Sex Assault Drill

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Fire drill?  Line up and file out!

Or turning the other cheek?

Nuclear war drill?  Duck and cover!

Sexual harassment drill?  Huh?

That’s right.  What happens next?  I don’t know.  So I looked it up.

I got these links, and read all of them.  Guess what?  There’s no right answer.

I was sitting by Alice, a charming young woman.  Bob sat on the other side, a large older married man.  She was scheduling a meeting with Bob at a local pub after work.  It was certainly innocent enough until he started making jokes about making sure they didn’t drink too much on a weekday.  Then he made a “joke” about her sitting in his lap.  And finally there was the “joke” about not staying out too late.

Nothing is clear cut in the real world.  First off, Bob was making bad jokes throughout the meeting.  Alice had been encouraging those jokes by laughing, or at least chuckling.  Trust me, the jokes weren’t that good.  Bob has no work authority over Alice, but as an older man she may have some respect for him.

Here’s my problem, and I’m asking you for help.

What is with Bob?  Why is he effectively hitting on Alice?  Hasn’t he heard of the #MeToo movement?  Hasn’t he ever been introduced to good taste?  At the very least, can’t he learn to tell better jokes?

Alice has a boyfriend, I heard her telling Bob that at least once.  But I can’t be sure she was offended by his “moves.”

I would have liked to confront Bob and ask him if he’d like me to sit in his lap for a change.  (I’m a big enough guy, by the way, I wouldn’t care.)  I have to be careful, he might say yes.

Or maybe I should act all coy and ask him to help me with a hypothetical situation, and then describe him in detail.  With my luck he probably wouldn’t get it.

Maybe I should just file a police report.  Ha.  Good luck with that.  They’re busy enough chasing overdoses and crooked politicians.  Well, overdoses.

Perhaps the best place to start is to ask Alice what she thinks.  I don’t mind telling her how I felt (UNcomfortable!) but if it’s some kind of game she plays with Bob, then who am I to judge?

Why can’t people make it simple?  Perhaps everyone really wishes we lived back in tribal times, where those with the biggest sticks got their way.  Everyone else simply got out of their way.

Oh well.  If you have any advice I’d love to hear it.  The only other suggestion I can think of is that we change society so that we are all far more respectful of each other.

Talk about dreaming!

Goodbye Soft Science

Makes as much sense as most soft science.What’s in a word?

Quite a bit, in fact.

There’s this “news” organization that calls itself “X News.”  Because it says “news” everyone gives it the same credibility as other organizations that deliver true news.

What is news?  We’ll talk about that some other day.

The fact of the matter is that when you are trying to sell something, and that something is not worth much, it’s to your benefit to disguise it.  Ask any fast-talking salesman.

So if your program is a bunch of talking heads talking nonsense, call it “news” so it has more credibility.

What about if your academic discipline is rather “funny” in itself?  What if your discipline has failed to advance our knowledge of its purported subject by any measurable amount during its entire existence?

Simple.  Call it a science.

If you’re a “real” scientist, like in chemistry, or physics, you’re not going to enjoy eating at the same table as an sociologist, or economist.

So you call yourself a “hard” scientist.  Your facts are hard.  Your experiments are hard.  Your conclusions stand the test of time and replication.  They are also hard.

What are the other guys?

So far we’ve been calling them “soft” scientists.

I suggest an improvement.

It’s time to give them a label that gives us a better idea as to what they truly are in the great scheme of things.

Squishy.

They are quite squishy.

You push them, and they move out of the way.

You can pinch, pull, stretch and fold them as much as you want, and they come back exactly the same.

That’s what economics, sociology, and a whole host of other such “sciences” can do.

So it’s time we call an ultra conservative talk show what it is.

And it’s time we call squishy sciences exactly what they are.

Squishy.

Now we need to drop the whole “science” bit from them.  But one step at a time.

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Frankenstein

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The novel Frankenstein was published 200 years ago this year, on January First.  I don’t think google did a doodle on it, but they should have.  Today (30 August) is the anniversary of the birth of the author, Mary Shelley.

Science magazine devoted a whole special section on the impact Frankenstein has had upon popular culture. [1] There’s more Franken-things than you can shake a stick at!  Each of which denotes something scary that has been created by humankind.

Try it out.  Pick any noun, say, tomato.  Stick a “franken” on it – and voila – you have a:

Franken-tomato.  Sounds like something that was genetically modified.  Could be tasty.  But our first reaction is, ugh.  Get it away from me.

