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Are effective altruists more horny? Idealism can be hijacked by human nature

SBF is advocate for EA (ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

SBF is advocate for EA (ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)


February 9, 2023   6 mins

Age six, I once ruined Pass the Parcel at a schoolfriend’s birthday party, because I was distracted by a headline on a layer of discarded newspaper. MIND BOMBED BY THE MOONIES. I remember being intensely annoyed when it was taken off me before I could find out what that meant, and confused as to why all the adults thought my outrage was funny. It marked me out as one of those oddballs generally more interested in ideas than in who and what is immediately present. That trait has persisted: my mad professor streak is trying to friends and family, to this day.

What would it be like if the ratio were reversed? What if a community emerged in which people like me, more transfixed by ideas than relationships, were the majority? Would the kid who laughed at my newspaper-reading be derided by the rest of the group, for preferring frivolous games to intellectual curiosity? What would this group be like as adults? We can, perhaps, catch a glimpse of that future, as well as some of its pitfalls, by dipping a toe into the effective altruism (EA) movement. This has been in the news recently, following the collapse of multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange FTX, and the disgrace of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried: a previously-fĂȘted fintech wunderkind and one of the funding powerhouses behind the EA movement.

A recent Time article documented a rash of rumours from within the EA movement concerning the sexual harassment of female members, and their difficulty gaining any kind of protection or redress within the community’s “cult-like” atmosphere. In their defence, effective altruists are hardly the first group of dreamers to struggle with the tension between high ideals and rampant lust. A cursory glance at the history of communities with strong beliefs — which is to say, of religions and cults — suggests that over time this tension has warped many idealistic movements into what we can only describe as sex cults.

There’s the Fundamental Church of Latter-Day Saints, whose leader Warren Jeffs ended up with 81 wives and had a special bed made for consummating his marriages. There’s David Berg’s Children of God, who used hot young women he called “hookers for Jesus”, to recruit new members with the promise of limitless sex. Then there is the notorious Sri Bhagavan “sex cult” from the Seventies, and more recently the creepy NXIVM cult, in which members were branded with the initials of founder Keith Raniere.

The “Moonies” who so fascinated me at that long-ago birthday party never went this far. By cult standards they are stuffy centrists, most famous for conducting mass wedding ceremonies. But even here Sun Myung Moon, the founder, claimed that original sin was a consequence of Eve having sex with the serpent, and the only way to escape this sin was for the sperm of a sinless man to enter the womb of each woman to be purified. Happily for his adherents, Moon was just such a man — and early followers allege that Moon performed this “womb cleansing” ritual with the female member of each of the first 36 couples he initiated into his cult.

Compared with these, Time’s stories from the EA community are pretty mild. But they encapsulate the same potent blend of moral intensity, tight-knit social groups and basic male horniness that recurs again and again in cults that turn into shag-fests. And what’s ironic about the re-emergence of this pattern within effective altruism is that, as a movement, it’s defined precisely in opposition to this kind of sweaty-palmed misbehaviour. A key feature of EA is the importance accorded to human rationality, and a corresponding desire to prioritise it over emotion — for example how much you care about loved ones compared to strangers. It’s distinct from the associated movements of longtermism and transhumanism, also under the spotlight since the collapse of FTX, but all three share this privileging of human reason.

Effective altruism offers individuals a supposedly objective, rational framework for maximising their ability to do good; longtermism seeks to extend that fusion of rationality and idealism into the far distant future. Transhumanism, meanwhile, proposes radically modifying the human organism, often with the aim of achieving one or more of these goals. Accordingly, other aspects of human nature must be downplayed or overcome, including anything based on affinity rather than logic. Julia Wise, for example, the longest-serving employee of Oxford’s Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA), described in 2012 how her preference for prioritising overall wellbeing over that of her immediate circle attracts her mother’s criticism: “How can you care so much about strangers and so little about your family?”

But from an effective altruist perspective this is as it should be. Wise dismisses particularistic, locally-focused charity as “inefficient”, as it’s oriented more toward community-building than maximum effectiveness, an emphasis she views as self-evidently a bad thing. And it’s not just localism that gets thrown out: among these overlapping movements, an aversion to the given and contingent extends even to our bodies. The transhumanist Elise Bohan, for example (who is cited on the Effective Altruism forum) calls for us to “upgrade our hopelessly limited ape-brains”, as she puts it, while preserving “the best parts” of our humanity — which for her means “intelligence”.

This, then, is a subculture that really, intensely prefers ideas to people, and the abstract and systemic to happenstance and the immediate present. It moralises this too: Time quotes one woman who describes a culture where EA adherents believed “we are better than others because we are more rational or more reasonable or more thoughtful”. But why would this present particular problems for women? Well, one issue is that Wise (and arguably me too, and quite possibly also Elise Bohan) are outliers among outliers. For there’s considerable evidence, replicated worldwide, that women on average prefer people to abstractions. In other words, though relatively rare, those children who get distracted from Pass the Parcel by newspaper headlines are more likely to be boys.

And if these are indeed the people who gravitate to EA, no wonder seven out of ten EA adherents are male. Wise imagines the sex skew in her movement to be a consequence of socialisation, saying “it’s considered more normal for [boys] to care about the big picture more than household emotional politics”. But it’s not just “considered” more normal. It is more normal. And it’s more likely than not that the reasons for this aren’t just socialisation. For example, the evolutionary biologist Joyce Benenson draws parallels between sex-distinctive patterns of interaction and intrasexual competition in humans, and those of our closest primate relatives. She shows how patterns of relationship-building, care-giving and aggression differ between the sexes in ways that, in other primate species, make sense from an evolutionary perspective, arguing that these evolutionary patterns map onto human history as well.

Ironically, then, there’s something perhaps less than entirely reasonable about insisting that normative sex differences in psychological makeup should all be pure socialisation. But perhaps we can forgive the reason-lovers a bit of fidgeting. After all, the idea that humans possess evolved differences above the neck as well as below is an uncomfortable proposal, if you believe we can control what goes on in our heads — and that what’s good about us is exactly that capacity to control. For if Benenson is right, it doesn’t matter how rational our aspirations. We’ll struggle to shake our animal aspect, and its animal drives. And if this extends to occupational preferences and socialisation patterns, it extends too, as I’ve noted elsewhere, to our sexual desires, where men and women differ markedly on average — something that turned out to have less than ideal consequences for the minority of women drawn to EA and its world of ideas.

Accordingly, several of the reported EA misdemeanours map straightforwardly onto well-documented evolved patterns in male mate choice preference. The prominent male EA leader who told one female graduate “he needed to masturbate before seeing me” was displaying the well-documented evolved male preference for young, fertile women, and seeking to exploit the equally well-documented female preference for males with status and resources — as did the man who, as another woman reports, “groomed” her, arguing “that ‘paedophilic relationships’ were both perfectly natural and highly educational”. And we find the greater male inclination to sociosexuality (a desire for casual sex), as well as the link between high male status and multiple female partners, in the young woman who felt pressured by shame at her “irrational” preference for monogamy to join EA men’s harems, sorry, “polycules”.

One of the women quoted in Time describes the idealism that enabled this critical blind spot as a veneer of high-mindedness, that amounts in practice to “misogyny encoded into math”. But perhaps it would be more accurate to call it the monkey encoded into math. Effective altruism is hardly the first tight-knit community of ardent believers to fall prey to these patterns: it could just as easily be a different theology, and the long history of horny cults makes it clear that it often is. But it would still be the monkey. For this monkey doesn’t just leap out unexpectedly. It also sets about co-opting even the most elevated ideals in pursuit of monkey-goals, such as the overlapping pursuit of elevated status and/or more sex.

The EA community was, perhaps, especially vulnerable — for their worldview turns at least in part on a conviction that the monkey can be persuaded to stop capering, and that people can transcend the ancient, potent link between power, idealism and sexual opportunism. Instead, they got ambushed. And it’s a testament to effective altruism’s truly, ironically irrational preference for ideas over people, that its adherents ever imagined monkeys could be persuaded to listen to reason.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Virtue narcissism is simply a strategy for getting laid.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Mary again on her wild goose chase – she does leave the field clear of geese, but neglects to have one in hand ready for dinner as usual.

And failing to understand

”’Stakeholder capitalism”’
means she misses the entire direction of everything…

This is the way the Global Corporatocracy are basically going to reintroduce Feudalism to the world by removing the individual from the money circle… cannot be bothered to go into it now as this is an old article, and – BillyBob here would just call me being on my ‘Lizard Man’ ranting again….But the EA, and all the Transhumanism and human longevity/immortality are all tied with this ‘Stakeholder capitalism’ umbrella – so you will own nothing and be owned instead.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

I would say “a strategy hoping to get laid”.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Mary again on her wild goose chase – she does leave the field clear of geese, but neglects to have one in hand ready for dinner as usual.

And failing to understand

”’Stakeholder capitalism”’
means she misses the entire direction of everything…

This is the way the Global Corporatocracy are basically going to reintroduce Feudalism to the world by removing the individual from the money circle… cannot be bothered to go into it now as this is an old article, and – BillyBob here would just call me being on my ‘Lizard Man’ ranting again….But the EA, and all the Transhumanism and human longevity/immortality are all tied with this ‘Stakeholder capitalism’ umbrella – so you will own nothing and be owned instead.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

