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About william.scherk

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    William Scott Scherk
  • Birthday 01/24/1958

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    William Scott Scherk
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    Poet and gadfly, WSS has been: - HR manager of a year-round silviculture company in the great white north - singer. songwriter, frontman - painter - sculptor - reporter - cook - janitor - editor - filmmaker - actor - amateur psychologist - web maven May he be all these things
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Fringe beliefs, pseudoscience, pseudophilosophy, fringe psychology, moral panics, cognitive neuroscience, Dusty Springfield, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, satanic ritual abuse/recovered memory therapy controversy, True Believers, cult dynamics, urban planning, 80s music, urban transportation, Grand Guignol, snarkiness . . .

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  1. Sundays are slow days on the OL front porch, which means you can ramble, argue with yourself, and end up slightly less confused than when you started. That would make a good OT. Measuring and interpreting an 'Intelligence Quotient' is one thing, with a long and controversial historical record, ripe for discussion in itself. EQ is another thing. I don't recognize EQ unless it means 'Emotional [Intelligence] Quotient' ... I know of pop-psychology conceptual bogs around the notion of Emotional Intelligence. Is that what you had in mind? Like the "Sexual Intelligence" pseudo-psychology? (Peter's Yahoo list of 'may include' attributes of EI rendered its definition a melting pot of flab and fashionable babble.) "The studies on EQ versus IQ" could be interesting, even if fat with pop-psychological assumptions, if they returned solid and useful findings. For me it has to align with neurophysiology and add detail and insight to be interesting. I would look for ''what brain behaviour and anatomy are you talking about, what deficits and surfeits, what syndromes and rare conditions are better explained by the answer to your study questions?" I mean, let's say that some kind of questionnaire has been devised, an 'emotional intelligence scale.' I think that a valid scale will be useful in constrained circumstances, eg, probing for individual deficits. With a valid and useful measurement, a person could discover that they have problems in assessing emotions like fear or anger on another person's face. Troubling behavioural syndromes might be better identified and ameliorated by flags of incomplete or absent 'quotient' values -- ie, studies concurrently examining IQ and putative EIQ would show physiological patterns of norm-failure, allow precise scaling of severity indicators of, say, autism, and other emotional syndromes tied to malfunctioning or absent brain circuitry. (one could say that characteristic patterned emotional-intelligence deficits of classic autism needed no great rigorous inquiry to suss out.) On the other hand, an investigative stance of IQ versus EIQ assumes adversarial relation rather than a norm of dynamic integration, adversarial 'modules' fighting instead of cooperating within the formation of a global Intelligence. Still, what if a standardized measure told my employer I had an EQ of only 58? Or if a child's file was flagged with a characteristic Ted Bundy 'signal' in his scores? What if I could be better trained to objectively measure the emotions and their influences, to aid my goals and values? Along with those puzzles, I think I will find mostly swamp, but will put on waders and see if my prejudices are reflected in today's 'the studies.' Some device or scale may have been put through rigorous review, and achieved above the gold standard in face validity, inter-rater reliability, test-retest reliability, sampling validity and so on. Some devices will inhabit the netherworld of "Our test shows how big your heart is," or "Are you a Vulcan?" or "Are you Hitler or are you Stalin?" So, yeah, be demanding of well-tested evidence that a measurement device actually measures something conceptually-distinct, of the world, and that the measurements give accurate and useful results. Which brings you back to the rubbery definition of emotional intelligence itself. What I accept is that social-emotional 'intelligence' deficits are marked out in some psychological syndromes. Not being able to accurately interpret the facial emotions of other people, for example, can lead to problems in living. The most extreme cases are in sociopathy, where others' emotions are understood and manipulable, while an empathic response is absent. A sociopath can evince a high "Emotional Intelligence" while revealing the heart of a snake. A person with amygdala damage may lack the ability to recognize and integrate information displayed as fear, anger or aggression on another person's face, and so be more vulnerable than someone without lesions, injury, or deformity. A blunted or failed or over-active 'detection system' metaphor helps me grasp how a so-called 'emotional intelligence' blends into a notion of 'social intelligence,' especially in the sense of 'intelligence' as well-based information reaching the executive. What happens when threat detection compels an impulse to destruction, and the impulse is not countermanded by our inner Captain Spock? Prisons. But I digress. If a device other than advanced neuro-imaging machines can flag amygdala damage or 'lack of distress' syndromes and other neurological outliers, I am for it. Until they come for me. As for pigeon-holing, labeling, stereotyping as aggregation into a Blob of this or that, I think we probably have basic agreement. One always runs a sorting risk of false-positives and false-negatives if criteria are not bright and clear, and our boxes and tags may not cut nature at its joints but at caprice. This is perhaps why I disdain an Objectivish attachment to the Myers-Briggs type indicators. I don't think they are indicative or reliable. Perhaps there will some day be devised a tool to measure a person's Objectivism Quotient, if only to compare high against low as players in the game of life. Would a person's high OQ and type indicator INTJ reliably predict flourishing, all things being equal? Perhaps the quotients all add up to a greater chance of a productive, happy life. Perhaps the quotients are only important where deficits and strengths are exaggerated. Back to the Vulcan and the Objectivish, I see a philosophical gulf. Fictional Spock invites confrontation with fictional Galt over Spock's utilitarian maxim “The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few.” A decidedly Comtean phrase, by way of Dickens.
