Monday, 11 May 2015

Visual hallucinations imply 'whole brain' dysfunction; auditory hallucinations not so much

It is well known that 'hearing voices' (when nobody is there) is a common sign of the 'functional psychoses' of schizophrenia, mania and psychotic depression - when patients may appear to be alert and orientated; but that true visual hallucinations are rare except when there is delirium, acute confusional state, 'clouded consciousness' - when the patient is distractible, perplexed, either hyper-excited or drowsy, and disorientated  (does not know where they are, the time or who are the people in their environment).

I suggest that the reason may be related to the necessity for 'global', multi-system brain dysfunction before visual illusions become real and convincing - and this is because humans are highly visual animals such that about half of the brain seems to be involved - in some way or another - with the visual system.

This massive input from the visual system has bee posited as a major driver in the evolution of sleep - a state when eyes are closed and the brain largely cut-off from the environment, presumably to allow internal processing - since an animal's sleep needs seem to correlate with the volume and complexity of its visual input:

This implies that for a person to become convinced that an internally-generated visual illusion is actually real, would require that a great deal of the brain be functioning abnormally, and this would imply a global brain dysfunction with multiple deficits, such as delirium or widespread dementia - which probably is itself exacerbated by delirium:

When only a part of the brain is involved in generating a visual illusion, as happens with some instances of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, the experience is of a visual illusion which is known to be false, not really happening in the environment - i.e. a 'vision', rather than a visual hallucination which is experienced as real.

So a temporal lobe seizure may create a stereotyped 'vision' (probably an activated memory) of small human figures performing actions, rather like a video replay; but this is not experienced as really happening in the environment so it is not a true hallucination.

In other words, when the input from the various parts of the visual system is inconsistent - so that one input contradicts another - then the experience is of an illusion, not an hallucination.

By contrast, the auditory system involves, as I understand, a much smaller proportion of the brain than the visual system. We may infer that in the functional psychoses, a much more localized and partial brain abnormality, involving the totality of auditory regions, may generate auditory material such as voices that are experienced as real because the auditory information in self-consistent, un-contradicted.

The results is that people suffering only from auditory hallucination are more partially impaired, and therefore less globally impaired, than those who suffer from visual hallucinations.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Creativity and Christianity

I have recently come to regard creativity as second only to love in God's scale of values; perhaps the second-most-important attribute of God; after love. This implies that creativity is perhaps also the second-most-important human value, after love.

The relationship can be clarified by thinking of love as primarily directed towards persons (which is the normal kind of love) or towards values (which is creativity).

This creativity is a consequence of love of non-personal positive values: truth, beauty, virtue, Goodness, harmony - and their subdivisions. So a primarily creative person can be regarded as one whose love is directed at values, rather than persons - in that sense they are devoted primarily to abstractions.

(Creative people are seldom 'good with people', indeed being on average much less interested or influenced by 'other people' than is usual. The opposite also applies as a generality. So, as creative scientists are seldom good with people, scientists who are adept a networking, management and who are interested by groups and committees are seldom creative. The psychological relationship of creativity and sociality is antagonistic.)


Creativity can then be seen as a consequence of loving abstract Goods. Just as love of persons points towards fecundity of persons (family, marriage, friendship) - love of Goods points-towards fecundity of Goods.

(The good creativity of a genius is positive behaviour as a consequence of a love of God's values; the creativity of an evil genius is destructive of The Good: it is a consequence of rejection, often hatred, of God's values.)


Someone who loves literature will want to add to the possibilities of literature; the scientist will want to add to science, the painter to painting; a concert pianist who loves music or  an actor who loves acting will want each and every performance to be a re-creation of music; a teacher who loves teaching will want each lecture to be an unique event growing from that love.

The positive creative impulse or impetus (which may be very variously expressed, and only partially recognized as such) is therefore a natural overflowing of the creative person's love of God's values as expressed in an abstract subject matter.


Most people are relatively uncreative; only a few people are highly creative, and even fewer are primarily creative. This may suggest that God makes most people in hope they will choose to live by love of persons (including Himself) above all (to be "people-persons"); but that God also makes a few people who love God's own values above all (therefore, they are destined not to be people-persons): this creative minority would include most of the real geniuses, whose main life efforts and energies are directed non-socially.

Creativity seems to be (perhaps) the only valid positive spiritual path or 'way' to be solitary, or to 'neglect' fellow Men.

In effect, the dedicated creative person loves God before Man (as is commanded) but this creative love is expressed primarily via love of God's values rather than God's person.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Women geniuses - have there been any new ones discovered in the past fifty years?

It is a tenet of feminist 'scholarship' that there were women geniuses who were neglected; and a large part of feminist scholarship has been dedicated to raising awareness of women geniuses.

That there are women geniuses is clear - examples abound especially in literature; but I do not think feminist scholarship of the past fifty years has come up with a single 'neglected' example of a woman genius.

Instead there has been a combination of the pretence that real women geniuses were 'previously neglected' until feminism came along; plus the hyping of women non-geniuses (such as Hildegard of Bingen as a composer and spiritual writer, the DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin, and playwright Aphra Benn).

But I ask - are there any examples of

1. real women geniuses, who were

2. indeed neglected or unknown, and were

3. re-discovered by feminist scholarship of he past half century?

"I ask merely for information" - as Algernon said in The Importance of Being Earnest; when enquiring why his butler, Lane, had been drinking so much of his master's champagne. Having acted both Lane and Algy, this is a line I recall well.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

What kind of genius for England? (If we could choose.)

For me, it would be a spiritual leader - in essence a religious leader - who could awaken the true spirits of the English people that are now enslaved and confined by the nihilistic mass choice to live according to mass media-enforced secular Leftism.

I don't think any kind of genius scientist, mathematician, engineer, artist, poet, economist, lawyer, politician (etc)- would (even if recognized and taken notice of, which seems unlikely) do more than perpetuate (and probably exacerbate - by their work being misapplied) current problems.

So what kind of person? Ideally some multi-faceted genius who is also a patriotic leader; someone like King Alfred the Great (849-899 AD). That is probably way too much to ask, since there are few if any other men in history who combine political, military, legal and scholarly ability as he did.

But that is the kind of person we need; and it is not clear to me that anybody much less wide-ranging than Alfred would suffice to inspire, encourage and mobilize a crushed and craven people with the right spirit, and get them aiming in the right direction.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Be careful before you wish for more geniuses: you might get what you ask for!

What makes you think you want more geniuses in the West; what makes you think they would improve matters?


Of course, only geniuses could save us from where we are now.

But reflect:

1. We do not want to be saved.

2. We will fight against anyone who offers credible hope of salvation.

3. We will try to corrupt and invert creative genius into destruction.


The genius is a person with a massively amplified and manifold impact - and this also applies to evil geniuses, and to the evil products of genius and the evil misapplication of genius. Thus one single person may generate vast misery, annihilation, demotivation and despair.

Geniuses led to the distinctively great achievements of Western Civilization - also to the bad stuff on a colossal scale: individuals like Rousseau, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao unleashed unprecedented wholesale horror.

And except for Hitler, all these are revered figures among our current ruling elites.


Outside of the politically neutral areas of mathematics and theoretical physics; modern geniuses (and near geniuses) mostly have been and are being systematically ignored (they are the lucky ones) or persecuted, tormented, crushed and corrupted - especially by mass media-generated celebrity culture, mob frenzies and hate-fests.


What makes you think a generous crop of future geniuses (assuming such things were possible; which seems doubtful) would fare any better, or yield any better results?

Are modern conditions better than those which led to the evil and destructive geniuses of the past couple of centuries?

Does our social treatment of recent and current genius lead you to be optimistic?


I do not want more recognized and empowered geniuses - indeed I fear the consequences if there were more high-impact geniuses.

Under prevailing conditions the only high-impact geniuses will be bad geniuses; or geniuses from whom the bad is abstracted and amplified.

First must come repentance - and only somewhere in the far-side of a Christian revival, might there come to exist a situation where genius might reasonably be expected to do more good than harm.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Genius as a perfect storm of synergystic causal factors; golden ages triggered by a coincidence of synergystic geniuses triggering populaton growth

It is possible that genius may be a consequence of a 'perfect storm' of several independent causes coming together rarely. For example high ability (especially general intelligence), high creativity, and strong motivation directed in-line with ability and creativity - these are each relatively rare, and in combination very rare in indeed.

