Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Epistemology of Goldilocks RE: Sea Level Rise

The comfort zones of The Comfort Zone
I. Introduction

Goldilocks had a notion of "too this" or "too that," and "just right." (Goldilocks Principle).

One could also describe the structure of her analysis as the comfort zone surrounded by two zones bereft of sufficient comfort, however, that is technically correct only if her comfort zone falls within the comfort zone of the majority ("comfort zone: the range of atmospheric temperature and humidity considered comfortable for most people" - Dictionary).

Thus, the comfort zone is an issue that comes up when global warming induced climate change is addressed.

II. The Uncomfortable Zones

"I am not comfortable with that" can apply to, among other things, climate, ideas, prices, colors, laws, beds, science, chairs, politics, music, or knowledge.

It is a perception based on "I know what makes me comfortable or uncomfortable."

Thus, it is what we think of as "personal knowledge."

Epistemology is "a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge."

Epistemologists realize that we are constantly playing the role of Goldilocks in our daily lives, especially where knowledge is concerned (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

Thus, the essence of a personal comfort zone, whether in or out of the comfort zone, determines our reaction to a subcategory of climate change known as sea level rise (SLR).

I bring it up because, whether we are a scientist or a layperson, we are not good at this:
"Why are we so bad at knowing ... Eric Schwitzgebel, in “Perplexities of Consciousness,” contends that our minds, rather than being open-access, are largely hidden territory. Despite what we believe about our powers of introspection, the reality is that we know awfully little about what our conscious experience amounts to. Even when reporting current experience, we make divergent, confused and even contradictory claims about what it’s like to be on the inside [of our own cognition]."
(Know Thyself: Easier Said Than Done, emphasis added). The cognitive scientist Dr. G. Lakoff wrote:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(What Orwell Didn't Know, pp. 68-9). In other words: "What do you see when you turn out the light? ... I can't tell you, but I know it's mine ... I get by with a little help from my friends" (Beatles).

III. Groups Play A Part In Drawing SLR Contours

Today, I want to look at the Goldilocks Principle in the context of SLR and how it is formed by the culture we abide in, whether we are a scientist or a layperson.

A paper to that effect intimates:
In this paper, I introduce the emerging theory of judgment aggregation as a framework for studying institutional design in social epistemology. When a group or collective organization is given an epistemic task, its performance may depend on its ‘aggregation procedure’, i.e. its mechanism for aggregating the group members' individual beliefs or judgments into corresponding collective beliefs or judgments endorsed by the group as a whole. I argue that a group's aggregation procedure plays an important role in determining whether the group can meet two challenges: the ‘rationality challenge’ and the ‘knowledge challenge’. The rationality challenge arises when a group is required to endorse consistent beliefs or judgments; the knowledge challenge arises when the group's beliefs or judgments are required to track certain truths. My discussion seeks to identify those properties of an aggregation procedure that affect a group's success at meeting each of the two challenges.
(Journal Episteme, Judgment Aggregation, PDF here). In terms of SLR, this applies to all the climate change groups, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The individual scientists in climate change groups have their own comfort zone to contend with, as well as the group's comfort zone.

As the paper points out, final reports are sometimes an aggregate, a report that tries to make everyone in the group as comfortable as can be.

IV. One Group Solution: A Range

The current technique is to include a range of values in SLR reports, such as, "from x to y of SLR between the years a and b."

The individual members can identify with x, y, or somewhere in between, thus the unity factor, in terms of member comfort zones, is likely to increase.

V. Too Much "This" Or Not Enough "That"

When a range does not please everyone in the group, or even those outside the group, sometimes there are protests based on the "too this" or "too that" zones outside the comfort zone of those who are complaining (see Goldilocks Principle @ section I. Introduction).

When the discomfort feels excruciating there is usually going to be someone yelling "ouch!" (RTCC, Nature, Climate Central).

In appellate courts of law this is called dissent, and as a general rule it is not frowned upon, in terms of it being considered unprofessional.

VI. The Consensus: We Face Catastrophic SLR

Some of the dissent is unprofessional or ignorant because it is based on shrill, total denial of what SLR is going to do (Will This Float Your Boat - 8).

Other dissent is based on being uncomfortable with what is called "hopium," and is associated with admitting to the problem we face, but not formulating a warning that is serious enough.

