Saturday, December 02, 2006

Will Stem Cell Research Lead to a Cure for Progressivism?

As anyone who’s read my book knows, there’s not much politics in it -- at least nothing explicit. Regarding economics, I can only think of a single paragraph. And yet, it’s probably all you need to know about economics. On page 149 it reads,

“For millennia -- until quite recently -- human beings struggled to rise above subsistence because of a stubborn inability to recognize how wealth is created. Certainly into the late 18th century, people mistakenly believed that there was simply a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that it was left to individuals and governments to fight over their share. Not until Adam Smith was it recognized that wealth can grow without limits, but obviously even now people have a hard time wrapping their minds around this idea.”

In my view, one of the central mechanisms that kept mankind in its rut of subsistence was the expression of constitutional envy. In past posts I have theorized that envy was actually selected by evolution because humans evolved in small groups where it functioned to create harmony between members. Humans were group animals long before they ever became individuals. Like an ant hill or bee hive, the group was the unit of survival, not the individual. Individuation is a very recent historical phenomenon, at least on any kind of widespread scale. It is accompanied by a new type of mental disturbance, the neurosis, which is a “private culture,” so to speak.

The further back in history you travel, the less individual neurosis you see. Instead, the whole group is nuts. But from the standpoint of the group, the “nut” is the one who will not or cannot conform to the crazy group -- like that decent Muslim who was kicked out of his mosque in Omaha last week for writing an editorial that was critical of Islam. To us, he is “sane,” but to his primitive co-religionists he is “crazy” or “evil.” You see similar phenomena in other primitive groups such as the progressive nutroots vis-à-vis their treatment of Joe Lieberman. Here was a fellow who had a near perfect liberal voting record, but he took one step outside the closed circle of the group mind, so he was banished.

To further quote myself -- I’m almost done -- “One of the things that makes the creation of wealth possible is the accumulation of surplus capital to invest, but here again, for most of human history this was quite difficult to accomplish because of envious mind parasites that could not tolerate the idea of one person possessing more than another.” Thus, envy “was one of the psychological barriers to material development that humans have struggled to overcome.” Everyone thinks that primitive groups were egalitarian and that all of their members got along beautifully. Actually, the opposite is true. Because of completely unregulated envy, individuals would rather part with their possessions than to live with the anxiety of the envious “evil eye” being directed at them. Thus, primitive groups are not envious because they are primitive, but primitive because they are envious.

Which brings up a fascinating irony about so-called progressives. Now, it is a truism that progressives are not just ignorant of economics, but that they confidently embrace and promulgate what can only be called economic innumeracy. Why is this? How can people be so confidently and yet demonstrably wrong?

Comes now an article forwarded to me by reader Brian that breaks it all down for One Cosmonauts. Entitled The Economy Revealed: Why Understanding Economics is Hard, the article reveals.... why understanding economics is hard. “It's not because of complexity. The rules of supply and demand aren't inherently more difficult to fathom than those that apply to, say, politics, or cooking, or sports. Yet while most people have no trouble wrapping their brains around these subjects... few have a similar appetite for economics.”

Cassell refers to a theory by anthropologist Alan Fiske, to the effect that the deep structure of human relations involves only four kinds of interactions which he calls 1) communal sharing, 2) equality matching, 3) authority ranking, and 4) market pricing:

“Communal sharing is how you treat your immediate family: All for one and one for all. Or as Marx put it: From each according to ability, to each according to need.

“Equality matching, by contrast, means we all take turns. From kindergarten to the town meeting, it's all about fair shares, reciprocity, doing your part.

“Authority ranking is how tribes function, not to mention armies, corporations and governments. Know your place, obey orders, and hail to the chief.

“Market pricing, of course, is the basis of economics. It's what we do whenever we weigh costs and benefits, trade up (or down), save or invest.”

Economic conflicts arise when one group or person is operating under a different type of interaction than another. For example, if you are a primitive progressive operating under the aegis of small group “communal sharing,” you may well believe that higher education, healthcare, housing, tattoos, tattoo removal, and gender reassignment surgery should all be granted to you by the government free of charge.

The problem -- as I touched on in my book -- is that the primitive progressive is operating under an economic theory that is not so much cognitive but genetic. In a way, it’s deeper than thought, since it was programmed into us for survival in small groups (obviously, natural selection did not anticipate a high tech, competitive, free market global economy). Thus, Fiske confirms my speculation that the logic of market pricing was a very late development which is not at all “hard wired” -- and even goes against our genetic programming.

Cassell agrees with me that this “makes sense. For hunter-gatherers in small bands, sharing, matching and ranking were probably as fundamental to survival as eating and breeding. But market pricing involves complex choices based on mathematical ratios.... Commerce and global trade, of course, require a finely honed version of the market-pricing model. But if humans developed this model relatively late, it might well be less than universal, even today.”

The money money quote:

"In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder."


In short, to cure yourself of progressivism -- or any other kind of atavistic primitivism -- you will have to grow and evolve. This is exactly the problem we are facing in the Islamic world, for if we cannot even lift our own tragically backward progressives out of economic magic and superstition, imagine the difficulty of doing so with an explicitly tribal and authoritarian mindset. Imagine flying over dailykos headquarters and dropping thousands of copies of the works of Friedman or Hayek. Would it help? Probably not. Genes are powerful things.

Brian emailed me a related article, Progressives Come Out! Against Progress! It basically reaffirms what I wrote in my book. The author used to think of freedom "as being something that people... naturally want, which accounts for my tendency to dismiss Marxism and socialism as abnormal systems which have to be imposed by external authorities (generally called 'the government') upon people who only desire to be Left Alone.” But Fiske’s theory accounts for the fact that “there might be people who find the idea of being left alone to be culturally repugnant.”

