Blog rules.

(It’s probably not a coincidence that this post came together as the election results came in)


This shit sucks. Kind of sucks. It’s complicated. I can’t even come up with blog rules without things getting complicated. I have a solid outline of my most important creative project sketched out in a way that lets me start building a substantive rough draft, an introduction and lesson one of social conflict and and social media across many things and with an emphasis on the internet. But then I started realizing what I needed in order to actually do a thing like that right. The social atmosphere of this place must be defined.

I need commenting rules because I tend to see that the best educators have a set of social rules that they guide their sessions by. The participants (educator and potential learner) of that session must have the social tools needed to defend their right to that process. In both directions. Not only are there safe spaces, society is  composed of sets of them that interact in different ways. They use different rules for different occasions, processes, functions and other parts of society. New kinds of safe spaces are always being created and others fall into disuse. I have to consider a certain kind of social predator, as a person with socially predatory instincts.


OCD and society.

I respect the relationship that everyone with the diagnosis has with their OCD. As a result I note that I do not have a formal diagnosis of OCD. While there are really good reasons for people to avoid self-diagnosis a person can become competent at reading the experiences, research, statistics, anatomy, psychology and other things and get enough of a gist to know what right and wrong looks like. I’m not an expert but I am legitimately obsessed in something that matches the shape of my consciousness very closely.

I see that acronym get socially abused a lot. People say “OCD” when they mean peeve or irritant. I get it, you are bothered by a pattern in your environment. The casual use does have features connected to what I read about when it comes to OCD, but the reality is like a fractured collection of cognitive perceptual sensitivities driven by instinctual processes in the obsession. In the compulsion the habits, rituals and other responses are legitimately reasonable behavioral responses to things that are important in an instinctual sense. But the casual use is ultimately rude, obscures the reality of people with specific patterns in a diagnosis, and is ultimately a weakness of personality. If someone without a diagnosis cannot describe what they are sensitive to in detail and they have reasonably functional reasoning and logic skills, I get to look for clues as to why I should care.

Germs and disease, patterns in your work and living environment, home security, perfectionism, social rules. That last one is mine. There is a little part of my mind that is always humming with a sense of urge. “It” really likes to try to understand why people feel the way that they do about the world, but it has very strict standards. As a result it ceaselessly scans our social environment for information about what people feel most strongly about. When it sees something it blasts its presence into my mind at an intensity that can only be denied for a time. Eventually I have to know what that was all about.


My intersection of TS/ADHD/OCD, you all feel loud but I’m used to it by now.

As a result of this perceptual sensitivity after 39 years I have an array of mental heuristics and routines that I have developed in order to figure out socially intense situations. Anyone can feel free to question them, that’s reasonable and I just assume that people will want to know why I believe what I do about what people do. People in my corner of social OCD are looking for ways of relieving this instinctual tension through expression. It legitimately causes problems often enough for us to create habits that bleed off the tension. When someone forces that sensitivity into obedience through a careful, calculating, euphoric and often excruciating focus it can become a skill.

I test social rules and I have an array of situational rules that I have consciously created over the years. I test social rules mentally at multiple points during the day and I often ask people to clarify important points in brief. It’s a dedicated process in that I take it into conscious account during mental downtime when I am not working or doing something that requires my complete focus. It can get out of control otherwise. I compare, contrast, read the inputs and the outputs. I scan visually and audio-ly, and textually, and linguistically, and in body language, and tone, and in informational content. I test reasoning, I test logic (by many definitions of “logic”), I test consistency with reality, I actively look for inconsistency with reality.

I literally mentally simulate social encounters in a literal virtual social space in my mind’s eye. For fun, and for practice. This was a habit of imagination as a child. I would imagine myself on adventures with the cartoon characters I watched as a kid and use them in my mental social games. It’s has it’s benefits and drawbacks like any other part of human behavior, and as morally strict as I am internally I recognize the intersections between what get called “black and white” and “grey”. Nice metaphors, but limited so I am hyper-literal when I need to be.


Nurture, the life experiences, and choices of people.

Naturally the fact that my social hardware is biased still allows for life experiences and choices to be relevant. For me and everyone else. I am biased. I assume it. I am sensitive to things in a different way than other people. So I error check because I’m human.

Society lies about the word bias. This post about the cognitive bias codex and it’s organization by Iris Vander Pluym is conveniently topical. I’ve seen the same patterns but that reorganization and image in the link wins for presentation and clarity. I have a love-hate relationship with non-literal language but bias is not supposed to feel like non-literal language in how people use it. Bias is not just bad and just saying bias does not mean it is so. One still has to prove that the bias is irrational and corrupts the logic of a belief, argument or experience about the world.

So yeah. I’m biased. If you don’t like my rules and question any of the underlying experiences, reasoning or logic feel free to ask questions. This list of experimental blog rules has motivations and goals. It has underlying assumptions. Just as everyone is biased everyone has an agenda. This is the agenda of a brony who moderated the serious discussion board of the brony-themed image board Ponychan.

It’s five rules, but I’m trying to think of ways to boil the same information down into fewer and more simply stated ones. I’m unsure about the restrictiveness, but I can give a lot of detail about why they are what they are. I condensed this out of a set of 23 problematic social patterns that I actively think about (what I could soak out of my brain during brief moments while at work). I even sketched a model of group-perspective logic in terms of the kinds of basic social spaces that people tend to be sensitive to from my perspective (at the end).


The rules (until they are not good enough or a decent suggestion comes along).

  1. If you are attacking someone be ready to explain why, if someone feels attacked be able to understand why they feel attacked.
  2. No bigotry, of the xenophobic or the other seven basic emotional varieties.
  3. If you are using a descriptor of people or groups of people be willing to unpack it into the associated characteristics that you use to define the descriptor, the reasoning behind the descriptor, and the associated logic of the connections. Examples include: Insults, pejoratives, slurs, honorary terms, titles and positions (historical, governmental, religious…), non-literal language (like the non-literal use of OCD) and other kinds of negative or positive characterizations.
  4. When tangenting and subject changing mind the social context.
  5. Be willing to share your definition of a word you are choosing to use, and be willing to understand why someone needs to use a particular definition.


Group perspective logic


While I’m sure that the reality will be more detailed I tend to see more than one kind of group orientation than simple in-group (1 or 2) or out-group (one or two). 3 is the group made up of you and a single person you are communicating with. Like it or not that is a group with a purpose even if that purpose is to argue about something on the internet. It is in fact likely the original group in several senses. 4 is something that arises when we get to larger group sizes and competition occurs. You still consider one another to be in a group in some sense, but not in others much like the Ds and Rs, and Gs and Is. 5 is the a complete out-group in a definitional sense, but that is effectively how bigots treat other human beings.

If there is any value to this it argues for a system of group perspectives and associated symbolism that we replace the passions of family with clan, tribe, religion, political faction and even sports team.



Hopefully that dumped enough tension to get things going faster. But I still have this nagging feeling that I’m missing something…

Organizing experience of conflict in language, and experiences in preventing conflict in employment.

I’ve been delayed on my next post related to social conflict, my job has taken quite a bit of energy from me. That is what has been on my mind for the most part lately but I do have something that I can introduce so that those of you that want can at least get into the sources of information that I am going to use. After that I’m going to talk about work a little bit at the end because I need to do that, it has to do with conflict too and how I’ve been getting a real-world education in things I have been dabbling with. In some ways I’ve had to suppress the way I think about things related to what I write about in order to develop good habits with what I do and that has slowed things down.