Thus, these dissenters exclaim, the public is operating under an illusion generated by a false hope, which is in turn generated by underestimates.

Some groups, such as the IPCC, have admitted to that in the past, their excuse being that there was not a sufficient body of data based on sufficient studies.

Their solution is to not report on "from x to y of SLR between the years a and b" in a complete way.

The stronger dissent (which I subscribe to) does not exonerate them in response to their excuse.

That is because the standard to apply is what they "should have found out" as professionals (e.g. see "In spite of its importance ... the Antarctic ice sheet is poorly known" here).

Professional scientists are charged with an ethical unction based on what a professional should do in a given circumstance.

There have been warnings from notable professional scientists all along the way.

Warnings about issues from excess CO2 emission dangers to ongoing SLR on our warming globe.

A globe on which the ice sheets will melt catastrophically, at some point in time, and SLR will thereby also become catastrophic.

But that said, by and large the most denial and greatest resistance to the science has not come from the scientific community.

It has come from governments and leaders who have been perverted by the oil industry.

Perverted into falsifying and/or watering down the dangers they have caused (Oil-Qaeda - The Indictment).

VII. Conclusion

The comfort zone of many (e.g. "our technology is just right for solving the SLR problem") is being catered to, as if there will be no consequences if we do not make the all-time greatest of efforts to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

A civilization that deludes itself with a little comfort zone hopium will suffer orders of magnitude more than it would if it suffers less now while solving the big problem.

SLR is a terrible, self-inflicted threat (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

HBO Vice: Our Rising Oceans with Dr. Eric Rignot:





Friday, May 8, 2015

Cat's Dream

a Poem by Pablo Neruda

How neatly a cat sleeps,
Sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Sleeps with its wicked claws,
And with its unfeeling blood,
Sleeps with ALL the rings a series
Of burnt circles which have formed
The odd geology of its sand-colored tail.


I should like to sleep like a cat,
With all the fur of time,
With a tongue rough as flint,
With the dry sex of fire and
After speaking to no one,
Stretch myself over the world,
Over roofs and landscapes,
With a passionate desire
To hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
Would undulate, how the night flowed
Through it like dark water and at times,
It was going to fall or possibly
Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts.


Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
Like a tiger's great-grandfather,
And would leap in the darkness over
Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night with
Episcopal ceremony 
and your stone-carved moustache.

Take care of all our dreams
Control the obscurity
Of our slumbering prowess
With your relentless HEART
And the great ruff of your tail.


Moonshadow, by Cat Stevens, lyrics here. [is this a song of hopium?]



Thursday, May 7, 2015

ACLU vs. Clapper, Alexander, Hagel, Holder, and Mueller - 13

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that NSA spying on Americans is illegal (ACLU v. Clapper).

The court chose to rule on the statutory  side of the equation, as the Supreme Court has directed in the past ("don't rule on constitutional issues when you can resolve the case on a statutory basis" - paraphrased).

The court wrote: "The district court held that § 215 of the PATRIOT Act impliedly precludes judicial review; that plaintiffs‐appellants’ statutory claims regarding the scope of § 215 would in any event fail on the merits; and that § 215 does not violate the Fourth or First Amendments to the United States Constitution.  We disagree in part, and hold that § 215 and the statutory scheme to which it relates do not preclude judicial review, and that the bulk telephone metadata program is not authorized by § 215.  We therefore VACATE the judgment of the district court and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. VACATED AND REMANDED." (emphasis added)

I have been covering this case for a long time:
NOTE: the court also ordered that the caption be changed, because the only one still in office now is: James "I told the least biggest lie under oath" Clapper.

The case is now ACLU v  CLAPPER, ROGERS, CARTER, LYNCH, and COMEY.

UPDATE: The usually right-wing House of Representatives is on the same page as the court on this issue (House rejects NSA collection of phone records with vote to reform spy agency).

The previous post in this series is here.

Will This Float Your Boat - 9

Sea level rise brings job diversity to America
Today I am giving out free sea level rise (SLR) projections for stock market purchases leading up to the year 2100.

First off, the easy one, purchase stock in moving companies.

Purchase stock in companies building new housing of all sorts, inland 10-20 miles, and beyond.

Purchase a farm up-state.

Why?

The great job storm is coming!

The sea is going to swallow a lot of real estate: "Sea ... level rise in New York City ... worst case of up to six feet ... by 2100" (NASA New York City Climate Change 2015 Report).