I would say “a strategy hoping to get laid”.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Virtue narcissism is simply a strategy for getting laid.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s always fascinating to see Mary introducing her articles with reference to some personal anecdote. It’s an engaging version of “from the particular to the general” which seems to allow her to introduce complex ideas in a way that just launching into them might hinder.
In this instance, i think she’s hit upon something pretty profound and which pierces the way in which humans and social groups provide themselves with thickly-layered explanations for engaging with their deepest-held desires and drives so that it seems they’re not actually doing something so “basic” or animalistic.
Indeed, it might be considered that all systems of belief (for that’s what these cults are) derive from the same instinct, arising out of the way in which language provides a way of perceiving the world around us, and starting with the growth of our brain tissue within skulls when we were able to stand upright and utilise our limbs in a different way; the monkey that Mary refers to.
Our evolution almost certainly needed religion, in it’s broadest sense; of that, i’ve little doubt. It has certainly conferred an advantage for social groups throughout recorded history. But i just wonder – and Mary’s article brings into focus this question – are we just starting to catch a glimpse of ourselves entering another stage, with all it’s uncertainty and ructions – in our humanity? Has the rise of the internet perhaps enabled this, in the way we see ourselves reflected back more truly than ever before, or perhaps truly, for the first time?
I’ve said quite a few times in these Comment sections that those who advocate a return to religion are somehow misguided, or to express it more kindly, misunderstanding where we’ve arrived at. It’s only natural to hanker after old “certainties” – but which in fact are nothing of the kind. So i apologise if in doing so, i’ve offended anyone’s sensibilities – but nevertheless, these articles and thinkers like Mary are placing an onus on us all to consider these possibilities.
We humans, with all our well-documented faults, are absolutely incredible and we should not only celebrate that, but use it in a positive way. That’s the challenge.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I do hope that as a planet we’ve reached the threshold of a place where sectarian rancor or willingness to kill in the name of one’s God or creed will start to become an historical memory. There are some hopeful signs of reduction in warlike zealotry but not among some in all the major world religions (I’m putting aside the comparative metrics concerning who is more violent/zealous now or in the past with this quite tame claim: none are without blood on some of their hands).
But I don’t believe that even a total dissolution of organized worship, nor any plausible advance in scientific or psychological understanding, ever will or ought to completely defeat the human sense of something transcendent and mysterious. We simply don’t get to know everything about ourselves or the world we inhabit, and (in my non-gnostic estimation) never will. This may lead to a sense of terror and anger or a stubborn determination to demystify it all over time, perhaps culminating in the eventual “explaining away” of human consciousness itself, as a mere epiphenomenon of matter, or whatever.
In another way, we can find a sense of sacredness and humility in the unknowing. While I agree that we’re pretty incredible as a whole–with the caveat that my egoic mind helps to prompt that agreement–I think we are simultaneously, and as an innate potential within each person, quite terrible.
We don’t need religion to bring out our violent and clannish propensities. Also, some of the fellowship and sense of sacred ritual of group worship can be wholesome, from my perspective as a reader of books from multiple traditions (especially Christianity and Buddhism) and occasional, non-affiliated churchgoer, who believes in Mystery and Presence (abracadabra! boo!) but no Single True Faith.
With the exception of a few brain-in-the-jar type people (mostly men, not necessarily any better or worse than the rest of us), rationality alone can’t keep us sufficiently conscientious and sane, I don’t think. We ought not underestimate ourselves, nor spend all our collective resources building monuments of technology, ideology, and reason that amount at their runaway extremes to wings of Icarus and towers of Babel: wrongheaded and heart-starved monuments to our hubris that are part of a vain and doomed attempt to shed our dependent, limited, and creaturely nature.
In one sense, scientism, techno-utopian visions, and ideological maps of infinite Progress are united with belief in an Afterlife that appears to render the world we physically inhabit no more than a testing ground or mere illusion: All can become evasions that pretend to remove our face-to-face, hand-to-hand, present-moment need for and duty toward one another.
Hardline versions of long-termism and effective altruism seem to share an evasiveness or detachment of perspective with otherworldly visions of the “real” life to come. Or is thinking you can use voluminous data and prodigious intellect to model the world as it is likely to be in ten million or a billion years (and then correctly tip the scales) a lot less imaginary than a storybook Paradise?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“We ought not underestimate ourselves, nor spend all our collective resources building monuments of technology, ideology, and reason that amount at their runaway extremes to wings of Icarus and towers of Babel: wrongheaded and heart-starved monuments to our hubris that are part of a vain and doomed attempt to shed our dependent, limited, and creaturely nature.“

Spot on. Armed with the technology we now have, our monkey hubris gets ever more dangerous.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I entirely agree that human spirituality is an essential component in our nature. I’d argue that religious belief itself gets in the way of our ability to realise our nature to a fuller extent. That’s what we’re starting to grapple with. The ‘culture wars’ are a manifestation of this. There’s no turning back.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Interesting – spirituality/transcendence is not the same as religion; they may or may not go together, and are often, as you say, in conflict with each other. Witness the creationist, wasting their time and mind on silly notions, because of a smiliarly daft religious belief that what iron-age story tellers thought must be true.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Good case in point, and i appreciate you understanding what i’m getting at here, uncomfortable as it might be. In fact, because it’s uncomfortable is why so many people shy away from it and pick up the comfort blanket most available to them.
I’m encouraged though, to see others starting to do the heavy spiritual lifting required to move the debate along, instead of just throwing up hands in despair. I remain optimistic.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Jesus did refer to his followers as sheep. Or maybe that’s just what his biographers added, because the next bit was, ‘and as Jesus’ representative on Earth, I command you to ….’.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Not quite put that way. If you love me keep my commandments is nearer the mark.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Hmm, that makes me feel like my Dad was better than Jesus, as he said something more like ‘I want what is best for you, whether this is what I think or not’

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Hmm, that makes me feel like my Dad was better than Jesus, as he said something more like ‘I want what is best for you, whether this is what I think or not’

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Not quite put that way. If you love me keep my commandments is nearer the mark.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Jesus did refer to his followers as sheep. Or maybe that’s just what his biographers added, because the next bit was, ‘and as Jesus’ representative on Earth, I command you to ….’.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What do you believe in, then? I understand that it must be very much superior to what most other people believe in, but I would like to know what it is.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Agnostic. Occam’s razor. The scientific process and Empiricism. Transcendent experience. Truth to power Not cajoling and bullying other’s into believing, obeying your stories. My jaw drops to the ground when I hear religious people labelling the criticism of their views as arrogant overreach. They give it, but can’t take it.

That said, I think that each religion has it’s own essential ‘USP’ – Buddhism – depth psychology; Islam – obedience, submission to greater thing; Catholicism, mysticism and guilt creation/reduction; Christianity – social morality; Protestantism – individual pragmatic responsibility; Judaism – group cohesion & protection, mysticism; Hinduism – full spectrum mystical mythical. All of them are profoundly about relieving death anxiety, and how to live anxiety.

I also am struck by the profound observations coming from the Easter religions, and how well they chime with modern psychology, philosophy, and, increasingly, advanced physics.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

If you do not believe in ‘cajoling and bullying other’s into believing, obeying your stories’ you are not very good at practising what you preach. In fact most religious people I can think of may well say that others are unbelievers, heretic, or damned, if they will not limit themselves to just accepting differences in belief. But not many will go forth into debate talking loudly about those of other faiths ‘wasting their time and mind on silly notions, because of [] daft [] beliefs in [obviously unreliable] storytellers. Nor (like Steve Murray) psychologise about why the silly buggers ‘pick up the comfort blanket most available to them’.

I’d say that ‘arrogant overreach’ is a pretty good description.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just words and debate Rasmus, on a comments site. I am surprised you are so easily offended, given that you have amply demonstrated robustness on many other matters (Brexit etc). Now you have redefined opinion giving as ‘bullying and cajoling’. To be clear I was not referring to commenters, conversations between adults, but actual deeply wrong power dynamics where religious entities substantially and systematically try to subjugate others. I have many friends who are furious with their Catholic overseers (as children) as they see themselves as having been lied to, used and abused by an organisation and people actually interested, in the main by their own survival. You deny this? It also seems that you are applying a deep double standard – religious people can tell others what to do, what they think, even if it is insulting to others, but the non believers may not do this in return. The special protections that religion demands from criticism, and taxes.

You also make the mistake of thinking I am preaching. I am not. I am giving my opinions. This is not a church Rasmus. It is a comments site for adults. Neither am I talking loudly, but writing quietly.
By the way Rasmus – do you not think that creationism, as commonly defined, is not a silly notion?

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

It is possible to give your opinion – and even tell other people what they ought to do – without the obvious contempt for your opponents that is all through your writing, and that, yes, I do find tiresome. Most religious people manage. The nearest parallel to your style would be those rabid muslims who describe non-muslims as ‘kaffirs’.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But my original question was what the spirituality/transcendence that you believe in means, more precisely, and how it differs from the religion that you clearly hold in low esteem. Aggressive atheists generally make much of how rational they are and how irrational evereybody else is – while completely missing the point that all morals and ethics, including theirs, are of necessaity faith-based. Science is about what is, and you cannot go from ‘is’ to ‘ought’. I was just curious to see how you, as one who believes in some kind of spirituality, would cut that particular cake.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I do not hold religious people, or religion generally in contempt – in their place they are a beautiful addition to the world, like music or art. I do challenge some religious beliefs, and hold the most egregious in contempt, and religions as political, socially controlling entities. Music and art do not get in my face, judging moralising, trying to control my life and my country, and brainwash children; nor do they set themselves up as being the truth, with spurious arguments, and then seek special protections in law. I was lectured at in school – 2 hours a week for eight years – a legal requirement at the time. Also made to spend two hours every Sunday being droned at – not by my parents, but by the religion itself (which had inveigled itself into education).
You asked about my spirituality/transcendence – are you familiar with Sam Harris (Waking Up, Making Sense) – I am basically on the same page.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Thanks for the clarification – and for the nice answer. No, I do not know Sam Harris, but it gave me something to Google. Clearly I cannot have an opinion based on a quick search, but I admit I was not immediately attracted. In part because of a purely baseless reaction against anyone making publicity for an app described as “A new operating system for your mind.” In part because the idea of a purely rational science-based worldview that still leaves room for spirituality strikes me as inconsistent. As I see it, any feelings evoked in you by meditation must be either 1) contact with something transcendent, i.e. outside and inaccessible from the realm relevant to natural science, or 2) an epiphenomenon, akin to looking for significant patterns in cloud formations. I cannot see how you can have both the science-only and the spirituality, so I find it a bit have-your-cake-and-eat-it. Clearly this is not an argument (and I have no intention of trying to convince you of anything). All I can say is that I cannot see how this view could be fitted within the limits of my head – and it is unfortunately the only head I have.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Could we agree that religion/spiritiuality is like an art, rather than a science? If so, the two domains are valid, and whilst they interact for sure, neither can say much, in a dominant sense, about the other. There is no satisfying scientific measure of artistic aesthetics; and arts do not have much to say about how science is carried out, or what it reveals – though one can inspire the other. Perhaps applying science to religion is like empirical analysis of a joke/humour – underlying purpose, structure is revealed; but the experience is missed and the joke/humour is killed. Arts or Science; Wave or Particle? False dichotomies, no?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I would certainly agree with that.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I would certainly agree with that.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Could we agree that religion/spiritiuality is like an art, rather than a science? If so, the two domains are valid, and whilst they interact for sure, neither can say much, in a dominant sense, about the other. There is no satisfying scientific measure of artistic aesthetics; and arts do not have much to say about how science is carried out, or what it reveals – though one can inspire the other. Perhaps applying science to religion is like empirical analysis of a joke/humour – underlying purpose, structure is revealed; but the experience is missed and the joke/humour is killed. Arts or Science; Wave or Particle? False dichotomies, no?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Thanks for the clarification – and for the nice answer. No, I do not know Sam Harris, but it gave me something to Google. Clearly I cannot have an opinion based on a quick search, but I admit I was not immediately attracted. In part because of a purely baseless reaction against anyone making publicity for an app described as “A new operating system for your mind.” In part because the idea of a purely rational science-based worldview that still leaves room for spirituality strikes me as inconsistent. As I see it, any feelings evoked in you by meditation must be either 1) contact with something transcendent, i.e. outside and inaccessible from the realm relevant to natural science, or 2) an epiphenomenon, akin to looking for significant patterns in cloud formations. I cannot see how you can have both the science-only and the spirituality, so I find it a bit have-your-cake-and-eat-it. Clearly this is not an argument (and I have no intention of trying to convince you of anything). All I can say is that I cannot see how this view could be fitted within the limits of my head – and it is unfortunately the only head I have.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I do not hold religious people, or religion generally in contempt – in their place they are a beautiful addition to the world, like music or art. I do challenge some religious beliefs, and hold the most egregious in contempt, and religions as political, socially controlling entities. Music and art do not get in my face, judging moralising, trying to control my life and my country, and brainwash children; nor do they set themselves up as being the truth, with spurious arguments, and then seek special protections in law. I was lectured at in school – 2 hours a week for eight years – a legal requirement at the time. Also made to spend two hours every Sunday being droned at – not by my parents, but by the religion itself (which had inveigled itself into education).
You asked about my spirituality/transcendence – are you familiar with Sam Harris (Waking Up, Making Sense) – I am basically on the same page.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But my original question was what the spirituality/transcendence that you believe in means, more precisely, and how it differs from the religion that you clearly hold in low esteem. Aggressive atheists generally make much of how rational they are and how irrational evereybody else is – while completely missing the point that all morals and ethics, including theirs, are of necessaity faith-based. Science is about what is, and you cannot go from ‘is’ to ‘ought’. I was just curious to see how you, as one who believes in some kind of spirituality, would cut that particular cake.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

