Tagged: Laws of Media

LI The Future of Media Illiteracy

Does the idea of too high a price to pay for achieving one’s biological goals make any sense? In Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, the main character Nora has achieved reproductive success, she has three kids and her husband has just become head of the bank so together they will bring up their kids in the best possible conditions. She nevertheless leaves house, husband, and children to work on her own because she does not want to fail her “duty to herself” any longer. Can a “duty to oneself” be jeopardized by the pursuit of biological goals?

According to biosociologist Brant Wenegrat, “motherhood in societies like ours does predict an increased risk of depressive disorders” (Illness and Power, 1995). Some scholarly confirmation of the playwright’s insight, then, as motherhood and parenting, i.e. biological success itself would lead to increased biological risk, in the shape of dysfunctional conditions for the children raised by a depressive mother. Or is it nonsense? This prediction is not confirmed in the book Darwinian Psychiatry (1998), by McGuire and Troisi, which states that male celibates are the most at risk of depression, precisely because of their biological failure (failed reproductive machines). Two opposite conclusions, then, from scholars of the same school of thought. For McGuire and Troisi women’s mental health is not as dependent on the success of biological reproduction as men’s, whereas for Wenegrat successful biological reproduction tends to affect negatively women’s mental health and not men’s.

Modern work, now, is not an evolved biological media for male competition (contrary to what evolutionary psychologists Tiger and Fox, 1971, claim), as for millenaries slavery was the rule and dominant males did not work (savanna-activity, i.e. hunter-gatherer environment of evolutionary adaptedness EEA-like hunting was aristocrats’ hobby throughout the world in the past of civilization). In this way, and, again, contrary to the views of some EP scholars, modern work goes against biological tendencies. If a duty to oneself exists and, if we take Nora’s example, opposes the mere pursuit of biological goals, then modern work may be the way to fulfill one’s duty to oneself instead of biological goals. Yet in evolutionary terms I see nothing that warrants nor could even possibly warrant this ‘literary’ conclusion.

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Gustave Le Bon, in his Psychologie des foules, talks about women who throw acid at their lovers’ face as something frequent in his days. Today, the media talks about this, pointing the finger to men, mostly in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, throwing acid in order to oppress women because those men are Muslims. In fact, EP scholar David Buss also talks of Jamaican women doing the same with their female rivals nowadays. Yet talk about acid attacks these days, and you will find that people associate it with Muslim men. There is a Sherlock Holmes story by Conan Doyle about a woman throwing acid at her lover’s face too, to confirm Le Bon (The Adventure of the Illustrious Client).

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Outline for a dystopian sci-fi novel. As a foreign body inside the societies where their communities live, the Lormocks have a perception of their own, the basic idea of which being that their community’s interest only partially overlaps with that of the host societies, which they seek to exploit. They are parasites. Neuroparasites. For a long time our knowledge of parasites was perfunctory; we knew lice and other pest that suction blood and weaken the body, and that’s about all. It took us decades to find out that rabies is a parasite that compels the dog host to bite in order to carry the parasite over to more hosts. Now we have a much broader picture of what parasites are doing: They control their host, sometimes they castrate it, sometimes they do not allow him to take food, they do as they please with their host. As the Lormocks achieve middleman-minority status due to their ingroup solidarity inside societies that they help make atomistic, they endeavor to control the channels of public expression, and of course they use these according to their community’s interest. Sycophancy toward the Lormocks, serving this foreign and parasitic body’s purposes, becomes a sine qua non of individual success –and fitness– in society.

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Subliminal advertising: the elephant penis in the living room.

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Since the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey, Erdogan has been conducting massive repression in the country. Thousands of civil servants are being sacked and their names published so they will never find jobs again in the country. Intellectuals are also targeted.

272 writers from all over the world have signed a petition against the judicial trials that will open against journalist Ahmet Altan and his brother, economist Mehmet Altan.

Both are accused by the government of having sent subliminal messages on TV about the impending coup. As far as I know, a world premiere! (Le Monde, Sep 21, 2016)

Turkey’s President Erdogan is thus giving support to my research. I am available as an expert at the trial.

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Taco Subliminals

There where similar charges [of the use of subliminal techniques, (like the “rats” in “democrats” in U.S. 2000 campaign trail, if you remember] by Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the right-wing candidate Felipe Calderón in the Mexican presidential elections of 2006, in which the color scheme for a popular soft drink and its publicity mirrored those of Calderón’s party. Opponent saw the similarity as a sneaky way to circumvent campaign spending limits by a corporate supporter of Calderón.” (Charles R. Acland, Swift Viewing: The Popular Life of Subliminal Influence, 2011).

Acland’s aim is to debunk subliminals as just another “urban legend.” Faced with such incredulity, it is really heartening to find support from intellectuals like Eric McLuhan [see Index for Professor Eric McLuhan’s contributions]. The example above shows that the use of non-verbal persuasion techniques is part of the public debate now, as it should be in media-literate constituencies. Information society must not amount to mass manipulation by mass media but to media literacy of the public.

