Monday, November 19, 2007

Gurdjieff's Analogy and an Ancient Analogy

"hackney carriage", (pages 1192-1203)

A man as a whole with all his separately concentrated and functioning localizations, that is to say his formed and independently educated "personalities," is almost exactly comparable to that organization for conveying a passenger, which consists of a carriage, a horse, and a coachman. It must first of all be remarked that the difference between a real man and a pseudo man, that is, between one who has his own "I" and one who has not, is indicated in the analogy we have taken by the passenger sitting in the carriage. In the first case, that of the real man, the passenger is the owner of the carriage; and in the second case, he is simply the first chance passer-by who, like the fare in a "hackney carriage," is continuously being changed.

The body of a man with all its motor reflex manifestations corresponds simply to the carriage itself; all the functionings and manifestations of feeling of a man correspond to the horse harnessed to the carriage and drawing it; the coachman sitting on the box and directing the horse corresponds to that in a man which people call consciousness or mentation; and finally, the passenger seated in the carriage and commanding the coachman is that which is called "I.’,

The fundamental evil among contemporary people is chiefly that, owing to the rooted and widespread abnormal methods of education of the rising generation, this fourth personality which should be present in everybody on reaching responsible age is entirely missing in them; and almost all of them consist only of the three enumerated parts, which parts, moreover, are formed arbitrarily of themselves and anyhow. In other words, almost every contemporary man of responsible age consists of nothing more nor less than simply a "hackney carriage," and one moreover, composed as follows: a broken-down carriage "which has long ago seen its day," a crock of a horse, and, on the box, a tatterdemalion, half-sleepy, half-drunken coachman whose time designated by Mother Nature for self-perfection passes while he waits on a corner, fantastically daydreaming, for any old chance passenger. The first passenger who happens along hires him and dismisses him just as he pleases, and not only him but also all the parts subordinate to him.

Continuing this analogy between a typical contemporary man, with his thoughts, feelings, and body, and a hackney carriage, horse, and coachman, we can clearly see that in each of the parts composing both organizations there must have been formed and there must exist its own separate needs, habits, tastes, and so on, proper to it alone. From the varied nature of their arising, and the diverse conditions of their formation, and according to their varying possibilities in each of them there must inevitably have been formed, for instance, its own psyche, its own notions, its own subjective supports, its own viewpoints, and so on.

The whole totality of the manifestations of human mentation, with all the inherencies proper to this functioning and with all its specific particularities, corresponds almost exactly in every respect to the essence and manifestations of a typical hired coachman. Like all hired coachmen in general, he is a type called "cabby." He is not entirely illiterate because, owing to the regulations existing in his country for the "general compulsory teaching of the three R’s," he was obliged in his childhood to put in an occasional attendance at what is called the "parish church school." Although he himself is from the country and has remained as ignorant as his fellow rustics, yet rubbing shoulders, owing to his profession, with people of various positions and education, picking up from them, by bits here and bits there, a variety of expressions embodying various notions, he has now come to regard everything smacking of the country with superiority and contempt, indignantly dismissing it all as "ignorance. In short, this is a type to whom applies perfectly the definition, "The crows he raced but by peacocks out-paced."

He considers himself competent even in questions of religion, politics, and sociology; with his equals he likes to argue; those whom he regards as his inferiors, he likes to teach; his superiors he flatters, with them he is servile; before them, as is said, "he stands cap in hand." One of his chief weaknesses is to dangle after the neighboring cooks and housemaids, but, best of all, he likes a good hearty tuck-in, and to gulp down another glass or two, and then, fully satiated, drowsily to daydream. To gratify these weaknesses of his, he always steals a part of the money given him by his employer to buy fodder for the horse. Like every "cabby" he works as is said always "under the lash," and if occasionally he does a job without being made, it is only in the hope of receiving tips. The desire for tips has gradually taught him to be aware of certain weaknesses in the people with whom he has dealings, and to profit himself by them; he has automatically learned to be cunning, to flatter, so to say, to stroke people the right way, and, in general, to lie.On every convenient occasion and at every free moment he slips into a saloon or to a bar, where over a glass of beer he daydreams for hours at a time, or talks with a type like himself, or just reads the paper.

He tries to appear imposing, wears a beard, and if he is thin pads himself out to appear more important. The totality of the manifestations of the feeling-localization in a man and the whole system of its functioning correspond perfectly to the horse of the hackney carriage in our analogy Incidentally, this comparison of the horse with the organization of human feeling will serve to show up particularly clearly the error and one-sidedness of the contemporary education of the rising generation. The horse as a whole, owing to the negligence of those around it during its early years, and to its constant solitude, is as if locked up within itself; that is to say, its so to say "inner life" is driven inside, and for external manifestations it has nothing but inertia.

Thanks to the abnormal conditions around it, the horse has never received any special education, but has been molded exclusively under the influence of constant thrashings and vile abuse. It has always been kept tied up; and for food, instead of oats and hay, there is given to it merely straw which is utterly worthless for its real needs. Never having seen in any of the manifestations towards it even the least love or friendliness, the horse is now ready to surrender itself completely to anybody who gives it the slightest caress. The consequence of all this is that all the inclinations of the horse, deprived of all interests and aspirations, must inevitably be concentrated on food, drink, and the automatic yearning towards the opposite sex; hence it invariably veers in the direction where it can obtain any of these. If, for example, it catches sight of a place where even once or twice it gratified one of the enumerated needs, it waits the chance to run off in that direction.

It must further be added that although the coachman has a very feeble understanding of his duties, he can nevertheless, even though only a little, think logically; and remembering tomorrow, he either from fear of losing his job or from the desire of receiving a reward, does occasionally evince an interest in doing something or other for his employer without being driven to it; but the horse-in consequence of there not having been formed in it at the proper time, owing to the absence of any special and corresponding education, any data at all for manifesting the aspirations requisite for responsible existence-of course fails to understand (and indeed it cannot be expected that it should understand) why in general it must do anything; its obligations are therefore carried out quite inertly and only from fear of further beatings.

As far as the carriage or cart is concerned, which stands in our analogy for the body without any of the other independently formed parts of the common presence of a man, the situation is even worse. This cart, like most carts, is made of various materials, and furthermore is of a very complicated construction. It was designed, as is evident to every sane-thinking man, to carry all kinds of burdens, and not for the purpose for which contemporary people employ it, that is, only for carrying passengers. The chief cause of the various misunderstandings connected with it springs from the fact that those who made the system of this cart intended it for travel on the byroads, and certain inner details of its general construction were in consequence foreseeingly made to answer to this aim. For example, the principle of its greasing, one of the chief needs of a construction of such different materials, was so devised that the grease should spread over all the metallic parts from the shaking received from the jolts inevitable on such roads, whereas now, this cart that was designed for traveling on the byroads finds itself stationed on a rank in the city and traveling on smooth, level, asphalted roads. In the absence of any shocks whatsoever while going along such roads, no uniform greasing of all its parts occurs, and some of them consequently must inevitably rust and cease to fulfill the action intended for them. A cart goes easily as a rule if its moving parts are properly greased. With too little grease, these parts get heated and finally red-hot, and thus the other parts get spoiled; on the other hand, if in some part there is too much grease, the general movement of the cart is impaired, and in either case it becomes more difficult for the horse to draw it.

