Training that Pattern thinking

So, I have been quiet lately, but I think I can begin to get back into the swing of things since my life seems to be resuming some semblance of normalcy .   One of the ideas bumping around in my noggin, but also alluded to in some earlier blogs, is training pattern thinking in terms of logical thinking.  Logical minds are very good at connecting the dots and seeing correlations, but the inferences made and conclusions generated are still only as good as the quality of the data that has been retained.   With extremely logical minds, we see patterns, connections, and correlations in so many different ways, and it can become extremely hard to separate out the useful and trivial data.  I have the beginnings of a solution, and before I forget for any credential freaks out there, I do have my M.ed. so I am not clueless on topics related to pedagogy, that said, training the logical thinker to be able to sort through this data becomes a powerful tool for empowering the individual and helping calm the chaos of a world filled with beautiful patterns.

When I see bad pattern thinking, I often see issues of ideology or unreasonable correlations as the biggest issues.  In the form of ideology, rigid thinking patterns in regards to one’s belief in how the universe works results in the loss of pertinent data in favor of data that already fits their existing world view.  Harold Garfinkle might say this is part of the social creation and re-creation of shared realities.  Through social consensus we often agree on a reality that is highly subjective, based on anecdotes and belief as much as valid observation of objective reality.  When this ideology is challenged, because it based on a rigid and flawed data set, the individual can become hostile, feel threatened, shut up and move on, but they will most often dance around the subject in some way. The internalized notion of reality that is under threat defends itself, best described I think as feeling one’s sanity is at risk, when one challenges a pillar of a person’s identity, and that pillar becomes undermined, it is the perfect recipe for an existential crisis, and I do not think everyone makes it through that experience, so in a very real way, it is a threat to them to challenge these firmly held beliefs.  Yet, children taught to train their logical thinking will be able to better construct a worldview, and though their personality may still hold onto that worldview rigidly, it will be more informed and inherently more flexible.  Likewise, in the case of unreasonable correlations, properly trained logical thinking will help them vet the soundness and validity of their logic, helping to prevent the uptake and retention of bad correlations.

As it stands now, I see four primary things that need to be taught to logical thinkers, and are beneficial to everyone as a whole. First, we need to teach very basic logical syllogism, a simple logical equation that helps determine if an idea is sound, valid, neither, or both.  Secondly, we need to teach Occam’s Razor, not necessarily in that term, but simply reinforce the notion that the most likely answer is it, and that it is the starting point for getting to the real answer, jumping straight to “my teacher must be an alien” is how you end up with the stereotype at least of the “crazy conspiracy theorist”, often tremendously great logical minds, that are simply not weighing the probability of their correlations well.  Thirdly, we need to teach the scientific method, especially in regards to reinforcing that correlation is not causation.  Finally, we need to teach reflexive triangulation, and that is helping it become habit to test correlations against at least three scenarios or thought experiments to quickly determine if ones logic is at least sound. With these cognitive tools developed, the extremely logical mind and pattern thinker is better able to quickly determine the value and use of correlations they see.  It foster’s a healthy sense of skepticism towards rote understanding, and will greatly strengthen critical thinking skills that could translate into a real asset later in life as well.  It may seem like a lot, but many of these concepts can be taught outside of lesson plans and embedded within everyday class behavior, below are a few ideas for use in the classroom to help teach these things, and this is targeted towards the elementary aged students, as this would be the appropriate time to help focus those synapses.

Teaching logical syllogism is fairly easy given the numerous everyday examples of wrong correlations that younger concrete learners very naturally make.  So when a student exhibits correlations based on uninformed logic and a mix of magical thinking, the educator can break that down using logical syllogism and show the student the process while also helping shape their line of inquiry and correct erroneous correlations.  Likewise, you can even break their answer down in a way that shows they were using underlying logic well, that it simply had the wrong data, and thus the child can have the positive aspects of how they arrived at the conclusion reinforced, while still correcting the errors.

Occam’s Razor is already taught to a limited degree, every time an educator challenges a child’s guess as to why something happened with a “do you think that likely?” or a “did you consider this?”, the child is learning to look for the most common patterns, be they social or based in object reality.  Yet, reinforcing this concept verbally would be beneficial, ask questions along the lines of “what do you think is the MOST likely answer?”, and use this tool to engage the students in thinking about probability as part of following a line of inquiry to get to the right answer.

In regards to the scientific method, for the most part it is taught reasonably well, but we tend to keep it compartmentalized instead of using it as a thought tool that can be applied to any line of inquiry.  A hypothesis can be generated and tested in social settings, while playing games, etc.  For example, almost any game can be manipulated to give unfair advantage to some of the players, an educator could engage the children in rules changes and see how it affects the games, it also helps to reinforce why we play with standardized rules and agree as a group to follow them, a not uncommon lesson many children have to learn.

Finally, the seemingly hardest is to teach the habituation of triangulation, that is when one sees a connection between two things, they then learn to take that correlation and apply it to at least two other scenarios or different perspectives, this helps teach the mind to look for validation in the form of seeing if the correlation holds up to other scenarios. It does not guarantee a correct answer, but it helps quickly eliminate bad correlations when it becomes apparent that in other situations the perceived correlation does not hold up or apply well.  Teaching this can be done via line of questioning and teachable moments, but can also be incorporated into early testing and activities, by have children learn to seek out and make three good connections to their central idea.

As integrated learning methods, most of these need little modification to an existing pedagogy, instead it becomes an additional tool and approach to help students better understand how to think, check their thinking, and a bit more about themselves.  Trained to reflex you have a powerful tool to teach intuitive types and non-intuitives alike.  For the intuitive thinkers, it helps ensure the data they choose to incorporate, and thus influences their intuition.  For the non-intuitive, it teaches a method by which to build up understanding and arguments, to step outside just the here and now, but to thing expansively or in the long term.  Though like many of ideas, this one it but a nascent one, I believe that coupled with an educational system that puts emphasis on understanding one’s own self-identity along with the academic work, we will empower our descendants to think critically and have a broader perspective.

My troubles with Intuition led to me defining it.

