"Aposyndesis," from Greek "bound together away from," refers to the study of instinctive behaviors that bind people together in groups away from other groups and also to the search for the evolutionary origins of those behaviors.
Through much of 2016 to now , a great many people in the USA drew themselves up into two increasingly hostile political camps. One could hear, from each, an "aposymphonic chorus" self-organizing itself as it berated the other. Each group developed shibboleths by which members of the group identified themselves as such and each came to recognize markers by which members of that other group gave themselves away as such.
In each, some otherwise intelligent members seriously regarded members of the other group as insane, or stupid, or immoral.
This act of societal division illustrates the hypothesis that there are instincts of aposyndesis by which a potential congregation (even if geographically extended) self-organizes itself -- just as a swarm of robots, each operating its copy of the same program.
There are species of animals, including humans, that survive by living in groups.
All social animals have social instincts -- behavioral mechanisms that have evolved.
Some animals live in groups that persist for generations. But
A group can die of disease, famine, fire, flood, war, ...
Since, sooner or later, a group of a social species must die, how can there continue to exist groups of that species? We conclude that
Social Fission Hypothesis: We speculate that after hundreds of millions of years of probable selection-pressure,
instincts exist that, under suitable-enough conditions, guide the reproduction of the groupWe will try to begin to figure out how such instincts might have worked in the primitive past, before agriculture, and how they might manifest themselves today.
Aposyndetic: "apo sin DEH tic" was coined by Texas mathematician F. Burton Jones, whom I heard explain is to be interpreted as
Here are some assumptions I make about the human mind, some of which might be new, even questionable, to you:
During the 1960s, I saw that, episodically, teenagers in a society would be gathering in large groups and would become increasingly rowdy over days and months. Historically, such gatherings would take place in social "movements" but also, it seemed, in preludes to war. It seemed that these periods of fomentation occurred when the population density of young males, approximately aged 15 through 35, was higher than during calmer periods. I wondered how one could gather relevant data on demographics preceding various wars. I also wondered what sense, in terms of evolution, there might be to such disruptive, even destructive behavior. Did signals relating to population density set off some instinctive mechanism of social behavior? Can the mechanism be made clear? What are its components: behavior, releasing stimuli, motivation?
Hypothesis: A civil war is more likely as the density of adolescent males is higher.
What sensory inputs, sensitive to density-of-adolescent-males,
begins the chain of events that can lead to a civil war?
When, before 1975, I first began to think of social instincts and the evolution of groups, the
concept of instinct was frowned upon in many American universities where much of the research into the behavior of animals was conducted. Honey bees led me away from that frowning crowd.
Unconscious Instinctive Motivation. It has seemed to me that humans are unconscious of many of their behaviors and unconscious of instinctive aspects of motivations of their social behaviors.
Rationalizing of Imitation. Sometimes, people imitate others without being conscious they are doing so. Often, when caught at it and asked, they give answers that convey no meaning that is both clear and credible. They "rationalize," just as people do on-stage after they follow some absurd post hypnotic suggestion. In this sense, "hypnosis" might tap into instincts that usually operate, everyday, with little to no conscious awareness.
Believing can be initialized by immitation and, subsequently, rationalized.
Steven Pinker has seen a practicality that might seem to almost explain the evolution of ardent holding of nonsensical beliefs -- without reference to group-based selection of genes:
"People are embraced or condemned according to their beliefs, so one function of the mind may be to hold beliefs that bring the belief-holder the greatest number of allies, protectors, or disciples, rather than beliefs that are most likely to be true."
In 2017, I learned that David Sloan Wilson had independently been developing ideas related to those herein. For example, he independently reached a disturbing observation something like:
"The truth content of a belief system is irrelevant."
Note on Epistemology and "God".
There seems to be no good word for "group" as I am using it here so, I invent one: kinclade. A kinclade is a group of animals such that there are reproducing mates in the group and the group can reproduce itself through instinctive potentials in its members.
It is good that many people have a natural sense of mathematics. To decipher human social behavior, objectively within the context of broader science, will require a mathematical intuition which complements or augments the empathetic mode of thinking that is more commonly used in attempting to understand people.