That’s the whole point of Mary Shelley’s book, Frankenstein.

It’s not the monster that is the bad guy.  It’s us.

We create things with our knowledge, our technology, our science.  And then we abuse it, we deny it, we argue that it doesn’t exist.  Yet it does exist.

And in our active ignorance, it ends up causing harm.  In the end we may think we have won because we defeat it, but perhaps we are no better off than we were before.

This theme has been used so many times since she rediscovered it that it’s hard to pick the best examples.  Try Colossus, the Forbin Project.  Or Skynet of Terminator, or Adromeda Strain, or; do I need to continue?

The Ancient Greeks created the first rendition of this story.  They talked of Prometheus, who brought forbidden fires to humans.  Without fire we would still be running from the lions, instead of looking at them in the zoo.

What does this have to do with behavior?  Are you kidding?  What doesn’t it have to do with behavior?  This is exactly the kind of stuff we should be talking about, for every new technology: Nuclear power, DNA editing, CO2 sequestration, and more.

Even more importantly, as students of behavior, we should have a framework that allows us to understand and discuss ANY new technology regardless of what that technology may be or how it impacts us.  How’s THAT for a challenge?

Enough for today.  I wanted to make sure SOMEONE said Happy Birthday to Mary.  After all, she did something many activists have been dreaming of doing for years.  I only wish people would read her book and discuss it, intelligently.

Instead of just going, UGH.

 

[1] Science magazine, 12 January 2018, Volume 359, Issue 6372.

 

Archaeological Sexism

This is one of my favorite sculptures in the whole world.  It’s elegant, minimalist, hopeful, and ancient.

If this sculpture says fertility to you, then you've been in the field too long!

This museum calls it “Stargazer.”  It’s a perfect name, because it’s a figure looking straight up.

It might be a woman because there’s a triangle where the “legs” meet, instead of junk hanging out.  But it could also be sexless.

Other museums call these sculptures a “fertility” figure.

What the heck?

This is yet another case of MALE archaeologists ascribing a name to something that means absolutely nothing related to the figure.

Sure, you can make up a great story about how hordes of men would dance around dying embers late at night, lustfully shouting up at the “pregnant moon,” drinking to excess.  Once their adrenaline and testosterone reached their summit, they would run into the night pouncing on every available female they could find in order to spread their seed.

Maybe not.

Maybe it was simply a wonderful testament to the wonders of the universe, appreciated by people who had discovered farming, rudimentary laws, and had several good harvests in a row.  Maybe it was their way of saying “thanks” to the universe.

Is this getting a bit too extreme for the #MeToo movement?

Personally, I don’t think so.  After all, we are projecting our biases onto objects that should be neutral at best.  By calling this a fertility figure, the young people who see this in the museum are going to get a little bit of that macho bias implanted into their brain.  And that’s a bad thing.

So, the next time you look up at the stars, think about your brothers and sisters who were doing the same thing 5,000 years ago.  Then invite an archaeologist over for some tea.  I have a feeling those are some very lonely guys.

 

FUN Science, Art Gallery Time Machine

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Seems a bit spotty, doesn't it?

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now it’s our turn.  Lets do a thought experiment.

In this experiment, we’re going to transport one of the best paintings from the impressionist era back a hundred years (give or take) so that it lands smack dab in the middle of one of the best art galleries of the romantic era.

 

See what we’re doing there?  We’re sticking a little bit of the future into the past, and then figuring out what would happen.

What do YOU think will happen?  Go ahead, write down your answer.  I’ll wait.

(Insert girl from Ipanema here.)

Finished?  Great.  Now, here’s my take.

It won’t sell.  No one’s going to buy it.  Everyone will think a deranged teenager did it, and will tell the dealer to throw it away.  Since it appeared mysteriously from the future, he won’t know who to give it to.  Being a profit-minded guy, he’ll probably paint it over with gesso and sell the canvas to some poor artist who will put a proper painting over it.

Crazy?  Not really.  Consider going to an art gallery today.  What do you see?  Are there crazy pieces in there that drive you bonkers?  Could it be that one of those will sell for millions of dollars in a hundred years?

How can we know?

Right now, we can’t.  There’s this whole thing about fads and fashions that seems to be beyond anything reason will fathom, ever.  Why do women prefer certain hairstyles through the ages.  What about men and their beards, or hats?  What about architecture, writing styles, music, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Until the day comes when we can at least start to describe a fashion and do it in an organized, scientific manner, there will be no hope of understanding, let alone predicting.

