A World of Trauma – Civilizational Psychosadomasochism and Emptiness

According to Google’s vast textual corpora, there was nary an instance of the term “trauma,” or its distinctly psychiatric derivative “traumatized,” in written English prior to the 1880s. The first usage of “trauma” is documented in the 1690s, at which point it referred to physical wounding only. Its “psychic wound” sense did not pick up until the tail end of the 19th century, which is now far more familiar to us than the original sense. Exactly what took root in the world between then and now? The standard narrative is that the medical profession became wiser, but what of the wisdom embedded in our species’ genetic history? Note that even most doctors and biomedical lab technicians know little of basic genetics, or, one has to assume, of evolutionary reasoning. I recall being sneeringly told by one, on introducing her to the concept, that she was only interested in “proper science.” This is about when it set in that even many “grunt-work” scientists are basically morons. She certainly was.

Applying the principles of natural selection (i.e. evolutionary reasoning) to find the aetiology of disease tends to yield different answers from those that are now fashionable. In a 2000 paper, “Infectious Causation of Disease: An Evolutionary Perspective,” the authors compellingly argue that a huge number of supposedly mysterious illnesses are in fact caused by pathogens – bacteria or viruses. The argument is simple: any genetic endowment which essentially zeroes fitness (reproductive potential) can be maintained in a population’s genes only at the basal rate of errors, i.e. mutations, in the genetic code, with the apparently sole exception of heterozygote advantage for protection against malaria. Thus, anything so destructive which rises above a certain threshold of prevalence should arouse suspicion that a pathogen is to blame. This would include schizophrenia, an alleged evolutionary “paradox,” with a prevalence of ~0.5%, especially since, unlike “psychopathy,” schizophrenia has low twin-concordance, low heritability, and is discontinuous with normal personality. At present, direct evidence of the pathogen is scant, but that is to be expected: viruses are tricksy. No other explanation is plausible.

What, then, when one turns the evolutionary lens towards “trauma”? What is commonly called psychological trauma can helpfully be divided into two categories: non-chronic and chronic. The former is what most people would call distress. It is adaptive to have unpleasant memories of situations that could kill you or otherwise incur significant reproductive costs, which is why everyone feels this. It is good to have unpleasant memories of putting one’s hand on an electric fence for this reason. It is bad, and certainly not evolutionarily adaptive, for the memory to continually torture you for years after the fact. I have it on good authority that this does nothing to attract mates, for example.

In light of this, it becomes clearer what may be behind the apparent explosion of mental “traumas” in our psychiatry-obsessed world. One may observe, for instance, that there is no record of anything remotely resembling PTSD in the premodern world. It emerged in the 20th century, either as a result of new weapons inflicting new kinds of damage (brain injuries), or from psychiatrists’ egging people on, or both. If the received narrative about it were true, then all of Cambodia ought to have gone completely insane in recent times. It did not happen. Likewise with rape. One struggles to find any mention of long-term trauma from rape for most of human history. The ancients were not very chatty about it. Of course, they saw it as wrong, as is rather easy to do, but their notions about it were not ours. Rape does impose reproductive costs, but so does cuckoldry, and being cuckolded does not cause chronic trauma. Nor would claiming that it had done so to you do much for your social status. Sadly, exactly one person in existence has the balls to comment on this rationally. Many of these problems seem to originate from something more diffuse, something about the cultural zeitgeist of our age, rather than a particular field or bureaucracy.