But I have been able to flesh out the beginning now that I have a list of things that I was able to organize into important concepts to cover. I want to start with perception and emotion. The way that I see conflict involves what people do with their words, “text-actions”. People approach and withdraw from parts of what the other says, interacts with it in different ways, and in that you can pick up information from what they choose to engage with. And what they avoid, often what they strategically avoid. In my studies about myself and human behavior in general I have encountered some information that can put these actions into an understandable framework. From that basis individual actions and strategies can be explained and outlined.

So with that in mind I have an outline for my first set of posts.

1) Perception and the conscious experience of emotion in language.

  1. A) Perception: The assembly of the reality we react to.
  2. B) Emotion: Experience based motivation to action.
  3. C) Emotion in language: A framework for the identification of social conflict actions and strategies in language.


Perception and the conscious experience of emotion in language.

I think that it’s Important to give an outline of how we perceive and react to reality before I get specific on the various strategies used by individuals in the different sides of a social conflict. There is a whole lot of bullshit in the rhetoric that advantages people in power, and since rhetoric is the part of language that has to do with winning and not being correct about reality in a social conflice this is an important frame to have before advancing.

A lot of that rhetoric revolves around:

*Confusing the feeling of emotion with the things that emotion is attached to in every single human being, the experiences and perspectives that resulted in that emotional reaction.

This results in emphasizing the presence of emotion and ignoring the non-emotional content. Functionally this is often done by accusing others of being “irrational”. There are also group-specific example like calling passionate women “hysterical”.

*Pretending that normal human actions, interactions and reactions are abnormal for strategic purposes.

Instead of looking at the reasons for outrage some people act like the outrage itself is a problem. Instead of looking at why a community is all acting like something is true some people use the pejorative “hivemind”. Instead of looking at why one person is coming to the aid of another they use the pejorative “white knight”.

*Responding to the emotion in language as elements that indicate attacks, defenses, deceptions and obfuscations. These come in conscious and unconscious varieties and quite a few of them have to do with in-group feelings being accepted as convincing evidence even when irrational or illogical.

…and we will probably find other examples as we move on.

The function of the brain and mind are an ongoing area of research but we do know a lot that is useful making regular interactions more sensible. So while I am confident in how I am using these resources it’s still important to know that these things are subject to change as we learn more. I’m going to combine the information presented by the two sources into a model of how language is perceived and reacted to that can form a basis for more work.


Source one:”Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain” by Antonio Damasio.

This book has been tremendously valuable to me when it comes to integrating a lot of other things I have learned about brain science. In this book the author, a neurobiologist from Portugal, outlines how consciousness is thought to be constructed in a tour through anatomy and function.

Highlights include the hypothetical origins of value from the very origins of life, the origin of mind from creatures acting based on dispositions newly capable of mapping the world, and the origin of the self in mind bearing creatures that could understand themselves as knowers. This book also includes a lot of information about brain anatomy involved in consciousness and examples of people with conditions and damage that have informed our knowledge about how parts of anatomy contribute when their function is altered or absent.

The topics that is most useful in understanding the perception of conflict in text is the nature and function of emotion. While popular culture likes to emphasize the feeling of emotion, emotion is in reality composed of at least five components:

emotional response

From “Sobotta’s Human Anatomy” 1908

1) Feelings of emotion (sensed changes to metabolism and alert status in the body, the body forms the core of emotion).

Relevant to: content related to feeling which is useful in rhetoric, attempts to emphasize or deemphasize connections to the remaining components of emotion, and empathy when accepting and feeling with another person.

2) Changes to how memory is read/written to (based on past experience relevant to what one is perceiving).

Relevant to: how a person’s experiences are connected to what they are reacting to, persons, places, things, events, and other things they choose to include explicitly and implicitly in their actions and reactions.

3) Changes to how thought is shaped and directed (how one reasons and logics, what one reasons and logics about such as motivated reasoning).

Relevant to: motivated reasoning, bias (rational and irrational), fallacious thought, skeptical thought, logical thought, distorted thought, xenophobic and bigoted thought and more.

4) Changes to how perception is shaped and directed (what one focuses on and what one can and will contextually connect to that).

Relevant to: psychological triggers that prompt strong and/or specific actions/reactions (trauma triggers, political “dog-whistles”, names of people, groups, concepts that rouse strong emotions…), over-focusing and under-focusing on parts of an argument, focusing on irrelevant common features that can lead to conspiracy-like thinking and more.

5) Actions that consist of responses to what we perceive and holding actions as we wait for responding actions (Actions that are based on current needs and motivations and that are deemed proper based on past experience and current knowledge of the situation, communications are actions here)

Relevant to: discussions, arguments, fights, attacks, defenses, deception and obfuscation, comparisons, contrasts, emphases, deemphases and other expression of 1-4.

While these all occur in individuals a social factor is tied into all of it that involves efficiency, effectiveness, strength, and nature of how all of these are established. The social variable is one that is very often and even deliberately misunderstood and ignored in how social conflict is shaped, especially among people who stand to benefit from neglecting or ignoring the effects that we have on one another individually and in groups.


Sex and gender applications.

As a final note at some point I want to also use the material in “Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain” to address sex and gender issues because there is a framework here that can be applied to how emotion relates to the body through our language. These are my own thoughts about the material and what I hear other people speak of.

It turns out that feelings from the body is a basic part of emotion (primordial self) along with incoming sensory information that modifies the body component (core self), and that the anatomical substance that forms this core are brainstem nuclei (parabrachial nucleus, nucleus tractus solitarius) that continuously map the body and its current state. These body maps are not only modified by the state of the body itself, but also by our memory (simulated body states), and our experiences which include our social experiences.

NTS body maps

Left side: From “Self Comes to Mind”, figure 4.1. Right side: From “Grey’s Anatomy” and used in Wikipedia entry on the solitary nucleus.

While I’m not quite sure how to approach this best, it seems to me that this is a prime candidate for how our experiences (personal and social) modify our emotional relationship with our own bodies and how the symbolism related to male and female can be tied to language. This is likely a necessary substrate for how we create social messages that relate to who and what male and female people are and supposed to be and do. While this picture emphasizes material that seem to relate to the social construction of sex and gender I have to emphasize that there are phenomena that include that amount to predispositions towards some gender expressions over others. It can’t be assumed that gender is totally hardwired or totally socially programmed for male and female people individually or as a group based on what I know.

Naturally this will be an area where the perspectives of many different people will be required to get a complete picture. I know how I feel about myself, how I feel about societies messages, but I’m not in a group that feels inconsistency and wrongness to a level that require things like preferred pronouns that are different than historical norms and more. The perspectives of others are more important and so I want to present this carefully.


Source two: Robert Plutchick‘s Psychoevolutionary Theory of Emotion.

While I do not have a hard copy of the source for this theory (yet), I have found enough useful material online to get started in using the information provided by it.

According to Plutchik’s work there are eight basic emotional states and each one is associated with a specific action and feeling. There may be individual level and a social level versions of each of them as there most certainly is for disgust (this become more obvious with trust after the list). Note that I am providing my own version of the stated actions and in some cases these are different than what is in the links. I’ll explain that in the post dedicated to each topic (In fact my own way of looking at material is present in many areas and I’m making sure I’m able to point it out and explain it when it occurs).

