Beyond Alpha, Omega Man

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Going beyond Genes means looking into Heaven and Seeing ourselves.

In my last post I suggested that many people are afraid of the future, and have flocked to alpha males as leaders.

The reasons they do this are genetically based.  A million years of hanging out with alpha males can’t be wrong, right?

It can be wrong.  It is wrong.  Our current civilization has grown and thrived precisely because we have rejected the alpha male concept.

With alpha males there is no true love between young men and women.  Only the alpha male can be loved.  There is no democracy.  There is no social choice.

Alpha males bring rape.  They bring pillage.  They bring plunder.  If you like these things, then you are prone to like the alpha male.

 

What we must do is reject the alpha male concept.  Men must become greater than alpha.  We must extend all the way into omega.

Men who have alpha characteristics have the greatest challenge of all.  They must have the self control to contain those impulses.  They must focus their great energy into areas that will benefit society, not themselves.

We have the knowledge to understand why alpha males exist.  We have the technology to understand where these impulses come from.  And we have the understanding to control those primitive impulses, channeling them for the good of everyone, not just a select few.

So, to all males out there, seek to become omega.  If you are an alpha, learn to channel your “alphaness” into “omeganess.”  All of us will be glad you did.

 

Code Alpha

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Would you vote for this man?

There is great uncertainty in our world.  You feel it in your bones.  Lots of people on the planet.  Too much information about your friends, and way too much about people labeled friend.  News media that keep screaming about one thing or another.  Poison in our air, water, food, even in our medicine.  What do we do?

We are afraid.  When we are afraid as children, we run to the safety of strong arms, our mother and father.  When things are really bad, we want the strength of a man, an alpha man.

Part of us is always looking for him.  The heroes of comic books and the big screen are always men that are strong and powerful.  Young women know this all too well, they flock to the few young men that exude power and strength.

Even other men know this.  Strong men tend to have lots of man friends, but man friends who are secondary, willing to live within the alpha shadow.

Why do we flock to the alpha male?  Probably from millions of years of evolution.  Our ape and chimp cousins do the same thing.  The alpha keeps the group together.  The alpha battles for supremacy, and then he has the most children.

No problems with politics.  Once a younger buck comes along who can knock the alpha down, then there’s a new alpha in town. He gets the tribe, he gets the chicks.  No one cares where the old alpha goes, he’s toast.

Under the alpha male system, you have to live with certain things.  I wrote about that earlier, so we won’t worry about it here.

The reason we don’t use an alpha male system today in most of the world is because of one of the most powerful behavioral forces of all time, love.  I wrote about that as well, so it doesn’t need to go here.

Today we see the rise of many alpha males as leaders: Trump, Putin, and Erdogan.  One of the things that surprised me about the rise of Trump was how many women preferred him over a woman.  Talking to them reminded me of the alpha male complex.

All these women respect strong men, in fact they prefer them.  A strong man gives them a sense of security in the future.  It doesn’t matter if that strong man doesn’t care about them, lies or cheats or steals.  All that matters is that he is strong.

No doubt you also know women like this.  Even though they leave a bad relationship involving a strong man, they end up back in another alpha male’s arms.

We’re seeing the same thing today.  Only these alpha males really are at the top of the pyramid.  And we can partially blame our genes.

Let’s hope that this time around, the alpha games don’t end as badly as history suggests they will.

Pain is a Pain, can be a Gain

Being a pain in the butt is hardly a compliment.  But it may be a back-handed compliment in that it’s the unwelcome relative to what is best about our lives, living.

Our Western cultures have been oriented towards denying, reducing, even eliminating pain.  Eastern cultures tend to embrace pain, much as we sometimes have to embrace that relative we have to see over the holidays.

Nothing embodies emotional pain more than family, especially dysfunctional families.

Problem here is that we are going to talk about pain that’s not emotional.  No, this is pain that hits us below the belt.  Above the belt.  Right at the belt.  Remove your belt, just in case.

In broadest possible terms, pain can be good or bad.  In either case, pain is a way that your body “talks” to your “self.”  Do you think that dogs can feel pain?  If you do, then you have to also agree that dogs have a sense of self.  I believe dogs know themselves.  I only wish they had the sense to upgrade their owners on occasion.

Good pain tells you if you’re doing too much, pushing too hard, eating too much pasta.  That last only pertains to industrial pasta.  Homemade pasta is never painful.

Good pains include itching, in moderation.  I’m not sure what itching means.  My latest theory is that it’s the little bugs living on your skin asking to move somewhere else.  Every time you scratch those buggers get a ride to another piece of real estate.

Pain also comes in different forms, that apply to both good and bad pain.  Here’s some of the ways I suggest we describe them: acute, chronic, diffuse, specific, permanent, sporadic, rhythmic, shared by others, something only I feel, and finally, those that can be found versus impossible to find.

