The Real Inequality Gap

Milo Yiannopoulos said on the Anthony Cumia Show the other day that the country is divided, and that the division is between the good looking and the ugly. Everyone laughed.

The comment struck a nerve with me.

I’m a good looking dude. But I like to attribute all my successes, and even my looks, to hard work.

I worked my ass off in the gym and ate the right things for years in order to be good looking. I bought clothes that don’t suck. I earned it. I think anyone can be good looking.

That will be the slogan if I ever open a gym: “Anyone can be a six”.

But that’s not where the divide is. It’s not necessarily good looking versus lazy. I’m not going to get into why some people are good looking. I’m going to talk about how they are better than ugly people.

It really starts with the development of social skills.

We call someone “good looking” when they are sexually attractive. Meaning, we want to have sex with them. There is more to being sexually attractive than just good looks, for men, but that’s why we use the term good looking. It refers to good genes, which is a positive reproductive characteristic.

That more is multiplied by being good looking. Again, they develop the social skills, which is most of what women find attractive.

Social skills not only provide the ability to charm her, but also the status that comes with being able to deal with social pressure. Again – good reproductive traits.

Good looking people develop social skills because people want to have sex with them.

Because more people want to have sex with them, the good looking are put in more social situations than ugly people.

Because they are put in more social situations, they can be more selective about the social situations they end up in.

Because they are both choosy and the raw numbers are higher, good looking people will be in more difficult social situations.

Because they are put in more social situations, and more difficult social situations, good looking people will develop social skills at a faster rate than ugly people.

These social skills provide an advantage in the dating market, the job market, and community leadership positions (politics) where sharp social skill is a requisite.

Because the good looking have them leadership positions, they will make more money, as there is more money in leadership.

Because they have the same jobs and the same friend circles that were found by filtering out less fun people with worse social skills, good looking people will tend to hang out together.

This concentrates the wealth, the beauty, and the charisma.

If you’re still not sold that beauty is better than the alternative, there are still more pros.

People that grow up good looking are constantly told they are good looking.

When you are constantly told something, you start to believe it. When that thing is a good thing, you start to be confident about it, because it’s something you can enjoy and rely on to bring positive results.

Good looking people can feel good about looks, and develop a confidence about this. Not only are they not insecure about looks, but they will gain confidence faster than ugly people because their confidence is reinforced by the sexual market, compliments, and, soon social scenes.

In the world of social media, where looks and money are visible for all, the good looking rule. Confidence rooted in looks, perceived value, and perceived status are all reinforced with “likes” on different social platforms.

Perceived status can be backed up when you actually are in exclusive social circles and have the charisma to show for it.

Not “you”, but good looking people.

There is an inequality gap in America and in the world.

There is inequality with income. There is inequality with perceived status (“likes”), and there is inequality with real status (jobs and dating market options).

All this inequality exists because of the divide between the good and the ugly.

Well. Some of it.

Buddhism and Christianity

Buddhism and Christianity are closely linked. Deep Eastern philosophy and classic Western philosophy agree on the same core values.

So, too, do many great books. Those of Homer and Virgil and Shakespeare. Apparently. I haven’t read them yet.

The primary thing they agree on – do not give in to pleasure. Pleasure is the root of all evil. All suffering.

From pleasure we see the deadly sins emerge. Lust of the pleasure of women. Gluttony of the pleasure of food and drink. And five other sins.

Pleasure is at the root of the commandments. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in killing someone, even if your life would be more enjoyable. More pleasurable.

In fact the devil, the tempter, represents the temptation to simple pleasure. The forbidden fruit, the mana in the desert.

In Buddhism, we learn pleasure is the root of all suffering, and that this suffering is inherent in all humans. In psychology, Buddhism is validated.

All disciplines are connected. Even different philosophies.

In psychology, we learn that the brain evolved to seek pleasure in order to fulfill two animalistic functions: survival and replication.

The modern world feeds on this evolution. It takes advantage of the evolution of the brain. It takes advantage of natural selection. Of our base nature.

We are sold candy which appeals for the same reason fruit of a tree appealed – its sweetness was once a sign of nutrition. Today that sweetness is replicated with processed sugars to give us pleasure.

Sex is awesome and has more obvious survival and replication implications. You either had sex or your genes didn’t replicate and your bloodline thinned and your tribe became smaller and weaker and more threatened by other tribes.