“Even now, the word ‘progressive’ is often used in praise of backward economic systems.... If we use the evolutionary model, I wonder whether the emotional appeal of Communism might have represented an evolutionary step backwards, repackaged rhetorically so that its proponents could pat themselves on the back and maintain they were moving forward.”

Ya think?

The author brings up the recent example of a student who had applied to MIT with a perfect SAT score of 2400. Nevertheless, an admissions expert was quoted as saying that “I am not convinced she's a shoo-in -- I'd want to see more evidence that she's giving back to the community."

The author acknowledges that the communal sharing mindset naturally has its place. "But to inject the idea of ‘giving back’ in the case of a person whose obvious merit has been earned is another example of human progress being attacked by backward thinking primitivism -- smugly masquerading as modern sophistication. Progressives who place primitive principles first tend to be consumed by childish notions of what is ‘fair’ -- which they cannot keep to themselves, but which they must project onto other people. In their minds, success in anything (even at math) means ‘taking’ from someone else.”

From there, it is but “a small step from saying that a person should ‘give back’ to saying that ‘we’ should ‘take it back’ from him.”

Yup, “If the most progressive people are those with a concept of market economics, one of the great tragedies of the modern age has been their systematic destruction by less progressive people who call themselves the most progressive.... I'm wondering whether there might be a basic, persistent inability to distinguish forward from backward. I used to think that ‘progressives’ imagined themselves to be forward in their thinking, but I'm now thinking that ‘scientific Marxism' might have been grounded in an unacknowledged need for primitivism.”

Would this explain how leftist economic theory functions as a sort of seductive door through which all sorts of other barbarisms rush in? To put the answer in the form of a bumper snicker, “Come for the egalitarianism, stay for the bestiality and tyranny.”


Anonymous said...

One thing about the communal emphasis of progressives is that it holds out the promise of a "safety net" to catch people who are having trouble getting subsistence and shelter; this is a great comfort to have.

Our culture is so cold; lose your money, sleep under a bridge...even the most primitive societies are more pleasant to live in than this one in that regard.

There should be a guaranteed job for everyone who wants one. There should be healthcare for everyone, regardless of income.

If our economic system can't accomodate these reasonable goals, then it aint where it should be yet, no matter how much "wealth" it creates.

Nobody is wealthy until everyone is healthy. If you can't dig that, then you belong in your diseased culture. You're adapted to it, and you're welcome to it. Just don't expect everyone to like it.

Anonymous said...

The cosmology of losers and the gospel of envy. The genes have spoken!

Anonymous said...

Or, progressive economics in two easy steps:

1. Assume wealth

2. Redistribute

Stephen Macdonald said...

I hate to do this, but I'm gonna cut and paste a comment from the last thread. It's just because I have a genuine good-faith question that I'm sure Bob has covered, but I can't find it:

Can someone please help me by pointing me to where Bob deals with the concept of a multiverse?

I understand the idea that we live in a universe which seems to have been created due to the exquisite tuning of the basic physical parameters. (BTW, Bob, in the book you say that the number 1x10^123 has more DIGITS than there are protons in the universe--this is of course a misprint as this number contains 124 digits when written out "longhand". I presume you meant that this number itself--rather than the number of digits in its representation--is greater than the number of protons). However I'm also aware that some have postulated that an infinity of universes exists at once, comprising all possible states of matter/energy which have a non-zero probability of existence. The the "anthropic principle" would make sense since we would indeed only be able to muse on the unlikeliness of our life-sustaining universe since we happen to be in that particular one. The vast majority of universes would be lifeless, have different natural laws, etc.

This whole line of reasoning raises bizarre issues, and I'm sure there are angles I just haven't considered. So where does Bob deal with this?


Anonymous said...


Try the posts from February 13 & 14th 2006.

Stephen Macdonald said...



Off I go...

Anonymous said...

Excellent explaination of regressives Bob.
No matter how many times it's tried, socialism always appeals to the envy in people and in the end, weakens a society to the point of extinction.

Anonymous said...

Hey troll,

"Our culture is so cold; lose your money, sleep under a bridge...even the most primitive societies are more pleasant to live in than this one in that regard."

My take is that the above statement speaks more to the attitude of your immediate family than it does the society in general.

Anonymous said...

More adventures of US Ben of the USN:

"This is the storeroom, where we keep the canned and dry goods, basically anything that doesn't require refrigeration," said the Chief, constantly moving and pausing only long enough to sip some java, or to point something out.

"Over here is where we keep the refrigerated stores," Chief said, as we entered through a big metal door.
"We have veggies, fruit, eggs, instant liquid eggs, ha! ha! ha! Well, that's what the call it anyway. Milk, cheese, butter... and through here... is the freezer.

This is where we keep the meat, and bread," he said.
"Any quesions?" He asked.

No Chief," I said.

"Good. Better go eat breakfast, before we open for business," he said, as we made our way up, out of the stomach of the ship.

Later near the end of the day, the Chief finds me swabbing the decks. My last duty before the inspection by the Chief or Supply Officer. It was 1830 (6:30pm), and I was looking forward to some liberty.

Maybe see some more of Long Beach.

"Conrad, we need to talk," said the Chief. "Tomorrow, I need you to report to MS3 Davis, at 0500.

Davis is the wardroom cook, and his help got discharged today," he said.

"Where is the wardroom, Chief?" I asked. "Johnson!" Shouted the Chief.

"Show Conrad where the wardroom is before you know-off for the day," he said.

After the inspection, which we passed the first time, :^) Seaman (SN) Johnson showed me where the wardroom and wardroom galley was.