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The Age of Empathy (2009) by primatologist Frans de Waal talks of an experiment by Swedish professor Ulf Dimberg : When people are shown visuals of angry faces they tend to frown and of happy faces they tend to smile, and this is true also when the faces are subliminal! De Waal says Dimberg’s results have been met with resistance…

Dimberg, Thunberg, & Elmehed (2000), Unconscious facial reactions to emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science 11: 86-89.

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Jacques Castonguay’s book La Psychologie au service du consommateur (1978), said by prefacer Nicolle Forget, the then chair of Canada consumers association, to put the limelight on subliminal advertising (« Il aura eu le mérite aussi de ramener dans l’actualité la question de la publicité subliminale »), is terribly disappointing. Albeit not in denial, Castonguay says Marshall McLuhan and Wilson Bryan Key’s views are “exaggerated,” so the topic is expedited in a couple of pages and he can devote the rest of his book to conveying the nauseating platitudes that business insiders wrote for the public.

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Take Buddhism. Basically a personality cult (in the person of the Buddha).

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The three following statements cannot be true taken together and studies show that 3/ is consistently true.

1/ The activity and development of the brain’s right hemisphere is not taken into account in IQ tests. (Marshall and Eric McLuhan, Laws of Media: The New Science, 1988)

2/ Asians are right-hemisphere people. (Ibid.)

3/ Asians (Northern Asians) have the highest scores in IQ tests.

Well, they may be true taken together but only if Asians are superior to Westerners even in the skills that are not Asians’ best (left-hemisphere skills), that is, if Asians are superior in everything.

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Laws of Media’s ascribing several contemporary art forms to the brain’s right hemisphere, such as atonal music, finds some resistance in me. These forms appear much too much intellectual (left hemisphere) to me – professors’ experiments rather than art proper. If atonality is an expression of acoustic space (p.52), yet our ears (as evolved) want no part in the business of atonality. “As evolved”: According to evolutionary biology, that is, not since the phonetic alphabet, but in the African savanna. Atonal music is an intellectual, abstract, left-hemisphere business: Left-hemisphere radicalism.

Same with relativity theory. Not that I know to which hemisphere it belongs; but I find it inconsistent with Kant’s transcendental idealism, that is, if time and space are a priori forms of our perception I don’t think it makes sense to say time-space can be distorted by massive objects.

Same with psychoanalysis. It has been exploded. Randy Thornhill, for instance, has concisely demonstrated that an Oedipus complex makes no evolutionary sense at all. “The Oedipus complex proposed by Freud would never have been given any credence if anyone had considered the evolutionary fate of a trait that produced such incestuous desires (Thornhill and Thornhill 1987). Because of the reduced viability of offspring produced by mating of close relatives, close inbreeding is selected against. Thus, Freud postulated as fundamental to human nature a trait that simply cannot exist as an evolved human psychological adaptation.” (Thornhill and Palmer, A Natural History of Rape, 2000)

Same with Copenhagen consensus. If the idea is that we should get rid of determinism in science, then it makes no sense, by definition. The uncertainty principle only tells us that our perceptual endowment allows us not to perceive all causes and determinations in nature – not that these causes and determinations do not exist in nature.

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Electric telephone man

Electric man is discarnate (McLuhan). What about the man who is used to telling his friends: “I don’t use the phone anymore except for emails”?

He is both discarnate and dyslexic.

Email is discarnate nudism because electric man cannot conceal his dyslexia.

Yet we can. Electric man has by now invented the simplified writing system that Eric McLuhan envisioned for our dyslexic times. He has made it almost completely phonetic:

4 => for

2 => to

8 => -ate ex. contempl8

Same process in French: “c’est” becomes just “c” etc.

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Some exploration of the fringe: Reverse Speech

i

First thing first, one interesting thing about Australian David Oates’s reverse speech theory is that it is debunked on Wkpd by the same sort of arguments that are used against subliminal perception, namely “pareidolia, the tendency of the human brain to perceive meaningful patterns in random noise.

According to this theory, the unconscious mind expresses itself backward in our utterances.

When reading about this, I was reminded of a video I saw a few months ago (now withdrawn). In that speech by Obama, the President at some point says: “Let me express, let me express my faith &c.” Playing the passage backward, the author of the video hears, and convincingly so, for “Let me express, let me express”: “Serve Satan, serve Satan.” A creepy commentary about the President’s faith.

The author says he could not reproduce the same effect when recording himself saying these words, which is confirmed by Oates. Our utterances, when played backward, do not pronounce the same even when we pronounce the same speech. That leads to the question of the origin of pronunciation differences (accents &c). Why do some people never lose their local accent even after living many years in the capital city when others lose it very fast in the same transplant conditions?

The theory is fascinating at any rate. For one thing, it could never be designed nor tested before the invention of audio recording.

