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Thread: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

  1. #36
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    Default Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Then, after the Neolithic, the Vikings had their day. China has a 2,000 year history of female infanticide. And many cultures leave their old, sick or young to die. Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Putin, Pol Pot and more. Been to the Haiti thread? Talk to a resident of an inner city and find out that violence and brutality is an everyday occurrence.

    Wanna keep going? I can do this all night.

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  2. #37
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    you got this david, you could well skip this self help lesson
    .

    When im in doubt i always look to david, if one can find a guy that took a couple of years of psychology in community college why not use this resource.

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Then, after the Neolithic, the Vikings had their day. China has a 2,000 year history of female infanticide. And many cultures leave their old, sick or young to die. Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Putin, Pol Pot and more. Been to the Haiti thread? Talk to a resident of an inner city and find out that violence and brutality is an everyday occurrence.

    Wanna keep going? I can do this all night.

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    Yes, and the Old Testament demanded ethnic cleansing and genocide. But we have learned better.

    The Vikings only raided when they could not trade, which was their preferred norm.
    Your other examples similarly lack scholarship.

    The world has moved on, but humans have not changed/evolved in all that time.
    Edited to add:
    Pinker’s book revisited.
    https://towardsdatascience.com/has-g...a-5af708f47fba
    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 05-24-2022 at 05:17 AM.
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  4. #39
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Yes, and the Old Testament demanded ethnic cleansing and genocide. But we have learned better.
    Yep. We have progressed so far that it would now be unthinkable for a leader to stage an unprovoked invasion of a neighboring sovereign nation, consisting of targeted killings of civilians, and arguably involving ethnic cleansing and genocide.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    The Vikings only raided when they could not trade, which was their preferred norm.
    That's simply not at all my understanding of the Viking age. The Vikings traded when the cost/benefit analysis showed that trade would benefit them more than raiding (which, given the risks involved, was often enough). When the analysis came out the other way, they were happy to raid, take slaves, plunder, etc. They were not "peaceful farmers and traders" forced into raiding by circumstances.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Yep. We have progressed so far that it would now be unthinkable for a leader to stage an unprovoked invasion of a neighboring sovereign nation, consisting of targeted killings of civilians, and arguably involving ethnic cleansing and genocide.
    There are always rogues and outliers, but the statistics are indicating that it is happening less and less.
    That's simply not at all my understanding of the Viking age. The Vikings traded when the cost/benefit analysis showed that trade would benefit them more than raiding (which, given the risks involved, was often enough). When the analysis came out the other way, they were happy to raid, take slaves, plunder, etc. They were not "peaceful farmers and traders" forced into raiding by circumstances.

    Tom
    Where did I say that they did not raid and rob, they also fought for territory and colonized lands. But when settled, that lived peacefully. Their behaviour was driven by land hunger and the need for silver and gold as gifts to cement loyalty to the Laird on which their society was based.

    I am currently reading Dawkins where he discusses where our morality comes from.
    I am at the chapter where he discusses "In groups" and "Out groups". We treat and think about our In group one way and the rest, the out group, in another.
    The Bible talks of Neighbours, Love thy neighbour as thy self; Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's, and so on.
    In the language of the time, Neighbour was your in group, your kith and kin, the members of your synagogues' congregation, the fellow members of your tribe.
    Everyone else was fair game.
    Now I have not read to the end of this chapter yet, but you can see where this may be going
    • Improved global communication increase the size of the in group, as does international trade. This is why our ethics and morality have moved away from slave ownership, women being property and second class systems, and all the other improvements to our morality and ethics. We are now better able to share ideas and debate them.
    • There is a possible downside. As we can only relate to a finite number of friends and acquaintances. Dunbar's number sets it at about 150 max. This may be why some large societies seem to have a callous disregard for the well-being of their fellow citizens. Those citizens that are so remote that they are firmly in the out group.

