Dealing with anger in the face of everyday evil

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Re: Dealing with anger in the face of everyday evil

Post by plow_2 »

I'd recommend the book "righteous mind" by Jonatrhan haidt. It explains how different people see things with different considerations (can't remember his terms)to base decisions on which leads to you trying to convince someone of something and they quite literally cannot see it from your point of view because they are using different decision considerations (He used left vs right politics in the example).

Keep in mind that there are alot of people who don't believe that things are the way you believe them to be. There are scientists who disagree with global warming conclusions (I'm not arguing for either side here) and they will hold to their side as tenaciously as you hold to yours and feel righteous about it and call you a crazy person. People can be convinced that their position is wrong but not by someone screaming at them. I've never had someone being angry at me/ shame me into changing my mind. Where I'm going with this is your anger will not help, it will only hinder when you do talk to people about it.

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Re: Dealing with anger in the face of everyday evil

Post by WFJ »

I don't like being angry. I don't want to be angry. I want to look upon my neighbor with love and joy. But my neighbor is a murderous Nazi prison guard and I am the coward doctor too frightened to do anything stronger than to wear my SS pin upside down and slip the prisoners some food scraps from time to time. I am a pacifist by philosophical ideals and because I have been on the bruising end of abuse and because I don't like to make people feel unhappy. But it is so, so difficult to just stand by and watch, powerless, helpless, unsure even if it is ethical to be involved with money, let alone to try to decide upon a career, unsure even if agriculture is ethical or if it inevitably leads to hierarchy and empire, too afraid to take the next step of renunciation, too gripped by the poisons of greed/hatred/delusion to be on that more noble path, too paralyzed by feelings of powerlessness and learned helplessness, knowing that all the best "hippie" efforts in my city and state since the 70s have amount to dick squat in the grand scheme of things.

Does anyone else feel about as angsty as their teenage form and then sit sullenly listening to "Cafo" by Animals As Leaders? Does anyone want to cry? Or, is there a real chance, knowing my mental health history, that I just need to take it easy, buy a nice rug to tie the room together, and kick it on the beach with a glass of Sprite and try to lighten up like the sun?

Take a stats class or two (time series/panel regressions), understand all the aspects of "AGW" or "CC" statistical analysis and why there isn't an out of sample confirmation of any temperature models (data mining) and maybe a chemistry class (concentration differences). Educate and understand, if you still believe in the theories, then you can intelligently explain the theories to others without anger.

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Re: Dealing with anger in the face of everyday evil

Post by JCD »

I found your question engaging even if I don't personally have the feelings as you describe having them. I have a multitude of differences in thinking, even though I generally agree with your conclusions. I think others have named many, but I think there are three that have great impact on me that have not been mentioned:
- A probabilistic framework
- The lack of solid belief in free will, with strong preference towards structural outcomes.
- An absurdist style view point

The fact is, humanity has not yet been wiped out, in spite of many possible events. Every moment is rolling the dice that this moment will be the moment that the end will come. In my view, nothing reaches absolute certainty, beyond "I think therefore I was/am/will(*) be". Absolutes require something to demonstrate the absolute is true. Do we live in a material world or is there something beyond it? I suspect we both find the probability is greater that we are in a material world than not, otherwise you'd not hate those who seem to be abusing the material world. However, you and I cannot absolutely deny(**) a possible soul, in which crank that hummer engine up to 11, after all, we're all going to heaven. More on probability in a bit.

(*) Echo's are created by something in the past, maybe I am a puppet controlled by something from the future? Ultimately, I agree with Popper on Münchhausen trilemma
(**) See falsification, black swans and Popper.

This then rolls into lack of a free will and structural properties. If you assume a material world, then the desires and activities of people are defined by their generics and by their environment. Or more broadly, if every moment is just the sum of all elements in a previous state running through a "physics engine" along with some random chance thrown in, there is no clear free will to be found. (For brevity I'm going to make certain assumptions like you didn't think up this world on your own, no soul and what we see is generally "real". If I was to write all the assumptions down, it would be an entire book.) To make it concrete, let's not tackle the universe, just humanity. You were taught by those around you, and your limits are defined by their teaching and by the environment. If a perfect, clean energy existed, but you didn't know it, you couldn't create such a system other than by accident. If such a system is impossible due to physics, you literally could never create such a system. You know English because others around you know English (at age 0-13 most likely). In the same sense, you cannot jump 1000 miles up, no matter how hard you train, due to your genetics and due to the environment (gravity levels and all).