Sex, even the natural act that precedes replication, can be abused.

It is in the search of these pleasures that we find ourselves removed from the moment and we, according to the Buddha, suffer. We are living in the future. Being hopeful of things to change.

Buddhism says to eliminate the need to want pleasure. Buddhism teaches us that this can be reached by meditating. When we meditate, we learn to focus. We focus our thoughts and eliminate being subject to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we don’t want.

The Bible also teaches us to not seek pleasure. Not just in the commandments, but in the imitation of Jesus. Jesus was repeatedly tempted with pleasure by the devil, which he rejected.

Eve ate the apple god forbid because it was the most attractive. She gave in to pleasure and lived her life in shame.

Now, one doesn’t have to live in shame because they chose pleasure once in their life. But it is shameful to always be needing a high – whether drugs, alcohol, food, or sex.

This chase of pleasure is shameful because it’s enslaving. Needing pleasure is voluntarily submitting to that pleasure and the need of that pleasure.

To be free, one must reject pleasure.

Pleasure is a powerful force with powerful bounds. Those bounds become stronger when pleasure is given into.

Psychology tells us the brain rewards pleasure. We are likely to repeat what is pleasurable, since it feels better than not pleasure.

If a caveman ate a fruit and didn’t die of poison, he was likely to return and eat that fruit. He was rewarded with nutrients which reinforce that he should be eating the fruit.

So, too, the pleasures today encourage us to return. Only now there are billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores that throw pleasure at you.

If one follows the Buddha and Jesus’ example, he will see that the billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores are only offering to tighten your own shackles.

At least, according to the Bible, Buddha, psychology, and me.

The Western World Validates the East

This is my second essay from my Psychology of Modern Buddhism course. It’s a less fun read, but I’m proud of it and it has some relevance to the discussion I post.

Enjoy.


  1. Does modern science lend support to the logic behind Buddhist meditation practice?
  2. Does modern science lend support to the moral validity of Buddhism?

The Western World Validates the East

Modern science supports both the logical and moral validity of Buddhism and its mediation practice. Scientific support comes from the modular theory of the mind, and the moral validity comes from the Buddhist meditative ability to affect these modules.

An element of Buddhism that supports general morality is the idea that we are formless. There is no self that ends with the physical body that houses our thoughts and biases. If we are connected to all things, we will not want to inflict harm on other things. This is supported by science.

Psychologist Paul Bloom wrote in his book, How Pleasure Works, “Pleasure is affected by deeper factors, including what the person thinks about the true essence of what he is getting pleasure from.” We give essence to things to differentiate them. We give essence to groups, people, and things. Buddhism promotes morality by removing this essence, this judgement, to be more objective and to eliminate expectations.

When we assign an essence to a person or thing we attribute, at best, a pleasure to it (at worst, a hatred or displeasure). When we assign qualities, we set ourselves up for either disappointment if our expectations are not met or diminished pleasure if our expectations are met.

We heard in the lecture that temptation becomes harder and harder to reject with consumption, as gratification is a reward for success. These pleasure-seeking modules evolved to be a part of our psychology, and they are rewarded and are then more likely to be chosen next time – unless we do something about it. If we refuse to give essence to a person or group or thing, we can be objective about it, or her, or them, and we can simply enjoy the world as it is. There are no expectations that can lead to disappointment, and there are no pleasures we will attach ourselves to for diminished experience.

When we reject the self, we see harm to others as harm to “me” because there is no more me, there is just everything. Rejecting this self goes against natural selection because natural selection is out for our self-interest (survival and replication, not happiness). This rejection of the self is congruent with experiences of “enlightenment” which brings individuals closer to the reality of mind and closer to moral truth because there is a distance from feelings that contain self-serving judgments about the world. This distance eliminates bias and brings us closer to objective truth.

We can reject the self and refuse to give essence to ourselves or others through meditation.

One of the core elements of Buddhism is mindfulness, which is use of the mind for ulterior needs – not selfish. We practice mindfulness through meditation. If we are mindful of our feelings, we can control our thoughts. If we can control our thoughts, we can control our behavior by choosing to empower modules that we want, not just modules that would otherwise naturally appeal to us in our former emotional state. Science supports this, and we see evidence in the modular theory of the mind and the implications of the modular theory.

