh, sure, I’m okay with the good ones. Happiness, love, joy, enthusiasm, sure, I like those. But the rest of the feelings I could generally do without. I especially dislike other people’s emotions. “I am having a sad,” translates all too quickly into, “I am yelling at you.” So, as I stated at the beginning, if you think you need help handling your emotions, or the people around you think you do, please consider getting help. You don’t have to live in pain.

That said, I think anxiety is supposed to serve some purpose that modern conditions have gotten out of whack.

I have already posted about how depression, in small quantities, may help keep us out of trouble and sleep through the long European winters. In general, there are a lot of traits where I think a little bit may be beneficial, even though a lot is damaging.

So what purpose could anxiety serve?

According to WebMD, the most common causes of anxiety include:

  • Stress at work
  • Stress from school
  • Stress in a personal relationship such as marriage
  • Financial stress
  • Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one
  • Stress from a serious medical illness
  • Side effect of drugs, legal or otherwise
  • Medical symptom, eg, low oxygen

The last three I consider perfectly rational biological responses–it’s very understandable that someone who can’t breathe feels anxious. But other than coffee, I doubt these are seriously affecting the overall anxiety rates.

That leaves us with “stress,” (which is basically a synonym for “anxiety”) from pretty much every part of life. Almost 20% of women cannot cope with work/school/relationships/finances without medication. It is tempting, therefore, to think that our entire modern lifestyle, from large, dense cities to two-income households could not exist without medicating women into not freaking out.

But why would they freak out in the first place?

Biochemically, “stress” is the feeling of your body responding to threatening or potentially threatening situations via your “fight or flight” response. In nature, fight or flight is very useful: it prepares you to run for your life or fight to the death. According to Wikipedia, Fight or Flight works like this:

The reaction begins in the amygdala, which triggers a neural response in the hypothalamus. The initial reaction is followed by activation of the pituitary gland and secretion of the hormone ACTH. The adrenal gland is activated almost simultaneously and releases the neurotransmitter epinephrine. The release of chemical messengers results in the production of the hormone cortisol, which increases blood pressure, blood sugar, and suppresses the immune system. The initial response and subsequent reactions are triggered in an effort to create a boost of energy. This boost of energy is activated by epinephrine binding to liver cells and the subsequent production of glucose. Additionally, the circulation of cortisol functions to turn fatty acids into available energy, which prepares muscles throughout the body for response. Catecholamine hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine) or noradrenaline (norepinephrine), facilitate immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action.

Oh, look, it’s our old friend, the amygdala! (See also here, here and here.)

According to Neuropolitics,

The basolateral amygdala has been linked to conditioned fear and disgust learning, while the central amygdala has been linked to conditioned fear learning. … liberals had elevated amydalar responses to the viewing of a political commercial about nuclear war.

Hart et al. (2000) selected an equal number of blacks and whites, repeatedly showing them pictures of white and black faces while performing fMRI. They noted: “across all subjects, we observed significantly greater…BOLD signal in the amygdala to outgroup vs ingroup faces, but only during later stimulus presentations. …

Further, Phelps found that activation in the left amygdala and right amygdala (all the way to the insular cortex) were correlated with a negative bias towards black faces on the Implicit Association Test.”

Last time I took an implicit association test, it told me that I prefer fat people over skinny and blacks over whites. I don’t know why everyone else fails these things.

the only region that was activated in both the Implicit Association and Startle Eyeblink tests was the left-superior amygdala. … Phelps noted: “the region in the amygdala most strongly correlated with negative evaluation [of black faces] was the left-superior amygdala”.

Richeson et al. (2003) performed an fMRI investigation of the impact of interracial contact on executive function, and uncovered a critical findings with regards to racial prejudice: it is inhibited by right hemispheric neural networks such as the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate. Richeson’s findings of a right-hemispheric network that inhibits racial prejudice shows the push-pull mechanism of the amygdala and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, especially on the right side.

… Cunningham used two different exposure periods: an subconscious exposure of 30 milliseconds; and, a conscious exposure of 525 milliseconds. During the subconscious exposure, which was not long enough for most of the subjects to even be aware of the black and white face photos, Cunningham found the right amygdala to be activated in the black minus white condition, … Longer presentations of racial stimuli favor activation in the left amygdala, at least according to Phelps.

But with the 525 millisecond presentation, the amygdala’s racial responsiveness was inhibited, meaning it didn’t take very long for another area in the brain to assume control. And that region was located predominately in the right hemisphere, confirming the work of Richeson. Cunningham noted: “the regions Richeson et al. identified as underlying the control of prejudice were nearly identical to the regions identified in this study as being associated with modulation of automatic evaluations”.

