Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Toyota Show Trial

Especially when it finds itself in real trouble (such as a recession it cannot deficit-spend its way out of), it seems that governments love nothing better than a good show trial. Toyota is a case in point. For no actual purpose than I can discern, the CEOs of Toyota have been called to Washington, D.C. to talk to a bunch of people who know nothing about much of anything at all -- especially the automobile industry -- to explain what happened (to a bunch of people who don't actually care what happened, but only want to look like they care and are doing something). Quite frankly, those in Washington couldn't be happier that this happened with Toyota because it allows them to distract everyone from the fact that they have done nothing at all to improve economic conditions (which of course is true, because no government can do anything to improve economic conditions, but can only do things to harm them -- short of building roads, that is). But while this is typical behavior, there is another backdrop that should concern us, and that is the fact that the U.S. government also happens to own to of Toyota's competitors -- GM and Chrysler. Might there be some ulterior motive for those who own two car companies AND regulate the industry to come down hard on their competitors?

Our Innate Bias Toward Paranoia

Here is an interesting article on the relationship between IQ and liberal/conservative beliefs. The evidence suggests that those with higher IQs are more likely to engage in less typical behaviors, which translates into liberal beliefs. Conservatives, in the cultural sense, have lower IQs.

But this is something I found most interesting:

"religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see "the hands of God" at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. "So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists." "

Let us accept this as being true. How do we reconcile this fact with the fact that those with liberal political views "perceive agency and intention" as causes of economic events? Liberals tend to be socialists, and socialists believe the economy is or should be controled, seeing agency and intention behind everything that happens in the economy at large. In the economy, culture, and society, the liberal is the same as the creationist religious believer. Yet, this is not addressed. It should be. Left-Liberals are paranoid about different things, it seems to me. Classical liberals, on the other hand, might fit this model more exactly.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Changing Species Change Environments

Scientists have discovered what anyone who understands complex systems already understands: evolution of species affects the environment. I am thrilled that this has been definitely demonstrated, though, as it sets up a solid foundation for understanding how changing organisms change the environment, which changes the organisms. And for a species as flexible as humans, with a highly plastic brain that complexifies in response to a more complex environment, this is even more true. This is a very significant development for understanding both evolution and the environment, including human mental evolution and our human environments. Feedback loops are yet again confirmed.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Where I've Been

My postings of late have been sporadic at best. Chalk it up to my working three jobs. That's right, three jobs. Two of them have limited relevance to what I do as a scholar and artist, but the third -- working front desk at a hotel -- has nothing to do with much of anything other than my past experience in hotels. Worse, I have less time than ever to do anything other than go to work and grade papers. And almost not the latter.

Oh well. What's a man to do? I have to help support my family. Sadly, much of the money I have to make goes to student loans for an education I'm not able to use.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Neotenous Bonobos

New research shows bonobos act as they do due to neoteny. Why, this sounds like something I might have said in my dissertation.