Dreamer's Refuge

A Student of Life

Category: Society

The story of our time

Study: Storytellers promoted cooperation among hunter-gatherers before advent of religion 

I thought this was interesting because it touches on the concept of stories in our society, and how those stories compete for resources, and minds.

The stories we tell ourselves, be they religious, science fiction, and everything in between, shape our cultures, landscapes, and minds.

At one point we had a few unifying stories, usually religious, of our view of the world, and morality. But as the traditional religious stories started to wane, society started to fragment as newer ideas started to spread which undermined the traditional religious stories.

As “freedom” increases, it creates room for more ideas, and different narratives from within the culture, but also as we import different stories from around the world via immigration/migration. One story that has stuck around for 50+ years is Star Trek and it has has had a huge impact on our society as it has given a vision of the future that people could coalesce behind; people like Elon Musk, and others like him are the current disseminators of that narrative. A hopeful future where technology is used to solve problems, instead of being used for harm. And depending on genetics and upbringing some people will like their vision of the future and support it.

We support a narrative when we pour our resource and time into it individually, but also as a society. The markets (and our purchase power) dictate which product, or idea is the winner.

With the internet we can connect with other people that share our views, for example this forum, and we create our own micro-culture of ideas that most have absorbed and generally agree with.

But if you take a broader look at our society… what story can you tell by where our collective resources go (by choice, not tax)?

Do not look at these as brand names, but from a generel perspective of what they create, provide, or distribute:

Walmart = Cheap Consumer Goods;
Berkshire Hathaway = Investment (resources) in Technology, Consumer Goods, Food production;
Apple = Technology;
Exxon Mobil = Energy;

(Source)

1. Walmart

Last year’s Fortune 500 Rank: No. 1
2016 Revenue: $485.9 billion
One-year Revenue Change: 0.8%

2. Berkshire Hathaway

Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 4
2016 Revenue: $223.6 billion
One-year Revenue Change: 6.1%

3. Apple

Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 3
2016 Revenue: $215.6 billion
One-year Revenue Change: -7.7%

4. Exxon Mobil

Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 2
2016 Revenue: $205 billion
One-year Revenue Change: -16.7%

What story could you tell from this top level picture of our society in the US?

Something to think about; as our society continues to coalesce around compelling stories, be they about a futuristic future, which is currently the winning narrative, to a traditional religious life, which is waning in the west, it will divide people into separate groups with different interests, cultures, vernaculars.

This happened with the printing press as ideas spread via books like memetic viruses across minds, and this has accelerated with the internet. It will be interesting to see how we cope, if we can learn to stop forcing our stories on others, and as a society if we can adapt to the unique and interesting challenges that technology has introduced.

The story of us

Fox experiment is replaying domestication in fast-forward

What shapes our minds? We do.

(Genetic) Instinct <-> Emotion <-> Thought <-> Concept (morality and ethics are just complex concepts) <-> Action <-> loops back to Genetics, based on the ethics/worldview we value, who we mate with. It’s a never ending process.

What we like, or dislike, and how we act are all influenced by the interplay of genetics, society and upbringing.  The subtlest influence comes from our instincts which are genetically encoded in us, the instincts for survival and reproduction.  How the brain is wired, influences how these are expressed.  Aggression for instance, out of fear, is an expression of survival on a more complicated emotional level.  Emotions themselves are influenced by instinct and thought, and they can be trained to supersede instinct via thought.  It is an interplay of influence across the whole process.   A form of Indra’s net.

We have domesticated ourselves via our ethics systems, both religious and secular.  We usually have children with people that are like us, either in what they value, or how they act in society. That is a mix of genetic and cultural influence through upbringing.  Those that can spread that genetic information and the worldview have children that usually exhibit similar traits.

A religious family that is insular and does not allow for outside information will raise kids that are similarly religious.  A religious family that allows outside information will risk losing the child to a different worldview that better conforms to their genetic predispositions, and those laid out by upbringing.

Biology, and psychology are tied, connected by culture, and culture is influenced by biology and psychology.

Genetic predispositions of instinct and emotion influences your political affiliation, or what you like ethically/morally.   A percentage will have the instinctual/emotional traits for the left, right, authoritarian, libertarian, etc, how violent, peaceful someone is, which is also influenced by upbringing, culture or society. All of this will effect what religious/philosophical worldview that person will be attracted to.  Some might pick violent or peaceful parts of an ideology, some will be pulled toward a different ideology altogether.

Your Political Beliefs Are Partly Shaped By Genetics

Source: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/08/05/political-beliefs-genetic/

There won’t be peace in this world until we have an enemy besides other humans that poses a real danger.  One of the easiest way to unify a group is make the “other” more scary then the current “other”.

Is Morality a Product of Evolution?

Article: Is Human Morality a Product of Evolution?

The video is separate from the article. But they are related in their topic.

