[Paleopsych] Re: Jaak--is the lab an antique tool?
HowlBloom at aol.com
HowlBloom at aol.com
Wed Sep 15 05:09:40 UTC 2004
I doubt that in my lifetime I'll figure out how to make replicable
experiments in the world of mass emotion and mass culture. The big problem is
Culture and mass moods are different from one day to the next. The global
context that tweaks these moods is constantly changing. New ideas, new
technologies, new world views, and new relationships between people, between
subcultures, between nations, and between supranational movements make the cultural
context of one day very different from the cultural context of the day that
One way to see the shifts of mass perception and mass emotion is to look at
the news. News hunts for anomalies, for differences. It may return to the
same story over and over again, but it looks for the change in that story. Why?
Because human curiosity demands change, shift, and the new.
This restlessness in itself is worthy of scientific study. Those who are
content will die without the antsiness of the restless. Tom Seeley has shown
this in his work with bees.
Neil Miller managed to extract predictable patterns from the news with his
frustration-agression hypothesis. He started with history and current
events--lynchings in the south. Then he hypothesized and demonstrated a relationship
between lynchings and cotton prices. Finally he predicted that lab rats
subjected to frustration or pain would lash out with aggression. Then he proved it.
My work is more in the nature of what Darwin did in South America. I'm
adventuring in the hope of tapping into experiences few folks in science gain
access to. I've learned how to make replicable predictions about how to build
superstars. But those have been based on a combination of reason, analysis, broad
knowledge, and...the hard but essential part...gut level, highly-trained
At this point I should be working to express those gut-intuitions in words
and in testable principles. Alas, my gut and my reason predicts that a
superstar of history, Osama bin Laden, may soon end the civilization that gives you
and me the privilege of participating in the scientific process.
So I've been forced to try to stop the very thing my intuition and reason are
predicting--the destruction of key cities in America by nuclear, chemical,
and conventional means.
This is an experiment in history, but one that's not replicable or
measurable. The hypothesis it's based on is that there is a pecking order of groups, a
pecking order of subcultures, a pecking order of nations, and a pecking order
of civilizations. Groups periodically battle for alpha position. The
sub-hypothesis is that groups battle not when they are deprived, but when they are
flush with resources and see an opportunity to take over. They judge their
chances much as Franz de Waal's beta chimps judge the right moment to take their
next incremental move toward the top.
A bunch of extraordinarily rich kids--Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and
others like them--are trying to topple America, Russia, Western Civilization,
and a clutch of principles they regard as Satanic. They are out to eradicate
the following Satanic notions:
1) that man can make his own constitution and laws
2) that man can separate himself from Koranic mandates by promoting a
heretical notion that we call "freedom"
3) that man can promote what we call human rights
4) that man has a right to promote what we call gay rights
5) and that man has the right to speak ungodly and unislamic words in the
name of a false principle we call freedom of speech.
This worldview takes our values and turns them into moral poisons. It makes
Islam the only religion that understands purity, and it makes us the epitome
of corruption and evil.
In other words it uses ideas to turn the tables and make our group the dirt
under the sole of humanity's feet. It puts us on the bottom of the
hierarchical totem pole of groups. And it puts Islam on the top.
It is natural and just that those who understand purity, truth, god's laws,
and god's justice should rule god's planet. So a perceptual trick of hierarchy
has set the stage for a power grab, a grab for the number one military and
But this time round the weapons of a cumpulsory Holy War are no longer
swords, they are the nuclear fires the Koran predicted would torture unbelievers.
There is science in here somewhere--a science of the forces of history. But
right now I have to do everything in my extremely limited power to make sure
that my own predictions do not come true.
In a message dated 9/9/2004 4:00:07 AM Eastern Standard Time,
jpankse at bgnet.bgsu.edu writes:
Interesting, but must make my response short since I am on a month long
lecture tour in Europe, and jumping from one place to another every few
days, often with inadequate time or computer links to keep up on e-
I have no major disagreements with what you said. . . no question that
laboratory research imposes enormous constraints on certain phenomena,
while allowing others to be studies incisively with all the traditional
controls. Whether the cultural world can really be used as a laboratory
sremains to be seen. I think here we may be really bouncing off the
traditional world of science, where things really cannot be adequately
measured and the precictions often are weak. That is why cultural
studies are usually in the humanities, giving us many useful and
contentiously useless and often hard to comprehend perspectives.
I am all ears for a more compelling approaches that have the earmarks
of traditional science. . . replicability. No question that current
scientific methodology has enormous constraints in dealing with the
ultra-complexities of many cultural and mental dynamics. Just attended
the 5th Neuro-Psychoanalytic congress in Rome where such complexties
and difficulties where very evident.
