Donnie Darko

I’m on mini-vacation in Lincoln, Nebraska, today, and Lady of tdaxp and I took the time to watch Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut. I had already seen Donnie Darko (original version) twice, and I was expecting something slightly better (based on reviews of friends).

A Greencine interview with the Director reveals:

To many people, Donnie Darko was simply a flop that quickly dropped out of American theaters in the fall of 2001 with a paltry $515,000 in earnings, a fraction of its under-$5 million budget. But then something curious happened. It became a minor hit in Britain and a staple on the midnight movie circuit, and was discovered by a whole new crowd when it was released on DVD, where it’s rung up over $10 million in sales and remains a top seller on Amazon. The dense, demanding, imaginative and elusive tale of a contemporary Holden Caulfield in a grim and glorious world of nightmares and dreams and alternate realities took hold in the imagination of teenagers and high school kids.

Its post-theatrical success led an almost unprecedented experiment: Donnie Darko may be the first “flop” given a new theatrical life by a director’s cut.

The director’s cut is a whole other movie. For a feal of the difference: imagine that the director’s cut of Farenheit 9/11 revealed that John Kerry was Osama bin Laden in disguise.

So many changes were made to the film that I was able to watch it with new eyes. The effect of added and changed dialog is quite enjoyable, and lets me appreciate both versions as seperate works around the same motif. Perhaps tdaxp film gurus Rob and Biz will be able to further describe the movies.

Good job, Hollywood!

Phil Jones’ tdaxp Podcast, and More Cool Links

Phil Jones, the ulra-productive blogger behind BeatBlog, Blahsploitation, PlatformWars, OPTIMAES, SmartDisorganized, SupplyLearner, and ThoughtStorms,has released his podcast interview of tdaxp.

Being interviewed was awesome, especially with someone as smart and conversational as Phil. Plus, his cultured British accent contrasts nicely with my faintly Marquettan pronunciation.

The majority of the discussion concerned my Computer Science thesis, and the history of the Sioux, the Indians native to South Dakota.

Get the podcast now, or read the podcast blog, Political Ideas and Values. A taste of the thread:

interesting, for a Catholic thinker, all this focus on success and stepping away from the moral questions. (Or maybe we get to moral assessments of cultures in part 2). For me ’survival’ is an important part of thinking about political projects (it falls under the heading of ‘feasibility’, which we’ve discussed before – little point advocating a political project that is bound to fail) but can’t be all of it. Even if you could prove to me that eg. US or Chinese imperialist cultures were the strongest, most likely to succeed, I’d still be against them.

join the conversation!

More cool blog links below the fold


Adam at The Metropolis Times discusses Al Gore’s new movie, illegal immigration, and the Iraqi insurgency.
Curtis Gale Weeks tackles a new variation of the OODA Loop.
Curzon has an absolutely amazing travelogue of Vietnam and China that puts mine of Beijing and Tianjin to shame.
Eddie, Live from the FDNF, ponders defending a small island.
Mark Safranski blogs dubious Russian theories and dubious theories concerning Russia.
Sonny at FX-Based curses his book organization skills.

Evil and Other Perspectives

Below are notes for chapters 14 and 15 of ‘s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

Topic:Evil & Psychopathy (compare to Ridley on Schizophrenia)
“Several biologists have adduced evidence that psychopathy is a cheating strategy that evolved by frequency-dependent selection. Statistical analysis shows that a psychopath, rather than merely falling at the end of a continuum for one or two traits, has a distinct cluster of traits (superficial charm, impulsivity, irresponsibility, callousness, guiltlessness, mendacity, and exploitiveness) that sets him off from the rest of the population.” (Pinker 261) (following this Pinker lists Normal Mailer and William F. Buckley as notables tricked by psychopaths. He could have listed Winston Churchill, too. Likewise, is the fact that symptoms match the definition just a function of the definition?)
“Psychopaths, as far as we know, cannot be ‘cured… a problem that many intellectuals tried to wish away in the twentieth century but that has long been a concern of religion, philosophy, and fiction: the existence of evil.'” (Pinker 263)


Topic:Abuse
“In traditional foraging societies, genetic relatives are more likely to live together, work in each other’s gardens, protect each other, and adopt each other’s needy or orphaned children, and are less likely to attack, feud with, and kill each other.” (Pinker 245) (Interesting that he mentioned adoption)
“Until recently, in most cultures, mothers had had poor prospects for sustaining a newborn to maturity cut their losses and abandoned it to die.” (Pinker 248-249) (but isn’t this now true with abortions?)

Topic:Old Ideas
“B.F. Skinner, ever the Maoist, wrote in the 1970s that people should be rewarded for eating in large communal dining halls rather than at home with their families, because large pots have a lower ratio of surface area to volume than small pots and hence are more energy efficient.” (Pinker 246)

Topic:Petty Loyalties (compare to the Petty Troika)
“when leaders have tried to unite a social group they have trained their members to think of it as a family and to redirect their familial emotions inside it.” (Pinker 247)
“In traditional societies, children were shackled to the family’s land, betrothed in arranged marriages, and under the thumb of the family patriarch.” (Pinker 251) (I think Buller disagrees)
“It is not just the husband or boyfriend who takes a proprietary interest in a women’s sexual activity, then, but also her father and brothers.” (Pinker 254)
“the last hunter-gatherers in our own culture, commercial fishermen.” (Pinker 258) (interesting thought!)