  2. Of-Age Hawaiian music was a potent source of creativity, with its own source of 'yodel'ish falsetto glottal traditions, and it had worldwide impact, as so many American musical-blend inventions do. It is so neat how Bezos combined sources. From brief inquiry, it seems the 'yodel' has been continuously reinvented since time immemorial, into and out of folk traditions. Look up 'yodeling cowboy' and or/and 'son huasteco' and the effect of Hawaiian music on 'country' music earlier last century (and vice versa -- where did that steel guitar come from, hmmm). The Greek guy in the recording took it to heart and married it to 'eastern European' tradition. Hawaiian Falsetto: From the explanatory remarks to the video above: In Hawaiian-style falsetto, the singer emphasizes the break between registers. Sometimes the singer exaggerates the break through repetition, as a yodel. As with other aspects of Hawaiian music, falsetto developed from a combination of sources, including pre-European Hawaiian chanting, early Christian hymn singing and the songs and yodeling of immigrant cowboys during the Kamehameha Reign in the 1800's when cowboys were brought from Mexico to teach Hawaiians how to care for cattle. Falsetto may have been a natural and comfortable vocal technique for early Hawaiians, since a similar break between registers called "ha'iha'i", is used as an ornament in some traditional chanting styles. The singer featured here (a man!) is one of the most famous Hawaiian falsettos and he plays with his voice in a remarkable manner. I am always on standby to offer Google-fu to OLers in need. One day, Peter, I will succeed in bringing you into the HTML age with your first copy-paste of a URL!
  3. This ain't going away. Shepard Smith, despite his suicide note, is still alive, and on Fox. When should we expect his voice to be extinguished? I mean, I love the idea of Enemy of the American People. So simple and useful. I expect a kind of Trump Death List to tabulate the purge-by-suicide. In Russia and Turkey under the autocratic leadership of Putin and Erdogan, the 'bad press' was killed off by fair means and foul. Much harsher in Turkey, via incarceration of journalists and actual state-directed purges of editorial offices. In Russia the apparatus of control was ownership. The state sector expanded, eating up everything but Rain TV. Interestingly if not funny, Bloomberg ran a sassy story about how Russian media were read a new line this week, in light of the hoopla out of the USA, with the enemy press still active, still potent enough to force Flynn's firing. The new line is "less slavish coverage of Donald Trump. The White House has said some harsh things about Russia lately, we may not count on a new era just yet. Get back to giving Putin more space than Trump." Which is funny, and makes the Russians out to be 'betrayed.' Since there was a real Russian feeling that the Trump election would clear away American sanctions and other penalties and help Russia out of its post-Crimea isolation, there is likely real disappointment at the recent tone of official remarks and especially the loss of Flynn; I think over the next four years there will come a fresh detente, however. I think Trump will push for this as good strategy (despite Russia's freedom defects), and I think Bannon will do his level best to influence the President that Russia must be an ally in 'civilizational war' ... back to a more Christian and nationalist Europe confronting an Islamic menace together. Back to the mass suicide of enemy media ... I figure that the US 'media freedom' is only set to grow. No Putin-Erdogan arrangements of the media landscape are possible, such is the granite fundament of the Constitution. A President can designate a media outlet or two or the whole landscape as 'enemy' to the people, and use mass rallies or demand prime time to speak directly to the widest audience possible. In this kind of persuasive appeal, in a perfect world, it would be the singular will of the executive that a thorough purge and seizure of means of dissemination occur (despite constitutional obstacles). A singular will, a powerful executive, a state policy directive, relies on power not exactly spelled out on paper, and may not be subject to effective constraints. Gently, with only a few murders, by 'soft' means in supine legislatures, compliant judicial and prosecuting bodies, abusive investigation and financial decapitation. That's the Putin way. Erdogan's way is much more titanic and consequential, with a harsher repression. But guess what? Turkey is in NATO, a US ally and nobody bitched out Erdogan in the latter days of Obama! If Turkey can be 'unfree' by US standards and not thoroughly sanctioned, why