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VII: The Culture Of Man 1. Rigged Games

character creatorGetting back to our quest, which from the beginning has been to find the Origin of Man, we find ourselves unwittingly in the position of Socrates. We have consulted the experts, and in return we have received what upon close inspection appears to be little more than decorated (and applauded) guessing. Like Socrates, even though we are not necessarily expert, our criticism is justifiable on numerous grounds. When these specialized fields of expertise invade day-to-day society, as for instance when their conclusions become the basis of civil law, guide the direction of progress and science, and set the school curriculum, they extend BEYOND the bounds of their discipline. They ooze out into the world and can now be critiqued and, indeed, criticized, from other and wider perspectives. This questioning of all the experts he could find made Socrates many enemies, and I think it is a foregone conclusion that it was the primary reason for the charges that brought him to the Athenian court. Experts do not like to be told they are wrong, especially by people not trained in that expertise.

By questioning the Big Bang Theory, Evolution, Archaeology and Anthropology, Astronomy, Microbiology, accepted methods of dating and measuring, and numerous other primary scientific (and, occasionally, even literary and linguistic) assumptions, by speaking about religions to which we do not belong, by interfering with the common contemporary “Mythos,” we discover that these criticisms strike directly at a belief system shielded and guarded with all the defense mechanisms of a repressive psychosis and Fort Knox under threat of red flag. You tell Bob his wife/job/dog/house/car/football team is just no good, and in fact can prove it, and instead of getting thankful gratitude in response you get something along the lines of “Who do you think you are to say such things…” blah blah bah. The end result is that in society today too often people are afraid to tell other people what they really think about what really matters, and nobody takes the time to question the premises and assumptions of their very own worldviews.

When it comes to the ideas called Big Bang and Evolution, they have crystallized in the mind of their adherents, and there take the form of infallible Truth, and indeed, God. The Big Bang – Evolution pair, taken as one which I will term “Bangolution” is a religion, a purposefully atheistic, consequently moral-less theoretical mathematical construct fraught with difficulties and inconsistencies even by its own evidence. Yet it is believed with the same strength of commitment as a marriage or bond by birth. It becomes “family” and “dear” to its believers, and any criticism of it is therefore seen as insulting.

The real loons, the ones so steeped in their theoretical tea that they have ceased to have any individual character – the ones who become Bangolutionists body and soul (and so who baptize themselves in imaginary waters) – well they will never change, they will continue to ride authority until and even if it is only that authority alone that gives the theory any credence at all. They are the equivalent of religious zealots and maniac followers that would drink any poison, bomb any building, or kamikaze any ship, in order to defend their icon.

Then there are the other type of Bangolutionists, more prone to question the principles, more prone to question themselves, more inclined to think outside the box. These Bangolutionists are more of the truly advancing scientific spirit type, one could say the “liberal” Bangolutionists. They believe, so they say, because it is “the best available” theory. Their response to my inquiry is to say say that instead of criticizing I should come up with a better idea. They admit they would accept a better theory if it is shown to them. They want a better game, they want a new myth, and would be willing to sway their vote if shown one.

Theory can support, directly, only other theory. You may propose any scenario or scheme or fantasy you like, and upon it build further crystal sandcastles and elaborate imaginative phantasms. You can justify it further with even more made-up words and concepts, and eventually, as the computer world seems to demonstrate, you can via theory and imagination, and maybe a few hallucinogens, construct a whole new “virtual,” or some-odd other, type of world. But the moment you try to apply these concepts to the real, waking world, where other living human beings exist, you create a whole new set of circumstances and a whole new set of interactions and relationships to consider. Your enterprise now extends beyond the scope of a roomful of hackers (or theoretical physicists).

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Take for example this aforementioned virtual world, a computer-based multiplayer world people play, one meant to mimic real life. Much theory goes into building this world. The programmers have to consider graphics, sound, game play, processing power, internet speed, and so on, when designing it. Before getting into actual game rules and play at all a whole firmament must be set into place. This firmament is the field in which the game will take place. In a virtual world the firmament is in cyberspace, in a real world, regular space.

Where the real world’s firmament is composed of restrictions such as involve the limits of sight and perception of distance, the impositions of gravity, velocity, and laws of thermodynamics, the virtual world’s firmament must work with unmitigated constants also. For the layman, one not an expert in the computer field, the “way” and “how” even the simplest multiplayer game is created sounds like a foreign language. The algorithms and if-then propositions, the calculations based on measurements the game makers themselves invent, to the uninitiated, look like unfathomable hieroglyphics. For our purposes here this virtual world can stand for any theory, and particularly, any scientific theory. I have no ethical problem with theory in this sense. It is done by experts in the field, isolated, and so long as it stays theoretical, it can do whatever it wants, base its system on whatever premises, shady or not.