Topic:Leftism
“Some radical scientists imagine that the only alternative is an Ayn Randian individualism in which every man is an island. Steven rose and the sociobiologist Hillary Rose, for instance, call evolutionary psychologist a ‘ring-wing libertarian attack on collectivity.'” (Pinker 255)
“Much of what is today called ‘social criticism’ consists of members of the upper classes denouncing the tastes of the lower classes.” (Pinker 277)
“[Academic leftists] condemn ideas whose very contemplation ought to give rise to feelings of disgust and denounced the less-than-human scientists who can even think of such a thing. But of course it is the job of scholars to think about things, even if only to make it clear why they are wrong. Moralization and scholarship thus often find themselves on a collision course.” (Pinker 279)

Topic:Religion & Morality
“In the nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth, self-contained communes based on a philosophy of communal sharing sprang up throughout the United States. All of them collapsed from internal tensions, the ones guided by socialist ideology after a median of two years, the ones guided by religious ideology after a median of twenty years.” (Pinker 257) (Leaving aside still-extant >Hutterite Colonies, this argues that religious memes are an order-of-magnitude more powerful than secular ones.)
“If someone believes abortion is immoral, then allowing other people to engage in it is not an option, any more than allowing people to rape or murder is an option.” (Pinker 269) (interesting thought, but simplistic view of morality.)
“three spheres of morality — ethic of autonomy pertains to an individual’s interests and rights — community pertains to the mores of the social group — divinity pertains to a sense of exalted purity and holiness.” (Pinker 271)
“The reason that dominance got melded with morality in the first place is that reciprocity depends not only on a person’s willingness to grand and return favors but on that person’s ability to do so, and dominant people have that ability.” (Pinker 272)
“The ethic of community also includes a deference to an established hierarchy, and the mind (including the Western mind) all too easily conflates prestige with morality.” (Pinker 273)
“When college students are given descriptions of people and asked to rate their character, they judge that a person who eats cheeseburgers and milkshakes is less nice and considerate than a person who eats chicken and salad!” (Pinker 275)

Topic:Kurzban
“And then there is the Public Good game, in which everyone makes a voluntary contribution to a common pot of money, the experimenter doubles it, and the pot is divided evenly among the participants regardless of what they contributed.” (Pinker 257) (this game was described by Bob Kurzban. The book mentions other games, including the Dictator game, immediately before this)

Topic:Sex & Marriage
“infidelity, stepchildren, and in-laws are among the main causes of marital strife… The psychologist Elizabeth Paul sums up her research on the phenomenon: ‘Casual sex is not casual. Very few people are coming out unscathed.'” (Pinker 253)
“People may have sex in private for the same reason that people during a famine eat in private: to avoid inciting dangerous envy.” (Pinker 254)

Topic:Modularity & Limits of Self-Knowledge
“the conventional view that natural selection favors nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution… when a person suffers neurological damage, the healthy parts of the brain engage in extraordinary confabulations to explain away the foibles caused by the damaged parts (which are invisible to the self because they are part of the self.” (Pinker 264-265) (interesting OODA implications)
“Each party to a dispute can sincerely believe that the logic and evidence are on his side and that his opponent is deluded or dishonest or both.” (Pinker 265-266) (Rand made the same comment while defending the existence of law-courts)

Topic:Definitions
beautiful or elegant [means that] a few deep principles… generate a wealth of subtle predictions.” (Pinker 241)
nepotistic altruism [means applied] family love — the cherishing of children, siblings, parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and cousins…” (Pinker 242-243)
reciprocal altruism [is the trading of] favors.” (Pinker 243)
theory of parent-offspring conflict says that families do not contain all-powerful, all-knowing parents and their passive, grateful children.” (Pinker 249)
group selection, a Darwinian competition among groups of organisms rather than individual organisms.” (Pinker 258)
group… a set of mutual reciprocators.” (Pinker 259) (Bloom‘s definition of group is stronger than this, but weaker than traditional group selection)
moralization and amoralization [are when] moral emotions [are] turned on and off like a switch.” (Pinker 275)

Tancredo-Ally Pushed Back

, an ally of Congressman (R-CO), lost his bid to unseat (R-UT) in a party primary. The vote was 55.7% to 44.2%. This election is important because Jacob attacked Cannon for being “soft” on immigration. (Tom Tancredo is the leader is the current leader of the Know-Nothing wing of the Republican Party.)

The victory is even sweeter for pro-growth Republicans because Tancredo weakened his own ally:

Tom Tancredo’s PAC sponsored some particularly nasty ads against Cannon, that had Jacob apologizing on radio constantly for the last two weeks about non-authorized ads. Big momentum loser and got Jacob significantly off message.

Immigration is good for America. It’s our destiny. It’s the right thing to do.

Intelligent yet Incomphrensible

Two chapters today: the last of Adapting Minds and the 13th of The Blank Slate.

Buller’s eighth and last chapter, titled “Human Nature,” deserves a special place in non-fiction writing. Never has the intellectual quality of a book descended so far, so fast, as Adapting Minds does in Buller’s conclusion. Straw Men and logical fallacies glide through the pages, cheapening the rest of his work as surely as a gaudiness cheapens solemnity.