Greetings from Cambridge,
>Date: 4-Sep-2004 23:21:38 -0400
>From: <HowlBloom at aol.com>
>To: <jpankse at bgnet.bgsu.edu>
>Cc: <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>Subject: Jaak--is the lab an antique tool?
>You tossed me an intriguing challenge when you came over to the bloom
>brownstone a year or two ago. I've been chewing on it, using it for
>To make my theories count, you said, I had to be able to translate
>predictions that could be proven or disproven in the lab. Good
>can't be operationalized and what can't be tested isn't science, right?
>So for three months I tried to figure out how to put my ideas into lab-
>terms. That isn't easy. These concepts were seeded by 15 years of
>theoretical physics, microbiology, psychology, religion, history, and
>Many of the questions were tweaked and shaded by riding the rails and
>adventuring. Then came the real deal--20 years of fieldwork in popular
>visual art and music, in making superstars, in creating cultural
>where there were only breezes before, from making hurricanes of
passion in the
>real world where a film like Purple Rain by Prince becomes a cultural
>where it becomes the most popular makeout film for hormonally-driven
>were born long after the day I had to save Purple Rain from being
>In the world of pop culture you do have to demonstrate science's
>prediction and control. You are forced to form hypotheses, then make
>about the next career move for Michael Jackson, Billy Idol, Billy
>Marley, or Joan Jett. An artist's lifetime work depends on whether
>prediction turns out true or false. The gifts or curses that reach the
>on your observation, your insight, and your accuracy.
>But your hypotheses are often formed by your gut, your intellect, and
>intuition all working in parallel. You can't necessarily explain the
>suspect, much less the things you know.
>The subject matter you're studying is huge...far too huge to squeeze
>So how DO we test the making of a culture storm in a lab on a
>campus in Boston, New York, Berkeley, or Bowling Green? The answer,
>dawned on me was not in trying to shrink hurricanes of mass emotion
>something that can be replicated in a-pencil-and-paper test given to
>in exchange for credit toward their psychology requirements.
>The problem you posed may not be in the nature of ideas generated in
>field, ideas generated by observational and participatory science.
>may be in the lab itself.
>It could be that the lab is the Oldowan stone tool of science. It has
>great tool for the last 120 years or so. I could never have
>ideas without what the lab-work of Neil Miller and his proteges gave
me in mouse
>research. I could never have done it without the work that you have
>with your laughing, tickled, and play-deprived mice. I could never
>it without the lab-work neuroscientist like Ed Taub gave me in his
>But, Jaak, the lab is not the solution, it's the problem. The lab is
>limited to catch most of what human behavior is about. It is too
>catch the mas passions that make a Hitler, an Osama Bin Laden, a
>Shakespeare, a Winston Churchill, or an FDR. It is too limited to
>the CIA and the Mossad destroyed the world trade center or whether al
>did it. If al qaida was the culprit, the lab is too limited to tell
us what to
>do next--what to do to defend our civilization from collapse.
>The lab is even too limited to tell us whether our civilization is
>Are these questions science must address? You bet. So the real
>this. How do we make a genuine science of human passions, of mass
>of mass perceptions, of popular culture, of high culture, of politics,
>history. What new tool can we invent that takes us beyond the lab?
>One clue is this. There are several real-world measures of mass moods
>mass perceptions. One is the stock market. Another is the real world
>interaction that takes place in IMs, videogames, role playing games,
and chat rooms.
>In the cyberworld, every word and every nuance is recorded. All one
>permission from the participants to use the mass of data.
>Another advantage of the cyberworld: folks from all over the world
>An online group like the one devoted to the Philosophy of History is
>Siberia and reaches out to Europe, the United States, South America,
>There are many ways to slice and splice the data. There are many ways
>quantify, if quantification is what you want.
>But it's critical to realize that some of the greatest distortions in
>sciences of the psyche have been created by the physics-and-equation-
>seize many of us and remove us from the real world.
>If quality is what you want (and you, in particular, often do) not
>measurement, then getting our sciences out of the lab and into the
real world is
>The cyberworld may just be a convenient starting point.
>My job, it turns out, is very different. After 20 years at the top of
>star-making business, 20 years of gut-hypotheses, it's time to do
>difficult. It's time to translate what my muscles and my viscera know
>And it's time to continue to practice the process of shaping human
>in the real world so an Osama doesn't outdo us by understanding the
>passions far better than we in science do.
>It's time to practice prediction and control in the world of
>Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the
>History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang
>Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University;
>Member, The Graduate Institute
>Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member:
>of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project;
>Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences,
>Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological
>of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society,
>Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org;
>editor -- New Paradigm book series.
>For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see:
>for two chapters from
>The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
>For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the
>to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
---------End of Included Message----------
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the
Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; Faculty
Member, The Graduate Institute
Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic
of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The
Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy
of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International
Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; executive
editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see:
for two chapters from
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang
to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
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