The contemporary coachman, our cabby, neither knows nor has any suspicion of the necessity of greasing the cart, and even if he does grease it, he does so without proper knowledge, only on hearsay, blindly following the directions of the first comer. That is why, when this cart, now adapted more or less for travel on smooth roads, has for some reason or other to go along a byroad, something always happens to it; either a nut gives way, or a bolt gets bent or something or other gets loose; and after these attempts at traveling along such roads, the journey rarely ends without more or less considerable repairs. In any case, to make use of this cart for the purposes for which it was made is already impossible without risk. If repairs are begun, it is necessary to take the cart all to pieces, examine all its parts, and, as is done in such cases, "kerosene" them, clean them, and put them together again; and frequently it becomes clearly necessary immediately and without fail to change a part. This is all very well if it happens to be an inexpensive part, but it may turn out to be more costly than a new cart. And so, all that has been said about the separate parts of that organization of which, taken as a whole, a hackney carriage consists can be fully applied also to the general organization of the common presence of a man.

Owing to the absence among contemporary people of any knowledge and ability specially to prepare in a corresponding way the rising generation for responsible existence by educating all the separate parts composing their common presences, every person of today is a confused and extremely ludicrous something, that is to say, again using this example we have taken, a something resembling the following picture. A carriage just out of the factory, made on the latest model, polished by genuine German craftsmen from the town of Barmen, and harnessed to the kind of horse which is called in the locality named Transcaucasia, a "Dglozidzi." ("Dzi" is a horse; "Dgloz" is the name of a certain Armenian specialist in buying utterly worthless horses and skinning them.) On the box of this stylish carriage sits an unshaven, unkempt, sleepy coachman-cabby, dressed in a shabby cloak which he has retrieved from the rubbish heap where it had been thrown as utterly worthless by the kitchen-maid Maggie. On his head reposes a brand-new top hat, an exact replica of Rockefeller’s; and in his buttonhole there is displayed a giant chrysanthemum.

This picture, however ludicrous, of contemporary man, is an inevitable result,chiefly because from the first day of the arising and formation of a contemporary man, all these three parts formed in him-which parts, although diversely caused and with properties of diverse quality, should nevertheless, at the period of his responsible existence for pursuing a single aim, all together represent his entire whole-being, so to say, to "live" and to become fixed in their specific manifestations separately one from another, never having been trained either to the requisite automatic reciprocal maintenance, reciprocal assistance, or to any, even though only approximate, reciprocal understanding; and thus, when afterward concerted manifestations are required, these concerted manifestations do not appear.

Thanks to what is called the "system of education of the rising generation" which at the present time has already been completely fixed in the life of man and which consists singly and solely in training the pupils, by means of constant repetition to the point of "madness,’ to sense various almost empty words and expressions and to recognize, only by the difference in their consonance, the reality supposed to be signified by these words and expressions, the coachman is still able to explain after a fashion the various desires arising in him, but only to types similar to his own outside of his common presence, and he is sometimes even able approximately to understand others. This coachman-cabby of ours, gossiping with other coachmen while waiting for a fare, and sometimes, as is said, "flirting" at the gate with the neighbor’s maid, even learns various forms of what is called "savoir-vivre." He also, by the way, according to the external conditions of the life of coachmen in general, gradually automatizes himself to distinguish one street from the other and to calculate, for instance, during repairs in some street, how to get to the required street from another direction.

But as for the horse, although the maleficent invention of contemporary people which is called education does not extend over the horse’s formation, and in consequence its inherited possibilities are not atrophied, yet owing to the fact that this formation proceeds under the conditions of the abnormally established process of the ordinary existence of people, and that the horse grows up ignored like an orphan by everybody, and moreover an ill-treated orphan, it neither acquires anything corresponding to the established psyche of the coachman nor learns anything of what he knows, and hence is quite ignorant of all the forms of reciprocal relationship which have become usual for the coachman, and no contact is established between them for understanding each other.

It is possible, however, that in its locked-in life the horse does nevertheless learn some form of relationship with the coachman and that even, perhaps, it is familiar with some "language"; but the trouble is that the coachman does not know this and does not even suspect its possibility. Apart from the fact that, owing to the said abnormal conditions, no data for even an approximate understanding of each other are formed between the horse and the coachman, there are also still other and numerous external causes, independent of them, which fail to give them the possibility of together actualizing that one purpose for which they were both destined.

The point is, that just as the separate independent parts of a "hackney" are connected-namely, the carriage to the horse by the shafts and the horse to the coachman by reins-so also are the separate parts of the general organization of man connected with each other; namely, the body is connected to the feeling-organization by the blood, and the feeling-organization is connected to the organization actualizing the functioning of mentation or consciousness by what is called Hanbledzoin, that is, by that substance which arises in the common presence of a man from all intentionally made being-efforts.

The wrong system of education existing at the present time has led to the coachman’s ceasing to have any effect whatever on his horse, unless we allow the fact that he is merely able by means of the reins to engender in the consciousness of the horse just three ideas-right, left, and stop. Strictly speaking he cannot always do even this, because the reins in general are made of materials that react to various atmospheric phenomena: for example, during a pouring rain they swell and lengthen; and in heat, the contrary; thereby changing their effect upon the horse’s automatized sensitiveness of perception.

The same proceeds in the general organization of the average man whenever from some impression or other the so to say "density and tempo" of the Hanbledzoin changes in him, when his thoughts entirely lose all possibility of affecting his feeling-organization. And so, to resume all that has been said, one must willy-nilly acknowledge that every man should strive to have his own "I"; otherwise he will always represent a hackney carriage in which any fare can sit and which any fare can dispose of just as he pleases.

And here it will not be superfluous to point out that the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, organized on the system of Mr. Gurdjieff, has, among its fundamental tasks, also the task of on the one hand correspondingly educating in its pupils each of the enumerated independent personalities separately as well as in their general reciprocal relationship; and on the other hand of begetting and fostering in each of its pupils what every bearer of the name of "man without quotation marks" should have-his own "I."

For a more exact, so to say, scientific definition of the difference between a genuine man, that is, man as he ought to be, and a man whom we have called "man in quotation marks," that is, such men as almost all contemporary people have become, it is fitting to repeat what was said about this by Mr. Gurdjieff himself in one of his personal "lecture talks."

It was as follows:
"For the definition of man, considered from our point of view, neither anatomical, nor physiological, nor psychological contemporary knowledge of his symptoms can assist us, since they are inherent in one degree or another in every man and consequently apply equally to all. Hence they do not enable us to establish the exact difference which we wish to establish between people. This difference can only be formulated in the following terms: ‘Man is a being who can do,’ and ‘to do’ means to act consciously and by one’s own initiative. And indeed every more or less sane-thinking man who is able to be if only a little impartial, must admit that hitherto there has not been nor can there be a fuller and more exhaustive definition. Even suppose that we provisionally accept this definition, the question inevitably arises-can a man who is a product of contemporary education and
civilization do anything at all himself, consciously and by his own will? No... we answer at the very beginning, to this question.