But above all, if the unconscious can understand reverse speech (words pronounced backward, as stressed by Bill Key: cf W.B. Key at the 1995 Judas Priest trial), why could it not express itself backward as well? Key’s research helps buttress Oates’s contentions.

ii

Oates wanted to check the truth of evangelists’ assertions that rock music contains reverse satanic messages. He found some intentional reverse messages but also was led to the discovery that reverse speech can carry meaningful messages.

Using Jungian notions, he then says the word “Satan” occurs rather often in reverse speech because it’s embedded in the collective unconscious, and it serves to express negative feelings.

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There is a school of thought that sees elaborate clothing as a way to conceal bodily imperfections and thus distort the choice of a mate. A few German racialists (Heinrich Pudor, Richard Ungewitter…) adopted such views, and nudism was considered sound and healthy in some Nazi circles (German Nazi nude photograph magazines are collector’s items today). Scanty clothing, in that view, such as that of contemporary American youth, boys and girls alike, would be close to that philosophy. In the absence of matrimonial intermediaries, who take a careful look at and check the physical condition of the future partners in arranged-marriage societies, people need to check by themselves. In free (as opposed to arranged)-marriage societies, nudism, or close substitutes, is in order.

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Global Village’s Pizza Gate

(Posted as comment to a since then withdrawn YouTube video, Nov 2016)

The case is rather strong as here presented, however I don’t see ‘proof’ in the technical sense. Yet it definitely should be sufficient ground for the police to further investigate in that direction.

What is new about the so-called Pizza Gate is that it is a criminal investigation carried out by internauts. Being public, it can’t help being a smear campaign at the same time, and I guess this is the reason why several people involved in this new kind of investigation have been banned or shadowbanned on Twitter after the pizza parlor concerned asked Twitter to do something about it or be held accountable for the smear campaign.

Yet, as good ol’ Marshall McLuhan said, we have entered the ‘global village,’ meaning we really are back to village life. For one thing it means privacy will shrink to nothingness or almost nothing, like in a traditional village. It also means, from what I gather from public Pizza Gate investigation, that ‘villagers’ will take charge of law and order themselves. Remember these ‘investigators’ mainly work on the evidence brought to them – brought to everybody in the village – by WikiLeaks. Advancing a technicality according to which all evidence available in this way is void because the source is a ‘spy,’ a ‘traitor,’ a ‘renegade,’ whatever, as is common and perhaps sound practice in the traditional views of law courts, would seem extremely disconnected with the real world under the circumstances of the global village. And remember, these circumstances are here to stay.

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The level of tax imposed on bachelors is indecent. I can’t even keep a mistress. One has to be a married man for that.

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The beautiful people of adverts

Facial symmetry is more attractive than asymmetry and high-status people are more symmetric than poor people in general. Advertisers just pick attractive people (and usually airbrush the model according to systematic, technical rules): Turns out we associate these models with wealthy people.

Asymmetry can be due to adverse environmental conditions during development (deprivation) and betrays a less healthy phenotype –”wealth is health”– but the answer is not to torture our natural biases by trying to impose other, silly tastes on us, that would have us prefer crippled, perhaps sterile (in the case of obesity) persons.

Beauty is largely objective and a marker of health. Make all people healthier rather than trying, out of a misconceived sense of justice, to force unnatural tastes on people.

The beauty world of advertising systematically creates “supernormal stimuli” to which the real world can only be unequal. This is the true definition of the problem.

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One result of behavioral science is that masturbation conditioning is particularly efficient. It even works with high psychotics – the least conditionable of all.

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French journalists had once agreed they would make no news with politicians’ private lives. It shows they wanted no place for morality concerns in the public debate, which is an unjustified prerogative the journalists bestowed on themselves. This will not last, however. There have already been news on President Hollande’s affair with a B-rated actress a few years ago. They made news of it and the president’s popularity plummeted at once. Morality concerns ought not to be ignored.

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McLuhanesque strolls

What’s the point of writing and publishing books, as literacy has ended? This thought brings me solace.

Also, in the literacy age, there was a public: It was made up by publishing houses and the press. Now the public has disappeared and thought is free.

Counter-culture is an ego trip now. Bad form. We’re the village.

The global village is already something real. Internet social networks are the village. The whole world on a “timeline” (Twitter jargon)! (English as single medium, all other languages due to be discarded?)

Thought becomes aphoristic: Think about the aphoristic-minded world of Twitter users whose every tweet cannot exceed 140 signs (280 now)! Literary heroes disappear. Academic scholars look awkward; the littlest rascal in the world can make fun of them and their ponderous knowledge in retweets as public as the original tweets. Journalists are corrected and insulted in front of their devoted readers. Comedians prove less funny than their followers. Actresses are less beautiful than their fans. Politicians receive sound advice from the administered herd.

We’ve all become sayers of sayings, each of us expresses the village wisdom. It’s tribal, deindividualized, exactly as predicted by McLuhan Marshall and Eric.

With the decline of the Gutenberg Galaxy, the written word is sheer lip service. It says whatever anybody wants to hear, upholds consensus. If the medium is the message, then the message is not even between the lines. It’s in quite another galaxy where literacy has no relevant use as such, only as distraction.