(Plus, there may need to be other factors.)

But the average sub-replacement fertility of geniuses (due to their relatively low interest in social and sexual gratification which is both the reciprocal of their high interest in 'their subject' and also the need to tolerate/ welcome considerable solitude and independence); means that the lineage of a one-off genius will most likely go extinct.


The existence of a single genius therefore probably (usually) does not create any greater chance of a genius to follow - since the number of copies of the causative genes (whatever they are) is no greater after the genius has died than before he was born.

However, when there are several geniuses that happen to be born at the same time, and in the same field - and when this field is one that increases the efficiency or effectiveness of the essentials of human survival and reproduction - e.g. breakthroughs in food production, industrial production, transport, weaponry, social organization... then these several geniuses may enable the total population to grow in such a way that there are more and more copies of the genes which (in rare combinations) lead to genius.


In these circumstances, the existence of several geniuses in a single generation number one may lead to even more geniuses in generation number two; and this amplification could continue if the population continues to expand (and if other factors remained constant).

It is possible that something of this kind happened through the 1700s and the early 1800s in the populations of Western and Central Europe - for example, several or many geniuses emerged in the domain of agriculture and food production from the 1700s in England; and in combination led to an increased productivity per worker and more than doubling the output of food by the mid 1800s - these changes freeing labour for industry and both enabling and kick-starting the industrial revolution.

The result was that the population of England doubled from about 1700 to 1820, which would mean that - all else being equal, there would be twice as many genes for genius in 1820 as there had been in 1700. This would tend to sustain the production of English geniuses, and maintain the 'golden age' of English high achievement.


However. we know that other factors were operating from about 1800 which would tend to reduce the proportion of geniuses in the English population; notably the decline of general intelligence ('g' which is implied by the slowing in reaction times measurable through the twentieth century). These adverse trends were probably due to a combination of differential reproduction against intelligence (an inverse correlation between intelligence and fertility) plus, and probably more importantly, a dysgenic accumulation of deleterious mutations caused by the relation of mutation filtering mostly caused by the sharp decline in child mortality rates.

So, the first effect of the perfect storm of English geniuses was to expand the population and thereby increase the number of English geniuses; but as the generations went by, the adverse selection factors and mutation accumulation would have 'sabotaged' the expansion of geniuses by reducing the average intelligence in the population - and firstly the proportion and then the actual number of people of very high intelligence, so that the number of new geniuses occurring dwindled into again being extremely rare and 'one off'.


Friday, 20 March 2015

What can we, should we, do without geniuses?

World historical geniuses have all-but disappeared from Western civilization - that is is simply a factual observation.

Either we can consider the disappearance due to a decline in intelligence and or creativity and or motivation; or we can consider that the deity has withdrawn genius from the West (because we have so often corrupted and misused it); or both.

But what could we, what should we, do about it?


The problem is that the problems of Western civilization are large, yet we have not enough geniuses to solve them (or else the geniuses are still there; but now unknown, un-empowered, ignored and/or suppressed).

In other words: the problems are significant and multiple, the problems need to be solved - but they cannot be solved at a large scale because we lack the people to do it.

Therefore it seems that the problems can only be solved partially, for instance, melioration and damage limitation rather than cure; or genuine solutions but only on a local and restricted scale.  

In a major-genius-free world, then those who are put forward (hyped and trumpeted), or put themselves forward, as world historical geniuses will be fakes of one sort or another.


The lesson may be analogous or akin to the Small is Beautiful, or 'intermediate technology' message of EF Schumacher: awareness of the need for a smaller scale, a more human scale: more local, more understandable... a preference for the partial and piecemeal.

And a rejection of gigantism and always-growing institutions; the massiveness of media; the world of master narratives, international panaceas, globalization of attitudes; the winner-take-all economy of cash, fame and kudos; and the strategic interconnection, interdependence and mutual subordination of everything.

In a world without genius; either we cultivate our gardens, or else nobody will cultivate any gardens; hence gardens will not be cultivated.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

The incidence of genius from a Christian perspective - when geniuses are just too dangerous to be risked

Since God is good and mortal life has a purpose, it seems reasonable to assume that the disposition of souls into bodies is not a random process; but that on the contrary part of some divine plan.

Therefore, the occurrence of genius is purposive - and this accounts for the destiny of each genius (the direction or path through life he ought to follow - whether or not he chooses to do so, or is prevented by circumstances and the choices of others).

Genius is not hereditary - or hardly-ever so. Rather, genius tends to be born into a family environment of high intelligence and abilities; presumably to provide sufficient nurturance of the necessary type.

The type of genius which God might be presumed to concern himself with, would be those Philosophical or Theological geniuses whose contribution is concerned with ultimate questions of the Human Condition:

In other words, the genius philosophers, theologians, prophets, mystics and saints: those who are intended (by God) to influence Man to (try to) work and live in accordance with God's hopes.

Yet all geniuses are also agents with free will and the capacity to choose; therefore they may (like Saruman) be sent to do a job which they themselves had volunteered and sworn to do - yet (like Saruman) become corrupted away from that job, and instead employ their great gifts against that job.

Thus, there is always the possibility of producing an evil genius instead of what was intended to be a good genius: the philosopher or theologian, the prophet or mystic gone-bad.

Such men are extremely dangerous - since the genius has manifold greater influence than ordinary men; and so we get the likes of Rousseau, Marx, Hitler, Lenin and Mao.


Or, a corrupt society may tend to take the output of a genius whose work included both good and bad - and may select and amplify the bad while neglecting the good.

And so we get the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein; and also the pioneer 'liberal' biblical scholars and theologians over the past couple of centuries (but I am unsure of who are the major names in this field that are likely geniuses; probably Schleiermacher, David Friedrich Strauss, WE Channing; Charles Gore...).

Much the same applies to geniuses of the arts and sciences whose general cultural influence is (or is made) malign; the likes of James Joyce, Picasso, Schoenberg, Samuel Beckett...


It may well be that the rapid decline, and almost complete disappearance, of genius from the second half of the twentieth century was ultimately due to Western society becoming too hazardous a place for geniuses; a place where geniuses are too likely to go bad, to run off the rails.

What applies to geniuses of philosophy and theology applies even more powerfully to geniuses of art, science, politics and the rest of it - because when Man is aiming in the wrong direction then he cannot help but misuse his tools - and the more powerful the tools, the greater the potential for misuse.

So our civilisation stopped being allocated souls of genius.

For our own good.


Where is memory located? Not (just) in our brains

For Christians and some other religious people, memory cannot be in the brain - or more precisely, not primarily so.


The brain dies and rots along with the rest of the body; but the self endures until after death; indeed for Christians the self is restored in eternal union with its now-perfected body (i.e. resurrected).

Memory cannot therefore be lost at death. At least, important memories - those essential to the eternal self - are not lost at death.

Therefore memory must be elsewhere than the brain - or, at least backed-up elsewhere.


Indeed, it would be truer to say that those memories 'in our brain' are at most merely an incomplete and fragile back-up for the real, enduring memories which are elsewhere.

It could be, it is perhaps even likely, that memories are stored elsewhere and the brain only accesses them. And therefore that the memory losses of ageing, trauma and disease are therefore primarily a loss of access to memories, rather than a destruction of memories.


Where might memories therefore be?

One constraining fact may be that our memories are our memories, that is our private memories - that is, they are not (or not typically) accessible to others.

This suggests that memories are stored in some part of us, some extension of our-selves, some place not in our mortal bodies - presumably in that which survives death, variously called the soul or spirit.

Since the soul is not detectable, then neither are our memories. e can, it seems, only detect the machinery which gives our mortal bodies temporary access to these permanent soul-stored memories.


When we 'forget, or when memories are 'destroyed' by age, trauma, disease then this is because the method for access has been damaged.

This is significant, even tragic, from the perspective of mortal life; however, in terms of our life in eternity we need not be so worried, need not despair: memories are indelible, permanent, as eternal as we are.

This also highlights the real problem about memory - which is not the forgetting of good things but the never-forgetting of bad things; and when the reality of what this means has sunk-in; then this fact points us at the necessity for the atonement of Jesus Christ in the time-frame of eternity.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Peeling-off the layers of genius

There are many layers to genius - although typically only those nearest the surface are considered.Some of the main layers are:

1. Sociological - Impact on history
2. Biological - differential - Reproductive Success
3. Biological - ideal - Fitness
4. Philosophical - Fitness for what?
5. Theological - in relation to Ultimate Purpose


1. Sociological - this is the usual level of analysis, the usual definition of a genius.

A genius is seen as a person who has made a disproportionately large impact on human history. This can be measured more-or-less objectively.


