Saturday, April 12, 2008

Already Hitting Paydirt

File under: Notable Quotes

Our friend Stuart Resnick just dropped an evolutionary psychology bomb on the whole phenomenon of gurudom at the Lefora forum:
Millions of years ago, when our species was less evolved, I can see how it improved our chances of survival if we stuck in tight-knit tribes. As individuals, we'd quickly starve or get eaten by wild animals etc. It makes sense that DNA would wire us to blindly follow a leader, so we'd all stick together in the tribe, and we'd have a fighting chance to keep nature at bay, long enough to procreate and all.

Evolution is brilliant that way, but it moves very very slowly. After all, natural selection has no tools except trial-and-error. We generate a bunch of offspring, and the ones best designed for survival last long enough to pass on DNA codes to future beings. Amazingly effective adaptions arise, but only over the course of many many generations.

Then we got these incredible new tools. Rational thinking allows us to run "what-if" scenarios, and conclude what's best for our survival so much more quickly than the brute fforce of trial and error. The development of language and the printed word allow us to accummulate information/knowledge across populations, and pass it on to the future. What to speak of the internet.

Rationality, technology, scientific method bring us to our current condition, in which individuality and independent thinking are a far more effective survival mechanism than they were in our caveman days. (When I need food, I pop something into the microwave. Satisfying my needs apart from any tribal allegience has become a lot easier, compared to when I'd have to live off of dinosaur meat (joking, joking).

The new tools of rationality etc allow at least part of the population to live as free-thinkers. But for many generations to come, this advancement towards personal freedom and independent thinking will be bumping up against the hard-wired drive to adhere to a tribal authority, that drive being a hold-over of a strategy that was more appropriate millions of years ago.
Being huge fans of evolutionary psychology and Stuart, we wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. Whether we find it desirable or not, gurudom in its present form isn't going anywhere, and you can thank your genes for allowing yourself to be duped by a con man like the Kracki or a preening poseur like Sri Sri.

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11 Comments:

At 4/12/2008 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>"Rationality, technology, scientific method bring us to our current condition, in which individuality and independent thinking are a far more effective survival mechanism than they were in our caveman days. (When I need food, I pop something into the microwave. Satisfying my needs apart from any tribal allegience has become a lot easier, compared to when I'd have to live off of dinosaur meat (joking, joking"<<

Yup! As long as you've got the oil that creates the energy to fuel your microwave, you're in good shape! And as long as those invisible folks who package the dinosaur meat for your microwave keep doing their job so you can "satisy your needs", you'll be able to maintain your independence from the invisible tribe that makes it all possible.
makes alot of sense.

 
At 4/12/2008 4:11 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

anony wrote...
as long as those invisible folks who package the dinosaur meat for your microwave keep doing their job so you can "satisy your needs", you'll be able to maintain your independence

Exactly so. The people who, e.g., manufacture the instant Pad Thai that I pop in the microwave, most certainly do not require any sort of tribal allegience from me. Everyone in the chain that provides my food is helping me, even though we've never met. And vice versa: the money I pay at the supermarket helps these strangers themselves survive.

In our caveman days, we had to rely on family and friends to help us satisfy our needs. Yeah, people whould help each other, but only when they liked each other! The advancement now-a-days is that people help each other even when they don't know each other at all. Sharing the same tribal belief-system or bowing to the same authority is no longer necessary for us to help each other survive.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 4/12/2008 5:31 PM, Blogger Anand said...

Have you read "Zen and the Art of Pornography" ??? Is this similar to what ou're talking about? Is the author of this book yet another one?

Link on info to this new "Guru" book:
http://www.amazon.com/ZEN-ART-PORNOGRAPHY-Harold-Johnson/dp/1438204302/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207783137&sr=8-2

 
At 4/14/2008 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on. Grow up. Bomb shell my ass. It's just more woolly new age thinking. Justification by minds devolving into dross.

 
At 4/14/2008 10:06 AM, Blogger jody said...

Justification by minds devolving into dross.

It seems yours has already been rendered into dross for quite a while now.

 
At 4/14/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

Actually Tribal behavior ain't that far behind us, only a thousand or so years, if looking only at the west. Tribes abound in the middle east, and were here in the Americas not so long ago, before Europeans so it really isn't that old of a technology and not to be blithely pooped on by smarty-pants zen guys, who I might add, owe quite a bit to ancient tradition.

 
At 4/14/2008 9:56 PM, Anonymous Vikram said...

I think the comment is a classic case of reductionism in psychology, but interestingly enough, in Bharat the allegiance of the masses was historically to the King of the region, not to a public Guru figure. It remained so until the British interfered with the monarchies and the existing social structure. I guess we have to thank "democracy" in no small measure for the present day Gurus being the "Kings".

 
At 4/15/2008 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vikram said... It remained so until the British interfered with the monarchies...


Once again the poor Limeys being blamed for everything in "Bharat". Exactly what part of the Indian culture is not corrupt? The "royal families" were collaborators.

 
At 4/15/2008 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is down side up. minds appear to be devolving in the name of evolution. whether its the 'evolution' of the individual or evolution of race as time goes by they no longer do what they should they do what they want. ;~)

 
At 4/15/2008 10:47 AM, Blogger jody said...

this is down side up

I think it's more a case of your standing on the ceiling, thinking it's the floor.

 
At 4/15/2008 11:28 AM, Anonymous Vikram said...

Once again the poor Limeys being blamed for everything in "Bharat".

I wasn't playing the blame game. I am hardly jingoistic, and merely stated a historical fact. The British strategy was divide-and-rule; it worked pretty well for them.

And I used the word "Bharat" because that was what the country was called.

 

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