Ok, so I keep around a lot of my old blogs that part of me really wants to delete, see I don’t mind being wrong, I often am, but I don’t always like having a reminder around…but I keep them around for a purpose, so I will not forget about it and keep working at it.  So, in my Meyer’s-Brigg’s dissections and a few other points I argue that intuition is a function of logic, which if you read a great deal of science, math, and philosophy that often portrayed in opposition to each other.  Now, I still held onto this idea for a bit, knowing that is was contrary to established thought and have be chewing on it.  See, the problem for me is that my intuition is very logical, when I have to make an intuitive decision and then revisit it to break it down, I can see logic at the core.  So, it was  a bit of personal bias all jumbled up in it, but I have been trying to hammer it down.

So, like the word context, the definition of intuition itself is a royal pain in the arse.  First, it is all too often confused with instinct, or feelings, or belief, it becomes connotatively and denotatively muddled. Well, I dislike muddled and I dislike ambiguity, these things create barriers to communication and since intuition is a fairly important component of philosophy and human cognition, I am not willing to settle for some vague pseudo-definitions.  So like my definition of personal context, which I reduced down to an equation (Inherent epistemology+Socio-Cultural epistemology+Life Experience=Personal Context), I am going to hammer out a definition of intuition as well.

Ok, so the problem with intuition is that everyone has it and thus my earlier assertion of it being a function of logic cannot apply to everyone since not everyone has a mental make up that favors logical thinking, neither is everyone feeling, rational, empirical, judgmental, etc.  In short, intuition is a function of one’s personal context.  What is intuition then? Intuition is in my perspective a survival function for the conscious intelligence, what replaces a great deal of instinct in beings with conscious thought (interesting test there for a philosophical zombie I am sure, if one has no consciousness and I argue intuition requires consciousness then a philosophical zombie could not exist since it is supposed to be indistinguishable from a non-zombie human, and a lack of intuition would certainly make it different, unless it was replaced fully with instinct….hrmm something to think on).  Now Intuition is a subconscious (or preconscious if you like) process, it is reactionary but not a foreign and unknowable agent, we can with some effort trace back an intuitive decision provided we desire to do so.  In survival based situations, perceived existential threats, or when just busy and in a hurry and lacking the current mental power to direct out conscious mind towards a particular task, intuition plays an important role in making a decision.  Though as with many survival based developments in human cognition, we apply it more broadly than the likely naturally selective factors involved in it required.  So, when the proverbial crap hits the fan a decision must be reached quickly, this is the survival role of intuition, which is going to be based on our on individual personal context.  See, our conscious existence is not the totality of who we are, we like to think the frontal cortex is in the drivers seat, after all that gives us total self-determination and accountability, and who enjoys thinking they are mere meat puppets to basic neurology? Well, like it or not, and modern neuroscience agrees, we are more often than not just that, see we cannot hold all we know, which is just a tiny of sliver of all that can be known in our conscious minds, we would fail as social organisms and not be able to meaningfully interact with anything if we did, we essentially be something far other than human, and I quite like being human failings, foibles and all that.

Intuition is then a function of personal context, so if one understands their own context and has a decent approximation of another person’s personal context you can more readily grasp how that particular neurotype is going to utilize their intuition when it is required.  In this sense too, since intuition utilizes one’s epistemologies, aka knowledge, what we know, how we know, etc. (and a reminder here, it does not matter if what we “know” is right, wrong, or irrelevant) will be influenced in it’s accuracy vs fallibility based upon the individuals knowledge base.; this is why many scientific discoveries have come about via intuition and not just conscious application of logic and the scientific method. Likewise, careers that require frequent and rapid decision making often put individuals with experience in charge, because their intuition is better honed due to a more expansive knowledge base.

So intuition is a sub (or pre) conscious utilization of our knowledge when applicable or how we know things, i.e. epistemology as a survival mechanism.  It is suspect at all times, but in reality does not have to be completely accurate, it needs to be accurate enough often enough to mitigate a disaster, keep one safe, and probably was pretty easily selected for biologically since bad intuition can have potentially fatal results.  Since intuition is based on personal context, anyone who has a suspect knowledge base, a rigid ideology or worldview, pseudoscientific tendencies, well their intuition should be suspect as well.  From a survival perspective then when folks have multiple intuitive responses and no time to reach a consensus, go with the person with the largest or most applicable knowledge base to that situation, don’t let ego get in the way, especially when there is no time for it dealing with an immediate existential threat.  Trusting one’s intuition in situations where a quick decision is needed is an important part of human cognition, relying purely on intuition though over rational thought though is not likely to net a high enough long term reliability to be a desirable approach to one’s existence. Yet, since we often do rely on our intuition, it is a good idea to understand how one thinks, processes, interprets, and stores social and sensory data, to better understand how we come to these quick decisions, and remember that our ways of knowing influence what decisions we come to intuitively, so check your facts, vet you ideologies, metacognate, and understand who you are through a healthy sense of self identity and self understanding and not just rote learning, take some conscious control in directing how your subconscious processes work, and then you can eke out more self-determination instead of being an exceptionally predictable culturally programmed rote learning robot, which makes you a potential victim for pretty much any scam artist one can think of.

Relative Rituals

I am in a lot of pain these days, so my thoughts are more fragmented, winter is a rough spot for me and it makes it hard for me to focus on things and keep things straight when dry skin and painful joints and sinuses keep tugging at me, honestly I would really just like to hibernate and get past this season and get on with my life.  A warmer climate is sadly not an option, my wife’s work and my dislike of places where folks legally have the right to shoot me if I have an autistic meltdown kinda make me want to never visit most southern states again…ever.   But, I digress, before I even got started, one thing I have thought about a lot recently though is rituals.

Ok, so when talking to educators and other’s who pride themselves as being “in the know” on spectrum, one thing that comes up is what are my rituals.  First, based on the current social paradigm, one would think that question would be considered rather rude, as it is certainly prying into my personal life.  Frankly, I don’t care, but it is telling that strange repetitive behaviors I have are classified as rituals in a way that is abnormal.  Yet to me, societal rituals and religious rituals are nonsensical to me, and our society has many rituals we are expected to observe.  In my case, with functional mirror neurons so I can read people’s reactions, but the “socialization issues” of being on the spectrum, it is directly connect to my very logical and rational way of thinking, and I see so much ritualized behavior every single day, and yet folks are not challenged on those rituals.