*Anger: Destruction or other negation of an obstacle.

*Anticipation: Interaction with awareness, reaction to familiar contact.

*Joy: Gain of resources.

*Trust: “Social feeding” or “social ingestion” into one’s in-group (see explanation below).

*Fear: Prevention of personal destruction.

*Surprise: Exploratory interaction, reaction to unfamiliar contact.

*Sadness: Loss of resources.

*Disgust: Expulsion or ejection from social group.


These exist as four pairs of “computational opposites”, and a common way of displaying them is Plutchik’s wheel of emotions (figure below). The most familiar is the [Anger-Fear] pair that works as a “fight or flight” spectrum. The others are [Anticipation-Surprise] (knowing vs. unknowing interaction), [Joy-Sadness] (gain vs. loss of resources), and the weird one represented by [Trust-Disgust]. That last one is weird because it’s not readily obvious that social trust is a kind of consumptive process, but that makes sense given the fact that social disgust is a modification of physical disgust (physical ejection to social ejection). But consider that primates spend time grooming and eating parasites off of one another and how food is so deeply integrated into our social interactions.


Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions (from Wikipedia). Each axis is a pair of opposites in terms of a characteristic associated with an action relative to the individual feeling the emotion. “Other destruction-self destruction” for anger-fear, “gain resources-loss resources” for joy-sadness, “interaction w/ known-interaction w/ unknown” with anticipation-surprise, and “accept to self-reject from self” with trust-disgust. Each “spoke” of the wheel also exists in a range of intensities with the names emotion taking a middle intensity.

While there are other theories that use six basic emotional states (or other numbers), and organize them by different characteristics, this is the model I prefer until another one comes along that explains reality better. These basic emotional states combine with one another into more complex emotions like combining paints into more colors (google emotional dyads and Plutchik and some neat graphics are in google images). For example Love = Joy +Trust, and Shame = Fear + Disgust. The emotional dyads are things I would be adding in at a later time though because that might make things too complex for now. (I think those “Opposites” have to do with humor related transformations).

Plutchik dyads2

This theory of emotion is very useful for visualizing emotion in language, basically looking for language that directly implies an emotion by what the language functionally does. Most social conflict involves treating something as an obstacle to be overcome, defeating an argument is removing it as an obstacle, destroying a threat. Thus anger is a very large part of the language of social conflict and this is a thing that is natural and neutral in an abstract sense. It’s reasonable to want a threatening thing to be gone, but if the thing is truly threatening is often why there is an argument. Fear is a close second to anger in conflict language that outlines things that can cause harm. Disgust after that in the implications that outline rejection of beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and people from personal association.


My experiences in the real world of mental health employment.

I’ve spent the last seven years reading and learning about how brains make minds and how individual differences are shaped. This is firstly been used to benefit myself as I learn about how my brain and mind work, and secondly as a means of learning about people in general. I’ve also seen what happens when people speak too casually and irresponsibly about brain science as prominent members of the atheist community have used references to incomplete knowledge and stereotypes to excuse bad behavior or reject what some people have to say. As a result I have become very careful about how I talk about what I’ve learned, the assumptions I make with the knowledge I have, and the actions I take based on those assumptions. This new job has required me to apply this care in using what I know in another way.

I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I’m not a neurobiologist. I’m not some expert in brain science, I’m a technician. My job is to help create a social structure around 16 male people between the ages of 13-17. My job is to maintain a rigid “social normal” with clear expectations that keeps everyone safe where the patents know what they need to do to “stay on program”. My job is not to use all of that stuff that has been my hobby for the last seven years. In fact I have to put it all in a box in the back of my mind and focus on maintaining what is already here while other specialists do their jobs. Until I know my job well I do not get creative, I am emphasizing doing what the other technicians do. In many ways it’s a lot like the substitute teacher job that I had but without the negatives which were lack of institutional support and a daily sense of being the new authority figure to challenge. Now I can get to know the same group of people and I have a lot of support.

There is a fairly strict daily routine routine, the patients know what they need to do, and when they don’t do what they are supposed to or do something they are not supposed to there are consequences that can result in loss of privileges. I do things like open up locked closets so patients can get their rooms ready for daily cleanliness and organization checks. I tell them when they need to get their laundry ready, or when it’s their turn for a shower. I monitor the bathroom while they are in there to make sure there is no trouble. I make sure they get into lines facing the same direction and don’t talk to one another while we transition to another place (like the cafeteria) or activity because fights and other chaos results. I choose group activities that occur when they get back from school and they are supposed to participate without excessive talking, or they can stay in their rooms (while engaging in non-disruptive activities) if they don’t like the activity.

These children are here for impulse control problems, emotion and mood problems, antisocial and oppositional behavior, and other issues. Some have been abused and some are abusers. Some have committed murder. I have to maintain an environment and routine around them that keeps us all safe and creates clear expectations. If my job is done then the work they do with their therapists and other specialists can be effective. In fact the structure I maintain around them is part of the therapy. Thinking of and awareness of expectations, empathy for others, the health of the group are things these children do not do and have well.

I have received training in dealing with being attacked and putting patients into holds. The unit I work in has a seclusion room that is a last resort for dealing with an imminent threat from a patient. I have been threatened and I have had a patient take a swing at me but I have not yet been attacked. Last week I participated in putting a violent patient into a hold. I have been living a world of brain-science abstractions and now I am confronted with the real-world of problems involving human behavior. It’s serious shit. If these children fail their programs and turn 18 many of them have parents that don’t want them to come back, if they have parents. And some of those children won’t have group homes either. Their prospects are very grim. If I fail at doing my job they don’t get to work on what they need to work on.


So I’ve had to control how I think about social conflict because my job is about preventing it in many ways. It has slowed things down, but for good reason. Wanting to “win” is a bad instinct in this job as a goal is avoiding power struggles all together. This job will teach me some new skills and I will become stronger because of it. But for now It’s hard to anticipate what will happen and what I will have to learn to control. It is what it is until I know enough to be unique.

Social conflict case study #1: deception and symbol stealing

Case Study #1: transgenderisomer/nbp7

I’m going to start a series of case study posts where I take a troll, other commentator or anything else useful and dissect them as a means of pointing out things of interest. This first one will be a little different however. I’m going to spend A LOT of words on this one because I’m trying to figure out how I want to organize information on how we do social conflict in general and in text. So I’m going to be pretty stream-of-consciousness here.


Pulling out an organization structure

In order to get things going I need to create an organization scheme to introduce topics. This is a bit trickier than I thought since I’m trying to mentally organize things that I see or do automatically, which I think is something everyone trying to get more serious about writing has to do anyway. I’m dissecting a recent troll on Pharyngula, a poster going by transgenderisomer who portrayed themselves in PZ’s “Now there’s an idea” thread as someone that they were not. It turns out that they were also posting as nbp7 in PZ’s “Maybe we should outlaw ownership of guns by men” post where they sowed as much doubt as they could about claims of rape. In the end this attack was also an example of deception.