Here is where I get speculative:

When we meet another human, we automatically assess whether they are a threat or not. If we know them well or they look like someone we know (and like), they go into the “not a threat” category. If they don’t look familiar, they go into the “might be a threat” box, and your body begins preparing to run/fight for your life.

Your brain makes this assessment subconsciously and begins preparing your fight or flight response before your conscious networks have even kicked in. Your conscious networks appear to be trying to override your unconscious ones–perhaps by just rationally evaluating potential threat, or perhaps by yelling at your amygdala to stop being so racist.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this mental push-pull between the amygdala and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex created more stress. 

Men seem to cope better than women with stress and aggression. They have a naturally higher aggression “set point” due to being descended from the men who killed all the other men. Aggression has historically been a winning strategy for men, but not women. Aggressive women, historically, were more likely to kill their own children or, if pregnant, get their children killed by someone else. Being the smallest, weakest person around makes aggression a losing strategy.

Personal anecdote time: In my younger, dumber days, I was a lot more aggressive than I am now. Not so much in real life, because men are bigger than me and I’m not dumb. But in the relative safety of the internet, certainly. Then I got pregnant. Suddenly, I couldn’t stand aggression. I remember watching a YouTube video of police aggression. My heart started racing. My palms were sweating. I was reacting as though the aggression were in the same room with me, not a recording on a little screen of something that happened hundreds of miles away. After that, I stopped watching TV News and stopped fighting with random strangers on the internet. I couldn’t take them anymore.

Aggression is useful for finding mates, because it gets people out of the house and helps them talk to each other. Sometimes it also results in punching.

Pregnant women have no need for aggression. They have already found a mate, and now they need to keep him. (Mates are very useful for bringing you food during that healing period after birth.) Further, pregnant women need to protect their fetuses (and later, babies.) The mother needs aggression only to save her own life or her child’s life.

School, work, corporations, and daily city life all involve being constantly around hundreds if not thousands of unrelated people. And as you probably already know, trust and diversity are negatively correlated. (Or just read the book.)

Corporations are stressful because they’re full of aggressive men, who interrupt more, take credit for other people’s accomplishments, are noisy, and use their physical size to intimidate each other. Women respond to this in a variety of ways you’re already familiar with, including the consumption of large quantities of Xanax to keep them from freaking out and having a meltdown every time a strange man gets into an elevator with them.


You know what? This… isn’t helping.

Neither are these:

Carmen Tarleton, white woman whose ex husband doused her with lye and beat her with a baseball bat
Carmen Tarleton, white woman whose ex husband doused her with lye and beat her with a baseball bat
Carmen Tarleton's ex husband, who will not be executed.
Carmen Tarleton’s ex husband, who will not be executed.
Still from Rhianna's music video about torturing a white woman for money
Still from Rhianna’s “empowering” music video about torturing a white woman

Anxiety exists because it helped our ancestors avoid dangerous situations, but modern life basically requires spending high amounts of time in anxiety-inducing situations. Some people eventually learn not to freak out and suppress their instincts, but for many people, repeated stimulus exposure only makes things worse.

 

But aside from preparing people to flee or fight,  I suspect that anxiety serves another purpose: it forces women to do whatever it takes to remain part of the group, the tribe, because the tribe is survival, and outside the tribe is nothing but the howling wind and empty, barren waste. Female survival and evolutionary success has not historically depended on dominating the tribe, but on not getting kicked out.

Anxiety does not manifest itself as a rational response. Someone else does something wrong, you tell them not to, and afterward, you feel anxious. Objectively, you are in the right. The other person did something wrong. But your emotions tell a different story. Your emotions say that you are wrong. This is because you are not at peace with your tribe, with your friend or family member.

Or let us suppose that you say something innocently, even helpfully to another person, and they take it the wrong way and become angry and yell at you. Afterwards, do you feel mad at them? Or do you just feel unhappy that they are feeling so unhappy?

Okay, maybe not you, my faithful reader. You probably aren’t female.

Anxiety is one of those things that I suspect is good in moderation. A bit of concern for safety makes people pay attention as they go about their business. Double-checking that the locks are locked and the stove is off before going to bed could save your life. Being willing to put aside hurt feelings and make amends with others makes life more pleasant, and is probably crucial to living in large communities. Taken in excess, any of these behaviors becomes debilitating–the person develops agoraphobia, OCD, or pathological unwillingness to stick up for themselves.

A small amount of anxiety may also be useful in getting people to pay attention to little details. It’s making sure that all of the is are dotted and ts are crossed that makes sure airplanes stay in the air, after all.

Peter Frost has laid out a series of posts on guilt, and by contrast, shame. Now, here I must make a confession: I lack an intuitive sense of the distinction he is drawing between guilt and shame, or perhaps just lack sufficient exposure to “shame cultures” to really get it. Regardless, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to suspect that “guilt” and “anxiety” may be deeply linked.