It is possible to give your opinion – and even tell other people what they ought to do – without the obvious contempt for your opponents that is all through your writing, and that, yes, I do find tiresome. Most religious people manage. The nearest parallel to your style would be those rabid muslims who describe non-muslims as ‘kaffirs’.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just words and debate Rasmus, on a comments site. I am surprised you are so easily offended, given that you have amply demonstrated robustness on many other matters (Brexit etc). Now you have redefined opinion giving as ‘bullying and cajoling’. To be clear I was not referring to commenters, conversations between adults, but actual deeply wrong power dynamics where religious entities substantially and systematically try to subjugate others. I have many friends who are furious with their Catholic overseers (as children) as they see themselves as having been lied to, used and abused by an organisation and people actually interested, in the main by their own survival. You deny this? It also seems that you are applying a deep double standard – religious people can tell others what to do, what they think, even if it is insulting to others, but the non believers may not do this in return. The special protections that religion demands from criticism, and taxes.

You also make the mistake of thinking I am preaching. I am not. I am giving my opinions. This is not a church Rasmus. It is a comments site for adults. Neither am I talking loudly, but writing quietly.
By the way Rasmus – do you not think that creationism, as commonly defined, is not a silly notion?

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

If you do not believe in ‘cajoling and bullying other’s into believing, obeying your stories’ you are not very good at practising what you preach. In fact most religious people I can think of may well say that others are unbelievers, heretic, or damned, if they will not limit themselves to just accepting differences in belief. But not many will go forth into debate talking loudly about those of other faiths ‘wasting their time and mind on silly notions, because of [] daft [] beliefs in [obviously unreliable] storytellers. Nor (like Steve Murray) psychologise about why the silly buggers ‘pick up the comfort blanket most available to them’.

I’d say that ‘arrogant overreach’ is a pretty good description.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The reliability of logical relationships, for one thing, since that reliability is self-demonstrating.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Kennedy

It only takes you so far, though. I believe in that too, but logical relationships only form an abstract, internally consistent model. Where the rubber meets the road is when you have to connect your abstract concepts and the relationships between them to the actual real world.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Kennedy

It only takes you so far, though. I believe in that too, but logical relationships only form an abstract, internally consistent model. Where the rubber meets the road is when you have to connect your abstract concepts and the relationships between them to the actual real world.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

One person’s fact is another person’s belief. Some people know for a fact that Princess Diana was murdered, that Trump won the last US presidential election, that the world was indeed created a few thousand years ago, that COVID vaccinations are harmful and part of a sinister plot by the DAVOS elite to subjugate us all, … Or, for balance, that continued CO2 emissions will cause climate disaster, or that trans women are women. I believe only one of the above statements myself, but good luck making an objective discrimination between what is fact and what is belief.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

One person’s fact is another person’s belief. Some people know for a fact that Princess Diana was murdered, that Trump won the last US presidential election, that the world was indeed created a few thousand years ago, that COVID vaccinations are harmful and part of a sinister plot by the DAVOS elite to subjugate us all, … Or, for balance, that continued CO2 emissions will cause climate disaster, or that trans women are women. I believe only one of the above statements myself, but good luck making an objective discrimination between what is fact and what is belief.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Agnostic. Occam’s razor. The scientific process and Empiricism. Transcendent experience. Truth to power Not cajoling and bullying other’s into believing, obeying your stories. My jaw drops to the ground when I hear religious people labelling the criticism of their views as arrogant overreach. They give it, but can’t take it.

That said, I think that each religion has it’s own essential ‘USP’ – Buddhism – depth psychology; Islam – obedience, submission to greater thing; Catholicism, mysticism and guilt creation/reduction; Christianity – social morality; Protestantism – individual pragmatic responsibility; Judaism – group cohesion & protection, mysticism; Hinduism – full spectrum mystical mythical. All of them are profoundly about relieving death anxiety, and how to live anxiety.

I also am struck by the profound observations coming from the Easter religions, and how well they chime with modern psychology, philosophy, and, increasingly, advanced physics.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The reliability of logical relationships, for one thing, since that reliability is self-demonstrating.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I strongly suspect that those same Iron Age authors, Moses et al., would have viewed much of their own writing as inspired stories or mythical windows into truth and taken them far less literally than a Young Earth fundamentalist of today.
Why do we assume that books which contain in their totality (but I’ll mention Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah) so much about human struggle and complexity we’re written, or even received, by such credulous people? Were the few literate storytellers of those generations so very literal-minded? To me that “must not be” and almost surely isn’t true.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m not pretending I’m owed this but it’d be nice if whoever downvoted would provide a rebuttal or explanation.
Do we think the author called Homer, drawing from a much older oral tradition, took his (or their if it was multiple people) epics to be literal, unembellished truth?
If not, why would we assume that Hebrew texts of a similar age and stories like the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark or the Tower of Babel were regarded as documentary fact by their author(s)?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m not pretending I’m owed this but it’d be nice if whoever downvoted would provide a rebuttal or explanation.
Do we think the author called Homer, drawing from a much older oral tradition, took his (or their if it was multiple people) epics to be literal, unembellished truth?
If not, why would we assume that Hebrew texts of a similar age and stories like the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark or the Tower of Babel were regarded as documentary fact by their author(s)?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Interesting indeed that you believe creationists are silly, but those that believe in some large rocks of unknown origin collided in space and magically formed the universe is not.
Equally silly is the notion that humans can change the universe’s climate.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I’ve never heard the word “climate” applied to the universe but only to planets, especially our own.
I think it’s legitimate and even sensible to question the degree to which we can influence the planetary environment, for better or worse, but finding some anthropogenic effect is not silly, and it is very well established.
You would at least acknowledge that humans can poison air, water, and soil with their own activities.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not quite the same thing as the climate thing though. That’s more about pollution.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Altering the environment, not the same as climate, but a point of incontrovertible agreement to establish for rhetorical purposes…think it worked?
The worst pollution events quite literally alter the climate for a length of time.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I wonder why this discussion is male dominated. Not saying you guys are responsible for that, I’m just curious why this is so.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Probably because, a) it’s mostly men who read this article and b) mostly men who like to spar over religious issues. You are unusual (assuming you are, in fact, female).

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Probably because, a) it’s mostly men who read this article and b) mostly men who like to spar over religious issues. You are unusual (assuming you are, in fact, female).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Altering the environment, not the same as climate, but a point of incontrovertible agreement to establish for rhetorical purposes…think it worked?
The worst pollution events quite literally alter the climate for a length of time.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I wonder why this discussion is male dominated. Not saying you guys are responsible for that, I’m just curious why this is so.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Not quite the same thing as the climate thing though. That’s more about pollution.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

“magically formed”. yeah, that’s what the scientists did- they just couldn’t find a empirical reasons and mechanisms that explained life, so they came up with a magic story. Oh wait…..

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I’ve never heard the word “climate” applied to the universe but only to planets, especially our own.
I think it’s legitimate and even sensible to question the degree to which we can influence the planetary environment, for better or worse, but finding some anthropogenic effect is not silly, and it is very well established.
You would at least acknowledge that humans can poison air, water, and soil with their own activities.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

“magically formed”. yeah, that’s what the scientists did- they just couldn’t find a empirical reasons and mechanisms that explained life, so they came up with a magic story. Oh wait…..