So while the notes are generally organized in a logical fashion, my first category is to remind me of the more insipid lines.
“Essentialism is the view that there are certain characteristics that define a kind, so that two different entities belong to the same kind just in case they both possess the characteristics definitive of that kind.” (Buller 429) (yet Pinker emphasizes fuzzy definitions, such as:

“conceptual categories come from two mental processes. One of them notices clumps of entries in the mental spreadsheet and treats them as categories with fuzzy boundaries… the other mental process looks for crisp rules and definitions and enters them into chains of reasoning.” (Pinker 203)

and he even gives animal classification as a classic fuzzy activity!)
“If Evolutionary Psychologists claim that we are not the same species now that we were 150,000 years ago, because 150,000 years ago our lineage did not possess the ‘qualities that define us as a unique species,’ then Evolutionary Psychology’s demarcation of Homo sapiens is directly at odds with the standard biological demarcation of our species.” (Buller 443) (stupid word games. that some branches of chemistry use a different definition of molecule doesn’t make them wrong. that’s like criticizing a lawyer’s court filing by looking up words in an actors dictionary. stupid, stupid, stupid. much of the chapter is like this. extremely disappointing)
“In field guides (or in dictionaries), you find species apparently defined by certain clusters of ‘field marks.’… These characteristics are merely markets, which aid in identifying the species a bird belongs to.” (Pinker 449) (inane. see above two comments)
“laws of nature apply only to instances of natural kinds.” (Buller 456) (this is part of a long passage in which Buller denies psychology can be a science because ancient humans with different psychological adaptions are nonetheless part of the same “natural kind” as modern humans. this seems a platonic, arbitrary, and anti-medical view)
“Taking those survey results as evidence of a universal human nature involves inferring psychological universals from cultural universals, which is a fallacy…” (Buller 459) (It it a method, possibly a faulty one, but I don’t think a fallacy. Buller later qualifies himself, but it close to channeling Durkheim’s Omnia cultura ex cultura)
“the incest taboo as a cultural phenomenon can’t simply be generated by an evolved aversion to sex with intimate childhood associates.” (Buller 469) (the weasel word in the sentence is “simply,” which robs it of meaning or relevance)


Topic: Particular Man
“there are [frequency-dependent] reasons why minds could exhibit adaptive differences when and where bodies don’t. So, even if there is a universal human antomy, it doens’t follow that there must be a universal human psychology.” (Buller 426)
“there is no single human antomy and physiology possessed by all humans around the world of which Gray’s Anatomy provides a detailed and precise description.” (Buller 427)
“the average percentago of loci at which individuals in a population are heterozygous [If an organism has the same allele in each opposing slot, if it has the AA or aa genotype, it is homozygote; and if it has different alleles in the opposing slots, if it has the Aa genotype, it is a heterozygote.” (Buller 21)] is anywhere between 21 and 37 percent of loci, depending on the populatoin…” (Buller 437)

Topic: Culture
“evolved psychological polymorphisms could also generate cultural universals.” (Buller 467)
“the existence of a cultural universal may signal only a common origin of all the world’s cultures, rather than common psychological adaptions among all the world’s peoples (Buller 468) (but if a cultural trait is maladaptive, then why does it survive?)
“extent creation myths appear to be cultural homologies, rather than direct expressions of universal innate psychological adaptions.” (Buller 470) (more Durkheimism

Topic: Modularity
“The world is a hetergenous place, and we are equipped with different kinds of intuitions and logics, each appropriate to one department of reality. These ways of knowing have been called systems, modules, stances, faculties, mental organs, multiple intelligences, and reasoning engines.” (Pinker 219)
“list of cognitive faculties… intuitive physics, intuitive version of biology, intuitive engineering, intuitive psychology, spatial sense, number sense, sense of probability, intuitive economics, mental database and logic, language.” (Pinker 220-221)
“[Multiple] ways of knowing and core intuitions are suitable for the lifestyle of small groups of illiterate, stateless people…” (Pinker 221) (GG implications? SysAdmin?)

Topic: Cognition
“We depend on analogies that press an old mental faculty [module, or multiple intelligence] into service, or on jerry-built mental contraptions that wire together bits and pieces of other faculties.” (Pinker 221)
“education is a technology that tries to make up for what the human mind is innately bad at.” (Pinker 222) (perhaps in general, but a good argument could be made that public education is a technology that tries to diminish what the brain is naturally good at)
“Students cannot learn Newtonian physics until they unlearn their intuitive impetus-based physics.” (Pinker 223) (similarity with methods of rational constructivism)

Topic: Education
“A family, peer group, and culture that ascribe high status to school achievement may be needed to give a child the motive to persevere toward effortful feats of learning whose rewards are apparent only over the long term.” (Pinker 223)
“most curricula have barely changed since medieval times, and are barely changeable, because no one wants to be the philistine who seems to be saying that it is unimportant to learn a foreign language, or English literature, or trigonometry, or the classics…. The question is not whether trigonometry is important, but whether it is more important than statistics.” (Pinker 235-236) (Compare to FedX’s defense of classical education)

