Eating from the Forbidden Fruit

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✰✰ <level 2>   (on the power of Good and Evil since the agricultural revolution;

a consequence of “jet-lag” in recent human evolution)

(by Popko P. van der Molen, sept./oct. 2008)

"Amathology", an introduction

✰✰ <level 2>   This article is about what we could label as "amathology", the science of ignorance. It deals with the following 15 interrelated items:

  • The realm of human ignorance.
  • The special purpose and function of the human ignorance about oneself.
  • The fuzzy world of ethical norms in a field of Self-blindness.
  • The forbidden fruit: the knowledge of Good and Bad as a cornerstone of human unhappiness.
  • The illusory character of notions of Good and Evil.
  • The crucial function of the knowledge of Good and Evil for blinding human awareness about its own behaviour, social- and otherwise.
  • The amounts of physical energy needed to keep illusory notions of good and bad functioning in the human mind.
  • The major difference between newly emerging spiritual movements and established great religions.
  • The big lie: the evolutionary necessity for any great religion to block anything which would lead to the very essence of what religions pretend to bring.
  • Great religions as surviving power structures binding human beings in ignorance and slavery instead of liberating them from neurotic misery.
  • Great religions using "Good and Evil" illusions as a basic tool for inducing, consolidating and exploiting the deep confusion about our ethics.
  • P-feelings versus N-demands; emotions and feelings from our Primordial evolutionary history versus the New requirements and dictates from our membership of present day power structures that rule our world.
  • The unavoidable friction between P-feelings and N-demands in humans.
  • The evolutionary dictates for the evolution of meme structures; the prerequisites of power structures.
  • How religions and other power structures utilize this elementary friction in the human mind and soul to enhance ignorance and to strengthen confusion about the behaviour of oneself.
  • How ignorance helps to trigger the emergence of guilt and perpetual neurotic fears, caused by conflicting P-feelings and N-demands.

These 15 issues will be addressed below.

Discussions about the following item can be found in a previous chapter on this Wiki.

  • The evolutionary necessity of the typical human blindness for the Self and the evolutionary history of this subject-specific awareness-block.

The below chapter deals with the same issue, but discusses the various aspects in more detail.


✰✰ <level 2>   Human culture has arrived at a point where we can control nature to such an extent that we do not run the risks any more that formerly were determining life and fate of each and every individual. We have now learned to fight and win any conflict with large predators, with cold, with heat, floods, drought, starvation, and even with almost all contagious diseases. In principle, technically speaking, any healthy individual now could live until old age in peaceful circumstances, were it not for mankind itself providing fatal risks for oneself and for each other. Evolutionarily, mankind has become its own primary source of risk, its own most important selection force. As a consequence, the main direction of selection has changed dramatically since some tens of thousands of years. This shift can be verified also by recent DNA research that shows that the speed of change of the human DNA has increased tremendously since the beginning of this most recent period of human evolution, the beginning of agriculture.

In fact, the human species has arrived in a quite peculiar situation. Seen from the point of view of our most basic instincts, our most basic feelings, wishes and desires, we have, in our modern world, developed the technical means and tricks to fulfil each and every wish, stemming from our inmost primordial systems of emotions and motivations. We could in principle all be happy and safe. However, as it appears, reality is quite different. We have become our own predators and any large scale civilization is in fact just some postponement of that novel direction of our selection pressure, taking its toll anew at any occasion when things run out of control. As has been said by philosophers before, civilization can in practice be regarded as a conspiracy against evolution, human evolution. Civilization is always just a shortlasting postponement of selection pressure. In any culture, periods of peace and prosperity don't last very long. Evolution has to take its course, and it does, also in us cultured humans. At such moments in time, wars break out and starvation, diseases, migration waves, genocides and other disasters make evolution recover lost terrain. Then evolution again effectuates its selection pressure in the typical, novel, human evolutionary direction and does away with cumulated genetic pollution, incurred in periods of relative peace.

Looking at this situation from the outside, it seems highly peculiar that we can fly through the air with hundreds of people at a time in one machine, that we can sail the seas in vessels harbouring tens of thousands of people, that we can plan and cultivate food for a hundred times or more people than are living in the areas in question, that we can put a man on the moon and dive down into the deepest oceans and return to tell what we have seen, that we can look into the universe into distances so far away that is difficult to imagine what such distances mean, distances, travelled by light in millions of years, that we understand the most elementary particles of matter to the point where we can put together nuclear bombs and nuclear energy plants, and still, and still ............ we do not seem capable to organize our societies in such a way, that we can live in relative personal peace and security.

No-go areas for our intelligence

✰✰ <level 2>   Obviously, we seem not to be capable of understanding our own behaviour, let alone organize it in a mutually useful way. It seems far more easy to organize war than to organize peace. This failure to understand our own behaviour can be corroborated by psychological research during the last decades. Indeed it appears that human beings possess an uncanny capacity to not-see how they are functioning themselves. We are struck with a very strong form of blindness for our own emotions, motivations and feelings. Of course, we do have some notion of what we feel, what we see and what we want, but, as an overwhelming avalanche of scientific psychological research shows, these notions differ greatly from reality. (See for instance: Bateson, 1972,1979, Dixon, 1976, Laing, 1967,1969,1970, just to mention a few out of a vast sea of scientific research data)

In fact, human beings spend surprising amounts of energy and brain capacity to just mystify and hide their own behaviour from sober and intelligent investigation, also by themselves. Evidently, it looks as if this typical blindness, blocking our awareness and thinking power in certain areas, does have a significant evolutionary advantage. This human blindness is apparently an ESS, an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy.