"How did you get this job?," asked SN Johnson, "You just got here."

"The Chief just told me about it," I said.

"Yeah, I know, but how did you get it? This is the best and easiest job available, and only mess cooks that have been here awhile get it," said Johnson, not looking happy.

"I've been here 2 months, and you only been here a day. There must be some reason why the Chief picked you," he said.

"I really don't know," I said. "I didn't even know about the job."

"Man, you bullsh*tting me, Conrad!," said an obviously angry Johnson "I was supposed to get this job, not you!," he said, stepping closer.

"Well, I don't..." I began to say.

"Just shut up and stay the hell away from me man!," said Johnson, "You better watch your back!," he said, as he stomped off.

Terrific, I thought. What was that about? I already made an enemy, and I didn't know why. And what is so great about my new job?

Might as well look around, I thought. The Cook, MS3 Davis (Mess Specialist Third Class) was nowhere to be seen. The galley was small compared to the Chief's galley. I was a bit apprehensive concerning the new job. I was just beginning to like the Chief.
Hopefully MS3 Davis will turn out to be a nice guy, I hoped.

Down to the quarterdeck I went, to sign the wake-up log. O430. Ought to give me plenty of time to get ready. extra hour of sleep!

At 0430, sharp, the Messenger woke me up. After getting ready, and shining my boots, I hurried up to the wardroom galley. I saw MS3 Davis getting the galley ready for breakfast.

"Petty Officer Davis?," I asked. "I'm Ben Conrad. The Chief told me to report to you."

"You aren't the replacement I asked for!," said Davis, looking puzzled. "I asked for Johnson." Are you sure the Chief sent you here?," he asked.

"Yes, the Chief sent me," I said.

"Did he tell you why?," asked Davis.

"No. I have no idea why the Chief sent me," I said.

"Ok, uhh, start cleaning the Officer staterooms, and take any clothes they leave out to the ships laundry.
Over here", he said, walking out into the passageway and aft one door, "Is the cleaning supplies and sink.
After breakfast I'm going to talk to the Chief, so expect to be back working the crew's mess decks.
I have alot of pull with the Chief," he said, matter-of-factly.

I wasn't impressed with Davis, but Johnson's anger was made more sense now. Davis knew him, and requested him. So... why did Chief send me? I pondered. Well, mine is not to question why, Mine is just to do or die, I thought.

"Who are you?," someone behind me asked. I turned around to see an Officer and snapped to attention!

"Seaman Apprentice Conrad, Sir!," I said enthusiastically. Officers liked that, and although I didn't always feel enthusiatic, I had learned to make it seem that I was. Besides, it wasn't about feelings.
I noticed the 2 silver bars on his collar, which told me I was speaking to a lieutenant (LT).

"What are you doing in my stateroom?," asked the LT. "I'm cleaning it Sir. I work for Petty Officer Davis. Chief Cook sent me," I said, but not for long, I thought.

"OK, but don't mess with my desk. Don't move anythng on my desk and don't touch it. I will clean the desk area," the LT said. "Understood?," he asked.

"Aye, aye Sir!" I said with confidence.

"Repeat it for me," said LT.

"Excuse me Sir?," I said, puzzled.

"Repeat what I told you," the exasperated LT said very slowly, like I was a moron.

"Don't move the papers on your desk, and don't touch your desk," I replied curtly.

"Very well. Carry on!," said the LT as he continued down the passageway.

Aye, Aye LT. A$$hole, I thought.

A few minutes later Petty Officer Davis returns, and he looks pissed, as he storms into the galley! Close behind was Chief Cook, also looking pissed! "Petty Officer Davis!" The Chief's deep baritone voice boomed. I could feel the vibrations, seriously.

"What?," said Davis, like a petulant teenager.
The Chief's voice lowered, but I could still hear him, as he said "Don't you ever turn your back on me and walk away when I'm talking to you, or I'll see that your busted to Seaman! IS...THAT...CLEAR?!"

"Yes sir," said Davis.

"Don't call me sir, I work for a living, son!," the Chief said, getting angrier.

"Yes, Chief. But why...?," Davis began to ask.

"I told you," said the Chief, "Johnson goofs off every chance he gets. He takes 30 minute head calls. You and Johnson are tight, and when he is around YOU goof off! Conrad doesn't have that defect, and he's staying. Is that clear?!" Said th Chief, clearly out of patience.

By now, some of the Officers were peeking out of their staterooms to see what the hubub was.
"Yes Chief," said Davis, with a less than respectful tone.

Now I knew the scuttlebutt (what's going on or gossip sometimes). But why did the Chief choose me? He didn't know much about me. As I grew in rank, and became more people-savvy, I would understand.

The Chief left, giving me a thumbs up as he glanced my way, and whispered, "Let me know if Davis gives you a hard time. You have alot of potential in you, Conrad. Do your best, that's all I ask."

I straightened up even more than I was.

"Aye Aye, Chief!," said I, feeling the enthusiasm!
At that moment, I silently vowed not to let the Chief down.

The Chief turned to leave, stopped for a moment, and said, "Outstanding shine on the boots!"

"Thanks, Chief," I said, feeling good about myself.

At 1600 (4 pm), Petty Officer Davis appears, with SN Johnson behind him. Both are glaring at me, as Davis says, "As soon as your finished, you can go."
"What about dinner?" I asked.

"I don't serve the Officers dinner, while in port, unless the Captain tells me to," he said.

"Are you going out tonight, Con-rad?," Davis snarkily asked.

"Maybe," I said, "I'm not sure yet."

"Well maybe we will run into you later!," said Johnson, smirking.

