On the down side, I am still swamped in emails, and way behind. On the upside, r/K must be spreading, judging by the volume, so there is that.
An emailer writes, asking about Jihadis:
I was wondering – r/K seems to me to near perfectly describe / predict liberals & conservatives. How it applies to Jihadis has me a bit perplexed – their behavior at first glance, seems to be a mixture of r/K. I’ve posited the question on r/K facebook page, and haven’t seen any answers that seem to explain the phenomenon
Could you share your insight?
There is a strange replicative nature to the world, where patterns that seem similar keep popping up in different areas, as if they are so integral to the underlying model’s structure that they span numerous parts of the universe and keep emerging.
As an example, in nature lots of different models of organisms emerge randomly through random mutation. Then reality and Darwin select from them to find the optimal form of organism. This happens at the microscopic-level too, where proteins and biochemical pathways undergo selection, producing the macro-effects you see.
Strangely it happens in the ephemeral world of ideas as well. In the case of Islam, the world carved r and K into the primitive organisms which inhabit it. Humans eventually grew thoughtful, and then threw around ideas, the fittest of which could be transmitted and spread, and these ideas then began their own sort of Darwinian evolution. Those which worked persisted, those which did not failed and died.
I think Islam has risen to prominence because it is a very powerful “Operating System” for the r-strategist organisms, allowing them to exploit niches which would otherwise escape them.
The r-strategy has a curious failure to exploit one of its strengths. Periodically r-strategists multiply in numbers wildly. This gives them immense numerical advantage. Yet inherent to the r-strategy is cowardice and betrayal, which holds the strategy back from exploiting that advantage at times.
Islam is a sort of hack of the r-strategist brain, which tries to imbue the most powerful aspects of the K-psychology – in-grouping, fearlessness, willingness to die, and dedication to a cause bigger than the individual, into the prolific r-strategists. It allows you to try and create an army, which though composed of r-strategists, will have numerical advantage, and K-strategist traits.
Normally r-strategists would avoid all of those K-traits like willingness to die, or commitment to an outside cause. But Islam teaches that the path to free resources is to exhibit all of that in service to Allah. In Islam if you die killing others, you immediately land in Paradise, with all of the r-strategist motivators – lots of sexy virgins, unlimited pleasures, and no more worries to trouble your amygdala because you will instantly have high social status as a martyr.
Now suddenly you have reams of r-strategists reprogrammed to exhibit K-traits, and perform K-behavior in war.
If you crack the hood on the individuals, you still find the r-strategist mindset. They are promiscuously raping girls and even young boys, their computers are filled with porn so lacking in sexual selectiveness it features bestiality and torture, they are cowards when caught individually, their amygdalae are so screwed up they are torturing animals and people, and K-strategists who encounter them instinctually feel they are sub-human.
But the r-strategist Islamists will fight to the death, because they believe, perhaps out of necessity to quiet an unusually rabbity amygdala, that they can escape everything and land in that grassy field of free resource availability and limitless dopamine, if they just die in battle.
Now it doesn’t apply to everyone in Islam. You can have K-Muslims going about their way waging war, and fighting for their homeland. r and K are everywhere. But if it were just them, the world would be a lot calmer and more civilized. Instead, arrayed all around them are masses of troubled young men with bizarre sexual tastes, proclivities to torture, and little moral decency, who are willing to strap bombs to themselves, just in the hope they can blow up some women and children and find themselves rewarded by Allah with the r-selected rabbit paradise.
I find this area one of the more interesting areas of r/K Theory, because if you could process it and use it, you could rewrite the actual code running in rabbit heads and maybe change the world with a simple idea that exploits their urges.
But the more I look at it the more it looks very much like where evolution works elsewhere. The natural evolved forms of cognitive operating systems like Islam are probably as perfectly evolved, and complex in their nuances, as Human DNA. Coming up with something better is like competing with Darwin by engineering a human like organism from scratch.
Yes, we know how DNA codes stuff and yes we can write genes and even code for a primitive bacterium. But we need to study the field a lot longer, and even then we will probably never be able to code from scratch for an organism as complex and capable as a human.
Similarly we may not be able to intelligently code for viral ideas that will rewrite rabbit brains as well as those viral ideas nature has produced naturally using massive quantities of time and variation, and selecting the most viral over the millennia.
Even r/K, which I think is a very powerful such idea, isn’t one which was coded or designed. Rather it just evolved spontaneously, from an examination of the world. But it has dawned on me that a cult or belief system, which appealed to either r or K’s underlying ideals in the right way, could easily suck people in and become some sort of pseudo-religion one day, thereby functioning as a similar operating system. You’d have to integrate an amygdala-drive, to force conformance, but it could happen one day.
If it does, I suspect it will evolve spontaneously, rather than be consciously coded.