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Mon Mar 18, 2019, 11:55 AM

Trump's Tingling Legs

“We're a miserably violent species. But we're also a profoundly empathic, compassionate species. How do we make sense of this.....how do we understand the biology of it?”
Robert M. Sapolsky

https://danablog.org/2018/04/23/sapolsky-on-the-biology-of-good-and-evil/


Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biological sciences, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. About a year ago, the Council on Foreign Affairs published his article “This Is Your Brain on Nationalism.” See:

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-02-12/your-brain-nationalism

Recent events have resulted in my reviewing the important information that Robert Sapolsky reported on a year ago. And it's not just New Zealand – although that alone would suffice. I understand why Jimi Hendrix sang,” And up in the clouds I can imagine UFOs jumpin' themselves, Laughin' they sayin' Those people so uptight, they sure know how to make a mess .'” I know why my brother called tonight to say, “You should be happy. It just means we are a failed species, soon to disappear from the evolutionary tree of life.”

It's fascinating to see how human beings mentally process “others,” even though those are other human beings. I do not relate to that type of thinking. The vast majority of the human beings that support Trump - and the gunman in New Zealand – process this information in a primitive manner in their brains, a vestige of a response that may have played a significant role in human evolution long, long ago. As Carl Sagan pointed out in “Dragons of Eden,” our relatives seemed to die out (****except in the National Geographic DNA tests, which would surely surprise the white nationalists should it ever enter on their level of understanding).

The information Sapolsky presents should place Trump's recent comment about how “tough guys” love him, and might become “very bad” if there is an effort to remove him from the White House. I know that some are questioning if he was aware of what he was actually saying, or just rambling on in confusion. I think he knew exactly what he was saying. I think he has been waiting for a time to fit that message in.

I don't think I'm alone in having questioned if republicans are “fully human.” Sapolsky's studies say that yes, they are anatomically human, and behave in a manner that has been common in our species. Yet they are not “fully human,” in the potential described by enlightened people throughout history.. Their brains are functioning at a fight-or-flight level, minus the flight. When confronted with the image of someone outside of their herd, they become uncomfortable. Edgy. Anxious. Afraid. None of this allows much space for rational thinking.

These are robots, in a very real sense, that aren't programmed to have empathy when they see an “other.” They are entirely comfortable with having homeless brown-skinned people from Central America being confronted by the military when they try to enter the United States. They are good with putting little children in metal cages.

Trump is openly calling on those among these herds to be prepared to use violence to protect him if he is legally evicted from the White House. This call for sedition is aimed at a specific audience. He's not speaking to black people. Or brown-skinned Americans. Not Asian-Americans, or Native Americans. No, he's talking to white nationalists. The type that live in a van and send pipe bombs to Democratic leaders. The type that murder “others” in their house of worship. The type that makes posters of Rep. Omar with the Twin Towers, and make the unprecedented number of death threats against her.

In his 1973 book, “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” Erich Fromm noted the danger of when a malignant narcissist – his term of sociopathy – leads those who views “others” in the manner described by Sapolsky. That's where we are today. And while white nationalism isn't the only problem we face at this time, it sure as hell ranks at the top for immediate threats.

The good news is that Sapolsky and Fromm's works show that many of us have brains that function on a higher level. That the human potential isn't limited to fear, hatred, and violence. These are, in fact, the very things that we should consciously avoid. Our priority is to civilize this country, in which incivility is all too common. That doesn't mean that we are okay with the actions of the Trump supporters. Or that we accept that type of ill-mannered behaviors.