The dominant paradigm sets the acceptable vs deviant notions of rituals, so when you do not fit the dominant paradigm, when you think so differently that you are honestly confused as to how folks accept and roll with certain socially expected behaviors, you are forced to try and understand the highly ritualized behavior of the culture you live in.  And the dominant society has so many, sometimes at odds with different worldviews and sometimes taken so for granted that it is assumed it is part of the natural human condition. When one is part of the dominant paradigm and the world makes sense, that position of cognitive privilege means you do not have to hone your assessment skills. An example of this is being a native English speaker in this day and age, though many choose to learn another language, most don’t and many even get offended that non-English speakers can’t seem to learn English well.  The dominant paradigm views the world through a cultural and personal lens that their privileged position allows them to never have to develop a cognitive toolkit to navigate the world, the world is expected to navigate around them.  Another example is general knowledge of the happenings in the US, in many ways folks in Europe and Asia know more about what is going on in our nation on a macro-scale than the residents in our nation, we take for granted how things function and because we do not perceive other’s as a potential threat we don’t have to take the time to understand them either.

So, when the dominant paradigm exists in an interesting position of privilege that allows them to wear rose colored glasses in regards to their own actions and demean those who are different or even against their worldview.  It is easy to label “the other” as flawed, backwards, or barbaric. Instead of understanding, that culturally, as well as inherently through neurology that folks value and prioritize things differently.  This comes back to the notion of rituals, societal mores and values, and the inability to see their own rituals whilst constantly pointing out perceived deviancy from these norms as somehow making an individually morally inferior.  I am not going to engage in small talk, I am not going to say something polite because it is expected, when I say something nice it is because I mean it, and I often do, I am quite a nice person, I hold no ill will towards people in general. Don’t get me wrong, I am often frustrated with people, and often feel like I want to defenstrate them for being obtuse, but this is a personality conflict stemming from different ways of thinking, not a inferiority/superiority issue. You see, in many ways, I have fewer rituals than society writ large, because I see irrational and illogical action constantly and choose to not take part in it, I disdain cultural detritus and archaic holdovers, even though I respect their origins and intent.  Add into it that I can read micro-expressions well, and I am often frustrated, I hate lying and I see lies constantly, little white lies, grey lies, or big whoppers of lies.  I don’t want someone who does not feel a certain way telling me they feel another way to spare my feelings, my feelings are hurt by deceit, never truth. Certainly if someone attacks me with micro-aggressive language I might get irritated myself, but it is honestly not that hard to be direct and honest without being insensitive, simple statements like “this is not meant to be an insult” or “hey, have you thought about it this way?” can go a long way in making speaking the truth an relatively painless task.   Likewise, we are conditioned to assert ourselves as always knowing what we are doing, the extrovert ideal for leading, a culture of everyone seeing being the alpha as more critical than any other role.  And when you have a society of alpha’s, you have a mess, you have in fighting and violence, when you demean the omega’s who are trying to create a social accord, perceive them as weak. In many ways, it is a warrior society, be it a physical battle or a business one, the take no prisoners approach to crushing the opposition and silencing it becomes the culture of the bully.  Ritualized warfare in the form of modern business practices is one way to look at things, one ritual society writ large takes for granted.

So politeness, competitiveness, ritualized warfare in business, the constant need to label things as sacred for one person or another and thus being angered or indignant when someone fails to observe your notion of the sacred, all these things are social rituals.  Standing when folks enter a room, giving someone who has no common interests your complete and undivided attention, rote learning of facts over thinking about them, more social rituals.  I could certainly go on and on about such things, the layers and layers of expected behaviors that when you do not think that way, makes every social interaction an exercise in walking on eggshells because you don’t want to offend.  In a lot of ways, I envy those who are wired to not care if they offend, to be so direct and blunt that they do not even consider the others, but for someone like me, I think of all the possibilities, social analysis paralysis on a large scale, granted it is what makes me a social scientist, scene violations, testing hypothesis, and breaking taboo. I try to not offend or manipulate folks over much with these, but honestly that does come naturally to me, everyone I meet informs me about the world and cognition, and thus by default become part of my massive social testing and experiments, nothing personal folks, just how I am wired, especially when I must understand the dominant paradigm in an attempt to navigate it.

So, I think everyone could benefit from thinking about their own rituals and societal rituals, what is the underlying purpose and function for them, they are not totally meaningless, they exist for a reason, but often they are bandaids based on a faulty understanding of human context and the extreme diversity of neuro-make up’s found in the world.  My rituals, may sometimes be bizarre, especially the ones connected to making sure my sensory functions are uninhibited, it may sometimes seem crude, but there is a logic behind it, even when not readily apparent to others.  And if I can take the time to follow some of societies rituals, then society should be able to understand some of my own as well, and that of many other people as well, for being just rituals, we all have them, and if they are not harming others, then there is no moral judgment to be had, no malignancy, nothing noteworthy at all, move on and let folks do what they will.

Generalizations, Words as Violence, the Culture of the Bully.

Generalizations, they are everywhere,an inescapable part of the human condition.  When individuals are inherently limited to taking in small amounts of object reality, we by our nature, must succumb to some level of generalization. This is seen in the form of stereotypes and conflict between in and out groups.  Generalizations are in a way, the means by which we paraphrase object reality so it makes more sense and is easier to navigate.  Yet, they are dangerous as well, generalizations can cause great harm when individuals are less aware consciously of the power of them.  I strive to avoid over-generalizing, but even with conscious knowledge, I often still fail to take the step back needed to understand the complexity within any given group.