"Look, I don't want any trouble, guys," I said, looking straight at Davis... I just want to do my job. I didn't ask for this," I continued.

Davis just shook his head and turned to leave.
Johnson stepped closer and said, in a low voice, "Whatcha goin' to do? Go cry to the Chief? F*ck you Conrad! You're nothing but a g*ddamn sissy cracker! "I'll be seeing you real soon!"

I just stood there, clenching my fists and clenching my teeth! Seething!

This isn't the time or place, I thought. I was trying to think of a good comeback line, but my anger clouded my wit. All I could manage was a "Fine!"

The gauntlet was thown, and the challenge (threat, really) was issued. Johnson wasn't about to drop this. I wasn't sure how far Davis would go. I resolved to stand my ground, staring Johnson in the eyes.

"C'mon, Larry! We're gonna be late!" Said Davis.

Johnson pointed to me, then to himself, and shook his fist in my face, before turning to follow Davis. It took all my will power not to deck him!

As I turned to finish my work, on the Captain's cabin, I saw the Captain moving through the hatch and before he entered his stateroom, I shouted, "Attention on deck!" (Which is what you do when a Captain (or higher ranks) is in the area.)

"At ease," said the Captain.

"You about finished...Conrad is it?," the Captain asked, looking at my name.

"Yes Sir! I just have to swab the deck and I'm finished," I said.

The Captain looked around his Cabin, checking for dust.

"No dust bunnies. Good, I hate dust bunnies. Looks four-o (derived from 4.0 grade), Conrad. Don't bother with the deck... Later this week, on thursday, the Commodore will be here. Make sure all the decks are stripped and waxed, and the brass polished, OK?"

"Aye Aye Sir!," I said

"Very good. Have a goodnight Conrad," said the Captain.

"Thank you Captain. You too... Captain.. .Sir... goodnight Sir!"

Damn! I was stuttering!

"Relax son," the Captain softly laughed, putting me at ease, as he entered his cabin.

The Commodore, here? I thought, feeling a bit overwhelmed. In 2 days?

I decided against liberty. I needed every hour I could squeeze in to get the waxing done right.

This place was going to sparkle!

Anonymous said...

Troll - I can point to specific examples within my immediate family who have either lost what little they had, or never managed to earn anything to start with, and yet somehow they still manage to obtain shelter, food and clothing, and even expensive Christmas presents for their kids. For most people, it is as simple as walking into the local social services department, or any number of shelters. There are job placement programs and even life skills classes, for those who really wish to make improvements in their lives. This society has so many safety nets that usually you have to actually try hard to fall through them and hit rock bottom. Some people, and again I'm speaking from personal acquaintance, actually do that. (And yes, of course there are exceptions.)

Anonymous said...

Troll says:
"Our culture is so cold; lose your money sleep under a bridge...
So, Troll? How often have you lost your money?
Were you ever thankful for that bridge?
Maybe you should give up gambling, ya think?
You do know you don't have to sleep under the bridge, right?
If you're so concerned about a safety-net for those poor souls that lost their money gambling, you can put your money where yor mouth is (unless you lost it again) and sell yor computer to help out the trolls sleeping under the bridge.
Hey, at least you don't have to spring for the needles, they are free, thanks to regressives like you!

Troll said-"...even the most primitive societies are more pleasant to live in."

Better hurry up and move there Sudan, before it gets too pleasant to bear.
Somalia is another pleasantly primitive society that you just have to experience to believe (unless you lost your money again)!
Or you can move to a less primitive society, such as France, before they go bankrupt.
France is known for its state-of-the art healthcare you know, and fast and courteous service (ooh la la).

Stephen Macdonald said...

This article:

still has me very confused. I don't know whether it is something to be taken seriously or not. If it does describe possible states of reality then how does this affect our understanding of THIS universe and our place in it?

Also the article talks about infinite space and matter, which I thought were not possible, at least in this universe.

It's from Scientific American so I at least give them some credence, although they too have jumped onto the Climate Change bandwagon so who knows.

I still don't see how this multiverse thing fails to undermine at least some of the positions put forth as evidence for a created universe. I expect that someone will step up and point out some obvious point I've missed, or show how this whole thing is off base.

For now though, if I was purely interested in trying to support the so-called "weak anthropic principle" I would be using the whole multiverse/parallel universe thing to do it.

Anonymous said...

Ben - you really are a great storyteller. I can't wait to see where this is going...

Anonymous said...

US Ben?
Why I oughta lose my money and sleep under a bridge!
I get no respect I tell you.
Maybe I should take a vacation at the primitive (but pleasant) Barbary Coast!
Ba da dum! :^)
Thank you, thank you very much Bob!

Anonymous said...


"One thing about the communal emphasis of progressives is that it holds out the promise of a "safety net" to catch people who are having trouble getting subsistence and shelter; this is a great comfort to have."

Oh, really????

When was the last time you took in the equality that exists in those progressive countries that occur all over tribal Africa and Asia?

You probably haven't, except in your deepest wishes. In fact, there are the powerful, who control almost all of the wealth and then there are the rest, who live under bridges and without even the semblance of a "safety net."

ximeze said...

Probably shouldn't do this, but I'm still feeling pissy.

Early Mornin Troll said:
"Our culture is so cold; lose your money, sleep under a bridge...even the most primitive societies are more pleasant to live in than this one in that regard".

Only someone totally ignorant of what life is really like in those primitive societies would say something so imbecilic. Troll watches too many PBS shows about the glory of men being one with nature, and believes what is spoon fed.

Yea, it's really great to barely scratch out survival with backbreaking work, to have a body full of parasites from bathing in the river, to have to eat bugs & drink the blood of your livestock (while keeping them alive) because you these are your only sources of protein, and on and on.