In Rational Animal, Douglas Kendrick claims we are under influence of seven modules – sub-selves. These are sub-selves because the different modules compete for attention. The winning module is awarded based on its ability to convince the brain that the module has made the best decision. The winning module becomes our sense of self. The problem is the winning module can be biased by previous victories (being selected) or other biases inherent with natural selection (such as tribal feelings to an in-group).

By focusing on something, you overcome modules competing for different views. If we focus on mindfulness, we can control our feelings because we are controlling the self that dictates our behavior. In the lecture, Robert Wright said that meditation is used to become mindful of our behavior, so that we can act in ways that are against natural selection. From this mindfulness, we can choose to reject the self, and to behave morally.

A possible issue with this explanation is that few people have achieved the enlightened state sought after. In the cases of people that claim to have achieved enlightenment, there is no technology to prove they have, and data points are largely experiential.

In conclusion, modern science lends support to both the moral validity of Buddhism and to its meditation practice. By being mindful of feelings, thoughts can be controlled. By controlling thoughts, behavior can be controlled. When behavior is controlled, happiness is controlled, and more power can be exerted in our world – hopefully for good. While much of the results that support this are experiential, modern science does support the theory that supports the results.

Everyone’s Wrong But Me

I got off the train yesterday on my way to my girlfriend’s house. I’ve made this commute hundreds of times. I would get off the train, walk three blocks to the bus stop, and catch the bus straight to her place. It’s the first bus stop on the route, so I’m guaranteed a seat.

Not yesterday. Yesterday there was a “Women’s March” and there were tens of thousands of people walking around after, well, whatever they did that day, and there were one hundred people waiting for my bus.

I went into a bar down the street, got a scotch, and caught an Uber.

I’m writing this post to outline why I think I’m right and why I stand my ground and stick to my definition of right even in the face of the millions of protesters that filled out in the streets yesterday across the United States.

1. They aren’t happy.

This is by far the most important reason. There wasn’t a united effort keeping these women and “men” together. I know this from the signs they were carrying.

Some wanted “more rights” for trans people. Some wanted to let the world know they were drugged and raped by horrible people one time in their life. Some wanted to signal to women that they aren’t like the rest of men that drug and rape women to fulfill their sexual urges.

The only thing in common with all these people is that they aren’t happy – there is something keeping them from being happy.

That something is men. Donald Trump more than other men.

I don’t agree that anyone holds your happiness hostage. Only you can choose to be happy. No one will make you be happy, and no one will make you be unhappy.

The mindset of the people gathered yesterday was one of victimhood. They are being oppressed by someone or something. Men, Donald Trump, corporate greed, the patriarchy.

This mindset, spread by others at the rally and fear-mongering media (remember, fear is the most powerful psychological trigger, so it’s what we choose to watch which creates the demand that the media fills so we pay them for it) is unhealthy because it removes personal accountability for individual happiness.

This doctrines spreads the message that we can’t be happy because someone or something is preventing us. There were tens of thousands of people wearing pink hats reinforcing that belief.

Everyone there attended because they are unhappy and unwilling to take responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice and a mindset, and all marchers choose not to. It’s lazy to play the victim and contradictory to the whole theme that women are “empowered”.

2. They don’t represent the truth.

The protesters do not spread truths. They even shame truths when they collide with their feelings.

There are two genders, no matter if someone wants to be called a third. 

Women are getting less and less happy the more they get in the way of feminist policies and social media gathering. 

I had a coworker ask me recently, “Ian, why are you always smiling? You always seem like you’re in a good mood.”

I said, “Because I am in a good mood. I accept the world how it is. Once you accept it how it is, and not how it should be, you can choose to find beauty in it. There is so much beauty in the world that is often missed.”

Feminists don’t accept the world as it is. They have a vision that’s purely emotional, and that vision is not productive and not utilitarian.

Feminism builds grand expectations that an “empowered” woman must reach success in a career, have sex with great men, and raise a great family with a great man when she decides to settle down.  

This isn’t honest because there are no consequences in this feminine picture. Not only is there a decreasing window to physically have children, but if a woman spends her younger years fucking dudes and building a career, a great man with options can choose to go younger and hotter.

You can’t have a beautiful, genetically-gifted cake that others want and fuck a lot of cakes too.

3. They don’t value beauty and strength.

This one is more of a personal vendetta because, like I mentioned under truth, I enjoy looking for beauty in the world. There is nothing more beautiful than a pretty woman.