2. Biological - Differential. A genius is seen in biological terms as one who makes an disproportionately large impact on human reproduction.This is measured in terms of reproductive success, which is measured in terms of the number of descendants of a genius and/or the group to which he he belongs.

By this measure, a genius is one who causes a measurable increase in the number or proportion of his society (by some measure) - such geniuses would be those who created the technical breakthroughs leading to the agrarian and industrial revolutions.

(And an anti-genius would be one who did the opposite: caused a decline in the number or proportion of descendants. These would include those who invented or promoted liberal Christianity, atheism, socialism, feminism and the sexual revolution.)


3. Biological - Ideal. This takes account of the objective, not differential, effect of fitness (as best this may be estimated) by estimating organismal functionality.

For example, a lineage may increase in its numbers or proportion of the population; even though there is an accumulation of deleterious mutations which damage basic functionality.

So reproductive success(absolute or relative) can increase even as the underlying functionality or fitness declines. 

This can happen when the environment is less harsh, inflicts a lower mortality rate (as with animals in a zoo, or human in modern society).


4. Philosophical - Fitness for what? If an ideal, not actual, concept of fitness is to be used, then it is not clear what is the environment against which fitness/ functionality should be measured.

This creates a need for, opens space for, a philosophical discourse about what Man's fitness ought to be.

By this account, a genius is one who enhances his group's fitness for (or functionality-in) the kind of environment which Man is aiming-for, or wants to have. One version of this would be a genius tending to create Men fitted for utopia.

This definition would include philosophers in the broad sense of the word; artists, painters, poets, literary authors etc.


5. Theological. Finally, and ultimately, this relates to the idea of a genius being one who promotes the ultimate purpose of Life, of divinity.

This definition would include prophets and saints; and also some artists, poets, and thinkers.


It can be seen that these various definitions of genius dissociate. For example, a genius who promotes theological ultimate purpose may damage reproductive success (if a good new religious group is exterminated). A genius who promotes reproductive success, may damage ideal fitness (i.e. population increases but so does the deleterious mutation load).


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The altruism of genius - from an evolutionary perspective

In biological, that is evolutionary, terms; genius is an altruistic trait.

This means that - on average, in the environment where and when genius evolved, being a genius will tend to reduce the genius's own personal reproductive success, while substantially enhancing the reproductive success of the group of which the genius is a member.

Biological altruism does not (or not necessarily) correspond with social altruism, or an altruistic personality- i.e. 'helping people' - because the genius's contribution to his community is via his work.

Indeed, it is characteristic of the behaviour of a genius that he will protect the conditions necessary for his work, even when this goes against usual and expected socially altruistic behaviour.

The genius may therefore be solitary - may indeed be selfish, may not marry or have a family, may not be a good neighbour. But selfish not really for his own benefit - not for money or status - but primarily for the work: selfish to enable him better to do (or to do at all) what it is he does.

Some geniuses are nice, some are nasty - that is not the point; the point is that the genius feels his first (or a very high) responsibility is to do his utmost to create and sustain the best conditions he needs for his work.

Thus it is quite possible, quite normal, for biological altruism at the group level to go with personal selfishness; and for personal un-selfishness to be anti-altruistic, and to damage the reporductive interests of the group.

Altruism and being nice: two very different things.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Where is there hope for England?

It is an interesting question.

Although there is no obvious place or cause for hope in any place of power or prestige, and no realistic cause for optimism with respect to Christianity of any type; it is not acceptable for us simply to say "nowhere" - because there is always hope, did we but know its location.

One source may be in the kind of educational experience of primary school (up to age 11) - where I think many children have had considerable exposure to good imaginative 'fantasy' literature (of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson type, as well as older classics) and movies (of the Pixar and DreamWorks type).

My feeling is that this exposure to imaginative fantasy may have considerable long term significance - even if its effects tend to get buried and go-underground during the teenage and early adult years - at least, that was how it was for me with respect to Tolkien.


The fundamental nature of creativity - creativity as the operation of free will and the true self

It is hard to define creativity; indeed I have never seen a satisfactory definition. We recognise exceptional creativity, and exceptionally creative people - but nonetheless it is hard to say what creativity might be.

That suggests to me that creativity is a very fundamental attribute. My understanding is that creativity is the action of free will.

In other words, there is a backdrop of events that follow a cause and effect logic - but creativity is when these chains and webs of quasi-mechanical unfolding are qualitatively changed by the operation of autonomous choice from a being with free will.

As further clarification, many or most or perhaps sometimes all f a person's choices are not made by their true self using free will; but are automatic, conditioned, quasi-mechanical responses due to 'false selves' such as the public personality. The real self in an adult is typically a hidden and enfeebled thing; buried under habits, socialisation, instincts and much else.

I think that this may be a relatively rare occurrence in the lives of most people, and that high levels of creativity are therefore rare. Geniuses are among the rare people who seem to have a greater access to their true selves, are in frequent communication with their true selves: this is the integrity of genius, which shines out from so many biographies of geniuses.

Good or bad, nice or nasty; a genius is an integrated personality; highly autonomous from other people is his views and motivations; one aware-of and dominated-by inner drives; one whose decisions, evaluations, choices are distinctive and highly independent.

Geniuses are 'inner' people; and this innerness is, I suggest, the source of their creativity. It could be said that geniuses are made (are born) such that they are connected with inner sources of thinking, including being connected with the real self.

Of course, geniuses have free will just like everybody else - and the born genius may choose to reject his destiny, and not to use his special abilities. But in this respect the genius is just an extreme of the universal situation.

If creativity happens when free will intervenes in reality, then geniuses are simply those who combine a high awareness of the operations of their free will, with exceptional ability. Presumably anybody and everybody can and sometimes does 'tap-into' and use their real self in making autonomous choices; but the non-genus does this seldom and easily ignores or rejects the consequences - also the non-genius may have merely average (or below average) abilities; so that the fruits of their creativity is of little interest to other people.

But, whether or not it is impressive or influential, actual creativity is simply this process of using free will of the real self to choose. Creativity 'has happened' if this has happened - whether or not we know about it, whether or not it has a measurable effect on human affairs.

(Conversely, what may appear to be a 'creative act', impressive, influential, widely admired or useful, is not truly creativity if it is not a product of free will, if it does not eventuate from free will; if it is merely the product of quasi-mechanical unfolding of cause-and-effect processes.)


Friday, 6 March 2015

It was "Agintrans" geniuses of enhanced productivity that made the industrial revolution

My thesis here is that English (and some Scottish) geniuses specifically in Agriculture, Industrial production and Transport (for which I have coined the word Agintrans) - but primarily in agriculture - were the crucial factor in driving the industrial revolution.

And that the people who make this type of breakthrough should be assumed to be geniuses - even when they have traditionally a lower status than other types of genius (in science, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, music etc), and despite that some of the names of the people who made some of the breakthroughs seem to have been lost.


The two most significant transitions in the history of mankind were the invention of agriculture - which happened before history, independently in several times and places and spread rather gradually; and the industrial revolution - which was lavishly documented, happened in England and spread very rapidly.

My understanding is that such revolutions are made from breakthroughs that are the product of creative geniuses, of individual and specially gifted men. Without the geniuses, there is only incremental improvement of existing methods.

But geniuses come in many types. Clearly, genius in painting and literature does not make an industrial revolution. So, the question is what kind of geniuses made the industrial revolution?


Before the industrial revolution, nations could only rapidly increase production (and grow population) by conquest (and to a lesser extent by trade) - so growth of a nation was at the expense of decline of another nation.

For instance, Empires were built on military innovations which led to conquest, looting, enslavement etc. Or there were cohesion innovations (religion, ideologies, forms of job specialisation and hierarchical organisation, even the arts and literature) which kept the population motivated and cooperating.

What made the industrial revolution different was geniuses who enabled increased productivity - specifically, whose breakthroughs increased the extraction of useful resources from a unit area.


So the relevant English geniuses were probably those in areas such as agriculture, transport, energy, industrial machinery, building and human organisation.