In this treatise we will discuss some aspects of this blindness and explain the importance of this specific ignorance. Especially, we will focus on a central issue in this blindness, the notion of Good versus Evil and on the highly illusory character of it. Of course, we humans know and are aware of what is good for us and what is harmful or bad for us. In general, what we need biologically, is what we like and we consider those things we need as "good". Reversely, what is harmful to us, we consider and label as "bad". So far so good, nothing out of the ordinary. Any monkey or other animal can be shown to harbour similar notions.

However, in humans something has become fishy in these matters, especially where good and bad refer to ethics, to what we ourselves should or should not do. The idea of what is most basic about Good and Bad or between Good and Evil, being at the centre of our cultural heritage, brings confusion and mystification rather than clarity about what to do and what to avoid. Notions of Good and Bad produce massive fears and neuroses, rather than clarity, tranquillity and peace.

How come?

This chapter deals with the how and why of Good and Bad in us humans and with the evolutionary source of the sticky confusion in these matters. The notion of Good and Evil is the most central issue in any modern human culture and it can be shown that human beings invest massive amounts of time and energy on maintaining its functioning. At the same time it can be shown that these notions, or at least crucial parts of it, are illusory and serve confusion rather than clarification. In fact, Good and Evil can be seen as the central and basic instruments of keeping the human species locked up in blindness. That way they safeguard the possibility of a further evolution of human intelligence and, what is more, also strengthen the forces that bind present day humans in miserable slavery in the hands of meme-level power structures, that are nowadays in charge of our evolution.

The confusing role of established religions

✰✰ <level 2>   The three or four present day monotheistic religions in the world, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and, in a sense, Buddhism, have in common a very central and basic tenet saying that “one should not do unto others what one would not wish to be done unto oneself” or “treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself”.

This central tenet appears to us a very “good” and useful admonition. However, history, and present day newspapers as well, show us that these great religions also have been the reason, or at least the pretext, for large scale killing, wholesale rape and untold further atrocities on a rather continuous basis. Still, these religion’s official basic tenets and goals are like the quotes above, only to be associated with love, care, peace and unselfish interest in the other, with positive, supportive commitment.

Apparently, what the great religions seemingly (try to) teach us is quite at variance with daily, worldwide practice in human society, and often also with the practice of the great monotheistic religions themselves.

In the pages below we will try to explain this seeming contradiction and investigate its evolutionary roots and its meaning and significance for the present day human situation.

The primordial niche of Homo sapiens and the feelings and emotions "fitting" that environment

✰✰ <level 2>   First of all we should pay some attention to what happened with the human situation since the agricultural revolution, which started just some 10.000 years ago. From an evolutionary point of view this is quite a short period of time. Since primordial times, long before the agricultural revolution, human ancestors have been subject to evolutionary selection forces which have resulted in a behaviour pattern, well suited to survive the niche of Homo sapiens and its predecessors. Stemming from earlier hominids, they did already have a behavioural repertoire, shaped and polished by many millions of years of natural selection, well fitted to the circumstances they lived in. What this means in practice on a personal level, is that one’s feelings and reflexes are such that they automatically result in behaviour with optimal survival value. Feelings and reflexes, likes and dislikes, are built into the system in such a way that they automatically trigger the behaviour in an evolutionarily useful direction. Emotions of course go up and down (otherwise a creature would not move), but generally our ancestors were, like any other species on this planet, well in harmony with their environment of which they were a well integrated part. Our ancestors lived well in balance with the rest of it. For this discourse we will call this set of Primordial requirements, needs, feelings and reflexes the “P”- feelings (the P of Primordial).

Recently however, i.e. since some 10.000 years, survival pressure and selection pressure have taken a radically different direction for the species Homo. But until that moment in human evolution, our behavioural system was adapted to and was functioning smoothly in an environment and a social setting, not very different from any other socially living hominid. Each hominid species had its own niche, but all living in balance and in harmony with nature. We were functioning in small or moderately large groups of family and relatives, dealing with surrounding nature and with the other group members. Practically all of our behaviour, of our emotions and motivational systems, is designed for and well adapted to those tasks, to survive and procreate under those circumstances.

New demands and requirements since the agricultural revolution

✰✰ <level 2>   However, as is further explained elsewhere on this Wiki, the agricultural revolution, brought with it the rule of large power structures. Organisational structures, wielding unprecedented amounts of power over and influence on people, took over the evolutionary lead. Since such power structures are not based on genes but on memes, their mutual competition for resources and their evolutionary struggle was suddenly happening on a very different time scale than anything that came ever before in evolution. The evolution of power structures and organizational formulas happens at the meme-level, the level of software so to speak, whereas the classical evolution, the one we all stem from, is an evolution between sets of genes, an evolution on the hardware-level, the usual stuff. In order to change and evolve, meme-sets only need little time, just the time it takes to spread some news to other people or to change somebody’s mind. Memes therefore do not need to wait until their carriers have procreated physically, handing down the memes to one’s progeny during the upbringing of the young. That way the selection process would take a considerable number of generations at least. The software however, doesn’t need to wait for the hardware turn over, but carries on at its own, much higher, speed and in turn pulls the hardware selection along, no matter how far the latter is lagging behind.