not Russia? If traitor media cannot be trusted to communicate 'The Correct News' ... To my mind anyway, a presidential insistence that media blobs A to E are enemies of [the people/the state] is as much blown hot air as the hoopla from the media aisles. It is theatrical, rhetorical and perfectly effective in persuading supporters and doubters that he will fight like hell to speak unmediated. But as far as any re-ordering of the landscape on lines from Russia and Turkey, that is just not going to happen. If anything, the designated enemy will 'harden' and become a more determined and entrenched foe. The American brilliance is in its stern protection of essential freedoms. Freedom of the press trumps any attempt to dampen its activities or effects. I think in the short term, the President should carefully purge all ideological foes from the positions he controls in the government, enjoy his near-regal powers with more serenity and assurance. I mean, aside from an election-style rally now and again. The only funny thing would be him repeating such spin-tastic howlers as The Travel Ban Roll-Out Was Perfect. Let me try to get clarity where there is fog in your mind. Eastern European is vaguely Russia and the Slavic-Baltic and Caucasians from the Caucasus, mixed polities like Macedonia and its neighbours. Let's try to un-rig the internets, with search phrase "apple iphone 7 commercials." That gives links to news of new Apple ads -- two with a focus on a portrait-mode feature of iPhone 7, of a total of four new ads released in one week. It also returns a couple of Youtube videos from the official Apple channel, following which we can arrive at all their videos, and guess which one snagged Peter's inquiring mind. I think it is this, from roughly a month ago: -- now, "vaguely eastern European" can be whittled down. What language are they speaking? I am pretty sure it is Greek. I watched for other signs and symbols of Greece, including particular religious signs. The first clear sign was a cleric with Orthodox headgear, the clearest was this moment, at 0:44 ... That is all I need to figure out to be reasonably certain this is a Greek fishing village. But I can still look further, starting with search term "Where did Apple shoot its Greek iphone 7 commercial?" or simply search "Koypeion." The latter returns a query page at Reddit, which confirms Greek/Greece: New Apple ad. what language they speak? : apple - Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/.../new_apple_ad_what_language_they_speak/ Jan 7, 2017 - The barbershop says Koypeion on the window which google tells me is Greek. Edit: missed opportunity for subtle "it's all Greek to me". ( -- the yodeling in the commercial is described in its English closed captions as "Pame Sti Honolulu" performed by "Bezos's Hawaiian Orchestra." Who the hell is Bezos? Is this Pizzagate cracking wide open ... I found the full ukulele and steel guitar rampage, set to classic locales; Greeks too were entranced by Hawaiian music when it swept the world. The song was recorded in 1936: ) .Back to the theme of Peter's ire: Those lowlife pieces of shit who stood between him and the internet information he required. I got nothing on that.
  4. What's the context? The facial meaning is that there are pretensions in the formal teachings of Objectivism, among which that Reason is humankind's most potent tool/attribute -- and relatedly, that a reasoned inquirer needs to subordinate emotion, understand emotion, identify the root of particular emotional states. Since decision-making is quite often dependent on functioning emotional circuits, the identification requires steps out of Objectivist diktat into allied fields of investigation. The fictional character Spock was/is perfectly poised to understand the uses and misuses of emotion. He could not be swayed by pure emotionalist argument, nor struggle to avoid his own half-human emotions overrunning logic and reason. Except of course when he was in rut. As with Ayn Rand's "Stomach Feeling" ... I sometimes see contortions. Objectivist rage and all that. Emotionalist language and emotional arguments. The character is evidently not stripped clean of emotions, being bi-racial. A fully emotionless man is Damasio's famous patient, Elliot, which absence wrecked his life. The pretension to cold, logical, wholly rational cognition is then a nice target zone for me. I don't think Objectivists tend to master their emotions any greater than average, yet the pretense is attractive. If emotion is relatively easy to whip up, manipulate, recruit in service of inhumane, irrational and destructive ends, then a calm and collected culture of reason is where I want to live, at least in my mind.
