Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two kinds of people

Winners and losers...

you say?

And show in a very nice way how a “reflex” works – fast and with only one outcome using a “shortcut” around brain. And Pavlov could demonstrate that there are not only “physical reflexes”, but even trained ones: If you teach an information processing system (using the active mode of processing) to react quickly with only one outcome, you are particularly successful, because you can use ‘pure’ information: an initial state always leads to the same end state. Therefore to learn an initial-state-end-state-pair means to know future (at least partially) – you only have to detect a known (stored in memory) initial state to foresee the result of the process = the end state – to foresee the future. And to foresee the future means being able to decide “proactively”. That’s why each and every information processing system is eager to find information, independent of the processing mode.

What’s the difference between “active” and “passive”?

The active ones can learn new “information” aka new initial-end-state-processings while the passive ones are...


So each and every information processing systems – forced by the never biased laws of nature – will use passive strategies just for the sake of speed as long as possible, because in reality you have not only to decide what’s best for you but to decide it early enough to avoid harm.

That’s why Pavlov reflexes – in general – are a good thing.

But passive processing has to “pay a price” for the speed – systems using passive processing are not able to learn. And that’s why you have to “decondition” systems been trained wrong, you can’t just argue with them rationally...

like the idea, that all the people can be separated in winners and losers and all the animals (including humans) can be separated in “predator and prey”.

How about the fact, that most of the predators are themselves prey of other predators? How about crows and elephants? How about the fact, that each winner is so often a loser in his whole lifetime?

No, there’s a more basic axis to categorize human minds – actually an axis used in ancient typologies you can see until now in the zodiacal signs and in Tarot (proving the power of memes, but that’s another story and shall be told another time).

The axis uses a very important element of each and every information processing task: positioning. You need positioning to measure and you need measurement to identify and you need identity to detect states, initial states and end states.

And actually, this ancient axis – as amazing as the Celtic calendar with its sophisticated mathematics to describe the informative processes created by the course of sun and moon – uses the only thing, an active information processing system is ever able to know for sure: its own existence (but brain isn’t a pure Solipsist ;-) ). So this axis is described by two poles: endogen and exogen, “inside yourself” and “outside yourself”, which leads us to the “control”, again a basic element of each and every information processing because that’s what’s information processing is all about.


To detect and to observe, to classify and to analyze, to decide and to react – control of what’s going on and of yourself just for the sake of your own best being. And because control – and the inherent question “Cui Bono” – is the foundation of any information processing simply because each finite system has to reduce the de facto infinity of reality (you know: IKI Infinity Kills Information).

Alas, for high intelligence aka a multilevel hierarchical processing system the “distance to reality”, the simple fact, that each and every processing system has to work with “mappings”, has to create blueprints of the world rather than to be able to “incorporate the whole world outside” includes the risk, that small processing failures on a low level of processing add to a huge mistake in the end of the processing, at the point of decision – with the lethal danger of wrong decisions risking the own survival. So high intelligence has developed many valdiations, trying to verify as much as possible. That’s the reason btw, why you can “reconfigure” a person to remember “wrong memories” – just by giving so much plausible current input AGAINST the remembered, that the system starts to combine the states in other “initial-end”-chains, such reorganizing the whole “knowledge”.

And high intelligence – living in a group – has a “painless” help to verify the own processing: The processing of other members of the group. Because information is physical and a given initial state always leads to the same end state, two information processing systems fed with the same input have to get the same result (as long as they both have the same abilities and goals). In a group, one knows each other and therefore is able to estimate the others abilities and interests – and if another information processing system seems to be as capable as yourself and is likely to share the same interests it should be reaching the same results by using the same input.

So if your friends assure you, that you are right, it’s nothing else than bettering the probability of correctness of your decisions – it betters your chances to survive. That’s why approval is so important for high intelligences.

“But what” – you will ask – “ what does that have to do with the topic?”

Look at such a high intelligence in a group of friends – having to process a nearly infinite amount of information as fast as possible, having to consider not only your own interests but the interests of your protecting group is really a tough job. So you use the advantage of the group, not only protection, but synergy – you willingly are part of the group, the group’s actions, the group’s decisions, the group’s culture and laws and rules to protect your own interests and survival.

And here we’re back on topic.

Because at this point you have to decide – to be controlled by yourself or be controlled by the uber-ego of the group.

“But where is the problem” – you will ask. “The groups interests are your interests, just because if not you would live alone.”