It is generally agreed upon in the modern West that sexual activity before late adolescence, especially with older individuals, is liable to causing trauma of the chronic kind. This alone should give one pause, since “adolescence” is a linguistic abstraction with only very recent historical precedent, and many of the biopsychological processes which are conventionally attributed uniquely to it begin earlier and persist long after. The onset of stable, memorable sexual desire and ideation occurs at the age of ~10 (it was certainly present in me by age 11), commensurate with gonadarche, and is certainly almost universally present by age 12-13. The reason these desires arise with gonadarche is simple: they exist to facilitate reproduction. It would make little biological sense in any species other than humans to experience sexual desire but also experience some strange latency period of 1-8 years (depending on the country) during which any acting upon those desires causes inconsolable soul-destruction. Any time something seems completely unique to humans, one has to wonder if it has something to do with uniquely human cultural phenomena such as taboos. It is even more obvious when one observes human cultures which lack these taboos, e.g. Classical Greece. When they married their daughters off at age 13-14, they were concerned chiefly about whether the groom could provide her and her children with a stable living. But they were not concerned about soul-destruction. At least, I’m fairly sure of that. For the record: this is not an endorsement of lowering the age of consent. I am decidedly neutral on that question, but I do not believe Mexico’s answer is any less correct than California’s or vice versa.

It is wrong to say that psychiatrists, or therapists, have a superpower of changing people’s phenotypes. This is impossible, as any such change they could impart would be genetically confounded, i.e. it is genetically non-random sample of the population who are “successful” subjects to their interventions. So it seems fair to assume that a lot of mental health problems are explicable in this way rather than through straight-up iatrogenesis, and their prevalence is inflated somewhat through media hype and social media shenanigans. However, an interesting question is: how much of an evolutionarily novel phenomenon is the field of psychiatry? Are our minds equipped to deal with it? Well, not everyone’s. It seems possible to confect illnesses out of thin air if you subject the right person to the right conditioning, as is the case with the probably purely iatrogenic “dissociative identity disorder.”

Masses of people these days shell out large chunks of their finances on “therapy,” a form of psychiatric intervention which has shown itself to be of at best mixed efficacy. Many long-running randomised controlled trials of its effects turn up jack shit, which ought not to be shocking given what is known about the non-effects of education, extensively documented by Bryan Caplan and others. It has to change the brain in a dramatic way. Still lingering though, is the question of whether it may in fact make matters worse. Many social commentators have taken notice of the way in which mental illness, especially “depression,” seems to be afforded a kind of bizarre social status in some circles, such as within university culture in Canada. Even more galling is that it is not even clear whether “depression” of the garden variety is a disorder; it may be an adaptation that evolved to ward people off hopeless pursuits. Status is a powerful motivator, so this weird grievance culture cannot help, but encouraging people to make their living from talking to such people and consoling them with soothing words cannot be great either, since it is likely to induce the kind of institutional inertia on which the pointless continuance of America’s “drug war” is sometimes (correctly) blamed.

Legalising drugs and investing more energies into high-precision “super-drugs,” e.g. powerful mood-enrichers with no side effects, would do more for the true chronic depressives who literally have never even known what it means to be happy – a malady probably induced by rare mutations if it exists – than what is on offer today. Drugs are the only guaranteed way to do profound psychological re-engineering without gene-editing. It is not clear, though, if the psychiatric industry as it currently exists would be happy to see such problems vanish.


The Nail In the Coffin

When I saw that JF Gariepy was releasing a book related to genetics, I assumed it would be another boring race/IQ/HBD volume that I would have little interest in (given the redundancy of the topic.) However, it would turn out that JF instead devotes his book, The Revolutionary Phenotype to the subject of gene editing. In it, he argues against messing around with the technology of gene editing, making the case that such modifications will lead to the end of our species. He claims essentially that the new and improved lifeforms resulting from this process will eventually replace humanity. For reasons not entire clear to me, JF just seems to take for granted that such a development would be a bad thing. In fact, the entire point of the book becomes moot however, if the reader disagrees with the JF’s premise. JF’s arguments for why gene editing may inevitably spell the end for humans may be astonishingly persuasive, air tight and what have you, but if one doesn’t think that the prospect of humans being replaced by a related, “superior” organism would be a negative outcome, then it’s merely an academic question. The merit of the arguments put forth doesn’t matter one way or the other. The type of people whom will be most receptive to JF’s premise are those already vehemently opposed to gene editing and transhumanism on religious and moralistic grounds (“humans shouldn’t be ‘playing God'”…etc.) They don’t give a rats ass in a room full of cats about the scientific arguments for it being bad other than to the extent such arguments could be used to reinforce their pre-existing religious beliefs (if JF had written a scientifically persuasive book in favor of gene editing, these same people would dismiss it irrespective of the veracity of the arguments.)