Why not? ...

Solely because, as the Institute-for-the-Harmonious Development-of-Man experimentally proves and from experiments categorically affirms, everything without exception from beginning to end does itself in contemporary man, and there is nothing which a contemporary man himself does. In personal, family, and communal life, in politics, science, art, philosophy, and religion, in short, in everything entering into the process of the ordinary life of a contemporary man, everything from beginning to end does itself, and not a single one of these "victims of contemporary civilization" can "do" anything.
This is at least in part why Gurdjieff famously referred to contemporary humanity as "broken machines". It's certainly why I referred to the contemporary waking state as an artifact of language, and little to nothing more than that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

V - Is the Establishment Reviving Eugenics?

Preface: This is the 5th of what should conclude as a 6 post series on what appears to me to be a serious effort on the part of the U.S. Establishment to re-ignite eugenic ideology and policy in the American public sphere. This post is about the pernicious long term effect of the systematic application and use of strategic capital to drive popular belief and public policy.

Once upon a time, my man Cobb constructed a race man's home companion. In it, you could find extremely useful and fairly comprehensive information resources like this handy overview of eugenic point sources in the 20th century.

Somewhere between then and now, brah'man let the sharp edge of his vigilance fall off. I can't explain it to you, and I don't expect him to either. This post isn't about him. Rather, it's about the insidious way in which conscious political discourse can be infected, manipulated and ultimately undermined by determined, well funded, and persistent partisans whose backers have taken the long view of politics. Please recall that this was my starting point for questioning the unseemly behavior of the NY Times serving as a platform for neo-eugenic propaganda.

Under the pretense of a column about the convergence of science, technology, and society - Amy Harmon gave a validating mainstream platform and broad national and international distribution to the racist pseudo-scientific blather of an anonymous racist blogger. As one knucklehead at that blog noted;
Nevertheless, she did it, and an imprimatur from the New York Times along with evidence of specific genetic differences is an immensely valuable thing for the debate. I sent the article to a lot of friends, and it really opens up the dialogue. Of course there is still some doublethink to it, but Rome wasn't built in a day. This is a major attitude shift for most people, and there is a lot of race guilt to overcome.
No one seriously expects the NY Times to function as an organ of the most regressive and racist politics in America. To hear conservative talk radio tell it, the NY Times is a left leaning organ of progressive politics, actively engaged in the defeat of "traditional" American interests. To all intents and purposes, both Amy Harmon, and the Times are above reproach. But are they?

A little over a year ago, I had a vigorous set to with Bro. Bowen when he called me out for his First Annual Internet Racist Hunt. Some of the things he wrote then remain instructive;
I basically have no patience with the theory of racism as background radiation left over from the dark ages that selectively infects whitepeople leaving everyone else on the planet unaffected. There are either specific identifiable sources of racist thought which can be objectively dealt with, or not. Basic empirical scientific method.....

I'm talking about ideological racists who are trying to exert influence over Americans as intellectuals, pundits, policy wonks and otherwise trying to literally establish racial policy in American institutions.

I don't think any of them has the political clout required to undo non-discrimination law, but some are trying and some would like to. I'm also talking about racial separatists and people who delight in speculation over racial conflict. People who are overly concerned about the survival of their race or generally see racial conflict as an inevitable biological fact. People who argue very strongly for or against race mixing, ie would like to see some race biologically destroyed.

I believe I met the challenge as he asserted it at that time. The Southern Poverty Law Center certainly indicates that I did - particularly and rather spectacularly in the case of Kevin T. Lamb (scroll down the SPLC page linked) who was a clear nexus connecting hardcore racists with mainstream conservatism. The trouble for those of us on the side of social justice and democratic ideals is that keeping track of racist and eugenic point sources backed by strategic capital to influence popular belief and political policy is a full-time job. Finding and outing these elements is the kind of tiring and thankless task that will wear you out and make you drop your guard.

I believe that that's principally what has happened with Bro. Bowen, i.e., basically he's hung up his vigilant spurs. In certain regards, I don't blame him because there are plenty enough crackpots under the Black partisan banner who forget about the human essentialist core of the undertaking. But weariness aside, it's a job that has to be done because there's entirely too much at stake. Sadly, as the exchange with David Mills bore out, many Black folks have ignorantly or uncritically internalized some deeply pernicious and profoundly unscientific beliefs and this has further compounded the difficulty of the challenge at hand. My former Vision Circle blogmate Ed Brown addressed this issue this past week.
A new Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 40 percent of Blacks think "blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race."

The phrasing of that bothers me. It's as if a "poor" Black person is considered to be a different "race" than a "not poor" Black person. It should be stated that 40% of Blacks are acknowledging class differences. Or better yet, that people are now recognizing class differences and are finally being ASKED about it.

Or maybe not. I'm still thinking... Marinading....

A “Negro” said it! - is a favorite and very effective tactic of the conservative right. It boils down to utilizing a small group of “captive negroes” to say things which otherwise would be considered racist - and to provide cover for white conservatives (”My best friend is a Negro!).

In any oppressed community it’s possible to find folks who are so psychologically damaged that they will work against the very community they come from. Whether selling heroin on street corners to neighborhood kids, or pandering the right’s need for Negroes to provide racial cover - the dynamic and morality are the same. A good article on how the conservative racist right utilizes these folks:
Bashing Black folks is a $40 -100 million industry, funded by the very same folks who fund the conservative movement. Like the enticement of “easy money” in the drug industry, negro conservatives willing to front for “the Man”, can rake in salaries and book sales in excess of $250,000 a year. Indeed, the bashing black folks industry can provide the black conservative far more media and ego polishing recognition than they are ever going to earn in their field of study through quantitative accomplishments.
Having briefly touched upon the pedigree of the silicon valley ku klux kali in installment IV of this series - I'll leave you to connect the dots between this especially noxious fat bastard - Mr. Wardell Connerly - and the bigoted backers providing him with the strategic capital to do his long term dirty work. Wardell is the deliverable work product of precisely that northern california element of the U.S. Establishment that has had us in its eugenic crosshairs for generations.

In his most recent anti Black partisan article, Cobb gave undeserved dap to Wardell as an agent of Black nationalist demise;
What's so laughable about it is that only the Socialists and the Commies, as well as throroughly mau-maued dowagers like Jane Fonda bought into this program for any reasonable duration. What a pity. It's rather pathetic to see how somebody as mediocre as Ward Connorly could absolutely devastate the black nationalist agenda by deracinating public institutions. It only goes to show how dependent black nationalists are on the welfare state. Malcolm is spinning in his grave, and you're mouthing psychobabble about prestige-dependency. Who's really the dependent one?
Connerly is not an agent of anybody's political demise, he's an instrument of a much larger institutional agenda systematically carried out over an extended period of time. Absent a clear understanding of the immense strategic capital afforded this icon of Black disenfranchisement - Cobb asserts that a lowly mediocrity has taken out both Affirmative Action and "the" Black nationalist agenda - without any consideration given to the sustained, long-term, generous backing of explicitly racist elements of the U.S. Establishment. No political statement could be further from the truth. Wardell was not the architect of the process most closely identified with him, rather, he is simply the very handsomely compensated mouthpiece for this process, providing it with indispensible memetic camoflauge...,

Much “mainstream” racism is funded by 4 Foundations – variously called the “4 Sisters”.

