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Empathy and Social Darwinism

 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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01 April 2020 18:19
 
Cheshire Cat - 01 April 2020 04:37 PM
LadyJane - 01 April 2020 08:28 AM

We really do take a lot for granted.  I guess it’s better than fretting over the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death.

Sometimes, the best possible thing to do in an absurd situation, is to laugh at it all.

https://youtu.be/8KPbJ0-DxTc

That was awesome!

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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03 April 2020 03:50
 

Yesterday when I was wondering what hotels and motels, inns and bed and breakfasts were looking like nowadays I stumbled across that story about the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.  Commanding Officer Capt. Brett Crozier sent a letter to Navy officials requesting assistance after a coronavirus outbreak threatened his crew.  After numerous attempts he headed toward Guam to seek temporary accommodations for the sailors while awaiting a response.  This is no minor task for a warship of this magnitude.  And sounds like a nightmare situation all round.  This is a city on the water surrounded by a fleet.  A city that never sleeps.  And now, seemingly, an abandoned ship.  It kinda begs the question…why’d they have to go all the way to Guam fer safe harbour?

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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03 April 2020 06:40
 

The Captain was shitcanned.  That is quite the stunning development.  Is this how they honour the military in the States now?  You get fired for doing the right thing?  His first responsibility is to the ship and crew.  Where are all the admirals to back him up?  This is no time for dissension in the ranks!  Has there been a coup d’etat during a pandemic since the Russian Revolution?  Just asking.

 
 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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03 April 2020 20:36
 

Why did the USS Theodore Roosevelt go to Guam for relief? Probably because that was the U.S. territory closest to the ship’s current location that could handle a ship of that size. I believe the ship is currently assigned to the U.S. Seventh Fleet, which is forward-deployed to the western Pacific ocean, headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan.

Why was the captain cashiered? Officially, it was for showing “poor judgment” in sending the email to too many people, which his superior(s) decided resulted in a leak. Unofficially, IMO, since there was a leak that did not portray the Navy specifically, or the U.S. government generally, in an unambiguously positive manner, someone had to pay. The captain was the lowest person in the chain of responsibility, so he was the first candidate for scapegoat. If it turns out that the email in question was a “last resort” in a chain of events that had included previous ignored communications, the captain may yet be vindicated, and a higher-up (or someone in the higher-up’s staff) may bite the bullet. That’s the way that military politics works, IMO.

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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03 April 2020 21:08
 

Over a month ago the DOJ was told not to do anything to protect the troops from Corona because it would go against Trump’s message that everything is fine.

 
 
Poldano
 
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04 April 2020 00:53
 
Twissel - 03 April 2020 09:08 PM

Over a month ago the DOJ was told not to do anything to protect the troops from Corona because it would go against Trump’s message that everything is fine.

That’s remarkably similar to Xi Jinping’s government’s systematic bias against any news or activity that doesn’t agree with the official government position. In both cases, there seems to be a standard policy to attempt to control the entire conversation, so as to preempt any criticism and suppress questioning. The reaction when the cat’s out of the bag is quite similar as well—blame someone or something else.

An alternative to that method is to admit the tentative and contingent nature of one’s current position. That makes it easier to shift position when new data become available. The implicit assertion that new data might become available is, however, also an implicit assertion that one is not omniscient, which in turn admits that questioning is relevant and appropriate.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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04 April 2020 07:58
 

Wouldn’t any Captain be in dereliction of duty, even under a direct order, if he placed his ship and crew in jeopardy? 

Isn’t that the sort of thing that warrants courtmartialling?

 
 
Poldano
 
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05 April 2020 01:24
 
LadyJane - 04 April 2020 07:58 AM

Wouldn’t any Captain be in dereliction of duty, even under a direct order, if he placed his ship and crew in jeopardy? 

Isn’t that the sort of thing that warrants courtmartialling?

First, it is kind of the job of any commander to put his command in jeopardy if doing so is necessary to fulfill his mission. So let’s assume that we’re not talking about that specific kind of situation.

Second, court-martialing is not necessarily done with a presumption of guilt, but to establish the facts of a situation that might have involved questionable behavior or judgment.

What we’re left with in the case of Captain Crozier is whether his distribution of the offending email did indeed show a lack of judgment. Here I’m going to unleash my anti-Trump, anti-authoritarian biases, and say that the captain deserves a court-martial to get to the actual facts of the case. Remember that I speculated that previous requests may have gone ignored, prompting the captain to send the request to a wider distribution, perhaps in the expectation of a leak that would force the hand of his superiors.