I have to admit that I find JF’s ambivalence toward gene editing to be disappointing. Ironically, it actually strikes me as similar to Jordan Peterson warning people of the dangers of identity politics. As Ryan Faulk has pointed out, Jordan Peterson’s audience is primarily white, and the likely effect of his crusade against identity politics will be to make white people (the least overtly ethnocentric group) less likely to engage in it, while other groups continue to use it to their advantage. Identity politics may change in form as new identities emerge, but it isn’t going away. Since non-white groups are unlikely to take Peterson’s advice and abandon group identity, Peterson ultimately serves to convince whites to further handicap themselves and become less ethnocentric than they already are.

What JF does here is strikingly similar. Gene editing is absolutely going to happen. The “genie” (so to speak) is out of the bottle. Even if nations don’t officially sanction it at the public level, there will be scientists which continue with this research privately, and as a practical matter it will be unstoppable. JF’s own thesis backs up this assertion, since he argues that these newly concocted, revolutionary beings will replace us if they are created. Since scientists in Asia or who knows where will continue to move forward with gene editing, these beings will come to be sooner or later. Since JF’s audience is primarily AltRight and “pro-white” types and not rogue Asian scientists, the effect of this book will be to convince the AltRight to simply cede this bio-technological frontier to someone else, even though as humans we won’t be shielded from the effects of others embracing it anyway. Babies are going to be genetically modified. So we can either decide to be at the forefront and help direct this process toward something in our image, or sit passively as others enthusiastically explore this technology and render us irrelevant. The West has typically been at the forefront of technological progress, which is why it was so easily able to dominate large parts of the world, where natives (whom could easily outbreed Europeans) held vastly superior numbers. Even with the most aggressive pro-natalist policies, Europeans are not going to outhump the third world. Why then would Europeans want to deprive themselves of one of the few tools which could offer them some kind of advantage?

Also, the idea that beings which result from experiments in gene-editing will lead to “our” extinction strikes me as a matter of interpretation. Sure, maybe technically such organisms would not be our direct progeny, but just because a baby didn’t pop out of some lady’s vagina, does not mean it isn’t our descendant for all intents and purposes. If the result of gene editing is that something ends up being created which improves upon and replaces humanity, I don’t see what the problem is, since these supposedly “superior” beings would ultimately still be a product of our creation. If not literally, they would figuratively be our children…(and sometimes children do grow up to rebel and take our place.) This seems undoubtedly to me to be a more remarkable achievement though than simply two overweight, reality tv watching, human beasts taking a trip to bonetown and making some disgusting babies. Any idiot with functioning reproductive organs can do that.

This is of course to say nothing of the misanthropic objections to JF’s premise. Anyone who has ever worked retail on Black Friday probably wouldn’t clutch their pearls at the idea of humanity becoming extinct and replaced by something better. A few hours overhearing people’s conversations on public transit or an afternoon reading the hundreds of thousands of replies to a typical Ariana Grande tweet, and I might volunteer to push the button myself.

One thing which JF’s book has managed to do is act as a proverbial “nail in the coffin” in terms of my own relationship with AltRight ideas. JF’s faction was probably one of the few remaining which I could still relate to on any level. His laid back persona, high-profile guest lineup, cogent debate style, and pink pantheresque delivery make for what for what in my mind is probably the only substantive and watchable AltRight program. There are no compelling factions or attractive political movements to be enthusiastic about. People like me are withdrawing and moving toward an abstract, post-political future. I, for one, am ready for whatever comes next.