Wardell Connerly gets his grip from these folks;

• Scaife Family Foundations

The Scaife Family Foundations. Sarah Scaife, Carthage and Allegheny are funded by industrial tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife, who inherited $200 million from his mother in the 1960s. He was a presidential appointment of the U.S. Advisory Commission for Public Diplomacy during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

Scaife gave former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese $1.9 million to start PLF. Between 1985 and 2005, Scaife gave more than $4.5 million to PLF. He is the primary supporter of the Heritage Foundation, of which he is a trustee and Meese a former staff member. Many Heritage Foundation staff members held or hold high-ranking federal positions, including current Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and former U.S. Civil Rights Commission (UCCR) staff director and Manhattan Institute fellow Linda Chavez, founder of the right-wing Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO).

Scaife funds Connerly’s ACRI, Chavez’s CEO, and the Center for Individual Rights, which together comprise the triumvirate leading the campaign to end affirmative action. Other major grant recipients include the National Association of Scholars, co-author of Prop. 209, which banned affirmative action in California, and the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research. UCCR Vice Chair Abigail Thernstrom, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow, is on the board of the Equal Opportunity Foundation, which directs funding for CEO.

• Castle Rock Foundation

Coors Brewing Co.’s support for anti-gay groups led to a 10-year boycott led by AFL-CIO in 1977. Pressured to reform, Coors began funding black and Latino groups through the Adolph Coors Foundation and became one of the first companies to offer domestic-partner benefits to employees in 1995. In 1993, the Coors family created Castle Rock to separate the Coors name from its conservative agenda. The Castle Rock and Adolph Coors Foundations have the same board of directors, the same staff and the same address.

Coors co-owner Joseph Coors founded and financed the conservative Heritage Foundation, which later received most of its support from Richard Mellon Scaife. Coors was a Heritage trustee until March 2003. Ambassador Holland Coors, President Reagan’s appointment to the National Year of the Americas, has been on the board since 1998. Major grant recipients include the Heritage Foundation, the National Association of Scholars and the Institute for Justice, which was founded by anti-affirmative-action leader Clint Bolick, a disciple of ultraconservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Castle Rock gave PLF $340,000 between 1985 and 2005. Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a right-wing legal advocacy group founded in 1973, represents the Seattle parents in the recent Supreme Court case eliminating even voluntary integration. In 2001, PLF represented Ward Connerly’s American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) and provided pro-bono counsel to then Calif. Gov. Pete Wilson in a successful effort to expand the scope of Prop. 209, which banned affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting.

• Olin Foundation

The New York-based John M. Olin Foundation grew out of a family-owned chemical and munitions manufacturing business. The foundation, which dissolved in 2005, was charged with spending all assets within a generation of Olin’s death, lest its mission be altered. Grant recipients included CEO, the Heritage Foundation, the National Association of Scholars and the Manhattan Institute. Specifically, Olin funded the research of CEO founder Linda Chavez and former Secretary of Education William Bennett.

When former Olin Foundation President Michael Joyce left to run the Bradley Foundation, William Simon, who was secretary of the treasury for Nixon and Ford, took over. Joyce had worked under Simon at a neoconservative think-tank prior to joining Olin, and it was Simon who asked him to take the helm at Bradley. Olin gave PLF $669,000 between 1985 and 2005.

• Bradley Foundation

The Allen-Bradley Company, a manufacturer of electronic and radio equipment, was one of the last major Milwaukee-based companies to racially integrate, which it did only under legal pressure. In 1968, the company had 7,000 employees, only 32 of whom were black and 14 Latino. When the Allen-Bradley company was sold in 1985, the name of the foundation was changed to the Lynne and Harry Bradley Foundation to separate the company name from its conservative cause.

Bradley is the principal supporter of Connerly’s ACRI. ACRI co-chair Thomas Rhodes is on the Bradley board of directors. Bradley Foundation President Michael Joyce, formerly with the Olin Foundation, served on President Reagan’s transition team and other presidential commissions and worked closely with William Bennett prior to his appointment as Secretary of Education.

The foundation gives to the Institute for Justice, where founder Clint Bolick drafted a federal bill to eliminate affirmative action. Other major grant recipients include the Heritage Foundation, the National Association of Scholars and the American Enterprise Institute, a literary outlet for conservative thinkers such as William Bennett and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who will take part in deciding the Seattle case this December. Bradley gave PLF $327,000 between 1985 and 2005.

Attacks from eugenically minded, conservative instruments play on a few basic themes:

Black Dysfunctionality - That black folks are less intelligent, perform worse on tests, have lower educational indicators, commit more crime, etc. Where numbers don’t exist to support the premise, they make them up, and/or selectively parse data to support their points.

Here are the principal funders of eugenic racism actively operating at the convergence of science, technology, and society. In the last installment, I'll address myself to some of the leading "scientific" instruments working in support of this cause.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

IV - Is the Establishment Reviving Eugenics?

The first detailed adaptation of Binet's IQ test was published in America in 1916 by Lewis Terman, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. Lewis M. Terman (1877-1956) was a major figure in the history of American psychology and the eugenics movement. Terman created the Stanford-Binet intelligence test before World War I and is credited with inventing the term, intelligence quotient or IQ in 1916.

In 1917 he joined a team of psychologists to create the famous Army Alpha and Beta IQ tests administered to more than 1.7 million army recruits. After the war Terman promoted the new IQ tests to school districts across the United States. He created the National Intelligence Tests for grades three to eight and the Terman Group Tests for grades seven to twelve. These tests were the most popular IQ tests used in public schools during the 1920s and 1930s to assist in placing students into ability grouping or tracks. Terman has been referred to as the "father of tracking."

Terman rose to prominence in the 1920s. In 1922 he was elected as President of the American Psychological Association and by the middle of the decade he had become the editor of six journals relating to educational research and psychology. He also had been active in the eugenics movement during this time. Terman believed the IQ test measured a relatively fixed and hereditarily determined intelligence and that there existed marked differences in intellectual capacity between different races. Terman was an active member in the American Eugenics Society and the Eugenics Research Association throughout the 1920s.