That is the worst case expected by conservative models that have consistently been
Downtown Tomorrow
underestimating the rate and scope of SLR concerning:
New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York metropolitan area, one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. A global power city, New York exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. The home of the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy, and has been described as the cultural capital of the world.
(New York City). That is only the half of it (121 threatened cities and towns, home to 9,142,669).

Expand the scope of these wonderful opportunities south to New Jersey, then north to New England City and Town Areas (NECTA), and the opportunities for us easily double, because the sea is an equal opportunity sub-merger.

I mean that the opportunities to move millions of people into millions of new dwellings, on thousands of miles and miles of new roads, leading to millions of new businesses of all kinds, in new shopping malls everywhere inland.

Don't forget new schools, factories, and stock markets (Wall Street will be moved and renamed).

After that, invest in demolition and construction company stock.

All or part of the old ports and buildings will need to be cleared out for new ports and new buildings (to handle international trade) of course:
Considered one of the largest natural harbors in the world, the port is by
Buy stock in moving companies
tonnage the third largest in the United States and the busiest on the East Coast.

The port is the nation's top gateway for international flights and its busiest center for overall passenger and air freight flights. There are two foreign-trade zones (FTZ) within the port: FTZ 1, the first in the nation, established in 1937, on the New York side of the port; and FTZ 49, on the New Jersey side.

In 2010, 4,811 ships entered the harbor carrying over 32.2 million metric tons of cargo valued at over $175 billion. The port handled $208 billion in shipping cargo in 2011. In 2014, the port handled 3,342,286 containers and 393,931 automobiles.
(Port of New York and New Jersey). It won't take Chris "Speedy" Christie and his port buddies (yes, they drink a bit of wine) to move all the things, down there on the Hudson, out of there (look at how fast they did are doing the Sandy repairs).

I am telling you regular Dredd Blog readers, a great job storm is coming like the world
Groundhog Day Foundation
has never seen.

And this job storm is backed by The Groundhog Day Foundation (see graphic to the left, and link).

The SLR will continue for perhaps a hundred years or so, and each morning when one wakes up, the same job has to be done again. Yes!

Move those ports inland, again, move more people inland, again, build new roads, again, tear down the old ad infinitum, bring in the new ad nauseam.

And many will have religious experiences like never before, hanging around corners singing "that is me in the corner losing my religion."

Why? ... because all the liberals will have to repent and admit that the denier conservatives were right, are right, and will always be right.

Those righteous brothers have brought endless jobs to America by realizing the benefits of carbon pollution (GOP Head of Senate Environment Committee Says Carbon Pollution Is Good For The Earth).

Rejoice (in following episodes we will discuss how Senator Inhofe is going to be praised for bringing The Groundhog Day Phenomenon to the whole globe ... beginning with San Francisco Libruls) !!!

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Etiology of Social Dementia - 13

"Stop the world, let me off"
This series began years ago on 9/18/09, and has covered a lot of ground since (Etiology of Social Dementia, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

Today, let's continue the observation of strange behavior in individuals that is caused by dementia.

I am talking about the type of strange behavior which can be used as a metaphor, microcosm, epitome, or similar concept, to link that behavior to group behavior (for those who want to refresh their memory about dementia, check this out: Mayo Clinic: symptoms, definition).

That pertains to individuals, but according to the Darwin of Psychology (Freud), it can work with groups and even civilization itself:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities. [p. 39]
...
Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. [p. 40]
(MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5, quoting Freud). The "pathology of civilized communities" seems to be a contradiction of terms to those of us who see civilizations as the ultimate human accomplishment that nevertheless somehow disappear (The Great & Beautiful Lost Kingdoms, Civilizations Like Our Own Without Oil).

Those who, like Freud, venture into original thought, "outside the box," are soon ostracised, like this guy:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(The "Genes" of Culture In Civilizations, quoting historian Arnold J. Toynbee). Ok, so what strange individual behavior can we use to illustrate the concept?

Glad you asked.

The case for study today is like the professional commercial pilot who recently did a mass-murder-suicide:
"Some tragic events are a metaphor, an epitome, a simile, an analogy, or similar iconic representation of a larger reality.

Germanwings Airbus A320, Flight 4U 9525, was the scene of a mass-murder according to a French prosecutor.