  5. Dayaamm, that sounds like Flushing toilet.
  6. It's a funny story. AP got its hands on a memorandum (which is here in PDF). The memorandum is a directive, under the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly: -- here is the part of the memorandum that discusses state guards: -- so a memorandum was at least prepared by the staff of the Secretary. In it he directs ICE and CBP to enter into agreements to authorize State National Guard to perform as immigration officers. If we were the reporters at AP who received this information, it seems basic journalism to get more information -- first finding out from contacts in DHS whether the memorandum was circulated to its recipients. The memo was prepared at least, so where did it go, did it cross the President's desk, or was this a purely DHS operational memo-in-development, version 4 of 9? According to the reporters at AP, the White House refused comment on the memorandum, stonewalled inquiries. AP published the information received (without any answer by the White House or DHS) and with some breathless spin reported ... Two curiosities for me: what is wrong with the memo? I mean, reviving federal-state coordination under 287(g) and deputizing qualified state National Guard members seem like smart implementation of declared Trump policy, to gain control of the illegal population within the US. So, why wouldn't the White House deputize to Kelly the detailed task of interagency and inter-jurisdictional collaboration in enforcing the new national policy? The other curiosity is why the White House had no response to reporters from AP before the story broke. Why stonewall? It didn't make sense to me. Why didn't they say something like "draft memos circulate, it is neither signed nor a done deal. Wait until the finely-tuned machine finishes the process, idiots" ... ? If the goal is to obscure details of policy implementation options, somebody won. Maybe Rush got down in the weeds of the draft memo language, to see if he agreed or not with the details. Why shouldn't Secretary Kelly order that qualified National Guard members be drafted to beef up detection, detention and deportation? Why shouldn't the US use tools at hand -- including paramilitary forces -- to do the job? The last funny thing is Spicer. He said it was not a White House document. He asserts that there is no effort to do what is "potentially suggested" in the memo. Well, why not? Probably this is the way the finely-tuned machine floats proposals. Stonewall on the 'potentially suggested' details, wait out the reporters questions, then slam down the reporting you were invited to correct, steering the ship of state effortlessly around shoals and ending up flushing a "proposal" down the toilet. It is almost as if the White House press secretary has ruled out reviving a combined-forces framework for implementing Trump's policy. Was that what they wanted to do? Is it off the table, never again to be considered, no final draft memo ever to be signed? Trial balloon ... Cynical, and conspiratorial. But the kicker is in the story, "A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval." Why not? There is a lot of meat in the memo. Why flush it all down the toilet?
  7. Shepard Smith's suicide note:
  8. This pup is definitely looking guilty. Emotions are tools of persuasion. Ethos, pathos, and logos. I think this is where you and I are on a similar plane, Tony, wary indeed of emotion in extremis.
  9. Pizzagate!
  10. Know your meme. Tough and loose, almost impervious to arrows and spears.
  11. Fun with philosophy ... Whipping up emotion, inciting a mob, falsely accusing of moral crimes, using emotional 'blackmail' to persuade or coerce, by-passing reason by appeal to pity, appeal to the majority, appeal to fear ... we can find patterns and instances where the power of emotion swamps reason. No particular emotion like fear, anger, sadness, happiness, disgust, surprise is guilty, but the persuader -- if an argument or thesis relies fully upon an incitement or calculated stimulus of emotion. When emotion is used as a blunt tool overriding reason ... we should probably have a suspicious response. To what end are emotions being stimulated and inculcated? What arguments are sidelined when emotion takes over discussion? Compassion is as Tony suggests, a combination of rational assessment and complex feeling state. To feel compassion is to make intellectual summary of an object as worthy of compassion. One might say "I feel compassion" without any strong emotion at all. One can be manipulated to have a feeling in reaction to visual information: distressed orphan dogs on death row, feel strangely moved, reach for cheque-book. Most elemental, and what can be exploited is a bias in human beings toward distress, If the other is like us, the other in distress is 'mirrored' in mind, so may induce a feeling of what we call empathy, a mirror sensation of distress as if occurring in own body or mind, our own experience, or as cue. Knowing what tortures a condemned man has inflicted upon another's body, we can feel a mix of emotions, even satisfaction at the feeling of his execution. The appeal to pity is a fallacy, but it works. Building on the human bias to attend to distress in our species is to 'trigger' a subsequent suite of actions. Example: who isn't strangely moved at the individual stories of "forgotten Americans," those left behind by globalization of manufacturing? It might not be exactly like puppies being abused by negligence, but the feeling of helpless victim of negligence, it crosses class lines. My ability to feel abject pity or horror was extinguished in 2013 when I saw the lines of toddlers and babies dead from Sarin. That topped the charts