Tag Archives: culture

The Decline and Fall of the Manufactured Consent Cartel

Although this documentary is about viral videos, there are some interesting undertones in its storytelling that illustrate how culture has undergone a massive shift in recent years as a result of the democratization of information sharing through social media technology. The documentary outlines who and what rose to prominence, and who fell, as a result of the shift. It almost inadvertently documents the reasons for the decline of the influence of media and large corporations as the manufacturers of consent and popularity. Perhaps why they are so desperately grasping to regain control of the manufactured consent reigns through a bonfire of self congratulatory prattle and obsessive repetition these days.

The Power Law and The Nature of Systems

Zipf’s law, also known as the power law identifies the uncanny consistency of the frequency of behaviors in natural systems, including complex organized adaptive systems like biology. For instance; the frequency of the most used word in any language no matter where it originates will occur approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word, three times as often as the third most frequent word, and so on.

Ziph’s law goes by other names, such as the power law, but the orderly distribution of relative frequency is remarkably consistent across many systems, these include physical, biological, and social systems. City populations follow this distribution. So do the sizes of craters on the moon, the strength of solar flares, the frequency of behavior patterns such as sex or foraging in various animal species as well as the sizes of activity patterns of neuronal populations, volcanic eruptions, and so on. It is also true of social systems.

This information on Ziph’s law has a lot of implications if it is fully unpacked. If we extract the value from what it means we might consider the fruitless waste of time it is doing things like angrily baying at the moon over the 1%, or whatever name is given to primary social influencers. Changing Ziph’s law seems fairly unlikely to succeed no matter how loudly we squeal. It is perhaps a more effective strategy to focus instead on the fact that we are all responsible for the tone of the relationship climate we all live in and contribute to.

Based on the fact that natural systems arrange around this law, including social systems, a more effective thing would be to build a social economy based on how much we can give to each other, rather than how much we can get from each other. In this way those who, in the future, will assume the inevitable mantle of having the most influence might also be inclined to behave with these same values. Even if this took a couple generations to take root and bear fruit, it would be worthwhile. A quote attributed Gandhi, perhaps falsely, but good advice no matter where it came from comes to mind; “Be The Change You Want To See In The World”

 

 

Striking a Balance between Tradition and Rebellion

tradition

Here’s a couple thoughts on the value of the balance between traditions and the rebellious agents that emerge each generation to challenge them and test both their strengths and limitations. This perspective may be subject to revision. Some assembly required. Void where prohibited by law.

Traditions are the bonds that hold a society together. They lay the foundation for trust by enabling an expectation for behaviors that, if accommodated, can help the individual to navigate – to forge a niche. They calm the social waters so to speak, make it a familiar place, rather than frightening one that saps all our energy trying to figure friend from foe, but this strength of tradition only works if they are held in the proper strength. Traditions held too rigidly and overbearingly cause the social structure to become unable to adapt to changes, so it shatters under the weight of that need to change when it inevitably comes, too loose and the social structure devolves into chaos along and the fruits of cooperation and integrity die off.

In just the right measure, the balance between tradition and rebellion helps a society to prepare for and adapt to the variables it needs to face in a developing social and physical environment. The conflict between tradition and the rebel is also a ritual reminder and ceremony of sorts that reinforces the bonds we need to forge a society at all. (The biological drivers for this are, in effect, a religion embedded in our nature that many of us only know by their abstract, literally untrue, yet figuratively valid capture in the various rituals and religions that have emerged over the years) From my perspective, traditions and rebellion are like water – too much, we drown in them lifelessly floating as an object, merely existing more so than living, too few, and we die an agonizing death from the thirst we need to satisfy in order to remain integrated.

Cancer Is a Biological Outlaw

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Cancer is a biological outlaw. It begins its career as a cell triggered by a set of circumstances that cause it to diverge from participating in a contributory role in the community it draws nourishment from. Instead of a vested stake in the biological community that sustains it, cancer turns to a life characterized by parasitic behaviors that turn predatory over time.