Frost proposes that, “Pervasive feelings of guilt are part of a behavioral package that enabled Northwest Europeans to adapt to complex social environments where kinship is less important and where rules of correct behavior must be obeyed with a minimum of surveillance.” 

While most commentator posit the European guilt complex arose in response to specific events, eg, the Holocaust, Frost traces it back to a much earlier time, citing, for example, Aelfric of Eynsham, an English abbot born in 955:

He who cannot because of shame confess his faults to one man, then it must shame him before the heaven-dwellers and the earth-dwellers and the hell-dwellers, and the shame for him will be endless. (Bedingfield, 2002, p. 80)

And The Song of Beowulf:

That was sorrow to the good man’s soul, greatest of griefs to the heart. The wise man thought that, breaking established law, he had bitterly angered God, the Lord everlasting. His breast was troubled within by dark thoughts, as was not his wont.

(Personally, I’ve always thought Grendel was a metaphor for plague, and Beowulf plunging into the lake represents a human sacrifice by drowning/throwing the sacrificed victim into the lake to appease the gods, but I am really not an Anglo Saxon culture expert.)

Frost pushes back the potential beginnings of guilt culture even further, to the semi-sedentary Scandinavian/Baltic hunter-gatherer/fishing communities of 8,500 years ago. He suggests that in this environment, guilt made people cooperate, Prisoner’s Dilemma-style, and community sanctions against defectors ensured that they stayed a low enough percent of the population that they couldn’t take advantage of the folks who felt a lot of guilt. Quoting Frost:

What is to stop some individuals from exploiting the guilt proneness of others while feeling no guilt themselves? This free-rider dilemma may have been resolved in part by identifying such individuals and ostracizing them. It may also be that these semi-sedentary communities were conducive to evolution of altruistic behavior, as described by Maynard Smith’s haystack model (Wikipedia, 2013). According to this model, guilt-prone individuals are at a disadvantage within any one community and will thus become fewer and fewer with each generation. If, however, a community has a high proportion of guilt-prone individuals, it will have an advantage over other communities and thus expand in numbers at their expense. And if these communities disperse and regroup on a regular basis, the overall proportion of guilt-prone individuals will increase over time. …

There is an obvious issue that arises if a guilt-ridden society suddenly obtains a large number of individuals who don’t buy into the whole guilt complex.

… it was the hunter-fisher-gatherers of the North Sea and the Baltic who led the way to behavioral modernity, i.e., individualism, reduced emphasis on kinship, and the market as the main organizing principle of social and economic life. Their mode of subsistence was not wiped out by agriculture, unless one sees fishing as a kind of farming. They not only survived, but also went on to create what we now call the Western World. Not bad for a bunch of losers.

The guilt complex is obviously deep in Christianity. My researches so far have not revealed a similar guilt complex in other religions, though to be fair, Hinduism is vast and well beyond my understanding. IMO, some Christians take this guilt to an unhealthy level:

Self-flagellation, from the Wikipedia
Self-flagellation, from the Wikipedia

The Wikipedia further claims:

Some members of strict monastic orders, and some members of the Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, practice mild self-flagellation using an instrument called a “discipline”, a cattail whip usually made of knotted cords, which is flung over the shoulders repeatedly during private prayer. Pope John Paul II took the discipline regularly.

The Wikipedia page on Flagellantism, a Medieval Religious movement, deserves reading in its own right, but I will try to quote a representative bit here:

The 11th-century zealot Dominicus Loricatus repeated the entire Psalter twenty times in one week, accompanying each psalm with a hundred lash-strokes to his back. … The movement did not have a central doctrine or overall leaders, but a popular passion for the movement occurred all over Europe in separate outbreaks. … The prime cause of the Perugia episode is unclear, but it followed an outbreak of an epidemic and chroniclers report how the mania spread throughout almost all the people of the city. Thousands of citizens gathered in great processions, singing and with crosses and banners, they marched throughout the city whipping themselves. … The movement spread across Northern Italy, up to 10,000 strong groups processing in Modena, Bologna, Reggio and Parma …

The German and Low Countries movement … established their camps in fields near towns and held their rituals twice a day. The ritual began with the reading of a letter, claimed to have been delivered by an angel and justifying the Flagellants’ activities. Next the followers would fall to their knees and scourge themselves, gesturing with their free hands to indicate their sin and striking themselves rhythmically to songs, known as Geisslerlieder, until blood flowed. Sometimes the blood was soaked up in rags and treated as a holy relic. … some towns began to notice that sometimes Flagellants brought plague to towns where it had not yet surfaced. Therefore later they were denied entry. They responded with increased physical penance.