At this time, the Democratic Party – though imperfect – offers the best options for civilizing our society. We need to do that, before we point fingers at other lands. It's a difficult, long term process, although it presents far less pain and suffering than any alternative. And it is an option that presents itself to us each and every day.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Trump's Tingling Legs (Original post)
H2O Man Mar 2019 OP
Me. Mar 2019 #1
watoos Mar 2019 #4
H2O Man Mar 2019 #5
Me. Mar 2019 #9
H2O Man Mar 2019 #13
watoos Mar 2019 #2
H2O Man Mar 2019 #6
lagomorph777 Mar 2019 #10
H2O Man Mar 2019 #12
lagomorph777 Mar 2019 #14
hunter Mar 2019 #20
lagomorph777 Mar 2019 #22
H2O Man Mar 2019 #25
smirkymonkey Mar 2019 #3
H2O Man Mar 2019 #7
alwaysinasnit Mar 2019 #8
H2O Man Mar 2019 #11
burrowowl Mar 2019 #15
H2O Man Mar 2019 #16
certainot Mar 2019 #17
harumph Mar 2019 #23
certainot Mar 2019 #24
H2O Man Mar 2019 #26
certainot Mar 2019 #31
Kurt V. Mar 2019 #18
H2O Man Mar 2019 #27
malaise Mar 2019 #19
H2O Man Mar 2019 #28
malaise Mar 2019 #30
Hekate Mar 2019 #21
H2O Man Mar 2019 #29
majdrfrtim Mar 2019 #32
H2O Man Mar 2019 #34
Duppers Mar 2019 #33
H2O Man Mar 2019 #35

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 12:37 PM

1. I JUst Read About A Dog

who was tied to a pole and set afire. I don't understand Individual 1 and the Cons any more than a person who would do that.

Excellent read

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Response to Me. (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 12:41 PM

4. Why do we have bull fighting,

 

dog fighting, cock fighting?

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Response to Me. (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 01:43 PM

5. Thanks, Me.

There are times I think I'm on the set of a re-make of the 1981 film "Quest for Fire."

Abusing/ torturing animals is, of course, a symptom of sociopathy. I'm not a huge fan of the prison system, but whoever did that to a dog needs to be locked up.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:14 PM

9. Interesting Post Script

People who are outraged by this incident put together a $25,000. reward for the identity of the man who did this.

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Response to Me. (Reply #9)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:37 PM

13. Good!

There needs to be a consequence.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 12:39 PM

2. In addition there have been studies done on the brains

 

of people who consider themselves "conservatives." The studies show that the area of the brain that relates to fear is more pronounced in conservatives than it is with liberals. It's actually their physical make up, it's who they are.

Republicans must just be full of cortisol. Maybe that's why Trump takes Adderal to inject some serotonin in his body to counteract the cortisol?

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Response to watoos (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 01:57 PM

6. Right.

There are also fascinating studies that show that conservatives' brains signal discomfort when they perceive what to them is disorder. I think that holds true for a large segment of republicans. I suppose it's an advantage in the context of not misplacing one's car keys, yet it strikes me as something akin to an obsessive-repulsive disorder. It might be best treated with mushrooms?

The segment of republicans that the toothbrush was named for are generally less-orderly in their daily lives. But they certainly live in a fearful environment inside their own minds.

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Response to watoos (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:20 PM

10. I just got it. "Conservatives" are conserving vestigial, maladaptive genes.

Thanks H20 Man

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #10)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:36 PM

12. Right!

I'm sure that, at some point long, long ago, there was an advantage to having one or two paranoid individuals in a small group of humans. Out on the savanna, there was a benefit accrued in having them constantly asking, "Did you hear that?" But once was a positive certainly is dysfunctional in today's modern society.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:59 PM

14. H. sapiens sapiens had to watch out for H. Neanderthalensis

Now, H.N. genes continue to wreak havoc at the fringes of civilization.

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #14)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 06:08 PM

20. I think it's the other way around.

We killed the Neanderthals.

They had land and resources we wanted and they were the "other."

Our genocidal ways are nothing new.


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Response to hunter (Reply #20)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 09:28 AM

22. It probably went both ways.

Cannibalized H. Sapiens bones have been found in H.N. caves.

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Response to lagomorph777 (Reply #22)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:07 AM

25. Interesting discussion.

As in many situations where modern people attempt to make sense of the archaeological record, what resulted in the extinction of Neanderthal and Denisovan peoples has shifted over the years. That is especially true in the case of the Neanderthals.

The modern humans that entered Europe and Asia were apparently more parochial than their cousins. Over time, this resulted in population expansions in the prime territories. Environmental changes favored the modern people, in terms of being able to exploit food resources.

Modern DNA analysis shows that there was interbreeding between the populations. Human nature being what it is, there is reason to believe that this -- perhaps more than competition for territory and food-- created some degree of violence between the populations. But there is far more evidence in DNA that suggests companionship was more common than violence.