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Libertarians defend personal liberty against the law but they seem to have nothing to say about personal liberty against mind control by big business, which has become a huge (muted) issue with the advent of scientific marketing. Against this control I see no other shield than the law, like Prohibition was a shield against the liquor industry’s endeavor to “break down sales resistance” by advertising and PR. The fake-news media opposed the Prohibition and contributed mightily to its inadequate enforcement (cf Upton Sinclair, The Wet Parade).

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Mensa and GMAT

My correspondence from when I wanted to be a Mensa member without taking their tests.

Dear Sir or Madam, (to info@americanmensa.org)

On Mensa Website, qualifying score for the GMAT is “95% or above.”

At a second and last attempt after a crash course in 2004, I got 710 / 94%. My mother tongue is French and before taking my first GMAT test I only practiced English at school. Then, I took a second test after a few months in U.S.

Do you think that people having English as mother tongue are advantaged in the GMAT, or not at all? In case of a yes, shouldn’t the qualifying score for nonnative English speakers be adapted?

Given the time, and thus reflex, factor involved in the test, it seems English fluency (the test language) is important, which puts nonnative speakers at a disadvantage, although per se this fluency does not appear to be relevant to what Mensa membership is about. (July 5, 2017)

/

Hello,

Thank you for the email. Unfortunately, the only way we have to evaluate evidence that is sent in is based on the test publisher’s normative data. To be honest, I am not certain how the GMAC calculates the scores on the exam so I cannot speak to whether or not they make those kinds of allowances. We accept the 95th percentile on the exam based on the fact that their norms are somewhat skewed by the population that takes the exam. The population that attends graduate school is not necessarily a representation of the general population so we allow for more than just the typical top 2 percent.

(Timothy Brookes, Mensa manager for membership and admissions, July 7, 2017)

/

Thank you very much for your reply.

Do you estimate that top 5% of graduate students population is an inclusive or rather restrictive approximation of top 2% of general population?

According to one source,

Factors such as native vs non-native English speakers, US vs non-US, white vs non-white, etc – generally don’t affect one’s score too much. In terms of covariance analysis, the variation between these subgroups was always less than 1/4 standard deviation.

I think we know the variation goes against nonnative speakers. In case you’d estimate the 95th percentile is not large already, would you be willing to take this variation into account too?

Now, according to Lawrence Rudner, GMAC’s chief psychometrician,

Yes, the GMAT test is administered in English and is designed for programs that teach in English. But the required English skill level is much less than what students will need in the classroom. The exam requires just enough English to allow us to adequately and comprehensively assess Verbal reasoning, Quantitative reasoning and Integrated Reasoning skills.” (link)

That the test only requires “just enough English” doesn’t preclude a variation factor between native and nonnative speakers, due to mental reflexes ingrained in native vs nonnative speakers and more consequential in time-constrained tests than in classroom attendance. Such a variation may justify Mensa to accept a tolerance margin for its admissions based on GMAT scores in the case of nonnative speakers.

If the variation is not “too much,” “less than 1/4 standard deviation,” as I understand the phrasing it is not altogether negligible inside the scope considered (the above tolerance margin). (July 11, 2017)

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Florent,

At this time, we do not take anything additional in to consideration for the GMAT. The 95th percentile score is the minimum we will accept. (Timothy Brookes, July 12)

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Thank you, Timothy. I guess I’ll have to take the tests at Mensa France, then.

Yet I am curious how you get from “the population is somewhat skewed” to “2% translates into 5%”. Does the data support this? What does GMAC say about it? (July 12)

No more from Timothy. Let’s ask GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council):

Dear Sir or Madam, (to customercare@gmac.com)

Mensa International is an “organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.

People who score at the 95th percentile or higher on GMAT are, however, entitled to join in, and the reason is:

We accept the 95th percentile on the exam based on the fact that their norms are somewhat skewed by the population that takes the exam. The population that attends graduate school is not necessarily a representation of the general population so we allow for more than just the typical top 2 percent.” (Email from Timothy Brooks, manager of membership and admissions, Mensa USA)

According to your knowledge, does the data support this translation “98th=>95th”?

I took a GMAT test in 2004 and scored 710 / 94%. I asked Mensa if they took into consideration a tolerance margin for nonnative English speakers and they said they did not, so I have been asking them the exact same question as I am asking here, currently waiting for their answer. It is, however, my understanding that Mr Brooks’s phrasing above rather hints at a “guesstimate” on their part, a rule of thumb that should justify them to show some flexibility.

No answer. Between those who refuse considering a pinch of pliancy with their rule-of-thumb regulations and those who coldly disregard emails, talk of psychorigids!