for me. I can still feel pity and horror, especially at insane ISIS depredations and I still subscribe to information channels that render the daily and weekly totals of dead. I get more angry than sick when I see things like the death-camp photos of the Syrian "Caesar," and when I learn of the secret execution factory at Sednaya. Now and again a picture of a Syrian kid will tug something. Folks repressed and tortured under the sharia-compliant nations like Iran or the ISIS-afflicted black areas of Syria and Iraq ... it all rolls into a big bag of ugly and half a million dead. I can imagine living the kind of life enforced in the black areas and the areas still under bombardment. I think all of that biased me to accept the Canadian line on refugees from Syria. I am glad our PM didn't bitch out Donald Trump or seek to take points for our humanitarian agenda while he was in DC. The first five planeloads in from UNHCR refugees out of Syria were majority Christian (mostly Armenian-Syrian). You do what you can, right? If there is any original stain of behavioural altruism hanging on in us from our primate past lives, it is still relatively potent, but it is my experience that true fellow-feeling is strongest the closest we are in kin, either by blood or adhesion. The rootedness in biology is made funny by the famous Haldane joke: "I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins." This assertion mixes together items from the hierarchy of emotions. Remember we humans have a universal set of basic emotions, which can be exploited by persuaders. When we combine them and align them with other cognitive operations we get a more complex thing like "compassionate." Compassion in this sense is not an emotion, strictly speaking. The 'state' is composed of emotions, perhaps, but a 'compassionate act' can be emotionless. Similarly, guilt is not quite a primary emotion, nor is amusement. One can feel an instantaneous bodily sensation that is interpreted as shame, but to be guilty may necessitate further cognition. A child has to learn some aspects of shame and self-reproach. Ability to self-assess as feeling guilty is not available to the the baby, it needs education. With the exception of these conceptual slips, I agree with the main strokes. Emotion is relatively easy to whip up, to manipulate, and needless to say, serve inhumane and wholly irrational and destructive ends. I like the Spock pretensions of Objectivism, even where I differ on scientific details. Religious groups that edge into cultism are my metric. The ability to exploit basic human emotions is key to the success of destructive cults. Perhaps the most destructive of humanity in the world today is the ISIS cult. Perhaps the drug cults of Central America. Perhaps potentially more destructive are Iran and North Korea. Lesser cults of belief are seen under other strongmen, the pattern reveals itself in Kazakhstan, Chechnya, the cult-state of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt. This Polish version of a Plutchik wheel is a stretch, but I think one could use it to underline Tony's message: be careful when you find yourself feeling some of the emotions in the hot middle. You might have been manipulated. The mixed-feeling of Zal seems to map best to Tony's Guilty feeling, if remorse is a component (angry self-disgust?). I don't see either amusement or compassion depicted. But what parent doesn't recognize these features in their children?
  12. Everyone, not least the President, is moving on ... Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador seem anodyne, in context. Flynn was part of the transition team charged with national security. When the Obama administration expelled 'diplomats' and imposed sanctions on Russia (in light of reports on his desk that Russia had 'interfered' in the US election), it makes sense that Trump would want to signal to Russia's leadership that "things will be different after the election." No doubt Trump and Flynn had conversations about a coming and necessary "re-set" of relations. So it needn't have been by Trump directive that Flynn made his calls. He calls up and says, in effect, "Look, there is no point in retaliating" -- retaliating in kind, in a tit-for-tat expulsion of US agents abroad. And the ambassador passes that along to Putin, and Putin decides not to retaliate or make a big fuss. And the next day Trump praises Putin for his leadership or his wisdom in not reacting to the Obama moves. So ... what went wrong? If Flynn didn't do anything unethical in his contacts, why is he out of a job? Because he misled Pence. He apparently 'inadvertently' failed to tell Pence the full story of the calls. Of course nothing would have leaked if there had been no discrepancy between the content of Flynn's calls and the story told about the calls: they were generic, they were condoling, they were anodyne, and to the best of Flynn's recollection, sanctions were not discussed. The truthiness of the story was undermined when the White House learned that intercepts of the ambassador's conversations showed ... Flynn's "story" was not the truth. I think that is when the White House leaked, some staffer let out the information that the stories didn't match the recordings. Whether or not Flynn was being targeted for exposure by the US equivalent of Gulenists, the discrepancy was a problem, a problem in optics and a problem of integrity. Out comes the rabid media ... I have no idea why the White House allowed the incipient scandal to brew, why there was no action in terminating Flynn once the discrepant truth-claims were in evidence. Here's a timeline that indicates the span of time and the incidental acts ... A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.