I know this is a lot, but pain covers a lot of area (ha!).  As a yogi, we have to embrace pain as part of living, appreciate it, and understand the good versus bad pains.  If our movements produce bad pain, stop!  Perhaps see a doctor.  If our movements produce good pain, also stop.  Rest.  Repeat.

As the US Marines are fond of saying, pain is weakness leaving the body.  Who knew that Marines were yogis?  They are.  Don’t mess with the Marines.

So, embrace your pain.  Understand it, and listen to your body.  It makes you a better yogi.  It makes you a better student of behavior.  And it makes you a better person.

Tusok

By the way, sorry about all the bad puns.  They sort of happened.  Hope they weren’t too painful.

 

Honest Sheriff

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend down in Appalachia country recently.  It was a delight, the countryside was beautiful, and everyone I met was not only a character, but someone I could easily spend time with.

One gentleman was the Sheriff of a neighboring county.  He related many stories of interesting arrests, puzzling homicides, and even emotional vignettes.

Of the latter, the story that should be more public was when he was interested in soliciting the vote of Mr. Big.  Mr. Big had too much money, even more power, and liked everyone to know it.  When our Sheriff wannabe went to visit, Mr. Big immediately reminded him who he was, and eventually proceeded to offer him a wad of cash to help the campaign, under the table.

Our Sheriff said, “I came for your vote.  Besides, you once gave me a contribution worth more to me than all your money.”

Mr. Big was thrown for a loop.  When?  We met before?  You asked me for money?  I remember everyone I buy off.

Years earlier, our Sheriff hit a bad patch.  Wife up and left, young son and he scraping to get by on a meager policeman’s salary.  He’d gotten to the point where he’d stopped eating to make sure his son was fed and the rent was paid.

They went to a fast food place that had kid toys in the boxes.  But you had to buy the box, and our Sheriff didn’t even have an extra dollar.  Mr. Big was walking by, and without taking notice, bought the meal including the toy.  Mr. Big left.

Our Sheriff didn’t forget.

Mr. Big immediately had a huge check written to the campaign, as much as the law allowed.  He also took out two full-page ads, on his own dime, stumping for our Sheriff.

Our Sheriff won and started doing great things right away, saving the county money and solving crimes.  He and Mr. Big became life-long friends, even up to the day Mr. Big passed on.

So, here’s to our Sheriff.  There have to be more out there like him.  I thanked him personally, and I’d like to thank all the others out there that have integrity, honor, and do the right thing.

Thank you.

 

Socrates’s Mistake

How do I dare say this about the greatest teacher who ever lived?

I wouldn’t have applied for the job of Socrates, Two, if he hadn’t overlooked this subject.

In his defense, he didn’t so much as overlook it as have a much larger issue to deal with first: teaching us how to learn about the natural world.  The Golden age of Greece had great insights, but they weren’t insightful enough to invent and use engines, electricity, and airplanes.

Socrates gave us the tools necessary to learn about the natural world.  That learning gave us the tools needed to start the scientific and industrial revolutions.  Those revolutions gave us engines, electricity, and airplanes.  That’s how deep his teaching went.  Not bad.

The problem he avoided was behavior.  Socrates left it off the table.  By doing that, he was implicitly teaching that our behavior was something beyond nature, something we couldn’t study using the tools of logic and measurement.

Bull s***.

You heard it right.  I who never swear said this in the strongest, most emphatic terms I can imagine.

Behavior is natural.  We have tools to study natural phenomena.  If we don’t study behavior, humanity is doomed.  And here is the final shocker.

Socrates knew this.

He had many things to teach.  A good teacher only teaches one thing at a time.  A good teacher only teaches as fast as his students can absorb that knowledge.  Socrates was a good teacher.

Socrates knew his students believed in Gods.  He knew society was very protective of their gods.  And the gods were a very popular cause of behavior.  Much craziness was sourced directly to those denizens of Olympus.

If Socrates interfered with the gods, it meant he couldn’t teach them about the rest of the natural world.  So he stayed away from behavior.

Socrates knew that a true study of behavior as a property of nature would also mean denial of gods, any gods.  He also knew his students weren’t ready for that.

Most modern people still aren’t ready.  Here we are, almost 2500 years later and it’s hard to go anywhere in this world without bumping into someone’s god.

That was Socrates’s mistake, an intentional one.  For if we are to truly study behavior in a scientific manner, we must consider ourselves part of the natural world.  We must deny the supernatural in all its forms.

After all, if there are deities that control everything including our fates, then what’s the point?

Putting it another way: You got God?  Party time!

 

Socrates, 2

I angered my friend by asking questions, too too many questions.

Most people don’t like that.