The Denisovan are a bit more of a mystery. I think that potentially important evidence "disappeared" during the second World War. But they, too, disappeared around the same time as the Neanderthal, excepting for the DNA of Asian populations of modern humans.

Carl Sagan wrote about earlier stages in human evolution in which other relatives were wiped out by those that led to our branch of the family tree. Fascinating stuff!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 12:40 PM

3. K&R

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 01:59 PM

7. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:11 PM

8. Excellent post H2O Man. Insightful.

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Response to alwaysinasnit (Reply #8)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 02:31 PM

11. Thank you!

I have great respect for Sapolsky.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 03:26 PM

15. Good post

will have to reread Erich Fromm.

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Response to burrowowl (Reply #15)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 03:35 PM

16. The one I

mentioned in the OP is outstanding. Also, his "The Sane Society" is an important read. (I'd suggested to my normal brother that he read Fromm. He's been hooked ever since.)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 04:28 PM

17. i like the sex on the wrong brain theory (sowb) - it's not human nature and it's

relatively easy to fix.

It’s not lizard brains or human nature causing these cycles of self destruction. For hundreds of thousands of years humans reproduced as soon as they could. Very recently on the human evolutionary scale it became necessary to delay the age of reproduction and our brains weren’t wired for it. That delay creates neural associations that divert impatient satisfaction-demanding reproductive energy from emotion, creativity, and pleasure to brain functions that are supposed to be patient and objective, like mathematics and logic.

The wide range of symptoms includes greed, fear, extremism, racism, misogyny, and even sexual dysfunction.

The book suggests that the authoritarianism and unregulated capitalism threatening the planet are efforts to satisfy sex on the wrong brain.

Greed and the irrational need for certainty are major symptoms.

Greed is what happens when parts of the brain that quantify and calculate are fueled with sexual urges for more, bigger, faster.

And when sex fuels logic it wants the conclusion and certainty of quick easy answers. Yes and no, black and white, good and evil. That irrational need for simplicity and certainty can turn harmless uncertainties into stress and fear.

Authoritarian ideologies and leaders stimulate fear with certainty deficit disorder or CDD and exploit it by being very certain, always right and never wrong, and promising to bring order to disorder. They describe the world in binary black and white, good and evil, to help their followers judge with certainty. The Trump wall is a perfect example. You’re either on one side or you’re on the other.

The book "Sex On The Wrong Brain", explains that humans have to deny reality to rationalize the binary value structures used to create certainty, and describes how authoritarian value structures wire the brain so the denial needed to rationalize irrational certainty can actually produce pleasure.

The book suggests that civilizations began to favor sowb symptoms when competing for scarce resources, elevating competition and suspicion over cooperation and curiosity. Without democratic forms of governing to regulate and moderate sowb symptoms authoritarianism usually won.

Some European societies hit the sowb problem earlier than the American and African populations and began selecting for particular sowb symptoms considered advantageous. Columbus brought ‘New World’ sowb to ’Old World’ pre-sowb native populations, just like other European colonizers brought it to Africa. In that way, caucasian gene pools may be more susceptible to sowb.

Falten claims some modern religions and social value structures have developed symbiotically with sowb to exploit the increased need for certainty and promote its growth through sexual repression.


the solution is sex education.

humans need to stop learning sex with the wrong hand.....

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Response to certainot (Reply #17)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 10:12 AM

23. certainot, do you think that this might be a reason that conservatives

want to block sex education in many cases? Maybe they do it b/c at (some)
primitive level - they see such education as a risk.
Interesting post - has not heard of sowb theory.

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Response to harumph (Reply #23)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:07 AM

24. i agree. at some level there might be an effort to keep secret this

'secret of authoritarian power' but it would naturally follow as part of sexual repression in general, embarrassment and aversion of even repeating the word 'masturbation'

through history there might be record of discussion of it, or rules. the koran orders 'man can only have sex with his wife and that which the right hand possesses'. was there anything in the bible that could have been taken out? then there's the general persecution of left handers....

and denial is such a big part of the authoritarian mentality it would also contribute.

remember the clinton surgeon general who said 'masturbation' and they went crazy? her name escapes me for a moment but they forced her to resign for suggesting education about masturbation.....

authoritarians generally know their leaders have to be 'certain' confident etc and can't be 'flip floppers' like they like to call democrats

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Response to certainot (Reply #17)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:13 AM

26. Valid point.

Our society still has remarkable unhealthy attitudes about sex. And the connections between sexual repression and violence are all too well documented.