Terman's Americanized Stanford-Binet test was published under an explicitly different imprimatur than the test's creator Alfred Binet would have ever even imagined, much less condoned;
all feeble-minded are at least potential criminals. That every feeble-minded woman is a potential prostitute would hardly be disputed by anyone. Moral judgement, like business judgement, social judgement, or any other kind of higher thought process, is a function of the near future intelligence tests will bring tens of thousands of these high-grade defectives under the surveillance and protection of society. This will ultimately result in curtailing the reproduction of feeble-mindedness and in the elimination of an enormous amount of crime, pauperism, and industrial inefficiency. It is hardly necessary to emphasize that the high-grade cases, of the type now so frequently overlooked, are precisely the ones whose guardianship is most important for the State to assume.
You can't know where you're going to, unless you know where you've been..., in my occasionally humble opinion, it's vitally important to know the pedigree and the heritable ideology of key members of the establishment, particularly as toxic eugenic ideas continue to surface in mainstream media outlets such as the NY Times repackaged and broadly reinjected into the American popular culture. That these folks comprised and continue to profoundly and foundationally influence broad sectors of the current U.S. Establishment - means that their influence and the specifics of their belief system continue to hold wide sway and must be vigorously exposed and repudiated.

Unlike Binet, whose goal had been to identify less able school children in order to aid them with the needed care required, Terman proposed using IQ tests to classify children and put them on the appropriate job-track if they passed muster as possessing acceptable intellectual hygiene. If not, then they should be sterilized as sources of contagion in the societal germ plasm. He believed IQ was inherited and was the strongest predictor of one's ultimate success in life. Terman had a self professed IQ of 180. From the very beginning of his testing regime, he administered English tests to Spanish-speakers and non-schooled African-Americans, concluding:

“High-grade or border-line deficiency… is very, very common among Spanish-Indian and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stocks from which they come… Children of this group should be segregated into separate classes… They cannot master abstractions but they can often be made into efficient workers… from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusually prolific breeding” (The Measurement of Intelligence, 1916, p. 91-92).

Terman's biased tests gave "scientific" proof that, for many Whites, justified racial discrimination, segregation, and even eugenics.

Terman later joined the Human Betterment Foundation, a Pasadena-based eugenics group founded by E.S. Gosney in 1928 which had as part of its agenda the promotion and enforcement of compulsory sterilization laws in California.

Lewis Terman was the father of Frederick Terman, who, as provost of the Stanford University, greatly expanded the science, statistics and engineering departments that helped catapult Stanford into the ranks of the world's first class educational institutions, as well as spurring the growth of Silicon Valley.

Frederick Terman is widely credited (together with William Shockley) with being the father of Silicon Valley.

In 1963 Shockley left the electronics industry and accepted an appointment at Stanford. There he became interested in the origins of human intelligence. Although he had no formal training in genetics or psychology, he began to formulate a theory of what he called dysgenics. Using data from the U.S. Army's crude pre-induction IQ tests, he concluded that African Americans were inherently less intelligent than Caucasians — an analysis that stirred wide controversy among laymen and experts in the field alike.

Nonetheless, Shockley pursued his inflammatory ideas in a series of articles and speeches. Regularly interrupted by boos and catcalls, he argued that remedial educational programs were a waste of time. He suggested that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization.

"Thoughtcrime is The Only Crime That Matters."

The term thoughtcrime is used to refer to crimes (allegorical or legislative) whereby the alleged "criminal" commits a crime not by action but by expressing their thoughts in some way. Real world thoughtcrimes are punishable by measures as severe as death. Even in western countries where freedom of thought is considered a fundamental value, still there are cases where it is possible to incur penalties of the law for saying or thinking something.

Just as technology played a significant part in the detection of thoughtcrime in Nineteen Eighty-Four — a number of technologies have been developed to try to detect thought and emotional states. For example, networks of CCTV cameras are being connected to image-recognition software that intends to detect possible wrongdoers by looking for signs of anxiety.

Remember folks, always and everywhere, it's about the convergence of science, technology, and society....,

Friday, November 16, 2007

III - Is the Establishment Reviving Eugenics?

The American importers of Binet's test immediately and uncritically asserted that scholastic success is the standard to which Intelligence Quotient or (IQ) refers, and, that IQ is a direct measure of innate mental capacity. They flatly rejected Binet's assertion that intelligence is not fixed and that it can be augmented by training. The American claims, contrary to Binet's methods and his own assertions about the same, have become the dogmatic basis for the mental testing or psychometric movement.

American history is replete with strange and unsavory convergences of science, technology, society, and governance. While people are more accustomed to questioning disparities in society, and to the extent that their moral and testicular fortitude permits, indirectly questioning seeming disparities in governance, most folks don't venture very far into the realm of critical examination of technology and science. In this society, the myth surrounding a white laboratory coat is almost the equivalent of the myth surrounding a priestly vestment. By and large, folks just don't question information presented to them as "science".

Consequently, most often the interplay of science, technology and society is commonly overlooked or misunderstood. In order to overcome this tendency, it is absolutely necessary to carefully evaluate the objectivity of what passes for science to ascertain whether it is in fact scientific at all. There is scant little historical or present day evidence of objectivity or scientific method in the practice of psychometry and psychotechnology - and the value-laden and purposive uses to which these "disciplines" have been put - should be enough to make your hair stand on end.

In what I've read of David Mill's online commentary - he comes across as a relatively conservative apologist for American culture and its associated systems of production. Critical interrogation of the whats, whys, and wherefores in this society - not his strong suite. So his comment yesterday in support of the notion that IQ is something ontologically real and genetically determined didn't really surprise me. I suspect that Mills buys into the American myth of IQ hook, line, and sinker. To wit;
The intelligence question is the hardest one for intelligent people to face. Intelligent people know that intelligence is real. And intelligent people know that not every child born has an equal capacity for intelligence.
On the other hand, my online and discursive acquaintance with Michael Fisher shows him a relatively fierce critic and interrogator of American culture and its associated systems of production. So I have to admit a measure of disappointment in the equally preloaded set of assumptions that my here-to-date historically astute and very erudite Bro. Fisher brought to the question of IQ as posed by Mills;
There's only one logical move you can make now, Craig without showin' ya azz. Which move happens to be the correct one and in congruence with reality.

The fact of the matter is that there are so many different equally effective angles of approach for dismantling the invidious myth of IQ - that one wonders why it persists to the present day at all? As best I can ascertain, the ONLY reason that the myth of IQ persists is that it serves the governance purposes of the U.S. Establishment. In that capacity, it is trotted out periodically under a new version release, frosted over with a new and improved "scientific" veneer, and re-presented as the "new and improved" myth of IQ.

As I indicated in my comments to the first installment, my first encounter with IQ came as an unwitting child under the Nixon Administration's Model Cities program which was conducting IQ testing in the hood under the aegis of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Mental Health, and the Public Health Service. Around 1970 there were some very serious proposals aimed at the development and deployment of allegedly scientific solutions to some of the "pressing social problems" facing American society. There was considerable social unrest in America at that time - due to the unjust war in Vietnam, racial and social injustice in America, political assasinations, and mass uprisings in many cities.

During that period, psychometricians were very active in support of psychotechnologists who were actively peddling their wares to the government as a means of solving the problem of violence control. Mind you, a nation which had unleashed ultraviolence on southeast asia and conscripted and pressed into service hundreds of thousands of its poor youth, was preoccupied with the problem of violence control here at home? Public officials and prison authorities began to receive and look favorably on proposals to use psychosurgery as a means of "treating" allegedly uncontrollable ghetto residents and prison inmates. I digress...., this is about the heritability of IQ - psychosurgery and other forms of barbarous medieval libertinage deserve a series all of their own.