We humans, Homo sapiens, are thus the carriers of information bits on these two different levels. That does have some peculiar consequences for us. Because of the difference in time scale between the gene evolution and the meme evolution, between hardware evolution and software evolution, we human beings need to accommodate the requirements of both evolutionary pressure systems simultaneously. Otherwise we cannot survive and participate in and contribute to the next generations. Both sets of demands and requirements have to be met, or we will be selected out and done away with.

The large and complicated power structures that are in charge these days put demands on us humans, that are therefore completely new in evolutionary terms. We have to function in enormously much larger social networks than what our early ancestors were accustomed to and emotionally were rigged up for. We also need to deal with a lot more, continuous, change of circumstances than any earlier hominid ever was confronted with and was adapted to. Furthermore we have to deal with required obedience to organizational systems and principles, rather than just to specific persons, whereas we are only emotionally rigged up for the latter. We have to be willing to live in cages, more or less luxurious, rather than enjoy the evening camp fire and the feel of wind, water, plants and soil, which, as a compensation, we seek in our “holidays”. Etc., etc. For this discourse we will call this set of New, secondary requirements and the subsequent needs, feelings and reflexes, installed and stimulated by the complex power systems in charge, as the “N”- demands (the N of New).

Friction between P-feelings and N-demands; "Primordial" versus "New" (the evolutionary Jet-Lag)

✰✰ <level 2>   Because in these last 10.000 years our genes did not yet have the time to adapt sufficiently to the strongly changed artificial environment we live in, our (old) behavioural tendencies and reflexes, the P-feelings, are not suited well for our present day existence. The demands of the power structures in charge, the N-demands, do not yet match well with our feelings and emotions, the P-feelings. This implies, that, no matter what we do or try, we cannot, in general, organise things in such a way that we feel we are “at place”. We could achieve this in the eras before the agricultural revolution, but not now any more. It has in principle become impossible. That does not mean that not some stray individuals could achieve a relative harmony and happiness with their present day life, but it means that such happiness and balance with the environmental situation is the exception, rather than the rule, for modern human beings.

The bottom line is that that what we feel deeply inside, the P-feelings, is at variance with the demands of the structures we live in and depend on, the N-requirements. Human beings are therefore subject to two competing grand sets of directives for our behaviour. One grand set is what feels natural and harmonious, stemming from primordial times, and to which we are genetically fully adapted, and another grand set, evolutionarily novel, taking care of the demands of the power structures in charge, which set of directives often feels to us however as unnatural or “bad”. From this opposite and often conflicting pair of demands and requirements, sayings emerge like: “Power corrupts”, Befehl ist Befehl and also the blindness of governmental organizations and similar Kafka-like phenomena, seemingly not caring about the innate feelings of their carriers, us humans.

By and large, modern society sucks, and there is no other way, simply because of the delay in the human hardware evolution in comparison to the much faster evolution of the software programs, ruling human societal structures these days. Dreaming of “ideal” societies therefore is useless. The ideal is not available any more. We simply lost it with the agricultural revolution. The demands by the meme-power structures, the N-needs, always surpass and differ from what our behavioural inclinations would suggest and trigger by themselves, the P-needs. And that discrepancy translates itself directly and unavoidably into a certain measure of stress and unhappiness. The power systems require us to do a whole range of things we would never do by ourselves, if we would still be living outside of modern meme level power structures. Hence the (for us) eternal tension within our own behavioural system.

After the second world war, induced by the atrocities during the war, finally some curiosity emerged again after the possible sources of the striking frictions in the human behavioural and normative systems. One finally recognized that there were some disquieting incongruities in human normative thinking and feeling, that may lead to unheard of atrocities and disasters. Research was conducted to investigate the influences from political and cultural power structures controlling our behaviour against inborn reflexes of love, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. For instance, Milgram’s experiments with obedience to authority illustrate these effects very clearly (Milgram,1974) and have been discussed widely in those years. Only the very strong and stubborn managed to defy imposed authority and refused to torture their victims in the name of the "Good cause". It is the meek and the well adapted persons on the other hand, who are the best carriers for the power stuctures in charge, and who tend to follow the rules, no matter what. They are the most likely to press the torture button or pull the trigger to wretch compliance and obedience from the victims.

Some basic requirements for successful power structures

✰✰ <level 2>   The power structures at the level of memes control our lives these days, simply because their evolution outruns by far the classic evolution of physical bodies, the animal kingdom. Let's focus on these power structures. Elsewhere on this Wiki we have commented upon the reason why this meme level evolution has become the dominant factor in our lives. In order to understand the consequences, let's consider what are the requirements for meme-power-structures to be an ESS, an evolutionarily stable strategy. To answer that question we can safely make a number of basic assumptions.

1) First, the power structure should collect and condense enough power over lots of human individuals and make them compete successfully with other meme-power-structures over resources. Large numbers help, as do collective hitting power and personal subservience to the system.

2) Second, the power structure should harness the energy and activity of its carriers into parallel directed subservience to the system, but without loosing too much of its member’s basic energy potential in the process. They may very well be subdued into malleable neuroticism and misery, but not to the point of a complete break down, because then all useful output of the individuals would stop.