The greatest threat of generalizations as I see it, is the threat of violence.  And I do not mean physical violence alone, words are easily weaponized, I have proved sadly adept at this myself, and wars or words can cause real harm.  When one talks about non-violent actions, advocacy, and protest, we often lose part of our message, when we attack with words we close minds and hearts, when we belittle someone for having an outdated or harmful world view, they become defensive.  Ad Hominem attacks are the norm in our culture, a culture that is becoming the culture of the bully.  We often discuss the vocal minority, how their harsh words and attacks get so much attention, and when we do this, we feed into the culture of bullying and give it more power.  Violence towards others has become normalized on our social and political stage, we take individual bad ideas and turn the individuals bad.  When this is done, we leave no room for growth, forgiveness, or change, we have passed judgment on the individual as some inherent flaw in their nature, we turn them into the unforgivable other, the enemy.

In our political system we often hear the politicians speak out against bullying in our schools, while they turn about in model the very same behavior on the campaign trail.  Not all of us notice this bit of hypocrisy, even the politicians themselves are not able to see it clearly, but they know appealing to fear and emotion is the way towards getting elected in this current political climate.  I am one of many who point this out, that the debate becomes about tearing the opponent down, attacking them on some moral podium, and thus making them seem to be the enemy to everything the politicians base holds dear.  As a result, populists and ideologues dominate the halls of government, sophists skilled in debate and words, but not in understanding and reason.  As they draw these lines in the sand and form their coalitions based on galvanizing their base to vote for the lesser of two evils, we see clearly the tactics of bullying, of demeaning the opponent. Vast amounts of wealth are spent attacking the individual, or manipulating statistics in a way that makes their bases feel under imminent threat.  Lost is the importance of discourse and reason, lost in this mess is the ability to compromise, and we end up being ruled by school yard ideologues. There has to be more to our discourse than this, and we must field individuals who can rise above the emotional and inflammatory attacks.  But it is hard, even those who say they want to reach across the isle are quickly attacked and demeaned, their motives questions, if they change their mind on something they are “wishy washy”, and we demand as a public promises that in all reality can never be kept, we want hard assurances in black and white.  We need to find a better way, we need to expand our dialogue and stop labeling everyone as evil, idiotic, or somehow less human and therefor less deserving of their thoughts than others, we need to challenge the ideas, not the individual.  And even if the politician fails to hear, their ideology and road map to being elected so firmly set, those that originally identify with that view may themselves be able to hear, be persuaded by solid arguments about the point of debate, when it is spoken with non-violent words. But when one side attacks the other, we galvanize their bases to stand behind their chosen political mouthpiece, and we become entrenched, rigid, and further intolerant and this applies to both conservatism and rote liberalism, neither has a monopoly on words of violence.

Here is a generalization in of itself, that most people view themselves as good people. Certainly there are those who are so damaged they believe themselves beyond forgiveness, or believe that social Darwinism is the natural state of the world. A world we have crafted with our own fallible hands. If a person believes at their core they are “good” and that they are honestly and earnestly doing what they think is right, attacking them makes the attacker on the side of “evil”, or at best an ignorant and damaged person.  We create our own monsters to fight, in our quest to affirm ourselves as “good”, trapped in false dichotomies, burning bridges, and creating the “other”.  And this feeds into the war of words and the culture of bullying, when we demean decent and earnest people for bad or outdated ideas.

When we attack with words and we attack the individual as flawed or faulty, we deny them a chance to hear and listen, we back them into an intellectual corner where their sense of self-identity and self-worth becomes tied to the very ideals they espouse, even if those ideals or tremendously damaging.  It comes down to the tremendous power inherent in the idea of attacking the argument, not the person.   I have held a few faulty ideologies in my life, for near a decade I was a vehement anti-theist, believing that the worlds ills somehow revolved around nothing more that a belief in something I have no context for.  As a result I generalized badly about individuals of faith, something I have struggled with and have never been able to fully understand, and when I saw harm from it, not just my personal experience, but the harm done to others, I attacked and denigrated it.   All this did, was alienate people and complicate my communication with family who are of deep faith, I help further that rift, my words of violence caused harm, the pen can have horrid and fatal results when wielded in anger.

Non-violent acts include understanding our difference in worldview and ideology, it is not being weak in one’s worldview to seek harmony, it is not a path of an idealist to embrace non-violent communication and to help facilitate dialogue between opposing viewpoints, for our survival as a species, it is an imperative that we learn to embrace difference, to educate instead of demeaning someone when their information, worldview, ideology, and difference of opinion is harmful based on our understanding of inherent difference in how we think.   When we look at enculturation and how it is hijacked by forces that are uncaring and amoral in an effort to push our economy forward, or how anger and hate is transferred generation to generation, be it through the mass dominant paradigm, the pulpit, or peer pressure, we can see how even as children we are set upon a road of hate, anger, and bullying.  Add in fear of the unknown, a general inability of many to properly vet sources and understand the motivations of the writer, because we have overly favored knowledge acquisition over critical thinking, we begin to see how we have created a cycle of bullying and violence.

Humanity needs to learn the basic triggers of intolerance and anger, diplomacy should not be about manipulating others to get your desired result, but a dialogue based on our similarity and differences.  The population of a Republic should be taught to look at the underlying motivations and not simply pass harsh judgment, yes generalizations cause harm, but that does not mean an individual who speaks out of ignorance is an inherently bad person hellbent on destroying the other, they are lashing out against perceived threats, and the only way to get rid of the monsters that lurk in the dark is to illuminate them with the truth, and to do so, we must extend a hand and offer an alternative that recognizes that individuals endeavor with the best interests of not just themselves, but friends, family, and a world that makes sense to them.  Times are changing, our technology has outstripped our ability to maintain perspective, many folks are scared and angry in this time of change and seek to impose their worldview upon others.  We cannot allow erroneous and ignorant ideology to dominate our civic dialogue, but we cannot have civil discourse if we continue to assume that the other side of the debate is evil, flawed, or bad….when they may simply just be wrong.  And the arbiter of this, is going to be properly peer reviewed science, and even that has it’s limits and should be challenged, but when science survives these challenges and consensus is reached, we have a guide that is as close to objective as humanity can be expected to achieve.  It may show that our hard held “truths” are flawed, that our ancestors made grave errors, but this does not reflect poorly at all on those who came before, we needed to build our understanding and discover, and the errors of the past and the ones we make today, will inform us for the future, for as long as we continue to truly strive for a better world, that allows difference to flourish without judgment and anger there is hope for us yet.