II - Is the Establishment Reviving Eugenics?

In the Republic, Plato presents his self-serving myth of the metals as a useful means of justifying social stratification. The impact of Plato's Republic upon political, social and educational thought within Western civilization is incalculable, and yet, the self-serving deceits underpinning this masterpiece of conservative sophistry are frequently ignored. Plato conceived of political harmony being achieved through five long-term manipulative (eugenic) strategies.

1. Regulated sexuality via marriage festivals involving State-run (i.e., non-random) lotteries

2. Controlled breeding to maintain class purity (via abortion, infanticide and eugenics)

3. Educational streaming (i.e., knowledge apartheid).

4. Guardian selection criteria and associated weeding-out processes.

5. No class mixing. Plato believed that mingling among the three classes does the greatest harm to the state and is the worst of evils.

The Platonic social ideal rested on a foundation myth of metals that proposed that the three stratified classes represented palpable differences between the essential natures of men, and which the gods themselves had deliberately cast. Plato likened these essential differences to gold (representing guardians), silver (representing auxiliaries), and iron-bronze (representing workers).

The contemporary version of Plato's myth of metals is the myth of IQ which purports to assign value to individuals and groups not only more precisely than Plato did, but also in a completely honest and scientific way. The self-serving deceits underpinning this masterpiece of sophistry are frequently ignored.

American society represents social discrimination and the preservation of privilege on a massive scale. According to conservative proponents of the status quo, the hierarchical stratification apparent in nearly all spheres of contemporary consensus reality reflects the "fact" that special mental abilities are required in order to attain wealth, privilege, and prestige in modern society, and these special mental abilities are limited in the general population. According to the conservative myth of IQ, the socially discriminatory distribution of wealth, privilege and prestige is a reflection of nature's unequal distribution of mental abilities.

The relatively poor, underprivileged, and socially subordinate inhabitants of economically depressed urban and rural areas tend to have relatively low IQ test scores. (so when someone upsets the conventional wisdom - the authorities take a very keen interest in such an outlier). Relatively rich, privileged and prestigious inhabitants of cities and suburbs tend to have relatively higher IQ test scores. What does this mean?

Well, according to the Platonic conservative, it means that the first group is comparatively stupid and unworthy because they were born that way. The members of the second group are where they are because they are comparatively smart and they were born that way. This is certainly nothing that the father of modern IQ testing - Alfred Binet would have argued. Instead, Binet constructed an altogether different kind of test intended to subserve an altogether different kind of objective. I wrote about Binet in response to David Mills - Binet's theory goes a little something like this;

After the middle of the 19th century, industrialization in America and western Europe forced a growing demand for universal public schooling as the means by which children could be taught the skills and values desired by industry. It was in this industrially oriented educational climate that the French minister of education Alfred Binet, director of the psychology laboratory at the Sorbonne, developed a testing procedure capable of identifying students in need of special schooling. The task as defined was essentially a technical one, and Binet approached it in a straightforward practical fashion. He amassed hundreds of questions drawn from the school curriculum and covering a broad range of difficulty.

His basic idea was to design a test which could be given to children of varying ages and on which children at a given age or grade level would do either well or poorly - depending on whether they were already doing well or poorly in school. Preliminary versions of the test were given to small groups of children whose scores were compared with their teachers ratings of classroom performance. In the process, items were added or deleted in order to bring about the closest possible correspondence between test performance and educational age norms.

In its final form, Binet's test provided an index of scholastic performance based on the prevailing standard of scholastic success. In other words, scores on his test generally correlated with the ratings assigned by French teachers in the classrooms of his day. By using teachers judgements of classroom performance as the standard by which his test was validated, Binet established a practical basis for its use as a predictor of success in the school system. Because his aim had been to identify children who required special schooling, he did not require, nor did he assert, a theory or definition of intelligence. Moreover, he did not make a distinction between acquired or congenital feeblemindedness and he never argued that poor performance on his test was a sign of innate mental inferiority. On the contrary, he sternly rebuked his contemporaries who contended that intelligence is a fixed quantity that cannot be augmented.

Now then, what do we know about schools and about the performance of Black children in schools? (that first link is a whole book by John Taylor Gatto - The Underground History of American Education - which makes the following extraordinary contention; The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real.)

If the U.S. Establishment is reviving Eugenics again, I suspect that it's for somewhat different reasons than in prior go rounds. The core motivation never changes, however, and that's the self-serving justification of the current system of social stratification. What do you suppose the current cycle of pseudo-scientific genetic determinism is all about?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I - Is the Establishment Reviving Eugenics?

On Sunday, the New York Times published one of the most deeply embarrassing articles I have ever read. This article was so bad that it should have never even had a chance of seeing the editorial light of day. Let me get this point out front and let's be perfectly clear about the focus of my concerns. My liminal awareness suggests to me that this was an intentional move by a very important element of the U.S. media Establishment that has demonstrated a long-standing pattern and praxis of promulgating "scientific" racism to support another and geographically local element of the U.S. Establishment which was recently humiliated by its trusted employee James Watson's clumsy ideological disclosure of some of its institutional and Establishmentarian ass.
THE NY TIMES has a science reporter, Nicholas Wade, who makes very similar claims, using rhetoric that is much less provocative. In Wade’s recent book, BEFORE THE DAWN, he writes: “Over the course of many generations the peoples of each continent emerged as different races” (181). And he later suggests that Jews “may be genetically more intelligent” than other races (that is, other groups, he regards as “races”; see pp. 252-56). Let me say that I believe that Watson and Wade have every right to express their views; I believe in free speech, almost with no limits. But when Watson and Wade say such things, there ought to be ample opportunity for others to lay out the factual and logical errors in their arguments and conclusions. This paper calls attention to Watson’s provocative claims about human races, but when will THE NY TIMES provide space to those who disagree with the more soberly expressed, but in many ways convergent, views of its reporter, Nicholas Wade?
Tell me till you're blue in the face that Watson's views were unknown to the board of trustees at Cold Spring Harbor (and don't be fooled because they host this "Never Forget" archive) and that Wade's pseudo-scientific essentialism is unknown to the NY Times. Cause if you truly believe that, I've got some stories to tell you about Santa Clause and his elves and some swampland to sell you at a firesale discount....,

Such categorical violations of editorial standards for journalistic integrity, scientific validity, and source accountability have to have had a subtextual motivation. That the "grey lady" which has a track record for supporting "scientific" racism would carry it is bad enough. However, this piece of propagandistic garbage was put on the wire and uncritically repeated far-and-wide by such media chains as McClatchy - which themselves never paused to exercise editorial standards for integrity, accountability, and validity.

It took up half of page 8 in the front section of the Kansas City Star as a Sunday Health and Science feature with the even more ridiculous title Geneticists worry data could fuel racial prejudices. That something like this was promulgated far and wide suggests to me that elements in the U.S. Establishment have taken the decision to resuscitate and legitimize eugenics in the U.S.. First and foremost let me be clear that I believe that big money is the prime mover behind this effort. Highly credentialed negrodemics are staging protests in support of genetic racial pseudo-science because there's a buck to be made off of it.