As it stands now, I guess Trump is backing the Navy Secretary’s action, deeming the addressee list of the memo “inappropriate” in its breadth. In line with my previous response, this indicates what concerns Trump about the incident, which is the possibility that it might reflect poorly on his own policy, performance, image. On the other hand, I read a headline indicating that the crew of the TR cheered the captain as he left the ship (I hope I got that right). If that is the case, then some interesting things might yet happen.

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened in the U.S. armed forces.

By the way, I think this topic is bigger than the topic under which you have placed it. If you can, I suggest you consider moving the sub-thread posts into a topic of its own. Empathy and Social Darwinism are relevant to the situation, i.e., the captain’s empathy being superseded by the political survival instincts of, at the very least, the political sycophants in his chain of command, resulting in his harm. But the situation might be analyzed in other ways as well.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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05 April 2020 09:53
 

That is about as much as we know at this point and I think we’ve explored about as much as we can with the information we have so we’ll just have to wait and see what any investigations turn up and hope they become available to the public and not a secret military tribunal.

With so many people now grounded in their homes we have the time and potentially more focus to decipher facts from fiction.  The sources we rely on to gather information are what positions us to properly direct our empathy and show compassion to those of our choosing.  And, even though the light of our empathy turns on, the object of our attention must be worthy of our compassion or else it turns off again like a switch. 

There are many cons to be aware of at times like these.  And liars and swindlers ruin it for everyone.  One lie can create enough doubt to shatter a link in the daisy chain that shuts everything down til we’re left in the dark.  Why should we be expected to live with the lies?  Is there a polite way to address lying when we suspect there’s deception?  Wouldn’t that be the compassionate thing to do?

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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19 April 2020 08:12
 
Jb8989 - 25 March 2020 06:26 AM
Nhoj Morley - 24 March 2020 01:21 PM
LadyJane - 24 March 2020 05:56 AM

I think of empathy as being involuntary whereas compassion is doled out as a conscious choice.  I’ve often seen compassion extended by those who are familiar to those they feel are worthy.  A commodity expressed conditionally based on feelings toward the recipients of our sympathy.

Spot on.

A compassionate perspective, perhaps of greater bandwidth, exposes more detail to our senses that can evoke a broader feeling of empathy.

We benefit from The Boss’s compassion like an old dog allowed to spend its last years in the backyard.

Perhaps indeed. Bloom loves the idea of rational compassion and he made a similar point about using compassion hesitantly but adequately, and also as a basis to get to a better understanding of what’s going on since people are way more cooperative and willing to go the extra mile under compassionate circumstances. The idea that - say for example - a highly profitable company shouldn’t use too much compassion for bottom-line reasons seems like an antiquated model anymore.

I’m inferring “Bloom” as in Bloom’s taxonomy?

As I read through this thread, several perspectives on cognitive science came to mind. A sort of soup of perspectives:

- Mirror neurons (that live largely “in the cortext”), are also sometimes called “empathy” neurons, and it’s thought that they exist in primates and some of the smarter birds. If you’ve ever winced when you saw someone else experience pain, that was probably your mirror neurons kicking in.
- Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, I think could predict a lot of the behaviors we’re seeing these days.
- The motivation continuum and self-determination theory, I think have to also be in play here. If one self-identifies as - for example - being compassionate, then they’re apt to act more compassionately because self-identification is very high on the motivation continuum.
- The ongoing conflict between the conscious mind and the sub-conscious, primitive brain. In many day-to-day situations, the mind has an intention but the brain is designed to thwart that intention.
- Bloom’s taxonomy I guess could also be in the soup. A beginner knows only a random smattering of factual claims and does not yet know how to synthesize data and apply it.

In this soup, my bet would be that - in a pinch - the more ancient brain mechanisms will win, overriding the more recent, high-order functions. But to make things more complex, not everything is as it appears. The motivation continuum might actually be a more ancient mechanism than it would appear. Panksepp - for example - has demonstrated that ALL mammals exhibit extremely strong “play drives”.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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20 April 2020 08:10
 
icehorse - 19 April 2020 08:12 AM
Jb8989 - 25 March 2020 06:26 AM
Nhoj Morley - 24 March 2020 01:21 PM
LadyJane - 24 March 2020 05:56 AM

I think of empathy as being involuntary whereas compassion is doled out as a conscious choice.  I’ve often seen compassion extended by those who are familiar to those they feel are worthy.  A commodity expressed conditionally based on feelings toward the recipients of our sympathy.

Spot on.

A compassionate perspective, perhaps of greater bandwidth, exposes more detail to our senses that can evoke a broader feeling of empathy.

We benefit from The Boss’s compassion like an old dog allowed to spend its last years in the backyard.