Topic: Morality
“the key moral intuition that other people are worthy of moral consideration because of their feelings — their ability to love, think, plan, and suffer — all of which depend on a functioning nervous system.” (Pinker 226) (author later criticizes this view)
“Many kinds and degrees of existence lie between the living and the dead, and that will become even more true as medical technology improves.” (Pinker 227)

Topic: Environmentalism
“Plants are Darwinian creatures with no particular desire to be eaten, so t hey did not go out of their way to be tasty, healthy, or easy for us to grow and harvest. On the contrary,: they did go out of their way to deter us from eating them, by evolving irritants, toxins, and bitter-tasting compounds. So there is nothing especially safe about natural foods.” (Pinker 229)
“human material existed is limited by ideas, not stuff.” (Pinker 237)

Topic: Brain Anatomy
“If the mind is a biological organ rather than a window onto reality, there should be truths that are literally inconceivable, and limits to how well we can ever grasp the discoveries of science.” (Pinker 239)

Topic: Complex Dynamic Systems
“Al human transactions fall into four patterns… communal sharing… authority ranking… equality matching… market pricing.” (Pinker 233-234) (discussion about how the last two are about trade, but contradict each other’s assumptions)

Topic: Definitions
physical fallacy: the belief that an object has a true and constant value, as opposed to being worth only what someone is willing to pay for it at a given place and time. This is simply the difference between the Equality Matching and Market Pricing mentalities.” (Pinker 234)
culture as ‘the transfer of information by behavioral means, most particularly the process of teaching and learning [or] any mental, behavioral, or material commonalities shared across individuals” (Buller 423,459) (first is a very memetic differentiation, second much broader)
metaculture… universal psychological adaptions [generated by] universal cultural contents…interactions among psychological universals and… universal features of the nonsocial environment” (Buller 460-461) (immediately after Buller takes a straw-man, deterministic definition)
Natural State Model, ‘there is a distinction between the natural state of a kind of object and those states which are not natural. These latter are produced by subjecting the object to an interfering force.'” (Buller 430)
species… a group of interbreeding population [or, but Buller thinks “and”] group of reproductively lineages that lie on a single ‘line’ segment in the tree of life.” (Buller 439-440)
genealogical nexus in which [an organism] is situated [in the tree of life.” (Buller 441)
homologies… those traits derived, possibly with modification, from an equivalent trait in the common ancestor.” (Buller 454)
analogies (also known as homoplasies)… those traits have a similar structure or function, but evolved in those organisms’ lineages independently of one another.” (Buller 454)
natural theology… central focus on adaptions.” (Buller 472) (what follows is a bizarre genetic fallacy attack)
argument from design… the complex, purposeful design within organic form reveals the Creator’s works.” (Buller 473)
product theory, a theory designed to explain how certain products came into existence.” (Buller 478)
process theory… designed to explain the dynamics of that process… designed to explain change.” (Buller 479)

American Supreme Court Ignores International Court of Justice

Bench Memos and Opinio Juris celebrate the Supreme Court’s latest rejection of “international law” and the UN’s International Court of Justice in Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon

… the ICJ has interpreted the Vienna Convention to preclude the application of the procedural default rule to Article 36 claims. The LaGrand Case… and the Case Concerning Avena and other Mexican Nations… were brought to the ICJ by the governments of Germany and Mexico, respectively, on behalf of several of their nationals facing death sentences in the United States. The foreign governments claimed that their nationals had not been informed of their right to consular notification. They further argued that application of the procedural default rule to their nationals’ Vienna Convention claims failed to give “full effect” to the purposes of the Convention, as required by Article 36. The ICJ agreed, explaining that the defendants had procedurally defaulted their claims “because of the failure of the American authorities to comply with their obligation under Article 36.”… Application of the procedural default rule in such circumstances, the ICJ reasoned, “prevented [courts] from attaching any legal significance” to the fact that the violation of Article 36 kept the foreign governments from assisting in their nationals’ defense…

Under our Constitution, “[t]he judicial Power of the United States” is “bested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Art. III, § 1. That “judicial Power… extend[s] to… Treaties.” Id §2. And, as Chief Justice Marshall famously explained, that judicial power includes the duty “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). If treaties are to be given effect as federal law under our legal system, determining their meaning as a matter of federal law “is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department,” headed by the “one supreme Court” established in the Constitution.

It’s not a slam dunk. An even cooler court would have gone farther in showing “leading international law scholars” that their goal of a Progressive Ulema is unachievable. Still, a large majority agreeing that ICJ rulings are not binding is a good thing.

Thank you, Supreme Court.

Let the Voting Rights Act Expire

Bigotry Beneath the Fog,” by Eugune Robinson, Washington Post, 23 June 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/22/AR2006062201466.html (from MyDD).

My old nemesis, the Voting Rights Act, took a powerful blow because of wily House Speaker Dennis Hastert

Speaker Dennis Hastert was ready to move forward with a feel-good, election-year extension of the landmark 1965 act that guaranteed voting rights for African Americans disenfranchised by Jim Crow law and custom in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. In 1975 the act was expanded to cover Alaska, Texas and Arizona, where citizens with limited command of English — Latinos, mostly — were being treated as if they were black folks in the South.