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Good case in point, and i appreciate you understanding what i’m getting at here, uncomfortable as it might be. In fact, because it’s uncomfortable is why so many people shy away from it and pick up the comfort blanket most available to them.
I’m encouraged though, to see others starting to do the heavy spiritual lifting required to move the debate along, instead of just throwing up hands in despair. I remain optimistic.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

What do you believe in, then? I understand that it must be very much superior to what most other people believe in, but I would like to know what it is.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I strongly suspect that those same Iron Age authors, Moses et al., would have viewed much of their own writing as inspired stories or mythical windows into truth and taken them far less literally than a Young Earth fundamentalist of today.
Why do we assume that books which contain in their totality (but I’ll mention Genesis, Exodus, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah) so much about human struggle and complexity we’re written, or even received, by such credulous people? Were the few literate storytellers of those generations so very literal-minded? To me that “must not be” and almost surely isn’t true.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Interesting indeed that you believe creationists are silly, but those that believe in some large rocks of unknown origin collided in space and magically formed the universe is not.
Equally silly is the notion that humans can change the universe’s climate.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I agree that it can and often does get in the way. Still, I don’t think that all religious belief and practice is of the same character, nor always an obstacle to the pursuit of our higher selves. In the sense that we should not and really can’t adopt the exact religion/worldview of someone from 3,000 or 600 years ago, there is indeed no helpful turning back.
Yet I don’t see religion as an inherent regression or stagnation. Many segregate much of what is best about religion into “spirituality”–and I prefer that word for it too–but I think some have a rich inner spiritual life they would justifiably call religious, and that group worship of a traditional kind often shares in the best aspects of what might be called “spiritual community”.
However, I don’t deny that both the non-faith of hollow lip service or going through the motions and the hellfire faith of readiness to condemn or kill are huge and widespread obstacles to human flourishing.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m a well-travelled atheist Brit raised in a secular family in England. I’m now stuck in middle America and feel isolated here because I don’t believe in God or a “higher power”. I find the god thing quite disheartening and see so many destructive things, like misogyny and overpopulation, done in the name of God, the latter being the main cause of climate change. It has been said that because god is supposedly male that all men are, therefore, gods. In the collective unconscious this may well be the belief. However, if you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe in anything. It takes a lot of courage to say you don’t believe in anything, particularly in America.

Last edited 1 year ago by CLARE KNIGHT
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Sad. I came from the UK 40 years ago to California. Working in the science/tech fields helps in avoiding the highly religious! Now I’m retired I find I still have more in common with ex work colleagues here and friends in the UK and France. In the US, the Humanists and the Unitarians are supposably atheists, but they spend their Sunday meetings obsessing about how to be Good. I found that tedious…….

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Elsewhere you said “one shouldn’t have to say they are an atheist,” I think implying that that is the only sensible default human position or ought to be. Yet you keep announcing your non-theism here. I do think I understand, from a distance, the sense of isolation you mention. Personally, I relate to the commenter “UnHerd Reader” above, because in the SF Bay Area where I live many are “spiritual” (me included–please don’t persecute me!), but in my estimation regular religious practice is not the norm, especially among white folks.
Surely there are some more down-to-earth yanks in your general area. How often do you feel the need to exercise the courage to declare your unbelief? In other words, is that important to state or done in a way that seems combative or contemptuous of faith as a choice for anyone, not just yourself?
Aren’t there common interest groups of a non-churchy variety that might appeal to you where you are?
Good luck. Or, if you prefer: May random forces and your allotted portion of (bounded) agency find you in a better place soon.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Sad. I came from the UK 40 years ago to California. Working in the science/tech fields helps in avoiding the highly religious! Now I’m retired I find I still have more in common with ex work colleagues here and friends in the UK and France. In the US, the Humanists and the Unitarians are supposably atheists, but they spend their Sunday meetings obsessing about how to be Good. I found that tedious…….

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Elsewhere you said “one shouldn’t have to say they are an atheist,” I think implying that that is the only sensible default human position or ought to be. Yet you keep announcing your non-theism here. I do think I understand, from a distance, the sense of isolation you mention. Personally, I relate to the commenter “UnHerd Reader” above, because in the SF Bay Area where I live many are “spiritual” (me included–please don’t persecute me!), but in my estimation regular religious practice is not the norm, especially among white folks.
Surely there are some more down-to-earth yanks in your general area. How often do you feel the need to exercise the courage to declare your unbelief? In other words, is that important to state or done in a way that seems combative or contemptuous of faith as a choice for anyone, not just yourself?
Aren’t there common interest groups of a non-churchy variety that might appeal to you where you are?
Good luck. Or, if you prefer: May random forces and your allotted portion of (bounded) agency find you in a better place soon.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m a well-travelled atheist Brit raised in a secular family in England. I’m now stuck in middle America and feel isolated here because I don’t believe in God or a “higher power”. I find the god thing quite disheartening and see so many destructive things, like misogyny and overpopulation, done in the name of God, the latter being the main cause of climate change. It has been said that because god is supposedly male that all men are, therefore, gods. In the collective unconscious this may well be the belief. However, if you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe in anything. It takes a lot of courage to say you don’t believe in anything, particularly in America.

Last edited 1 year ago by CLARE KNIGHT
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Interesting – spirituality/transcendence is not the same as religion; they may or may not go together, and are often, as you say, in conflict with each other. Witness the creationist, wasting their time and mind on silly notions, because of a smiliarly daft religious belief that what iron-age story tellers thought must be true.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I agree that it can and often does get in the way. Still, I don’t think that all religious belief and practice is of the same character, nor always an obstacle to the pursuit of our higher selves. In the sense that we should not and really can’t adopt the exact religion/worldview of someone from 3,000 or 600 years ago, there is indeed no helpful turning back.
Yet I don’t see religion as an inherent regression or stagnation. Many segregate much of what is best about religion into “spirituality”–and I prefer that word for it too–but I think some have a rich inner spiritual life they would justifiably call religious, and that group worship of a traditional kind often shares in the best aspects of what might be called “spiritual community”.
However, I don’t deny that both the non-faith of hollow lip service or going through the motions and the hellfire faith of readiness to condemn or kill are huge and widespread obstacles to human flourishing.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I appreciate your lengthy response, but I remain confused by the continual reference, by many non-believers, that religion has been the main basis for war over the centuries. The more I study history the more I have come to the understanding that the prevailing spiritual believes of people over time had very little to do with their reason to prosecute a war. In as much as their hair color played a part.
Of all the ancient wars that have been fought, most were over trade routes and access to resources vs. who their God/gods were. Certainly, the onslaught of middle eastern people and the resulting Crusades had a religious element, but having access to resources and the resulting power were primary forces. And in modern times, WWI and WWII had nothing to do with religion. Religion also had nothing to do with every war in the last century and certainly all the American wars in the last 200 years. Now, if you consider man’s greed as a religion, then you are onto something.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I don’t assign an essentially religious character to war. But zealous faith is a huge exacerbating factor in the all-time body count. Especially if you include the murderous ideological fervor of the Bolsheviks, Khmer Rouge, Fascists et al. under the broad banner of religion, which I do.
I think religion also has a glorious and documented peacemaking role, one that dogmatic atheists insistently deny. Charity and compassion are also strengthened and renewed by the better sort of religious faith. I am in fact a “nonbeliever” in what I perceive to be your intended definition, but I do believe in Something, not nothing. And I am not among those who assign a one-sided failing grade to the role of religion in human history, either in wars or other affairs.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The ones you quote were all communists which deny the existance of God. Jesus said those that live by the sword will die by the sword. If one is faithful to His words they will not be warmongers.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The fascists are communists too now?
My point is that even a purportedly non-theistic ideology can have the same warping effects of an extreme, self-righteous religiosity.
That may or may not make such beliefs religions proper, but I stand by the essential point.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

and the worst communist of all was Stalin, an ex priest in training who assumed a position as a god – a fallen angel. Not areligious, but very much religious as is the antichrist.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I’ve never read the bible and I’ve never used a sword.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

It’s worth reading, and I say that as an atheist of many decades.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago

Nah, I don’t read fiction.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

It’s not all fiction; and some of the historical parts are truly appalling. But more important, it’s like an archeological mental or sociological artifact. Do you go to museums? Look at art? That’s a kind of fiction too.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

It’s not all fiction; and some of the historical parts are truly appalling. But more important, it’s like an archeological mental or sociological artifact. Do you go to museums? Look at art? That’s a kind of fiction too.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago

Nah, I don’t read fiction.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Your contempt for it is therefore quite ignorant. I don’t read it as infallible scripture but it is several dozen bound-together books that are really as-or-more foundational to the society we supposedly share than any other 3 Western books put together.
Read one gospel with an open mind, not to the secondary supernatural claims but the earthly life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Just a sincere recommendation. Good luck on the howling plains of middle-of-nowheres–ville.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

It’s worth reading, and I say that as an atheist of many decades.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Your contempt for it is therefore quite ignorant. I don’t read it as infallible scripture but it is several dozen bound-together books that are really as-or-more foundational to the society we supposedly share than any other 3 Western books put together.
Read one gospel with an open mind, not to the secondary supernatural claims but the earthly life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Just a sincere recommendation. Good luck on the howling plains of middle-of-nowheres–ville.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I don’t belive in God and I don’t have a sword.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The fascists are communists too now?
My point is that even a purportedly non-theistic ideology can have the same warping effects of an extreme, self-righteous religiosity.
That may or may not make such beliefs religions proper, but I stand by the essential point.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

and the worst communist of all was Stalin, an ex priest in training who assumed a position as a god – a fallen angel. Not areligious, but very much religious as is the antichrist.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I’ve never read the bible and I’ve never used a sword.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I don’t belive in God and I don’t have a sword.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

If you draw the definition of ‘religion’ that wide, you would have to include atheism, veganism, and quite likely antiracism and wokism. Which you could, but how sensible is it to call every kind of zealous faith ‘religion’?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Quite sensible to call every kind of “zealous faith”–a fervent belief not based primarily on reason or evidence–a religion. McWhorter makes an overstated but to me largely persuasive case for the religious nature of extreme antiracism in Woke Racism.
I’m not talking about mere firm conviction, but things like evangelizing atheism (yes, that’s right) and scientism (not reliance on proof, scientism: an unfounded, totalizing faith in the scientific method to the exclusion of every other approach–a kind of hyper-rationalism) certainly can become dogmatic, in effect, a blind or blinding faith. Veganism would have to be pretty extreme to get there but here in California, it’s possible.
It’s fair to argue that what shares characteristics with religion is not therefore completely the same as a religion. I agree that not every zealous belief is completely the same as a religion. But in the case of ready-to-kill ideologies with fervent and zealous adherents I think the similarity is more important than the distinction.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You didn’t mention Climate Change religion. The language of CC is similar to religion . . . Do you “believe” in climate change? (Do you “trust in” climate change?) It is all about an Apocalypse . . . and “saving” and “being saved” . . . . presumably from being cooked?
Problem is that climate seems to be getting cooler at the moment . . . extreme winters . . . and where I live in Australia, summer has only just started at the beginning of February. We are usually “enjoying” hot, humid summers from the end of November until early April. So you could call this “reverse climate change”.
I am waiting for the CC devotees to change the name of their “faith” again from . . . a new ice-age (about 1970) . . . to global warming . . . to climate change . . . to extreme weathers (new name,huh) . . . ???
Main thing is to keep us scared . . . sounds a bit like Covid??? Fear allows those who have/want more power to have more!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Moore

