Showing posts from 2019

Major Fault Line in Jonathan Haidt's "Moral Foundation Theory" of Human Evolution

The Well-Meaning Bad Ideas Spoiling a Generation
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt on politics, morality, and the coddling of the American mind. Brian Gallagher Nautilus March 7, 2019
Above is an interview of Jonathan Haidt. It’s pretty good on some things like his latest book The Coddling of the American Mind. I think he may be better on this topic than “human nature” and things such as the evolutionary emergence of human morality, values he contends we are hard-wired for and are therefore compelled to express.
The following excerpted statement of his from the interview caught my attention in that it is revealing in terms of my critique of his book, The Righteous Mind. He’s asked to account for the now Trumpian Republican Party. Haidt’s response raises this question: If his moral foundation theory is as powerful and useful as he leads us to believe in his book, how could one election and one president, Trump, in effect debunk it?
JH: “Trump has shifted a lot of things around. The Republican Party…

Nature vs. Nurture in the 20th Century

The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey

I watched this documentary and found it informative about the early 20th Century history of the idea of human genetic determinism.
Although the film is fairly objective in its approach and what it presents, it regrettably tells only part of the 20th Century nature vs. nurture story. The film is missing the subsequent responses to these early theories of human genetic determinism, including those of supporters and more importantly those of their detractors.
To its credit the film does contain some accurate though horrific truths about 20th Century European and American political and scientific intrusion in Africa. For its educational value alone the documentary is worth watching.
In terms of the early 20th Century thinkers who promoted the notion of human genetic determinism the film focuses mostly on William Hamilton, George Price, and later thinkers such as Richard Dawkins who were influenced by them.
It gives no mention of scientist…

Universal Spiritualism – Woo Or A Merging Of Science And Religion?

A Zen Priest Reflects on the Origin of Religion
The Origin of Religion A Sermon by James Ishmael Ford Patheos February 10, 2019
In O&I’s treatment of this essay, this sermon, I am trying something different. I have invited three friends with expertise in evolutionary anthropology, economics, and sociology to comment and engage in a written discussion. Of the three commenters/discussants, one has experience as a former Christian theology student at a seminary and another as a former Christian cult member.
It is hoped the three discussants’ comments will lead to a far-ranging discussion about matters brought up in the sermon in the following areas:
-The origin(s) of religion;
-The validity of the claim that modern spiritualism is making religion more universal and less culture-bound and tribal;
-That universalist spiritualism may be the only hope for Humankind’s survival;
-The current and future relationship between our scientific understanding of material reality and the spiritual reality of r…

Batshittery - An Anthropological Commentary

The Cult That Made Your Grandmother’s Fine Silverware a video on Today I Found Out - Feed Your Brain
A friend asked what I as an ethnographer, a student of Humankind, make of the cult reported on in the above video. My answer: “Batshittery americana domesticus, anthropologically speaking.”
This genus, species and subspecies belongs to the taxonomic family of religious cults and other beliefs and practices that have failed to find a place in mainstream American life. Such cults and their beliefs are not in a dustbin with similar nonsense the likes of which are never to be seen again. This one and its sundry mutant variants await us in a holding pattern in the Ethnosphere. Awaiting what? Awaiting their chance to rejoin us and hopefully get into the mainstream of American thinking. That is, as a new and improved human-made supernatural myth to propel us further toward our place in Abrahamic heaven.
But, shockingly (well, not too shockingly), such bizarre approaches, in all spheres of human l…

African Philosophy

Thank you to those who attended Owl & Ibis on February 12th where a presentation and slideshow, "African Philosophy", was given by Immy Rose Lassiter and yours truly.
A PDF of the slideshow is here. All photos of African life by JEL.
We covered a lot of topics yet had plenty of time for questions and discussion.
~ Overview of Africa's Geography, Demography and Major Foreign Influences
~ What, Whose African Philosophy? ~ "Culture Philosophy" & Ethnophilosophy ~ African Culture and Personality ~ "Traditional" African Cultural Characteristics ~ Revitalizing, Reverting to "Traditional" African Ways ~ Case Study: The Bamasaaba of Eastern Uganda ~ Take Home Handout: Excerpts from the book, Circumcision and Coffee in Ugandaby yours truly.
Sincere thanks to the attendees for their interest and their great questions and comments!
}:> ~:)

United The World Stands, Divided It Falls - Choosing Between Capitalism and Socialism

Virtue can only flourish among equals. Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797
Davos is a Microcosm of the World – And the Outlook is Grim Fareed Zakaria January 24, 2019 Washington Post
“This, then, is the post-American world. Not one marked by Chinese dominance or Asian arrogance. Not an outright anti-American one, but one in which many yearn for a greater U.S. presence. One in which countries are freelancing, narrowly pursuing their own interests, and hoping that the framework of international order remains reasonably stable. But with no one actively shoring up the international system, the great question remains: In a world without leaders, will that system over time weaken and eventually crumble?”
This is the Gloom and Doom Fareed. Below is an essay a week later where he comes on as Mr. Sunshine and Hope. In both essays he ignores the fatally flawed, thousand pound gorilla in the room – consumer crony capitalism.
Now, let’s consider the above, his first essay.
Regrettably, the US is not withdrawing…

I Am A Citizen Of The World - Diogenes

Diogenes Looking for An Honest Man
Attributed to JHW Tischbein

I am a citizen of the world. Diogenes of Sinope 404-323BCE Friends, People often refer to our “political leaders” here in the U.S. when in fact they are “followers.” They follow, in descending order, their wealthy patrons; the polls and votes of the people; and activist groups that are powerful enough to threaten their money, polls and votes.
Democrats are the lesser of two evils. Both major parties are “broken.” That is, broken to the bit and saddle of crony-consumer capitalism. Voting is a necessity. But the only real power the people have to influence politicians to do humane, responsible things beyond what serves the wealthy and powerful, can only be had through activist groups that vie for control of the saddle and bridle.
Power to the people! Power to support progressive, non-political groups that take the politicians by their vote-sniffing noses and pocket books, and make them do the will of a reason- and evidence-informed,…