3) Third, in order to compete effectively with other power structures, it should make its members claim and gain as much of environment, space and resources as possible, at the expense of the carriers of competing power structures, cultures and creeds. Expansion and proselytizing are therefore highly adaptive evolutionary tools for meme power structures to survive and reproduce.

Having determined these three basic requirements for power structures to be evolutionarily successful, we can now distinguish a number of mechanisms and rules applied by power structures to achieve the above mentioned 3 basic requirements.

The first requirement suggests that a power structure should contain enough rewards and threatening punishments, enough carrots and sticks, for the human carriers of the system to attract and convince large enough numbers of people to join and comply with it and additionally to keep those converts within the system for good. The stick can have the form of various types of punishment for defection. These rewards and punishments should also be strong enough to overcome the negative effects of the tension and friction between the P-feelings and the N-demands. Otherwise not enough people will "buy" the story.

To achieve goal number 2, a power structure may, in order to re-direct energy and output into directions for the benefit and growth of the power structure itself, the N-demands, apply so much repressive techniques, blocking the “natural” tendencies of human beings, its carriers, that the individuals lose even up to 50% or perhaps even 90% of the potential individual energy and action-ouput. Losing that much behavioural output is not a problem, as long as not all of the output is quenched. However, again, if the harnessing and subductive forces do quench all energy in a limited number of its carriers, that is not an evolutionary problem either. A percentage of 1 or 3 of suicides in a population is a price, well acceptable for better controlling the remaining 97%. That much stress and strain in the carriers (us humans) is permissible.

To achieve goal number 3, a power structure can apply a culture of proselytizing, either through creed or through other cultural dictums, or may apply genocidal actions and wars to acquire more "Lebensraum" and other resources. It was certainly not a privilege of the Third Reich to adopt such strategies, only, these days such strategies are customarily disguised and hidden from sight in a "civilized" way, but they are the leading hidden agenda's, ruling the show, nevertheless. There is no other way, that is, at least there never was.

Where evolution is leading us

<level 1>   A result of the dominating influence of the power structures in charge is that the general direction of recent human evolution is a moving away from Eden, from our Primordial state of living as our hunter-gatherer ancestors were used to. We are moving away from a state of relative harmony between environment and behavioural tendencies and feelings. We are pulled away from that original state and evolutionarily pushed into adaptations to large power structures, adaptations that our genetic evolution cannot achieve quickly enough to produce a “good fit” between our emotional make up and the power systems ruling our days. In fact, looking at the details of the political power struggles throughout human history, this model would predict that the more unpleasant power systems tend to win, or at least the power structures that succeed best in harnessing human’s primordial feelings and tendencies and replace them with the needs and requirements of the system, that are often felt by us humans as “inhuman”, but unavoidable. (“Lex dura, sed lex”, as the Romans already stated, and without it the state would collapse.)

On the other hand, the less stress a system induces, while still succeeding to invoke obedience, the better and the less loss of productivity and of human lifes. Therefore the best tricks of the system are those that cause human beings to follow the rules without being aware too much of the price they are paying. As explained above, and in more detail elsewhere on this Wiki, Homo sapiens is not so very “sapiens”, in that special mechanisms have been built in, that block the use of our intelligent facilities on our own personal and group behaviour. It does not need further explanation that this facility is being utilized to the full by the power structures in charge and that any method to strengthen this specific and peculiar blindness for the self, is applied. We can therefore safely assume that the most successful cultures on earth are also those that induce and strengthen these typical blindnesses best, where possible, paired to great intelligence and analytic power. The more specific this blindness is for strictly the own, human, behaviour, the more room there is for a further development of general intelligence and analytic power, without endangering the power structure requirements and also without hampering reproductive contributions.

The evolutionary importance of blindness for self and the illusion of Good and Bad

<level 1>   Power structures of course derive advantage from concealing that they “steal” human well being and happiness. And the best way to conceal that is to strengthen the already typically human blindness for the own behaviour, reflexes and feelings and subsequently to use that area of murky perception for inducing the dictums, norms and rules that the power structure needs. However, the latter are norms and rules that would tend to induce aversive feelings in its carriers, us modern humans, in particular in case these dictums and rules could be perceived clearly and undistortedly.

To achieve this required level of blindness, a basic trick and cornerstone of all existing large power structures is the central notion of “Good and Bad” and of “primal sin”. As is shown elsewhere on this Wiki, the Good and Bad dimension is one of the most conspicuous and striking features of the human system of assessment and judgement. We do spend enormous amounts of time and energy to keep this illusive notion of "Good and Bad" upright and kicking. It does direct human normative systems and rules of behaviour and channels our social behaviour as well. In fact, that dimension of "Good and Bad" takes care of the consolidation of our social relations and social predictability. It helps us to socially "stay in place" and it automatically makes us act as to try keeping other people socially "in place" as well.