In a news conference, it was revealed that the German co-pilot intentionally crashed the aircraft (Germanwings flight 4U9525 deliberately flown into mountain, says prosecutor).

Thus, we know that it was an inside job, a suicide, and a mass-murder.

We know that attempts were made to stop it, however, the cockpit door was too strong to get through, the external access mechanism was said to have been turned off, and/or a manual lock had been set, by the co-pilot." (Inside Job and/or Conspiracy?)

"The co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps in March appears to have practised a rapid descent on a previous flight, a report by French investigators says.

The report said Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the same plane for an unauthorised descent earlier that day.

Lubitz is suspected of deliberately crashing the Airbus 320, killing all 150 people on board.

He had locked the flight captain out of the cockpit.

Lubitz appears to have practised programming a rapid descent on the outbound leg of the flight - from Duesseldorf to Barcelona on 24 March - the preliminary report by accident investigation agency BEA said.

It added that on several occasions - again with the captain out of the cockpit - the altitude dial was set to 100ft (30m), the lowest possible reading, despite instructions by air traffic control in Bordeaux to set it to 35,000ft and then 21,000ft." (Germanwings crash: Co-pilot Lubitz 'practised rapid descent')
I remember what one analyst, who was responding to a question about the act of a professional, individual pilot who would kill 150 innocent people, along with himself.

His perplexed response was: "I can't get my head around that."

In other words, "it does not compute."

We don't have that murder-suicide perpetrator's brain to do an autopsy on, as we had when another soon-to-be professional person inexplicably killed a lot of innocent people:
I don’t really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts.
...
It was after much thought that I decided to kill my wife, Kathy, tonight … I love her dearly, and she has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have. I cannot rationa[l]ly pinpoint any specific reason for doing this …
...
I talked with a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt [overcome by] overwhelming violent impulses. After one session I never saw the Doctor again, and since then I have been fighting my mental turmoil alone, and seemingly to no avail.
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala). We call some behavior "unthinkable" or "unimaginable" because we have limits to our cognition, limits to what we are able to think:
Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious - what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can't even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.
(The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere). Our conscious cognition is very weak, compared to our subconscious mind.

That is why groups, governments, nations, and even civilization itself, can become participants in an orgy of the unthinkable.

Freud contemplated something useful that never happened, as it should have, (psychoanalysis and treatment for groups).

We now find ourselves on the edge of extinction (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 8, The "Genes" of Culture In Civilizations).

We have no idea where we are (You Are Here) or even what we are (Our Microbes, Ourselves: How the Trillions of Tiny Organisms Living Inside Us Are Redefining What It Means to Be Human).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

A bit of an example:



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Evolution of Models - 8

Fig. 1 SLR Software
It ought not be a surprise that one can learn more about sea level rise (SLR) by writing a computer program that calculates SLR.

First, one must study the current science and current software, place relevant data into a database of some sort, so that expressing the science is a function of reading valid data, not to mention having a patriotic red, white, and blue display screen to enthral the deniers (Kleenex to wipe off the patriotic drool not included).

The graphic, Fig. 1, shows the Linux version 1.00 initial display screen (it is a console application, not a GUI).

I used the Code::Blocks IDE, wrote the software in C++ source code, then compiled it using the Gnu C++ compiler ("g++").
Fig. 2 (click to enlarge)

The graphic Fig. 2 shows the data values which generated the graph at Fig. 3.

Changing the data values changes the output, which changes the graph ("follow the data" is the equivalent of "follow the money").

Some data are more influential, i.e. will cause greater changes to the output, than other data.

One can learn a lot about individual data that drives SLR by hypothetical "what if" experiments.

Fig. 3 (click to enlarge)

This format makes it easier to experiment with ranges of data values, which all the researchers tend to use these days (e.g. "a range of 3 to 6 feet by year X").

Exact estimates are fine, however, the better practice is to give a range because there are uncertainties and there are certainties.

For example, acceleration of SLR is a certainty, however, "exactly how much?" and "exactly when?" are uncertainties (The Question Is: How Much Acceleration Is Involved In SLR? - 4).

Another certainty is that, at some time in the future, Antarctica will overtake Greenland as the main contributor to SLR (model SLR software should simulate that), but "exactly when?" that swapping will take place is an uncertainty.