It seems like Morality is based on a few evolutionary traits, which are the pillars for ethics: Reciprocity yoked with Justice and Empathy yoked with Compassion.

Two Wolves – A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

He continued, The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win?

The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.

Ignorant Knowing, Intellectual Knowing & Internalized Knowing

I have been catching up on other people that have come to the realization;

And one thing I think we all have in common is the understanding of what it means to know, intellectually, and knowing things after you have realized. Or the “ignorant” knowing, what I would class “opinion”.

Alan Watts said it best:

Genuine love comes from knowledge, not from a sense of duty or guilt.

Watts, Alan W. (2011-09-28). The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (p. 21). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Telling someone why they should not eat horrible food, or be bigoted toward gay, black, asian people, etc is not enough.  In effect you force a person to accept a point of view without explaining “why” they should not be a bigot.

There are different reasons, understanding of DNA, our ancestors, how sexuality works and the inane dislike of anything not “straight”, regardless of why it occurs.

People need to be educated on the facts, and as they meet people, those facts will, over time, be internalized.  Otherwise, ignorance will take root, and create a wrong understanding of what is.

Turn On, Tune In, Dig In; Be Mindful, Be Compassionate, Be Patient.

Listened to an interesting record:

Timothy Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

I agree with what he is saying, except the last point. The “drop out” part. I was thinking about this and came to the following realization:

It really should be, from our point of view, as people who support Humanity+ and the Overview Effect:

Turn On, Tune In, Dig In;

His secondary additional maxims were “Be Cool, Be Compassionate”.

Which I changed to “Be Mindful, Be Compassionate, Be Patient”

Why “Dig in”? Because as the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas book teaches us:

“We” had all the momentum, riding the crest… and then it subsided and left its mark on society… It subsided for various reasons, but I think we gave up hope because the change did not come fast enough.

But change comes from within, you cannot force change on someone, they have to change themselves. Drop out, then is the wrong action. You do not want to drop out, you do not want to be forced out by society, you want to dig your heels in, and “Turn On” as many of the “others” as you can. By turning on, I mean not changing them or trying to convert them, but, like us, educate them, show them how to see. They can take it or leave it.  But while doing this, we must Be Mindful, Be Compassionate, Be Patient.

There is a Houseboat meeting with the “Hippie Elders” that talks about this a bit:

Alan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Allen Cohen.
Psychedelic Salon Podcast 193 — Alan Watts & friends “The Houseboat Summit — 1967

It is actually the continuation of and discussion of Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. Which they specifically talk about the Drop Out part, is exactly not the right thing to do. And bring up social anarchism.

Faith, Fiction & Ideas: What explains the rise of humans?

Saw a very interesting Ted Talks which in a way echoed what I have been thinking, but crystallized the thoughts into a coherent overarching idea.

The main premise is that humans live in a dual reality. The objective physical world, and the subjective world of ideas.

Religion, Government, Money, Nationalism, Race, Science. All of those exist in our minds.

The objective physical world being what we see, the rivers, mountains (though even those have been constructed from ideas: rivers (water that runs on land in a certain direction) mountains (a large rocky outcropping))

The world of Ideas is a mental layer that has been overlaid on top of objective physical reality.

This concept is backed up by science. When we see/feel/experience, we actually reconstruct the world instead of seeing it like a camera would. Our ideas of places, people, objects, etc, create the world for us. For instance, when I say “home” what do you see in your mind’s eye? Your childhood home? Your current house? Do we all share the same definition?

Is the emotion behind the word positive, or negative?

The differences between the ideas, is that some “fiction” (what we hold only in our mental world) can affect reality by being realized. For instance science and technology. We can dream up a computer, the internet or going to the moon, and then using those ideas, combined with others, such as math(spotting patterns), etc, bring them into objective reality.

Religion, on the other hand, only exists in the mind. So do all of our laws, morality and “human rights”. We can realize them through action, but they do not “build” anything. You cannot build heaven, but you can bring the ideas you see as heavenly into reality.

Another example are Corporations which are defined as legal fictions. In reality it is a group of people that bought into the same idea behind the corporation, who then work together to make it a reality. (Usually to make money(another fiction) so that we can survive.)

Why is this important? Because we create one reality on top of another. The more people that buy into a certain idea, say science, the more that idea grows and becomes “reality”. Because we build it, and nourish it with our actions in the real world.

Further what we call “society” is really a story that we have all bought into. Usually by creating an internal interpretation of the world that shares a lot in common with other people (by growing up together and sharing the same ideas), like seeing, we construct our own version, but that version is usually similar enough with others to be compatible. When it is not, we call those people insane, or maladjusted. (Barring physiological disorders)

So to function “correctly” in society, means accepting this story. A story we all tell and share with each other. Parent to child, friend to friend.

A memetic cultural information transfer.

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