Epigenetics, trauma, and why it is a crime against humanity.

So I am trying to do a shorter, more targeted topic today, we shall see how it goes. In particular I wanted to talk about Epigenetics, which are possibly inheritable traits not linked to the DNA itself, but found in the “daughter cells”.  More importantly, and specifically to this post is that trauma, fear, stress, anxiety, etc can cause epigenetic damage that has been shown to be inheritable by progeny. This has far reaching implications for us as a species, and when someone is bullied, demeaned, abused, forced to live under constant stress, or has issue with PTS, these changes to one’s epigenetics can be passed onto their children.   So, the moral argument here is actually a very simple one, as we continue to demean others for their race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, intellect, ethnicity, perceived disabilities, etc we are not just harming that person, we are harming their children and their grandchildren, we are harming true innocents, hijacking their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness before they are even conceived. The ramifications of this are truly horrific, and as more folks suffer from inherited trauma and stress, and then we layer more of that upon them when they fail to thrive for all those factors outside of their control, we are damaging the human species.

When I was an active duty USAF Ammo troop, we laughed about how one cannot drop rusty bombs on the enemy, it was cruel and unusual, if you are going to drop bombs then the ideal was to kill them outright and not risk them suffering from tetanus or other infections.  We laughed, because when you job is to inflict harm and trauma, it seemed ridiculous to worry about how rusty a high explosive casing was.  But, due to some level of conscience, it was banned, and I am not against this. But we still view it as okay to bully, demean, and traumatize folks for there difference, and were as one with tetanus aka lockjaw will certainly suffer, the intent was to kill them anyhow (which I do wish we would stop trying to do to each other, has not solved anything yet). In the case of epigenetics, we are traumatizing future generations, harming those who are defenseless in a way that is hard to wrap you head around, because a child who has not even been created yet is the one being harmed. And yes, many who are traumatized may not even make it to breeding, so many kids kill themselves each year as a result of trauma and bullying, of internalized fault, of stress.  But those that do, and who cannot find more peace and balance later, will themselves have children epigenetically pre-disposed to dealing with these issues as well.   That is a true crime against humanity, it infects our very fundamental road map for the construction of our minds and bodies with unnecessary anxiety, stress, and trauma, and that is horrific thing to inflict on a child when we now realize that it is a scientific fact that it does occur.

Therefore, it becomes a moral imperative that we more actively and aggressively tackle issues of mass trauma to populations (we see the results of epigenetics reinforced by cultural ideology and fear in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for example), trauma to individuals and this must include so called “character developing” forms of bullying.  If our actions against populations and individuals do harm over generations not just in the subjective realm of cultural memory, but in the very genetics of the population, then to continue to cause harm is criminal.  And sometimes, with the world in the state it is in, we may very well have to still inflict some trauma to stop future trauma, in the example of ISIS, the damage being done to themselves as well as those who they seek to purge, we must stop it, but we must offer a path for those who did not realize what they got themselves into to get themselves out, if we cannot forgive youthful exuberance coupled with rigid ideology from feeling demeaned, then we cannot effectively disarm them.  But ISIS itself is born out of trauma, born from ideology that views the western worldview has harmful to them, and in the case of those who are maladaptive to the western time obsessed consumerist paradigm, we need to make room for them to thrive as well.  To find harmony in the world, we must expand the dominant paradigm, forgive those who in their pain, trauma, and ignorance caused great pain as well.  For the future of unborn generations, it is time we looked at both science and spirituality, faith and reason, and take the correct knowledge found in all, discard the old and rigid ways, and create together not a utopian future, but a better one.

How the education system breaks difference

I want to take a bit here to talk about the current westernized education system, though the model has been applied in many places across the globe.  With human populations being the sheer size they are, it is easy to understand how being able to quantify a person statistically is appealing, but it is also dehumanizing and cannot truly objectively get the results it desires.  Our very methods of testing are based upon what is valued or considered the ideal, or even just normal by the dominant paradigm, and thus when a child fails to thrive in that, they are defective, disabled, morally inferior to others.  This is a judgment based on ideology, not neurological fact.  When one talks about the bell curve and intellect, the measure of intellect is biased by the society measuring it, it has pre-conceived expectations on what makes someone a “functional” member of society.  Introverts for example, those who may favor deep thought, or have their “heads in the clouds” are often demeaned as lazy, because many in our society believe you need to see the activity directly in front of their own eyes, they fail to understand how many variables there are to meaningful human endeavor.

The current education system continues to try and apply one size fits all approaches to education, even though there are so many of us who keep saying clearly that we need to teach to the difference.  While working on my Masters in Education, a common theme for the US education system was the notion that an educated population is needed for a healthy democracy, but our standards for what makes an educated person are both limited and woefully out of balance.  The intersection of the industrialist mindset with our education system, coupled with the cost of it due to varying amounts of legislation, red-tape, and bureaucracy has turned it into a rigid behemoth, that serves only those well adapted to the dominant paradigm.  We favor rote learning and knowledge over critical thinking and being able to apply that knowledge, it allows ignorance to flourish, because no amount of quantifiable facts and statistics can truly indicate an individuals ability to think and apply that knowledge.  Knowledge that is never applied, might as well not be taught at all, facts, figures, names, and dates do not a truly educated person make, we have confused these notions with being able to think critically, wisdom, and the not so common “common sense”.

Compartmentalized learning is the backbone of the current education system, an obsession with certain skill sets linked to specific subject matter, and for many this is a perfectly decent way to learn, but many of us, those who naturally favor logical thinking over “observant” or as I call it, empirical thinking, do not learn well this way at all.  Rote learning lacks context, it does not allow for an immediate value assessment for us, because many of us need to see it applied, see the interaction of different subjects to better grasp it, rote learning stands alone from a complex intertwined system, and some of us learn best by trying to understand the entire system, not just bits and pieces kept distinct.  I have said before, and will say it again, though I am bad at math as we currently teach it, I have a very naturally mathematical mind, my lack of visualization and thus ability to manipulate numbers in my mind, does not mean I do not do math constantly, that I don’t assess angles and degrees, subtract, multiply, add or divide constantly.  Yet there is no system or test in place where I can show competency, because we have a rigid idea of what it means to understand such things.