Pharmaceutical and genomics companies have $trong in$entives to grease this pseudo-science on the skids of public awareness and acceptance. However, it never hurts to kill multiple birds with one stone - and to the extent that race remains a vital lever in the U.S. Establishment's system of governance - why not cast fundamental and scientific doubt on the human worth of Black folks - while you set the stage for raking in the big bucks? Isn't this exactly what happened in the entertainment industry in 1988 when organic and politically conscious HipHop was sacked in favor of the race pornography of gangsta RaP. (Rhyming and Posing)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Uh Oh......,

F'ing vat grown assassins from Chiba city should be along any minute now, dayyum, jes dayyum.....,

'Supermouse' goes head-to-head with normal mouse

A genetically modified "supermouse" which can run twice as far as a normal rodent has been created by scientists working in the US. It also lives longer, and breeds later in life compared with its standard laboratory cousin.

The research has been conducted at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Details of the scientists' new transgenic animals are published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The mice were produced to study the biochemistry at play in metabolism and could aid the understanding of human health and disease. The GM rodents can run five to six kilometres at a speed of 20 meters per minute on a treadmill, for up to six hours before stopping.

"They are metabolically similar to Lance Armstrong biking up the Pyrenees; they utilise mainly fatty acids for energy and produce very little lactic acid," said Professor Richard Hanson, the senior author on the journal article. He told BBC News: "The muscles of these mice have many more mitochondria. These are the little 'engines' in the cell that produce energy. For some reason, the number of mitochondria are around 10 times more than we see in the muscle of their littermates."

The mice over-express a gene responsible for the enzyme phosphoenolypyruvate carboxykinases (PEPCK-C). Normal expression is in the liver, in the production of glucose. The scientists found their new mice would eat twice as much as normal mice - but weigh half as much. They could also give birth at three years old - which in human terms is akin to an 80-year-old woman giving birth.

One criticism of the work is that it could open the door to abuse, with the spectre of athletes resorting to gene therapy to try to improve their performance. But Professor Hanson played this down. "Right now, this is impossible to do - putting a gene into muscle. It's unethical. And I don't think you'd want to do this. These animals are rather aggressive, we've noticed."

Scientists say such work is more likely to help them understand human conditions, such as those which lead to wasting of the muscles.

Monday, November 12, 2007


We are imprisoned within a system of logic, language, and values. Normalcy in this system is defined as the uncritical acceptance of this condition. To the extent that people think about the system at all, they think of it as a shared consensus, as a consensus reality. This consensus reality is the means by which we communicate and agree upon the way things are, and the way they must be. Because of normalized tacit agreement and complicity in its maintenance, consensus reality is the ultimate secret society. It is so secret that the overwhelming majority of its members are unaware of its existence.

So far as it is a functioning model, such a consensus is valid. Insofar as it is not a functioning model, and is, as in the present case, on the verge of breakdown, then such a consensus is, by definition, invalid. It therefore becomes the right and responsibility of every thinking member of consensus reality to cancel his membership, and to option a new, higher, or broader concept of “reality”.

Ostracization having been the normative Black experience of American consensus reality, we have long been free of many of its systemic constraints, free enough to at least question and eschew complicity in its continuing maintenance. However, questioning and criticism is insufficient to the cause of implementing and sustaining an alternative. What and where are the tools by which one might meaningfully engage the challenge of engineering an alternative cognitive and cultural reality?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quintessential Immorality

In the middle of Atlanta's water crisis - Chris George Carlos is alleged to be using/consuming 390,000 gallons of water a month.

One man, by himself is wasting the equivalent of what - on average - would be utilized by 60 family households.

This is quintessential and unpardonable immorality. It exemplifies what is wrong and rotten at the core of our culture and our way of life...., click on the link to play the video and hear the story for yourself.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Silly Monkey, It's Cognitive Dissonance!

For half a century, social psychologists have been trying to figure out the human gift for rationalizing irrational behavior. Why did we evolve with brains that salute our shrewdness for buying the neon yellow car with bad gas mileage? The brain keeps sending one message — Yesss! Genius! — while our friends and family are saying,

“Well... ”

This self-delusion, the result of what’s called cognitive dissonance, has been demonstrated over and over by researchers who have come up with increasingly elaborate explanations for it. Psychologists have suggested we hone our skills of rationalization in order to impress others, reaffirm our “moral integrity” and protect our “self-concept” and feeling of “global self-worth.”

If so, capuchin monkeys are a lot more complicated than we thought. Or, we’re less complicated. In a paper in Psychological Science, researchers at Yale report finding the first evidence of cognitive dissonance in monkeys and in a group in some ways even less sophisticated, 4-year-old humans.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Individual Genetic Variation 5X Greater Than Thought

The First Diploid Sequence of an Individual Human: The highly accurate sequence suggests that our genetic code is five times as variable as we thought

SOURCE: "The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human" Samuel Levy et al.
PLoS Biology
5: e254

RESULTS: Genomics pioneer Craig Venter and his colleagues have generated a highly accurate sequence of Venter's genome, one that includes the DNA sequences inherited from both his mother and his father.

WHY IT MATTERS: The genome sequence generated by the Human Genome Project, the massive, distributed effort to sequence human DNA that was completed in 2003, was a milestone in the history of biology. But the DNA sequence produced by the project represented just one set of chromosomes (every human has two sets, one inherited from each parent), and it drew on DNA samples from many individuals. As a result, it didn't reflect some of the variability between individuals. ­Venter's diploid genome suggests that genetic variation between individuals is approximately 0.5 percent, not the 0.1 percent that earlier sequencing projects suggested.

METHODS: In the new study, researchers used a method of gene sequencing called Sanger sequencing. The method is more expensive than newer approaches, but it generates longer strings of DNA that are easier to assemble into a complete genome.

NEXT STEPS: Venter and his colleagues plan to add phenotypic information, such as medical records and physical characteristics, to the database housing his genome. This will allow scientists to begin analyzing an individual's genomic information in the context of his or her actual traits.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thought Police

Researchers claim fMRI can probe the workings of the brain as never before — revealing everything from when you tell a lie (read: interrogations) to how you fall in love (read: divorce court)—while critics counter that reports of digital mind readers are premature, and we should think twice before using fMRI in our public and private lives.

(Click here to listen to a leading researcher predict the end of interrogations on The Popular Mechanics Show!)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lies My Teacher Told Me - Lies Across America

James Loewen is in Kansas City this week. He was interviewed on KCUR this morning. Well worth your time and attention - PARTICULARLY - if you haven't heard of Loewen before. Most folks familiar with him are familiar with his book Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.

But you oughta know that the rabbit hole pointed out by Loewen goes a whole lot deeper than just the hidden dimension he documented in this book. As a hardworking and truthseeking historian, Loewen has also carefully documented the extent to which the American Education System is also complicit in maintaining collective American amnesia.