There is nothing more masculine than a male warrior. No lion, bear, or wild horse can hold a candle to the human warrior when it comes to a sign of strength.

Beauty is a feminine quality. It is one that men find attractive and one that women should value, if not for personal esteem than for the men that find it attractive.

In a competitive market place, and there is none more competitive than the sexual marketplace, you must do the utmost to find a quality mate. Be beautiful, or you limit your options to men with no options. Attractive people have options. Don’t limit yourself to unattractive people.

Everyone I was with yesterday stood in opposition of me. They stood confidently together against truth, beauty, and personal accountability.

It brought a tear to my eye to see people brought to tears of joy at the sight of tens of thousands of people in no control of their emotions or happiness.

People brought their children to preach their doctrine of how men are the root of all problems.

How is a person supposed to think critically if they are raised in a pink hat being told by parents and teachers and people with signs that they cannot be happy if one individual remains an elected official?

This march, this movement – our current sociological state is unhealthy because it discourages happiness, discourages the search for truth and reason, and it’s visually unattractive.

March all you want and join others in your sorrow. But for the love of God and science and beauty, please leave your children at home.

Allow them the choice to be happy.

BITCOIN PROVES THAT THE “GLASS CEILING” KEEPING WOMEN DOWN IS A MYTH

This was originally posted at Return of Kings here: (link to article).

Bitcoin is further evidence that the “glass ceiling,” the idea that women are kept from reaching the ranks in corporations and in financial success because of a nebulous “patriarchy,” is nonsense.

Economists have disproved the glass ceiling on more than one occasion in the past, so the more well-read will not be shocked by this. Yet, the existence of the glass ceiling has remained a major talking point for feminists. The silence of feminists during the rise of Bitcoin has been deafening.

Bitcoin is an interesting case study because it is modern and doesn’t have the excuses that you hear when the glass ceiling argument breaks out. There is no Bitcoin establishment or “old boys’ club,” because Bitcoin has no establishment. Bitcoin is hardly established, and there is no one central authority.

Feminists claim that “institutions have always had biases” and “it’s a man’s game,” but Bitcoin didn’t come with any biases. It didn’t come with anything. It was nothing ten years ago, and its meteoric growth is well-known.

Bitcoin was created in 2009, a time where women had established themselves in various industries, most notably tech (see: Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg). Nine years later, only three percent (at most) of Bitcoin use (suggested through Bitcoin community engagement) is by women.

Is this the patriarchy keeping women from investing? No. There is nothing that stops women from investing in Bitcoin. Women don’t even need to go to banks to introduce an intermediary which could discriminate against them.

So why aren’t more women investing in Bitcoin? There are a number of reasons for this.

1. Bitcoin is Boring

There are no emotions involved in cryptocurrency investing. Women are more likely to get involved in areas that stir their emotions, from the social sciences to humanitarian work to political rallies.

Bitcoin is mathematical. It was created with a white paper and some computer programming. Since more women take up studies in the arts or humanities than math, it is more difficult to understand the concept and takes more work.

Also, because women prefer soft subjects to hard ones, women end up in jobs related to the arts and humanities versus the hard sciences. They will be more likely surrounded by men and mostly women that also did not study math and computer science and will not be interested in—or understand—Bitcoin.

In addition, Bitcoin isn’t tangible. You can’t feel it in your hands, so you cannot wave it around to boost or lower your status without hopping on a male-centric Reddit page (HODL!!). This reduces the emotional connection to it because there is no physical thing to attach a feeling to. Where money can be a sign of prosperity or options, the numbers in a bit wallet are less tangible.

2. There Is A Lot Of Risk

Women generally value security and strength, which we have seen in relationship dynamics and the number of careers chosen as opposed to entrepreneurs. Men are more willing to take chances.

One of Bitcoin’s tenets is that it is less risky than fiat dollars because it is not subject to inflation and to crumbling governments, so it should be more stable. However, Bitcoin is still young and has a wildly fluctuating value. It is this perceived value that people see as risky, not the idea. It is these wild fluctuations in value that appeal to men.

Bitcoin is also a long-term investment. Bitcoin believers believe the cryptocurrency will be more durable than fiat and will be a superior currency. Women are much more likely to spend and distribute wealth than to build it through investing.