The Drab Gab

Gab needs to stop marketing itself as a right-leaning haven for nutjobs. It should just present itself as a fun, entertaining social media site that just so happens to not ban people as easily as other sites. One of the things I really dislike about Gab is how difficult it is to find people with interests or even opinions outside the realm of basic bitch AltRight/AltLite/MAGA politics. Ideally, I want a place where I can view entertaining content and discuss topics earnestly but one which doesn’t punish people for PC indiscretions. Sites like Gab should aim to attract with apolitical entertainment, with the idea that people go will go there for that but have to tolerate some uncomfortable political speech as a price. Just like when people watch football or some funny cooking vid on youtube, and they have to sit through the annoying political diatribe or cheesy social justice commercial. Kind of like how youtube has its own shows. They need exclusive non-political (mostly) content, which will draw in ordinary people. The “exclusive” streams and shows which can for there now there are all just Alex Jones style and “MAGA” oriented material. They need things like cooking shows, makeup tutorials and animated series. As it currently stands, Gab’s appeal seems to be along the lines of “Come to our site where you can discuss ‘pizzagate,’ ‘false flags’ and other wild conspiracy theories, free of censorship.” It’s no surprise what kind of demographic that ultimately attracts. As a result, discussion on Gab is dominated by insufferable lunatics and surly cranks. Simply saying “we’re a free speech site and everyone is welcome” isn’t enough. You have to actually offer the kind of content which people from a variety of ideological, non-ideological and social spheres will be interested in.

Of course, I don’t believe Gab is to blame for the fact that one of its users (allegedly a man named Robert Bowers) committed the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. A social media site or forum can’t be expected to be responsible for the offline behavior of one of their users. It simply isn’t their responsibility. There are too many crazy people out there. There have been crimes and violent attacks committed by users of every major social media site.

However, what is the point of suspending his (or any other perpetrator’s) account after the fact? Just leave it up, otherwise it just looks like you’re trying to conceal what he posted to avoid damage to your reputation. There’s no point in destroying a public record of someone’s posts just because they happened to commit a crime. Twitter and FB do the same thing, and it’s annoying. People are interested in reading the old posts on these kinds of accounts because they offer insight into the person’s mindset and motivations. I’d prefer to read these myself and draw my own conclusions rather than take the word of some media outlet’s second or third hand interpretation.

During a particularly censorious time on Twitter a few years ago, I contemplated using a spare domain name I had obtained for building a small scale social media site called “Wand” (which was intended to fill the void which Gab has since occupied.) Ultimately, I decided the potential for legal liabilities would be a hassle I just wasn’t equipped to deal with. Once you make the decision to start hosting other people’s edgy content and images on your site, there’s a hell of a lot of shit that can go wrong. Maybe, I’m just a tad too misanthropic to be willing to “take one for the team.” I just don’t care about these issues enough.

I’m grateful that Gab exists, but a site which seems designed specifically to attract pond scum has built in experiential limitations.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Skytrain to Nowhere

Skytrain to Nowhere

Available in Paperback here

and eBook (pdf) here

Skytrain to Nowhere is an imagination driven and esoteric volume of free-form poetry. The book documents the author’s experiences, thoughts and observations while riding the skytrain at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport over the period of several weeks. Since the skytrain is only designed to transport travelers between various terminals and parking facilities at the airport, someone spending nearly 50 hours riding it purely for recreation and artistic inspirational purposes is highly unusual (to put it mildly.) Aside from occasional quirky anecdotes about various passengers, the poems mostly deal with themes of motion, the passage of time, and nostalgia. The author grapples with these issues from a retro-futurist perspective. Skytrain to Nowhere celebrates the realization that our vitality hinges on our ability to always keep moving, while recognizing we are unwilling or unable to leave some things behind on the journey.

Purchase Skytrain to Nowhere on Amazon.

The Accidental Eugenicists

This article is about 1) how a taboo against incestuous reproduction could be used to make the political mainstream comfortable with (explicit) eugenics, and 2) other ethical considerations surrounding human genetic enhancement – in that order.

One must differentiate what I call implicit and explicit eugenics. The implicit version encompasses those things which all people do in the interest of “good genes” but without actually thinking of it in those terms, such as mate selection.