There are so many different ways people think and learn, we approach basic questions from so many different points, and those of us who think differently are often demeaned for it, we then fail to thrive because the way we are taught does not make sense.  And this is not just an autism spectrum issue, the school to prison pipeline exists because of a failure to teach to difference, that the logical mindset found in so many cultures and genotypes is disdained in our society, it reminds us of the indolence of the old European aristocracy for example.  But the failures of the European Aristocracy is not how they thought and what they valued, it is the same issue as we see today, in that they failed to understand, utilize, and value other ways of thinking and interacting with the world.  So in old Europe, the empirical, grounded in the here and now, was demeaned, it was the “peasant” mindset, considered short sighted and intellectually inferior, while it was never any of these things, it was simply difference.

Yet, through our one size fits all approach, many of us fail to thrive within the academic system, and somehow that becomes our fault, either being “disabled” like many of us on the spectrum are listed, and we do have some differences that make us maladaptive to the current paradigm, but that is not disability, it is the failure to expand the system and teach to the difference (once again, there are severe forms of autism that are lifelong disability, but we create a great deal of that artificially). We continue to allow the mentality of “kids will be kids” as an excuse to let us be demeaned and bullied, and yes kids will be kids, but that is not an excuse to ignore a teachable moment, to expand their understanding about different ways of thinking, and the value of that, when kids act this way, it is our duty in a democratic society especially, to teach them better than that.  When cultures clashed historically there are ideas exchanged, these ideas foster innovation, but this is also found on the individual level as well, difference pushes us forward, and to demean one inherent way of thinking over another is not just morally reprehensible, it is self defeating in the long term, it leads to trauma, mental illness, caste systems and social classes. Sure, there is mobility within the US economically, but that mobility is based upon certain careers and endeavors, and not everyone can do those things and thrive, it is a pleasant lie we tell ourselves, because many people do not value those things, and we should not be forced to suffer because of an inherent way of being we had no choice in.   When I think about the school to prison pipeline, I see logical thinkers greatly affected, be them autism spectrum or populations of African descent, see, logical thinking is very common throughout the world, it is very beneficial for survival, it is flexible and reads the patterns of the natural world easily, and thus many genetic populations favor that way of thinking.  In the US and many areas of Europe, there are so many Empirical thinkers, this lends itself well to changing the environment, constructing and building things, taming instead of adapting and moving with the natural world.  Both of these ways of thinking have their benefits and their limitations, these are different gifts and we must make room for that to flourish.  “Being White” as discussed by many educators as a plague amongst many school populations, most often associated with African Americans, is more than just flouting the dominant paradigm out of spite and an effort to maintain their own cultural identity, it identifies and demeans those who think close to the dominant paradigm and value rote book learning over wisdom and life experience.  It identifies a difference, and that difference is demeaned because it is not consciously understood and applies to the dominant paradigm that has in turn consistently demeaned them.  It is a cycle, and cycles can be broken, and our education system is the tool that is used to break so many of us, to make us feel unworthy and under valued, that our failure to learn in a way that is contrary to how we build up our understanding of the world somehow makes us faulty.

Life today is very rigid, we say we are free, but few people understand what liberty really means, the ability to say what you want without consequence is not freedom, it is A freedom, a singular example, but that alone does not make us free.  One might argue that we are able to go into a host of careers, we just have to buckle down and get our education. But when that very education does not teach to how we learn best, then we have already started passing a subtle moral judgment on what types of thinking are valuable, and what are undesirable.  The cards are stacked against us based on so many differences that no child has ever had a say in, not just inherent thinking, but privilege based on race, sex, and social class, often found in the very poor funding found in some schools, with leaky roofs and old, outdated text books, vs cutting edge technology.  And this is tied to enclaved communities, communities so fearful of difference than a black or latino family moving in can cause home values to drop, based of ignorance and fear, instead of giving those who are culturally and racially different a chance to flourish on their own merits.  Ignorance and fear are great movers and shakers in our economy, and as a result, based on how we fund ours schools currently, that leads to enclaves that demean and keep out difference, that label children, before they have even had a chance to establish a healthy sense of self identity as doomed to fail, as defective, as trouble makers who cannot just listen and do what they are told.

Well, some of us are experiential learners and skeptics, we will not take you at your word, we need to come to our understanding of things in a different way, this is not defective, it is simply different.  I remember keenly more than a few times where I was told by an educator, an authority who is supposed to nurture my knowledge and understanding, that I was going to amount to nothing, simply because I did not thrive or relate to the education system, because I questioned it, questioned my teachers, questioned their credentials, and always tried to see things from multiple points of view.  Coupled with facing a scary and overwhelming future, tied down to repetitive work force tasks, soul numbing and devoid of value to me.  I avoided studying many topics, because I was constantly told I would starve if I did so, but for the few who regularly read my works, there is little doubt I have a philosopher’s mind, coupled with a love of empirical data and science, both forms of thought inform me so much more than just one way of thinking ever could.

When you cannot learn the way you learn best, then you suffer. When you are told that you are less worthy, because you think and approach things differently, self-defeatism creeps in, mental illness, lethargy, anger, and a host of other traits that further alienate us from the dominant paradigm.  We end up being “degenerates”, “hoodlums”, “future criminals”, and a host of other labels, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, it hijacks out self-identity and sense of self worth, and thus we make those who do not fit in the “other” and based on faulty context and false dichotomies, this status makes us undesirable in society, and this society closes doors of opportunity to us, and we deviate from the dominant model.  In many ways, this is a sizable chunk of criminality, self employment in a fashion that does not force one into a boring and pedantic 9 to 5 job, it has more excitement, it allows for more self-determination, and for many that makes it worth the risks.  We created a system that is so rigid, that is literally becomes almost prophetic in it’s ability to predict the course in life for certain ways of thinking. Add in further bias, in the form of racial profiling and cultural demeaning, then the deck becomes further stacked against certain groups, we see it now in the constant struggles of black men in our society.  And when people do stray, when they make mistakes, commit a crime, or a host of other things as a result, it becomes a label for life, even though we never gave them a chance to thrive in the first place.  We are not a nation that forgives, we are a nation that judges, and believe that heinous acts are the work of someone evil, heartless, or cruel and never allow them to find a better path, they become the label and the record of that label haunts and follows them for life, it is a human tragedy of epic proportions.