Most people are done learning early in life.  Some are done by the time they’re teenagers.  Some wait until they’ve finished school.  Others will fade as their hair changes color.

A few never stop.

Socrates never stopped.

He was going full tilt all the way to the end.  He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens almost 2500 years ago.  He insisted on a trial, was convicted of sedition and sentenced to death at the age of 60.

His legacy was his students; and they had his methods, his conclusions, and most importantly, his enthusiasm for questions.

Today we live in a larger world by every possible measure.  Socrates would have marveled at the size, power, and speed of everything we take for granted.  Yet his questions are as powerful today as they were then.

In fact, they are more powerful.  For one important feature we have today that Socrates didn’t have then; information about how people behave in great detail.  We have access to thoughts, desires, and choices far beyond the simple toga-toting times of Athens.

It’s time for the sequel to Socrates.  In this day and age we are used to sequels, and even sequels of sequels.  Why not a sequel to the greatest teacher who ever lived?

I’m applying for the job.

I’ve got lots of questions, a good handle on the use of logical reasoning, and a fairly open set of assumptions and biases.

Additionally, I’m familiar with many of the modern disciplines, scientific methodology, and many of the technical tools available.

There it is, friends.  I am applying for the position of Socrates, too.  The sequel.

I’m affordable, work from home, require little supervision, and have a fairly decent sense of humor.

I’m also open to shortening the job title a tad.

How about,

Tusok?

 

Challenges of Socrates

I angered my best friend today by suggesting a better way to take a picture.  In all fairness, it would have been a gorgeous picture of a dandelion ball covered in delicate frost, with a fiery orange maple tree as the background.

Instead of a picture, I got an earful.  She said:

“You’re constantly challenging me, and it’s tiring.  I’m not the only one who thinks so.”

Ouch.  That really hurt.  I didn’t realize it, and I certainly don’t want to anger her, or you.

I started to ask: what do you mean by constant?  who others?

But she instantly corrected me by explaining questions are challenges.

Now I’m crushed.  It’s been hours since the frosty ball-of-fluff incident, and I’m crushed.

What’s worst is the very essence of my being is what she finds annoying.  I’m not worried about our relationship, there’s plenty more for us to base that upon, but it does mean;

No more questions.

Which brings us to the reason for today’s post, and the purpose of this site.

It’s all about questions.   Asking questions is the very essence of learning.  If my friend finds me annoying, what do my other friends, relations, and even YOU think?

Perhaps all of them, and you, are also annoyed.

For that I’m a little sorry.  Sorry because I would rather intrigue and please you so that you would press on and think these questions through on your own.  Also sorry because the alternative means we won’t learn, and future history will be the same as past history.

Which brings us to Socrates.

He lives about 2500 years ago, and was the greatest teacher in history.

How great was he?  His teachings created philosophical schools that have lasted up to today.  Second, he was able to teach using questions, allowing the student to reach the proper conclusion based on their own current knowledge.  Third, his teachings about objective definitions and the use of logic eventually led to the Renaissance; the scientific and industrial revolutions.

It’s quite possible that if it weren’t for Socrates we’d still be living in the Dark Ages, fighting Holy Wars, and travel around the world using nothing but wind-powered ships.

It took 2000 years for that message to get through.  All because he wasn’t afraid to challenge his students.

 

Religion. Defined.

Fasten your seat belt, this is going to be a fun one.

It wouldn’t be necessary except for two things.

One: There is a lot of religion-tossing going on with our politicians, as they use it to get elected, and also use it to justify their ongoing war with “terrorism” and religious zealots.

Two: We don’t agree on what religion is.  This wouldn’t be a problem if every culture on Earth would simply sacrifice a bowl of leaves (in season, sprinkled with olive oil and salt) on the altar of the Earth Mother.  Preferably only upon the rising of the full moon.

So, because of number one, and because we DON’T do number two, we have to do number three.

Three: Religion is.

It’s a start, isn’t it?  You see, that’s the problem.  There is no good definition of religion.  I’m going to give one before the end, but it won’t create universal agreement, let alone happiness.  But it’ll work for our purposes.

As a young human, chances are you were exposed to some kind of religion.  Do this on a certain day.  Dress up.  Act nice.  Say these words.  Meet with all these strangers and chant.  Sacrifice this goat.

Well, maybe not that last item.  Animal sacrifice went out of fashion some time ago.  Mostly.

However, that’s the point.  Our practical application of “religion” has changed, because we as a species have changed.

A good definition isn’t going to change.  We invented religion, and it has stayed with us for a long time.  Therefore it must be good for something.  Perhaps if we ponder its positives, we can define it more easily.

Religion is good for:

  • managing and leading groups of people, even very large groups;
  • helping “young” minds comprehend their place in the kosmos;
  • maintaining behaviors (a culture) ensuring group survival.

