What about Survival of the Yuckiest?


Speaking of animals following you home…

I’d like to imagine they’d eat the QAnon followers first, but they’re tasteless and greasy and travel in large packs.

Don’t try to argue that they’re also carrying overpowered firearms — startle a pack of QAnon twits, they’ll end up shooting each other.

Comments

  1. kathleenzielinski says

    In this context, I think “fittest” means best at acquiring wealth and power, and keeping people not like themselves down on the ground. Fittest has nothing to do with being decent human beings. So much as it galls me to say it, right wing thugs probably are the fittest.

    I have a theory that leftist government doesn’t “work” because people who are in it for themselves will always be better at gaming the system than people who are in it for other people. People who don’t play by the rules — or rewrite the rules to benefit themselves — will always have an advantage over people who do. That’s why, i.e., it took no time at all in the former Soviet Union for the party elite to be living, well, like tsars, while the peasants continued to live in poverty. Despite being socialist in name, the scum rose to the top just like it does under any other system.

  2. christoph says

    @ kathleenzielinski, # 1: You could say the same of the aristocrats in France just before the French Revolution.

  3. KG says

    kathleenzielinski@1,

    If you were right, we would all be right-wing thugs. There are numerous plausible evolutionary mechanisms that could lead to the emergence and maintenance in populations of cooperation, altruism, compassion and empathy (kin selection, group selection, reciprocity, reputational effects including the handicap principle), at both biological and cultural levels.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @3: I suspect there is an upper limit to the size of a population in which such mechanisms could work. Maybe a few hundred?

  5. KG says

    Rob Grigjanis@4,

    No, there isn’t, or mass societies could not function at all. Have you never done anything for someone you didn’t know? Picked up something they’ve dropped and returned it? Stood aside to let them pass? Given to charity? Campaigned for their rights? A mechanism I didn’t mention is the cultural transmission (and modification) of norms. This is what makes mass societies possible, but it depends on biological propensities toward cooperation and altruism (which operate alongside propensities to competition and selfishness of course).

  6. kathleenzielinski says

    KG: Those mechanisms do work, but they work differently and sometimes not as well. In a small, cohesive tribal society in which everyone knows everyone else, and is likely related to everyone else, the dynamic will be different than it will be in Manhattan. For one thing, smaller societies are better at sanctioning bad behavior; for another thing, it’s easier to screw over people you don’t know.

    Yes, most people are willing to cooperate most of the time (at least within limits) but there are also parasites who just want to live off everybody else and aren’t above using violence and thuggery to do so. My point is that it’s easier for those parasites to climb to the top since they don’t follow the rules everybody else follows, so it’s more likely that they will be the people running things. Sociopaths do exist, and it doesn’t take that many of them to make things uncomfortable for the rest of us.

  7. kathleenzielinski says

    This is a bit of a generalization, but I think that one thing that separates the left from the right is that the left assumes that people will behave well, whereas the right recognizes that they won’t.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @5: Yes, I have done all the things you mention, and still do some of them. That there are instances of (for want of a better word) altruism within societies isn’t at all controversial. That cooperation of various kinds allows large populations to exist (however precariously) isn’t controversial either.

    The problem lies in building a society in which they are the guiding principles. As kathleen points out, that is very difficult to achieve in a large population, because it is far more prone to centralized domination by a small group. See every ‘civilization’, ever.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Wolves are predators, the politicians you are discussing are parasites.
    As for Democrats, the kindest I can say for them is that they are “commensal ” organisms- sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, sometimes doing nothing at all.

  10. unclefrogy says

    #9
    that is what i would think.
    the ‘parasites’ the bullies and other ass holes who just want power and all the “luxury” that goes with it are only tolerated by the majority the problem arises from the toughness and patience of the mass of the population. The mass have simpler wants and needs.
    not from experience but it is my impression the smaller “groupings” have a much lower toleration threshold for those kinds of ass holes and their behavior.. They might be subject to what has been called in the infantry “fragging” if their level of abuse becomes too much to stand.
    I think it likely that may be why the “modern idea of libertarian-ism” is only even remotely possible to be contemplated in modern functioning co-operative societies .
    with out fundamental agreements and mutual co-operation there no society nor culture for any of the the things we are talking about to even exist within because they certainly can not exist outside of a functioning culture nor without one.
    uncle frogy

  11. zetopan says

    “startle a pack of QAnon twits, they’ll end up shooting each other.”

    So if you can do that remotely to avoid being an afflicted bystander, it would be WIN-WIN all the way around.

  12. KG says

    This is a bit of a generalization, but I think that one thing that separates the left from the right is that the left assumes that people will behave well, whereas the right recognizes that they won’t. – kathleenzielinski@7

    It’s a generalization for which you provide no evidence, and which I do not think stands up to serious examination. It’s a right-wing stereotype of “liberals”, but not much more. The leftists I know tend to recognise that the need is to build societies which encourage the best characteristics of people and discourage the worst.