Instinctive mechanisms are often hidden and not to be discovered by empathy but by thinking about functionality that might be represented in "models" (clear enough to be represented in computer code), and by thinking about populations of alleles of genes, and by, with a "prepared mind" (Louis Pasteur 1854), stumbling upon new evidence and new ideas.
Aposyndetic behavior is seen in war and, in particular, civil war. And while war is an important topic, the topic of reproduction of groups has been holding back the Science of Man. Perplexing behaviors of believing can be involved in war, but they might also function in the reproduction of the kinclade. Understanding that groups regularly reproduce unlocks the mind for better using the concept of evolution to deepen our understanding of social behaviors of all species of social animals
In every social species of animals there is at least one instinctive mechanism for reproduction of the kinclade.
The simple fact that "groups die" entails that, in a social species, groups must reproduce. It seems, to me, unlikely that reproduction of groups would, in even one social species whatsoever, fail to become an object of evolution and come to involve instinctive mechanisms. We give the name kinschnitt instinct to an hypothesized instinctive mechanism for reproducing a kinclade (a kinschnitt instinct might also be called a politomism POL ih TOH mism.)
Behaviors of aposyndesis are seen dividing a parent-kinclade, binding together members of one child-kinclade apart from another child-kinclade, so that the parent splits geographically or erupts in civil war.
A mechanism of reproduction of a group would seem to result in, and otherwise be involved in, evolutionary selection among groups, though some doubt this.
There is at least one species of ape that is related to humans and has behaviors suggesting a mechanism of group-reproduction. If such behavior arose in a common ancestor then the kinschitt instinct might have been part of our evolution for more than five million years.
Once understood, the Social Fission Hypothesis can lead to a programmable mathematical model to demonstrate circumstances in which some environmental influences make selection of some genes stronger via groups than via individuals.
In its life, an oak tree produces how many tens of thousands of acorns? Yet on average, over the past million years, how many child-trees does an oak have that produces an oak tree?
My answer is "one." See if you can reason why.
Generally, most reproductions ultimately fail. One acorn succeeds where tens of thousands fail. Over the eons, most swarms of honey bees have died without surviving long enough to spawn a new swarm. A high rate of failure might be expected in the social fission of humans.
most colonizing human-groups have died without spawning another.
There is also this likely fact:
Evolution requires death of the old making place for youth. For a more or less constant number of individuals, if the old never died, then there would be no place for new alleles of a gene to spread.
The briefer the life of the kinclades of a social species, the faster can selection-on-groups replace one allele of a gene with another. Thus, this
Hypothesis: increased inter-village warring behavior of pre-humans and humans increased the rate of evolutionary change in characteristics, such as a kind of intelligence, related to surviving wars.
If that average is a bit less than one then the species of bee will slowly die.
A Group's Self-Identifying Stink.
The stink of a group need not be chemical. A group-identifier, a tribal marker, can work through sights or sounds generated by behavior.
In some sense, the "stink" of a cult or clique of humans binds members of that group away from other folks.
There exist group-instincts related to discriminating a group more or less strongly from other groups.
One can imagine that, after a panicked flight, a family of zebras can re-form itself, even among hundreds of other zebras, by means of vocalizations. In order for this to work, members of the family must recognize sounds made by some other members of the family. This requires prior practice. Perhaps, one evolutionary reason for zebras making sounds, in times of rest, is for training in recognition that might be vital later.
Individual dolphins identify themselves by "signature whistles." Another dolphins can call a dolphin by imitating its signature whistle.
There is already this unsurprising, related evidence: one study is reported to have found that two languages are more or less similar as their native speakers share, on average, more or less similar genetic material. Thus, we speculate the existence of primitive kinship clades, the "kinclades," wherein language provides tools for discriminating friend from foe, or cousin from non-cousin, in warring that spreads genes over territory.
In the case of humans, what would be a Stink of the Tribe that binds members of a group together away from other groups?
A persisiting social group that has its own synglot is called a "synclade." Perhaps usually, in times before cities, each synclade largely overlapped some kinclade? But, in urban societies, synglots are not limited to kinclades.
A Beliefplex is a Stink of the Tribe.