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Aristotle’s “prime mover” (as God) has been given the coup de grâce by Kant, with the latter’s antinomies, according to which it is beyond human reason to determine whether the world is finite or infinite, has begun or has been eternal. Each of both opposite conclusions on these two antinomies (there are four in the Critique of Pure Reason) is a contradiction in itself+. This being because our mental apparatus does not describe the thing-in-itself (which, presumably, could not have contradictions in itself without ceasing to exist). I find it a sound position to hold, with Kant, that no rational proof of God’s existence is to be expected in such conditions. The one proof would be the moral law, if it could be ascertained that it’s something true and not derived from the laws of nature (which, for Kant, is the case indeed, so in no way Kant can be called an atheist).

+Monotheisms answer one of these antinomies with a created world, and a prime mover, whereas Hinduism and Buddhism answer with an uncreated world, and both are convinced their position is rational.

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There’s a passage in Uncle Tom’s Cabin where a ruthless slaveholder defends his practice and monstrous unconcern for the well-being of his slaves (his practice being to exploit them to the utmost, calculating that it would lead the slaves to death, and to new expense from buying slaves, after a few years and inscribing this computation as a mere data in his books) with the words: “This is a free country.

You may find the same kind of situation elsewhere. I once scorned the Jesuits of Paraguay because they made their wooden statues ‘speak’ to the Indians through clever contrivances, but it makes no doubt in my mind that their Socialist form of government with Indians was much more humanitarian than the lay encomiendas of the time. Yet the encomenderos defended their prerogatives as the heritage of communal liberties, while the Jesuits were, before the king turned against them, the arm of central monarchy. For a long time, in the Middle Ages, government authority and coercion were grounded by theologians on the original sin and the resulting wicked nature of man.

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Contra EP (Evolutionary Psychology)

i

Several studies seeking to verify Devendra Singh’s result on a universal preference for waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of .7 could not confirm it. One was carried out in Peru and another in Tanzania among hunter-gatherers, whom EP claim are behavioral copies of our Pleistocene ancestors (although behavior of different groups of contemporary hunter-gatherers can vary greatly on many essential counts).

ii

In Adapting Minds (2006), David Buller shows convincingly that most of the main EP studies are based on sloppy reading of the data. For instance, Daly and Wilson (The Truth about Cinderella, 1998) amalgamate physical and sexual abuse (!), yet obviously sexual abuse by a stepfather is no confirmation whatever of their view that stepparents tend to be hostile to stepchildren because the latter are only an evolutionary cost to them. Reading the data attentively in fact disproves their view. Buller presents the alternative hypothesis that marriage offers mating opportunities rather than paternity certainty; in such a case evolution would not have selected an averse feeling toward stepchildren, which Daly & Wilson’s data do not even show. Buller also says social workers have a bias against stepparents when they fill child death certificates. So the data D&W examined, mostly from social services, in fact is biased against stepparents, and even then these data do not show the overrepresentation of abusive stepparents D&W claim to have found. Most likely, now, their work has reinforced, if possible, the social workers’ bias, and I have done the same here on my blog, as I followed on D&W’s steps, taking their conclusions with no grain of salt.

I might as well let Buller talk.

On anecdotal evidence from infanticide among mammals:

the discussion of infanticide-as-adaptation turns to be nothing but a red herring in the end.Daly and Wilson state the record straight‘Human beings are not like langurs or lions,’ they inform us. ‘We know that sexually selected infanticide is not a human adaptation because men, unlike male langurs and lions, do not routinely, efficiently dispose of their predecessors’ young. … Child abuse must therefore be considered a non-adaptive or maladaptive byproduct of the evolved psyche’s functional organization, rather than an adaptation in its own right. … All told, we see little reason to imagine that the average reproductive benefits of killing stepchildren would ever have outweighed the average costs enough to select for specifically infanticidal inclinations.’” (p.411)

On mating as paternity opportunity:

if a male can secure paternity opportunities from a female by providing care to her children, even if those children are the offspring of another male, the male enhances his chances of having children of his own and thereby transmitting his genes to future generations. So, another male’s child can make a contribution to a male’s fitness via the opportunities for paternity provided by that child’s mother in exchange for parental care provided to the child. The possibility of such fitness payoffs, however, means that we should not expect male psychology to be so unconditionally averse to investing in unrelated children.” (p.390) (Paternal care is primarily a mating effort and second a parenting effort: p.393)

iii

One of Satoshi Kanazawa’s main claims, and all the other EPs (hippies?) with him, is that high-status men have more sex partners than low-status men. Yet Kinsey has shown the exact opposite in his famous, pioneering surveys. Something happened in the mean time?

In fact, all this BS about high-status males being like gorillas males in gorilla harems is an atrocious regression of Western scholarship. A few decades ago, Darwinians used to talk of the “fertility of the unfit” (that’s the title of a book). There’s a Darwinian contradiction in terms in such a phrase (fertility, of course, means high fertility here), wich a Darwinian could not fail to see and yet they (eugenicists) fully endorsed the paradox. They saw something to which EP boys, with their gorilla model, are blind. What they saw, and what solves the contradiction, is homogamy. Call it unfitness homogamy, if you like.