As I go I am going to underline things that can be individual categories or can be broken down into individual categories. After this post, and maybe in the comments, I will organize them into a rational hierarchy of topics that I want to individually cover in future posts. I would be happy to consider any suggestions and look at any patterns that others see that I do not (especially since I got all this stuff from watching or listening to others anyway, I just have a brain that likes to focus on these things). It would be foolish to assume that I have seen everything. For such a simple set of exchanges (the whole thing covered 16 posts from #53-#76) this is going to get complicated, but it’s supposed to make future posts more clean and organized and I often have issues organizing my thoughts and language.


Note: Before I continue I should mention that I consider something as small as a single claim meant to oppose, contradict, or otherwise assert/demonstrate something as wrong/incorrect as an attack and dominance display. Even a tepid and friendly “I’m sorry, but I think you are incorrect about X.” is an attempt to remove an obstacle, and the emotion associated actions of with obstacle removal is anger (1). The structure of that statement bears this out as the “I’m sorry…” is an attempt to blunt the feeling of an attack and can be seen as a “I know that I’m pointing out that you are wrong about reality and that is a potential weakness, but I want you to be able to fix this for your sake” (optimistically). The reason I see things this way is that brain science has to be able to explain the phenomena of criticism at its most basic level and the phenomena that I believe most closely compares to it is the dominance display, and that seems to be correlated to what testosterone does on a computational level in both male and female people. In this case a very small and proactively blunted dominance display (“What I have is better than what you have” with an actively reduced aggressive profile). I know that there are plenty of people engaging in discussions about things they disagree on that would say that they don’t feel these things as conflicts, but in this post the subject is arguments over things people disagree about. Naturally this way of seeing things could be biased by my own combative psychology that I work to moderate and I felt that this was worth mentioning.


A. The social context of an engagement: “Battlefield”

Social context is always important when considering someone acting in a combative posture, an individual engagement and those following from it. You can roughly compare an article or post a social context like a “battlefield” that influences the conflict occurring within it. For a commentator the social context is not only the post, article or other topic, it’s also the preceding comments that can alter the social environment of the thread. In this case I consider PZ’s post a “hard” contextual boundary, and the preceding comments “soft” contextual boundaries. A hard contextual boundary is something that most people can easily recognize as directly relevant to the content of a communication. For example if someone criticizes the content of an article as a non-literal characterization (like hyperbole or “feelings about” statements), the actual text of the article that is being characterizes can be demanded with a little social pressure because the connection is more obvious. A soft contextual boundary is something less obviously connected and requires more work to get someone to respond to such as information implicitly connected to the main post or article, or the content of comments earlier than the ones of the combatants that contain relevant information. One reason social conflict occurs is because the combatants have very different perspectives and experiences leading to very different sensitivities to content (experience creates sensitivity). In order to get someone to acknowledge the soft context one has to apply social pressure towards it with reason, logic, rhetoric or a combination. Reason and logic are about being correct and rhetoric is about winning.

(I may change “hard/soft” to something like “explicit/implicit” or “direct/indirect” as categorization of these topics may require better terminology. I’ll take any suggestions anyone may have.)

As a hard contextual boundary a post or article creates the battlefield in its most broad form, it includes the topic that derails can be measured by, the content that can (and should) be quoted, the sources that the author uses, and other things that can explicitly influence a commentator. These are things that can be appealed to when confronting an opponent, for example lack or quoting or deviating from the topic. A soft contextual boundary is like the previous engagements that occur (and may still be occurring) on a battlefield that can affect current engagements. Sometimes the comments that are already there affect the social environment to an extent that can be advantageous or disadvantageous.

In this case the hard social context is a clipping in a newspaper that says the following:

“To the two men whose anti-abortion letters were published on June 28: Unless you have a woman’s body, I don’t want hear your opinion on what woman’s bodies should or should not do. In fact, it would be a delight if the “Star Tribune Editorial Board ceased publishing men’s letters about women’s bodies entirely. Perhaps newspaper readership among round people would grow if every time we opened a paper, we didn’t have to read old men’s fusty opinions about uteri.”

… and the soft social context is the previous 52 comments that may be relevant to what a commentator posts but for which there is less implicit social pressure to take into account, and related issues and concepts that pertain to abortion, female bodies, personal autonomy, listening to relevant perspectives, deliberately elevating relevant perspectives for socially strategic purposes and more.

Now we go from battlefield to individual engagement and what counts as hard context gets an addition: a comment that someone is responding to, the respondee, in this case #47 by Nerd of Redhead who transgenderisomer was acting as responder towards when they first entered the thread. Nerd was already engaging with another commentator (parrothead) when transgenderisomer decided to attack them.


B. The structure of the engagement.

Transgenderisomer entered the thread not by responding to the hard social context of the post, they entered the thread by attacking a commentator who was already engaged with someone else. This is a derail, which some social circles tolerate more than others (how relevant or tangential a derail is can often be a source of argument). So we already have three pieces of hard context that can become relevant to the responder’s first post:

*The original post

*The respondee

*The respondee’s opponent.

Note on different engagement structures: That this attack involves one commentator attacking another already involved in an engagement alludes to many kinds of engagements including engaging with the post offensively/defensively, engaging with another commentator offensively/defensively, engaging with multiple opponents implicitly in one post, and other permutations. In this case transgenderisomer could be assisting the respondee’s opponent by attacking the respondee, or they could just be attacking the respondee and/or the respondee’s content (it could be personal conflict affected by feelings about one’s opponent or the opponent’s group and/or impersonal conflict that targets content only).

I’m assuming that transgenderisomer’s primary targets are their opponent and their opponent’s group (3) (probably atheist/skeptic social justice in general) in a personal conflict based on the nature of their attack and the rest of this analysis.


C. transgenderisomer’s attack, comment #53

Do you understand where the term “freeze peach” comes from? Next time you try to defend a person’s autonomy, you may want to avoid using blatantly misogynistic terms.

The nature of this attack is an assertion seeking to disarm via redirection of social momentum back towards an attacker not attacking the responder. This is a disarm because the term “freeze peach” is a pejorative (2) and thus inherently a term-weapon as pejoratives are insulting characterizations, and transgenderisomer is trying to prevent their opponent from using that weapon. Additionally I categorize this kind of disarm as a form of “symbol stealing” since a person is trying to take control of a social symbol (3) from another person. The power of a pejorative is entirely in its socially symbolic nature as the damage done is not physical (unless we start talking about the neurobiology of feeling and that might be a bit much, though even there I consider negative feelings in bad people from reasonable attacks to be good things).

The means of prevention of weapon use is to assert that the term is inherently misogynistic, and the respondee (Nerd of Redhead) is part of a social justice community that opposes misogyny. Because the term freeze peach is being used in defense of women and female people, it has social momentum driven by the respondee’s concern for women and female people, motivation to act by experience based social attachment in other words. By suggesting that the term is inherently hateful or contemptuous towards women (misogyny) the responder, trangenderisomer, is trying to make the respondee feel like they are harming women indirectly (“social splash-damage”) if they try to attack anyone with that weapon. This is an attempt at a transformation of the respondee’s emotion connected to the weapon-object and the people they care about. Turning social feelings of peer protection and assistance into social feelings of unintended harm of peers would alter the motivation to use the weapon, IF transgenderisomer were correct about the historical origins and social splash damage associated with the weapon’s use.


D. The first counterattack of the respondee and their in-group

New elements of hard social context come into play as the attack on the respondee motivates multiple members of the respondee’s in-group to respond to that attack, including me. Thus every following comment in a chain of responses between people becomes new hard context. These commentators and the respondee are now acting as counter-attackers. These counterattacks are bound by their own relationships with the social context (hard and soft) and will be motivated, advantaged, or disadvantaged by different things.