    Bottom line is, our natural state is not brutish nor violent. The selfish gene does not benefit from those traits, but it does benefit from stability, peace and cooperation.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  6. #41
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Yep. We have progressed so far that it would now be unthinkable for a leader to stage an unprovoked invasion of a neighboring sovereign nation, consisting of targeted killings of civilians, and arguably involving ethnic cleansing and genocide.
    You know better than this kind of binary thinking. Really, you do. Not 'unthinkable; we're a long way from utopia, obviously - but rarer. Much, much rarer than for most of our history. I'll buy you a copy of Pinker's book if you want to take it to Poland with you.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    ^ or read the linked discussion in my post#38. That way, no money need be harmed.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    The thing is, human beings are versatile; that's one major thing that distinguishes us from other species. We can live in lots and lots of different ways, with different ideas and customs and radically different behavior. Even before we developed our recent fancy technology, we managed to live in the arctic and the tropics and the mountains and the plains and the forests and the islands, by hunting and fishing and farming lots of different crops, by herding and gathering and trading and plunder. We had small bands and large tribes and empires and kingdoms and communes and villages and federations and city-states and all sorts of other arrangements. There are some common elements, but you have to look pretty hard to find them. One central one is that we are very good at cooperating in fairly large groups. Another is the division between us and them, our tribe and those worthless semi-humans out there. But at least in the details, we are only loosely defined by 'human nature'. We can be brutal and violent, and we can be cooperative and peaceful, and lately we've gotten much better at the latter.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Yep. We have progressed so far that it would now be unthinkable for a leader to stage an unprovoked invasion of a neighboring sovereign nation, consisting of targeted killings of civilians, and arguably involving ethnic cleansing and genocide.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    You know better than this kind of binary thinking. Really, you do. Not 'unthinkable; we're a long way from utopia, obviously - but rarer. Much, much rarer than for most of our history. I'll buy you a copy of Pinker's book if you want to take it to Poland with you.
    Nope, not binary. Not by a long shot. My comment was a direct response to Nick's claim that we have "learned better" than to engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide:

    Yes, and the Old Testament demanded ethnic cleansing and genocide. But we have learned better.
    Clearly, we haven't "learned better" than to do these things. These things are still happening regularly, not just in Ukraine.

    And my comment about such an invasion being "unthinkable"--well, be honest. Right up until Putin invaded, the mainstream consensus in Europe (including Ukraine itself) was that an invasion wouldn't happen. Not so far from the world seeing it as "unthinkable," is it?

    Is violence rarer, statistically? Maybe. (Particularly at the nation-state level, perhaps). Have we "learned better"? I'd argue instead that as the costs of mass violence have risen in an ever-more-interdependent world and entangled economic system, we've been slower to make military invasions and land grabs at large scale. But clearly, we haven't "learned better" in any moral sense, at least not universally.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-24-2022 at 05:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Where did I say that they did not raid and rob
    Well, first, I'd ask you to read more carefully. I didn't make any claim that you said the Vikings did not raid and rob.

    What I contested was your claim that they only did so when trade was impossible, because trade was "their preffered norm" (your words). I've read a fair bit of Viking history, and I don't think that's accurate at all. They engaged with foreigners in whatever way offered the most benefit for the least risk. For weakly defended territory, raiding could be far more lucrative than trade. And so they raided. Slaves in particular were a profitable enterprise.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Nope, not binary. Not by a long shot. My comment was a direct response to Nick's claim that we have "learned better" than to engage in ethnic cleansing and genocide:



    Clearly, we haven't "learned better" than to do these things. These things are still happening regularly, not just in Ukraine.

    And my comment about such an invasion being "unthinkable"--well, be honest. Right up until Putin invaded, the mainstream consensus in Europe (including Ukraine itself) was that an invasion wouldn't happen. Not so far from the world seeing it as "unthinkable," is it?

    Is violence rarer, statistically? Maybe. (Particularly at the nation-state level, perhaps). Have we "learned better"? I'd argue instead that as the costs of mass violence have risen in an ever-more-interdependent world and entangled economic system, we've been slower to make military invasions and land grabs at large scale. But clearly, we haven't "learned better" in any moral sense, at least not universally.

    Tom
    That is binary thinking.
    There are always outliers on the bell curve, those outliers do not invalidate the premise, just as mass murders do not invalidate the proscription of killing.
    Now we condemn it, and where we can, we try to contain the criminal behaviour, so we have learned better now. We have moved from a position where genocide and ethnic cleansing was lauded and demanded by a holy book to a point where we try to put a stop to it.
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  12. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    That is binary thinking.
    Nope. Not at all.

    When you say "We have learned better" (your words) than to engage in genocide, etc., THAT sounds binary to me. It sounds like there has been a moral evolution wherein mass violence on a state scale used to be acceptable, but we have changed our essential nature so that is no longer true.

    My argument is that humans (as a species) have always used the amount of violence they were able to get away with. And that it is practical concerns rather than moral evolution that has driven any reduction in mass state-sponsored violence.