The EP view of “powerful and famous” males is based on primatology and misleading.

1/ From the longitudinal Stanford Marshmallow experiment, we know that children high on self-restraint have high status later in life. How does it square with having more sex partners than people low on self-restraint?

2/ Polygamy tends to be in the form of serial marriage (powerful and famous men tend to have as a matter of fact several spouses serially, but the number of their affairs is gossip and, as a matter of fact again, unknown). (A view held, among others, by Robert Wright.)

3/ Traditional types of philanderers now make the news as rapists, à la Harvey Weinstein.

4/ Even the highest rates of cuckoldry known (30% in some working-class compounds –number of children whose biological father is another man unbeknownst to the man at home) do not support the view that high-status males have greater access to females. In fact, all these 30% “bastards” may have been sired by working-class neighbors for all we know. Also, Buller relevantly points that in countries where dowry exists the fact that wealthy men have more wives hardly supports the idea that this is a female preference.

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The Fertility of the Unfit, 1903, by Dr. William Chapple (New Zealand)

First thing to take into account is the unprecedented fact of demographic transition. Unknown in nature, human populations have started declining as goods became more widely available (whereas in nature populations decline due to adverse environmental factors). This is seen as a confirmation of the moral restraint check on fertility posited by Malthus beside the two “natural” checks, vice and misery. Quotes:

A rapid and continuous decline in the birth-rate of Northern and Western Europe, in contravention of all known biological and economic laws, has filled demographists with amazement.

Whereas: “The tendency in the races of history has been to over-population, or to population beyond the food supply

The very qualities, therefore, that make the social unit a law-abiding and useful citizen, who could and should raise the best progeny for the State, also enable him to limit his family, or escape the responsibility of family life altogether; while, on the other hand, the very qualities which make a man a social burden, a criminal, a pauper, or a drunkard –improvidence and defective inhibition– ensure that his fertility will be unrestrained, except by the checks of biological law.

If moral restraint with the consequent limitations of families is the peculiar characteristic of the best people in the state, and the absence of this characteristic expressing itself in normal fertility is peculiar to the worst people of the state, the future of the race may be divined

Vice and misery are more active checks amongst the very poor, and abortion is practised to a very considerable extent, but the appalling fact remains, that the birth-rate of the unfit goes on undisturbed, while the introduction of higher checks amongst the normal classes has led to a marked decline.

&, as another way of phrasing the above: “The defectives are more fertile than any other classes because of the very defect that makes them a danger to society. The defective restraint that allows them to commit offences against person and property, also allows their provocative impulse unrestrained activity.

Please note that the phenomenon, also described as “rise of the Criminal,” predates mass immigration.

Chapple also alludes to homogamy among the unfit “which their circumstances necessitate.

Last but not least, Chapple discusses mechanical contraceptives and considers that the least invasive technique is tubo-ligature, far preferable than vasectomy, as the latter “unsexes” males, leading to atrophy of the testes and impotence after some years. Ironically, today it is vasectomy that is more widespread (1 Englishman out of 5 is vasectomized, mark you). I have no doubt these vasectomies are practised on law-abiding citizens, according to their own will, as a moral restraint check on their fertility.

A consequence of demographic transition may be that marriage as paternity opportunity is now weak and that abuse of stepchildren has increased as a result (not as evolutionary adaptation)! Stepparent violence, if it’d be the result of demographic transition (stepparenting two kids from another bed entails a significant probability that the stepfather will have no kid of his own in a society characterized by the demographic transition, whereas it would have been no obstacle to siring a lot of children in the past), would be neither the result of evolutionary ADAPTATION nor, as in Daly & Wilson, a BYPRODUCT of evolution, a so-called “spandrel.”

World Premiere: Eric McLuhan says his say about subliminal messages

Many have wondered at the lack of acknowledged permissions for using the ads in both books [The Mechanical Bride and Culture Is Our Business]. The reason is that permissions were unnecessary: the ads were available for free. Editors at Vanguard had found a curious legal fiction. Advertisers were being given huge tax breaks on the grounds that they were engaged in a sort of educational enterprise, “educating the public” about products so that it might better make informed choices. The upshot is that anyone can make use of the (government-supported) ads for free providing they were not being used as ads, but as educational materials, for educative purposes. Needless to say, the agencies were reluctant to let these matters become known to the public.

This is the excerpt from Dr Eric McLuhan’s introduction to the 2014 edition of Culture Is Our Business by Marshall McLuhan (from Subliminal Junk XII here) concerning which I reached out to Eric McLuhan. This move has initiated an exchanges of emails between Eric McLuhan and me. Eric’s first four emails were published as Comments to Subliminal Junk XIII (here). I presently make an entry with these emails and two more, due to their importance. Here are they.