If we want to reduce mental illness and criminality, then we must look at our education system and our culture of demeaning difference.  If we embrace teaching to the difference, allowing rote learners to keep learning the way they do best, but allowing logical and experiential learners to do the same, we will have more well adapted people who will endeavor and contribute to society, since feeling that one is valued and belongs is such an important part of self-identity and mental health.  So what if they cannot tell you the exact date something was written, a ballpark figure is just fine, all they need for history for example is an understanding of chronology, the fine details are just knowledge not likely to be ever applied, that does not mean the learner did not learn the important aspects of history for example.  “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”, well folks, no culture or society has yet to properly do this, we keep assuming we have, but the cycle of demeaning, violence, and trauma is still alive and well, and we are working our way up to another cycle of it right now.  It is not names, dates, and specific locations that inform us of the lessons of history, it can all be paraphrased and understood in the terms of the intersection of human difference, individual and cultural.  Sometimes I wonder (seriously, this is a correlation, an interesting idea, not something I believe to be scientific fact, I am a pattern thinker after all) if the volume of empirical thinking we see in Europe and the Middle east is not tied to the amount of Neanderthal DNA in a population, that within our human genome there are two very different fundamental ways of learning.  I will use the China example again, after all trace amounts of the Neaderthal genome exist in Asiatic and Indigenous North American populations, that they developed a system of testing to identify empirical thinkers to help run the bureaucracy, An interesting thought to think that two races shared DNA and that as a result two ways of thinking exist within the human genome in regards to how we learn our schema and build up understanding. Regardless of origin, fun idea that it is, it benefits us all, the thinkers, the do’ers, nurturers, teachers, and so many other different ways of thinking once you begin to factor in inherent chaos in the wiring of the brain. So much difference….and yet we continue to assume that a one size fits all approach is desirable and beneficial to society, and that a child is to blame for that difference.  How short sighted we have been, even when science continues to indicate that there is a tremendous amount of diversity in how a brain can function.  But even those scientists often work within the dominant paradigm, and thus they too are biased, their subjective cultural lens applying judgments based on difference and it’s failure to flourish in what they consider to be an enlightened society, we are so very far away from being enlightened, we are still at war with our selves and each other, and we still fail to learn the lessons of history, and thus still hostages to the choices of our ancestors.

Chaos, morality, Christianity, difference, and part of my world view.

This is almost pure moral philosophy, my philosophy, some will take offense, some with think I am way off base, but for all who dare to read further, there is truth in this, maybe not your truth, but mine, so I take this chance to make public a few thoughts on Religion I have kept close to my chest, it is not an attack, it is an attempt to illuminate.  It also includes some of the very chaotic nature of how I think, and thus has some academic value for those who wonder about such things.

My mind has been exceptionally chaotic of late, I have wanted to write so many things but cannot maintain the focus I want, I am stressed and overwhelmed as usual, unable to sequester myself away from the myriad of distractions in my world. My mind is ever seeking more and more knowledge to prove what I have already hashed out as a worldview.  I worry I am re-inventing the wheel, or that I will offend, or a host of other things.  My mind is chaos, by it’s inherent nature, where one person may see one clear path or a very discernible paths, I see a multitude that is so overwhelming, I cannot shut out the voices of individuals, I try to hear and listen to them all, in this the internet is not proving to be my friend. I am trying to stop, trying to spend less time learning and adding to my extensive body of knowledge and instead put together a world view, an ideal, my interpretation of massive patterns of human thoughts, fears, and difference into a manageable form, and I am not sure I can.  My mind does not prioritize well at all, unless something becomes an immediate concern in the here and now, it will go beneath notice, I am a truly cerebral being to such an extreme I fail to even take proper care of myself at times save for forcing it into ritualized behavior.  This mind craves structure though, which is why it is so easy to imprint another perspective onto my own conscious thought patterns, where a book or movie I watch can alter the very cadence and tenor of my thoughts, because I am unable to do so on my own.

In regards to autism, I have wondered why I have been so hesitant to not simply lump myself in with say Asperger’s, besides the mirror neuron function which is so common, because I am not high functioning at all. To even get this blog as messy as it is required a shocking amount of hand holding from my wife, I cannot focus enough to translate my thoughts into action well at all, and the constant bombardment of stimuli makes it all the worse.  I understand now the pull and desire to be a hermit, but I do not wish to cut myself off from the world, but I cannot sanely remain mired but feeling ever impotent at the same time.  My daughter is both a source of great joy and extreme distress for me, a conundrum in a small package, a beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, and sadly hyper sensory child, who is precious to me beyond words, and it is for the children today and ones yet to be born I feel so compelled to define humanity’s context, to demonstrate as clearly as possible just how wrong we have been, how cultural detritus and a failure to understand inherent and fundamental difference continues to create societies filled with haves and have nots.