I agree there is an apocalyptic element and a doomsday sect within the climate change crisis movement. Not a sensible or helpful thing. As to to the half-baked conclusions and sinister insinuations in the rest of your post, I’ll just say I am not in agreement.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Moore

Oh dear, you’re one of those. Global warming means the ice is melting and the seas are rising, not that it’s going to get warmer everywhere. It’s climate change that brings with it extreme weather patterns. Australia has had extreme flooding as have many cities that never had it before. This has nothing to do with belief. You might read The Uninhabitable Earth, with an open mind, for some facts.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

You might also read Bjorn Lomborg’s book with an open mind for some more reasonable facts.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

You might also read Bjorn Lomborg’s book with an open mind for some more reasonable facts.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Moore

I agree there is an apocalyptic element and a doomsday sect within the climate change crisis movement. Not a sensible or helpful thing. As to to the half-baked conclusions and sinister insinuations in the rest of your post, I’ll just say I am not in agreement.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Moore

Oh dear, you’re one of those. Global warming means the ice is melting and the seas are rising, not that it’s going to get warmer everywhere. It’s climate change that brings with it extreme weather patterns. Australia has had extreme flooding as have many cities that never had it before. This has nothing to do with belief. You might read The Uninhabitable Earth, with an open mind, for some facts.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You didn’t mention Climate Change religion. The language of CC is similar to religion . . . Do you “believe” in climate change? (Do you “trust in” climate change?) It is all about an Apocalypse . . . and “saving” and “being saved” . . . . presumably from being cooked?
Problem is that climate seems to be getting cooler at the moment . . . extreme winters . . . and where I live in Australia, summer has only just started at the beginning of February. We are usually “enjoying” hot, humid summers from the end of November until early April. So you could call this “reverse climate change”.
I am waiting for the CC devotees to change the name of their “faith” again from . . . a new ice-age (about 1970) . . . to global warming . . . to climate change . . . to extreme weathers (new name,huh) . . . ???
Main thing is to keep us scared . . . sounds a bit like Covid??? Fear allows those who have/want more power to have more!

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

One should not have to say that one is an atheist.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Why not?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Yet you keep saying so on your own behalf, as if it were an important (non)belief!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Why not?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

Yet you keep saying so on your own behalf, as if it were an important (non)belief!

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

One hallmark of religions I’ve noticed over the years is they universally abhor apostates more than heathens.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Quite sensible to call every kind of “zealous faith”–a fervent belief not based primarily on reason or evidence–a religion. McWhorter makes an overstated but to me largely persuasive case for the religious nature of extreme antiracism in Woke Racism.
I’m not talking about mere firm conviction, but things like evangelizing atheism (yes, that’s right) and scientism (not reliance on proof, scientism: an unfounded, totalizing faith in the scientific method to the exclusion of every other approach–a kind of hyper-rationalism) certainly can become dogmatic, in effect, a blind or blinding faith. Veganism would have to be pretty extreme to get there but here in California, it’s possible.
It’s fair to argue that what shares characteristics with religion is not therefore completely the same as a religion. I agree that not every zealous belief is completely the same as a religion. But in the case of ready-to-kill ideologies with fervent and zealous adherents I think the similarity is more important than the distinction.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

One should not have to say that one is an atheist.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

One hallmark of religions I’ve noticed over the years is they universally abhor apostates more than heathens.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The ones you quote were all communists which deny the existance of God. Jesus said those that live by the sword will die by the sword. If one is faithful to His words they will not be warmongers.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

If you draw the definition of ‘religion’ that wide, you would have to include atheism, veganism, and quite likely antiracism and wokism. Which you could, but how sensible is it to call every kind of zealous faith ‘religion’?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

[now redundant–or more so one might say]

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

[redundancy squared]

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I don’t assign an essentially religious character to war. But zealous faith is a huge exacerbating factor in the all-time body count. Especially if you include the murderous ideological fervor of the Bolsheviks, Khmer Rouge, Fascists et al. under the broad banner of religion, which I do.
I think religion also has a glorious and documented peacemaking role, one that dogmatic atheists insistently deny. Charity and compassion are also strengthened and renewed by the better sort of religious faith. I am in fact a “nonbeliever” in what I perceive to be your intended definition, but I do believe in Something, not nothing. And I am not among those who assign a one-sided failing grade to the role of religion in human history, either in wars or other affairs.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

[now redundant–or more so one might say]

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

[redundancy squared]

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Peter Dennett
Peter Dennett
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Even if we were to get to a point of one race where everyone looked the same, one language where everyone sounded the same, one ideology where everyone believed the same; two alpha people would disagree on something and war would return.
Peace is just momentary sanity of the human condition.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Dennett

Tend to agree. Look a sibling rivalry, from Cain and Abel onward. We can get more peaceful, more understanding, but our limits and lower tendencies are quite stubbornly resurgent.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Cain and Abel were fiction.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

I know, but thanks for the clarification. The existence of sibling rivals and a murderous capacity are, however, primeval and part of the collective unconscious. Or if that’s too nonliteral for you: these things are observed in primates with whom we share a common ancestor.
“It’s been that way since Adam and Eve”. One shouldn’t have to say that’s meant in a nonliteral sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

So we’re Romeo and Juliet. So what? Myths persist because they embody psychological truths about human nature. No one pays any attention to them otherwise.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

I know, but thanks for the clarification. The existence of sibling rivals and a murderous capacity are, however, primeval and part of the collective unconscious. Or if that’s too nonliteral for you: these things are observed in primates with whom we share a common ancestor.
“It’s been that way since Adam and Eve”. One shouldn’t have to say that’s meant in a nonliteral sense.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

So we’re Romeo and Juliet. So what? Myths persist because they embody psychological truths about human nature. No one pays any attention to them otherwise.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Cain and Abel were fiction.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Dennett

Tend to agree. Look a sibling rivalry, from Cain and Abel onward. We can get more peaceful, more understanding, but our limits and lower tendencies are quite stubbornly resurgent.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I was just reading about the Prussians in Vol 2 of Fukuyama’s “Political Order and Political Decay”. He used it as yet another example of one of the principles he sees acting throughout human history: that nothing stimulates the rise of meritocracies like war. Apparently, Frederick the Elector, one of many warlords in his time figured out that the biggest weakness in the warlord military capabilities came from leadership commissions which were largely dispensed to family and friends and family of friends, what Fukuyama defines as a patrimonial beauracracy. Frederick gradually de-patrimonialized it, instituting changes which made it increasingly meritocratic and allowed them to rise to become a world power. Interestingly, part of the reason he was able to do this was his family had turned Calvinist and he brought in many Dutch and Danish outsiders and put them in key positions – men who had no family ties within his own country (similar to the way the Turks built a meritocratic Janissary army). His grandson eventually re-patrimonialized it though, and subsequently lost the empire to Napoleon who still liked merit as the primary measure for promotion.
What does this have to do with your first paragraph? It made me think that a world without war in Fukuyama’s view invariably devolves into tribal, patrimonially infected power structures and cabals which magnify differences in order to increase their own portions of wealth and privilege. And because they stop being meritocratic, they become inefficient, unwieldy, and unable to adapt. At least, that’s what has always happened so far. I don’t think we’re at all different genetically from the modern humans started migrating out of Africa 80-50kya other than maybe picking a few genes we have to live with like near-sightedness. I think these EA folds are kidding themselves – but looks like if they can kid others they make out great.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Despite his vastly premature announcement (The End of History), I have a measure of respect for Fukuyama. But I don’t see that wars create a non-tribal or meritocratic society. And when has there been a “world without war”? You/Fukuyama must a mean a generation or two of peacetime in certain parts of the world.
I agree that we’re the essentially the same as paleolithic humans in a bodily sense, and I think more psychologically and socially similar to them than many would dare to consider.
To me, an altruism that tends to dismiss the suffering and needs of those alive now is a joke, whether a given EA proponent is in on the joke or not.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think we are largely in agreement. I don’t think he and certainly not I am advocating for war. But I think it has been this way and will continue to be this way because conditions of extended peace lack the contests between hierarchical systems which cause the less meritocratically driven ones to fail. Peace always seems to foster the development of far greater differences in outcome between groups at the top and bottom as we are seeing evidence of lately. It is human nature to try to promote the interests of family and friends above all else – the essence of tribalism. Look at what’s happening in colleges in the U.S. The SAT and such were the best thing that ever happened for people at the bottom who were intelligent – and for everyone else because it enabled meritocratic social mobility despite all the additional burdens and hurdles those at the bottom had also to overcome. Now this is being eliminated and it’s reverting to an arbitrary system which will result in legacy elite’s children and new racial elites. I can predict what will eventually happen when this culture comes into conflict with another with different organizational values. Here is where Fukuyama’s myriad historical examples are very telling.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I see. Makes some sense. You’re more familiar with his work as I’ve only read the book I mentioned above and heard him interviewed twice I think.
There’s a valid point about the relative camaraderie and common cause, for example, during WWII. But that doesn’t seem to generally apply. The Vietnam War occasioned major “tribal” division in the US. Also, what is the cost of this greater “wartime equality”? While both blacks and women saw their rights and social position advanced post WWII, many black and native-American soldiers who’d fought were scorned upon return, facing the Jim Crow South or reservation blues. Plus, hierarchy and competition remain quite strong in America. Or would you disagree?
I’d guess that America is too varied and well-populated to be called a single culture.
Can you offer an example or two of how you’d characterize US culture and what outcome you predict from conflict (war?) with peoples (nations?) who hold other “organizational values”? And are you asserting that the values fostered by eliminating the SAT are dominant or barely-counteracted in America?

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Hierarchy remains strong, surely, but competition is diminishing in many arenas. It is definitely not a single culture. But the tribal aspects Fukuyama is talking about are much smaller then divisions within a culture. Tribes have size limits having to do with how many people one can effectively know (150 to 200), and are invariably organized along ancestral and reciprocal altruistic lines. It’s the leadership elites which become tribal with decay.

I make no public predictions, I only observe what Fukuyama noticed, that cultures that abandoned or never had meritocratic military bureaucracies generally lose conflicts with those that do. And that conditions of long (multigenerational) peace seem inevitably to lead to decay in most organizational structures along the lines of tribal repatrimonialization.

