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2017/03/11: Strengthen the Individual: Q & A Parts I & II

So, how are we going to do this? Are people just going to ask? All right. Yes “You have said that speech brings order out of chaos” “That’s why free speech is important” “But why does it appear that speech brings chaos out of order?...

2017 Maps of Meaning 8: Neuropsychology of Symbolic Representation

So one of the propositions that I? Set forth for you last week was that the most real Things are the things that are most permanent across time and and that Manifests themselves in the largest number of situations and those are the things that you have to map successfully in order to survive survive of individuals that survive as a species over a very long period Of time and so the question is one question is what are the constants of experience if you are a follower of the Evolutionary Psychologists and to some degree the evolutionary biologist, but I would say more the psychologists like to be in close Metis They have a very afro centric view of Human evolution and the idea basically is that After we diverged from the common ancestor between Chimpanzees Bonobos and human beings We spent a tremendous amount of time in the african environment Mostly on the veldt although....

2017/02/14: A Picture of Mohamed

Is This a Picture of Mohamed? Something woke me up at 5:30 this morning. Maybe it was my Conscience Maybe it was God Take your pick....

2017 Personality 01: Introduction

Well, you might as well start by writing down that URL. I’ll show it to you again at the end of class. That’s where the syllabus is....

2017 Maps of Meaning 3: Marionettes and Individuals (Part 2)

OK, so the last time we were here we got maybe a third of the way through this story the story of Pinokio and the transformation of a marionette into something hypothetically real I’m gonna backtrack a few slides and it’ll get us into it again so you remember that the blue fairy, so I would say that the benevolent element of mother nature in the schemata that we are going to use to investigate mythology was more or less allowed her entrance because Gepetto was a good guy and he wished for the right thing and so in some sense… here’s a way of thinking about that… you know genetic / environmental studies on children’s temperament have revealed something quite interesting which is that the shared environment that children have within a family so that would be what’s the same about your environment and your brother’s environment, the same doesn’t have that much effect on your temperament or his temperament ‘cause the presumption always was that within a family there is a shared environment, right?...

2017 Maps of Meaning 2: Marionettes & Individuals (Part 1).

So I am going to briefly review some of what I told you last time, and then I am going to walk through as I mentioned, I am going to walk through the Disney movie film Pinnochio and which I presume most of you have seen How many of you have seen it?...