Troll: get an education & a clue!
No doubt you like to sit around with likeminded fools & pontificate on these subjects - none of you having ever LIVED that kind of life. You think it's so rosy when you see it on the screen, safely tucked away in the First World, protected by the buffer of our surplus society, by chlorinated water which keeps you from having worms in you gut, taking for granted our abundance that permits you to make the choice to be "above" eating meat, and on and on.

Oooh, people so stupid make me want to SCREAM! Get your butt down to those places - you have plenty of choice locations, just about anywhere in most of the world - try it & see how you like it. And no cheating: you can't take advantage in any way of being a rich First Worlder, no water purifying tablets, no bottled vitamines, no beef jerky or other snacks, no deworming pills (and on and on) since you dispise the bounty handed you thru no effort of your own. Keep a diary & let us know how often you feel like singing Kumbaya. Oh, and don't forget to record the moment you decide to swap places with one of the natives, to stay there & live that way for the rest of your life.

Those people sleeping under the bridge, who have something solid to sleep under, made choices in their lives. Choices have consequences. Choose poorly repeatedly, refuse to do what's needed to change your life, choose to reject all the free stuff in the First World: choose to sleep under a bridge.

Anonymous said...

Thank you JulieC.
BTW, it's US Ben now, thanks to Bob (probably Petey, but he will blame poor Bob).
I think he was trying for USS Ben, which would've been cool but hey, Bob is my safety net (metaphysically speaking, of course).
Besides, this could be an alternate and/or parallel universal (multiversal?) Bob.
Which means I have a ship-load of safety nets!
I was one S away from cool.
I coulda been a contender!
The Cosmic Racoons will be ribbin' me for years over this.

Anonymous said...

Well said.
You forgot about the killer elephants.
And snakes (on a plane!).
And the primitive Muslim natives, with their pleasant cutlery, living off the land, and stupid regressives.

Big shout out to Beaky!

Anonymous said...

To rebut George and others who point out that primitive societies are not pleasant places--that's not the point.

In those societies, EVERYONE is equally miserable. That I wouldn't mind. What I don't like is me being miserable while other people around are not. That's really demoralizing.

A note for you, Smoov:

Don't try to get any serious metaphysical questions answered here. Bob occasionally seems to talk a good game but he's short on the details.

Some poor schmuck last week wanted Bob to say more about "levels of reality below the material."
She never got any answer from Bob--he just changed the subject.

Gee, I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from Senator Hillary Clinton, which should get more play. It directly relates to your topic, Bob:

“Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Anonymous said...

"What I don't like is me being miserable while other people around are not. That's really demoralizing."

A little EMT: I'm sure it is. But what is the connection to what others have? If you had exactly what certain others have can you know you'd be happier? Look elsewhere for the variable.

Try some scientific non-materialism.

Here's where the strands of the Bobistic approach come together. Until people get a handhold on escape from compulsive fear and envy and flawed internal object relations (enter the Vertical revelations and disciplines), misery and the resulting self- and other-directed violence are inevitable. Honest-to-Jötnar, I can't keep you from the pain of envying anyone, even if I tax/steal all their goods and give them to you.

Maybe you want love, and respect, and human concern. Well, start offering those things in however small increments to "other people around" in your world, including those not progressive enough to suit you, and see what happens to the demoralization.

And as to the deprivation, please stop tormenting yourself with the fantasy of a primitive culture where people (outside of blood ties) gaily share scarce goods. I'd rather cower in a Texas strip mall, needing help, than in some outpost in the Amazon basin. Good Samaritans abound, but not like, or where, you think.

Incidentally, some trolls choose to live under bridges. In early lore, they hated human happiness and just wanted to destroy. Surely that's not you, in the guise of "taking care of others."

Ask yourself whether it is possible that the world is not what you think it is, nor the remedies.

Anonymous said...

You are in luck!
Most Muslims are miserable too.
And they, like you, want everone else to be miserable, actually even more miserable (or dead).
You can unite with them under the cause
of common misery.
Sort of like communism, except bigger on the misery.
Your utopia does exist!
Sorry, Troll, I don't mean to offend you with my joy.
I can't help it.
Just like Granny (on the Beverly Hillbillies):
I got the joy, joy, joy, joy,
down in my heart,
down in my heart,
down in my heart...
That's a Cosmic Racoon favorite, btw.
Especially while Bobin' for clams.
No, I can't do the bitter misery schtick, even if your dreams of a totalitarian socialist nanny state misery do come true.
The truth is you'll still be bummed out, losing your mone, and I will still have the joy, joy, joy, etc.!

Anonymous said...

Troll said:

"In those societies, EVERYONE is equally miserable. That I wouldn't mind. What I don't like is me being miserable while other people around are not. That's really demoralizing."


You don't even realize what misery is. Your misery is self induced, not the fault of anyone else or the environment. You have the choice to GET OUT of your misery. It's all contained in the envious brain between your ears.

I'd be willing to make a bet that 98% of the people living in 3rd world squalor have a better attitude than do you and they have no hope. Even the people under a bridge in this country probably have more gratitude.

Quit yer whinin" and get a clue!

Stephen Macdonald said...

Does anyone have anything to say about the multiverse issue?

If the Scientific American article has any basis in reality then all possible universes exist at once (or sequentially I suppose, in a never-ending series of Big Bangs). It seems to me that this possibility undermines the basis of the argument that our universe is specially designed for life and consciousness.

From the post that Petey referred me to I got from Bob the notion that these parallel "realities" must be unified at some higher level, though I don't see how this necessarily applies in the case of an infinite series of universes...