In particular, the industrial revolution was made possible by the preceding agrarian (or agricultural) revolution from about 1700. That increase in agricultural productivity without which the population could not have increased. By about 1700 the English population seems to have risen to near the Malthusian limit of traditional agriculture and technology - yet by 1850 the population had trebled.


The agrarian revolution in England was characterised by a multitude of major and swiftly cumulative breakthroughs, such as selective animal breeding for more desirable traits; improved understanding of crop rotation, manuring and liming; and a many improved tools.

The result was an increased extraction of food per unit area - and an increase in the amount of area usable for food (e.g. by drainage of wet areas).


Following rapidly on, and necessary for food distribution, were improvements in transportation such as much better road surfaces allowing wheeled vehicles in all weathers, new canals and the invention of railways - first with horse power, then later coal powered.

All this required new technologies and forms of organisation for coal and other forms of mining, and production of iron, steel and so on. Industrial production entailed invention of factory production and many new types of manufacture.

The end result was to increase greatly the amount of useful stuff that could be extracted or otherwise produced per man-hour.


My point is that it is easy to be distracted away from this type of Agintrans innovation, when at the same time there was an efflorescence of English genius in so many other areas such as philosophy, science, literature, art, architecture, religion and all the rest - and when the geniuses in these areas are so much better known than the Agintrans geniuses.

Especially neglected are the (presumed) geniuses of the agrarian revolution upon whom everything which came later depended: the likes of Robert Bakewell, Jethro Tull, Coke of Norfolk, Turnip Townsend... these men probably ought to be honoured as the primary enablers of the modern world and of the second great transformative transition of the human species. 



Wednesday, 4 March 2015

WD Hamilton describes the rise and demise of creative genius as first a group selected, then individually-selected, phenomenon - 1975

From WD Hamilton, Innate social aptitudes of man. In Robin Fox (ed.). ASA Studies 4 : Biosocial Anthropology. Malaby Press: London, 1975. pp133-53.


The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilisations less harmin the long run than one might expect...

It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of the pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress that tends to die-out in a large panmictic [randomly mating - i.e. not restrictive or assortative] population...

I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the Renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and culture (...) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals when then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. 

Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness,such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. 

Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity.


Spengler on the demographic trends leading to mutation accumulation?

Mutation accumulation, tending toward mutational meltdown and extinction events, comes from declining population size and the cumulative failure of natural selection mechanisms (including sexual selection) to purge the generation-by-generation spontaneous-occurrence of deleterious mutations. 

Selected and edited from The Hour of Decision by Oswald Spengler 1933. Bold emphasis added.


The decay of the white family, the inevitable outcome of megalopolitan existence, is spreading, and it is devouring the “race” of nations. The meaning of man and wife, the will to perpetuity, is being lost. People live for themselves alone, not for future generations.

The nation as society, once the organic web of families, threatens to dissolve, from the city outwards, into a sum of private atoms, of which each is intent on extracting from his own and other lives the maximum of amusement — panem et circenses.

The women’s emancipation of Ibsen’s time wanted, not freedom from the husband, but freedom from the child, from the burden of children, just as men’s emancipation in the same period signified freedom from the duties towards family, nation, and State. The whole of Liberal-Socialistic problem-literature revolves about this suicide of the white race. It has been the same in all other Civilizations.

The apparent increase of the white population all over the world, little as it is in comparison with the volume of the colored increase, rests upon a temporary illusion: the number of children grows ever smaller, and only the number of adults increases, not because there are more of them, but because they live longer.

But a strong race requires not only an inexhaustible birth-rate, but also a severe selection process, which is provided by the resistances to living represented by misfortune, sickness, and war.

Nineteenth-century medicine, a true product of Rationalism, is from this point of view also a phenomenon of age. It prolongs each life whether this is desirable or no. It prolongs even death. It replaces the number of children by the number of greybeards.

It promotes the world outlook of panem et circenses by estimating the value of life by the number of its days, not by their usefulness.

It prevents the natural process of selection and thereby accentuates the decay of the race.

Also there are the terrible numbers of abnormal people of every description, mental, spiritual, and physical, the hysterical, moral, and nerve cases who can neither beget nor bear healthy children. Their number is unobtainable, but we can gauge it by the number of doctors who live by them and the mass of books that are written about them.

From this degenerate crop comes the revolutionary proletariat, with its hatred born of grievances, and the drawing-room Bolshevism of the aesthetes and literary folk, who enjoy and advertise the attractiveness of such states of mind.

Friday, 27 February 2015

We underestimate the impact of Great Men, and the considerable time-lag of societal change


In considering the rise and decline of civilisations, nowadays we nearly always seriously underestimate the size of impact which one person can make. At least since Marx, it has been regarded as sophisticated to minimise and explain-away the distinctive contribution of any specific person - to trace all breakthroughs back through their component parts until it seems that things simply organised-themselves without any particular need for humans to take a role.

But it seems likely that original creative thinking is something which very few people can do; and without those very few people it simply does not get done;


The way I think of it is that:

At most a tiny proportion of people sometimes are able to make creative innovations (but in some places, at some times, such people are altogether lacking - and creativity dries-up).

A much larger proportion of people are able to understand innovations once they have been made. Thus a single major innovation can usually, over time, be substantially elaborated, and extrapolated, and improved by 'research and development'.

This extension of an initial breakthrough may unfold over several decades. The unfolding is one possible source of the considerable time-lag in societal change. A society can live-off its past geniuses for a long, long time (depending on the severity of threats it has to face).

And even when understanding has been lost, there are a hundredfold more who can 'operate' the tools and techniques and systems which have been left them by those who understand - and this can further extend the time-lag (although a society which has lost understanding as well as genius is even more vulnerable, more brittle, than the society which has understanding of what-is, but cannot make creative breakthroughs


This came to mind after reading Terryl Given's superb recent book Wrestling the Angel: the foundations of Mormon thought. Mormonism - which is now the religion of some 15 million people around the world, depends almost entirely on one man: Joseph Smith.

Givens make clear on the one hand was an extraordinary achievement came from Joseph Smith - the book of Mormon and other scriptures, the organisation of a new kind of church, an astonishingly radical yet coherent Christian theology - and on the other hand that this was Smith's achievement almost wholly, Smith provided all the major breakthroughs.

Those who followed (Brigham Young, the Pratt brothers etc) had the much. much easier task of organising, selecting and sorting, systematising, adding a little here and taking away a little there. But without Joseph Smith there would have been nothing. So in that sense the whole massive impact of Mormonism is down to a single man.

And the momentum created by that one man is still rolling onwards- even after nearly 200 years - showing the very considerable time-lag of development which often follows the intervention of a Great Man.


Something similar could be said of most major creative geniuses - they certainly did not do everything, nor did they invent everything they used - but without them nothing would have been done; in that sense it is all down to a very few individuals each of very great impact - each of whom was necessary, although not sufficient.

Necessary but not sufficient. No man is an island. The 'understanders' are also needed as well as the creators - but without creators essentially nothing happens except minor twiddling.

There never are very many Great Men, but when there are none - or none in the domains of life where they are most needed - it sets an absolute limit on what can be achieved, or what threats can be resisted.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Genius and social intelligence (High Psychoticism and the creative genius personality may be conceptualized as social intelligence co-opted for abstract thinking)

Humans are social animals: most Men see the world through social spectacles.

But a genius is not like this. The genius does not have a specific, positive personality type - but geniuses are characterised by not being primarily social animals. 

A genius is one whose main focus and motivation is not social, nor sexual; but instead abstract, not-social - whether artistic, scientific, technical or whatever it may be.   


Could it then be that the genius uses for abstract thinking, those brain-systems which in most people are used for social intelligence? That in the genius, the social intelligence system is wired-up to internal stimuli instead of to social situations? 

That the genius deploys the social intelligence parts of the brain for other purposes - and that therefore the usual spontaneous motivation and attention that goes to social material is instead - automatically - being harnessed and deployed to deal with other and inner-generated material. 


So, it is not that geniuses lack social intelligence (the genius is not 'autistic' in the sense of having a deficit or defect in social intelligence); rather that geniuses have all the 'equipment' necessary for social intelligence, but are 'wired-up' to use their social intelligence for other and not-social purposes. 