Until the day comes when we have a theory of behavior that contains fads and fashions within it, then even with the best descriptions in the world, we still aren’t going to make any progress.

Until then, hang onto that ridiculous object of art your Aunt Sally got you from that yard sale.  It could be worth something.  Someday.

 

Fat and Happy Artwork

There’s a new finding about some cave paintings in Spain.  Turns out that they were painted by Neanderthals.  Those are the hillbilly cousins of homo erectus that we don’t like to talk about.  We’re better than them.

Or so we thought.  Turns out they were just like us.  Mostly.

Done by the fat and happy.

 

We wonder why we don’t find more art of all types from early humans.  There’s a bunch of reasons of course.

Stuff gets lost.  Gets covered over.  Washes away.

But a lot of things don’t.

There’s a big reason in particular I want to harp on about.

Ancient people only made ancient art when they had the time and the inclination.

In other words, they were rich.  Relatively speaking.

If you are an ancient person, but young at heart, and you’re hungry or cold or tired or about to be eaten by a tiger, the last thing you’re going to think about is making some art.

But if you have some time, you’re full, you’re not worried about your next meal, and you’ve got some deep thoughts you’ve been thinking over for a while, then guess what?

Grab that torch, get some rocks and charcoal, and head for the caves.

Reminds me a bit of the guys who do all that graffiti along the roads in the cities.

So the reason we don’t see a whole lot of art from back then is because people weren’t fat or happy that often.  And that’s good to know.

So the next time you see some cave art, think about those fat and happy people.  And then try to figure out what they were thinking about.  After all, aren’t you also happy?

 

 

Conspiracy of Silence

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The Rolling Stone magazine did a great article detailing known assault allegations against Don John, Predator-in-Chief.  I’m pretty ticked off about one aspect in particular, buying silence.

In particular, when a predator is done with his victim, he doesn’t want them to tell anyone else.  If the predator is rich enough, he hires a bunch of goons (lawyers) to give the victim money and a contract telling them to be silent.

The victim has sold their story, the truth, and their soul, along with their body.  They are no longer a victim, they are party to a contract.

The real victim becomes the truth.  And because the predator is still at large, more young women will come to harm.  The first victim has decided her pocketbook was more important than those other women’s dignity.

It makes sense that the predator himself wants his victims to remain silent, because it enables him to prey on others more easily.  If he’s rich enough, he can afford it.

But why doesn’t another rich person come along and buy out that contract?  For only a few extra dollars, the first victim can be just as rich, and the world would have her story.

Quid pro quo.  I’ll do you a favor if you do one for me.

If one rich person were to start doing this, than other rich people would do it to him.  As long as it’s only poor people who sell their voices, then the world of the rich is undisturbed.  But if one rich person were to come along and buy the truth, then someone richer would come along and buy stories embarrassing to him.

I’m confident that is how his lawyers would argue it with him.  I’m confident in this because to destroy the system of confidentiality agreements would also cut into the amount of money that lawyers make.  Anything that hurts their income is also one of the things they avoid.

Perhaps someone can crowd-fund social truth.  Perhaps.

Until we begin to truly value truth and values in society, we will continue to live in fear.  Women will be prey, alpha males will be predators.  We deify the rich and famous, ostracize the old and poor.

It’s better if we don’t talk about it.

After all, your silence is worth gold.

 

Buying Silence, Selling Truth

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The Rolling Stone magazine did a great article detailing known assault allegations against Don John, Predator-in-Chief.

The parts of it that make me angriest are those that purchase silence from the victims.

It makes sense that the predator himself wants his victims to remain silent, because it enables him to prey on others more easily.

But such agreements involve others, other men, other women.  These agreements involve parents of daughters, husbands, wives.  Why would these other people get involved in such a transgression of criminal activity?

For one thing, these other people we speak of are lawyers.  And lawyers are taught that ethics, morals, and the greater good are irrelevant.  The only things that matter are laws and verdicts.  The client’s interests are paramount, whether that client is a criminal, murderer, victim, or completely innocent.

Beyond agreements, there is also the ability to buy someone’s voice and become its owner.  The idea of “catch and kill” is something one of HIS friends has done to another woman who knew him.  She got money, he got silence.  She bought a house, he went on to harm another woman.

The women who remain silent, the women who sell their voices have their own conscience to contend with.  In some ways they can be considered almost as complicit as the predator himself.

They seem to be comfortable with selling their body, selling their tongue, even selling their soul.

Why not?  After all, it’s a free market.