The first four response-counterattacks on transgenderisomer are all directed at the same thing, the implicitly socially threatening conceptual link between freeze peach and misogyny. The nature of the counterattacks comes in different forms:

*Assertion(4) that freeze peach is a form of linguistic mockery as opposed to a a sexist term with insulting misogynistic origins (#54, Gilell)

Maybe you can enlighten us, but to my knowledge the term is a humorous homophone of “free speech”

*Assertion that the meaning of freeze peach has to do with evasion of social responsibility for speech and not anger or contempt for women (#55, Nerd of Redhead).

Do you understand where the term “freeze peach” comes from?

Yep, it means free speech without responsibility for what is said. You can say anything, anytime, anywhere, without criticism or “censoring”. The misogynists are simply an example. Any form of bigotry, or speech without responsibility fits the bill.

*Rationally shifting the burden of proof onto transgenderisomer’s assertion about the historical origins of freeze peach (#56, me). Depending on the reality this social pressure could strengthen the social attack’s effectiveness from assertion to argument transformation if true, or place social pressure that would force the attacker to deconstruct their own attack and making it an attack on themselves if false (which almost never happens because that makes someone feel weak and is usually part of an apology). The person being counterattacked can attempt to meet or avoid the attack.

By all means, tell us of the misogynistic origins of “freeze peach”. That way when I get done with work I can be sure that you are not another advocate of the status quo trying to prevent a social opponent from using in-group terminology that expresses our viewpoints more efficiently.

*Arguments of a different historical origin of freeze peach that would negate the attack and attack the immediate reputation, (as opposed to long-term reputation) of the attacker with a demonstration of ignorance (#57, ).

Do you understand where the term “freeze peach” comes from?
— transgenderisomer (#53)

Sure do! Allow me to elucidate; Adam Lee posted back in 2013 the difference between Free Speech and Free Peach:

Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere ~ the right to be believed or to be taken seriously ~ the right to be listened to ~ [and] the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.

There are countless people who don’t understand this, or at least pretend not to understand it, and who insist that their free speech does include all these spurious rights ~. <b The social-justice community has a punning homophonic description of this whiny, entitled behavior: not free speech, but “freeze peach”. (emphasis mine)

Hope that helps.


E. transgenderisomer’s counterattack (#60)

Dead wrong. I’ll sit here and explain what it means since you’re apparently too lazy or stupid to search the inernet before mansplaining to me what “freeze peach” means. The term “freeze peach” has origins going back at least to the 1920’s and is essentially a derogatory term for a woman who isn’t sexually receptive to a man. In case this doesnt make sense to you, consider that nowadays women who show no interest in sex at a given time are often insultingly called “cold” and that “peach” is still commonly used as a derogatory term for a woman or her vagina (or both to insinuate a woman is nothing more than her vagina).

transgenderisomer ignores Gilell and chooses to respond to Nerd of Redhead. The nature of the response is an assertion of factual wrongness, essentially “No! You’re the one whose wrong!” because they included no sources and only asserted a different reality connected to the term freeze speech. If we did not already know that transgenderisomer was being deceptive there are two possibilities:

*transgenderisomer really believes that freeze peach is a historical term for “a woman who isn’t sexually receptive to a man”, but is unwilling or unable to defend that view. They are posturing as if they know that this is a fact, but choosing to make this a personal conflict (5) by attacking Nerd of Redhead by irrationally asserting that they have the burden of proving transgenderisomer’s assertion via the insult of “too lazy or stupid” (personal characteristics unrelated to substance), instead of an impersonal conflict by providing an example of the asserted usage of freeze peach or a history of the term (especially when they say that it’s a commonly used derogatory term).

*transgenderisomer is lying about the origin of the term in order to prevent its use as a weapon as I previously mentioned. They can’t prove what is not true so they have to do whatever they can to manipulate the attention of a potential audience. They do this with more symbol stealing (sexism, misogyny), and attacking the person of their opponent instead of the argument of their opponent. It is true that women disinterested in sex get called things like “frozen b***h”, and that “peach” is a believable sexist term in the same category as “sugar” or “honey”. So the two together seem like it could be a misogynist term allowing this to be an example of a deceiver using a group’s values and the symbols that represent them as a shield against effective criticism (effective via the shorthand of an unpackable insulting characterization). And as I mentioned above they are personally attacking Nerd of Redhead because they can’t attack the substance of their response.


F. The in-groups’s second counterattack on transgenderisomer.

These response-attacks:

*Tentatively accept the possibility of of transgenderisomer’s claims being true and reasonably asking for evidence (#61, The Student). This is less of an attack, or a very soft attack or blunted attack, because The Student still allows the possibility that transgenderisomer might be correct.

transgenderisomer @60

I’m sure neither I nor anyone else had ever heard of that use. And I have yet to figure out a combination of words that will pull up that meaning of “freeze peach” on google. In contrast, the majority of links that appear when “freeze peach” is googled define it as a mispronunciation of “free speech” (or a few pages about freezing peaches for snacks).

I’d personally be interested in a link about the more misogynistic term because old slang interests me. But I think it’s safe to say that this particular meaning has fallen out of use.

*Emphasizing the lack of evidence for transgenderisomer’s assertion contrasted with the existence of evidence for the connection to speech connections (#63, Nerd of Redhead)

The term “freeze peach” has origins going back at least to the 1920’s and is essentially a derogatory term for a woman who isn’t sexually receptive to a man.

Interesting, a lack of link to said term, and out of context with the usage about the rights of speech. Hmm…That kicks my skepticism into overdrive.


G. transgenderisomer’s second counterattack (#64)

Your skepticism could be solved by typing some words into a little box towards the top of your screen rather than continuing to mansplain. Plus, the fact that its usage was out of context is your fault for being a bigoted dope who used it out of context and does not give credence to your “skepticism” (read sexism).

Note that there is no identifier for which comment transgenderisomer is responding to. In some cases the context is obvious enough to figure out who someone is responding to, and I believe this is that sort of case due to the choice of “skepticism” making this a likely reply to Nerd of Redhead #63. However sometimes an attacker will leave a response that does not refer to a specific person as a means of referring to a group of commentators (and possibly the author of the piece being commented on). This can have the effect of making people do more work than they need to.

This response to Nerd of Redhead is also interesting in that it establishes a pattern that they consider Nerd of Redhead to be the most important person to respond to for some reason. There are several possibilities for each potential nature/disposition of attacker that I outlined in part E (honest attacker versus dishonest attacker). They might have a history with Nerd of Redhead and feel like attacking them more. Nerd of Redhead has a history of being a more intense and confrontational commentator and transgenderisomer may feel that they need to deal with them. They may feel that Nerd of Redhead is the “alpha in the room” as it were and treat them as the most threatening opponent. But I have to admit that this paragraph is pretty speculative and mostly serves to cover some concepts.