    The world has simply become too interdependent, and too connected via a worldwide economic system, for nations to tolerate state-sponsored violence, invasions, etc. That level of instability brought on by "might makes right" can no longer be tolerated by nations. And so, there is massive disincentive for nations to do what Russia is doing. Which is why, right up until Russia invaded, many (maybe most) pundits were saying it would never happen.

    So, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a real outlier. But not because of any moral evolution in humanity--not that "we have learned better." Simply because nations can no longer trust that they can get away with it. The risks have grown too high.

    So:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    We have moved from a position where genocide and ethnic cleansing was lauded and demanded by a holy book to a point where we try to put a stop to it.
    This is a pretty rosy picture. I don't think it reflects reality. It also ignores the fact that right-wing authoritarian governments are on the rise all over the world, and nation-scale violence is still happening, largely unopposed.

    Places like Yemen, for instance. A poor nation that can safely be ignored by the West because it doesn't matter provides a convenient site for a proxy war between more important nations. Who, clearly, have not "learned better" after all, eh? Then there's Tigray, which has been (and continues to be) the site of war crimes on all sides. And has the West intervened because we have "learned better" and are morally superior? If so, I haven't heard of it.

    The fact is, poor remote non-European nations matter very little. And so, wars and war crimes continue. But when violence hits close to home--e.g. Europe--then suddenly the West rallies. Don't mistake me--I'm all for the united effort to thwart Putin. But clearly there are other considerations besides morality going on here.

    Has the world become less violent, as Pinker apparently argues? Sure. Is it because "we have learned better" or is it for more practical, circumstantial reasons? Perhaps an open question (and my main area of disagreement with your claims). But lots of evidence points toward a conclusion that some violence is tolerated, even though it's just as morally bad as the violence that is NOT tolerated. Why is that? Well, it seems obvious that morality is not the driving force for when violence is opposed, eh?

    Then there's China. It would be damned inconvenient, and risky, to oppose them too strongly.

    As of 2020, it was estimated that Chinese authorities may have detained up to 1.8 million people, mostly Uyghurs but also including Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic Turkic Muslims, Christians, as well as some foreign citizens including Kazakhstanis, in these secretive internment camps located throughout the region.
    So, practical concerns drive our response. We have "learned better"? Or "we prioritize appeasing powerful and important nations because the risk is too high to confront them"?

    When some offenses are ignored because they're too risky or inconvenient to confront, and (perhaps most importantly) do not involve us directly enough, and other offenses meet united resistance (coincidentally, say, in Europe, where we can't tolerate them)... Well, it doesn't seem much like us "learning better" as you claim.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-25-2022 at 07:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Nope. Not at all.

    When you say "We have learned better" (your words) than to engage in genocide, etc., THAT sounds binary to me. It sounds like there has been a moral evolution wherein mass violence on a state scale used to be acceptable, but we have changed our essential nature so that is no longer true.

    My argument is that humans (as a species) have always used the amount of violence they were able to get away with. And that it is practical concerns rather than moral evolution that has driven any reduction in mass state-sponsored violence.


    Tom
    That is exactly what I am saying.
    We have moved from a position where the Old Testament recorded their god's instruction to kill every occupant of a town or a land, even down to the livestock, to a position where that is totally unacceptable in "polite" society. If it were a "Practical" can we get away with it decision, there would be petty wars everywhere, all the time

    Your argument is wrong. Politics, either between chieftains or religious leaders, promoted warring. There is no genetic advantage derived from warring, it is an aberration driven by greed facilitated by the in group - out group dichotomy that I mentioned earlier.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    That is exactly what I am saying.
    OK, you've lost me. You say that what I posted is "exactly what you are saying," and then post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Your argument is wrong.
    Some disconnect there, in your brain.

    Here's where you're wrong:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    We have moved from a position where the Old Testament recorded their god's instruction to kill every occupant of a town or a land, even down to the livestock, to a position where that is totally unacceptable in "polite" society.
    Clearly this is not true. Yemen. Syria. Tigray. China. Ukraine. Judging by the world's reaction, all seem pretty "acceptable" except Ukraine. Ask yourself: why is that? Is it perhaps because Ukraine is too close to home, and affects white Europeans (while threatening even more white Europeans)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    If it were a "Practical" can we get away with it decision, there would be petty wars everywhere, all the time
    Nope. Not "all the time." Only when the benefits outweigh the risks. But if the list above isn't enough for you, try this:

    List of ongoing armed conflicts (Wikipedia)

    There are 44 current conflicts killing 100+ people per year listed, and that's not counting Ukraine. What on earth makes you think there are not "petty wars everywhere, all the time"? There are. Most of them don't affect us, so we can safely ignore them. And we do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    There is no genetic advantage derived from warring, it is an aberration driven by greed facilitated by the in group - out group dichotomy that I mentioned earlier.
    For one thing, I haven't mentioned genetics at all. But are you so sure of your claim? If so, why? It seems within the realm of possibility that there might be some advantage.