“Yes,” i’ll reply, “but the same interests don’t mean the same decisions. It takes two to process information, always and ever: Two states, initial and end, two processing 'modes', active and passive, two elements, stability and dynamics – and two input factors: input signals and the goals choosing which signal is to be ignored and which is to be processed. So the same interests must not mean the same results, because each member of a group has a slightly different input.”

And laws and rules are standard-decisions – like instincts and emotions they are 80%-solutions for a standard situation detectable by some key signals. But like instincts and emotions they are not able to solve the other existing 20% problems. Therefore, Mother Nature gave us our Ego – the decision point only in case the results of the subsystems (like instincts and emotions) lead to some contradictions. Btw, everytime, instincts and emotions get the same result, Ego isn’t “activated”, that’s why philosophy, the foundation of goals and interests we depend on, is so important, because philosophy is the soil on which even instincts and emotions work (remember Pavlov?)

So everytime a 20%-problem occurs where instincts and emotions, rules and laws don’t fit, you have to use your Ego to verify the input, to check the results of the subsystems and then to do the decision based on the checked and verified results.

Sounds fine.

But in a group – in case of such an irritation – the slightly different input signals might lead to different results – and then you have to decide if you follow your result aka if you can prove your result as being more apt to the situation – or if you follow the results of the others in case they can prove their result as being more apt to the situation.

Still sounds fine.

But remember the power of approval? The lust for approval is an instinct either, given us by Mother Nature because of the “painless verification” approval allows. Alas, that kind of verification only works when the processing systems are separated and only the results are compared. In a human group with the high density of communication based on language, the processings aren’t truly separated – by words you can transfer “milestones” of your processing and so reach some “agreements” how to interprete information...

that’s part of the communication of human groups and it is part of the strength of the human race – but it lowers the advantage of verification. Why? Think of all the biologic inheritance in a human mind, the lust for approval, the fear of the unknown, the hope that daddy will fix it and you see how easy it is to convince a person from something wrong. And then the results of both information processings may be the same, but alas, they are the same wrong results.

And because that’s such a basic problem of high intelligence it needs the most developed “tool” of information processing: the Ego, the ability to check oneself with all the own capabilities and own risks, with all the own input-deciding goals and all the given knowledge to position it against a current situation simply to get the best result, to be able to re-calculate the part of the own processing in a result to estimate if the own wishes had trumped the objective processing.

And because that’s such a basic problem, it touches the basic question of the own ability to make good decisions for oneself, it touches the old fear to decide something wrong which will risk the own existence – and this feds the eagerness to follow the decision of someone else of your group, because the other one also wants to survive – in your group, so it’s likely that the other decision will help you, too.

That’s the reason, why only 20% of the people are self-controlled – says behavioral science. 60% are followers and 20% need control, because without control they are ruled by their bodies, mostly because their biological cycles aren’t as perfectly “normalized” as they should be.

“So what” – you will ask” – “that fits well with winners, they control the situation and are able to force others to follow their own decisions.”

“Oh no” – i will reply – “to control a situation is not, what the definition of a ‘winner’ describes. Think of a hermit in the forest. He perfectly controls his life and everything around him. Do you call him a ‘winner’? I guess, you will not, because a winner has to fight and to win. But do you call a hunter, killing a bear, a ‘winner’? i guess, you will not either, because the bear might be beaten, but no one will call him a ‘loser’ – and a winner needs a loser. So you see, you only can be a winner, if you are able to make someone a loser. And here you have to follow the rules of the group, because who is the winner and who is the loser is not your decision. Read your Konrad Lorenz again, if you think so. The alpha-chimp, a perfect representation of a winner, is dependent on the support of the group. As long as he has the support, he will win – otherwise he loses. It doesn’t matter if he is stronger or weaker – the ‘amount’ of support decides."

That simply means that a wanna-be-alpha has to follow the rules of success of his group to know and to perform the wished actions, classified as “successful” by his group. And in the end, that means that he has to be a good delta, only fighting against members of the own level (and weaker ones), then to be a good gamma, afterwards a good beta and only if he is a lucky careerist, he can become alpha – as long as he is able to beat the next wanna-be-alpha, but in the end he will lose and has to go.

Sure, you can say, he follows his goal to be “the winner”, but that goal isn’t really a “performable” goal, it can’t create objective decisions, because above anything else you have to consider the current group where you want to be seen as “winner”.


Careerists, winners have to be cyclists: kick downwards, bow upwards.

Look at the pope – a typical alpha male, the one and only to decide in the Catholic Church, previously the most loyal defender of the words of the previous pope.

Or look at the role model of each and every careerist: Albert Speer. First he obeyed to the rules of the Nazis, then he obeyed to the rules of the American democracy – in both systems he was “successful”, a “winner”, but only because he followed the rules better than anybody else.