2017 Maps of Meaning 1: Context and Background

I should tell you first about the genesis of this theory I suppose is the right way of putting it when I was about your age that was back in the early 80’s or thereabouts and this was particularly true around 1984 but it was true before that too every generation has its worries real or imagined the primary worry for people of my generation was nuclear war and you know it was a genuine worry at one point many years later I went down to Arizona to visit an ICBM, a decommissioned ICBM nuclear missile silo and ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile were, very large rockets right they flew at, they could fly half way around the world it was deep underground and behind very thick steel doors, it was light green you know that pastel green that everyone seemed to like in the 1950’s it was like pastel green Star Trek console that’s what it looked like and ah, so we went down out in the yard, it was in the desert, out in the yard there was a very I would say magical object for lack of a better word and that was the nose cone for the ICBM and it was quite big about that big, about that high, pointed like the point of a bullet about ¾’s of an inch thick, plastic you know kind of a resin and it was designed to melt on re-entry so that was just sitting there so that was fairly thought provoking, let’s put it that way and then we went into the missile silo interestingly enough appended to the front of it, it had been decommissioned under Regan, by the way in the front of it there was a museum with artifacts from the 1980’s featuring Reagan and Gorbachev meeting multiple times and it was staffed by these Southern these Americans from the South who were grandparent age and they were and they were just super friendly and you know , they were happy to be in the museum, and it was like going to visit your grandma’s nuclear missile silo and so it was jarring you know, because it was obviously a portentous place, and yet it was conjoined with hospitality and welcoming it was surreal in that manner anyways we went into the into the silo and they ran us through a simulated launch, so imagine a panel like this made out of metal except twice as long with another one of these things at the other end 16 feet across or so basically 1950’s technology but updated and then imagine what you had to do to launch it was that there was a guy with a key and there was another guy with a key and if I remember correctly the keys were around their necks although I don’t think that they were stored around their necks permanently but and so to launch the missile you had to put the key in the lock both of you that was the safety precaution, had to be two of you put the key in the lock and hold it for 10 seconds and then away the missile goes and it wasn’t as big, the missile wasn’t as big as the rockets that went to the moon but but it was plenty big you know the silo itself would have easily been as wide as this room is and perhaps larger and many, many, story’s tall, you know because it was nested underground so they ran us through a simulated launch which was surreal, I would say and then they told us that someone asked, that the keys were in once now, they wouldn’t tell us when but you know that would have been during the Cuban missile crisis because, we were that close and we were close again at other times, although perhaps not that close and there seemed to be another peak of conflict, in 1984 when there was a movie showed at that time called “The Day After” which at that time garnered more views than any movie ever had on TV, and it was a story about the aftermath of a nuclear war and the people that were left and it was pretty realistic and and pretty frightening, it, it turned out as I found out later that that movie was one of things that influenced Ronald Reagan to put pressure on or negotiate with the Soviets depending on how you look at it and so well then you know 5 years later the Soviet union collapsed, no one saw that coming and it really didn’t collapse in 1989 in some sense, you know, like a huge machine like that doesn’t fall apart all at once, it falls apart over time and then at some point it just becomes unsustainable and topples and you know, it’s like they lost faith in their doctrine and for good reason you know that the system in Russia the Soviet Union, which was a collection of states, an empire and the system that Mao establish in China and the system that still exists in Korea as a remnant of the cold war and systems in South East Asia and in Africa were all predicated on Marxist presuppositions presuppositions that were Utopian in nature and that and that posited a Utopian future where property was held in common and everyone had enough and everyone was called upon to do what they could ight, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need which is a lovely sentiment and you can imagine how it would be attractive even intellectually, because of course other systems, all other systems produce vast disparities in income it’s like a natural law, that’s actually governed by, you can model it with a distribution called the Pareto distribution, and the Pareto distribution looks like this it doesn’t look like a normal distribution, a lot of you guys have been told about, not, normal distributions and how many things many things follow on normal distribution, most things, but that’s really a limited case you can understand a Pareto distribution if you you’ve all played Monopoly I presume at the beginning everyone has the same amount of money we will include property, the same amount of wealth and then what happens as the game progresses, and really as a function of chance I mean, I know that you have to use a head a little bit in Monopoly but the basic rule is just buy everything you can get your hands on and then trade meanly, something like that so at the beginning everybody has the same amount and then as you begin to play if you had enough players you would develop a normal distribution because some people would win relatively consistently and some players lose relatively consistently and so the money starts to be distributed in a normal distribution, but the thing about money, and the thing about lots of things is that zero is involved and zero is a weird place because if you are playing a trading game and you hit zero then you’re done and so, and it is very hard to recover from zero, and you know it’s really hard to recover, you know when you are doomed in Monopoly you know, you, you can tell, you’ve got some resources but there is going to be some crisis when you land on some hotel and you are going to get wiped out, you know it, so there is a point at which you’re headed for zero even if you have something you know and you might be rescued by, luck, but you know when you are doomed So what happens as you continue to play Monopoly, more and more people stack up at zero and fewer and fewer people have more and more money and when the game is over every person has no money and one person has all of it, now the funny thing about that is in some sense that is how trading games work, you know, you got, you might wonder why there is inequality in a society and it is easy to consider that it’s because the society is corrupt and perhaps, you know, society is somewhat or horribly corrupt, that is the variation, there is no society that is not without its criminal element, its fixed element anyways trading games tend to produce a Pareto distribution so that very many have very little and a tiny minority have a tremendous amount that’s the 1% that you hear about, right, and the thing about the 1% is that it has happened in every society that has ever been studied, it doesn’t really matter what the governmental system is, it certainly happened under the Soviets, that’s for sure and there was enough people that had enough zero that they just died, so, you know, the, the Utopian dream was completely un-implementable for a variety of very complex reasons, one is that it is very hard to fight against that distribution pattern when people are trading because mere statistics will do that, and then there are other things, and I should tell you as well that the Pareto distribution governs a lot of things, so, if you look at books, if I remember properly last year there was something like a million English language books published and I think that 500 of them sold more than 100,000 copies which is none, right, that is none, and of that 500 you can be sure that one of them was by Stephen King and he took half the money because like there is 5 authors in the English language who are on every airport paperback stand occupying the top rung and that’s massive real estate, right, because it is replicated everywhere, and because they are so prominent and because they are no names when people are in a hurry and want something to read, they just grab that, and more money goes to those people, so you know, success breeds success and failure breeds failure, and it not necessarily linear and that is a really difficult thing to deal with, and it is hard on societies, because, one of the things we do know is that, you know, as you stretch out the inequality, you make men, particularly, on the lower end of the distribution, more and more likely to be aggressive, it’s sort of like, you imagine every man has a threshold for violence, um, and status is important to men, not that it isn’t important to women but, it’s different, it’s a different kind of status, it’s status that is important to men because it’s one of the things that makes them marketable as partners to women so it actually turns out to be quite important to men men tend to compete with one another for status, hierarchy position, and in a really unequal society, if you are like a low rung guy, then, and you don’t have any opportunity to rise because the society isn’t structured so that there’s mobility, then the more aggressive guys, tend to turn to criminality, and you know and so you could say there is a threshold for criminality, and the more inequality pressure you put on a particular area, geographic or political area, the more inequality pressure you put on it, the more men slip past that threshold and into criminality, and you know there have been some pretty good studies done of drug gangs in Chicago, that was the best one, a sociologist actually went out and hung out with a drug gang he got into it, I guess the drug gang leader was, you know, I wouldn’t say necessarily narcissistic, that might be a reasonable way of thinking about it, and he was kind of happy with the idea of maybe being the subject of a book and, so this guy was able to associate with them, got to know them quite well, and then the housing project in which the gang was housed was slated for demolition and the gang broke up and he got the books because they kept books and what he found was the average street drug dealer, first of all was employed in another job, as well, and was making far less than minimum wage now, but guys further up the chain of course followed the Pareto distribution so there was a tiny minority of them that were raking in a tremendous amount of loot, and the guys at the bottom were just waiting around for the possibility that they could rise up the hierarchy and you know it’s a pretty violent game, so, the chances that someone’s going to be, taken out it pretty high and so then a slot opens up for some opportunistic second rater and perhaps he can move up the hierarchy....