    Behaviors that persist, evolution-wise, persist because they tend to offer, or be associated with, some advantage to the species. Is it pure coincidence that virtually the only species that engages in war, is also the most successful (as far as spread and dominance) species on the planet? Or might war be the necessary cost associated with the other advantages of large-scale governance and cooperation?

    Anyway, my primary disagreement is your apparent belief that "we have learned better" than to engage in war. If that were true, wars would be outliers. But they are common. Very common.

    And if we had "learned better" in any kind of moral sense, we would not tolerate some wars while opposing others.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Again, Tom, WAY too binary. Progress, not perfection; a very long way from perfection, but very real progress. There are a lot of people in the world, and a wide diversity of ideas, and there are some of us who think in ways familiar to Atilla or Tamerlane or Torquemada. When we write 'We've learned better', we're speaking statistically; more of us have learned better, but not all.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 05-25-2022 at 09:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Nope. Not binary at all.

    Violence has decreased--I'll grant that, at least for this argument.

    But it hasn't decreased because we've evolved in any kind of more moral direction. It has decreased because costs are too high. Where those costs are not too high, or when the violence doesn't threaten us "more moral" people, violence persists.

    Persuade me otherwise if you can. I think this is a case where we probably agree closely on measurable facts, but are reaching different conclusions. Yours, as usual, is more optimistic than mine. But maybe that's because you're ignoring some of what I'm not.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Again, Tom, WAY too binary. Progress, not perfection; a very long way from perfection, but very real progress. There are a lot of people in the world, and a wide diversity of ideas, and there are some of us who think in ways familiar to Atilla or Tamerlane or Torquemada. When we write 'We've learned better', we're speaking statistically; more of us have learned better, but not all.
    Keith, I am beginning to think that Tom is arguing semantics because he believed that we are genetically disposed to be violent. In this, I firmly believe that he is wrong. There is no genetic benefit selecting for violence. When wars occur, they happen in spite of our peaceful nature.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    I think that both violence and cooperation are well within human capacity, and have always been so. I can even imagine some evolutionary advantages wherein natural selection might prioritize either, or both.

    But cooperation is definitely an inherently human characteristic (though not exclusive to humans). Sadly, so is violence. We haven't evolved away from the one and toward the other from what I see and know.

    I don't think the human species is becoming any less capable of violence. I simply think that the way the world is organized, with large nation-states depending on stability for proper social functioning (and probably also the improved technology of killing), has made the cost of state-level mass violence (usually) too high to engage in as much as we did in earlier periods of history.

    Semantics? That tends to be the accusation that gets tossed around when someone aims at precision of language. As to wanting precision, I'll plead guilty.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I think that both violence and cooperation are well within human capacity, and have always been so. I can even imagine some evolutionary advantages wherein natural selection might prioritize either, or both.

    But cooperation is definitely an inherently human characteristic (though not exclusive to humans). Sadly, so is violence. We haven't evolved away from the one and toward the other from what I see and know.

    I don't think the human species is becoming any less capable of violence. I simply think that the way the world is organized, with large nation-states depending on stability for proper social functioning (and probably also the improved technology of killing), has made the cost of state-level mass violence (usually) too high to engage in as much as we did in earlier periods of history.

    Semantics? That tends to be the accusation that gets tossed around when someone aims at precision of language. As to wanting precision, I'll plead guilty.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Your genes cannot be passed on if you are dead.
    I didn't think I needed to clarify, but...

    It's not the victims of violence who might see evolutionary advantages, but the perpetrators.