3. Bitcoin Is Competitive

Men eat what we kill. We evolved to eat the animals we hunted, and we still do that in the modern economy. In a tribal setting, the man that hunted the most for his tribe was rewarded with more power and more women to bang. We evolved to be competitive and to fight for the top spot.

These days, men are more likely to participate in sports and more likely to try new things to get ahead (see here). Bitcoin is competitive with other cryptocurrencies as people (men) race to market and grow their currency of choice. Bitcoin is also competitive as a store of wealth. The more men own, the more men can use our primal brains to associate with power and sex.

These are the reasons why only three percent of Bitcoin users—a completely decentralized, open world without bias—are women. These are the same reasons that men make more money than women in the workplace. It isn’t the patriarchy. It’s the evolutionary and behavioral differences in men and women that decide the numbers.

Men are competitive, find freedom in long-term wealth, and are more excited about new ideas and a new, selfish way to increase wealth. At least, more than women.

Bill Nye the Liberal Entertainer

Bill Nye is anything but a science guy in his episode about genders during his Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves The World.

He talks about gender, but he also discusses sexuality, of which gender is a part of. Bill gives four qualities that comprise sexuality: sex, gender, attraction, and expression. He doesn’t argue, but instead regurgitates what we hear from “politically correct” sociology majors (about the furthest thing from science possible).

I argue he is wrong on all four accounts, and that all four of these are not a choice, but a function of masculine/feminine behavior, which is a function of evolutionary biology. 

1. Sex

Sex is male or female. We have a penis or vagina, and that determines our sex. You can cut off your dick or strap one on (I don’t know how transgender works) but you start off with one or the other. Bill gives statistical outliers to prove his point that people have different genitalia. They don’t. The exception makes the rule. 

2. Gender

Bill Nye says gender is “How you identify?” Not, “Do you have a penis?”

I don’t disagree with his definition. I disagree with his conclusion that you choose your gender.

Thing is, having a penis has a massive influence on how people identify. This is because a penis (being a boy) is massively correlated with higher testosterone. 

Not just higher testosterone in a “patriarchal world that encourages men to eat red meat and lift weights and women to eat cheese and do yoga.” Higher pre-natal testosterone. Boys form ball sacks and begin producing testosterone in far superior quantities than women before they pop out of the estrogen hole and can even utter the word “patriarchy.” It’s not a problem. It’s how we are.

Not every man will be masculine and not every female feminine. This can be influenced heavily by the quantities of pre-natal sex hormones the child develops. This is also influenced by post-birth influences that are both hormonal and other, such as the values from your parents.

Higher testosterone effects our brain and bodily development. This sex hormone leads to brain development that will assume “masculine” qualities such as strength and an attraction to danger.

That’s the physical. the mental and emotional differences are also clear.

The mental and emotional correlation is most proven by rules of attraction. Masculine attracts feminine. And vice-versa. We see this in behavior and evolutionary study of animals and humans. There are qualities that fall under masculine and feminine. This is Bill’s third criteria. 

3. Attraction 

Attraction is not a choice. Genuine desire is not a choice.

If it was, the nice guy would always win. But he doesn’t. The nice guy struggles to finally luck into a relationship that is likely to end in divorce because he isn’t attractive. He assumes a feminine persona, which doesn’t appeal to the feminine. 

A man acting feminine, coming from a man that wants to attract a woman, is seen as dishonest because it’s not his primal instinct. He’s going against his biology and lying about it.

And, if he is being honest (because of what he sees in movies and TV), those qualities are less attractive to a woman that wants a more masculine man. Why? Because it goes against her animal instinct.

4. Expression

Expression is cultural but attraction triggers aren’t and expression is often to signal attraction triggers. Attraction triggers aren’t cultural. They are psychological, which is driven from biology. Expression is used to attract the other sex, so that one can attract a high-quality mate. Science.

There are other evolutionary attraction triggers. Confidence is attractive to women. Strength. These are universal, because we evolved to be attracted to things things hundreds of thousands of years ago.

One claim from the show is that Korean men use makeup. Only two dudes were interviewed about men having makeup, and they are obviously gay. These gays could identify as female and have more female psychology. They are attracted to, and signal masculine (gay) men. This again proves that gender is only male or female – not the opposite.  

Then Bill gets emotional, which is the appeal of this show and the foundation of his “argument”. He says, “What’s the big deal? Just get over it. What do you care? Those people are not going to try to have sex with you. Move on.”