Back in 1971, Yoko Ono suggested that the leaders of the world's nations needed to be naked when they met in public. There is a picture of Nixon and Mao dancing naked on the "Sometime in NYC" LP. It's hard for me to imagine Trump being so aggressive in his rallies, were he naked.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #26)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 01:00 PM

31. brain bleach!... and trump has a classic bad case of sex on the wrong brain - the certitude and

denial, the ability to lie with certitude

like limbaugh and a lot of republicans and a lot of dictators and kings before

since you unclothed the emperor trump it might be worth noting that while frequency of masturbation is just one factor along with genetic predisposition, environment, etc trump strikes me as a guy who'd never be able to get a real date and he seems to be a horny guy - and he probably had his own room - so there might have been a lot of masturbation, and then there's the account of him having a smallish penis so there might have been a lot of sowb-creating motion/connecting going on at an early age

the only real description of sowb is in the book sex on the wrong brain - which was pretty foresighted, with a trumpian president, americans deported for having latin names, a border wall, and more...

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 04:36 PM

18. all human behavior is contingent on our social environment and our genetic endowment. b.f. skinner

my hope is we crack this egg and come up with a real world solution. sapolsky et al are up to the task

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Response to Kurt V. (Reply #18)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:14 AM

27. Thank you!

One of my co-workers at the clinic was big on Skinner. I have some of his works in my library.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2019, 05:06 PM

19. Great post WaterMan

I can't process our species' hate for some fellow members - I just cleared part of the patio for some feral kittens. Mummy Cat had them under the patio for nearly three weeks but I think she senses that rain in coming or she wants us to help her feed them. I saw my parents and grandparents being kind to animals and loving them and we try to follow suit with all the species that cross our paths.

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Response to malaise (Reply #19)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:20 AM

28. Thank you!

The other evening, when my son was here to pick me up to train him, he noted that there must have been a "cat convention" being held near my garage. My cats, neighborhood cats, and even a few I hadn't seen before. That is, of course, why I have cat food on hand.

I grew up on a small farm. Plenty of animals. Though I'm too old and feeble to take care of the variety of animals I tended to until recent years, one of my favorite "activities" is sitting quietly at my pond, and watching the birds and fish consuming the food I put out for them.

People, on the other hand, remain more of a mystery to me.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #28)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 12:07 PM

30. We used to feed the birds but the ferals

eat birds so when we started feeding the cats, we gave up on the birds but we still see lots of them.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 12:59 AM

21. I'm always glad when I see one of your posts. Thanks as always. nt

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Response to Hekate (Reply #21)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 11:31 AM

29. Thanks, Hekate!

I have two more topics that I want to address on DU as soon as I have the time and energy. I told my son and friend that I'm training for the April 14 finals of the NYS Golden Gloves that they have the easy part -- just training and fighting. I've got to deal with the anxiety and planning! (grin)

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 07:21 PM

32. I had the inestimable good fortune to earn my PhD from Robert Sapolsky.

Among the most difficult seven years of my academic life, but worth it!! A MacArthur Fellow, he had purchased a wonderful piano for his neuroscience lab, though it had nothing at all to do with our areas of research. For the three years I was able to coordinate a semiannual "Biologists in Recital" music series on campus, once each year Robert performed a technically difficult -- and musically delicious -- piano solo for the left hand alone: Bartók, Reinecke, Scriabin.

Thanks for posting this OP, H2O Man!

As an aside: One would be amazed to survey the life accomplishments of Robert's (well, other) students -- both graduate and undergraduate!

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Response to majdrfrtim (Reply #32)

Thu Mar 21, 2019, 09:55 AM

34. Thank you!

That is really cool. I had some outstanding teachers, and when I first heard Sapolsky speak on TV about a year ago, was sure he made an impression on his students. I've found a few things on Youtube with him since posting this OP, and wish I could just sit in his classrooms, and listen to him speak. I'd love to do an interview with him for DU.

Thanks for sharing your experience here. It's really appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Mar 21, 2019, 06:55 AM

33. K & R

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Response to Duppers (Reply #33)

Thu Mar 21, 2019, 09:55 AM

35. Thanks!

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