Hastert understood that reauthorizing the act would be useful in efforts to convince voters that the Republican Party as presently constituted is just ultraconservative, not actually racist. But Hastert was sandbagged by fellow Republicans who rebelled in a private caucus meeting Wednesday. The renewal probably could have won easy approval on the House floor, since Democrats would have voted for it, but Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans, so he had no choice but to yank it.

This is great news.


I’ve written before on the unAmerican nature of the Voting Rights Act, so I won’t belabor those point now. Suffice it to say that the VRA attacks both democracy and the complex adaptive system we call the United States.

What’s interesting to me is the line that it is Hastert’s policy is to not bring out any bill that lacks majority support from Republicans.. If this is true, it means that the same philosopher which makes the Speaker stall on immigration reform also makes him stall on renewing the VRA (hopefully leading, of course, to the VRA’s expiration in 2007).

Given the choice between pushing immigration reform package against the Republicans in the House, or stopping the VRA with the Republicans in the House, I choose stopping the VRA. America’s greatness lies, partly, in her rule-set, her protection of the fifty united States as they try this and that, evolving their way to fitness. We need workers, but ultimately the ratio of capital and labor is a quantitative benefit to the United States, while the nationalist straitjacket of the VRA is a qualitative loss.

So quality over quantity, and sinking the VRA over reforming immigration this year, if it comes to that.

Thank you Dennis Hastert. You made the right call.

Abusive Stereotypes

“it’s remarkable that more parents don’t kill their annoying and conflictual teenagers, sinc ehte natural impulse is to want to do so. According to this picture of human psychology, we all have the inclination to throttle the screaming infant on the plane, but only its parents are sufficiently besotted by love for the despicable creature ‘to tenderly alleviate its distress,’ rather than silence it permanently.” (Buller 411-412)


Topic: Cognition
“conceptual categories come from two mental processes. One of them notices clumps of entries in the mental spreadsheet and treats them as categories with fuzzy boundaries… the other mental process looks for crisp rules and definitions and enters them into chains of reasoning.” (Pinker 203) (really? is this the same as the logical-analogical reasoning divide?)
“language can be pressed into service as one of the media used by the brain for storing and manipulating information.” (Pinker 209)
“it is a mistake to think that raw images are downloaded into our minds… Rather, they are labeled and linked to a vast database of knowledge. which allows them to be evaluated and interpreted in terms of what they stand for. Chess masters, for example, are famous for their ability to remember games in progress, but their mental images of the board are not raw photographs. We know this because when a chessboard is sprinkled with pieces at random, chess masters are no better at remembering the arrangement than amateurs are.” (Pinker 216) (This reminds me of my note that “building [internal connections] is like database normalization, like chunking. My instructor for that class studied young chess masters extensively).

Topic: Discrimination
“People’s stereotypes are generally consistent with the statistics, and in many cases their bias is to underestimate the real differences between sexes or ethnic groups.” (Pinker 204)
“Stereotypes can be downright inaccurate when a person has few or no firsthand encounters with the stereotyped group, or belongs to a group that is overly hostile to the one being judged.” (Pinker 204-205) (obvious SysAdmin implications)
“When people are distracted or put under pressure to respond quickly, they are more likely to judge that a member of an ethnic group has all the stereotyped traits of the group.” (Pinker 205) (reminds me of Kurzban’s work on competing coalitions)
“The good news is that when the facts do change, people’s stereotypes can change with them.” (Pinker 206) (SysAdmin application: it’s easier to change stereotypes than worldviews)
“stereotypes are least accurate when they pertain to a coalition that is pitted against one’s own in hostile competition. This should make us nervous about identity politics…” (Pinker 206)

Topic: Reproduction
“the average reproductive value of infants is lower than that of pubescent teens.” (Buller 350-351)
“parental care [may be] just an instance of the broader phenomenon of selection for aiding kin.” (Buller 355) (the chapter argues strongly against this, noting that fathers may love children to gain favor with mothers)
“parents should feel deeper love for offspring who exhibit phenotypic cues of high reproductive value than for those who exhibit phenotypic cues of low phenotypic value… parental love [may serve] to inhibit a parent’s tendencies or impulses to react violently when a child piques the parent’s anger” (Buller 356) (later, the chapter argues that the better interpretation is that adults naturally don’t injure children]