I agree. It’s not a big deal for people to choose to be goofy and do what they want. But the term “gender”, which describes the psychological differences of the sexes, is a big deal. Words mean something. Without words representing something, there is no meaning. We have a definition for gender. Don’t stretch that definition.

From American Gangster:

What you want, Frank? You want me to change the name on it?
Frank: I would have to insist that you change the name.
Frank’s cousin: Fine by me, Frank. I’ll call it Red Magic, even though that don’t sound as good.
Frank: I don’t give a fuck what you call it. Put a chokehold on the motherfucker and call it Blue Dog Shit.

Don’t call what’s not a gender a gender.

Nye uses ice cream as a comparison. Saying chocolate and strawberry ice cream are their own flavors and uses vanilla to signify heterosexual male and female, which says all flavors should just be vanilla.

This is so obviously an invalid comparison because ice cream is man-made and does not have an evolutionary makeup. There is no DNA, there is no brain built and developed over millions of years of evolution. Ice cream is simple. Malleable. So are social trends. Sort of. Psychology is not.

Humans have evolutionary beginnings and cannot just change. We don’t choose attraction; we don’t choose our gender. We may not have the same gender as our genitalia, but we don’t choose.

The show concludes with a sexual trash song voiced by a lesbian whore that just shoves the lack of femininity and anti-Christianity and anti-evolutionary psychology in our face.

Nye says culture is providing more ways of expressing this gender spectrum, and that is progress that should be celebrated. Really, culture is getting us further away from the truth of the way people are. To find happiness, it does no favors to reject the truths of evolved male and female dynamics.

Science is the mathematical and statistical method of determining the truth. In this episode of Bill Nye there was no experimenting other than asking people their opinions. Opinions are highly biased and therefore are not controllable in an experiment setting. Further, his panel consisted of a gay black comedian, a black sociology professor, and a chick sociology professor. Hardly the diverse authorities on the subject. This doesn’t count as an experiment. This isn’t science.

Bill Nye is an entertainer. To call him the “science guy” is a misnomer. He did little but follow popular liberal outcry, and followed it up with, not numbers but, the opinions of sociology professors that are also likely to buy into liberal outcry.

The whole point of science is to reduce outcry – liberal or otherwise, so that we may continue to be productive and seek further truth. To that end, Bill Nye the Liberal Entertainer did the world a disservice. This is the only episode I watched because I wanted to see if a proclaimed science guy did address the “gender issue” from a biological, evolutionary, or behavioral angle of problem solving. He did not. 

Badass Buddha

I wrote the following essay for a homework assignment for a class called “Buddhism and Modern Psychology” on Coursera. It’s taught by Robert Wright, evolutionary psychologist an author of The Moral Animal, which is a great book and I recommend if you’re interested in learning more of evo psych.


 

Badass Buddha

According to the Buddha, suffering is part of the human existence. The first two Noble Truths of Buddhism spell out that suffering is not only found everywhere around us – it is a part of us. The first truth, dukkha, tells us that suffering is a lack of satisfaction and that pleasures are fleeting and are therefore not a path to lasting satisfaction. The second truth is that because pleasure is fleeting, we cling to these pleasures as our source of satisfaction. We chase their return. I agree with the Buddha that suffering is part of the human existence, and I will give two examples to show this.

The first example comes from principles in evolutionary psychology. We did not evolve to not suffer. Not suffering was never a goal in evolution. Instead, we evolved to survive and replicate. The traits we developed are in some way related to our evolved need to accomplish these two goals. According to Professor Wright in the lectures, feelings of pleasure are among the traits that developed to incentivize people (and our animal ancestors) to survive and replicate. For example, we describe food (survival) as “tasting good” and sex (replication) as “awesome.”  

Natural selection doesn’t care if you are happy. If we must suffer in order to accomplish natural selection’s goal of surviving and replicating, then that is still the priority of natural selection. According to evolutionary psychology, it is this natural selection that drives our psychology. When natural selection is what drives psychology, then our default behavior will be whatever most increases our likelihood to survive and reproduce. This is what Professor Wright meant when he said that Buddhism is a “rebellion against natural selection” – Buddhism seeks to end suffering, and that can only be accomplished by not giving in to urges that we are designed to feel.