Specifically, the genius social intelligence may be wired-up to internally-generated material (instead of attending to to actual people in the environment and from memory).  The spontaneous interest and concern with 'other people' that is characteristic of most people; is, in the genius, directed to whatever 'abstract' subject the genius has a vocation-for. 


Another way of thinking about this is that the genius may be able to deploy extra 'brain power' in problem solving, by 'co-opting' the brain regions normally used for social intelligence. 

And not only brain power - but the distinctive 'theory of mind' mode of thinking which characterises social intelligence. So the genius thinks about 'his subject' in a social-like way - as a world populated by entities with motivations and dispositions and each having a purpose (teleology). 

Social intelligence could be much of what is creative about creativity; because to think about abstract things 'anthropomorphically' with social intelligence, or animistically as if they were sentient social agents, perhaps opens-up a new and probably more creative, intuitive and flexible way of thinking. 


The necessity of genius for societal problem-solving - much greater than recognized due to the recent 'surplus' of geniuses

During the 1800s it was generally recognised that 'great men' - including geniuses - were essential to the survival,  problem-solving ability and progress of societies^. If there was an insufficient supply of geniuses, then society would be static at best, and would crumble and collapse as soon as it encountered a novel threat which tradition or trial and error was incapable of solving.  

But through the twentieth century the idea emerged, especially in science, that no individual person made an essential contribution - and that if Professor A had not made his big discovery, then one or several of Professors B, C, or D would have made essentially the same breakthrough within a short space of time. This suggested that science was primarily a process, and that no individual was indispensable.

This idea was propagated even among some geniuses, and even when arguing for the existence of exceptions - for example Paul Dirac (himself a genius) said in praising Einstein for the uniquely personal breakthrough of General Relativity that all other breakthroughs in physics (including his won) merely accelerated the progress of the subject by a few years at most.

But I believe this view was an artefact of the extremely-unusual high prevalence of geniuses in science during the couple of centuries leading up to the mid-twentieth century; the fact that many were working in certain specific areas such as physics, and the sudden pooling of talent resulting from fast international travel and communication. For a while, a short while in fact, just a few decades, there were more physics geniuses than were strictly needed - and any one of them (except probably Einstein) had 'back-up' from one or more individuals of similar ability and interests.

But now that geniuses have dwindled and dwindled in numbers and as a proportion, until it is hard to name any living geniuses in most major areas of human endeavour; I think we are ready to recognise that the usual situation is that there is at most one person in any given time and place who is capable of making a major breakthrough.

And if for whatever reason that individual person does not exist, or fails to make the breakthrough - or if the breakthrough is made but ignored - then that is that: there is no back-up.

If a genius cannot do it, then it is not done.

Part of this is ability - but that is only part of it: the other half is motivation. Most major breakthroughs require several or many years of dedicated and focused work - the kind of dedicated work that can only arise from genuine, spontaneous inner motivation.

For example, for Andrew Wiles to prove Fermat's Last Theorem required not only one of the best mathematicians in the world, but the inner drive to do many years of solitary, dedicated (and career threatening) work - then to fail in the initial attempt, to resume the solitary and focused search, and second time to find the right answer.

Wiles's level of motivation coupled with ability is very, very rare indeed - such that I think we can say that if he had not proved Fermat's Last Theorem  twenty years ago, it would still not be proved - and perhaps it never would have been proved.

This, I believe, is the usual situation with geniuses through most of history and most of the time: they do what only they can do; they are irreplaceable.

And the shape of history is substantially affected by the presence, or absence, of such men.


^See William James - Great Men, Great Thoughts and the Environment - 1880. James himself was an example of an irreplaceable Great Man - indeed I believe that the scope of his vital contribution has not even yet been comprehended or implemented.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

How could Mouse Utopia lead to the maladaptive nonsense of New Left Political Correctness? Mainly by allowing it, not directly causing it


If it seems plausible that the Mouse Utopia accumulation of deleterious genetic mutations may have had a role in the modern phenomenon of New Leftism or Political Correctness - then how might this work?

The basic idea is that generation upon generation mutation accumulation - beginning in the upper classes - has had several effects. One is to reduce intelligence (specifically 'g' or general intelligence).

But reducing intelligence is not really the root problem, because the insanities of Political Correctness are so gross as not to require high intelligence to comprehend them - indeed, Political Correctness arose and took root and grew mostly among those of above average intelligence.

Neither does the maladaptiveness of Mouse Utopia lead to evil - evil has other sources.

The problem is a failure of common sense, of basic instincts to detect threat and for survival - the failure of normal and adaptive motivations in relation to social life and sexuality.


The way I think it worked is that there were always foolish and wicked ideas in the public arena; but in the past there was a sufficiently high average level of common sense that the foolishness was obvious, and the need to reject foolish ideas on common sense grounds was compelling.

Nowadays many, perhaps most, people lack the most basic understanding of what is normal, pathological, healthy, damaging, adaptive, disgusting, desirable, sensible, stupid. Therefore ridiculous notions are accepted and gone-along-with, with little more than a vaguely confused shrug. Therefore wicked, destructive, horrible ideas are accepted and gone-along-with when they are wrapped-up in the grossest and most clear-cut nonsense.


So, this is what I think may have happened. After several generations of Mouse Utopia, many social and sexual adaptations have been damaged in many different ways in most people - so it is possible for the small minority of purposively evil masterminds behind Politically Correct Leftism to impose their ideas on a modern population, where they inflict personal and social damage of many types - when this imposition would have been impossible in any previous human society.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Mouse Utopia as an explanation for Political Correctness

The Mouse Utopia term is explained below ^

It is possible, perhaps even plausible, that the usual type of explanation for the self-hating, self-destructive insanities of New Left Political Correctness may be insufficient - and that in reality the core, permissive, necessary factor has not been socio-political but instead biological.

If the Mouse Utopia scenario is accepted, then since about 1800 in England (where the industrial revolution began), and starting with the upper classes (who were the first to benefit from lowering child mortality rates, and also the first to reduce fertility) then new and almost always deleterious mutations have been building up generation upon generation.

These mutations are 'random' and their effects fall randomly in the genome - how would they show themselves?

The answer is they would affect behavioural traits that are quantitative fitness measures (such as general intelligence, which has apparently declined rapidly and substantially over the past couple of centuries); and mutations would also have an early and rapid effect on behavioural traits that are the most sensitive and subtle, such as social and sexual adaptations.


In particular, I think the first affected traits would be attitudes.

I think that attitudes are extremely sensitive to even slight pathology, sickness, dysfunction of many types; and would therefore change before actual behaviours changed.

Thus, an early sign of Mouse Utopia would be changes in attitudes, especially social and sexual attitudes - and since mutations are nearly always harmful what we might see was...

Maladaptive changes in social and sexual attitudes.


By maladaptive I mean tending to reduce personal (and group) survival, and reduce reproduction.

Well... it fits with political correctness, like a glove.

Not proof - but the social and sexual domination of modern Leftism seems to be consistent with Mouse Utopia.


^ The Mouse Utopia hypothesis (deriving from Michael A Woodley) is that the relaxation of the historically very harsh forces of natural selection - especially the near abolition of child mortality in recent decades - has led to a generation-by-generation, objectively-dysgenic accumulation of deleterious mutations that are incrementally destroying the adaptiveness of the human species.

This process has been accelerated by a reversal of the historical pattern of reproductive success which started from the early and mid 1800s in the West, to favour the reproductive success of the lowest in intelligence (= highest in mutation load), and on average of lower social class and status. In other words, differential fertility has favoured those who would, on average, be carrying the heaviest load of deleterious mutations - while those who would be expected to have the least mutations have declined to severely sub-replacement fertility.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Introversion/ Extraversion and Neuroticism/ Emotional Stability in Genius

I have written extensively on the Psychoticism trait  - its nature and role in Genius; but have so-far neglected to discuss Eysenck's other suggested major personality traits of Introversion/ Extraversion and Neuroticism/ Emotional Stability



In general, it would be expected that Introversion trait was high in genius - in the sense that introverts are inner-stimulated and autonomous of their environment, in contrast with extraverts who depend on external stimulus to maintain a state of arousal or alertness.

But the self-rating scales for measuring Introversion focus on behaviours, and not psychological mechanisms - therefore those scoring high in Introversion will include people who are simply anhedonic, inactive; who lack motivation and drive - and these attributes would be fatal to the prospects of a genius accomplishing anything significant.