Again, according to the Sci Am article there is nothing in current cosmological theory which prevents this sort of thing.

Somebody somewhere must have reflected on this stuff from a theological perspective, no?

Gagdad Bob said...


Don't worry about it. It is of no consequence. It is just an interesting property of mathematics, not reality -- much less metaphysics, much less principial truth, much less being, much less beyond-being.

Stephen Macdonald said...


Thanks. I'll continue on with the rest of the book now.

Anonymous said...

In our society, you have to constantly worry about where your money is coming from and whether you'll have enough to live on or not.

This is really annoying. Can't anyone come up with a system where everyone is automatically covered so we can all just relax and focus on productivity and art? Ideas, anyone?

We don't need this nose-to-the-grindstone mind-set anymore; lets just let it drop. The farmers raise huge quantities of food, and everything else is just smoke and mirrors. So what's the holdup?
Just grow and distribute the damn food already.

Anonymous said...

You could always turn one or two additional tricks a month. That will simultaneously increase both your productivity and your art.

ximeze said...

Troll Girl

Are you this morning's imbecile or a different one?

Good Lord, Barbie has landed!

Anonymous said...

Troll girl,

Fidel may have a slot for you.
Just hope he doesn't pick you to be one of the farmers. ;)

PSGInfinity said...


"Some poor schmuck last week wanted Bob to say more about "levels of reality below the material."
She never got any answer from Bob--he just changed the subject.

Gee, I wonder why?"

Creativity: yet another concept you have little understanding of. Bob has repeatedly said that his muse comes and goes, and where it goes, he follows. Everyone who's dealt with creative people knows that's the way they are. We endure that quirkiness to enjoy the worlds they bring us.

Anonymous said...

Cousin Dupree:
RE: Your remark to troll girl:

I must remember to abstain from beverages (in this case beer, and no, it wasn't a case of beer) when I read Cousin Dupree's remarks (Bob, Petey and you Bobbleheads out there also may have this effect), else I experience an uncontrollable urge to laugh hysterically, causing the beverage (beer) to erupt through the mouth and nose.
Have you ever experienced carbonated beer through your nose?
Well, look who I'm asking.
Of course you have.
I shall be prepared to resist your Cosmic Raccoon mind tricks next time.
Or at least remember to not drink beverages while reading at One Cosmos. Heh!

And this unintentionally funny line by troll girl is an apt description of the problem:
"This is really annoying."
That would be a perfect epithet on any leftist gravestone.
You just can't make stuff like that up.
Oh the Horror! The humanity! It was really annoying. Heh!

Cousin Dupree's remark is an instant classic, which has juxtapositioned the alternate multiverses of Bobs.
Which adds that S I needed to complete my journey to cool, and beingond.
USS Ben is now comissioned.
It was Bob's idea, but it took the other Bob's to bring that missing S into existance.
What that means, I'm not certain of yet.

Anonymous said...

I found this site a short while ago; but only in the last few days have I read it closely.

This post is the first time I have seen these ideas set out like this.
I do not care if this is a rehash; I find it very thought provoking (and mostly new to me).

Thanks for posting it, Gagdad Bob.

Anonymous said...

Muse or no Muse, Bob is always aMusing!
Ha ha!
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
I blame President Bush.
And I question the timing.

PSGInfinity said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PSGInfinity said...


"There should be a guaranteed job for everyone who wants one. There should be healthcare for everyone, regardless of income."

Q: Why?

Q: What right do you have to impose an adolpetulant wish upon the adults of this world?

Q: By what right do you ignore the misery that enforced 'equality' has inflicted around the world, and down through histroy?

Q: By what right do you assume that wealth can't be destroyed?
...Or that you have a right to redistribute it?

ximeze said...


Congratulations on being comissioned. I'm bet you were christened with a bottle of brew broken across your bow - or is on your hull - or whatever.

In the morning I'll have to scrounge a recording of that Piping The Captain On Board whistle thing. Beaky, who has wanted to be a sailor's companion since she saw it in a movie (and confirmed on the internet) is really excited to learn it. She is really into Military Monitoring, ham radio & has memorized a call sign in morse code (whistles it).

Once she has it down, we can pipe you on board. Let me know the fine points of proper procedure, wouldn't want her to break any regulations.

Anonymous said...

Psginfinity says of Bob:

"Creativity: yet another concept you have little understanding of. Bob has repeatedly said that his muse comes and goes, and where it goes, he follows. Everyone who's dealt with creative people knows that's the way they are. We endure that quirkiness to enjoy the worlds they bring us."

Or, is creativity the last refuge of a blog-scoundrel who's mouth wrote checks his brain couldn't cash? Call me cynical--I'll go with option #2

Anonymous said...

You know, I should really stopped being amazed by now, but I can't help it.

EMTroll & Troll Girl, you actually typed your comments, which essentially boiled down to "wahhh!!! Life is hard and I don't like it. Why can't there just be an easy button to magically make everybody lazy and happy? It's not fair!" and hit "publish" knowing that people would read those words. How can you not see how infantile those ideas are?

Seriously, if you haven't figured out that the only way humans - whether as individuals or as a culture - can be inspired to rise above mere bestiality to something greater than simple humanity is by facing and overcoming challenges, perhaps you should go back to kindergarten and start over. Whether you like hardship or not is irrelevent. It is fact, and no amount of whining will change it.