✰✰✰ <level 3>   (- For the mathematically oriented behavioural scientists among us: in the euclidian space of behavioural interactions, judgements and self-assessments, analyses of our verbal repertoire show something peculiar. In the analyses of the covariances between the words, labels and phrases, in factor analysis the first principal component before rotation is always the dimension of "Good versus Bad" or something closely related. And strikingly, this apparently most important assessment tool is not related whatsoever with any actual behaviour. It is only related with how the observer or judge is, for personal reasons beyond his own understanding, emotionally colouring in cognitively the behaviours he observes. (See here for more detailed information about this most important but illusory personality dimension.)-)

Quantity of physical energy, invested in maintaining blindness and illusion

✰✰ <level 2>   From these personality psychological research data it appears that it must apparently be of great evolutionary importance that our cognitive system spends so much processing capacity and time on maintaining the notion of Good versus Bad and the blindness for the Self coming with it. Evidently being the most important of all dimensions of human assessment and social judgement, this cognitive dimension also consumes a considerable part of the energy consumption in our brain. Our brain is one of the most energy consuming parts of our body. Our carotid arteries are relatively wide compared to those of other, closely related, species. We humans spend the greater part of our time on thinking. And a considerable part of that thinking time is spent on thinking about our own and other people's behaviour and what it means to us. Being socially living mammals this is of crucial and vital importance to us. As the above mentioned factoranalyses of the conceptual tools of that thinking show, the larger part of all that energy is spent on the first principal component of all those concepts and ideas, taking care of colouring in what we see and think with the delusive colours of "Good", "Bad", "pro- and con-". This underlines again empirically the great biological and evolutionary importance of this dimension of Good and Bad.

The illusory aspects of the Positive/negative or Good/Bad dimension

✰✰ <level 2>   Strikingly however, as pointed out above, it can also be shown from ethological research on humans, that this Good-Bad dimension, being one of our major tools of social behaviour, does not correlate whatsoever with actual behaviour, at least not as perceived by the rater. Of course the notions of good and bad are quite useful in describing what is good for our health and survival and what is harmful. As such there is no problem and it shall be clear that such notions must be of crucial importance for our communication about what to avoid and what to strive after. However, there has evolved a catch in us humans. Applying these notions of Good and Bad on our own behaviour and on the behaviour of others appears to be a tricky business. Rather than just labelling other individuals as Good or Bad, which certainly also happens, we humans tend to colour any judgement or qualification with either a positive, wished for variety of that judgement, or to colour it in with a negative, not wanted variety of the same descriptive qualification.

For instance, a boss who is renowned to be a very effective and strong leader, issuing clear directives to his subordinates, in general is perceived and judged quite differently by different types of subordinates. A subordinate who is always compliant with the directives in the department and has no difficulty in following clear and strict instructions from above, is more likely to describe the style of management of the boss in question in positive terms like "strong, energetic, dynamic, bold and charismatic", whereas a subordinate who has difficulties in adapting to the existing rules and limitations of the department and who may be at the verge of being dismissed as "not sufficiently in compliance with company needs and directives", is more likely to describe that same style of management of the boss rather as "bossy, insensitive, dictatorial, repressive, autocratic and despotic". Listening to both types of judges, one would not expect them to describe the same person (that boss) in the same working situation. (For more information about these cognitive reflexes distorting our judgement of other individuals and of ourselves, see the article on Social Role Blindness(***).)

In a similar vein, people in love describe their partner in positive , flowery terms, whereas that same partner will be described in very negative terms once the relationship has broken up. Typically, the judging person will ascribe that to a dramatic change in the behaviour of that partner, but in general the judgee has not changed that much as the change of judgement suggests. For the persons issuing those judgements, it is almost impossible to objectively recognize the importance of the changes in their own perception. Without being aware of it, we humans are in fact applying a "double" toolbox of qualifications, carrying positive sets of qualificative descriptions and negative sets of qualificative descriptions. Whereas such positive or negative qualifications, in fact, in reality, often refer to the same actual behaviours, we human judges, applying these judgement sets, are not aware that the positive or negative colourings of these judgements are just our own imagination. We are not aware that the positively judged behaviour is actually the same as the negatively judged behaviour, even in cases where we can show experimentally that the behaviour in question is or was exactly the same. So, apart from being very simple and useful tools for describing what items in our environment are harmful or beneficial to us, the Good and Bad differences also serve to colour all types of descriptive qualifications of one's own and other people's behaviours. In fact, by that mechanism, we are utilizing double sets of descriptions for behaviour. At the same time, we ascribe reality value to those positive and negative descriptions, beyond the actual objective assessment of what kind of behaviour has or shall occur. In other words, we, as judges, do not know that the qualifications we apply for ourselves and other people, express in particular whether we are in favour of that person, or not. We utilize a complete descriptive set of behaviours and characteristics on the positive side as well as a complete descriptive set of behaviours and characteristics on the negative side. But we do hold the differences between those two sets for actual behavioural differences, which they are not. Those differences just and only exist in our heads. The only effect they have on us, is that they do consolidate and stabilize our attitude to the judged persons in question. These positive-negative labels stabilize in that way our social relations, dividing the people around in people we like and people we do not like. Our preferred social distance is thus "fixated" in terms of (imaginary) fixed characteristics of the ratee. In that way these double judgement sets obscure reality from our sober perception and what in fact happens is that primordial social reflexes of attraction and repulsion are consolidated and stabilized by the colouring in of our cognitive social world, protecting them from intelligent investigation and understanding.