A likely possibility involves Nerd of Readhead’s comment at #23 where they use the term mansplain. This is a term that many people have found threatening suggesting that it is a rather potent social weapon (6) and insulting characterization. In the dishonest condition this is an example of symbol stealing in an attempt to use a group’s social weapons against itself which if successful can prevent its use by “going there first” because a counter claim of mansplaining would look like “No, you’re the mansplainer” to less perceptive audience members even if true (receiving a pattern can be biased by previous exposures of the pattern if comprehension is incomplete or incorrect). The use of mansplain can also serve as social camouflage because a member of an out-group pretending to be a member of an in-group needs to be able to use the symbolic language to pass as an in-group member, especially in emotionally intense situations where people are scrutinizing more closely. In the honest condition if there was a misogynistic history to freeze peach and transgenderisomer experienced it, it would be an example of mansplaining (as this is a term that gets misused on occasion I welcome anyone pointing out that I’m getting it wrong too).

The use of “bigoted dope” is a similar example of symbol stealing (bigot) combined with a personal attack (dope) that seeks to distract from the lack of support for transgenderisomer’s claims. transgenderisomer’s claim that Nerd of Redhead is the one using the term out of context remains an assertion that looks less and less likely given the evidence presented that only free speech related uses of freeze peach are being found. The assertion that Nerd of Redhead’s rational skepticism (based on the evidence so far) is sexist is simply name calling.


E. The community’s second counterattack and the “death blow”

At this point the evidence is in favor of freeze peach being a term related to free speech, and there is literally no evidence for a connection to misogyny (outside of times where the term is used on misogynists) beyond transgenderisomer’s personal testimony. The remaining responses are people saying they can’t find a connection to 1920’s terminology or current use, reasonable accusations of trolling (7), claims that they have never heard this use of freeze peach, alcoholic recipes and fruit references, and finally PZ’s lethal piece of information at #76. transgenderisomer was posting from the same IP address(8) as a poster going by mbp7 in another thread. In that thread mbp7 was doing everything they could to socially undermine claims of sexual assault, to the point that I now suspect that they are personally invested in seeing claims of sexual assault as threatening (9). This strongly suggests that they are not a person that wants to do anything about sexism, misogyny or bigotry.

F. Other notes and considerations

*This probably does not apply in the case of this troll, but I think that some trolls give clues to their identity in their usernames (unless very blatant it’s unwise to use this as a single piece of evidence). “Trans” in chemistry indicates that parts of a compound are on the opposite side of a double bond while “cis” means that they are on the same side. This terminology makes the prefix terms conceptually useful to the trans community. The addition of “isomer” is also interesting as an isomer is a compound with the same number and kind of atoms, but with those atoms in a different configuration. If nothing else it suggests more familiarity with chemistry than trans issues, but in the case of someone that does not match common transgender stereotypes and is not cis it might have meaning. This is probably not meaningful in this specific case, but imagining the reasons people take symbols can occasionally be useful and is interesting.

*I’ve often thought that the reason that political conservatives and other traditionalist types who fear change refer to “false flag operations” (a group pretending to be another group and doing something bad as a means of discrediting that second group) is a phenomenon similar to psychological projection where a more conflict oriented person (like me) willing to use deception (unlike me) instinctively imagines that someone else might use the same tactics that they would be wiling to use. That makes sense in the context of a person used to social authority being vigilant towards threats to that authority and calling on what they already know. It’s only speculation at this point, but the existence of people like transgenderisomer who are willing to use deception to avoid bad reputation and pretend to be an in-group member makes me wonder about the people claiming that something is a false flag operation.


Expanded points.

(1)Why yes this is evolutionary psychology. But it’s universally applied evolutionary psychology. That does not mean it’s correct (theories are always subject to change), or that it’s unbiased (personal experience always colors objective reality including subjects like scientists trying to describe objective reality). But since it’s meant to be applied to all humans it’s less likely to be biased in a problematic way.


(2)All insults, pejoratives and insulting characterizations are inherently arguments. In this case the claim that a person is “…a freeze peach absolutist.” is a claim that one’s opponent is making an irrational appeal to free speech as a means to force any platform, public or private, to host speech when privately held social spaces can and should be regulated by the owners of those spaces. The pejorative is meant to protect the right of people to control their own social spaces and exclude speech that they do not like as people should be allowed to do within their own homes. In this case the respondee’s opponent is trying to claim that newspapers disallowing kinds of speech from kinds of people is censorship.

Additionally freeze peach can imply that a person is trying to avoid the consequences of speech as people are allowed to choose how they want to interact with others based on their speech. For example shunning xenophobic bigots (on the internet and in meatspace) and banning them from one’s blog.

Personally I am not bothered by pejoratives, insults, and insulting characterizations that are not inherently bigoted. The important issue there being that a characterization can implicitly be unpacked into characteristics applicable to an individual person. Bigoted ones are inherently false as they irrational and/or illogically divide groups of people (discrimination) or irrationally/illogically make assumption about groups of people (prejudice) which make people reasonably offended by their use.


(3) A new feature of the social context of a social conflict engagement becomes obvious here, the social characteristics of the groups on either side of the social battle,  and the symbolic text or meatspace objects used to identify them with respect to in-groups and/or out-groups. Just as the “sides” of physical conflicts can get complicated such as the difference between a war between nations and a civil war within a nation, so too are social conflicts complex on the internet (arguably more so). This complexity is based around how the groups in a conflict are conceptually organized in perception and on the internet it possible for opponents in one battle to be allies in another because as human beings we can group by many things both rational/logical and irrational/illogical such as:

*Physical characteristics, biological or ornamental (height, weight, eye-color, perceived attractiveness, assumed genetic heritage, worn symbols or physical alterations…)

*Activities (work, play, social, individual…)

*Beliefs (religious, social, philosophical, moral, ethical…)

*Manner of thought (skeptical, rational, cynical, optimistic, pessimistic, xenophobic, bigoted…)

*Manner of action based on beliefs and manner of thought (passive, active, aggressive, submissive, supportive, playful, honest, dishonest…)

*Manner of communication based on beliefs and manner of thought, which I see as equivalent to actions (racist, sexist, honest…same as above since communication IS and action, people just often seen them differently).

*More, because I’m sure there are other ways that we categorize ourselves and one another that I have not included here. We are endlessly creative and inventive primates to our benefit and detriment.

These feed into one another in many cases such as where beliefs feed into actions taken based on those beliefs, actions shaped and chosen by manner of thought. Or groups based on play activities can include sub-groups that sort based on beliefs such as when social and political conflicts occur in sports or other games (see: gamergate).

A key concept is that there must be a socially useful symbol (perceptual-conceptual link to a relevant group based on how the group is defined) that a group can organize or be organized around in how one mentally categorizes people they encounter. These are constantly being created and falling out of use. The symbols of religions or political parties are obvious, but less obvious is organization around the use of in-group pejoratives, concepts or actions. Skeptics are organized by manner of thought, misogynists are organized by hatred and condescension towards women and resulting thoughts and actions.


(4) Assertions (aggressive opinions, arguments without the support) and demands of information are valid responses to transgenderisomer because all transgenderisomer offers is an assertion themselves. The rules of Tis-for-Tat morality allow this. Normally mere assertions are weak attacks because they are mere opinion with no support rendering insulting characterizations mere name-calling. They are being treated as they are willing to treat others. But since transgenderisomer offered no support for their assertion assertive counterattacks are of equal strength. Providing evidence makes an assertion into an argument so response #57 is a strong attack. Demands of evidence for an assertion are attacks on weapons (arguments, pejoratives) AND immediate reputation because if unanswered they leave the question of transgenderisomer’s competence and/or honesty open to doubt.