If such a golden utopia as you long for were ever achieved, where nobody had to work to earn anything, every need was met and nobody was better than anybody else, humanity would cease to evolve, and would instead stagnate, soften and stupify into something less human than livestock, and with less purpose. Show me a perfect society, and I will show you a society that is completely incompatible with human existence. Life is a challenge, and each of us is given options about how to deal with that challenge. Some choices are better than others, and many people will fail. Some challenges are seemingly insurmountable - flight, for example. Who could have imagined that these hairless apes, who spend so much time squabbling over food and land and faith, would ever manage to touch the heavens? Yet over the millenia, men have dreamed of doing just that. Impossible. And today, we regularly fly to any place in the globe, and spend more time worrying about the annoyance than wondering at the miracle of it all. Do you honestly think that if the Wright Brothers had never had to work for anything, if they had never had to persevere in the face of difficulty or work to support themselves, or risk losing everything they had worked so hard to achieve, they would have had what it took to struggle through and lift that first fragile craft off the ground?

If I thought the way you did, I wouldn't even have the nerve to get out of bed in the mornings for fear that I might have to do something hard or boring or not fun.

What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Attention all dissenters of this blog:

The commentator called "Cousin Dupree" is really an alter-ego that allows Bob to reveal his truly base and venemous nature at one remove.

Bob is no gentleman, that is certain.

Anonymous said...

Bob's a perfect gentleman! Cousin Dupree, if you will note the main page, is a known ruse, but unpredictable. Bob is a writer using his imagination to amuse and entertain the bobbleheads when the quality of trolls wanes to a pathetically thin crescent of moonbattiness.

And, it wouldn't be the first time in the "real world" that progressives love so much that some young, prating princess ran into a rough guy who wasn't impressed with her teenage arrogance. Sometimes, it's good to remember that the things you say can actually invite just the sort of response received, even if it's just literary devices of a character.If it stung, then run home to mama and tell her about the bad, bad man. She'll ask you just where you've been playing...

'coz you can keep on saying stupid things, or being indignantly righteous, but Cousin Dupree won't change a bit. Ever. Never. So, if you're gonna play at his house, learn not to say silly things, else he may just say something shocking. Or at least learn not to cry when he does.

That's just the way he rolls.

Anonymous said...

The "whistle thingy" is officially known as the Boatswains (pronounce Bosuns) Whistle (aka pipe or flute).
The whistle was has it's origins in the ancient Greek and Roman Navies, and was used to pass command signals.
The high pitched frequency of the whistle could be heard all over the ship, eveen during high winds and storms, where voices could not.

The Bosuns Whistle was first used by the Britsh Navy during the 13th century Crusades.

Only the Boatswains Mate is allowed to use the Boatswains Whistle (BW).
Why is that? Because the sailors were a suspicious lot.
Only those who mastered the BW were allowed to use it at sea, because they believed that an amateur would unknowingly whistle for an ill wind.
Thus the Boatswains Mates were charged with its use, and those who mastered it passed along the trade to the younger Bosun Mates.
Today, the US Navy still uses the BW, for commands, Chowtime, reveille, ceremony, tattoo (to announce 5 min. before taps), sweepers, etc..
Each command or signal has it's own unique tune.
Today, words are also used after the BW is played, but not always.
There is also a black lanyard that the Boatswain Mates make for the whistle, using Boatswain knots.
I'm not an expert concerning BW's, but you can get alot more info through search engines.
Oh, and you can get them for as cheap as $20 bucks.
You can also hear recordings at many sites.
I hear the are as hard to master as a musical instrument, but I don't know if that's true.
At any rate, they are difficult to learn, and very few Bosun Mates (we called them "Boats" for short) learn to master them.
I hope that helps.
I'm sure Beaky would like to learn the songs. :^)

Excellent points and a motivating comment!

Anonymous said...

Why the sudden influx of weak, depressive, moronic, clueless and lazy troll-girl(s)? Did the site get linked to a high school "progressives" club for a class project?

Anonymous said...

Smack: that's a pretty good guess. If it were a college coterie, they'd have used bigger words, scare-quotes, and maybe a trotted-out social theorem fresh from the addled pate of the tenured dean of the Women's Studies department.

Van Harvey said...

Joan of Arghh! said..."Cousin Dupree, if you will note the main page, is a known ruse"
What! Not a real Person! My world! My Ideals! All... GONE!!! Wahh... oh, wait a minute, I already knew that. Got to be careful about paying attention to these progressive types, they can really rock your world with their insights.

Uss Ben, yep, learned that nose trick the hardway too. Between Bob, Cousin and many of we bobbleheads humor, and and most trolls attempts at seriousness ("There should be a guaranteed job for everyone who wants one..." Priceless Parody!) , you always run the risk of powerwashing the ol' nasal cavity by reading & drinking at One Cosmos.

I'm wasting away working all weekend again, had a great (by St.Louis standards) snowstorm & had to work anyway (Darn the internet!). Suffering from a serious lack of Slack - peeping in, usually at 1:00a.m., promises pleasant dreams though, courtesy of Gagdad and the Bobbleheads!

Anonymous said...

Uh, Van... what are you on about, me being progressive? Do I have to point you to the troll post above mine for context? Sheesh. Go back to work.

Van Harvey said...

Joan!!! No, not you! One of those multiverses out there swiped what I meant to type & we got the leftovers... sheesh.
Got to read between the multiverses... yeah, yeah... back to work.
It's a cold world that lets people typo to friends... there should be a law! Free Eloquence for ALL! ... yeah, yeah... back to work...

Anonymous said...

Time for a bit of the ole rantin' and ravin'...

[Zero-dark-thirty] Troll attack spewed:

"In those societies, EVERYONE is equally miserable. That I wouldn't mind."

Actually everyone is not equally miserable. Is Hugo Chavez as equally miserable as many of his citizens? I think not!

So long as misery is equally distributed, you are fine with it?

How about smallpox outbreaks? Maybe the black plague?