My second example is a more recent, more practical application of our evolved psychology steering us to suffering. Social media preys on our psychology and leads us to feedback loops of chasing pleasure – these feedback loops which the I argue on behalf of the Buddha that lead us to suffer.

Social media exploits a lot of the behaviors that we developed as ape ancestors way back in the day. To increase our likelihood to survive, we evolved to be tribal – to stick to those close to us and to feel a sense of connection. By increasing the size of his tribe, a man had less enemies and more people to fight off enemies, therefore decreasing the likelihood he would die in attack. We evolved to experience pleasure when we make connection with someone and to seek friendship to encourage us to grow our tribe so we would not die in an attack. Social media exploits this reward for growing our tribe.

Social media exploits the reward for growing a tribe by rewarding an individual with “likes” or retweets if the user posts content that other users find appealing. We get our pleasure feeling when others click “like” or “retweet.” The downside is that, as Wright explained, when pleasure is routine and then removed, dopamine (pleasure sensors) goes negative and we actually feel less happy than our neutral state because we fail to reach expectation.

When a user fails to reach expectation our pleasure expectations, social media users generate more content in hopes they will get those pleasure triggers. It is this clinging the Buddha warned against but on an immediate, constant scale. Social media users, and there are a lot of them, are constantly creating and seeking this fleeting pleasure. Ex-Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya warns against this (link), I warn against this, and the Buddha would warn against this. It is unhealthy to constantly worry about these pleasures inspired by the action (click) from others.

In conclusion, suffering is part of human existence. The very things we are designed to do are sources of our desires that lead us to unhappiness. The need to survive and have children shaped our psychology to seek pleasures, and these pleasures are short-term. We become addicted to the pleasures, like a drug user (which probably also has evolutionary roots).

The Buddha says to acknowledge that these pleasures are fleeting, and that we can end our suffering by removing the search for these fleeting pleasures. This is easier said than done, especially in our modern world where social media creates not only a recurring source of pleasure from “likes” and “retweets”, but also serves as a more common means of finding sexual partners. To be free from the suffering found in seeking pleasure, we must rebel against our default psychology and remove the need for the pleasure that gives reason for us to suffer.

How two conflicting ideologies can be right. What to do.

Two conflicting ideas can be correct at the same time. Both sides of one argument can have facts that support it. That doesn’t mean the conclusion is logically sound.

Two ideas that are founded on values can both be correct.

It’s when ideas are founded in mathematical fact that have conflicting ideas that we must remove opposing views. Differentiating between fact and feeling is important to this, but we must address both situations carefully to avoid emotional outburst and physical conflict.

Math is provable. Scientific experimentation can show correlation or causation.

An example of a mathematical debate is the shape of the earth. It is round not flat.

There are two sexes, which is proven in biology.

There are other “hot topics” that are rooted in the hard sciences and because they stem from the hard sciences they have solvable solutions.

An example of this is the gender debate. How many genders are there? There are two genders. This is provable from studying biology and the evolution of any animal, including human.

“But gender is the sex you identify as, not your private parts.”

I’m skeptical but I’ll even give you that. Even if that’s your argument, the psychology of male/female dynamics evolved from the biological differences related to the private parts. There were no additional private parts to evolve from and therefore only the two genders evolved.

Psychology evolved from biology which evolved from chemistry and physics. 30 genders on a job application evolved from screaming lunatics that deny science.

Liberals and conservatives are weird and selective in their science denials. Liberals deny the previously laid out logic and conservatives deny climate change.

Both of these rely more on the observation over time – the evolution of the planet and the species, and scientists support both climate change and no more than two genders.

These scientific claims are based on math, experiment, and observation showing causation.

I caution against claims not based on these. Not against their merit, but in their absolute rightness. Many claims are made in absolutes that don’t have the bullet-proof reasoning to back them up. Many of these claims, the political ones, are based on values.

I caution against using correlation when making your passionate argument. With large enough data sets, there will often be a correlation in favor of the other side of the argument. Correlation can be shown with all sorts of cherry picked statistics.

Conflict is fine. Ideas compete. Physical conflict isn’t.

So let’s talk about it.

Let’s focus on the grey areas. They aren’t even really grey areas though. These areas are black and white to people with one set of values, and white and black for people with the opposing set of values.

What are these values?

There are numerous values that have a virtuous opposite. Sharing versus self growth. Pleasure vs discipline. Honesty vs kindness.