A Beliefplex has component "beliefs." The components of a Beliefplex need not be systematic. In fact, Beliefplexes are so often observed to have nonsensical parts that we have the hypothesis that follows below this supposition:
Suppose that we have an operationally defined measure of "success" of a Beliefplex. This measure might relate, for examples, to numbers of members of, or to the duration of, the movement.
The most successful Beliefplexes have at least one core utterance that MUST be believed, or pretended to be believed, and that seems absurd or repellent to most people who are not co-believers.
Of course, being human and subject to all the human instincts, most of which operate un-consciously, you and I might each indicate our own Belief as a counter-example -- its absurdities seeming reasonable to us. That "every line extends indefinitely (into infinity)" seems hocus pocus to some and obvious, before Einstein, to others.
How can usually rational individuals adopt absurd beliefs?
Through Dilbert, Scott Adams has explained what might be a relevant concept, "cognitive dissonance"
"When people are in an absurd situation, their minds rationalize it by inventing a comfortable illusion."Adams, being "a trained hypnotist," knows that such rationalizing behavior can be "artificially" elicited, in tomporary form, on stage before an audience. In the real, social, world, once one has come to BELIEVE a core absurdity of a Beliefplex, one (under instinctive compulsion?) rationalizes the rest.
But surely, believing and rationalizing random absurdities does not make evolutionary sense as a behavior of isolated individuals? To understand this hypothesized phenomenon of required absurdity, we think in terms of existence and evolution of social groups. Shared beliefs need not make sense in order to have communal survival value - it can be sufficient that they differentiate members of the group from non-members. Barking like baboons could do almost as well? (And probably does do). The humans species, of course, has language. The barking of our ancestors has become our shouting of slogans of Beliefplexes?
In humans, the Synglot of a group contains the verbal tools for expressing the Beliefplex of that group.
The seeming absurdity of the utterances of a Beliefplex both binds a person, through poorly understood psychological mechanisms, to the nascent synclade of that belief and also separates that person apart from other people, or provides a slight cleavage that might, in a flash, fracture one group into two or more, possibly hostile to each other.
You may doubt the "apart from" part. Some Beliefplexes are evangelical or otherwise uniting. They don't want to separate other people away, but to bring them into the loving fold of a forgiving God, or to unite all the workers of the world, for examples. They desire peace and joy for everyone and they can even seem tolerant of other Beliefplexes. But, somehow, much of the rest of the world remains aloof. Even hostile. As if the believers stink.
Every religion is aposyndetic, binding Believers together apart from non-Believers.
A Beliefplex is like the stink of an ant hive. Ants that have the right stink are supported by other members of the hive. Ants that do not exude the proper stink might be attacked.
Perhaps you have observed a long discussion within a Beliefplex, in which not one utterance could be checked against facts in the Real World - apart from utterances like "John said that he felt the power of the devil." (which one could check by asking John if he said that)
Obama or Trump might have had, in reality, an IQ of 135 or 150, but "He is a moron" was proper in some Beliefplex or other in 2016.
We do not suspect that those zebras, or similarly behaving dolphins, at least the younger ones, are consciously thinking about their making of noises as training for a future emergency. Nor ought we to assume conscious awareness by humans.
Do you expect that humans are aware of the future benefits of their instinctive social behaviors? A human, typically, is not aware of a friend's eyebrow flashes, to which some part of his brain has been reacting, most every day of their life, increasing the friendly component of his mood.
Our instincts are largely hidden from us, from our empathetic methods of observation and reasoning, and must be found by creative construction and testing, using observational and modeling methods of science.
Aposyndetic behavior is not all about acts of reproduction of the group.
Swarms and Wars
Now, think of human wars over the eons. If you do not have some ardent group to cling to when a really bad war sweeps across your part of the world, you are, it seems, less likely to survive that war or its resulting famine, banditry, and disease.
War has been an episodic constant among humans for all of recorded history. Anyone who is not convinced of that either has not read enough relevant history yet, or is blided by a some Belief?
Wars have shaped human evolution.
Animals who survive wars, get to pass on their genes.
Genes that cause animals to reproduce their group and to conquer territory have survived.