Cancer turns against the cooperative unity on which biological systems depend and becomes an expression of destructive greed and consumption without a community aligned purpose. Its implied purpose narrows to its own interests, to the immediate gratification, to right now, to more and more, to domination over cultivation – to itself at the expense of the community. Through its behaviors, cancer becomes a biological outlaw.

If cancer was assigned the attributes of a self aware being, it would be defined as either failing to recognize its detrimental behavior toward its own future, or identified as someone that doesn’t care. Either way, it’s devoid of participating in the implied social contract that all sustainable living systems depend on; that of working in the limited context of the environment and contributing nourishing value back to the biological community it depends on for life, so that community is stronger than it ever could be as isolated parts.

There are many kinds of cancer with many different causes, but the common thread is a lack of regard to translate the taking from the community with corresponding activities to give back something of value to it. In the case of Pancreatic cancer, once the cancer takes root and steals the resources it needs to establish a foothold, it begins to use that theft to hijack the production machinery of nearby cells to feed itself even more. It uses this fuel to grow stronger and demand more. With increased strength, it now causes the enslaved cells working at a frenzied pace to serve its demands to sacrifice their lives in order to make more room for it, and for it to selectively feed on the dying remains to strengthen the cancerous process still more…

Cancer can enjoy a burst of extravagant artificial wealth by predatorily consuming great quantities of the genuine wealth produced by the nourishing relational acts of the biological community from which it feeds. As it increasingly consumes without regard for renewal, it crosses a terminal threshold where its demands exceed the capacity of the system to compensate for the collective theft, murder and interference of nourishing biological commerce. It is at this point where the biological system cancer depends on to fuel its excesses collapses in on itself.

Why does cancer behave this way? Why does this myopic collection of predatory behaviors consume without an eye for the sustainability of the system on which it depends? Cancer dominates, but if its strategy is successful, it becomes a victim of its own success. It ends up dominating itself out of existence. It is destroyed itself in a bonfire of its own greed and ignorance.

Upon seeing this cancerous behavioral agenda clearly exposed we might recognize that cancer comes in many forms. We might be inclined to see the parallels between cellular cancer and social behavioral cancer on other scales. Upon seeing this parallel and coupling it with some of the behavioral dynamics coursing through our human behavioral veins, we might be compelled to wonder if there is such a thing as “Mancreatic Cancer”. We might also ask whether we ourselves are engaged in aligning our individual and collective activities toward cultivating that which sustains us – that which we need.

When it comes to the micro decisions that lead to the macro effects of our life, not only reflected back on itself, but echoing outward to the community at large, we may want to be careful to define success before we engage in it, because in our frenzy to accomplish a false success, we could find out too late that as soon as somebody wins at monopoly, the game is over for everyone.

For more information about the way Pancreatic Cancer works: Click Here

The Evolution of Behaviors

Behaviorism Will Peck For Food

In 1948, B. F. Skinner published a landmark paper illustrating how animals develop superstition. Basically, if an animal is fed at irregular intervals it associates whatever behaviors it happened to be doing right before receiving food with receiving food. After that, it thinks those behaviors are what brings the food. It develops a “superstitious connection” between the unrelated behavior and the food.

This understanding of how connections are developed has been the foundation of behavioral conditioning and behavioral psychology since its discovery. This capacity for false (or true) association based on whatever happens to coincide at a particualr time is stitched onto our perception faculties and consequently, our psychology. People given mild stimulants unbeknownst to them have been recorded associating the effects of the stimulant with the things happening in their local happenings for instance. It is also important to emphasize that while the perception faculties sometimes falsely associate correlations, sometimes these factors are actually causal, and understanding this causal connection can lead to a survival advantage. This is probably why the capacity is seated in our biological makeup to begin with.