2016/12/31: A New Years Letter to the World

apologies for my prolonged absence I’ve been dealing over the last few weeks with my somewhat Shaky current health It seems probable that I can use arrest if I had the opportunity And I knew how I [should] probably be having a rest right now But be that as it may I have prepared this letter presumptuously to the world Or at least to that corner of it with which I can communicate here at the dawn of the new year in these perilous times Although I usually speak extemporaneously That takes a level of capacity that I cannot quite currently manifest, so I’m going to read instead It’s also a careful argument....

2016/11/08: My Message to Millenials: How to Change the World -- Properly

Hi there. This is my message to Millennials about how to change the world and I would say how to change the world properly [of] course the question, then is well exactly what do you mean by properly and of course that’s the fundamental issue So I’m going to walk through that little bit So I’m gonna and I’ve also got an offer to make to any millennials that are willing to watch this so This was triggered in [part] by something I read recently by Jonathan hate and Jonathan haidt is the professor of ethical leadership at the nyu Stern school of business, and he’s been a very astute Commentator recently on some of the political battles that have been going on in the social sciences [noting] for example that there is very little political diversity in the views of social scientists and perhaps even less on the part of the people in the humanities And hate recently wrote something which all all what are you linked to in the and the description of this video?...

2016 Personality Final

I don’t know how many of you got my email this morning, but this is the last class. And so, I sent in my email a link to the other lecture that was supposed to happen, but I have to go to a conference on Thursday and Friday and so I’m going to do the last lecture today, and you can watch the second-last lecture from last year, which will cover the territory, hopefully, sufficiently well....