In summary, the positive - negative colouring in of judgements and assessments of behaviour, which we could label as the Good versus Bad dimension, just serves to subjectively colour our perception of behaviour and is thus merely a tool of directing our own reactions on behaviour. Instead of helping to sort out reality, it serves to mask reality and blocks a clean and sober understanding of the behaviours observed. In other words, the evidently most important tool we humans utilize for assessing our own and each other’s behaviour is a tool that primarily serves for enforcing our blindness for behaviour. Apparently, it evolutionarily pays off for us humans to spend a major part of our intellectual activity and our energy on this blinding tool of mystification and delusion. By this arrangement our primordial social reflexes keep operating sufficiently, without being hampered by intellectual interference. (For a further elucidation and scientific analysis of the role of this Good-Bad dimension in the overall system of the perception of personality differences, see: Good and Bad, an illusory dimension as the cornerstone of human personality)(***)

Cultural power structures using Good and Evil as an effective blinding tool

<level 1>   In short, the knowledge of Good and Bad is in human culture a central and very important notion, but it serves a dual function. This dimension not only serves for labelling and knowing what is beneficial and what is harmful to us. It also is utilized as the basis of illusions and of a powerful distortion of reality. Reality itself does not bother with Good and Bad, but only with principles of survival and evolution. Is behaviour effective or not? And if so, for what? When used however for the distortion of perceived reality, this holds in particular for the application of Good and Bad on our own behaviour. In that area it functions as an effective veil, hiding the real significance of our own behaviour, making space for the unhampered expression of our primordial social impulses, without any intelligent manipulation modifying or hampering the aeons old reflexes. Little wonder that the major religions on this earth have the notion of Good and Bad as central themes in their teachings, and also do have in common that they mix up and conceal the millennia old tension between the P-feelings and the N-needs (see above)(**). They make distinctions between these two categories of motivations by and large invisible and indistinguishable. Instead, they help to mix up these two categories of feelings and directives, turning them into a thoroughly mixed, incomprehensible tohuwabohu of half-truths, outright lies, primordial emotions, system directives and some bits and pieces, borrowed from reality. The most successful cultures make sure that from this incomprehensible broth the system directives come out as dominating, invisibly and imperceptibly, the actual behavioural output. And the inextricable mesh of notions, beliefs and impulses thus effectively protects the seat of these system instructions and directives from intelligent investigation. Otherwise one might figure out that what is demanded from us, goes counter to what we really would want. The chaos is simply too big and too much emotionally loaded to be approached consciously. Besides, all of us have been trained painstakingly to shy away before we enter this danger zone. And, subsequently, religion offers itself deceptively as a soothing comforter in this neuroticizing swamp of delusions and fears.

As a consequence, religions, once they have become successful (but not necessarily before or during their emergence!) serve the dual role of firstly (1) inducing and consolidating a complete confusion and delusion about ourselves and our deepest and most important feelings (for which we do already have an inborn knack since the time our intelligence started to expand some quarter or so million years ago; see elsewhere(**) on this Wiki). Doing so, they launch us into worlds of conceit, fairy tales and lies. Secondly (2) in our misery they offer us comfort and save havens for the most urgent recovery needed, promising a better life later and promising other improvements that do however never need to come.

The most cynical of these types of lies is of course the fairy tale of an afterlife. Given the incredible gullability of this intelligent species of Homo sapiens, one cannot but admit that this is the best con trick that evolution could possibly have played on us. It is without doubt one of the best meme tricks evolved that help keep us down in miserable slavery of the meme level power structures in charge, seducing us suckers with claims that only "they" hold the keys for a better (after)life ("they" being the Gods or the religious and/or political authorities, the representatives of the impersonal power structures in charge).

Power structures utilizing "jet-lag" effects in human evolution

<level 1>   So, what is actually the case from an evolutionary point of view, is that the meme level power structures that nowadays determine our human existence, exploit to the full the tension that exists in our human behavioural system, the tension between the P-feelings and the N-needs. These are the two sets of instincts, basic urges, emotional reflexes, learned instructions and other cultural dictums we are dealing with.

These two basic sets are to a large extent each others opposites, because they stem from different sources and serve different goals. The P-feelings stem from primordial times. They harbour the most basic instincts and emotional reflexes and are geared quite perfectly to humanity's original way of life "in the wild".

The newly developed N-needs stem from the demands and requirements of large organizations, going with the power structures at the meme level. They only came into existence since some 10.000 years. They harbour less basic instincts and more learned instructions and cultural rules.

Since the meme evolution runs so much faster than the classic gene evolution, the genetic adaptations to the requirements of the meme-power-structures, the N-needs, lags behind in comparison to the behavioural organization of the P-feelings. The human species is thus suffering from a sort of evolutionary "jet lag". This means that there will unavoidably exist a permanent field of emotional tension between the aeons old human reflexes and feelings (P-feelings) and the modern needs stemming from the organizational requirements (N-needs). By such a continuous emotional friction, each person is naturally more prone to confusion and stress.

This present day cultural source of confusion unavoidably adds to the already much longer existing characteristic of the human species that we are by and large blind for our own behavioural organization. As explained in further detail elsewhere on this Wiki, Homo sapiens is, for good evolutionary reasons, saddled with an uncanny capacity to avoid understanding its own or other people's behaviour.

These two sources of blindness and confusion, added together, opened the road for the meme-power-structures in charge to further increase the ignorance about the own behaviour by maximizing and adding up the confusion from the "jet lag" in our evolution to the already existing blindness and ignorance regarding ourselves.