Topic: Abuse
“children aged from birth to age four living with a single genetic parent were 12.5 times more likely to be victims of maltreatment than similarly aged children living with both genetic parents. Children up to age four living with a gnostic parent and a stepparent, in contrast, were 40.1 times more likely to be victims of maltreatment than children living with both genetic parents.” (Buller 362) (methodological attacks on this study are later in the chapter. I’m not transcribing similar notes from the study for this reason)
“genetic fathers were vastly more likely to commit suicide after killing their children, and significantly more likely to kill their wives in the same violent incident, than were stepfathers [who] typically kill their children in impulsive, violent rages, whereas genetic fathers typically kill their children in premeditated acts of deliberately wider scope than mere filicide.” (Buller 366)
“the rates of physical abuse of children living with two unrelated adoptive parents were significantly lower than the rates of physical abuse of children living with both genetic parents.” (Buller 380)
“if [adoptive parental kindness] were true, adoptive parents should also be loathe to invest in the unrelated children that they adopt.” (Buller 383) (confuses adaptive with adapted, unless the EP theory is right expect for a different sequence for the theory of parental attachment)
“overall, fathers invested more in… stepchildren from current relationships [than in] genetic children from previous relationships.” (Buller 391-392) (this may be just “out of sight, out of mind, in sight, in mind”)
“from 1655 to 1939, in two German communities… illegitimate children whose mothers subsequently married men who were not their genetic fathers died in infancy at a rate that was approximately six times greater than that of illegitimate children whose mothers subsequently married their acknowledged fathers [and the researchers] were unable to find any explanation other than ‘maternal manipulation'( infanticide or severe neglect) [and this may be because] single mothers who do not go on to marry the fathers of their illegitimate children have greater lifetime reproductive success if their illegitimate children die and they marry another man” (Buller 397)
“children of single mothers suffer a greater risk of physical abuse than children living with married genetic parents.” (Buller 398)
“children younger than three suffer a dramatically elevated risk of being abused by a genetic mother if they live with a stepfather.” (Buller 399)
“[in one study of deaths] 206 (or 47 percent) were coded as having an undetermined manner.” (Buller 403) (a section on possible widespread underreporting of murder follows)
“Physical violence toward children could… be the result of some atypical condition in the engine of the mind.” (Buller 412)

Topic: Pedophilia
“sexual abuse and physical abuse appear to be different phenomena with different underlying causes… intrafamilial child sexual abuse is generally not accompanied by physical abuse.” (Buller 372)
“stepfathers who coresided with their stepdaughters during the first three years of their stepdaughter’s lives were no more likely to sexually abuse their daughters than genetic fathers… caring for for very young [children may trigger] a mechanism that inhibits the subsequent development of sexual desire…” (Buller 373)

Topic: Definitions
General Formula [of Love] – The strength of A’s love of B will tend to be proportional to the product of B’s reproductive value and B’s relatedness to A.” (Buller 350)
discriminative paternal solicitude — motivational mechanisms that cause parents to be discriminating with respect to how and to whom they provide parental care and solitude.” (Buller 349)
inclusiveness fitness [is] the sum of direct and indirect components of fitness.” (Buller 353) (so includes assisting nephews, etc)
theory of parental attachment [states] mothers go through a three-stage process of attachment to their children. The first is one of assessment… of the child and how its qualities and present circumstances combine to predict its prospects… the establishment of an individualized love… a feeling that her child is uniquely wonderful and worthy of devotion… a gradual deepening of parental love, which occurs over the course of many years… process of paternal attachment.. begins with a post-natal assessment of phenotypic resemblance between father and child” (Buller 368-369) (abuse patterns reflect the mother’s progression– young children are abused more often than older ones — but not the father’s)
evaluator apprehension or evaluation apprehension [means] that people respond to interviews and surveys with answers that they believe will meet with interviewer approval and avoid interviewer disapproval.” (Buller 387)
stereotype originally refered to a kind of printing plate… in 1922.. Walter Lippmann [in] Public Opinion… fretted about the difficulty of achieving true democracy [when people’s] concepts of social groups were… mental pictures that are incomplete, biased, insensitive to variation, and resistant to disconfirming information.” (Pinker 201)
euphemism treadmill… invent new word for emotionally charged referents, but soon the euphemism becomes tainted by association…” (Pinker 212)

Marriage and Morality

Topic: Marriage
“Marriage is a cross-culturally ubiquitous feature of human societies…. men and women everywhere enter into individualized reproductive alliances… mutual obligation between wife and husband… expectation that the relationship will persist through pregnancy, lactation, and child rearing… legitimization of the status of the couple’s children… marriage is everywhere intelligible as a socially recognized alliance between a woman and a man, instituted and acknowledged as a vehicle for producing and rearing children.” (Buller 260)
“whereas the traditional view sees ancestral males as having ‘agreed’ to marriage imply in order to accrue the fitness benefits of bi-parental care of their offspring, Evolutionary Psychology sees ancestral males as having ‘agreed’ to marriage only on the condition that the investment of parental care that they cast upon children would return unto them.” (Buller 265)
“Evolutionary Psychology’s conception of the evolution of marital motives appears to be based on historically recent and geographically Western notions of romantic love between individuals.” (Buller 272) (but isn’t Buller’s argument based on … notions of female protection from male violence?)
“While certain cultural representations of romantic love may be specifically Western and recent, the reality is that people everywhere are strongly motivated by their own sense of whom they want as a mate.” (Buller 273)


Topic: Evolutionary Psychology
“The evolutionary hypothesis on about sex differences in jealous is domain-specific — it proposes that the psychological mechanisms of each sex will contain dedicated design features, each corresponding to the specific sex-linked adaptive problems that have recurred over thousands of generations of human evolutionary history.” (Buller 303) (why not life-cycle linked?)
“Evolutionary Psychologists have cited three kinds of evidence in support of their claims that he sexes have evolved ‘design differences’ in the psychological mechanisms of jealousy. First, a variety of questionnaire studies… a physiological study… legal ‘double standards’… indicates that our ‘folk psychology’ — our everyday means of understanding the behavior of our fellow humans — implicitly acknowledges a sex difference in the causes of jealous distress” (Buller 305-306)
“Thus, whereas Evolutionary Psychology sees the evolved function of male jealousy to be protection against misspending parental care, the mating effort hypothesis leads us to see the evolved function of male jealousy to be protection against losing paternity opportunities to another male. In short, from the perspective of the mating effort hypothesis, male jealousy evolved to promote paternity competition rather than to promote paternity certainty.” (Buller 308) (the only way this is a meaningful distinction is if there was widespread, open polyandry in paleolithic times. doubtful. the alternative is that it’s meaningless, but then what to make of Buller’s ‘While this distinction may be salient to a third party, it is a distinction that is unlikely to make an emotional difference to a male’ on 311?)
“Evolutionary Psychologists believe that each sex has its own sex-specific module for jealousy, which contains a lot of innate information about sex-specific threats to reproductive interests and domain-specific procedures for operating with that information.” (Buller 315)