Eric McLuhan on Settee with Pet Dog Finnegan

Eric McLuhan on Settee with Pet Dog Finnegan

August 15

Dear Florent Boucharel,

Thank you for your intriguing letter. I was unable to access either of the links that you included, but never mind. It would have been interesting to see the sources you cite. The notion of “subliminal junk” rings a lot of bells here: I spent years investigating things subliminal and am something of an expert re the matter. However…

Let me say right off that I have no personal legal or legalistic expertise in the matter of copyright of ads. The publishers (Vanguard, for Mechanical Bride, and McGraw-Hill for Culture Is Our Business) gave my father freedom to use any ads he wished, and he did so, never once asking permission. Vanguard set the stage by doing the initial research–I assume it was done by their legal department. McGraw-Hill evidently took their word for it. We never heard of a single objection from any of the owners of any of the ads used in either book. Both publishers, by the way, are located in New York. The Bride never went on sale, but Culture Is Our Business did, and copies were sold outside the US, though I have no idea how many.

Lots of teachers use ads in their courses and I have no knowledge of any of them ever seeking permission to discuss an ad used in a class or classroom. Of course, there is a multitude of textbooks for teachers to use and hundreds of ads in them, but frankly I have never checked to see if permission was asked or given. I seem to recall that these books routinely list the sources of ads in their “Acknowledgements” section, as do art textbooks for the images that they use. But all of them are academic textbooks.

I am quite certain that it is safe to study ads in the classroom without permission; I assume, from past and present experience, that it is safe to provide students with copies of ads that are being studied in a classroom setting for academic purposes. The sole proviso would be that the ads are being used as specimens for academic scrutiny and not AS ads.

Regards,
Eric

*

August 16

Dear Florent,

Well! You are a devotee of Bill Key’s! I too was a fan if his when he put out the first three books, starting with Subliminal Seduction, and subsequently.

As I mentioned, I taught embedding techniques until recently–I retired a couple of years ago. Let me suggest a couple of things. One thing that damaged Key’s credibility was that he quickly became very sophisticated in his ability to detect subliminals; as it were, he was working at a post-doc level while his readers were still at the undergraduate level. I found the same problem: I could see things clearly that were still opaque to my students. So I had to tone it down, restrict my exhibits to the simplest and most obvious ones or I would lose them.

I’d suggest that you try something similar. In each of your reports, have several sections. Make the first a group of simple and easy examples, obvious things; the second, a little more subtle; and the third, the not-so-obvious group. And put headings on the groups.

Eventually, I began my class on subliminals (I used a carousel tray of 80 slides) with covers of Playboy magazines. Very effective: slightly naughty and caught everybody’s attention. Here’s the secret: since the first issue, Playboy has embedded their signature icon, the rabbit, somewhere in every single cover. They still do it. The homework assignment for that class was to visit a newsstand and examine the cover of the current issue and “find the rabbit.” Playboy covers are not only entertaining, but VERY useful as a training device.

You see, the Playboy artists use every single embedding technique several times over the course of a year or two of covers, with a lot of them repeated because after all there are not that many techniques–it’s a matter of theme and variation. But after scrutinizing 20-25 covers, the audience becomes quite expert in spotting the rabbit–and some of the covers are really clever embeds! THEN I hit them with a few ads, and they are often ahead of me. Seldom do I need to explain what is going on: the audience does it for me.

Even so, I begin with a few obvious ads, and then get progressively more subtle.

*

August 17

I have never written up the way that I taught subliminals using Playboy covers. I just did it, each year for a dozen or more. Actually, I think that my letter to you is the first time I have written anything about it. It was–and is–a very powerful means of teaching the subject. I’d suggest that you find somewhere a cache of covers, from the first issues to the present, and made a file of them. (When you do, I’d appreciate a copy!) They fall into a small number of groups if sorted by techniques, and exhibit a wide range of sophistication from simple to complex in each group. Actually, now that you mention it, it might be fun to put together a small book on the subject as an approach to ads and kindred items.

Playboy is a useful tool because their useage is all in the spirit of play and has no moral judgments attached or implied. Nearly everyone who writes on the topic, and I include Bill Key here, along with his detractors–nearly everyone feels compelled to work up moral indignation to a fever pitch. All of that is actually irrelevant. Try this: take any criticism text on subliminals and remove from it every vestige of moralism, and see what is left. It is quite the same with how people approach criticism of media. You are required to express a moral position. If you don’t, the assumption is that you approve of it. So in self-defence you must state whether you approve or disapprove. People want to know, right off, “is it a good thing or a bad thing?” The moment you tell them, they are relieved of the responsibility of examining the thing any further: they know now what and how to think. My father made a point of never giving his moral opinion of the things he examined so was widely accused of being an advocate. Except once. His first book on ads, The Mechanical Bride, included a lot of moral outlook. He learned from that experience and you will be hard pressed to find thereafter any similarly moralistic tone in his subsequent writings or his lectures. The second book on ads, Culture is Our Business, is entirely free of moralism. Along the same line, you might like to have a look at Wyndham Lewis’s essay, “The Greatest Satire is Non-Moral.” The non-moral approach pulls the teeth of the opposition.