In this light it is also not surprising to find that under the power structures a whole range of mechanisms and techniques have developed that help to inflict and maintain a high level of neuroticism and fears in human beings. That again increases stress and lack of awareness and thus even better prevents humans to investigate their own behaviour intelligently. That way the power structures have two great advantages. One is that the chances are further reduced that human beings will intelligently investigate the power structure's influence on and their power over human behaviour. The other is that the utter internal confusion as to the own behaviour opens the road to a more precise and farther reaching instruction and programming of the human beings manning the power structures in question.

In evolutionary terms: the above mentioned amplification of our specific human blindness, ignorance and confusion also opens the road for the evolution of more "pure intelligence", because the potential evolutionary instability of intelligence is better shielded off and compensated for that way.

Good and Evil, how great religions consolidate their power

<level 1>   In the light of the above considerations it is therefore not surprising any more to find that the confusing notion of Good and Evil is utilized by any power structure to further confuse its carriers and enhance their utter malleability. This blinding tool makes use of the already for at least some quarter to half a million years inbred tendency to be blind for the own behavioural reflexes and provides an excellent opportunity to mix the power structure instructions and admonitions inextricably with the already incomprehensible mesh of personal motivational impulses, thus preventing detection of the lies and false promises that are unavoidable attributes of these instructions from the meme-power-structures. Because of the "jet-lag" in human evolution namely, the power structures cannot but cheat and lie about their effects on personal well being. What people really want deep inside is what successful power structures can never provide, because they made us move away from our original niche in the first place.

The Good and Evil tool provides an effective method to help inflict feelings of guilt and failure in people. In complex societies people are trained to be aware that they are falling short of expectations and of the formal requirements. They are basically taught that they are "no good". In general, after socialization, the vast majority of people in any modern society has entered a state of average neuroticism and perpetual fear of failure. In this state of mind the idea of Good versus Evil plays a crucial role. One has been taught that one is full of evil, an evil that has to be combatted fervently from the inside. And the outside, of course, is prepared to help with that arduous task. By teaching that a whole range of primordial impulses and reflexes (P-feelings) are sinful, bad or even evil and that contrary to that a number of requirements from the power structure demands (N-needs) are "good", although deep inside they feel like "difficult" or "not fitting well", the confusion is complete, the fear of failure is further entrenched and malleability is further secured.

Any successful power structure therefore strengthens its power and influence and its survival chances compared to competing power structures, if it manages to monopolize the notions of Good and Evil and to fill out the specifications of Good and Bad for its carriers, us human beings. For that reason we can conclude that it is quite understandable that in all major religious systems, that by sheer size and influence can be regarded as successful power systems, no matter what their pretended spiritual background may be / have been, the ideas of Good and Evil have been monopolized, while at the same time inflicting utter confusion and feelings of guilt and failure regarding the own behavioural impulses and feelings. Without such mechanisms of fraud, deceit, lies and psychological destruction, a large religious structure can never survive, without them it can never be an E.S.S. (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy).

The tale of Adam and Eve, the result of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

✰✰ <level 2>   In spite of needing to maximize confusion in their carriers about the carrier's own behaviour(al impulses), a number of great religions harbour the tale of Adam and Eve, who were thrown out of paradise after eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad.

This tale is in fact a very adequate summary of what has been delineated in the pages above and what is the most basic condition of mankind. What the tale summarizes is what happened since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, some 10.000 years ago, when meme-level power structures took over the lead in human evolution and we humans had to get adapted to the basic requirements of such power structures, the "N-needs". From that point in time on, we humans started to suffer from the friction between our primordial P-feelings and the newly imposed N-needs (For more details about "P-feelings" and "N-demands" see here (above)(**)). The N-needs brought with them the illusory, but very strong notions about "good" and "evil", growing on the tree of the tale. What followed was ever more confusion and stress and a massive spreading of fear and neuroticism, gradually becoming the norm, rather than the exception. In short, humanity fell out of Eden, out of Paradise. The implication was not so much a falling away from intelligent thinking. The superior intelligence of Homo sapiens had already been blocked against tampering with the own behaviour for hundreds of thousands of years. Those specific awareness blocks already were in place in a relatively organic and harmonious way. No, when the agricultural revolution started it was rather a process of being drowned ever further into swamps of fear, intimidation and organized lies. Escaping from mass neuroticism became ever more difficult. Humanity fell out of Eden in a very real sense. In a very real sense life has become hell for us since that time.

So, on the one hand these great religions refer to and harbour the feeling deep within that something has gone tremendously wrong and that there is potentially available a very different option in our human behavioural repertoire of possibilities, an option that we lost somewhere in our history.

On the other hand the religions tell us that the loss of that much more pleasant option has been our own fault, is due to our own failure, thus imposing a very deep feeling of guilt into our hearts and minds.