Your brain has a structure to it that was created during the process known as birth. It learned via observing and you did not choose the environment to observe. Sure you can "choose" to leave that environment as an adult, but you take all the modeling in your head you learned before and you can't selectively unlearn elements. Teaching is by its very nature, indoctrination, just most indoctrination is not controversial as we collectively pretend certain facts are objective. You can change things about yourself, but not without a cause, either inside you or outside. If you can accept this premise (most appear they cannot), then you must accept that it is likely everyone else is in the same circumstances. Milgram showed how certain systems create certain outcomes. Those hummer drivers can't help it, they are that way because they lack free will and are trapped in a system where they must be a driver of a hummer. Nazis are not Nazis just because they are a bad bunch, they are Nazis because of the structure of the system. Change the structure and you change the outcome.

Back to probability, you need not buy into an absolute lack of free will to find it helpful. You can conclude a human has some probability of lacking free will. Maybe you decide in 95% of circumstances, they lack free will. I don't find that view useful, but you might. Or you might decide that certain structural changes impact the probability of a certain outcome. This almost is in the realm of fiction novelists, where what action changes outcomes is often explored, with ideas like assassinating someone or having a wise man coming down from the mountain teaching some new way of life being two common themes. In recent history the internet and crypto currencies have been the hope for non-fiction folks. I don't suggest you need to know what the hope is or where it will come from, you can simply hope for a probability that something will happen to change the structure of the system in a way you would perceive as an improvement.

This leaves me with one last element, absurdism. I find much liking for @MisterImperceptible's writing of "any change I make leaves someone else to do it." It is very much like the old joke about two professors, one who believed in efficient markets and another who believed in behavioral finance. They have been walking and discussing economics for an hour when they see what appears to be a 20 dollar bill on the ground and the behavioral professor asks the efficient market professor, "Are you going to pick that up?" The efficient market professor says, "No, if it was really a 20 dollar bill, someone would have already picked it up." Then the behavioral professor picks it up and pockets it.

My point is I align greatly to the idea of "no point in trying to change the world, so just do what you enjoy" style of nihilism. I could write a lot of agreement to the view and how it can make you feel better. Yet, I can't deny wishing there was a more moral point to life and finding nihilism lacking. Nihilism demands humans to accept its logical correctness of no purpose while it strikes me as a structural element of human psychology to demand purpose, even if it is "what I want". Thus we live in the absurd. To go back to the joke, many folks think economists are idiots, and thus both professors just wasted an hour in life talking about economics. So too is it with philosophy for most. Either this idea will catch you as obviously right, or damn foolish. If it feels wrong for you, then no harm done, I will take no offense. After all, that behavioral finance professor might have just picked up monopoly money.

For myself, I don't look down into the black abyss of existentialism in horror, I look in with curiosity and acceptance. I'm curious if there is some entity that could provide a point to humanity, but accept that at present I have no way of knowing or even assigning probabilities to deep absolute meaning to life. So like the nihilists, I accept that there is no known rational point, but that doesn't mean I can't accept a few theories that are reasonable and worthy of examination. Theories are not facts, and while I don't think they are scientific theories (e.g. testable) I do think one can theorize around relatively better or worse worlds. I personally find the ideal of ensuring the survival of a sentient species a valid endeavor and thus likely a better world where sentient species exist. This may create rules or principles for you to follow. To quote one author that came to mind who developed principles, Robert A Heinlein wrote "Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal..." The study of belief systems gives you constructive work you can take on.

So summing it all up, by looking at the structure and capacity of others, I find comfort that others are not malevolent as limited. There are only some many lives we can live and their priorities may not be yours--they have not experienced what you have, nor are they you genetically. I also don't believe in knowledge, so I don't accept your premise that climate must overcome humanity as absolutely correct nor do I assume everyone assigns the same probabilities as you do. Finally, I acknowledge there is no absolute point to life (thus you are unlikely to get everyone aligned even for the survival of the specifics), but do think some moral principles can be popularized and those moral frameworks may create outcomes you look for.

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Re: Dealing with anger in the face of everyday evil

Post by chenda »

Oh well, we weren't the first civilisation to monumentally fuck up when we should have known better. We (probably) won't be the last. You can even see a funny side to it.

Life goes on.

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