Instinctive elements of warfare existed more than six million years ago in animals that were ancestral both to humans and to chimpanzees.
Beliefplexes impact the competition for existence.
Psychology of Syndetic Bonding
As time passes, a believer glues himself increasingly to his Beliefplex via “confirmational bias” wherein he creates or learns utterances in the Synglot that relate to facts in the Real World.
People bond, in part, via aposymphonic chorusing.
There is a degree, possibly measurable, to which a person is inclined to feel a rewarding internal drug-hit by participating in or observing an aposymphonic chorus of his Beliefplex. We are not bound equally to every one of our various Beliefplexes. So, there seems to be a measure here waiting to be operationally defined. Can we begin by finding and listing some of our various Beliefplexes in decreasing order of this, as yet undefined, measurement?
A group’s Beliefplex or its Synglot can change. Conservative over time, the singing of aposymphonic choruses by members of the Beliefplex can change abruptly. What catalyzes change in a Beliefplex? Does change involve the influence of a Leader of some sort? What, from an evolutionary view and in an operationally definable sense, is a “leader” of a Beliefplex?
There is in every Beliefplex-based social group a hierarchy of respect, of imitation. So, ordinarily person A can teach person B new elements of the Beliefplex, but B seldom teaches such a thing to A. If this is so, then every Beliefplex has at least one human that is a source of new parts?
Seeming Multiplicity of Beliefplexes and Synglots
If some of the behaviors associated with (nearly) every Beliefplex are instinctive then it seems likely (but is not necessary) that everyone has at least one Beliefplex.
Ardently Held "Beliefs" and the Reproduction of Groups
There are terms to be sharpened. How might one begin to build a meaning to be conveyed or intended by "instinct"?
This seems to be not taught in schools, but it is a fact that many, even most, words in science are not given, except by amateurs, precise definitions. This is well known in mathematics, which does crisply define most of its terms, but where every sub-field has "primitive" terms and expressions, that are not defined. Examples: "number" in the algebra that develops into Calculus and "point" in most of the Geometries. Other terms are unambiguously defined via the primitive terms. Maybe you think that in the empirical sciences, all words relating to real objects have been given crisp and correct definitions known and adhered to by users of those words. This is the opposite of my own impression.
A swarm of honey bees does not land near to its parent hive (still populated) when it is about to send out scouts to find a new hive-site. One can imagine there might be evolutionary pressure to separate related bee-hives in order to increase the chances of there existing, for each hive, enough food within flying distance.
Relating to the power of selection upon groups: how rapidly can groups reproduce? I provisionally reckon this:
There seems to be a complex of instincts related to splitting away a group of adolescents from a village -- in a social mitosis. But, survival of such a group, long enough to spin-off another group, is seldom likely. Imagine a group containing 50 fiery adolescent males leaving their homes and, in a confident band (or "gang") traveling over a mountain and descending into a lush valley - that is already territory of a kinclade of villages having 500 hearty men, ready to fight. Most acorns die.
Entraining for War
There is an instinctive mechanism for entraining groups that are, each, splitting away a home village - such that a natural army forms.Entraining mostly draws together groups of similar language.
Men of a village are more likely to be recruited into an army as the language of that village is similar to perceived languages of that army. With increasing similarity of languages, the degree of kinship between village and army increases. This impacts evolution.
On average, the more similar the language of two groups, the closer is their kinship.
Men form a vanguard and "camp-followers" follow. The "army" flows, from the region of kinship-related villages, to descend upon and replace some strangers whose utterances sound like gibberish of animals or like some evil heresy.
It seems instinctive for a human to belong to some stinky Beliefplex and be blind to its absurdity or obnoxiousness that are obvious to people not in that Beliefplex. But, I am a human and my brain must be "wired" with that same instinct. I surely have some beliefs that seem stinkily absurd to others. Not just to others who are made crazy by their own beliefs but to nearly all others not in my Beliefplex. I wonder how I can detect which of my cherished beliefs are "objectively" absurd? Will my instincts prevent me from ever finding them out, short of a kind of "conversion" to a some other beliefplex?
to be continued ... This page was modified on