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At some point, however, the creators of this game-theory want it to “go live.” They want people and so society and the world to participate in this game. They want to be the chosen game everyone plays. When this happens, as any programmer will tell you, further problems can and do arise, and must be accounted for, either by changing code or the game itself. This is not unlike what happens when scientific theories are applied. When these difficulties are encountered, and they almost always are, the theorists sometimes change the situation and sometimes change the theory to account for the discrepancies. Now once a person not involved with the creation of the game becomes a player, that player must also be accounted for by the gamemakers, or makers of this theory. Human interaction is another whole and new ball game. Who is affected and in what way, what are the repercussions of playing, what are the benefits and risks involved with participation, etc., all these now become legitimate questions. Whereas before its public release the theory was just a mental exercise among friends, a hobby if you will, now it is a public fact and can be criticized at least where it intersects in public life. Your Big Bang Theory is fine at the We Teach Physics convention. Once it touches a school system or public home, or even mind of someone not involved, it must explain itself and answer in terms we can understand.

Updates-in-WindowsSometimes,after it exists for a time, it is discovered that the game is just no good. Nobody plays it, or, in scientific terms, no one believes it. What happens usually, because we people like to play games, is that a better game is created.  Big Bang, Evolution, these are big games lots of people continue to play, and which affect, directly or indirectly, billions of people. The problems with these games, in a nutshell, and I think, as we have shown, is that they NEVER END. It is always the same game, one I dare say we, at this point, may be unable to escape. When a mistake is found in Evolution or Big Bang, when people downright get bored with their premises since they are of no use, instead these “game theorists” [sic.] merely change the game, or worse, the very rules of the game. When we say “It is bad, close it down,” they make changes (“patches”) to make it appear good for a little while longer. But after they make the changes, should it be called the same theory? Is it the same game? Can you bet on every horse in the race, or do so and consider yourself in any way a fair gambler? Should a person or corporation be allowed a patent on what never ends, like Windows operating system?

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It boggles the mind to consider the breadth of distribution of these big, perhaps silly games. Saying or writing that such a game or theory is based on bad or unproven principles must be done with full acknowledgment of the scope of this participation. These games are so big that they appear immune to criticism, amenable with their constantly changing “truths,” by which they might, apparently, withstand any epistemological blow.  How does one kill such a monster that keeps coming back to life?

Regardless, I must keep my blood pressure down, so to continue our analogy, it should be noticeable to all, and a certain truth if any there be, that aspects of this theoretical world are interacting, better to say creeping into, the real world. It is precisely at this point that theory becomes accountable to a “layman,” like me or anyone else with half a brain. When the game’s conclusions extend outside the game and reach non-players (non-believers) it may be criticized from even the non-players. It is the same principle behind Child Safety Laws, the almighty Seat Belt, and the Health Departments. That these “external” or “non-professional” critics are more or less ignorant of how the game was programmed really doesn’t nor shouldn’t make any difference at this point. I have no problem with your, let’s say, zombie game, and the silly needy folks who play it, until it is because of your game that my kids are being told zombies exist. Now you must prove the existence of these zombies, and to say they exist because the game says so is just plain gibberish. Yet this gibberish is used to justify many of the principles of theories like the Big Bang and EVOlution…

But of course the difference between the games we love to play and the games we are forced to play should be evident. So far we have not based any laws on Final Fantasy or Angry Birds. These games have stayed for the most part in the gaming world. But when that one action figure of Cloud or the Bomber bird hits the shelves, it will have had to have passed through several tests and safeguards. It would have to pass inspection. All we ask is fair, unbiased inspection of these relentless, mutable, and never-ending theories.

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That old decrepit rat of an argument known as “where are your papers/credentials” hopefully now buried for good, I want to confirm a few definitions and maybe clear up a bit the ambiguity that is the title of this section. We men and women, we Men, might very well be individuals at bottom, by nature isolated, alone, and without equals, as Sartre might say. On the other hand, we may be at bottom, by nature, complex social creatures, as perhaps Aristotle might have meant when he called us “political animals.” Throughout this search to find the Origin of Man we have never really spent much time defining precisely what origin it is we seek. That is, we have not defined what we mean by “Man” as well as what we mean by “Origin.” Man, yes, means both men and women, but which men and women?

What is a Man? That is our next section.

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