Our biological perception tendency to weave coincidental happenings into causal connections (which may be true or untrue) has an enormous implication in terms of understanding ourselves, our culture, our history, and the level of trust we can place on our individual certainties if we apply the information appropriately. It easily explains the reason medicine was stagnated for centuries by such notions as humors. It explains the cultural prevalence and behaviors that flow from beliefs in omens, and may be the foundation for all the world’s superstitions and religions. It may also be a strong if not causal factor in some disorders such as O.C.D. and other destructive compulsive behaviors. It has strong implications on our sociality because of the underlying message of acceptance or rejection we get for adopting certain ideas or behaviors as well. This may also be the foundation of bird song and language itself. The list goes on…

Behaviorism Will Press Lever For Food

While this symbolic association built into our perception faculties has definite survival value in that it is rooted in searching for a cause in order to more intentionally choose specific behaviors that lead toward survival, it is also true that these faculties are not entirely accurate, and come with a downside. This aspect of evolutionary biology, where a benefit comes with a potential downside is not unusual in the least. Evolution in peppered with these cost/benefit aspects, and much of who and what we are is a product of those competing priorities

 

Is our social behavior an Echo of Physics?

Tajfel's_Theory_of_Social_Identity

Every atom the functions as part of our biological system craves specific relationships with other atoms. There are systems that are geared to satisfy those hungers and other systems, like our immune system, that are geared to reject and expel any elements the “do not belong to the in-group” so to speak. It is this complex social dynamic between physical elements that forms and maintains our biological structure.

Like the relationship dynamic that happens on a micro scale, as a whole, our biological system has specific hungers that must be met as well. From a certain perspective, our own behavioral and social actions are, in essence, a reflection of that from which we are physically composed. This can be found clearly echoed in scientific disciplines such as sociology. The following is one example:

According to Social Identity Theory, comparison with an outgroup is the main engine by which positive ingroup distinctiveness is formed.

Experiments conducted by Henri Tajfel and others into the so-called Minimal Group Paradigm illustrate this point well.

In the experiments to see what the minimum was to establish an in-group, a number of assumptions, concepts, values or practices were accepted in order to better allow a view of the onset of human group formation and of the appearance of discriminatory behaviours toward out-group.

From the article:

“Intergroup behaviour was analyzed in a situation of “mere categorization” such as where people involved as subjects in this research were told that they were individually “overestimators” or “underestimators” of the number of dots in a display. It was found that even under very flimsy and apparently baseless assigned social categorisation into two distinct, and previously “unheard of” social categories, in-group favoritism and out-group derogation occurred in the distribution, by the research subjects, of “rewards for participation” in the study.”

This is more evidence that shows how hard wired we are to cling to a group and reject anything perceived as out-group.  For a more detailed look Click Here

Ant Colonies have Group-Level Personalities

Antz1

This glimpse at ant life may help give us some insight into human group dynamics. As it turns out, ants have group-level personalities as well. The same way human cultures are shaped by environmental circumstances that powerfully influence their characteristics, ants and other social creatures may be influenced by these same factors.

From the article: “Colonies of funnel ants show group personality, which affects their success at collecting food and competing with other colonies… Some colonies are full of adventurous risk-takers, whereas others are less aggressive about foraging for food and exploring the great outdoors… these group “personality types” are linked to food-collecting strategies, and they could alter our understanding of how social insects behave.

For the full article Click here:

What is Important?

This video is a perspective on what’s important.

Here is a text of the narration:

What is important?

What is important? How would we measure it, and how would we know the measure was accurate? Although there are many possible ways, if we use a scale of things that have the most profound influence on our ability to realize our full potential, and use that to measure what we currently apply our energies to as a global culture; we can see the gap, the gap between what’s important, and what we do.

Somewhere in our not so distant past, on some day we couldn’t pinpoint because we weren’t watching, we crossed a critical threshold. We crossed the threshold where we no longer live in a world where people starve because we can’t feed them; we now live in a world where people starve because we don’t feed them. We have the skills and resources to make this a plentiful world, but we do not yet have the focus, nor the will – to do what’s important.

We have the capacity to cultivate a world brimming with potential – potential that can only be realized if we have each other’s backs. Instead we live in a world where, acting out of fear, we have to watch our backs – a world where we have to defend ourselves from ourselves. Maybe we don’t recognize this is the recipe for self made poverty – maybe we are suffering the echo of our collective traumatic past, where a veil of ignorance forced us to be at the mercy of a frightening and often cruel environment, and as a result, we learned to exploit each other, to dominate, or be dominated… This is a past we need to navigate away from if we’re going to cultivate our full potential. Until we do this, we will continue to rob ourselves of what’s important.