An explicit, or more explicit, example is the outlawing of incest. The case for doing so is easy to make. Incest can lead to inbred children, and this is probably, in part, responsible for the neuroses that afflict the Islamic world, for theirs is a hyper-consanguineous culture. In recent times, I have come to think that the only chapter in the history of the European Church that one can praise without a dozen or more extensive caveats was their prohibition of inbreeding. As HBD Chick has discussed, this was instrumental in the evolutionary trajectory of (especially north-western) Europeans and the development of uniquely European traits such as individualism.

But how much difference do anti-incest laws make now? I would wager not much. Consanguineous breeding among Europeans is a highly marginal phenomenon even in places where it is legal, and I do not see how criminalising it could be any more effective than anti-drug laws. But Westerners have negative reactions to both incest and explicit eugenics. This could be seized upon, in theory: allow the consensually incestuous adults to have children, but make it mandatory for them to go through screening of the embryo’s genome first once the technology is widespread. The procedure could then be extended to, for example, mothers of advanced age, and then beyond.

The word eugenics is also a problem. Trying to revive it is pointless. A far better strategy would be to adopt a term which is descriptively accurate but with none of the nasty connotations, such as “directed evolution”. Saying “eugenics” purely to inflame people is childish.

I am sceptical of the reflexive libertarian position on human enhancement with respect to traits such as IQ, neuroticism, and all diseases with a genetic basis. Note: abortion-related concerns are moot since this is mostly about pre-implantation embryo selection. I do not see how refusing to use this technology when it is available is morally superior to child abuse. “You may allow a car to be built with a sub-optimal design, but you may not damage it once it is built” seems like the position of people who would condemn the latter but endorse the former of these. Allowing nature to take its course is now a choice, not an inevitability. Why should people be free to make that choice? Again, this is specifically with respect to the traits I mentioned.

Many mainstream leftists who balk at these possibilities are happy to accept that vaccinating one’s children be mandatory. So am I. So why not: increasing children’s genotypic IQ above a certain threshold (whatever it may be), or reducing their genetic propensity to experience negative emotion? Again this is a morally inconsistent position: “You are allowed to improve your car once it is built, but you may not just make better cars or, heaven forbid, mandate that better cars be built.” These mainstream leftists should just accept the moral salience of willfully increasing potential for future harm to their children by either refusing to have them vaccinated or refusing to genetically enhance them.

People will make excuses for why the analogy with vaccination is not a comparable situation, but people only come up with these post hoc. It is like when libertarians whine about the government’s taking away all their money but have no problem with huge global corporations’ outsourcing jobs to foreigners, either home or abroad. The net result is the same: fewer job opportunities – and therefore less money.

Neuroticism and low IQ are things that we happen to not give disease-like names to, up to a point. Where and why is that point set? Well, with neuroticism it is where you are continuously anxious about everything and nothing (generalised anxiety disorder), because this impedes daily functioning. With IQ it is 70, because a person with an IQ below 70 seldom if ever has the wherewithal to perform basic tasks. That threshold will go up, however, when society is technologically complex enough that even those of us between 100 and 135 are rendered useless. As for neuroticism, people are shit-scared of jumping out of planes even though skydiving is, statistically, probably less dangerous than a whole lot of other things they do without a second thought, such as driving. People’s brains are not equipped to assess risk in a technified society such as ours, and neuroticism is strongly anti-correlated with about a thousand negative life outcomes. Some people argue that there is a trade-off to be made with it for “creativity”, but one does not need an anxiety disorder to be creative, and I doubt that whatever difference it makes is worth it in QALYs.

“Everything is allowed unless it is explicitly forbidden. Something is only explicitly forbidden if it can be shown empirically to be harmful.” I do not literally think of those words every time I am pondering solutions to some social problem, but if you reverse-engineer my ideas about society, you will end up with some formula similar to this. I believe this is quite close to the mentality of the typical libertarian, except the primary difference is that most self-identified libertarians would never countenance forbidding inaction, e.g. not vaccinating one’s children. Luckily, I am not so arrogant as to assume the point of view of the universe. Not everyone agrees with me about what should or should not be mandatory. That is fine. They should not have to live around me, nor I them.