Americans like to remember only the positive things, and communities like to publicize the great things that happened in them. These misrepresentations on the American landscape help keep us ignorant as a people, less able to understand what really happened in the past, and less able to apply our understanding to issues facing the United States today.

Don't Take it Personal...,

In the last several months a potential new tool for diabetes prevention has come to market. A test developed by the Icelandic genomics company deCode Genetics and marketed to consumers by San Francisco-based DNA Direct determines whether people carry copies of a genetic variation that can greatly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the result of a complex mix of genetic and environmental factors. But recent genomic studies have identified several genetic variations that contribute heavily to the disease. The one that exerts by far the biggest influence occurs in a gene called TCF7L2, which was discovered by scientists at deCode in 2005; almost 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes carry two copies of the high-risk version of the gene. These people are thought to secrete less insulin, a crucial hormone that signals cells to store glucose for energy. A single copy of the varia­tion somewhat increases the risk of contracting the disease, and two copies double the risk, regardless of other risk factors.

The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment or insurance on genetic grounds, is still lounging in the Senate, despite presidential support and a whopping margin (420-3) in the House of Representatives.

Do you really imagine that there's anything about you that "our" governing aristocrats consider inviolable?

Remember, what, it's all about...,

The Future of Reputation

"If a man can resist the influences of his townsfolk, if he can cut free from the tyranny of neighborhood gossip, the world has no terrors for him; there is no second inquisition."

John Jay ­Chapman

If you use the Internet, you have abandoned all hope of privacy. Accept the fact that those in power have total and unrestricted access to your every digital personal detail. Once you've accepted this fact, the world holds no terrors for you. There can be no second inquisition.

Identity transparency is the beginning of a transparent society. A transparent society has a chance of operating as a democratic and meritocratic society. Given the challenges facing us all - democracy and meritocracy are human ideals urgently in need of maximum implementation.

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.

The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use "social issues" as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Peak Oil - Believe It or Not

This post is inspired by a brief exchange I enjoyed with Dr. Cynthia Daniels over at the Assault on Black Folks Sanity.

The water crisis threatening Atlanta is tied to a dyad of climate change and unprecedented population growth in the Atlanta metropolitan sprawl. Sprawling, water and fuel-guzzling growth are anti-thetical to the sustainable models of urban planning and management that are required of us as a nation. Nevertheless, growth for the sake of growth remains an uppermost priority in the minds of uninformed or dissonant city politicos -
as evidenced by this gushng article about America's fastest growing cities.

It's a straight pass through of a hot fresh treatment of the subject of people's disbelief in Peak Oil that was posted today by Nate Hagens at the Oil Drum. You should click through to the Oil Drum and read it in its entirety.
Peak Oil is a very scary concept to get one's mind around. If there are arguments around the water cooler about finite resources, large depletion rates, Peak everything, etc., there very well be cognitive biases underlying these polarized opinions. In the first two parts of this series, we looked at some of the factual reasons why people disagree on the timing and importance of Peak Oil: gross versus net oil production, better technology vs depletion, productive capacity vs flow rates, differing definitions of "Peak", etc. This post will address some social and psychological reasons why the urgency of our energy situation may not be being addressed on an individual level and only at a snails pace on the governmental level. Among the phenomena we will explore are a) why we have beliefs and how they are changed, b) our propensity to believe in authority figures, c) our penchant for optimism, d) cognitive load theory, e) relative fitness, f) the recency effect, and several others. The fact is, even if the world's energy data was transparent and freely available to everyone, it would be an open question whether people would agree on any near term action to mitigate future oil scarcity. This post is a first stab at examining our cognitive belief biases. It's long, but I believe it will be well worth your time to read.
Of course I love the serendipity of Hagen's updated treatment of this subject and my recent meditations on group think...., enjoy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

GATTACA Coming....,

The word 'Gattaca' is composed of the initial letters of the four DNA nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine). The movie Gattaca depicts one of the endgame objectives of current neo-governance initiatives - sorting humans by the "quality" of their genome. But its just one of many such newfangled governance initiatives. In my opinion, possibly the most interesting and advanced front in the burgeoning Gattaca-ization of contemporary society is the fruit of the work of Paul Ekman and his predecessor John Gittinger. This is why I red lettered the paragraph referring to Ekman in my earlier article about consensus reality and learning via imitation.
When barely out of the womb, babies are already riveted on a major source of social cues. Newborns to four-month-olds would rather look at faces than at almost anything else. Rensselaer Polytechnic's Linnda Caporael points out what she calls "micro-coordination", in which a baby imitates its mother's facial expression, and the mother, in turn, imitates the baby's. Since psychologist Paul Ekman, as we'll see later in more detail, has demonstrated that the faces we make recast our moods, the baby is learning how to yoke its emotions to those of a social team. Emotions, as we've already seen, craft our vision of reality. There are other signs that babies synchronize their feelings to those of others around them at an astonishingly early age. Empathy - one of those things which bind us together intimately - comes to us early. Children less than a year old who see another child hurt show all the signs of undergoing the same pain.
The ability to manipulate and control genomic expression is flourishing in parallel with the ability to detect and read emotional expression. This business (and it is rapidly becoming precisely that) of reading the liminal cues which flash across the human face or in the scan of brain activity in an fMRI - is the natural and inevitable heir to John Gittinger's PAS.

The Personality Assessment System was the preferred method by which Central Intelligence sought to ascertain the liminal contents of one's character. Detailed and intimate relationship management is of course the sine qua non of good governance between rulers and those ruled and nowhere more crucial than in the sensitive and secret affairs of state delegated to the shadow world of covert operations - which is fundamentally about what - GOVERNANCE.
There is something disconcerting about the fact that we can map the human genome and land a robot on Mars, but we still can't say for sure whether someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Our inability to know when someone is deceiving us has enormous consequences in the fight against terrorism.

Anyway, check out the three part story carried this week on NPR about the recent evolution of the Gittinger-Ekman-Langleben system for ascertaining the hidden or liminal contents of your character.


In the early part of the 21st century, the technologies emerging from the information technology and biotechnology revolutions will present unprecedented governance challenges to national and international political systems. These technologies are now shifting and will continue to affect the organization of society and the ways in which norms emerge and governance structures operate. How policymakers respond to the challenges these technologies present, including the extent to which developments are supported by public research funds and whether they are regulate will be of increasing concern among citizens and for governing bodies. new governance mechanisms, particularly on an international level, may be needed to address these emerging issues.

The governance challenges are emerging because of the very nature of these technologies.
Information and biological technologies have in common that their control and use are largely in the hands of the individual. The technologies that drove the industrial revolution are systematic and complex, and putting them into use requires collective action, social infrastructure, and technical know-how. Information and biological technologies do not have the same large-scale, systematic nature - making it harder to control their dissemination and use. The governance challenge is no longer democratic control over centralized systems- as it was in the 20th century, with such technologies as nuclear weaponry and energy, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, medicine, and airlines - but governance over decentralized, distributed systems. The features that make these technologies different from and their potential benefits greater than those of other technologies increase their potential for abuse.

The mechanisms societies use to control, direct, shape, or regulate certain kinds of activities is what we mean by