Vietnam is probably a case in point. It could probably be argued that the Vietcong were operating a much more meritocratically structured system then the elite ivy league cabal of “brains” run by Macnamarra throwing draftees into the jungle.

I look around me here in America, at what’s happening in the colleges and it seems pretty obvious where it is headed. Wealthy elites always get their offspring in the best colleges, that’s a given. But I, son of a mechanic, was also able to enter a decent college fifty years ago with the help of the SAT. Now, I know a guy my age whose children all went to the best colleges. He had married a woman who had a native American grandmother. His good-natured but average kids definitely benefited from the push to register such minorities with their 1/8th native ancestry – at the resultant expensive of other kids with greater merit but lacking all the financial and social advantages these kids already enjoyed . Because in their case, his wife’s father was a prominent surgeon living in a multimillion dollar lake front mansion in his city’s poshest residential area. All I see happening is the development of of another non-meritocratic elite.

Their grandfather got where he did by merit. I would have had no problem with him operating on me. I don’t feel that way about his children and their peers. But this kind of situation only affects individuals. When institutions such as the military decay the catastrophies which may happen can be catastrophic for nations, not just individuals.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I see, more of a classic tribal size, but used as a synonym for one’s circle of friends, family, and acquaintance. Somewhat of a stretched usage, but ok.
The argument that the Viet Cong was more meritocratic is interesting, but isn’t the military the oldest and most robust version of a meritocratic institution in America?
I’m the son of carpenter who was born on a family farm and became a contractor. Smart but not a college grad. While I didn’t get a free pass as a white dude, I was able to get some help to return to college and complete degrees several years ago when the family business and whole economy hit hard times (plus, I was never that good at or “into” carpentry–neither is my dad that’s just how his life went).
The example of the Native American is a tricky one for me. You’re citing the “mega-tribal” group I find most deserving of preferential treatment, in general. But I wouldn’t have selected the 1/8 descendent children of privilege as prime candidates! It’s a bit like wealthy Nigerians getting places in the Ivy League: not how it was sold or should go.
Socioeconomic background should be the primary and leveling factor in aid and admissions strategies, so that a child of near-illiterate, drug addict parents is not considered more “advantaged” than a child of successful professionals by mere dint of paler skin.
In my non-expert estimation, some of your claims about organizations and tribes seem to almost ignore the individual and underestimate the way people change when their lives are directly threatened. But I can tell you have specific information and knowledge that I don’t, and that our reading, media, and cultural diets may be quite different. I’ve appreciated this civil exchange.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I see, more of a classic tribal size, but used as a synonym for one’s circle of friends, family, and acquaintance. Somewhat of a stretched usage, but ok.
The argument that the Viet Cong was more meritocratic is interesting, but isn’t the military the oldest and most robust version of a meritocratic institution in America?
I’m the son of carpenter who was born on a family farm and became a contractor. Smart but not a college grad. While I didn’t get a free pass as a white dude, I was able to get some help to return to college and complete degrees several years ago when the family business and whole economy hit hard times (plus, I was never that good at or “into” carpentry–neither is my dad that’s just how his life went).
The example of the Native American is a tricky one for me. You’re citing the “mega-tribal” group I find most deserving of preferential treatment, in general. But I wouldn’t have selected the 1/8 descendent children of privilege as prime candidates! It’s a bit like wealthy Nigerians getting places in the Ivy League: not how it was sold or should go.
Socioeconomic background should be the primary and leveling factor in aid and admissions strategies, so that a child of near-illiterate, drug addict parents is not considered more “advantaged” than a child of successful professionals by mere dint of paler skin.
In my non-expert estimation, some of your claims about organizations and tribes seem to almost ignore the individual and underestimate the way people change when their lives are directly threatened. But I can tell you have specific information and knowledge that I don’t, and that our reading, media, and cultural diets may be quite different. I’ve appreciated this civil exchange.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Hierarchy remains strong, surely, but competition is diminishing in many arenas. It is definitely not a single culture. But the tribal aspects Fukuyama is talking about are much smaller then divisions within a culture. Tribes have size limits having to do with how many people one can effectively know (150 to 200), and are invariably organized along ancestral and reciprocal altruistic lines. It’s the leadership elites which become tribal with decay.

I make no public predictions, I only observe what Fukuyama noticed, that cultures that abandoned or never had meritocratic military bureaucracies generally lose conflicts with those that do. And that conditions of long (multigenerational) peace seem inevitably to lead to decay in most organizational structures along the lines of tribal repatrimonialization.

Vietnam is probably a case in point. It could probably be argued that the Vietcong were operating a much more meritocratically structured system then the elite ivy league cabal of “brains” run by Macnamarra throwing draftees into the jungle.

I look around me here in America, at what’s happening in the colleges and it seems pretty obvious where it is headed. Wealthy elites always get their offspring in the best colleges, that’s a given. But I, son of a mechanic, was also able to enter a decent college fifty years ago with the help of the SAT. Now, I know a guy my age whose children all went to the best colleges. He had married a woman who had a native American grandmother. His good-natured but average kids definitely benefited from the push to register such minorities with their 1/8th native ancestry – at the resultant expensive of other kids with greater merit but lacking all the financial and social advantages these kids already enjoyed . Because in their case, his wife’s father was a prominent surgeon living in a multimillion dollar lake front mansion in his city’s poshest residential area. All I see happening is the development of of another non-meritocratic elite.

Their grandfather got where he did by merit. I would have had no problem with him operating on me. I don’t feel that way about his children and their peers. But this kind of situation only affects individuals. When institutions such as the military decay the catastrophies which may happen can be catastrophic for nations, not just individuals.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I see. Makes some sense. You’re more familiar with his work as I’ve only read the book I mentioned above and heard him interviewed twice I think.
There’s a valid point about the relative camaraderie and common cause, for example, during WWII. But that doesn’t seem to generally apply. The Vietnam War occasioned major “tribal” division in the US. Also, what is the cost of this greater “wartime equality”? While both blacks and women saw their rights and social position advanced post WWII, many black and native-American soldiers who’d fought were scorned upon return, facing the Jim Crow South or reservation blues. Plus, hierarchy and competition remain quite strong in America. Or would you disagree?
I’d guess that America is too varied and well-populated to be called a single culture.
Can you offer an example or two of how you’d characterize US culture and what outcome you predict from conflict (war?) with peoples (nations?) who hold other “organizational values”? And are you asserting that the values fostered by eliminating the SAT are dominant or barely-counteracted in America?

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think we are largely in agreement. I don’t think he and certainly not I am advocating for war. But I think it has been this way and will continue to be this way because conditions of extended peace lack the contests between hierarchical systems which cause the less meritocratically driven ones to fail. Peace always seems to foster the development of far greater differences in outcome between groups at the top and bottom as we are seeing evidence of lately. It is human nature to try to promote the interests of family and friends above all else – the essence of tribalism. Look at what’s happening in colleges in the U.S. The SAT and such were the best thing that ever happened for people at the bottom who were intelligent – and for everyone else because it enabled meritocratic social mobility despite all the additional burdens and hurdles those at the bottom had also to overcome. Now this is being eliminated and it’s reverting to an arbitrary system which will result in legacy elite’s children and new racial elites. I can predict what will eventually happen when this culture comes into conflict with another with different organizational values. Here is where Fukuyama’s myriad historical examples are very telling.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Despite his vastly premature announcement (The End of History), I have a measure of respect for Fukuyama. But I don’t see that wars create a non-tribal or meritocratic society. And when has there been a “world without war”? You/Fukuyama must a mean a generation or two of peacetime in certain parts of the world.
I agree that we’re the essentially the same as paleolithic humans in a bodily sense, and I think more psychologically and socially similar to them than many would dare to consider.
To me, an altruism that tends to dismiss the suffering and needs of those alive now is a joke, whether a given EA proponent is in on the joke or not.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“We ought not underestimate ourselves, nor spend all our collective resources building monuments of technology, ideology, and reason that amount at their runaway extremes to wings of Icarus and towers of Babel: wrongheaded and heart-starved monuments to our hubris that are part of a vain and doomed attempt to shed our dependent, limited, and creaturely nature.“

Spot on. Armed with the technology we now have, our monkey hubris gets ever more dangerous.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I entirely agree that human spirituality is an essential component in our nature. I’d argue that religious belief itself gets in the way of our ability to realise our nature to a fuller extent. That’s what we’re starting to grapple with. The ‘culture wars’ are a manifestation of this. There’s no turning back.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I appreciate your lengthy response, but I remain confused by the continual reference, by many non-believers, that religion has been the main basis for war over the centuries. The more I study history the more I have come to the understanding that the prevailing spiritual believes of people over time had very little to do with their reason to prosecute a war. In as much as their hair color played a part.
Of all the ancient wars that have been fought, most were over trade routes and access to resources vs. who their God/gods were. Certainly, the onslaught of middle eastern people and the resulting Crusades had a religious element, but having access to resources and the resulting power were primary forces. And in modern times, WWI and WWII had nothing to do with religion. Religion also had nothing to do with every war in the last century and certainly all the American wars in the last 200 years. Now, if you consider man’s greed as a religion, then you are onto something.

Peter Dennett
Peter Dennett
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Even if we were to get to a point of one race where everyone looked the same, one language where everyone sounded the same, one ideology where everyone believed the same; two alpha people would disagree on something and war would return.
Peace is just momentary sanity of the human condition.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I was just reading about the Prussians in Vol 2 of Fukuyama’s “Political Order and Political Decay”. He used it as yet another example of one of the principles he sees acting throughout human history: that nothing stimulates the rise of meritocracies like war. Apparently, Frederick the Elector, one of many warlords in his time figured out that the biggest weakness in the warlord military capabilities came from leadership commissions which were largely dispensed to family and friends and family of friends, what Fukuyama defines as a patrimonial beauracracy. Frederick gradually de-patrimonialized it, instituting changes which made it increasingly meritocratic and allowed them to rise to become a world power. Interestingly, part of the reason he was able to do this was his family had turned Calvinist and he brought in many Dutch and Danish outsiders and put them in key positions – men who had no family ties within his own country (similar to the way the Turks built a meritocratic Janissary army). His grandson eventually re-patrimonialized it though, and subsequently lost the empire to Napoleon who still liked merit as the primary measure for promotion.
What does this have to do with your first paragraph? It made me think that a world without war in Fukuyama’s view invariably devolves into tribal, patrimonially infected power structures and cabals which magnify differences in order to increase their own portions of wealth and privilege. And because they stop being meritocratic, they become inefficient, unwieldy, and unable to adapt. At least, that’s what has always happened so far. I don’t think we’re at all different genetically from the modern humans started migrating out of Africa 80-50kya other than maybe picking a few genes we have to live with like near-sightedness. I think these EA folds are kidding themselves – but looks like if they can kid others they make out great.