What’s important is you – the family, who shapes the lens through which the child understands reality by the way you treat them and each other. You forge their developing identity in the fires of the relationships you expose them to, and this defines whether that fire will refine them, or destroy them. You are the port from which the child launches, and you define what that child will be equipped with to navigate the wider social seas, and how they will influence those they touch – for the rest of their lives. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the teachers, who have the wheel that steers the future as you pass the torch of knowledge to the next generations. You’re not merely an installer of facts, but a primary cultivator of the tools that will determine whether we will capably face the challenges that lie before us, or sink under their weight. You have a powerful hand on the rudder that steers this Earthen ship of ours through sometimes troubled waters. Together with the family, you set the tone for the direction we will travel. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the friend, who doesn’t have to be asked, but actively seeks to offer your best. Your behavioral vocabulary doesn’t include apathy. You willingly act on behalf of your friends – ready to deliver a comforting word, a helping hand, or a stinging challenge depending on the need – your purpose remains constant – to serve each other. You have a powerful hand in the stability of this Earthen ship in which we all ride. And your aid through the storms, and companionship in fair weather, makes this journey we’re all on worthwhile. You are what’s important.

What’s important is you – the stranger, who may not be familiar with those in other ships that pass by, but know that they are full of kindred kinds – you who understand that it takes all of us, communicating through actions big and small, that we’re in this together, that we share the same waters – and that sharing what we have of value with each other is the reason for the abundance we have. You are the one that opens the door without being asked – you don’t hesitate to act to strengthen the larger community of life on which we all depend for breath because you know you are part of that same body. You are what’s important.

And what’s important is Earth – it is our common ground and our greatest teacher. On it we can stand together and flourish – or divided we can fall back into the soil which once generously gave us this opportunity for a plentiful life. Earth has given us what we need and taught us by writing its lessons into the fabric of who we are – like the need to strike a balance between give and take that’s written into our breath… and how all it asks in return is that we recognize that using that breath to cultivate fruitful relationships is what’s really important.

 

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The Role of Trust In Relationships

The Role of Trust In Relationships:

This is a first attempt at an experiment with “visual music”; meaning the use of repetitious visuals, ideas and sounds that “rhyme” on multiple levels as a way to make communication more effective. Other than the narration, the respective visuals and sounds used in the montage are picked from around the net and belong to their respective parties. They were stitched into montage as an effort to share something worthwhile.

The greater the trust, the more fragile it is to acts of betrayal.

Text version of the narration in this video:

The Role of Trust In Relationships:

It is impossible to construct a completely accurate spectrum of trust for a number of reasons. Firstly; evaluating trust accurately does not lend itself to being pinpointed on a spectral line. Any real world relationships are part of a relational system that has a number of types of relationships going on at once. It is possible to have ambivalent, self reinforcing and self canceling factors working at once in a given relational climate. This can be further complicated by the fact that there are senders and receivers in any communication and a certain inefficiency in the transfer of information occurs within system. There is also the potential for a difference between the perception and the reality. Couple this with the fact that a confused climate is a fertile ground for misplaced trust, either toward too much, or too little, and we can see some of the difficulties in formulating a completely accurate model.

The bottom line is, trust is a complicated relational climate that would take quite a bit more effort to unpack with clarity than can be tackled in a brief outline of the spectrum of trust being targeted here. This outline attempts to propose a simple and useful lens for understanding trust in general, and how various levels of trust impact social relationship structures like personal relationships, families, organizations and so on.

There is no doubt trust plays a crucial role in relationships. If we examine the foundation of trust relationships in a social context, they range from a dominance based, forced compliance model at the low end of the spectrum – where people do things because they trust some consequence will happen or they are overwhelmed by force – to a shared identity, committed trust based model where activities are centered on actively filling each other’s needs and defending the integrity of the community – where the separate participants in the relationship form a singular body out of unified purpose. Social relationships that last and those that generate the most value in terms of emergent novel properties, are built on trust relationships at the higher end of this spectrum.