Or perhaps the 20th century plagues of Facism and Communism? (See: "The Black Book of Communism")

Is this because it equates to some projected sense of "balance" or fair play in misery?

If you don't mind, then why do you live here? Move there, instead of sitting on your flabby Starbuck's Chai Tea (redundant) fanny, using your electronic shovel to insist we'd all be better off, if we could only see the light of progressivism and be codependant to an idealized state of misery!

Gag me with a Hammer and Sickle!

"What I don't like is me being miserable while other people around are not. That's really demoralizing."

As Bruce Willis said in "Die Hard".. "Welcome to the Party Pal"

Now we're gettin' somewhere!

Mistake: The rest of us don't like misery either. (Except for the mentally deranged ones.) -To think the rest of us don't face garbage and aren't hatin' it too is immature.

It seems to me, you displace your misery by associating with an idealized "other" -the poor (but in balance with all things being miserable) 3rd worlder?

Misery is fine so long as it is "fair" misery. Ugh, kaff, hack..

Thats pretty pathetic if you think about it.

Rather than an idealized utopia, we are ostensibly to accept an idealized misery as being an acceptable state, perhaps because at least this is "fair"?

Dengue fever is great, so long as we all have it?

Or perhaps Malaria! But only welcome if everyone is failing in health, and can't support their family.

Perhaps because mental midgets like Rachael Carson think DDT is aerosolized evil capitalism? (..causing the deaths of over 2 million people by her actions) -

But Damn! Her intentions were just so "right on maaan."


Guaranteed work, and guaranteed healthcare are in the constitution of the now defunct Soviet Union, not in the constitution of the United States. -Although the socialist utopians are happy to try to make it so, at the expense of all. More distributed misery.

Marx and Lenin live on in the minds of the miserable?

"Nobody is wealthy, until everyone is healthy."

-This sounds nearly as bad as someone's campaign that rhymes somewhat with "contrive". Nice marketing ring to it.

But it is begging the typical societal question then...

"Who gets to decide what 'healthy' is, and means?"

In the Soviet Union, anti-social or anti-government behavior was treated often as a mental disorder. How "unhealthy" it was to disagree with the state. (Even more unhealthy to be sent into the Gulag.)

Is this what you advocate here? Or perhaps the "Psychosis Lite" version known as "Political Correctness" -where nobody should offend some uninvolved third party who makes it their life's mission to be offended by other people?

The problem with the thesis of "progressivism" -read: socialism = communism, is that it is emotion / greed / selfish based nonsense. -All frosted over with "good" intentions for "us all" and blanketed by nice terms like "progressive" instead of "communist".

Don't forget that these "ideas" caused the deaths of nearly 200 million in the 20th Century. -heh, guess they didn't "try" it the "right" way yet?

(With regard to the redistribution of wealth, and such things as this -a good read is: "The Anti-capitalistic
Mentality" by Ludwig von Mises.)


Some poor schmuck last week wanted Bob to say more about "levels of reality below the material."
She never got any answer from Bob--he just changed the subject.

Perhaps, before his morning bagel and Guiness, Bob did not wish to discuss Quantum Mechanics, Top Quarks, Mesons, Leptons, draw Feynman diagrams, or get into a lengthy discussion on Tensor Calculus and String theory that early in the day.

I suspect he was busy feeding Schroedinger's cat (Erdos) at the time.


There, I almost feel better now.

Well, until someone had to go and mention that mental fiasco, a fountain of progressive scatology, Hilary Clinton.

“Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

I guess "well off" would be having a way to get an inside deal on Cattle Futures?

"Well off" is undefined and left open for an overemotional Troll to eat up like cotton candy at the county fair.

Who is to say if I am well off or not? Oh yeah, thats right, someone who is willing to settle for equal misery. Someone who considers it unkind for me to have something they do not possess and are probably unwilling to earn for themselves. How low is that kinda self respect?

Getting America "..back on track.." -undefined. Sounds good, means the usual socialism.

Taking things away from me for the "common good" -also undefined.

A concept mentioned before, who decides what common good is?

Easy. Those who want to take what I have and give it to those who vote for them, and keep them in power. Careful Hilary, your horns are showing again.

The common good in this sense is just more socialism, and higher taxes spent to help the poor and downtrodden trolls of this world to STAY TROLLS but vote for manipulative Gorns like Hilary Clinton. (She makes them feel needed and cared for.. in their equal misery. -this is called progressive "compassion")

The interesting thing about wealth is, like money, it merely represents worth.

The Socialistas often consider the world as though there is a limited amount of money, and some bastard took their "fair share".

If this were true, we would not, in the Victorian era, have had "enough" money to "buy" Jet Aircraft, Microsoft, the Internet, or pay for World Wars one and two.

Its just really annoying to realize that money only represents worth.

As for the stem cell research leading to a cure for progressivism, my thoughts are these (Finally, the original reason I hit the comment link).

In college as a joke, my roomate and I said we wanted an IQ bomb. Set the bomb for say, 50% and detonate it. Only those people below the setting would be affected. -big joke-

It was not until later that we realized that the possiblity of a genetically engineered virus which would modify the RNA and this in turn modifying the DNA might prevent certain "traits" from being passed on.

In a truly evil sense, those with certain traits could perhaps become lethally affected, whereas others would not.

We decided to halt such discussions at that time.

Oh, and Ben, I may have a "confuser" for you, we can talk later.

Have your LT call my LT. In the meantime, check out Knoppix and think "older computer" and you'll get the joke.

As Firesign Theater once said:

"The Future Fair, a Fair for all, and No Fair to Anybody"

-I think we're all Bozos on this Blog. ;)


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