    (As in, you might be more likely to pass on your genes if you kill your competitors in times of scarcity)

    Also, it may be that large-scale violence is the inevitable result of large-scale (i.e. nation-state level) cooperation. And so, cooperation at that scale might actually be associated with some level of "mandatory" violence. Just musing, I have no evidence whether that's true, or likely.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    There is no genetic benefit selecting for violence.
    ?? Dian Fossey observed a dominant mother gorilla eating the baby of a sub mother gorilla.. eliminating competitive genes certainly has a genetic benefit, and the eliminating is often if not usually violent. That the violence would spread to other arena's is more likely than not.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Violence has decreased--I'll grant that . . . But it hasn't decreased because we've evolved in any kind of more moral direction. It has decreased because costs are too high. Where those costs are not too high, or when the violence doesn't threaten us "more moral" people, violence persists.
    I'm not sure what you mean by 'evolved'. Genetically, we're not significantly different from people 20,000 years ago, and as a species, we're entirely capable of doing anything our ancestors did, good or bad. But again, versatility and learning new things and ways to behave is what we're really good at, compared to other animals. Not a 'blank slate'; that's nonsense, but definitely versatile. One of the things we've learned is to behave better toward each other (and I think we'd mostly agree on what 'better means' in this case). Not always, not everybody, but on average a lot better. Whether this is morality or self-interest or something else or some combination, I can only guess, but the facts are indisputable. No guarantees, though; learned behavior can change quickly, and we could tomorrow start behaving like our the worst of our ancestors.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Durnik View Post
    ?? Dian Fossey observed a dominant mother gorilla eating the baby of a sub mother gorilla.. eliminating competitive genes certainly has a genetic benefit, and the eliminating is often if not usually violent. That the violence would spread to other arena's is more likely than not.
    Yes and when lions take over a pride, they kill the ousted males cubs.
    But we are on a different branch of the tree.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean by 'evolved'. Genetically, we're not significantly different from people 20,000 years ago, and as a species, we're entirely capable of doing anything our ancestors did, good or bad. But again, versatility and learning new things and ways to behave is what we're really good at, compared to other animals. Not a 'blank slate'; that's nonsense, but definitely versatile. One of the things we've learned is to behave better toward each other (and I think we'd mostly agree on what 'better means' in this case). Not always, not everybody, but on average a lot better. Whether this is morality or self-interest or something else or some combination, I can only guess, but the facts are indisputable. No guarantees, though; learned behavior can change quickly, and we could tomorrow start behaving like our the worst of our ancestors.
    Yes, I think changes in this dept. have been more cultural (social norms) and less biological (permanent changes in our hard-wiring). Therefore, it ebbs and flows. While the overall trend is one of improvement, we're always in danger of regression, large or small.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean by 'evolved'. Genetically, we're not significantly different from people 20,000 years ago, and as a species, we're entirely capable of doing anything our ancestors did, good or bad. But again, versatility and learning new things and ways to behave is what we're really good at, compared to other animals. Not a 'blank slate'; that's nonsense, but definitely versatile. One of the things we've learned is to behave better toward each other (and I think we'd mostly agree on what 'better means' in this case). Not always, not everybody, but on average a lot better. Whether this is morality or self-interest or something else or some combination, I can only guess, but the facts are indisputable. No guarantees, though; learned behavior can change quickly, and we could tomorrow start behaving like our the worst of our ancestors.
    Dawkins proposes that morality is an evolving meme. If he is right, morality could not evolve in the "right" direction if we are genetically violent and brutish.
    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 05-25-2022 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Speeling
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I didn't think I needed to clarify, but...

    It's not the victims of violence who might see evolutionary advantages, but the perpetrators.

    (As in, you might be more likely to pass on your genes if you kill your competitors in times of scarcity)

    Also, it may be that large-scale violence is the inevitable result of large-scale (i.e. nation-state level) cooperation. And so, cooperation at that scale might actually be associated with some level of "mandatory" violence. Just musing, I have no evidence whether that's true, or likely.
    Missed the point much?
    The fact that you cannot guarantee your survival if you start a fight makes it a bad genetic strategy.

    Remember that for most of our evolution we were hunter-gatherers. If we worked out one resource, we could move on to another. It was not until the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution that we settled down and were pinned to one farm. Our population exploded with the greater availability of food. But this happened so recently on evolutionary time scales that we will not have changed genetically from a creature that did not need to fight.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Also, it may be that large-scale violence is the inevitable result of large-scale (i.e. nation-state level) cooperation.
    Well, sure. You can't have large-scale violence without large-scale organization. The last isolated hunter-gatherers in the New Guinea highlands had an overall average rate of death by violence higher than soldiers in WWII, but it was all very small-scale, squabbles at tribal borders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Darkins proposes that morality is an evolving meme. If he is right, morality could not evolve in the "right" direction if we are genetically violent and brutish.
    Indeed. 'Evolving memes' is a fascinating concept, but not at all the same thing as evolving genes. When we use the word 'evolve', we really need to clarify whether we're talking about biological genetic evolution or something else.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Indeed. 'Evolving memes' is a fascinating concept, but not at all the same thing as evolving genes. When we use the word 'evolve', we really need to clarify whether we're talking about biological genetic evolution or something else.
    The word gene and meme are similar for a reason. Meme was coined to resemble gene, albeit by a subtle change from an earlier word, Mneme. They both change by a process of evolution as they are passed forward in time.
    The word meme originated with Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene.
    Dawkins cites as inspiration the work of geneticist L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, anthropologist F. T. Cloak,[24][25] and ethologist J. M. Cullen.[26] Dawkins wrote that evolution depended not on the particular chemical basis of genetics, but only on the existence of a self-replicating unit of transmission—in the case of biological evolution, the gene. For Dawkins, the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