The currency of trust defines the nature of a relationship system. Antagonistic trusts, at the low end of spectrum, generate stress, demand higher energy toward fight or flight mechanisms, and are the source of instability which can lead to a cascade of failures in the integrity of the relationship body. Relationships at the higher end of the spectrum, toward a shared identity committed trust environment, generate a climate built on filling each other’s needs and the defense of the integrity of the system in the form of an immune system. A high trust environment does not have to apply energy toward suspicion, regulation, aggression and the antagonistic feedback that arises from aggression – all of which compromise the strength of integrity in a low trust environment. Each entity within a shared identity, committed trust environment is inclined to fill the needs of the community, as well as being open to receive the benefits from the community.

This model uses four levels of trust to present a picture of the lowest to the highest forms. They are as follows:

  • Forced Compliance Based Trust
  • Cost/Benefit Based Trust
  • Mutual Advantage Based Trust
  • Shared Identity Commitment Based Trust

Forced Compliance Based Trust: This is the lowest level of trust, built on the expectation that a credible threat of force is needed to motivate actions. Social structures are established “as if” the underlying expectation is that all social behaviors are motivated the same way physical behaviors are – i.e. that a sufficient force must be applied to motivate all actions. The idea runs on the premise that no behaviors are motivated out of a social commitment, only compliance built on sheer force or fear.

Forced compliance trust environments have a “physics” only view of reality. It is true that squinting our eyes and wishing a 25 kg rock will be lifted by virtue of wishful thinking is not an effective strategy. Something above 25 kg of force is needed to lift the rock. We can reasonably expect the law of gravity to be fairly and evenly enforced if we jump, swing a pendulum, etc., so acting according to these expectations in physical reality is reasonable. In social settings, a forced compliance based trust treats people as if they operate solely on the same principle as physical objects. The underlying assumption of the necessity for forced compliance is present, so social structures are set up to motivate by force (either real or perceived) in order to get things done.

For instance; punishment mechanisms might be used as a motivation to perform work. Throughout history, slave economies are built on this coercive model. Money can also serve as a form of forced compliance, when necessary resources are controlled (by force) and money is demanded as a means to gain access to those basic needs. Whenever people comply out of the expectation of negative consequence, then forced compliance based trust is at work.

In social terms, forced compliance structures woven into the fabric of social systems has the net effect of giving rise to linear hierarchical pecking orders. A social position spectrum emerges that ranges from top exploiter to bottom exploited, as well as all the gradients in between. Social structures built on forced compliance breed the need for increasing energy devoted to force because of a push-back effect from the bottom exploited class. The more elements of forced compliance present in a social system, the more forced compliance is needed to maintain the stability of that system. Eventually this expanding demand for energy devoted to compliance can consume the available energy needed to maintain the integrity of the social system, first to the point where it inhibits further growth and then to the threshold where it destabilizes the social structure. Cycles of revolution echo repeatedly in the feedback loop generated by a forced compliance atmosphere. This is where oppressor and oppressed repeatedly change roles over time.

The gravitation toward roles along the exploiter – exploited spectrum results from the influence of the unspoken communication that telegraphs through the forced compliance social structure. It communicates about the expected social roles in a society context coupled with how we humans have a tendency to behave according to perceived expectations. The Stanford Prison experiments are one example of how humans shape themselves according to expectations. This is where people off the street dressed as prisoner or guard began acting out their roles so heavily that the experiment had to be stopped. The fundamental structure a social system is built on has a powerful influence on shaping the behaviors that emerge from the structure.

Cost/Benefit Based Trust: This is a relationship dynamic based in projections and promises along with perhaps some facts such as reputation. It is a decision to engage in relationship based on a cost/benefit analysis, weighing the potential benefit of creating and sustaining the relationship against the projected cost. Generally, both parties are looking for some gain which the proposed partnership could yield, but deterrence, or force, is still a factor. If at any time if the cost is perceived as outweighing the benefit, the relationship is terminated. In this case, the party that perceives the harm must also be willing to follow through on severing ties, otherwise the relationship shifts from trust to abuse. Engaging in a optional business relationship is an example of Cost/Benefit trust. A partnership forged on mutual needs like the that found in danger situations, mountain climbing or certain critical business partnerships are based on cost/benefit trust. Depending on how the relationship progresses, cost/benefit trust relationships can be fertile soil for higher trust relationships to grow from.