Thanks for reading.

 

Scumbags Deserve Worse

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Recently a conservative cousin said women make up stories of assault for free publicity.

I find this belief incredible.  What’s going on in my cousin’s mind?

Maybe she thinks that when men become famous, publicity seeking women make up stories of how they were assaulted to get their names in the news.

Then why are there so many other “famous” men that don’t have hordes of publicity seeking women making up such stories?

Rhetorical question.  I know the answer, and there’s a good chance you do, too.

The stories are true.  The current man in power is a predator, a predator of women.

I can live with that.  After all, we study behavior.  We have to take what nature gives us.  The “majority” elected him, and he’s the head of the government.  Chances are he’s not the first predator-in-chief, and there’s a good chance he won’t be the last.

What can we do about it?

Here’s two names that have something in common: Natasha Stoynoff and Rachel Crooks.  Check out the article and you’ll find their names for the details.

These young women were assaulted by the Drumpf.  And they resisted.  Now their story is out there, but there is no proof.

Young women know they must be attractive.  Yet they have to avoid scumbags.  The chances of meeting a scumbag are excellent.  There’s a lot of them out there, and having a predator-in-chief only encourages them.

So what CAN we do about it?

 

Play along.  Go aggressive.  Pretend you actually like them.  That’s what predators really want.  Affirm their sexual appeal.  They think their very presence is a turn on.

Go ahead.  Turn them on.  Keep your head in high gear, your heart and hands under control, and resist the urge to scream or cry.

Here’s the hard part.  Turn the situation to your advantage.  Maneuver him into a room without his clothes on.  Put yourself into a safe room with a phone and lock the door and call police.  Make him take you someplace with cameras and then run.  Better yet, tie him up and throw all his clothes out the window.  Make sure to broadcast pictures of him first.

Are these bad things?  Of course.  Are they as bad as getting assaulted yourself?  Probably not.  Will they solve the problem?  Absolutely not.

But they will start changing the perception of helpless young women.  That’s what #MeToo is all about, recognizing and talking about the problem.

It’s time to fight back.

There’s a lot of men who aren’t scumbags, and they’ll support you.

Good luck.  And start practicing those knots.

 

Forgotten Warriors

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Living things behave, because life encompasses everything we do.

A forgotten war hero of WWII

From hugging a newborn to burying Dad.  There’s no good reason to pretend economic behavior is different from psychological behavior.  Not one.  Life isn’t about religion, it’s not about being political.  All these categories are made up so it’s easier for us to apply for grants.

One way to illustrate this is to draw connections between things that seem so different that any similarities must be the work of a crazy man.

Did someone call for a crazy man?  That’s me.

Consider two warriors, different, but similar.

Warrior One.  This is the name of a yoga asana, and my exhibit number one.  The greatest evangelist of yoga in the 20th century was Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.  He spawned a bunch of other yogis, including one who should be more famous, Indra Devi.

The problem with TK is that he wasn’t good at tooting his own horn.  Another problem was that his famous students were better at marketing.  As a result, their names are well-known and TK is forgotten.  That’s too bad.  He made more sense than any of his students.

Warrior Two, also a known asana, and exhibit two.  But in this case, the exhibit has nothing to do with yoga.  Bear with me.  Or more accurately, HellCat with me.  This was an aircraft that fought most of the air battles in the Pacific.  It was produced in the greatest numbers, brought down the most enemy aircraft, and saved the most pilots.  It was an incredible warrior.

Chances are you never heard of the HellCat.  And that’s because newer, prettier aircraft came along and took the final bows.  No one stood up to help us remember the aircraft, the pilots, and even the workers (many of whom were women) who built the HellCat.  It is a forgotten warrior.

Here’s the connection.  Very different disciplines; yoga is selfish, designed to free us from our perception of bodily weakness and develop strength, while the other belongs to the discipline of war.  The first gave us a teacher of great teachers, the other gave us a machine that defended us from those who wanted to impose their will upon ours.

Both worked hard, tirelessly, without concern for their own celebrity or accumulation of wealth.  TK didn’t do it himself, and he wouldn’t let those around him do any marketing either.  The HellCat, as a machine, didn’t have a choice, but the legions of people surrounding it did.  And they chose to let the HellCat have its day, and later, its rest.

As a student of behavior, I’m not arguing that these warriors were good or bad, or even that their impacts were good or bad.  That’s ancient history.

As a student of behavior, what I argue is that we don’t let them be forgotten.

For what they have given us is priceless.