The better one understands the locations (Antarctica, Greenland) and zones (coastal, inland 1, inland 2, and no melt) where the melt and ice calving is taking place, and the better one keeps the data fresh, the more the uncertainties are diminished (see section "SEA LEVEL RISE (Melting Ice @poles and elsewhere)" on the Series Posts Page).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The "Genes" of Culture In Civilizations

Van Gogh: "Ward of Arles Hospital"
I. Introduction

How is the evolution of culture different from the evolution of individuals?

We don't miss a beat or a step when the notion of individual people having genes is discussed.

But that is not so when it comes to the "genetic make-up" of a culture.

The reaction might be: "how could a society, culture, or civilization have genes?", but that can change when we realize that metaphor is used even in scientific conversations about genes, and is done so regularly:
"In describing the flawless regularity of developmental processes and the correlation between changes at certain genetic loci and changes in morphology, biologists frequently employ two metaphors: that genes 'control' development, and that genomes embody 'programs' for development. Although these metaphors have an admirable sharpness and punch, they lead, when taken literally, to highly distorted pictures of developmental processes. A more balanced, and useful, view of the role of genes in development is that they act as suppliers of the material needs of development and, in some instances, as context-dependent catalysts of cellular changes, rather than as 'controllers' of developmental progress and direction. The consequences of adopting this alternative view of development are discussed." (Metaphors and the Role of Genes, emphasis added)

"Language, thought and metaphor are inextricably mixed, so any discussion of what might be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, about particular metaphors must proceed carefully. In genetics, this leads into a real tangle. There are powerful and indispensable theory constitutive metaphors which have shaped the history of molecular biology. There are a further set, often used alongside the first, in efforts at elucidation, explanation, translation or appropriation of new theories, concepts or ideas. And there are the framing metaphors common in science journalism, which may appear in conjunction with any or all of the above." (The End of Genes?, emphasis added)
I am not talking about adding up the genes of all the individuals in a culture, in order to derive the genome of that culture.

I am talking more about group behavior (Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala).

I am not talking exclusively about physical or metaphorical genetics (The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), because genes, RNA, and DNA are molecular machines that are not alive (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine).

But, I am talking about real psychological dynamics, within societies, that live on long after individuals in those societies die (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

II. Group Delusion

That well-educated, professional-groups delude themselves is shocking, but when that education and professionalism is based on professional psychology (which focuses attention toward knowing the nature of delusion), we scratch our heads.

Especially when their self deceit or delusion goes all the way to the bone:
The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
(American Psychological Association Ok With Torture, cf. Bush Psycho Team). The psychology of sophisticated groups which delude themselves, then perpetuate that delusion beyond the lives of any of the original members, also takes place in mystery.

III. The Evolution of Delusion

Some evolutionists have attempted to explain this phenomenon by using the language of genealogy, including metaphor, to construct an evolutionary hypothesis based "genetics of deceit."

A reviewer, parsing a book by evolutionist Trivers for example,  noticed that it may be a bridge too far to equate individual, physical, genetic dynamics to the metaphor: the genome of a culture:
Nobody likes to be told that they’ve been living a lie. However, this is at the heart of The Folly of Fools, Harvard biologist Robert Trivers’s recent polemical effort. In this fiercely, if not sloppily, argued book, Trivers presents his vision of human and animal self-deception from a multitude of sources that range from genomics to the stock market.
...
But for the same reason that the book has a near-flawless takeoff, it crashes in the end. The way that Trivers structures the text requires that he zero in on a concrete example within each chapter’s more general subject. For biological concepts, this strategy makes the reading highly accessible.

But it backfires when Trivers uses it to apply his theory of self-deception in the areas of war, religion, and false historical narratives. These subjects are too broad, and his links to self-deception too tenuous, to be compelling. By having such specificity, Trivers pigeonholes his arguments and greatly simplifies issues that are not as black-and-white as he claims.
(Review of Folly of Fools, book by R. Trivers; cf. same book different review). I would expect the same analysis of other books and papers, written by Trivers, concerning the evolution of deceit and self-deception (Deceit by Trivers, Deception, pdf, Is Trivers Deceiving Himself?, Trivers Wikipedia, Trivers von Hippel, Minds in Tumult).