    I have been clear to use meme for evolving morality, because I believe there is a good case to be made that morality is an evolving meme.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Oh, I know the origin; I'm rather a fan of Dawkins. But the analogies to biological evolution can easily be taken too far, I think. Still, thinking of morality (or its components) as evolving memes seems pretty accurate. If it keeps us from murdering each other quite so readily, it has obvious survival advantages.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    If, morality is evolving the way proposed here, then overall, we ought to expect that today's humans are morally superior (or at least morally different) than the humans of, say, 2,000 years ago.

    Are we? Honest question, not a rhetorical one. I'd love to hear people's evidence for either/both sides of that question.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    If, morality is evolving the way proposed here, then overall, we ought to expect that today's humans are morally superior (or at least morally different) than the humans of, say, 2,000 years ago.

    Are we? Honest question, not a rhetorical one. I'd love to hear people's evidence for either/both sides of that question.

    Tom
    Those of us with access to good communications and more liberal schooling/religious leaders, then yes. But there is no consistency in the evolution of a meme. Lack of comms, repressive or fundi religion can prevent the evolution of the morality meme.

    Only consider the US of As complacency about murder and its attitude to women's rights to see a lack of global moral consistency to take two current themes on here.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    I see differences in application re: morality, perhaps. But traditional morality--the morals we aspire to--seems to me to have been remarkably consistent for at least thousands of years. And they tend to be shared by diverse cultures and religions--many of our moral teachings, anyway.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I see differences in application re: morality, perhaps. But traditional morality--the morals we aspire to--seems to me to have been remarkably consistent for at least thousands of years. And they tend to be shared by diverse cultures and religions--many of our moral teachings, anyway.

    Tom
    Yep. The Golden Rule is fairly universal. Trouble is that some religions limit its application to true believers, non-believers get put to death.

    Those like us, who abide by the Golden Rule, are not inherently brutish nor violent.
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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Yep. The Golden Rule is fairly universal. Trouble is that some religions limit its application to true believers, non-believers get put to death.

    Those like us, who abide by the Golden Rule, are not inherently brutish nor violent.
    Well, that flies in the face of much of modern Bible-based Christianity, which holds with the doctrine of original sin, "all my righteous acts are like filthy rags," "sinful from the time my mother conceived me," blah blah. Human nature being inherently sinful, which plausibly includes "brutish" and "violent" by nature.

    Seems like there was some recognition that humans are capable of great evil, as well as great goodness.

    I think that's the real truth of it: we are capable of both, and our natures are wired for both. And always have been.

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    Default Re: Information Theory: how to sound arrogant

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I think that's the real truth of it: we are capable of both, and our natures are wired for both.
    I agree. Well, that's the point of morality, isn't it? (ideas about right and wrong) To encourage our better angels, and keep the demons caged as much as we can? I've said this multiple times, but I think we're wired by evolution much like chimps, to have one system for our tribe and another for outsiders, and that most of our moral progress has involved expanding who's covered under the 'us' system. It's learned (or evolved as memes), not evolved biologically; the time period's too short for the latter. The great advantage of an evolving culture rather than evolving genes is that it's quick and transmissible from one person to another. The disadvantage is the same; ideas can be quickly lost.

    I'd say the other aspect of moral progress is equality within the expanded tribe, the realization that dividing people into classes and applying different standards is wrong. Equality under the law is a huge step forward, and fairly recent, and equality in a larger sense even more so. Masters and slaves, nobility and commoners, black and white, men and women, rich and poor (not there yet, but working on it), all of that is bullsh!t as far as morality goes, and we're starting to understand that, if imperfectly. We've got a fair way to go yet, obviously.
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