Topic: Universal Man
“People in all cultures distinguish right from wrong, have a sense of fairness, help one another, impose rights and obligations, believe that wrongs should be redressed, and proscribe rape, murder, and some kinds of violence.” (Pinker 188)

Topic: Infidelity
“childless couples were half again as likely to divorce as couples with a single child, twice as likely to divorce as couples with two children, and four times as likely to divorce as couples with three or more children.” (Buller 261)
“Even in those models in which the payoff of parental care is very large, the evolved allocation to parental care remains small [for males], because the potential payoff for promiscuous mating is always larger.” (Buller 266)
“Often an individual will dissolve a marriage in order to marry someone else [for instance when] the couple may have drifted apart and stopped having sex [or perhaps] one spouse may be dissolving the marriage in order to “marry up.” (Buller 275)
“Thus, the overall incidence of paternal discrepancy is surely higher than 9 perfect, although standard genetics textbooks cite a conservative estimate of 10 percent.” (Buller 281)
“most women aren’t able to marry the men with the really good genes. This leaves the average married woman int he position of having access to high-quality males only through short-term matings.” (Buller 283)
“In [Shirley Glass’s and Thomas Wright’s] surveys, of the men and women who reported having had extramarital sex, well over half of the en also reported having very happy marriages, whereas the vast majority of the women reported being dissatisfied with their marriages.’ (Buller 290)
“women who were emotionally dissatisfied in their marriages were not significantly more likely to develop extramarital sexual involvements than were women who reported being happy in their marriages.” (Buller 291)
“the leading factor that would motivate female extrapair sexual involvements was retaliatory.” (Buller 292)
“although the costs of infidelity are different for the two sexes, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the two sexes must have evolved mechanisms with different ‘design features’ that specialize in tracking only events that are correlated with the costs specific to one’s sex.” (Buller 314) (I’m getting frustrated with these quantity v. quality arguments. As Stalin said, “Quantity has a quality all its own”)
“in no study did more women than men report sexual infidelity to be more upsetting than emotional infidelity.” (Buller 317)
“women believe that it is not particularly likely that a man’s having sex with a woman implies any kind of emotional involvement with her.” (Buller 324)
“Men who stray typically report a mere desire for sexual variety as the motivating factor, whereas women who stray typically report dissatisfaction in their marriages as the motivating factor.” (Buller 331)
“all subjects — whether men or women, homosexual or heterosexual — were far more likely to be distressed by an imagined sexual infidelity if they believed that sexual infidelity portends the end of a relationship.” (Buller 336)
“there was no significant difference between the one [male] group’s physiological arousal in response to imagined infidelity and the other [male] group’s physiological arousal in response to imagined sexual intercourse.” (Buller 339)
“Throughout the English speaking world, the common law recognizes three kinds of acts as sufficiently provoking to reduce murder to manslaughter [including] sexual contact with one’s wife.” (Buller 342)

Topic: Old Ideas
“In this experiment, Thornhill and Gangestad made us of the fact, which has been known for some time, that both sexes respond to subliminal scents (or pheromones) emitted by members of the opposite sex.” (Buller 287) (I remember health ed teachers in public school repeatedly stating that there were no human pheromones).

Topic: Human Exceptionalism
“But evolutionary biologists insist we are not fundamentally different from animals, and molecular geneticists and neurocientists insist we are not fundamentally different from inanimate matter.” (Pinker 176)

Topic: Morality
“We blame people for an evil act or bad decision only when they intended the consequences and could have chosen otherwise.” (Pinker 175)
“Whatever converts standards of responsibility into changes int he likelihood of behavior — such as the rule “If the community would think you’re a boorish cad for doing X, don’t do X” — can be programmed into an algorithm and implemented in neural hardware.” (Pinker 177) (also fits under neural networks and brain anatomy)
“The most risible pretexts for bad behavior in recent decades have come not from biological determinism but from environmental determinism: the abuse excuse, the Twinkie defense, black rage, pornography poisoning, societal sickness, media violence, rock lyrics, and different cultural mores” (Pinker 178)
“The difference between explaining behavior and excusing it is captured in the saying ‘To understand is not to forgive,’ and has been stressed in different ways by many philosophers, including Hume, Kant, and Sartre.” (Pinker 180)
“‘It won’t bring the victim back,’ say the opponents of capital punishment, but that can be said about any form of punishment.” (Pinker 181)
“The reason these practices strike us as barbaric is that they inflict more harm than is necessary to deter evil in the future.” (Pinker 182)
“the emotional coloring of an object is as much a figment as its physical coloring.” (Pinker 192)
“And in fact the Golden Rule has been rediscovered many times: by the authors of Leviticus and the Mahabharata, by Hillel…” (Pinker 193) (bs. Silver Rule is extremely common, though)