All of these values show up in political debate to some extent, however there is only one that attempts to define the law.

I believe freedom is the core value that politics tries to define.

On one side of freedom you have capitalists that believe you are more free if you are enterprising and create in order to earn your keep. On the other side are socialists who believe everyone is more free if we all contribute and help the lowest out of their reliance on measly sums of income for their livelihood.

On one side of freedom you have feminists that believe women are more free if they can earn the same incomes as men and challenge them in the workplace. Traditionalists say women are more free if they don’t have to provide for herself and the family and instead focus her energy on growing said family.

Gun rights people find freedom in their ability to defend themselves from evil. Gun controllers say there is more freedom in walking around knowing their neighbor doesn’t have a tool that can kill them.

Globalists want to integrate and bring other cultures together, and eliminate the dependency and thought of culture. Nationalists say we can be more free by promoting and embracing our own culture, which they deem best. One wants to just be and the other says it is our culture that allows us to just be.

There are two sides to all of these debate topics and I argue that neither is wrong. There are numbers to support both. Not bulletproof math. But numbers that can show different correlations.

Socialism may not even have correlations to positive attributes. But there’s numbers to prove a capitalist system isn’t working, just as there are examples to show that it is.

This argument that two sides can both be correct bring up more questions.

Can an idea be incorrect? What makes an idea incorrect if two opposing ideas can be correct? Where do these values come from? And, naturally, what do we do about this – how do we live peacefully and productively with people that will never agree with our politics?

One at a time.

Can an idea be incorrect?

If it is not founded in science and is not solvable either by math or repeated experiment and observation then one could argue the idea is not incorrect.

There can be a morality behind some ideas that are unpopular but cannot be logically bulletproof.

An idea can have little political support, or moral support from others. But if 49 of the population thinks we should live in a capitalistic society and 49 percent think we should be socialist and one percent think we should have a national socialist party that forbids Jews, maybe that person has had poor interactions with Jews that shaped his mind to believing this.

It’s hard to prove the idea wrong with logic, and he would have facts to support his side that point to how Jews are a net negative on the planet.

Now, there are laws that dictate you can’t commit genocide to a group of people, and that was determined by a court system to be objectively a good thing. I agree. By the way.

The actions should be suppressed. The idea should not be suppressed. The better idea that appeals to the larger population should win out in politics.

What do we do about this – how do we live peacefully and productively with people that will never agree with our politics?

You can’t.

Not without removing emotion from the picture. You have to be objective and to see things as they are, which includes seeing people as these emotional side-takers.

This is hard. You can’t have a productive discussion of politics because you are challenging someone’s core values.

Core values don’t change. They are built in. Also built it are emotions. Emotions evolved from needs to survive and replicate also. So while they do help us avoid burns and to pursue sex, they evolved before there was a need for political agreement among tribes across a nation or planet.

This middle ground is politics. And it’s messy. Because of the inherent values in individuals, no one is happy in the middle. We are, by nature, extremely conservative or extremely liberal. We can deny this, and many do, but that’s not being honest.

That’s why politics are, by the nature of those arguing, so divided.

Let’s acknowledge that and move on. These huge battles that move the scale a little to the right or left are not only productive, but they are the only way to maintain peace in a world that will always, deep down, vote right or left.

We all want to be free. But freedom is different based on the side of this value-dichotomy you align with.

For modern conservatives, freedom is the ability to choose what matters and pursue that, uninhibited by the wants and needs of others. For modern liberals, freedom is the ability to do whatever, whenever, and if necessary to share so that others can do the same.

Accepting this doesn’t make decisions easier. It does allow you to understand why there is another side to, what appears to you, the obvious truth.

Acceptance of this view allow you to be less emotional and more detached from the decisions that have slight control over your life. You do not allow these decisions to change your emotion, because it’s natural that they will try to do that.

Why is the country split so massively in the core values it holds? Where do these values come from?

I have an answer to that, but it’s messy, and requires a post of its own.

Coming soon.

Welcome

Hi. I’m Ian.

I’m an intellectual bro, hence the entendre Ian Shrugged.

This is my blog and my exploration of virtue and vice as I try to find and explain what makes me, and you, happy.

I find wisdom through science, the “great books”, personal experience, and other people’s personal experiences.

I want feedback on my ideas. Challenge me. Bro.

Ian