Understanding the above, it shall be clear that putting the blame on us humans is very far from the truth indeed. As we pointed out elsewhere on this Wiki, the emergence of the meme-level power structures taking over the evolutionary lead, was unavoidable, once the evolution of human intelligence had reached a certain level. It was unavoidable and a consequence, to happen sooner or later, of the very existence of an intelligence of that level. So, there never has been, nor could there exist, any responsibility on our side for any of this happening. So, putting this particular blame for being thrown out of Eden on our necks, is just one - but a very powerful one - example of how power structures keep us subdued in neurotic misery, how they keep us malleable and predictable carriers of the power structure's memes in question. This illustrates quite clearly how parts of the truth of our situation are absorbed in an intricate system of fairy tales and lies and are converted into a tool of confusion and enslavement rather than being used as tools for bringing truth and understanding as they all pretend to do.

Summary: "amathology", the science of ignorance, as a crucial tool for our survival

<level 1>   Taking all considerations from the previous pages together, we end up with the following grand picture of the present human condition.

  • Since at least a quarter to one million years in the species Homo a special faculty came into development, being a specific blindness for the own and each other's behaviour. That blindness prevented the intellectual faculties to find short cuts to satisfaction at the expense of procreational reflexes. It functions as a safeguard and a watertight partition between the proximate and the ultimate reasons for our behaviour, which was necessary to clear the road to a further evolution of higher intelligence. (see also Self-blindness in humans as prerequisite for the evolution of advanced intelligence on this Wiki) (**)
  • As carriers of the meme level power structures, human beings have to respond to the requirements of both worlds, the "gene"-world and the "meme"- world. We human beings have on the one hand been evolutionarily tailored to the requirements of our biological history and the "natural" niches coming with that. That accounts for how our feelings, emotions and reflexes are organized (P-feelings). That determines what feels good and what feels bad to us, deep inside. However, since some 5.000 to 10.000 years, we also have to respond to the requirements of the power structures we happen to live in. Those requirements (N-needs) are often difficult to match with our primordial feelings and reflexes. These requirements (N-needs) are of a much more recent history and hardly could have been translated yet in genetically established basic tendencies and reflexes.
  • The time lag between the gene level evolution and the meme level evolution and the partly incompatible demands from these two realms, inevitably cause perpetual frictions in the human motivational system between the P-feelings and the N-needs. This we can call a "jet-lag" effect in human evolution.
  • This "jet-lag" brings with it unavoidable frictions and tensions, causing more neurotic and fractured behaviour and therefore enhances the already for millions of years present and genetically fixed and determined specific blindness for the Self. The power structures in that way serve as amplifiers for the typically human blindness for Self.
  • The amplified blindness for Self opens the road to an even more enhanced evolution of human intelligence, without endangering procreational forces and the output of progeny.
  • Power structures that utilize the human blindness to the full and also exploit the stressing and neuroticizing effects of the evolutionary "jet-lag" in human development, will be more likely ESS' (Evolutionarily Stable Strategies). They can achieve that by enhancing confusion about the own behaviour and the best way to do that and to stabilize its effects, is to monopolize notions of Good and Bad, Good and Evil, etc.
  • Large organized religions are good (but not the only) examples of how such power structures operate and how they monopolize notions of Good and Evil, and how they boost and consolidate human confusion and ignorance. They inflict feelings of guilt and other root feelings that keep people bound in perpetual fears and neuroses. What adds to the confusing effects of great religions, is that they invariably have developed from movements aiming at liberating people from exactly those neurotic states of perpetual fear. In fact, they always claim to bring what in reality they make sure to block off. For evolutionary reasons, which reasons also rule the survival of meme power structures, once a spiritual movement has reached a certain size, it can only win the battle for survival with competing meme power structures, if it exploits the inborn human blindness for the Self and also exploits the conflicts and confusions stemming from the "jet-lag" effects between the P-feelings and the N-needs. Only that way a large religion can develop into a powerful meme structure and win from its meme level competitors.
  • The notion of Good versus Bad and Evil is a tricky area of cognition. It is a basic tool for veiling our own behaviour from sober and intelligent investigation. It is distorting effectively what we think to perceive about ourselves and about other people. It protects our primordial social reflexes and makes them operate unhampered by intellectual manipulation.
  • It can be shown that the Good-Bad dimension, although largely illusory, is such an important part of our cognitive system, that utilizing and maintaining its function takes a considerable part of our time and energy consumption in the brain. That underlines the utter evolutionary importance of this typical human blindness for the Self. Whereas this blindness at first sight may seem utterly disfunctional, the above considerations make clear why this faculty of selective ignorance does have an important evolutionary function and why evolutionary forces have caused us humans spend so much time and energy on staying stupid in these crucial areas of social and cognitive functioning.
  • Because of the globalization of risks and dangers threatening the human race, the classical mechanisms of warfare, starvation and genocide, helping the evolutionary processes to recuperate after prolonged periods of civilized and peaceful coexistence (postponements of evolution), are becoming too dangerous for the species as a whole, to be allowed to continue unchecked. These habits tend to become lethal for the species as a whole, not just for the groups of people who were to be eliminated by the blind evolutionary forces ruling our existence. In the situation we have arrived at as a species, we cannot but start to understand how all these mechanisms work and subsequently set out an intelligent path to survival. One thing shall be quite clear from these considerations: without a full and thorough understanding of these mechanisms and of their evolutionary origin, there can not be a final survival of humanity. We have to leave the road of ignorance and overcome our genetically and culturally ingrained tendencies to fool ourselves and each other. If we wish to survive, we do have to change direction. We do have to come to our senses and achieve a liberation of our intelligence, before it is too late. Ten to one that we will manage! We simply have no choice.