Peter Lucey
Peter Lucey
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A good article and comment. Steve writes “Our evolution almost certainly needed religion, in it’s broadest sense; […]. It has certainly conferred an advantage for social groups throughout recorded history. But i just wonder […] are we just starting to catch a glimpse of ourselves entering another stage, with all it’s uncertainty and ructions – in our humanity? ”
In answer to Steve’s question, we could determine the reproduction rate for those with religion, against those without it. I would suggest religion still has great reproductive value. Which is not to say religion is true, or brings happiness…

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Lucey

Reproductive rate won’t capture the advantage. It’s the expansion of tribal membership, the cohesion and cooperative benefits it confers on fostering and promoting advantages among members and their offspring and relatives.

Here’s an example. For a number of years my wife and I visited an independent primary physician who happened to be Jewish. Every single time she gave one of us a referral to a specialist, that person was also Jewish. This was in an area where the Jewish population was small and the Asian population large. Most of the reader boards in medical building lobbies were dominated by Asian names. She was clearly favoring her religious ingroup with business referrals at the expense of – who knows? – more qualified outgroup specialists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Lucey

Reproductive rate won’t capture the advantage. It’s the expansion of tribal membership, the cohesion and cooperative benefits it confers on fostering and promoting advantages among members and their offspring and relatives.

Here’s an example. For a number of years my wife and I visited an independent primary physician who happened to be Jewish. Every single time she gave one of us a referral to a specialist, that person was also Jewish. This was in an area where the Jewish population was small and the Asian population large. Most of the reader boards in medical building lobbies were dominated by Asian names. She was clearly favoring her religious ingroup with business referrals at the expense of – who knows? – more qualified outgroup specialists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I do hope that as a planet we’ve reached the threshold of a place where sectarian rancor or willingness to kill in the name of one’s God or creed will start to become an historical memory. There are some hopeful signs of reduction in warlike zealotry but not among some in all the major world religions (I’m putting aside the comparative metrics concerning who is more violent/zealous now or in the past with this quite tame claim: none are without blood on some of their hands).
But I don’t believe that even a total dissolution of organized worship, nor any plausible advance in scientific or psychological understanding, ever will or ought to completely defeat the human sense of something transcendent and mysterious. We simply don’t get to know everything about ourselves or the world we inhabit, and (in my non-gnostic estimation) never will. This may lead to a sense of terror and anger or a stubborn determination to demystify it all over time, perhaps culminating in the eventual “explaining away” of human consciousness itself, as a mere epiphenomenon of matter, or whatever.
In another way, we can find a sense of sacredness and humility in the unknowing. While I agree that we’re pretty incredible as a whole–with the caveat that my egoic mind helps to prompt that agreement–I think we are simultaneously, and as an innate potential within each person, quite terrible.
We don’t need religion to bring out our violent and clannish propensities. Also, some of the fellowship and sense of sacred ritual of group worship can be wholesome, from my perspective as a reader of books from multiple traditions (especially Christianity and Buddhism) and occasional, non-affiliated churchgoer, who believes in Mystery and Presence (abracadabra! boo!) but no Single True Faith.
With the exception of a few brain-in-the-jar type people (mostly men, not necessarily any better or worse than the rest of us), rationality alone can’t keep us sufficiently conscientious and sane, I don’t think. We ought not underestimate ourselves, nor spend all our collective resources building monuments of technology, ideology, and reason that amount at their runaway extremes to wings of Icarus and towers of Babel: wrongheaded and heart-starved monuments to our hubris that are part of a vain and doomed attempt to shed our dependent, limited, and creaturely nature.
In one sense, scientism, techno-utopian visions, and ideological maps of infinite Progress are united with belief in an Afterlife that appears to render the world we physically inhabit no more than a testing ground or mere illusion: All can become evasions that pretend to remove our face-to-face, hand-to-hand, present-moment need for and duty toward one another.
Hardline versions of long-termism and effective altruism seem to share an evasiveness or detachment of perspective with otherworldly visions of the “real” life to come. Or is thinking you can use voluminous data and prodigious intellect to model the world as it is likely to be in ten million or a billion years (and then correctly tip the scales) a lot less imaginary than a storybook Paradise?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Peter Lucey
Peter Lucey
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

A good article and comment. Steve writes “Our evolution almost certainly needed religion, in it’s broadest sense; […]. It has certainly conferred an advantage for social groups throughout recorded history. But i just wonder […] are we just starting to catch a glimpse of ourselves entering another stage, with all it’s uncertainty and ructions – in our humanity? ”
In answer to Steve’s question, we could determine the reproduction rate for those with religion, against those without it. I would suggest religion still has great reproductive value. Which is not to say religion is true, or brings happiness…

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s always fascinating to see Mary introducing her articles with reference to some personal anecdote. It’s an engaging version of “from the particular to the general” which seems to allow her to introduce complex ideas in a way that just launching into them might hinder.
In this instance, i think she’s hit upon something pretty profound and which pierces the way in which humans and social groups provide themselves with thickly-layered explanations for engaging with their deepest-held desires and drives so that it seems they’re not actually doing something so “basic” or animalistic.
Indeed, it might be considered that all systems of belief (for that’s what these cults are) derive from the same instinct, arising out of the way in which language provides a way of perceiving the world around us, and starting with the growth of our brain tissue within skulls when we were able to stand upright and utilise our limbs in a different way; the monkey that Mary refers to.
Our evolution almost certainly needed religion, in it’s broadest sense; of that, i’ve little doubt. It has certainly conferred an advantage for social groups throughout recorded history. But i just wonder – and Mary’s article brings into focus this question – are we just starting to catch a glimpse of ourselves entering another stage, with all it’s uncertainty and ructions – in our humanity? Has the rise of the internet perhaps enabled this, in the way we see ourselves reflected back more truly than ever before, or perhaps truly, for the first time?
I’ve said quite a few times in these Comment sections that those who advocate a return to religion are somehow misguided, or to express it more kindly, misunderstanding where we’ve arrived at. It’s only natural to hanker after old “certainties” – but which in fact are nothing of the kind. So i apologise if in doing so, i’ve offended anyone’s sensibilities – but nevertheless, these articles and thinkers like Mary are placing an onus on us all to consider these possibilities.
We humans, with all our well-documented faults, are absolutely incredible and we should not only celebrate that, but use it in a positive way. That’s the challenge.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago

I am stuck on the part of the article where you quote Elise Bohan as saying “intelligence” is the best part of our humanity. It just conjures up rounding up the Downs Syndrome and other developmentally delayed and sending them off to the extermination camps. Intelligence can result in a great deal of inhumanity, and the way we treat the weakest has before now been seen as a sign of strength,
As for preferring ideas to people I am one of those oddball women. I carefully picked my spouse from my all male friends and planned out life on very autism spectrum metrics. But I wasn’t prepared for how holding my first baby made me feel. I’d never particularly liked children and was prepared to have an ironical, highly competent but somewhat distant relationship with them. Nope. I’m babysitting grandchildren most days.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

That was delightful to read. Sometimes it’s a blessing not to know ourselves quite as well as we think we do.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It is why I get viscerally angry over pseudo experts telling aspie girls they are really boys. By every metric I am firmly in that camp and being a wife and mother in a world entirely under my control has been deeply therapeutic. Romantic relationships in college were very straightforward since boys let you know if they’re interested, there’s not much social awareness required. I can’t imagine being pushed into a female attracted persona, having to associate with women socially let alone romantically. They are messing up the girl’s lives permanently. My sons have repeatedly told me the nerdy girls still get snatched up early, which was my experience as well.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

To call certain on-the-spectrum traits male-by- definition because they trend that way is so reductive, a malignant form of essentialism.
Another sometimes undervalued point that you highlight: In many situations the so-called (and real) burden of motherhood also brings a certain independence or “dependent control” over raising children and running a home. Women should and typically do have a huge influence upon who their children, sons included, become. But is it nature or nurture? Yes, it is.
On a more somber note, your earlier point concerning the less-intelligent is profound. Those who are gifted with intellect, whether they’ve worked hard to develop that or not, should not mock or dehumanize (let alone “euthanize”!) the less cerebral among us. To begin with, many slowish people have particular talents or bring great joy and kindness to the world. (Even if they don’t, their humanity abides). And some of the worst people of all time were very smart in an IQ sense.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

Does that really happen and if so, would the girl really believe it?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

To call certain on-the-spectrum traits male-by- definition because they trend that way is so reductive, a malignant form of essentialism.
Another sometimes undervalued point that you highlight: In many situations the so-called (and real) burden of motherhood also brings a certain independence or “dependent control” over raising children and running a home. Women should and typically do have a huge influence upon who their children, sons included, become. But is it nature or nurture? Yes, it is.
On a more somber note, your earlier point concerning the less-intelligent is profound. Those who are gifted with intellect, whether they’ve worked hard to develop that or not, should not mock or dehumanize (let alone “euthanize”!) the less cerebral among us. To begin with, many slowish people have particular talents or bring great joy and kindness to the world. (Even if they don’t, their humanity abides). And some of the worst people of all time were very smart in an IQ sense.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

Does that really happen and if so, would the girl really believe it?

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s a double edged when you do know yourself very well.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

True. And self-awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to self-improvement.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  CLARE KNIGHT

True. And self-awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to self-improvement.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It is why I get viscerally angry over pseudo experts telling aspie girls they are really boys. By every metric I am firmly in that camp and being a wife and mother in a world entirely under my control has been deeply therapeutic. Romantic relationships in college were very straightforward since boys let you know if they’re interested, there’s not much social awareness required. I can’t imagine being pushed into a female attracted persona, having to associate with women socially let alone romantically. They are messing up the girl’s lives permanently. My sons have repeatedly told me the nerdy girls still get snatched up early, which was my experience as well.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s a double edged when you do know yourself very well.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

Nietzche quipped several times that intelligence might only be a temporary epiphenomenon which will diminish in time, as it is it’s conceit to think itself superior to other virtues for survival.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

That was delightful to read. Sometimes it’s a blessing not to know ourselves quite as well as we think we do.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Suzanne C.