(5) It’s strategically important to note that in a case where a term really does have misogynistic, racist, or LGBTQphobic connotations the fact that the people relevant to the group get tired of pointing this out is important. It gets exhausting for such people to have to repeatedly point these things out and that very exhaustion may be a strategic goal in social conflict. I consider it important to at least consider it possible and have a process in place to deal with a potential deceiver and minimize the pressure on someone who is telling the truth. In this case our community is familiar enough with the origins of freeze peach and experienced enough in the identity and nature of existing problematic terms that it was worth the risk in putting the burden of proof on transgenderisomer, but choosing to do a search for evidence was a reasonable response to minimize pressure in the unlikely event that the assertion was true.


(6) Many people find mansplain to be a threatening insulting characterization. It is the act of a man (or male person and men probably*) explaining the experiences of women and female people to them as if they are more knowledgeable about the experiences of women and female people. The term does not have to only deal with things that only a woman (or a female person) would have direct experience in such as pregnancy, (or passing as a women in the case of trans women). It can also be the case that a women (or female person) is experienced in a skill, area of knowledge, trade or other thing and the man (or male person) feels like they need to need to act like they know more than the expert since this is about social dominance displays.

One popular way to try to eliminate its use is to claim that it is a sexist term. This is functionally similar to trying to claim that pointing out racism among white people is racist. This is not a rational claim when considering mansplaining in the context of dominance displays on two levels. On the first level there are people who feel socially threatened by skilled and powerful women (and female people, like misogynists, overt or covert) and in order to deal with that they devalue the power or skills of women (and female people) in some social manner. On another level it is more socially acceptable for women (and female people) to be talked over and criticized making this a phenomena worth addressing in raw statistical terms as many sexist social structures have to be addressed as a raw numbers phenomena in addition to the underlying causes when trying to change society (in fact the overt and covert misogynists will hide in the patterns created by the second level and may even be how they originate).

*I believe that the physical and social characteristics historically associated with women can be separated as independent things that a mansplainer would react to in mansplaining (intersectionality and the trans community have implications). Nevertheless I am obligated to point out anything in parentheses that tack on male person/people and female person/people is my addition.


(7) Trolling is an interesting insulting characterization to me. I believe that its actual use has evolved beyond the original meaning of a person deliberately causing disruption in a community by starting arguments, and deliberately offending people, deliberately derailing from relevant topics (in fact some people like to sort trolls based on types). Given political realities some people cause disruption by their mere presence even if they are being honest and claims of trolling can be mere expression of a feeling of disruption (not in this case given the evidence). Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, but I think that the issue of political differences causing disruption is something worth taking into account as the strategic elimination of people and their arguments via claims of trolling is something that reasonably exists (as well as such a claim being used to get out of a justified ban). I’m probably being too sensitive because I think in social strategy terms far more than most people.

Tangentially, the claim that someone is “just trolling” as a way of reducing or eliminating criticism is also not relevant because people don’t “just troll”. I feel safe in asserting that people are far less likely to be trolling communities that address things they care about, and more likely to troll communities that address things they dislike making trolling a means of social conflict. In this way “just trolling” is like “just joking” when a joke is used to relieve a person’s tension about something related to groups of people and the joke functionally preserves stereotypes, insults the group and its members, and other things that reasonably make someone offended at a joke (as opposed to a joke being at the expense of xenophobic bigots themselves).


(8) Since I can’t help thinking of these things in terms of social conflict strategy I have to consider the possible claim that it was someone else posting from that address, as a means of having a response to such a claim if nothing else. In this case the utter lack of evidence for transgenderisomer’s claims, and the reality that loss of use of freeze peach has social effects advantageous to people who want to be able to shout down the claims of female people is good enough.


(9) I have a long term goal of being able to identify rapists and abusers on the internet by the patterns contained in their text. I do not yet have that level of skill, but its become useful to point out when a person’s positions make life easier for rapists and abusers. Much useful rhetoric can be added to that substance.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

Hello everyone!

You all know me as Brony, Social Justice Cenobite and I’ve been a commentator in these parts since before FTB was FTB or was centered on Scienceblogs. This was back when Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars (before Ed moved on) and PZ Myers at Pharyngula were independent bloggers with some shared readership. I’m gratified that this blogging community seems to think that I might have some things worth sharing. Those things are related to neurodiversity, social conflict, and places where atheists and the religious are the same. They are all connected issues on a personal level through the second topic, social conflict. The name the this blog, Primate Chess, reflects this.

I’ll also touch on mental health in general as I have finally found a job after three years of unemployment. That is what delayed my first post here (and likely others) as it’s really serious shit that I need to focus on. I’m a technician at a mental health facility doing long term behavioral intervention for people of all types. To give you an idea of how serious I recently had a conversation with a minor who was comfortable speaking casually about killing one of his friends, and another about triggers from sexual abuse and how I can help with respect to how I interact with them when they have a conflict with another patient. It’s a pretty intense place but it’s important work and it feels like a good fit for me in a way I’m still trying to figure out. I can see that I owe this community a lot because I would not have been prepared for this without what I have learned here at FTB and other social justice spaces.


Social Conflict and My Experience of Tourette’s Syndrome.

There is a place where the symbolism that we use in social conflict divides into content intended to reflect reality, or simply “being correct”, and a place where the content has to do with “winning”. I like to think that I’m practiced in the textual version of this from about two decades of exchanges with creationists and other individuals and groups of people that have problems accepting the way the world really is. We are a species that can win a social conflict and be wrong about the reality that it is supposedly about and I internally think of that part of human social conflict as “Primate Chess”.

Think about the round-and-round-and-round of two people trading text-walls on politics, religion, health, science, philosophy, society and more. I actually see it as something analogous to a martial art like grappling where instead of limbs, joints, mass, force and torque the opponents use rational and logical structure, shared meaning (or lack of), emotion (it’s always a factor) and strategy. But as serious as it is it can often be like a game in that games tend to be instinctual practice for more serious things. The serious thing in this case being real physical conflict, the failure mode of politics. As I move forward on this blog I’m going to try to objectify how I see people argue and I hope to see many of you adding your experiences to this so that our experiences can be refined into broadly useful knowledge.

As strange as it might seem it turns out that my Tourette’s Syndrome (TS), ADHD and sub-clinical OCD tendencies are benefits when it comes to social conflict. My story is one of discovering how the ways we traditionally divide up “normal” fail many of us when it comes to innate developmental differences and dispositions that blend into personality. As a result of work I have done I’m pretty comfortable talking about TS and my relationship with it.

Lately advantages have been discovered for people on the autism spectrum, people with TS, people with ADHD (trickier to define, but I’ll get into it), and I’m certain that the same is true for many other mental conditions. It was a group of four studies describing cognitive enhancements in people with TS that gave me positive motivation to figure  my live after my diagnosis seven years ago. Since then I’ve been able to discover how I am shaped on a basic human level that lets me take advantages and disadvantages into account. There is no single piece of information(1), it’s a collection of:

*Journal articles studying the psychology, neruobiology and anatomy of TS, ADHD and related conditions.

*Current and historical examples of people with TS that seem to have used the characteristics to their benefit that allow me to average out general features. Combined with the studies describing cognitive enhancements I’ve been able to make some useful tentative assumptions about what my advantages might be.