Actually, winners are just “lucky losers” – look around you, look at those, called “winners”. Are they truly the best – or are they just more lucky as others? Yes, they kiss boots and betray others to be successful but that’s not enough. Most people do that. There always has to be some help to be successful – a friend, a well meaning supporter, not to be sick at the right moment – and there always has to be a necessary fact fulfilled: that there is no stronger wannabe-winner there.

“But what” – you will ask – “what about aristocrats? Those ‘winners' are never forced to prove to be the best because their fathers can pay anybody to do the jobs for them and in case of failure pay the judges and/or scapegoats to be punished for them.”

“They also have to obey the rules of their aristocracy, maybe more than anybody else. Because without the support of the aristocratic ‘network’ they are nothing. Look at the Bushs – look at everything Mr. George W. Bush has done in his life. Use an objective scale (simply by simulating the situation with another actor like ‘Joe Sixpack’) and classify what he has done and i guess, you simply will judge:’Uber-Loser, son by profession’. He will never be able to live on his own.”

“But he is President of America” – you will say.

“Not on his own account. Without the money and the powerful friends of daddy, he would be nothing else than a tramp. And he knows that. He knows that he is nothing without his group as well as any other ‘winner’ knows, because no one is as worried about the own ‘success’ as winners. Look at them, how they mistrust everybody and everything. Mr. Bush doesn’t dare to walk alone on streets, he even has to hide behind sealed manhole covers, needs weeks of preparation and millions of dollars to build the walls of ‘security’ to hide behind.

If you call that ‘to follow his own rules’, i dare to doubt that to live in a Gilded Cage like the Chinese Emperor, hidden behind a huge buffer of walls, weapons and warriors is following the own rules. Why do you think are so many ‘winners’ in the end believers in some odd things or religions, why do so many of them suffer from burn-out? Simply because they don’t follow their own rules but feel forced to so many things...

even as Chinese Emperor or American President.

That’s why the two basic kinds of people are not winners and losers, but the self-controlled and the followers, the free and the obedient.

Look at the poor man able to be happy – or look at the rich one able to be still human – they don’t follow the rules (and characterizations) of the group, the poor doesn’t care about being a ‘loser’ and the rich doesn’t care about social darwinism, about the ‘kill or be killed’-philosophy of the greedy violence (as history proves, the ‘best’ strategy to become very fast very rich).

Look at Van Gogh or Boltzmann.

Not really winners – but following their own rules. And the latter ones show why so many prefer to be followers.

To be self-controlled means to be free.

But Freedom is a really tough job.

“Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” - Mark Twain


Blogger JasonJ said...

Again, you have said a mouthful here. I am not sure where I really want to begin. I guess first of all, I agree with you, no surprize, that is on the heterophenomenological level. I'm not really sure I have enough space to clarify what I mean and do the idea justice so I will have to direct you towards a paper Dennett wrote concerning heterophenomenology
revisited at

He is much better at defining such concepts, probably because they are his concepts. But anyhow, on the level that we can call ourselves 'we', whatever that means I am mostly with you here. That is except for a few important points.

Obviously if the information system that you are referring to is intellectual, adaptive, intuitive, proactive then you are of course referring to humans. Unless I missed it you don't submit that this complex model is very much a hybrid of active/passive information users. In "The Blank Slate", Steven Pinker brings up many good points on this discussion, pointing out that social science had been kidnapped by the Blank Slate club, the Noble Savage club, and the Ghost in the Machine crowd for good measure. We have a tendency, to cut to the chase, of ignoring the processing capabilities of the human mind and focusing exclusively on the learning mechanisms. We say everything is about the environment and nothing about the genes. In other words, it is the classic nature vs nurture argument that everyone has an opinion on.