That should be enough for our purposes.  You’ll find that when you add more, it really becomes part of one of these big three benefits.

So, what’s the definition?

Religion is:

The explicit expression of a set of behaviors that keep an individual as part of a group.

Now for some explaining.  Notice there is nothing in the definition about one or more deities, a higher power, an afterlife, a pre-life, or anything about buildings or prophets.  Nothing.  That’s because some religions don’t have these things.  Yet people belong and worship and propagate their set of behaviors.  They have religion.  It just doesn’t look like yours, or mine.

There is nothing about managing the group, or leading it using priests, mullahs, or rabbis.  Because not all religions have these administrative components.  There’s a good chance that any priesthood, by any name, arose out of necessity.  Like symbiotic parasites, they continue to infect any major religion with the few benefits they provide.  Let’s face it, they can also be the cause of many of the abuses we currently see.

Finally, nothing in my definition says anything about long term survival.  It doesn’t have to, the religion takes care of that for me.  If the set of behaviors don’t account for current selective forces, then that religion won’t be along very long.  It’s okay, this happens.  Today’s current count of judeo-christian religions is somewhere in the thousands.  This includes all the variants of islam, for you islamaphobes out there.  Yes, it’s a modern religion based on the same precepts as Christianity.  Get over it.

And out of the many thousands of religions practiced today, I’m confident that many more have come and already gone through the ages.  It’s how we as people handle things in the natural world.

So there you have it.  Religion is expressed behaviors keeping YOU (or any individual) part of a group.

This means that your social club is a kind of religion.  This means your academic department or university class is a kind of religion.

It also means that sacrificing that bowl of leaves to the tree goddess is also a religion; as long as you aren’t doing it all by yourself.

That would be weird.

Comments?

 

Are you on “The List”

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend down in Appalachia country over the weekend.  It was a delight, the countryside was beautiful, and everyone I met was not only a character, but someone I could easily spend time with.

One gentleman worked for the fire department, and told me a few funny stories about the plight of being the last county to get any upgraded services.  Their dispatcher was still referring to the color of a barn’s roof in order to give the emergency vehicle directions.  The fact that it was the dead of night didn’t seem to register.  Luckily, they figured out where they were supposed to go, and got there in time.

The sad part about our conversation was that the local officials had circulated a special list to these gentlemen, and the instructions that they were not to disturb those people on the list.  The meaning was clear.  These were special persons in our community, and whatever they chose to do, it was your job to look the other way.

As a student of behavior, we want to fight the propensity to judge a person, or a society on its choices.  I can tell you that the gentleman relating this story to me thought the list was an injustice, but we didn’t discuss it in depth.

More to the point, it’s likely that only the high and mighty are on that list.  If you are rich and powerful, then you are above the law.  That is what “the list” represents.  And all too often history has recorded events where such people commit great crimes against society exactly because they feel they are above the law.

So, consider the list at this county level.  And think about whether there is a list in your county.  Is there a list in your state?  Perhaps such a list even exists at the national level.

Are YOU on that list?

 

Scientific Conservative

Wow, that’s a mouthful.

It’s supposed to summarize my political philosophy.

First off, I’m scientific.  This means we use the process of meticulous definition, measurement, and questioning all assumptions.  This means being open about methods, experiments and conclusions.

What do you get for being scientific?  You get the absolute best way to learn.  Yup.  You heard me right.  As far as learning is concerned, science gets the gold medal.  Every time.

Secondly, I’m conservative when it comes to changing something as complex as our society.  I don’t trust any of the politicians, I trust the lobbyists even less, and I barely trust individual citizens to think.  Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this.  Trust no one!  No trust!

What do I believe in?  Hard and fast data.  Facts.  A fact is something all of us agree upon.  That’s it.  If we don’t agree, then let’s figure out why using civilized dialog.

If Alice doesn’t agree with Bob about something, and it’s because she’s keeping her eyes closed, that’s her right.  But then Bob’s right to ignore Alice.

If Alice has her eyes open and has a great argument as to why she doesn’t agree, then that’s fine as well.  In this case, Bob and Alice and we will gather data together, or do an experiment that everyone agrees with ahead of time.

Will this process take much longer than what goes on today?  You bet!  And that’s what makes me a conservative!

It doesn’t mean I want to double the military or keep a hundred guns in my house or tell pregnant women what to do with their body up to the point where they give birth.  No.

Being a conservative means I take things as slowly as I can.  Being scientific means I make progress in a very specific manner.

So the next time your friends try to tag you for one party or another, and you want to throw them for a loop, let them know you’re of no party.  And that your political philosophy is scientific conservatism.  That will stop them in their tracks.  It’s been working for me for some time.

Maybe there is a way to create SciCon parties.  I’ll work on that one.