*Discussions of the experience of TS with other people that have been diagnosed with the condition in internet and meatspace support groups that let me farther strengthen some of my assumptions.

In this post I’m only going to highlight the features of TS relevant to social conflict that combined with my life experience as anill-defined flavor of non-straight(2), probably-cis(2), white male raised in a conservative, fundamentalist protestant military family in the US during the last decade or so of the cold war. I’ll do posts that are more specific about TS in general and other topics after this introduction. This stuff gets very sensitive and quite frankly I owe this community and other social justice communities a great debt because it’s helped me to be empathetic and socially conscious enough to be me morally and ethically given the fact that these features of TS do intersect with problems that many disadvantaged communities face. As a result I have a kind of insiders view of problematic people by sharing the history and psychology, but not the choices. When considering the following keep in mind that all human instinct and ability has good and bad expression and I suspect that people like me have found social roles in many cultures (3), but in others we seem to blend into “demon possession” as you go back in time.

*Heightened sensitivity to social information. Think about the fact that many of the urges we experience have to do with insults, slurs, physical boundary violations (common as children and quickly socialized out of us), obscenity related and non-obscene related urges to do the opposite of what is considered “normal”. It pretty much feels like everyone is yelling at me all of the time so I’ve had to learn to control my reactions all of the time.

*More intense feeling of aggression and social dominance instincts, and problems controlling rage and anger. The stereotype of the person with TS ranting angrily does have a basis in fact. I used to be pretty bad with video games in particular but I’m very in control of my anger today and can successfully remain rational and logical while angry. As an adult that enhanced control is very useful here and I’m experienced in feeling and seeing the good and bad things that people do when angry, and controlling my anger so that it is a tool and I am not it’s tool.

*Oppositional tendencies reflected in more co-diagnoses of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Combined with the above urges to do the opposite of things and a lifetime of choosing to do the right thing gives an interesting perspective of the different “sides” in social conflicts.

*Greater awareness of the use of non-literal language. That paper discusses things in terms of “impaired understanding of non-literal language”, but I see this as a result of how these studies see humanity as a whole. It’s better to say “more literal than the population at large”. I can understand non-literal language, it’s just less important to me. In my experience having your brain continually remind you of the literal meaning let’s you create an effective “bullshit detector” in social conflict. Think about the abuse of hyperbole when people get called out for sexism or racism. I don’t care about the “witch hunts”, I want to see the reality that does not involve metaphorical mystical women getting burned at stakes and I can almost never get a person who was called a sexist or a racist to show me that. Characterizations of things are less useful than descriptions of things in a social conflict.

*Obsessions with aggression, violence, sex, social rules, checking, counting, and symmetry. The social rules OCD is often called the “religion OCD” or scrupulosity. What’s a person with unpleasant urges who does not want to hurt people to do but get obsessed with the rules for not hurting people. I have an odd view of OCD where if a person gets control of the urges and compulsions they end up with a powerful filter for perceiving and thinking about the subject/object of the obsession/compulsion. It’s a matter of controlling instincts and associated emotions.

*More cognitive control of the rule-based parts of the mind related to the above. See the links having to do with enhancements and articles like this. The cognitive control is not limited to the motor domain and is also present in other areas where we have to exert control.

*Enhancements in rule-based physical and cognitive processes. That’s the four papers above that gave me positive motivation to figure this mess out. The paper on rule-based language enhancements is particularly interesting in light of the achievements of Dr. Samuel Johnson, a historical figure with TS from England that I consider a biological role-model. If I had to summarize how TS intersected with his life I would say that he had an extraordinary ability to understand how the language was objectively used in his time which let him to produce his famed Dictionary of the English Language at an increased efficiency relative to peers and even come up with innovations that set a standard for what we consider a Dictionary.

A lifetime of that and you develop a very different view of how people fight with words.


The social symmetries between the religious and the non-religious.

This last one is about how atheists and the religious are the same, a thing I have been more interested in over the last six months to a year or so and stems from my experiences of the ongoing schism in the atheist community. The events surrounding elevatorgate and Dear Muslima pushed me from occasional commentator to regular commentator here at FTB as people who wanted social abuse and neglect to be recognized and dealt with, received more abuse and aggressive attempts to drive them back into silence.

It was a period of training for me and I won’t pretend that it was pleasant for me or for the people who took the time to critisize me for my own flawed attempts to be supportive. I fucked up a lot and had to learn how to fight for other people. I had to learn to put aside my reasons for fighting and fight for other people’s reasons. I won’t claim any level of quality as an ally (which too often has negative connotations) other than the fact that people have told me that I have been helpful because I fully expect there to be many more places where things need changing and refined.

Regardless of anyone’s intentions it was necessarily a social conflict because there were people attacking other people in action or reaction. It was also a time of writing of mythologies (in the neutral sense of “a story of a group of people”) as the two sides faced off, told stories about one another, and socially postured. Those stories and postures do not equally reflect reality and the two sides are not equal in their ability present reality. I am quite comfortable on the side I have chosen.

Pejorative comparisons with religion were and are quite common and there are legitimate insulting comparisons to be made with respect to fallacious reasoning, means and manner of respect/support/attack/defense for group and authority, shitty beliefs/manner of thought/behavior/communication and other things. I started thinking about what was being associated with religion in atheist/skeptic culture and decided that a lot of it actually had to do with universal human behavior independent of any supernatural appeals. Figuring out what some atheists think religion is became useful as many were tossing out perfectly good kinds of human interaction like weekly group socialization and celebration of general things human. In my view religion is simply an expression of how we collectively do social organization, interaction, and activity. That is a thing that the atheist and skeptic communities need to do a lot of work to ensure healthy and effective communities.

I also experienced a second schism at the time as an outspoken feminist at a Brony image board. First as a user and then as the moderator of the serious discussion board. For now all I will say is that two schisms let one look for look for common patterns and I’m glad I was trained as a scientist.


So that’s what I’m planning on writing about. Along the way I would love to be able to make sure that can adapt these subjects to people in general and would welcome other perspectives on these issues. While my perspective is unique, it only exists because of other people and it’s only when it’s averaged with that of others that universally useful things can be found. Thank you for reading! I’ll be sure to try to work some figures into the next one so that it’s more interesting.


(1) The reproducability problem is very relevant to brain science. The collection of work on cognitive enhancements, historical examples, discussions with others with TS and my own observations of the consistency between my experiences and the literature on TS increase the strength of support to the point where I am comfortable making some assumptions and taking advantages of my own TS benefits.

(2) Tourette’s Syndrome puts me right in the middle of issues surrounding sex and gender, but in a way that makes me more privileged since the characteristics would be considered “hyper-masculine” as a male with TS. For female people with TS the the situation is the polar opposite since they also share the more masculine characteristics. There is also the 3:1 ratio of male to female people with the condition (which is certainly affected by inheritance and culture/society, and probably bias in diagnosing), and other things. I’m going to address this topic at some point, but I am very carefully considering how to do it inclusively and with respect. Any criticisms I receive will be taken seriously. I depend on criticism to be a good person.

(3) I’m currently trading emails with an anthropologist of Lakota descent who has recommended some colleges to me. I consider the Heyoka to be a role-model for how I can express what I am for my chosen communities. This is another area where I owe a debt to the FTB/social justice community because I have the tools to think about these kinds of comparisons respectfully.