Topic: SysAdmin
“The logic of the determination seems to be: If someone tries to explain an act as an effect of some cause, the explainer is saying that the act was not freely chosen and that the actor cannot be held responsible.” (Pinker 179) (morality of SysAdmin implications)
“People who are emotionally driven to retaliate against those who cross them, even at a cost to themselves, are more credible adversaries and less likely to be exploited.” (Pinker 182) (variation in this could be the centerpiece of final project)
“We are that community, and our major level of influence consists in appealing to that inhibitor brain system.” (Pinker 183)
“people’s deterrence thresholds in real life aren’t pinned at just two values but are broadly distributed (one lash for some people, two for others, and so on), so many intermediate levels of punishment will be defensible, depending on how one weights the benefits of deterring wrongdoing against the costs of inflicting harm.” (Pinker 185) (excellent utilitarian defense of SysAdmin)

Topic: Homosexuality
“all three studies cited above found no significant difference between the responses of homosexual and heterosexual women to Buss’s [infidelity] dilemmas.” (Buller 320-321)
Definitions
mating effort hypothesis [means] long-term male parental care evolved because of sexual selection by females for males who provided child care.” (Buller 267) (yet how does this makes sense in respect to game theory, in which rape would have been considerably easier?)
jealousy… an emotional alarm that is designed to go off whenever we detect signs of a partner’s potential infidelity and to mobilize us to avoid or minimize our losses.” (Buller 277)
developmental perturbations… can be caused by a deleterious mutation or by exposure to pathogens or toxins during development.” (Buller 286-287) (a genetic “ruleset reset” during life? SysAdmin implications?)
developmental stability, a sign of genetic constitution that is able to resist the deleterious effects of pathogens, toxins, and minor mutations.” (Buller 287) (genetic resilience?)
Pain is a physiological alarm that warns of potential bodily damage and motivates withdrawal from the painful stimulus.” (Buller 302)
fear appears to have evolved as an emotional alarm that warns us of the presence of potentially harmful situations and motivates withdrawal from them.” (Buller 302)
Jealousy makes people more likely to be hyper-vigilant of their mates’ activities… monopolize their mates’ time… manipulate their mates’ emotions… derogate the rivals for their mates’ affections… enhance one’s own personal appearance, to threaten or become violent toward the rivals, to increase the frequency of public displays of possession… shower their mates with affection or gifts… turn up the sexual heat in the relationship… threaten or enact violence toward their mates… each sex rated most of these tactics, when employed by the opposite sex, to be at least moderately effective in preventing a mate from straying.” (Buller 303)
double-shot hypothesis, men and women are equally distressed by both emotional and sexual infidelity, but they differ in their beliefs about how closely the two forms of infidelity are linked int he minds and behaviors of members of the opposite sex… the fact that there is a consistent sex difference in [infidelity dilemma] results does appear to falsify the double-shot hypothesis, since that hypothesis seems inconsistent with a sex difference in response when only a ‘single shot’ of infidelity is guaranteed (Buller 322-323,326)
007 principle… in general, evolved creatures will neither store nor process information in costly ways then they can use the structure of the environment and their operations upon it instead.” (Buller 328) (either a truism or West Poleism)
relationship jeopardy hypothesis, according to which both sexes have the same evolved capacity to learn to distinguish threatening from nonthreatening extrapair involvements and to experience jealous upset to a degree that is proportional to the perceived threat to a relationship in which one has invested one’s reproductive effort.” (Buller 332)

Federal Courts Attack San Diego, Veterans, Christians, Democracy

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Cross,” Christian News Wire, 26 June 2006, http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/64487411.html.

The latest example of anti-democratic Judicial Tyranny is out of California (where else), where…

A three-member panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 21, 2006, that the majestic 30-foot cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego must be removed by August 1, or the city will face $5,000 per day fines.

Atheists began a crusade to remove the cross when they filed a lawsuit against the city 17 years ago. The cross, located in a city-owned park in the Pacific Beach area with a breathtaking 360° view of the California coastline, was built in 1953 as a Korean War Veteran Memorial. Christian groups found it a popular site for Easter sunrise services and other events.

800px-Mount_soledad_md
Mt Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross

It gets worse.


In November, 2005, San Diegans approved Proposition A with an overwhelming 76% of the vote, which would have allowed the cross to remain by transferring the title to the land. A District Court judge ruled that Prop A was unconstitutional, but in an ironic twist, the 4th District Court of Appeals ruled moments after the 9th Circuit that the city could appeal the Prop A ruling.

Extending the logic, I can’t imagine why other public crosses should stand in public places as public memorials

rfk_grave_md
The Grave of Robert F. Kennedy
Arlington, Virginia

The ugly, militant secularism of California’s federal courts is despicable. Due to judicial fiat, San Diego (must the city change her name as well? — tdaxp) is being forced to destroy a war memorial, a historic cross, a beloved part of history. Similar disgusting idiocy from Earl Warren began the War for the Courts. Agitprop, such as the California Federal Judiciary seems to automatically generate, may be the key to completing it.