Of course to our discussion here, this is of little immediate consequence, but still something to keep in mind because of where such conversations generally lead. What is of immediate concern is social interaction. Again, this is only a small disagreement or perhaps just a language barrier and we are speaking from similar points of view. But where you assert "So if your friends assure you, that you are right, it’s nothing else than bettering the probability of correctness of your decisions – it betters your chances to survive. That’s why approval is so important for high intelligences.", I would argue not entirely. I see this type of approval as more of a reciprocal altruist posturing than an irrational need for approval. I have been grapping with this connundrum for a long time. Why is it that we need other people? Why can we not get along all by ourselves and yet when confronted with the different corporate desires of our fellow beings, we cannot get along together either. I think Matt Ridley had the best idea about resolution of this problem. Mankind has long since discovered that two heads are better than one. The synergy you speak of. Oftentimes, what one man can do, two or more can do better if they cooperate. This is the rub. Sadly, I've been struggling to write this version of altruism for a while now. I move to declare that I find no difference between reciprocal altruism and genuine altruism. The only way altuism can be reconciled against natural selection is by asserting that the only reason for behaving altruistically towards anyone not genetically related to you is if you 'believe' that the act will pay off in repordictive fitness. The way this pays dividends in a society is public esteem. Call it the First National Bank of Goodwill. When I sacrifice for you, you are indebted to me. Whether in reality that debt is repaid in kind is of no consequence because it is paid in respect by you and or other members of the society. Indirectly this leads to increased fitness and more offspring. In nature, there is not so many opportunities for reciprocity if it is not immediately evident. But in social creatures with large brains, brains big enough to recognise other individuals, members of the group remember and keep a ledger of who reciprocates and who defaults. This is why I brought up Game Theory previously. The obvious choice in single match prisoners dilemma is to defect/defect, a lose/lose scenario. So how do we move beyond that? We go back to what Axelrod discovered in computerized game theory simulation. If we have a group of reciprocators, then a strategy of tit-for-tat where each player does what his opponenet did in the previous round works very well. Everyone cooperates and everyone wins close to the maximum benefits the game allows. Indeed, when there is no specified end time predetermined, this approaches near perfection.

So where does this lead us if we find a random defector in the midst of all this cooperation. Initially, the defector(s) does well. The population becomes saturated with defectors. Then mistrust and mutual defection begin to take their tolls and the altruists begin to regain ground. In this scenario, we see things in a constant flux and perhaps we reach and uneasy evolutionarily stable strategy begins to emerge. But what if that bigger brain allows the organism so endowed to remember who cooperates and who defects, or alternately who looks trustworthy and who does not? Then the game changes. Suppose the reciprocators refuse to play or engage with known defectors. This would effectively put defectors out of the game entirely in a short period unless the defector can come up with creative new devices for concealing his deception and intents. Thus the beginning of another arms race.

So what the heck does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?

In many ways, it is important to fit into a group. Acceptance into a group goes a long way towards ensuring reproductive success by increasing longevity. Doing what the group does may prove to allow a clever individual to learn new skills quickly and provide a more leisure lifestyle which means more time to seek a mate.

On the dark side of this tendency to adopt the groupthink model is like you said. Sometimes the general concensus of the group can be wrong. How can Millions of Christians be wrong? Easy, they follow the leader without questioning whether or not the leader is competant to decide for the entire group. Think Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

Another dark side of this mentality is tribalism. This is important going back to what I said about reciprocal vs genuine altruism. It is easy to behave altruistically towards a member of our group. It is pretty much hard-wired into us at this point. But outside our group is 'them', those who are not 'us'. Those who are different than us pose a threat to our group norms. They pose a threat to our very existence. This is the tribal mentality that is also hard-wired into us as a defensive mechanism. This is also a mechanism that needs to be studied and hopefully subdued one day. It is responsible for most of the Middle Eastern conflict and all religious strife throughout history. Us vs Them.

I hope that this has added to the conversation and gives you something more to think about. I will look back on this soon to see what you think.

7:32 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Again said...

you always give me much to think about ;-)

a paper Dennett wrote

as far as i understood, he looks at the psyche "from outside"

Unless I missed it you don't submit that this complex model is very much a hybrid of active/passive information users. In "The Blank Slate", Steven Pinker brings up many good points on this discussion,

here i have to ask you something: what do you understand by "passive/active information users" - it can't be about passive/active information processing because that's just about the way how you store, map and retrieve information - plants and relational databases use passive information processing, XML and humans use active - so i guess, a social scientist will understand something else by "active/passive information users"

We say everything is about the environment and nothing about the genes

actually? I often think, that we must live in the pendulum-period, when the impact of the genes is overestimated...

in fact, especially in case of brain the capabilities of the "engine", based on the genes, is very important - but i dare to doubt what i have heard some time ago: that behavior of monozygotic twins differ more in the youth than in advanced age. Seems to me those scientists never tried to fill a huge database with real data and than do some data mining of the data ;)

i'll stop now - the following part of your post is too interesting to be ignored, but it takes time and i don't want you see no reply such giving you a wrong impression ;-)

9:39 AM, August 19, 2006  
Blogger Again said...

I see this type of approval as more of a reciprocal altruist posturing than an irrational need for approval.

oooops - irrational? i wouldn't call verification processes irrational ;-), but i guess, what you talk about is the instinct implanted by nature to seek approval...