My class on subliminals was part of a larger discussion of artistic techniques and ways of managing the attention and, just as importantly, crafting the inattention of the beholder. Consequently I never experienced opposition from faculty, though occasionally a student would object, either on moral grounds, or because he or she simply couldn’t see the things I was exhibiting. Every serious artist, whether poet or painter or sculptor, etc., spends at least as much time on the elements of inattention as on those things the beholder is to attend to. The language of figure and ground, which we use often in Laws of Media: The New Science, is well suited to these discussions. Ground is the area of inattention, the 95% area of any experience. Another word for it is “medium.” It provides the way of seeing whatever is figure. Ground is the mode of perception. Another word for the ground area is “style.” Ground is by definition the part that people are trained or induced to ignore, and they have great resistance to any incursions into their areas of ignorance. People will defend to the death their right to preserve their ignorance!

*

August 18

Here’s an idea of what I meant by a cache of covers: http://www.playboy.com/articles/playboy-covers-guide It does not include ALL of the covers for individual years, but gives quite enough to work with. Quite a number of sites will supply examples.

Of course, if you can find a box-full of actual mags, so much the better. But perhaps you know someone who can make digital copies of these for use as a display. (If you do, please send me a copy!)

If you go to the site above, look especially at the following (play “find the rabbit”):
1960 March, November
1961 March, April, July
1962 Feb., March, April, June, Aug., Dec.
1963 March, Aug.
1964 March, May, Dec.
1965 March, June, Oct., Nov., Dec.
1966 June, July, Nov., Dec.
1967 Feb., March, Nov.
1968 December

1970 May, July, Nov.
1971 April, Aug.
1972 March, April, June
1973 Feb., June, Aug., Oct.
1974 June, Nov.
1976 May, June,July, Aug.
1977 May, Nov….

But you get the idea. Look through the rest.
Occasionally, you’ll see white (rabbit-shaped) paper cutouts obscuring parts of anatomies–for the obvious reasons. Too titillating. Ignore the cutouts: they are not the embedded rabbits.
I have underlined several dates, above: these are particularly fine and challenging examples (1973, 1974, 1976). If they stump you, ask me.

Present company excepted, moral indignation generally takes the place of understanding. Try editing out the moralism from one of your own earlier fine posts and see what is left. I imagine it will be just fine, and harder-hitting. (The moralism component is one of the things that got Bill Key fired.)

Wyndham Lewis pointed out that if you criticize someone for being immoral, he and she can sort of snigger and joke that yes, they WERE being naughty, wink wink nudge nudge ha ha–that is, they can turn the criticism to account. Being banned-in-Boston does have a certain PR value. But if you satirize them/show them up instead as being stupid or ignorant or insensitive, why, there’s no PR value in that. You got ’em. All they can do is get angry, and that works against them.

The moral approach encourages somnambulism in your readers. I’m not sure that that is the response you wish to promote.

*

August 19

(…) Anyhow, you see why using a parade of Playboy covers makes a usful way to warm up an audience to presenting and examining some more sophisticated embedding in ads. The big difference between the covers and the ads, is that you are supposed to scrutinize the covers and to ignore the ads. And of course the covers are not intended to have an effect beyond that of enticing the beholder to buy the mag.

Incidentally, “ground” is a useful way to refer to embedding areas because the key to ground is that it is always configurational. In any situation there is the figure (the object of attention) or the procession of figures one at a time, and the con-figures, that is, all of the other potential figures assembled at once which is ground. In other words, the figure is by definition an artifact of the beholder’s attention. The figure area is sequential; the ground area, simultaneous.

*
August 20

My course was on perception, taught at a school for musicians and professional recording students. I devoted one or two classes to the topics we have been discussing. In that slide tray there were about 30 covers and the rest, about 50, had to do with ads.

*
My heartfelt thanks to Eric McLuhan.

…………….”It’s not your imagination”
Besides practising with Playboy covers as suggested by Eric McLuhan, you may benefit from these film posters that provide examples of figure-ground ambiguity as an artistic technique. Here the ambiguity is made obvious to produce a conscious effect.
premonitionShroomsposter
 cabinfever
 riseofthegargoyles
 thetownthatdreaded.
talesofhalloween
 .
crushtheskull
.
subskull
From top to bottom
1 Premonition (2007) by Mennan Yapo. The poster copy reads “It’s not your imagination.
2 Cabin Fever (2002) by Eli Roth.
3 Shrooms (2006) by Paddy Breathnach.
4 Poster to the French video release of Rise of the Gargoyles (2009), a Canadian television film by Bill Corcoran. The background is two or three different things at the same time. Two: the city and a hole leading outside an underground crypt. Three: The hole has the shape of a gargoyle’s head; it mirrors the head of the gargoyle figure. The mouth on the background reflection is the head of a man peeping into the dark well.
5 The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
6 Tales of Halloween (2015), collective.
7 Crush the Skull (2015) by Viet Nguyen.
8 Courtesy of Eric McLuhan: a slide from his class on subliminals.