It comes down to healthy self identity, and for me, that may be forever out of my grasp, but I know one thing, I am special, special needs but a special view point as well.  The same ability that allows me to act, to imprint another’s thought patterns onto my own is the same ability that allows me to empathize with anyone, no matter how horrid, no matter how damaged, I can put on any pair of shoes and walk in them for awhile.  And this is an ability that is both crippling and valuable, that of the tortured soul seeking to stop the insanity and cycle of demeaning difference and harm, that seeks to speak out about how no one worldview as it stands is even close to ideal, because there is too much difference inherent in our brain’s wiring, let alone the differences of culture and society for folks to grasp it easily.  When you are part of the dominant paradigm the universe makes sense too you, but a safe sensible universe for some is phenomenologically speaking  impossible, a confounding and confusing hell.  The ABCD approach to life and credentialing seems so sensible for so many, but for people like me it is insurmountable, the never ceasing questioning of a mind that must get to the underlying functions, I am so tired of seeing so much human endeavor wasted throwing itself insanely at the symptoms and not even looking for the subtext, the underlying cause, why do we see these patterns repeat, why do individuals and cultures and nations rise and then inevitably fall, we have missed something, and that something is being made clearer every day through science and understanding, but that does not mean spirituality and faith must be sacrificed upon the alter of science, some aspects are being proven false, whatever form a supreme being may take, there are rules and laws found in object reality, the possible and impossible as far as our limited comprehension goes, to even attempt to qualify or quantify such a nature is an act of hubris.We cannot understand truly that which we have no context for, it is like shooting darts in the dark hoping something hits the target and sticks.  Some feel individuals channel the divine, that prophets have an open communication pathway with the divine, but there is no solid evidence of such, often it flies in the face of logic.  I often think of Paul/Saul, logically speaking alone there was no need for a prophet after Christ, I see him not as anything divine, but an earnest mind trying to understand the teachings of someone he never met, and he translated it well to the needs of his culture at the time, with the best of his understanding, but so much harm as come from it as well. I see more quotes of the Old Testament and Corinthians than the true words of Christ, Christ who found disciples from various walks of life, who interpreted his words in different ways based on their understanding of him, but we excluded 2/3 of those different voices when the Bible was put together, we muzzled difference in exchange for a more black and white and simple understanding, the Gnostic texts show differences, but so does the Bible.  Did Judas hang himself or did his guts spill out upon the ground? Biblical literalism certainly does not hold up under such scrutiny, but the different disciples had different perspectives and it is through the understanding of all we have some notion of the mind of Jesus.  When you silence some in favor of another you lose context, you disregard some voices because they may not have thought in accord with the belief system you have, and what a shame that is.  Let me state this now, I am a pattern thinker, I personally perceive Christ in terms of a man seeking understanding much akin to me, if I did not triangulate my logic and the correlations I see in my patterns, this is how one would end up with someone who has a Christ complex, but I see it as a specific part of the minds hardwiring, certain minds cannot stand the pain and trauma in the world, they cannot carry that burden alone but for some reason we continue to try, like any one individual could have all the answers, absolve the world of perceived sins, while tackling the real demons and real sins of false knowledge and ignorance, the demeaning of difference instead of at least trying to understand just how different one human can think to another. We must expand our understanding, we must make room, even if you do fundamentally disagree, if there cannot be an accord on some matters, than maximum self determination and arguments based on principle are the answer, not demeaning, or attacking.  I used to read the Daily KOS frequently, but I see it as demeaning as more conservative media, it calls folks who think different idiots and uses fear mongering as much as the right to get their point across, instead of trying to understand why we think so different, why somethings threaten one group but not another, and we cannot get passed that without communicating that difference, without understanding how the animal mind is alive and well living in tandem with our conscious mind, that we all have a little bit of fate tied directly to how we think and understand the world around us.

I wish at times I could stop caring, use my gifts to ensure the thriving of my family and the rest of the world be damned, but that is so against my fundamental nature, and that is something many should be thankful for, I do not lie when I say I can conceive of myself breaking bad, in a horrible manner, someone like me who succumbs to the damaged and scared animal part of their mind can do untold damage to others, though it is lost in my writing because I always provide too much context, I know it is well within my power to utilize my face to face charisma for poor ends, to take the truth as I understand it, which is not everyone else’s truth, and abuse it for my own gain. But I refuse, much like I sucked at sales, because I refused to manipulate folks into spending their limited income on things I knew would not live up to expectations, fulfill them, or add greater meaning to their life.  I do not like lies, I do not like lies of omission, I do not see myself as a predator taking what I want from the world without repercussion, because I see children in adult bodies, damaged, scarred, scared, and demeaned, I see the repercussions of all my actions constantly, ever single choice I make, even the small ones not anchored in ritual as having the potential to do both great harm as well as be beneficial.  This again talks to the chaos of my mind, ever branching probability and options, a world of color and patterns, a world filled with joy as well as trauma, we must expand our understanding of difference, it is a moral imperative to stop demeaning and start understanding, the dominant paradigm will not remain the dominant forever, it will be over turned at some point and replaced, and in this culture of bullying in the US right now, were we speak words of sophistry but fail to truly communicate we are in danger of fracturing, of turning upon ourselves, because we lack the understanding to reach out and communicate. We label one side or the other as evil, and thus believe we are good, false dichotomy.  We must move beyond, seek morality and fight against amorality and succor the immoral so they can see and understand the harm done to them and thus transferred via cultural meme like a virus to others.  The spirit of the Sanhedrin is alive and well and even flourishing right now, but instead of trying to divest them of power, we must learn to share it.

I need translators, I am sure I am missing huge points of my worldview here, it is expansive, such a large pattern, but the underlying causes are there…stop fighting the symptoms, and start finding the underlying cause, and for much of that, it lies in the failure to understand the difference that drives us forward but currently often drives us apart, and that is a human tragedy writ large.  I yearn for the days of Old Toledo Spain, when Muslim, Jew, and Christians worked side by side trying to understand the universe as well as each other, and there are so many more voices than that, so many faiths and world views. Once upon a time, like many, I viewed religion as a source of great evil in the world, but religion itself is inherently neither, there are atheist traditions that have also caused great harm, it is rigid ideology that cannot make room for difference that is the root cause, it is the failure to expand understanding even when it is frightening, to play it safe, to enclave, to avoid that which you cannot understand or comprehend that is the great failure of all cultures and ideologies up to this point, as I have stated before some have done better than others, but in the modern world those who are maladaptive suffer, or become scapegoats, or who pay for privilege hoisted upon them by external powers in the form of market dominant minorities a la Amy Chua. No one path leads all folks to the same end point, we need different paths for different minds, we must expand, we must grow, and we must nurture that difference, for within this diversity is the key to not just our success, but the survival our species, it is in short a moral imperative that we get this right.