The anchorites were early hermits/monks who were literally walled into tiny rooms they never left for the rest of their lives:

The original Tiny House
Medieval illustration of anchorite cell

Maybe if Xanax had existed in Medieval Europe, people would have been less prone to walling themselves up in churches.

Note that self-flagellation and anchoritism are not rational responses to life in Medieval Europe–not only do they not solve problems like the Black Death, they may have exacerbated them. They are extreme emotional responses to overwhelming feelings of guilt and anxiety.

Properly balanced, guilt and anxiety can prompt people to treat each other fairly and be attentive in their work. Unbalanced, the individual (or society,) becomes unhinged. They start demanding that their own societies be destroyed because they they must have done something wrong to have more advanced tech than other societies, or groveling for forgiveness for things they didn’t even do:

white woman begs forgiveness

White woman begs forgiveness for slavery

Anxiety and guilt have their good sides. Society probably couldn’t exist without them. But they have to be in balance.

Anarcho-Tyranny

Important Update: Looks like my sources were wrong and Lt. White has not been charged, but is considering charging him. The text below has been changed accordingly.

Anarcho-tyranny is when the state itself imposes anarchy on its population and punishes them for trying to rectify the situation. It refers most egregiously to situations where people cannot legally defend their own lives or property, or where they are charged with crimes after defending themselves.

In today’s anarcho-tyranny, the Navy is considering charging Lt. Commander White with unlawful possession of a firearm on Navy property after he stopped a gunman in the midst of a mass-murder.

You remember this case. A man–we shall call him a Muslim terrorist–walked into a Navy recruitment office and opened fire. The center’s commanding officer, Lt. White, returned fire, probably killing the shooter (there was another gun on the premises that may also have been used, but that shooter is dead and so won’t be charged with any crimes.) and saving the lives of many people. Lt. White faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for bringing a firearm onto a no-guns Federal property.

Now, as far as gun laws themselves are concerned, I’m pretty agnostic. I’m neither on the “everyone should have their own machine gun” side, nor on the “all guns are evil” side. It is pretty obvious to me that different conditions–like, are there bears in your neighborhood?–should probably lead to different laws. I am in favor, however, of not punishing people for good deeds, and for letting them defend themselves.

The whole point of having a gun-free zone is to prevent violence; if the government cannot guarantee the safety of people in those zones, then the government has failed. People must be able to go about their business without fear of random violence; if violence is a problem, then people must be allowed to take steps to protect themselves, like installing metal detectors or taking self-defense classes, or the government must step in and protect them, say, by increasing police patrols. To prevent the former while failing to do the latter creates the conditions of anarcho-tyranny–people are legally prohibited from defending themselves while the gov’t does nothing to defend them.

Lt. White’s violation of the law saved the lives of multiple people. His actions are a clear case that should not be prosecuted; rather,the government should investigate ways to make its no-gun areas safe.

The over-proliferation of laws–legal over-criminalization and over-regulation–is partly a side effect of an over-large government that’s been around for longer than almost any other government on Earth (no, seriously, most governments got their start post-WWII) and so had a long time to make legislation, and partly a side effect of trying to get a bunch of different people with different social norms to get along together in one big country.

For example, Freedom of Speech–one of our core American values–allows one to insult the leaders of major religious groups. But Muslims tend to really dislike seeing their Prophet disrespected. Put both groups in close contact, and one or the other (or both) is liable to be highly unhappy. The result–more laws trying to clarify when it’s okay to be offensive and when it’s not–tends not so much to make people happier, as to make life a bigger pain in the butt for everyone involved. (The obvious solution, IMO, is that people who want to insult Mohammad and people who don’t want to see Mohammad insulted shouldn’t talk to each other.)

More and more regulations are a creeping, silent tax. Small businesses especially hare hard-hit by ever-increasing regulations to keep track of and comply with; eventually the winners are those with the spare budget to afford armies of lawyers to wade through the legislation, or those who cheat. Increasing regulations disincentivise honesty.

Gun laws, as I understand them, have gotten to a similarly complicated state. Of course, there is always some conflict between keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and keeping guns in the hands of people who would defend themselves from criminals. In this case, I am inclined to think that Navy officers probably aren’t criminals, whether on Federal property or not.

The reasons for the gun-free zones like the one Lt. White was caught in probably stem from the crime wave of the late ’80s/early 90s–the “Gun Free School Zones Act,” for example, was passed in 1990. That crime wave had nothing to do with Naval officers carrying guns at Naval recruitment offices, but everything to do with the impact of the crack/cocaine trade on inner city ghetto (black and Hispanic) homicide rates and gang wars.

Anarcho-tyranny is using laws intended to stop black and Hispanic gang violence to punish whites for defending themselves against Muslim terrorists.