Perhaps indeed. Bloom loves the idea of rational compassion and he made a similar point about using compassion hesitantly but adequately, and also as a basis to get to a better understanding of what’s going on since people are way more cooperative and willing to go the extra mile under compassionate circumstances. The idea that - say for example - a highly profitable company shouldn’t use too much compassion for bottom-line reasons seems like an antiquated model anymore.

I’m inferring “Bloom” as in Bloom’s taxonomy?

As I read through this thread, several perspectives on cognitive science came to mind. A sort of soup of perspectives:

- Mirror neurons (that live largely “in the cortext”), are also sometimes called “empathy” neurons, and it’s thought that they exist in primates and some of the smarter birds. If you’ve ever winced when you saw someone else experience pain, that was probably your mirror neurons kicking in.
- Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, I think could predict a lot of the behaviors we’re seeing these days.
- The motivation continuum and self-determination theory, I think have to also be in play here. If one self-identifies as - for example - being compassionate, then they’re apt to act more compassionately because self-identification is very high on the motivation continuum.
- The ongoing conflict between the conscious mind and the sub-conscious, primitive brain. In many day-to-day situations, the mind has an intention but the brain is designed to thwart that intention.
- Bloom’s taxonomy I guess could also be in the soup. A beginner knows only a random smattering of factual claims and does not yet know how to synthesize data and apply it.

In this soup, my bet would be that - in a pinch - the more ancient brain mechanisms will win, overriding the more recent, high-order functions. But to make things more complex, not everything is as it appears. The motivation continuum might actually be a more ancient mechanism than it would appear. Panksepp - for example - has demonstrated that ALL mammals exhibit extremely strong “play drives”.

Bloom was the dude Sam was podcasting with at the time I made that post and he wrote a book called against empathy, the case for rational compassion.

Your post got me thinking although I couldn’t quite grasp it all.

Take for example the difference from being ruthless and being merciless. It’s difficult to tell if mercy at wits end is a form of empathy, or if as social beings we’ve been hardwired through years of social moralization to feel motivated to save our self from the trauma of causing suffering of another. The first example would be empathy, the second only looks like it, but this is also an extreme example. I think as a baseline, it’s easy to see how self-preservation, calculation, empathy, and self-identification conflict more than they inform one another- especially when you take into account auto drive.

 

[ Edited: 20 April 2020 08:15 by Jb8989]
 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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20 April 2020 08:58
 

JB:

Take for example the difference from being ruthless and being merciless. It’s difficult to tell if mercy at wits end is a form of empathy, or if as social beings we’ve been hardwired through years of social moralization to feel motivated to save our self from the trauma of causing suffering of another. The first example would be empathy, the second only looks like it, but this is also an extreme example. I think as a baseline, it’s easy to see how self-preservation, calculation, empathy, and self-identification conflict more than they inform one another- especially when you take into account auto drive.

And your post got me thinking about the influence of regret and the prediction of regret. I know I often don’t feel like doing something, but I get motivated by imagining a future in which I would regret my lack of action. For me, that’s often a powerful motivator.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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20 April 2020 18:15
 
icehorse - 20 April 2020 08:58 AM

JB:

Take for example the difference from being ruthless and being merciless. It’s difficult to tell if mercy at wits end is a form of empathy, or if as social beings we’ve been hardwired through years of social moralization to feel motivated to save our self from the trauma of causing suffering of another. The first example would be empathy, the second only looks like it, but this is also an extreme example. I think as a baseline, it’s easy to see how self-preservation, calculation, empathy, and self-identification conflict more than they inform one another- especially when you take into account auto drive.

And your post got me thinking about the influence of regret and the prediction of regret. I know I often don’t feel like doing something, but I get motivated by imagining a future in which I would regret my lack of action. For me, that’s often a powerful motivator.

Anticipatory regret, eh. It sounds like a solid mechanism for course correction as long as your understanding of regret is a rational expectation and not a product of social shaming mandates that tend to hold less and less water the more you think about them. It’s one of those rare fine lines’ that’s also a slippery slope if you’re not careful.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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21 April 2020 09:08
 

Is the slippery slope a descent into self loathing…or more along the lines of exacting revenge?

 
 
Jb8989
 
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21 April 2020 16:49
 
LadyJane - 21 April 2020 09:08 AM

Is the slippery slope a descent into self loathing…or more along the lines of exacting revenge?

I was talking about self-loathing, but if you think about it, people who allow themselves to get to a place of self-loathing generally walk around with a chip on their shoulder as a result, and the further they get from acting on it within reason, the more likely it becomes an irrational distraction over time. Basically if you don’t want to put yourself in a place of regret, you definitely don’t want to put yourself in a place where you feel the need to seek revenge, but this likely depends on the person, what happened to them, whether it was in their control, and their ability to calculate risk.

 

 
 
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