In other words, real Introversion would be a characteristic of genius, but a high score on the introversion scale would also contain undermotivated people - thereby blurring the measurement by misclassification error.

Thus, a genius needs to be a genuine introvert; but people with pathology might lead to 'false positive' measures of high introversion.



Analogously, but in the opposite direction, high Neuroticism (N) would be bad for a genius, in the sense that N refers to an unpleasant and overwhelming sensitivity of emotions and moods to the environment - such that a high N person tends to be overwhelmed with negative emotions such as anxiety, shyness, low self esteem, misery etc.

But the opposite state of low-N (or high Emotional Stability) as it is measured by behavioural questionnaires, is also potentially hostile to genius, since it implies an insensivity to events; a lack of emotional-responsiveness - including people with weak emotions.

These would all tend to be a disadvantage to genius - since emotions are used to evaluate situations and evidence; so weak emotions would tend to impair discrimination.

These would be the processes of Neuroticism, but in practice N is measured using a tally of (usually self-reported) behavioural traits - and these could not distinguish between different causes of the same behaviour; and so would conflate subtle and useful emotional sensitivity, with the pathological state of too-easy triggering of negative emotions.

So, a genius might score as somewhat high in N, but this would not necessarily reflect a pathology.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Creativity in low-Psychoticism people (i.e. creativity in average and normal people)

Although creativity is strongest in those high in the personality trait of Psychoticism (P), it is not restricted to those of high-P personality: probably, everyone is creative to some extent.

How then does creativity show itself in low-P individuals? - given that the distribution of Psychoticism within the population is 'positively-skewed' - in other words a majority of people are low in psychoticism, and only a small proportion high in P.

Furthermore, Psychoticism trait has a higher average in men than women, and a lot more men are high in P than women. This shows itself both in terms of the typical creative interests of 'normal' boys-men and girls-women - and also in the much higher proportion of men among the most creative people: the geniuses.


In people low in Psychoticism, creativity is there but weak, seldom activated, not-dominant, short-lived and - as a rule - subordinated to social (including sexual) imperatives which are the primary drive for most people.

Of course, almost by definition, creativity in the normal majority of people is not necessarily impressive or rare. So this creativity tends to be private, and almost invisible at a societal level (especially in large modern societies).

The easiest way to see creativity is perhaps in children - especially in older but pre-pubertal children, and their 'crazes' and hobbies.

Boys often have very creative hobbies in which they become mini-experts and avid dissenters of subjects like cars, aeroplanes, sports, crafts etc - also in reading particular books (on favourite themes or by favourite authors), or TV series. These children often live chunks of their leisure time psychologically-inside a very intense parallel 'fantasy world'.

Girls may also have crazes on particular books; also they may become passionate about horses, or fashion, or hairdressing, or pretending to be a teacher.


Aside - It is noticeable that girls crazes tend to be more socially-inflected and less abstract; and this follows through to adult life, and high achievement. The highest frequency of genius, or near-genius, level achievement among women is focused on the most social and human aspects of the arts and sciences - and much rarer in abstract areas.

For instance, there are many and well known women novelists in the front rank - the novel being the most 'social' of art forms. And in science, the highest achievements of women are in the human sciences rather than the physical sciences - and within biology women have been very prominent in social areas like primatology and anthropology.


But to return to the theme, normal and average creativity is seen in hobbies, and how people use their discretionary time; and the fact that hobbies are for most people subject to work, relationships and daily life is due to the low-P, low creativity personality.

Normal people are creative, to some subordinate extent; and they fit creativity into their lives.

But geniuses fit their lives around their hobbies, and geniuses make their hobbies (avocations) into their life (their vocations).


Thus Robert Frost (a poet of genius) expresses the difference:

Two Tramps in Mud Time

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


Monday, 9 February 2015

How - and why - genius is group selected - massive cultural amplification

It may be wondered why I am so confident that genius is group-selected (apart from the fact that Michael A Woodley persuaded me!) considering that the status of group selection remains controversial within evolutionary biology.

That groups selection remains controversial is largely, perhaps, the result of the influence of Richard Dawkins's 1976 book The Selfish Gene; which hugely popularised the kin selection/ inclusive fitness ideas of WD Hamilton - which were presented as if they refuted the case for group selection; while omitting that WD Hamilton was himself a lifelong believer in the reality of group selection (as may be seen from his three volume collection Narrow Roads of Gene Land).


Note added: What is the essence of group selection of genius? 

It is simply that genius is essentially for the benefit of the group and not for the benefit of the genius himself.

In terms of natural selection, this means the work of genius is 'for' the genetic benefit of the group; in broader terms this means the works of genius are 'for' general social benefit (therefore, not for the specific private benefit of the genius himself).


The basic reason for entertaining the hypothesis of group selection for genius, is that on average genius has poor reproductive success - with an average of less than two offspring per genius from most estimates; indeed many geniuses seem to have had no children at all (Newton, Beethoven) - and especially among the relatively few women geniuses (e.g. Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Dickenson).

Certainly, there is near-zero evidence of enhanced reproductive success for geniuses - indeed this is extremely implausible given that geniuses invest far less effort and resources into social and sexual goals than average people do - due to their investing so much more effort and resources into the subject matter of their genius.

Therefore, the 'standard' mechanism of natural selection is apparently not the cause of geniuses, and we must look at indirect mechanisms.


The theoretical problem with group selection is that if an allele occurs by chance which reduces differential reproductive success (RS) in direct descendants while enhancing the success of the group overall, then this mutation will tend to go extinct over not many generations.

This is true enough, so far as it goes; but does not eliminate the possibility that a population may produce an enhanced number of geniuses by group selection for at least several generations - if there is some mechanism to over-compensate for the reduced differential RS of genius - i.e. the decline in the proportion of the 'genius alleles' in the population may be overcompensated by a mechanism leading to an increase in the absolute number (not proportion) of genius alleles.

The answer is that a reduced proportion of 'genius alleles' in the group can be over-compensated by the massive effect of even one world-historical genius on the group as a whole - and more so by the presence of several major geniuses.

So if the presence of a genius results in the expansion of the population of his group (or arrests the decline of a sufficiently large group), then genius alleles might survive in increased numbers for several generations.


What seems to have happened in England, for example, is that during the Medieval period, natural selection acted to increase the average intelligence of the society - which had the effect of increasing the capability of the geniuses - so that their work became of world-historic (rather than merely local) importance.

The initial effect, from about the seventeenth century, seems to have been an increase in the proportion and number of geniuses, leading to a strengthening and expansion of the kind of society which had led (by various means) to that initial high proportion of geniuses.

English geniuses began to accumulate so quickly, and make so many innovations in agriculture and industry, that the English population expanded very rapidly; and the English 'group' began to spread around the world to India, North America, Australasia, South Africa, and so on.


In other words, the genius alleles in England were probably a relatively-slowly dwindling proportion of a very-rapidly expanding population - thus genius alleles were (for several generations) increasing in number, even as they reduced in proportion. Genius preserved itself, for a while; even though the genius alleles led to on-average reduced reproductive success.


The reason why genius may confidently be assumed to be potentially group selected is therefore that the cultural impact of a genius upon the group is so vast that it dwarfs any potential genetic influence.

So one single genius who provides a breakthrough that massively enhances something like food production, military technology, building, the cohesive benefits of religion, effectiveness of societal organization, price or swiftness or trade or transportation, or economic efficiency... can enormously expand the size and domination of this genius's group - such that the rising tide (of culture) floats all (genetic) boats (at least for a few generations).

In other words, the genius's large 'group' of cultural partners will experience a tremendous boost to their reproductive success - thereby expanding the same kind of society which (through whatever combination of genes and culture and whatever else) produced, sustained and recognized the genius in the first place.

In sum a genius will tend to enhance the genius-friendly society which produced him.


On top of this, it may be that the conditions which favoured genius in the first place, do so because (in that particular, contingent, time and place) groups can survive and grow only by creative innovation. Clearly this has not been the usual or typical case in the history of most places; but it certainly looks as if it may have been the case in and around Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Since the personality trait of Psychoticism seems to provide the creativity aspect of genius; then all that is required was for natural selection to lead to a positively-skewed and sexually differentiated distribution of Psychoticism trait - so that the population would contain a small (but vital) proportion of High Psychoticism Males  - as the specialist creative innovators.