Oftentimes, what one man can do, two or more can do better if they cooperate. This is the rub.

exactly - and that "synergy" is much older than man - the first cell working with DNA to isolate the knowledge about the own construction is based on a conglomerate of subsystems (some even using RNA until now) to use the "herd effect" of synergy - the multicellular organisms, even sacrificing infinite life for synergy - or the fishes protecting the individual with the masses of the others (due to IKI: infinity kills information)

and here you see, why i think that altruism is a "late invention" of nature, while the herd is nearly the first of biology - the fish in the mass doesn't care about the next fish, just uses it as shield...

and actually, i guess, the same reason is behind altruism - just an instinct to get synergy and protection for the own sake...

I move to declare that I find no difference between reciprocal altruism and genuine altruism.

please, here i need some explanation - "reciprocal": do you mean an altruism based on "giving and taking" while "genuine" means able to just "give and give"? Or (regarding your later statements) with "genuine altruism" do you just mean the reproduction efforts of a group to protect its DNA by protecting its children?

The way this pays dividends in a society is public esteem.

something like "accumulated approval", i guess?

When I sacrifice for you, you are indebted to me.

that's a late "enhancement" of approval, i guess - it might be something "typical human", leading to the term "justice"...

Indirectly this leads to increased fitness and more offspring.

power leads to more offsprings - not approval. There exist some observations about chimps, that the females of some groups do look for genes outside the group to get a "better mixture" and to avoid inbreeding - while the alpha males of stupid races are in full control of their breeding cattle, the higher intelligent alphas with sophisticated (male) social structures don't care about genes as much as bulls. For me, there is some significant information hidden behind the lesser importance of the genes for the alphas - and i guess, it's simply because high intelligence is something like "emancipation" of the individual from the group

and i guess, it must be - because high intelligence is based on active information processing using individual experiences - and that simply means, that at the moment of death, all the wisdom and knowledge of the individual is lost. But despite of this, mother nature developed high intelligence - and here you can see the true advantage of language ;-)

But what if that bigger brain allows the organism so endowed to remember who cooperates and who defects, or alternately who looks trustworthy and who does not?

yes, tit-for-tat is the best strategy as long as the group is well-informed - models with lesser communication abilities in the group of players prove, that selfishness will win - but it's not truly about bigger brains - an isolated brain is an information processing system having is apex of evolution like any other system - because high intelligence is able to control many (more) states and relationships its decisions can lead to more different results than lower intelligences - the result: the higher the intelligence the more un-foreseeable the reactions - and that simply means: loss of information. And that's the reason why language has to be invented - to communicate the reasons for decisions instead of simple offering the results, so that the other members of the group can reproduce the decision - can protect the information - creating the next level of information processing, the next hierarchy of the system, such pushing forward the apex of evolution of intelligence

that's the reason why i don't believe in arms races - your liver isn't in an arm race with your heart, i guess

ensuring reproductive success by increasing longevity... to seek a mate

hmmm - here i'm hesitating - as far as i understand you, you talk about direct reproduction of yourself (as usual in biology ;-) ) - but because of the more dense communication via language humans are in many things more sophisticated as even chimps...

long lifes - at least in humankind - ensure reproductive success, sure - but regarding menopause it seems that the knowledge of medicine, hygiene and food production seems more important than direct ability for biologic reproduction - sure, you protect mostly your own DNA by protecting your grandchildren. And considering "the male factor" of longevity - regarding the fact, that the knowledge about paternity is first proven about 6,000 BC (but i guess, paternity is known since invention of agriculture), i have some problems with reasoning with "biologic fatherhood" - on a biologic level, sure - but on the level of culture, of social life and awareness, which sometimes seem to dominate human life more than any physical-biological reality?

It is easy to behave altruistically towards a member of our group. It is pretty much hard-wired into us at this point. But outside our group is 'them', those who are not 'us'. Those who are different than us pose a threat to our group norms. They pose a threat to our very existence. This is the tribal mentality that is also hard-wired into us as a defensive mechanism.

exactly - do you know the studies of Rebecca Bigler

5:06 AM, August 20, 2006  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Please be patient my friend, I will need some time to respond to this much like yourself, especially during the week like this. I have some interesting arguments left on this subject that you will find fruitful.

6:43 PM, August 21, 2006  
Blogger Again said...

Please be patient my friend

don't worry about that - you know, soon ripe, soon rotten ;-)

take as much time as you want - information is process, not able to be usefully exploited without time

12:54 AM, August 24, 2006  

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