Nietzche quipped several times that intelligence might only be a temporary epiphenomenon which will diminish in time, as it is it’s conceit to think itself superior to other virtues for survival.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago

I am stuck on the part of the article where you quote Elise Bohan as saying “intelligence” is the best part of our humanity. It just conjures up rounding up the Downs Syndrome and other developmentally delayed and sending them off to the extermination camps. Intelligence can result in a great deal of inhumanity, and the way we treat the weakest has before now been seen as a sign of strength,
As for preferring ideas to people I am one of those oddball women. I carefully picked my spouse from my all male friends and planned out life on very autism spectrum metrics. But I wasn’t prepared for how holding my first baby made me feel. I’d never particularly liked children and was prepared to have an ironical, highly competent but somewhat distant relationship with them. Nope. I’m babysitting grandchildren most days.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

A lot of men are s*xcrazed and a lot of women appear to be baby-crazed. This goes with the territory, and we all adopt strategems to get what we crave.
An aside: A woman once observed that men do not have a sufficient blood supply to feed the brain and the…er…other bit at the same time. She was right – I don’t.
We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t like this. Life is actually simple if you don’t overthink it.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

There is also something very s3xy about power. Those in power attract people willing to give themselves over to them, s3xually, which enhances that power and status. Of course, the allure diminishes when/if the status diminishes and then those who gave themselves, ask themselves what they were thinking and rather than accept there was such an attraction, they claim they were ‘groomed’ (in my view, only children can use it as an excuse).

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Hypergamy(in adults)?

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Very interesting take Lindsay. It might explain why people – sub-par politicians, for instance – cling on to power for dear life. Once they lose it, they know, they will lose everything that was built on having it, including their wife/mistress/acolytes etc.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Power is addictive, that’s for sure. I think it’s a primitive dopamine brain thing.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Power is addictive, that’s for sure. I think it’s a primitive dopamine brain thing.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

It’s surprising that such a “gendered” excuse is still so common. Some cultish devotees may well have been manipulated in a deliberate and sinister way, aside from power and status alone. But could an adult man (let’s say the allure took hold at age 20) claim he was “groomed” and expect to be taken seriously?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I don’t think that’s true.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Hypergamy(in adults)?

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Very interesting take Lindsay. It might explain why people – sub-par politicians, for instance – cling on to power for dear life. Once they lose it, they know, they will lose everything that was built on having it, including their wife/mistress/acolytes etc.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

It’s surprising that such a “gendered” excuse is still so common. Some cultish devotees may well have been manipulated in a deliberate and sinister way, aside from power and status alone. But could an adult man (let’s say the allure took hold at age 20) claim he was “groomed” and expect to be taken seriously?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I don’t think that’s true.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

But there’s too many of us here because of it!!

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Someone made an amusing comment to an article on Andrew Tate to the effect that he was a p***s attached to a life support system.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

There is also something very s3xy about power. Those in power attract people willing to give themselves over to them, s3xually, which enhances that power and status. Of course, the allure diminishes when/if the status diminishes and then those who gave themselves, ask themselves what they were thinking and rather than accept there was such an attraction, they claim they were ‘groomed’ (in my view, only children can use it as an excuse).

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

But there’s too many of us here because of it!!

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Someone made an amusing comment to an article on Andrew Tate to the effect that he was a p***s attached to a life support system.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

A lot of men are s*xcrazed and a lot of women appear to be baby-crazed. This goes with the territory, and we all adopt strategems to get what we crave.
An aside: A woman once observed that men do not have a sufficient blood supply to feed the brain and the…er…other bit at the same time. She was right – I don’t.
We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t like this. Life is actually simple if you don’t overthink it.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

“…effective altruists are hardly the first group of dreamers to struggle with the tension between high ideals and rampant lust”
It is all a grift. There is no tension. Access to young and gullible sexual partners has always been one of the perks/entitlements when it coms to movements that preach.
The appeal to high ideals is largely to get the stupid to part with the money but it also helps get people to drop their knickers

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

“…effective altruists are hardly the first group of dreamers to struggle with the tension between high ideals and rampant lust”
It is all a grift. There is no tension. Access to young and gullible sexual partners has always been one of the perks/entitlements when it coms to movements that preach.
The appeal to high ideals is largely to get the stupid to part with the money but it also helps get people to drop their knickers

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

very entertaining.. reminds of a fellow in Leicestershire who was all over the media a few years ago, from the Afro Caribbean community somewhere, who had a woman only church, and persuaded them that he delivered ” communion” via f******o, for which his flock had to pay: he lived in a multi million pound house with the inevitable Range Rover and some expensive sports car parked outside…. how naieve and stupid are some people?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

That is somewhat extreme but I spent quite a lot of time persuading the Jamaican cleaner at my work not to tithe 10% of her meagre wages on these parasites. It’s not so much stupidity as a lack of education and literacy and loneliness, really. People looking for some kind of community are easy prey for these charlatans. Really an example of what Mary was referring to.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Stupidity is not exactly synonymous with gullibility or desperate hopefulness–at least I hope not because I’m not immune to either!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Stupidity is not exactly synonymous with gullibility or desperate hopefulness–at least I hope not because I’m not immune to either!

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago

Good grief!!

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago

That is somewhat extreme but I spent quite a lot of time persuading the Jamaican cleaner at my work not to tithe 10% of her meagre wages on these parasites. It’s not so much stupidity as a lack of education and literacy and loneliness, really. People looking for some kind of community are easy prey for these charlatans. Really an example of what Mary was referring to.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago

Good grief!!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

very entertaining.. reminds of a fellow in Leicestershire who was all over the media a few years ago, from the Afro Caribbean community somewhere, who had a woman only church, and persuaded them that he delivered ” communion” via f******o, for which his flock had to pay: he lived in a multi million pound house with the inevitable Range Rover and some expensive sports car parked outside…. how naieve and stupid are some people?

T M Murray
T M Murray
1 year ago

Whether one is “horny” or Irish like me and enjoys my tipple more than others is no excuse for any particular action. That is because one of the things that humans are capable of doing is distancing ourselves from our immediate instincts and desires and reflecting on our choices. Even for those who only believe in a compatibilist vesrsion of free will, we experience ourselves (and assume in others) an ability to control our actions.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  T M Murray

As an Irish and Scots descended guy I’d say it can be part of the explanation, not a proper excuse. 12:01 pm here can I have a drink?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  T M Murray

As an Irish and Scots descended guy I’d say it can be part of the explanation, not a proper excuse. 12:01 pm here can I have a drink?

T M Murray
T M Murray
1 year ago

Whether one is “horny” or Irish like me and enjoys my tipple more than others is no excuse for any particular action. That is because one of the things that humans are capable of doing is distancing ourselves from our immediate instincts and desires and reflecting on our choices. Even for those who only believe in a compatibilist vesrsion of free will, we experience ourselves (and assume in others) an ability to control our actions.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

“What if a community emerged in which people like me, more transfixed by ideas than relationships, were the majority?”
There exists such a community – in vast numbers, a majority – it is called ‘men’. They are also said to like sex rather a lot – of the whomever, whereever type – and if they also have a magic force called ‘power’, they will use ‘power’ to meet their goals – for acquiring money, big houses, cars, watches, collections, sending things into space, more power….and sex. For men, even that last quest is often about things rather than people – as illustrated by the works and acts of Louis C K (specific references available on request).

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

That’s a very blinkered, one dimensional concept of masculinity- I don’t know anyone like this. It’s perfectly possible to be a successful man without being the sort of moron who surrounds himself with bling. In fact the guy with the big car is usually trying too hard. It’s also a very American way of looking at the world – hey, look at all my stuff!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Not just American. The Chinese have become extremely status conscious in the last few decades. It’s hard to not to lump in Europeans too Mercedes, Rolex, Ferrari, Lamborghini are all European brands. Most all of the most expensive brands in the world are European: https://luxurycolumnist.com/most-expensive-clothing-brands-in-the-world/

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

A fair point. I work in a cycle shop in London and we sell a great many Brompton bikes to tourists from the Far East who value the fact they have ‘Made in London’ written on them. However I don’t thing anyone would buy them if they weren’t such a beautiful and elegant design. Very European too. They cost a bomb but don’t look like they do. People in the UK ride them to work. People in Asia ride them at the weekend and show them off to their mates.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

A fair point. I work in a cycle shop in London and we sell a great many Brompton bikes to tourists from the Far East who value the fact they have ‘Made in London’ written on them. However I don’t thing anyone would buy them if they weren’t such a beautiful and elegant design. Very European too. They cost a bomb but don’t look like they do. People in the UK ride them to work. People in Asia ride them at the weekend and show them off to their mates.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Agreed. I live in America and only know a few people like this, not exclusively men.
A stereotypically American outlook that, as noted above, the US doesn’t “own” all by itself.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I had my tongue in my cheek – which is why I referenced a comedian. Of course my comment, taken literally, would be ‘a very blinkered, one dimensional concept of masculinity’, but it has truth in it. Males are reliably, the world over, more interested in things than people; and vice versa for women.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

That’s fair. There’s a stand-up punchline measure of truth in it.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

That’s fair. There’s a stand-up punchline measure of truth in it.

CLARE KNIGHT
CLARE KNIGHT
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Being acquisitive and materialistic is not more a male thing. The fashion industry is predominately consumed by women, and conspicuous consumption and ostentation is not just American anymore. For sure most men are into mechanical toys – cars and yachts, drones etc. but I think it comes down to personality type. Alpha males versus artistic sensibilities.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Not just American. The Chinese have become extremely status conscious in the last few decades. It’s hard to not to lump in Europeans too Mercedes, Rolex, Ferrari, Lamborghini are all European brands. Most all of the most expensive brands in the world are European: https://luxurycolumnist.com/most-expensive-clothing-brands-in-the-world/

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Agreed. I live in America and only know a few people like this, not exclusively men.
A stereotypically American outlook that, as noted above, the US doesn’t “own” all by itself.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I had my tongue in my cheek – which is why I referenced a comedian. Of course my comment, taken literally, would be ‘a very blinkered, one dimensional concept of masculinity’, but it has truth in it. Males are reliably, the world over, more interested in things than people; and vice versa for women.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dominic A