    That there are instances of (for want of a better word) altruism within societies isn’t at all controversial. – Rob Grigjanis@8

    You’ve never given any money to alleviate suffering in societies other than your own, or taken part in a campaign protesting against oppression of or in such a society?

    That cooperation of various kinds allows large populations to exist (however precariously) isn’t controversial either. – Rob Grigjanis@8

    But that’s exactly what you appeared to be denying @5.

    The problem lies in building a society in which they are the guiding principles. As kathleen points out, that is very difficult to achieve in a large population, because it is far more prone to centralized domination by a small group. See every ‘civilization’, ever.

    I don’t know of any evidence that small societies are in general better than large societies in this regard – most are male-dominated for example, perhaps to a greater degree than our own. And while there are certainly no known large societies without some degree of oppression, some do a lot better than others. Ways have been discovered of mitigating the problem of “centralized domination by a small group”: the rule of law, free election of leaders, secularism, progressive taxation, self-organization of cooperatives, pressure groups, etc., separation of powers, freedom of expression and assembly, free education and health care at the point of use, welfare systems… Of course none of these work perfectly, and small groups will continue to seek dominance, but that’s no reason to give up and pronounce the problem insoluble, or to stop seeking and trying additional counter-measures (democratization of the economy, selection of some office-holders by sortition, guaranteed minimum income, non-authoritarian educational systems…).

  13. kathleenzielinski says

    KG, now criticize the other half of my generalization about conservatives. Or are criticisms of the right valid whereas criticisms of the left are not?

    I do have evidence for my claim about the left, but before I offer it I’d first like to hear if your criticism of my comment only relates to the left-hand portion of it.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @12: I’m helping fund the education of a Senegalese girl. I’ve also helped old people cross ice patches in my neighbourhood. I consider both of these to be actions taken within my society.

    I took your #3 to be suggesting that the properties you mentioned could be the guiding principles of a society. If I read more than you intended, I apologize.

  15. KG says

    KG, now criticize the other half of my generalization about conservatives. Or are criticisms of the right valid whereas criticisms of the left are not? – kathleenzielinski@13

    I’ll criticise what I want to criticise. You can provide your claimed evidence or not, as you please, and I’ll make my judgement as to whether you actually have any worth providing, accordingly.

    Rob Grigjanis@14,
    No apology necessary. I think all the mechanisms I mentioned @3 except kin selection do operate at large scales, and mass societies wouldn’t work without them, but the design, maintenance and modification of institutional systems that make use of them becomes increasingly important as scale increases – I could have said this @3. Good on you for helping fund the education of a Senegalese girl. Evidently you consider the entire world to be one society – arguable, but it makes your comment about it being uncontroversial that there are within-society instances of altruism rather low on content, as no current instance of altruism would be excluded.

  16. KG says

    I should add that the existence of evolutionary advantages to the propensities underlying cooperative and altruistic behaviour doesn’t cast doubt on the genuineness of the individual’s motivation for such behaviour – in many instances it is undoubtedly motivated by sincere concern for others. We need to distinguish between motivational altruism – behaviours motivated by actual concern for others free of selfishness; resource altruism – behaviours which, however motivated, result in the transfer of resources of some kind from self to others; and genetic altruism – behaviours which favour the reproductive success of others at the expense of one’s own. Only the latter will (if the tendency to perform them is heritable) necessarily be selected against in the long term; and even then, only if other effects of the same heritable characteristics do not outweigh the disadvantage.

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @15:

    Evidently you consider the entire world to be one society

    No, but for me further discussion isn’t worth the effort.

  18. PaulBC says

    I’m not persuaded that the problem with altruism is one of scaling. In my experience, fights between family members are more bitter and destructive than between casual neighbors, e.g. other parents at a school. In the latter case, there is more social pressure to be on best behavior and maintain formal commitments.

    I will leave open how best to organize large societies, because I have no idea. My gut says I am personally a lot happier under neoliberal, somewhat democratic government than I could possibly be in a small tribal unit. A lot of that may come from a position of privilege. The panhandlers I used to walk by in Baltimore or San Francisco would probably do better in a different kind of society, possibly one that is smaller and more caring, or possibly a large one with a decent social safety net.

    I’m not sure what kind of government kathleenzielinski@1 has in mind. Current governments mostly work OK and even really atrocious models (N. Korea) scale to tens of millions of people without being in imminent danger of collapse. They all suffer from varying levels of people trying to game the system and seize power for themselves. Avoiding this strikes me as a more of a maintenance issue than setting exactly the right set of founding principles.

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