Mutual Advantage Based Trust: This can emerge out of cost/benefit based trust once enough information from experience emerges. Predictability comes from a relationship over time. If this is perceived as an advantage, mutual advantage based trust emerges. Control in the form of threats of deterrence diminish as more authentic trust bond forms and strengthens. Less energy is applied to verification and more is applied to accelerating the potential that comes from sharing each other’s strengths. Mutual advantage based trust is the range within the spectrum of trust relationships where the relational emphasis can shift from compliance to commitment. All parties can begin to apply their full energies towards taking advantage of each others strengths. This is where the full potential of emergent value can arise. Emergent values are those where the outcome is more than the sum of its parts.

Shared Identity Commitment Based Trust: This happens when the relationship is fully committed – where both or (all) parties seek to understand and fully endorse one another – when each party willingly commits to act as an agent for the other’s interests in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. No one has to ask, no one has to threaten, no one has to hope or worry about the commitment, each party in the relationship inquires about the others needs and responds by actively seeking to meet them. The relationship is no longer based on threats or promises, it is based on a fully realized intimacy. The once separate parties become one body. If one part is hurt, the whole body feels the pain. There are no secrets in this climate. They are no longer necessary as a means of protection. Intimate trust has not dissolved the differences, but it has dissolved the boundaries between the parties, which now assume a common identity. In the case of personal relationships, co-habitation, communal sharing of properties and resources, and the like cultivate a strength through community. In the case of business, co-location, joint development of products and services, shared vision, values, goals and the like are all possible in this high trust climate. Compliance based behaviors and the need for policing, deterrence and the like disappear as full commitment defines the relationship climate.

In Summary:

The lowest form of trust is Forced Compliance Based Trust. Behaviors are motivated by the fear or expectation of punishment for non compliance. Next up is relationships based on Cost/Benefit Based Trust. These use a cost-benefit analysis with a deterrence (force) factor, where the relationship will break down if the benefit is not realized. Next is relationships based on Mutual Advantage Based Trust. These emerge from a Cost/Benefit Based Trust relationship once enough positive information from experience emerges. In a developing system the recognition of mutual advantage is where the relational emphasis shifts from compliance behaviors to commitment. All parties in the system begin to apply energies toward taking advantage of each others strengths, and the emergent strengths that occur as a result of the relationships also begin to develop. Finally; relationships based on Shared Identity Commitment Based Trust happen once the relationships are fully committed – where all parties act as agents for the other’s interests. When no one has to ask, and each party is actively interested in identifying and meeting the needs of the community.

Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message” as a way of describing that the structure a medium is based on embeds itself in the messages that are able to be carried by that medium. A symbiotic relationship between the medium and what it is capable of communicating influences how the messages are perceived in the context of that medium. Social structures are mediums of communication. A forced compliance model, in social terms, breeds more conflict because it expects it. Suspicious minds breed suspicious activity so to speak. Conversely, high trust social models, that also attend appropriately to the necessities of defense, set the expectation for mutually nourishing community strengthening behaviors as the predominant form of behavior. The structure on which a social system is formed sets the tone for what kind of behaviors emerge from this system, and this is true across the entire spectrum of trusts.

What are your relationships based on? Do you think you have a realistic view of the trust you should place in yourself and others? Are you authentic? How does integrity play out in a relationship field where there are well skilled posers? What do you think we can do to effectively cultivate the climate of trust in which we live and on which our experience of life is founded? What impact do you think this would this have on our world?

Shared Purpose

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The strength of a system depends on the extent to which the collective filling of needs covers the entire systems nutrition requirements to produce fruitful outcomes. Whether we focus inward or outward, we see repeated echoes of the same unified purpose – the evidence for which is expressed through the fact that the relationships are collectively aligned to sense the environment for a swath of communal needs, and the alignment of certain behaviors around the meeting of those needs. One of the powerful meanings conveyed through biological systems is that the whole system depends on the whole system for wholeness.