IV. Examples of Actual Deception In Society

There was a court case which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, a case which brazenly pointed out the depth and width of deceit in American Culture:
Saints may always tell the truth, but for mortals living means lying. We lie to protect our privacy (“No, I don’t live around here”); to avoid hurt feelings (“Friday is my study night”); to make others feel better (“Gee you’ve gotten skinny”); to avoid recriminations (“I only lost $10 at poker”); to prevent grief (“The doc says you’re getting better”); to maintain domestic tranquility (“She’s just a friend”); to avoid social stigma (“I just haven’t met the right woman”); for career advancement (“I’m sooo lucky to have a smart boss like you”); to avoid being lonely (“I love opera”); to eliminate a rival (“He has a boyfriend”); to achieve an objective (“But I love you so much”); to defeat an objective (“I’m allergic to latex”); to make an exit (“It’s not you, it’s me”); to delay the inevitable (“The check is in the mail”); to communicate displeasure (“There’s nothing wrong”); to get someone off your back (“I’ll call you about lunch”); to escape a nudnik (“My mother’s on the other line”); to namedrop (“We go way back”); to set up a surprise party (“I need help moving the piano”); to buy time (“I’m on my way”); to keep up appearances (“We’re not talking divorce”); to avoid taking out the trash (“My back hurts”); to duck an obligation (“I’ve got a headache”); to maintain a public image (“I go to church every Sunday”); to make a point (“Ich bin ein Berliner”); to save face (“I had too much to drink”); to humor (“Correct as usual, King Friday”); to avoid embarrassment (“That wasn’t me”); to curry favor (“I’ve read all your books”); to get a clerkship (“You’re the greatest living jurist”); to save a dollar (“I gave at the office”); or to maintain innocence (“There are eight tiny reindeer on the rooftop”).

And we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk, as reflected by the popularity of plastic surgery, elevator shoes, wood veneer paneling, cubic zirconia, toupees, artificial turf and cross-dressing. Last year, Americans spent $40 billion on cosmetics — an industry devoted almost entirely to helping people deceive each other about their appearance. It doesn’t matter whether we think that such lies are despicable or cause more harm than good. An important aspect of personal autonomy is the right to shape one’s public and private persona by choosing when to tell the truth about oneself, when to conceal and when to deceive. Of course, lies are often disbelieved or discovered, and that too is part of the pull and tug of social intercourse. But it’s critical to leave such interactions in private hands, so that we can make choices about who we are. How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option?
(It Takes A Culture To Raise A Compulsive Liar). The issue in this post is not whether deception exists in society, rather, the issue is: why.

V. Social Betterment Through Deceit and Deception?

The flavor Trivers seems to favor is that any and all evolution is good, because "bugs have been doing deception forever" (ibid).

"Besides, the bugs made our selfish genes you know."

Some of those from other disciplines take a different tact, the opposite in fact, to even go so far to say that deceit is a social evil when used by the powers that be:
"Noam Chomsky: One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control
"
(The Deceit Business). This is in concert with our official deceivers, who also, but for different reasons than Trivers argues, think it is ok for "governments" to do it:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Edward L. Bernays

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
...
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 4, quoting from Propaganda). It has been said of Bernays, that, if you do not know of this American, then you cannot understand American history (The Matriarch of the Matrix - 3).

VI. Why Deceit and Deception?

Regular readers know that I hypothesize that deceit and deception were introduced into the genetic stream of microbial life by catastrophes (see e.g. Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?, What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?) and that they can be changed by conversation (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen--2).
Catastrophe is prevalent

I am talking about microbial life and catastrophes which preceded us by millions and even billions of years (On The Origin of Propaganda, 2).

We find that catastrophe was quite prevalent in those epochs (e.g. The Five Mass Extinctions).

Beyond that, catastrophe damages some life, and makes other life extinct (see the graphic showing the Five Mass Extinctions, as well as all those scores of extinction events that were not in the mass-extinction category above the red line).

Catastrophe does not help life along, no matter the rationale (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).

Even our human societies have long been plagued with suicide and murder, on the group scale and level, as pointed out by historian Toynbee:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown." - [A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee]
(Are We Riding Out The Sixth Mass Extinction?). Another evolutionary thinker pulled no punches when he said that human intelligence is a lethal mutation (What Kind of Intelligence Is A Lethal Mutation?).

VII. Conclusion

Deceit and deception are not evolutionary advances, they are lethal mutations in the wrong direction.

Advanced, successful societies will shun deceit and deception (The Tenets of Ecocosmology).

Blue Genes