Supernormal Stimuli

In my new book, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, I describe how human instincts, for food, sex, or territorial protection, developed for life on the Savannah 10,000 years ago, not today’s world of densely populated cities and technological innovations. Evolution has been unable to keep pace with the rapid changes of modern life. In the 1930s Dutch Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen found that birds that lay small, pale blue eggs speckled with grey preferred to sit on giant, bright blue plaster dummies with black polka dots. He coined the term “supernormal stimuli” to describe these imitations that appeal to primitive instincts and, oddly, exert a stronger attraction than real things. We humans can produce our own supernormal stimuli: candy, pornography, huge-eyed stuffed animals. The concept of Supernormal Stimuli has enormous power to illuminate the alarming disconnect between human instinct and our created environment. [Deirdre Barrett (2010)]

The Fixed Period

The Fixed Period has been so far discussed as to make it almost unnecessary for me to explain its tenets, though its advantages may require a few words of argument in a world that is at present dead to its charms. It consists altogether of the abolition of the miseries, weakness, and fainéant imbecility of old age, by the prearranged ceasing to live of those who would otherwise become old. Need I explain how extreme are those sufferings, and how great the costliness of that old age which is unable in any degree to supply its own wants? Such old age should not be allowed to be. This should be prevented, in the interests both of the young and of those who do become old when obliged to linger on after their “period” of work is over. Oh, it is an adamantine law to protect the human race from the imbecility, the weakness, the discontent, and the extravagance of old age! [Anthony Trollope (1882), The Fixed Period]

A Reparação Histórica Eterna

Os Portugueses que não sejam Brancos, não terão os complexos históricos e identitários de muitos, senão a maioria, dos Brancos Portugueses. A Ministra da Justiça, Francisca Van Dunem, defendeu a fixação de um “limite temporal” para a atribuição da nacionalidade portuguesa aos descendentes dos judeus sefarditas porque “não é sustentável uma reparação histórica eterna”. E o “limite poderia ser os dez anos da entrada em vigor da lei” que permitiu a reparação histórica, ou seja, 2025, admitiu Van Dunem, que também usou o argumento contra a “mercantilização” que é feita em vários países com a nacionalidade portuguesa, como Israel, dado que dá acesso a um passaporte europeu que não exige visto para os Estados Unidos. Em nome de uma “reabilitação ou reparação histórica”, o parlamento português aprovou, por unanimidade, em 2015 uma que concedia a nacionalidade portuguesa aos descendentes dos judeus expulsos da Península Ibérica pelo rei D. Manuel I, no século XV. Van Dunem, Portuguesa Negra de origem Angolana, não tem o peso da História, tem o peso da consciência do melhor para Portugal. Talvez, uma esperança.

Sometimes

Humans are primarily driven by their emotions. Jonathan Haidt, in his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Vintage, 2013), uses the metaphor of an elephant and its rider to describe how the human mind works. The elephant represents the emotion part of the human brain. It makes most of the decisions. The rider represents the rational part of the brain. It can sometimes influence the elephant, but it mostly provides justifications for the elephant’s decisions. [Chris Richardson (2018), Microservices Patterns]

Prepare To Be Cancelled

A striking event was the way in which Premier League footballers, reopening the season in empty stadiums, wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan of the new universal Left, ‘Black Lives Matter’. All, along with the referee and match officials, also ‘took the knee’, the sign of obeisance to the new ideology. As far as I know, none of those involved had any qualms about this. But if they had done, would they have dared express them, if they wished to continue in professional football? Would the world have praised their conscientious courage, or would they have been hosed down with claims that they were ‘racists’ and then ‘cancelled’? You know the answer as you ask the question. Who doesn’t think black lives matter? But that is not what these displays mean. They are about particular ways of holding those views, ways which lead relentlessly to intolerance of dissent, to the enforcement – by threats to the livelihoods of dissenters – of a single set of acceptable opinions. And it is not enough to keep quiet. If you are suspected of thinking the wrong thing, they will come and cancel you anyway. I now think this is just a matter of time. Prepare to be cancelled.[Peter Hitchens (2020), The Mail on Sunday]
August Landmesser refuses to perform the Nazi salute during a visit to the Hamburg shipyards by Adolf Hitler in 1936
 

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity

[review of the book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (2019), by Douglas Murray]
“We all live in the campus now”. In the 1960’s, a group of US based intellectuals championed by Laclau, Foucault and McIntosh started a new movement against Western civilisation that today still isn’t clearly defined: cultural-marxism, social justice warriors, intersectionality, post-modernism, woke… The point is that Western society is terribly oppressive, and has a face of a White Cis Male, and only by politicising and weaponising the basic identities of an individual (race, gender, sexuality) it can be overthrown. Douglas Murray made a terrific investigation job and trough a series of events, where he puts names, places, institutions, dates, we can understand how the fight for equality is in fact a fight for “equal, but better”: gay couples are better that straight ones raising a child; black people work harder than privileged whites; only a female leader can prevent incompetent males from starting an economic crisis. He also brilliantly describes the philosophical and pseudoscientific roots of this movement. Disappointingly, Douglas Murray never has the courage to make the connection between the demographic transition in the West from White homogenous countries to multicultural, multiracial ones, and all this “madness”. Maybe the reason why Identity Politics is so appealing is precisely because it can be used as a power grabbing ideology against the (still) White majority in the West.

Tudo Irá Acabar

“Saber que em breve estarei morto foi a ferramenta mais importante que encontrei para me ajudar a tomar grandes decisões na vida. Porque quase tudo – todas as expectativas, todo o orgulho, todo o medo do ridículo ou do fracasso – tudo cai por terra perante a morte, restando apenas o que é verdadeiramente importante. Lembrarmo-nos de que vamos morrer é a melhor maneira de evitar a armadilha de pensarmos que temos algo a perder. Já estamos despidos de tudo.”. As palavras são de Steve Jobs no célebre discurso proferido aos alunos de formatura da Universidade de Stanford em 2005, seis anos antes da sua morte. Na verdade, o lendário fundador da tecnológica Apple foi um dos rostos de uma técnica de gestão que conta mais de duas décadas e que está a atrair um número crescente de diretores executivos e gestores de topo em todo o mundo. Daniel Harkavy, coautor do livro Living Forward, chama-lhe a técnica do elogio fúnebre. O processo consiste em conduzir os gestores num exercício de visualização da sua própria morte, levando-os a colocar num papel o que diriam sobre si próprios nas suas cerimónias fúnebres. – https://expresso.pt/dossies/diario/2019-01-14-O-que-tem-em-comum-a-morte-e-a-progressao-na-carreira–Tudo-1

Whiteness

Whereas black studies celebrates black writers and black history, and gay studies brings out gay figures from history and pushes them to the fore, ‘whiteness studies’ is far from a celebratory study. Its aim is that it is committed to disrupting racism by problematizing whiteness. So whereas every other field of race studies is performed in a spirit of celebration the aim of this one must be to ‘problematize’ hundreds and hundreds of millions of people. Of course it might be said that defining an entire group of people, their attitudes, pitfalls and moral associations, based solely on their racial characteristics is itself a fairly good demonstration of racism. For ‘whiteness’ to be problematized’ white people must be shown to be a problem. [The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (2019), Douglas Murray]