This would explain the distribution of High Psychoticism - in a minority because the majority are needed for reproduction; and in males, because there is a relative surplus of males, and through most of history the majority of reproduction has been done by a small minority of optimal fitness males selected by a strong selective sieve of high mortality rates, and validated by intensive male-versus-male competition for mates and matings. 


On the other hand, what might be termed a bad, or destructive genius - will also have a massively damaging effect to the culture which produced him. The work of a negative genius will tends to damage the size, effectiveness, efficiency, reproduction, cohesion or some other useful attribute of the group which produced him.

Therefore, when a genius is bad, the amplification effect works in the opposite direction to wreak wholesale destruction.

Indeed, since it is easier to destroy than to create; it might be expected that bad geniuses will have a larger effect than good ones. It is plausible that Napoleon (building on the French Revolution) single-handedly inflicted permanent damage on the French nation by the mass maiming and slaughter of the most able, and able-bodied, men. Hitler perhaps did much the same to Germany; Lenin and Stalin to Russia. From England, the genius of Karl Marx and other 'reformers', socialists, feminists, sexual revolutionaries, atheists and radicals - unleashed truly massive group damage; initially locally, but affecting by now the whole world.


In summary, genius is an unstable product of nations.

A nation with conditions that produce many geniuses may find itself undermined both by the success of its good geniuses (because such is the amplification effect on genius, that useful innovations are difficult to keep secret, and tend to spread from the originating group to that group's enemies); and by its bad geniuses.

Genius may, for a while, lead to more genius - by group selection. But sooner or later, the massive amplification effect of genius is likely to destabilize and destroy the system that engendered it; or else the fitness-reducing effect of genius alleles will tend towards genetic extinction.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Therapeutic benefits of stimulant and sedative psychoactive drugs explained in terms of sleep dissociation

Using the analysis of sleep as a dissociated state,

I will (tentatively) suggest a way in which stimulant and sedative drugs might work to have their different therapeutic effects on different psychiatric symptoms or disorders.

Broadly speaking, stimulants may improve states involving emotional blunting/ anhedonia and also movement disorders (such as Parkinson's disease and catatonia) originating in the basal ganglia benefit; while sedative agents may benefit psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and thought disorder, and also conditions excessive emotionality.  


Sleep phase should be defined by what parts of the brain, what brain functions, are actually asleep - i.e. that are being rested and restored - and not by the brain regions or functions that remain active.

Therefore REM/ Dreaming sleep is a misnomer - because it describes the brain function that remains active, when the key aspect ought to be that during REM/ dreaming sleep, movement is paralysed (muscles are flaccid - except for eye movement) and (presumably) the basal ganglia - which fine-tune movement and emotions - are also being rested and restored.

In Deep Sleep, the musculature (and presumably basal ganglia) remain functional, but the key fact is that the brain functions related to awareness are being rested and restored (because during Deep Sleep we lose awareness, and are unaware of time passing, and have no long-term memory for what - if anything - has subjectively been happening).


Thus (to simplify - no doubt other functions are involved):

Deep sleep is about restoration of brain regions and functions related to awareness.

REM/ Dreaming sleep is about restoration of brain regions and functions related to emotions (and movements) - since emotions depend on the basal ganglia.


I suggest that stimulants and sedative have two, non-symmetrical actions on sleep phase architecture:

Stimulants stimulate REM/ Dreaming sleep - and thereby 'switch-off' and rest the basal ganglia with the effect of improving mood and emotional responsivity (and reducing basal ganglia induced movement disorders - such as Parkinson's disease and catatonia).

Sedatives suppress REM/ Dreaming sleep - and thereby switch-off and rest awareness. If (as I believe) hallucinations and thought disorder can validly be conceptualised as awake-dreaming - or, dreams intruding into the alert state to induce hallucinations, and breaking-up the stream of consciousness to induce thought disorder - then psychosis is a pathology of awareness.

The suppression of REM sleep by sedative could have therapeutic benefits if there is pathological awareness (for instance awareness of dreams intruding into the awake state), or emotions are too strong: that is if emotional strength is excessive.

There might also be an indirect effect from sedatives of re-balancing the sleep architecture towards Deep sleep and away from REM/ Dreaming sleep; and this may serve to reduce hallucinations and thought disorder.

However, the existing available sedatives only tend to enhance the shallower levels of deep sleep (Stages 1 and 2) and typically do not produce a natural and ideally restorative sleep (Stages 3 and 4) so that patients report sleeping more hours, but seldom wake-up fully refreshed.


An agent both stimulant and sedative would be Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

ECTs putative actions include a generalised Grand Mal cortical seizure that also (probably) involves the basal ganglia; then a 're-booting' phase after the seizure as the brain recovers from the depolarisation of a Grand Mal fit; an immediate post-ictal sleep; and the probability of better quality (more restorative) sleep on the night following the ECT treatment

How these effects might interact to improve sleep architecture is highly tentative, but ECT seems to be able to produce deeper Deep sleep Phase (eg Stages 3 and 4) than normal drug sedatives - at any rate, reports of sleep after successful ECT are that it is restorative and satisfying in a way that is superior to sedative drugs.

Furthermore, the benefits of ECT in demotivated and anhedonic Psychotic Depression, and also Parkinson's disease and catatonia (plus cerebrospinal fluid measurements) strongly imply that ECT enhances dopamine activity in both the meso-limbic system and the basal ganglia (especially the substantia nigra).

I would therefore suggest that ECT operates to enhance both Deep and Dreaming sleep - giving it an all-round therapeutic effect which goes beyond any of the usual drugs.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

All natural sleep is a dissociated state

There is never a time during sleep when all of the brain is sleeping - and the sleep cycle is a rotation between one part of the brain sleeping and another.

Dissociated means that some parts of the brain (and some functions) are asleep while others are awake.

In Deep Sleep the conscious mind is asleep, and we are not aware of time passing - but the muscles remain tonic, and it is possible to respond 'automatically' to the environment, tossing and turning in be, and even sleep talking and sleep walking.

In REM/ Dreaming Sleep, the muscles are by contrast paralysed, and there is no physical interaction with the sleeper's environment - but we are conscious and aware of time passing, and dreaming; and can hear and feel the environment (sometimes this gets incorporated into dreams).

Why cannot all the brain be asleep at once? Probably because we must remain in contact with the environment to some extent, and because the awake parts of the brain are needed to re-awaken those parts that are asleep.

Presumably if the whole brain is asleep and 'switched off' and out of contact with the environment; then this is a coma. And it is hard to awaken from a coma precisely because the whole brain is asleep and also cut-off from the environment so the sleeper is both paralysed and unaware - cannot hear or feel or move.

So, naturally, we are never wholly asleep.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The nature of the 'genie' of creativity

Genius can be conceptualized as a 'genie' within us - the word genie being derived from the Roman concept of a guardian and tutelary spirit, akin to the Greek 'daemon' (like Socrates's daemon who advised him and give him insights) - the concept then gathering connotations of creativity, and then 'genie' being used for the Arabian Jinn, which are autonomous supernatural entities (some good, some evil).

I am coining a usage which somewhat playfully takes all these elements so as to indicate the way in which the creativity of a classic genius:

1. Guides the genius - not in all the minute and specific details of living, but in a long-term, strategic fashion

2. Has apparently 'supernatural' powers - since real creativity is ultimately mysterious, and

3. Acts somewhat like an independent and autonomous personage - with whom the conscious and rational mind must build a relationship (the conscious rational mind may influence but does not control the genie, and cannot force the genie to do his will).


My understanding is that - in the above sense - almost everybody will have a genie of creativity - but the genie will vary considerably in power and dominance - in most people the genie has modest power and is usually ignored or suppressed; in a great genius the genie will have great power and will tend to dominate life strategy in many ways.

(Other in-between and dissociated states are presumably possible.)


The genie of a normal (non-genius) person will only be apparent in short bursts and perhaps in a crisis. In a short term crisis a person may demonstrate remarkable and seemingly-inexplicable powers or abilities (which can look like sheer luck). This could be explained in terms of them drawing upon the mysterious insights, intuitions, and knowledge of their genie.

However, this state can seldom be maintained over the long term, because most people are set-up to be dominated not by the genie but instead by more 'normal' motivations - such as social esteem (e.g. the striving for status and admiration), familial and sexual motivations, comfort, convenience, excitement etc.


So, creative genius is quantitative - the genie varies in power and dominance - at at a certain degree of power and degree of dominance the genie will have 'taken-over' the life strategy of a person (not completely, but primarily) - and such as person is A Genius.


Why is this important?

Because we live in a society where, for whatever reason, genius tends to be unacknowledged, denied, ignored and even (but usually indirectly, for other and usually 'political' given-reasons) actively persecuted.

Also, because the world-historical geniuses, which for the past four hundred years used to be common in all major domains of life in The West - art, literature, science, medicine, law, politics, the military, and religion - has become extremely rare; indeed has almost disappeared.

Therefore - if modern society wishes to avail itself of the benefits that genius (and only genius) can bring (e.g. solving unyielding problems by intuitive insights, making breakthrough discoveries), then modernity needs to become more sensitive in its detection, acknowledgement and recognition of genius: this is so even from the perspective of pure self-interest.

Perhaps a starting point is to recognize our own individual creative genie - no matter how relatively feeble it may be, and how infrequently it becomes apparent - we may notice it when, in a crisis, we may, briefly, be able to do something rather extraordinary and inexplicable.


Monday, 26 January 2015

The way of the subcreator - the 'genie' of genius

In considering creativity from a scientific perspective, much can be said - but at the heart of the phenomenon there is a mystery.

I have said that the truly creative essence of creativity is a 'black box' - in the sense that there cannot be a scientific description of genuine originality; but creativity is less like a black box than a living thing - a 'genie' within.

But this is not a genie who can be commanded like the slave of the lamp; but a genie who must be respected, nurtured and coaxed in order that he yield-up his gifts.

Indeed, in the case of a genius, the genie is the one in control. The genie ensures that he gets what he needs from his genius host - that the genie may find and follow his destiny; that he is fed with the knowledge, pictures, experiences he requires; that he is allocated enough time, the right situation, energy, attention...

And when the genie makes a discovery and gets a result; he ensures that the genius is flooded with happiness as reward; and that the genius is motivated to realize, and to communicate the genie's results.

In his essay On Fairy Stories, JRR Tolkien talked of subcreation; and suggested that it was an instance of Man emulating the divine Creator. Exactly so - Man is divine, not just in potential but in actuality - albeit feebly and partially and corruptedly; and creativity is a property of Man's divinity, just as much as free will/ agency is a property.

And creativity is a divine attribute, and the genius who lives in accord with his creative genie is a type of God-attuned Man: genius is a spiritual path; a path with the potential pitfalls of all spiritual paths, especially spiritual pride - but in its essence Good.

It is therefore an error to see a true genius as selfish. Insofar as he is humbly and faithfully serving his genie of creativity - he is following a divinely appointed destiny - for the ultimate benefit of all.

Whether or not a genius succeeds in making a recognized discovery - 'the way of the subcreator' is an intrinsically valid form of human life.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

The 'inner' nature of trait Psychoticism - hard-wired to be inner-attentive, inner-aware, inner-engaged, inner-motivated - an alternative to the broad-association/ natural selection model of creativity


If the standard 'natural selection' model of creativity is regarded as deficient, as previously argued - I mean the 'Simonton' model in which creativity is explained as a product of the high-Psychoticism-trait (high-P) personality producing wide-ranging and abundant random variations on old ideas, and high intelligence sieving and sorting-through these abundant randomly-varied ideas on the basis of coherence and memorized knowledge - then what do I propose to put in its place?


The key relevant difference between my view and the natural selection view - and the difference which leads to the following alternative model for creativity - concerns the nature of the high-Psychoticism trait.

Eysenck sees Psychoticism in terms of a tendency towards loose or broad associations - in other words a partially-pathological state. Psychoticism is seen as a partial breakdown in the normally tightly controlled and narrow associations of ideas to a situation being more like we have all experienced in dreams, and some people have experienced in delirious states of illness or alcohol withdrawal, or psychotic illnesses such as mania or schizophrenia, or under the influence of psychosis-inducing drugs (such as mescaline or LSD).

By contrast, I regard high-Psychoticism-trait as being an innate, substantially heritable, hard-wired set-up of the nervous system in which some individuals experience a higher dominance by 'inner' states than do most normal people. High-P individuals are inner-attentive, inner-aware, inner-engaged and inner-motivated.


So how does high-P work in producing 'creative solutions'?

The short answer is that the creative insight is preceded by a period of focused 'quest' (which may last many years) during which the mind is filled with more-or-less relevant ingredients. The inner-directed processes then observe, work-on, try to understand these various facts and concepts - try to select among them, achieve a clear view of their proper or best organization or arrangement,

This means that such high P individuals are attentive to their inner states (i.e. their thoughts and emotions, their 'stream of consciousness'), they are more spontaneously aware of their thoughts and feelings, they find these inner experiences more engaging, spontaneously more interesting than external matters such as social and sexual interactions (which fascinate most people for most of the time) - and these inner states provide the dominating motivations for such people, such that they are therefore substantially autonomous - that is to say indifferent to, independent-from peer pressure and socialization.

The process by which the mind works on these ingredients to give a breakthrough is a 'black box' - so far as science is concerned. (Although it can be said that the inner, unconscious mind works by different rules than those of conscious logic.) But it is the high-P person who has the focused abstract interest to bring together the ingredients, to watch the processes of understanding and organization, and to get a clear view of the answer as it emerges; and then powerfully to feel the rightness of the right answer as energies and positive emotions are triggered and experienced.


Although this inner-dominance can be caused by diseases and toxicity or brain damage; which can cause any normal person to be overwhelmed by powerful and pathological inner stimuli, or cut-off-from outer perceptions - the idea of Psychoticism is that high-P is a relatively rare but hereditary personality trait - commoner in men than women, inborn, emerging in childhood and persisting through maturity and adulthood.

The reason that high-P is hereditary, is that it is an evolved adaptation with a useful functional role to play - i.e. creativity - and the reason it is rare is that not many (i.e. not a high proportion) of creative people are required by a society; and high-P tend to be associated with lower reproductive success overall (as would be expected when individual invest more time and other resources in the inner life, and therefore relatively less resource into social and sexual life).


So high-P creative people are sometimes very useful to a particular human society (assuming that society 'takes advantage' of their special abilities) but there cannot be too many and indeed not many are needed.

The reason that high-P people are needed, but not often, is that most socially relevant problems (of population survival and expansion) are dealt-with by habitual and traditional means - the individual is socialized into the usual way of dealing with problems through childhood, and these usually work.

But most human societies have recognized (whether explicitly, or more often implicitly, tacitly, that some problems do yield to tradition or habit, and other problem do not always yield to tradition or habit - and what then?

In a nutshell, then is the time to bring in the creative specialist - the Shaman, the mystic, the intuitive priest, the scientific or inventive genius, the Holy Fool: someone who has resisted socialization and instead thinks by different rules, because he is more engaged with the inner world


So the assumption is that high-P has evolved at a low frequency by some (unknown) group-selection mechanism that leads to a reliable but rare supply of high-P individuals to do this vital but infrequent job. And part of this group-selection must also be a recognition from the majority of low-P individuals that these high-P 'oddball' or 'eccentric' individuals must be tolerated, supported, and asked for advice and guidance in certain relatively unusual circumstances when their special abilities are the best (or only) hope for group survival.

Since the supposed mechanism is group selection, and different human group shave experienced widely different selection pressures; then it is likely that high-P is not found with identical frequency everywhere. This presumably explains why creative genius is very unevenly distributed by time and geographical space - and why its frequency varies over time within the same culture - not least because group selection is always open to being subverted by individual-level selection.

This group selected nature of high-P potentially explains why creative genius is all-but absent from many continents and nations, and also why it may appear in abundance (e.g. in ancient Greece) then disappear. However since genius also requires high general intelligence (high-g) then too low an average level of g, or a decline in g, may also be a cause of declining rates of genius.

But I think it fair to say that high-P is a more crucial aspect of genius than high-g, because any high-P individual who is sufficiently higher in intelligence than the majority of his group can perfom his creative social role; while a low-P person will not be creative, no matter how high his intelligence.

So I imagine that the 'shamans' of a recent hunter gatherer tribe will typically have had an intelligence level that is high for their tribal group, but of a lower than average level for a Western nation (as measured by IQ tests). However, such (by Western standards) 'low-IQ' individuals could nonetheless perform their highly valued and effective social function - so long as they had the high-P, creative personality trait.