2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby davester65 » November 26th, 2008, 8:52 pm

Sareth wrote:I spent time in Bosnia when I was in the army, and I have to reiterate how sane the people who commit GENOCIDE!! are. The people I met there were intelligent, friendly, pleasant people who were really rather neat to interact with. But only a few years earlier they had been quite busily committing murder, rape, and acts of horror in the name of ethnic cleansing and religious strife that stemmed from events that took place almost a thousand years ago.

Truly, humanity is a terrifying species...


This is why I truly hope that if interstellar travel is possible and there is intelligent life out there that humanity doesn't turn out to be the most aggressive and warlike people in the galaxy. If that ends up being the case then the rest of the universe is truly fucked. :(
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Sareth » November 26th, 2008, 9:32 pm

davester65 wrote:
Sareth wrote:I spent time in Bosnia when I was in the army, and I have to reiterate how sane the people who commit GENOCIDE!!! are. The people I met there were intelligent, friendly, pleasant people who were really rather neat to interact with. But only a few years earlier they had been quite busily committing murder, rape, and acts of horror in the name of ethnic cleansing and religious strife that stemmed from events that took place almost a thousand years ago.

Truly, humanity is a terrifying species...


This is why I truly hope that if interstellar travel is possible and there is intelligent life out there that humanity doesn't turn out to be the most aggressive and warlike people in the galaxy. If that ends up being the case then the rest of the universe is truly fucked. :(


Actually, I hope that we *are* the most aggressive. Because if we aren't, that means there's something *worse* out there, waiting for us...
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Graybeard » November 26th, 2008, 10:22 pm

Sareth wrote:
davester65 wrote:
Sareth wrote:I spent time in Bosnia when I was in the army, and I have to reiterate how sane the people who commit GENOCIDE!!!! are. The people I met there were intelligent, friendly, pleasant people who were really rather neat to interact with. But only a few years earlier they had been quite busily committing murder, rape, and acts of horror in the name of ethnic cleansing and religious strife that stemmed from events that took place almost a thousand years ago.

Truly, humanity is a terrifying species...


This is why I truly hope that if interstellar travel is possible and there is intelligent life out there that humanity doesn't turn out to be the most aggressive and warlike people in the galaxy. If that ends up being the case then the rest of the universe is truly fucked. :(


Actually, I hope that we *are* the most aggressive. Because if we aren't, that means there's something *worse* out there, waiting for us...

Yeah. You really don't want to live in a universe where you're competing with the Vogons.
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby davester65 » November 26th, 2008, 10:55 pm

Graybeard wrote:
Sareth wrote:Actually, I hope that we *are* the most aggressive. Because if we aren't, that means there's something *worse* out there, waiting for us...

Yeah. You really don't want to live in a universe where you're competing with the Vogons.


I'm more hoping there would be someone out there to keep us in check in our quest to conquer all known space. But, I will admit the thought of a race that's worse than us is pretty frightening. John Ringo wrote a series of books that dealt with that subject. A race of really nasty aliens was slowly conquering known space and the pacifistic races in their path turn to humanity to fight for them because we were the only race aggressive enough to have a fighting chance to defeat the baddies. The problem for the peaceful aliens was that they were only slightly less afraid of us than said baddies and many of them figured that the best they could hope for was to trade a race that wanted to eat them all for a race that would subjugate them. I started the first book, but couldn't get into it.
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Graybeard » November 26th, 2008, 11:09 pm

davester65 wrote:I'm more hoping there would be someone out there to keep us in check in our quest to conquer all known space. But, I will admit the thought of a race that's worse than us is pretty frightening. John Ringo wrote a series of books that dealt with that subject. A race of really nasty aliens was slowly conquering known space and the pacifistic races in their path turn to humanity to fight for them because we were the only race aggressive enough to have a fighting chance to defeat the baddies. The problem for the peaceful aliens was that they were only slightly less afraid of us than said baddies and many of them figured that the best they could hope for was to trade a race that wanted to eat them all for a race that would subjugate them. I started the first book, but couldn't get into it.

I remember a long-ago short story on the same general theme, except the race that was conquering known space wasn't so much nasty as incredibly, insufferably bureaucratic. The problem with that, of course, is that in the years since that one was written, WE have become insufferably bureaucratic -- as well as violent and aggressive. Queue Pogo-ism here.
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Sareth » November 27th, 2008, 2:08 am

davester65 wrote:
Graybeard wrote:
Sareth wrote:Actually, I hope that we *are* the most aggressive. Because if we aren't, that means there's something *worse* out there, waiting for us...

Yeah. You really don't want to live in a universe where you're competing with the Vogons.


I'm more hoping there would be someone out there to keep us in check in our quest to conquer all known space. But, I will admit the thought of a race that's worse than us is pretty frightening. John Ringo wrote a series of books that dealt with that subject. A race of really nasty aliens was slowly conquering known space and the pacifistic races in their path turn to humanity to fight for them because we were the only race aggressive enough to have a fighting chance to defeat the baddies. The problem for the peaceful aliens was that they were only slightly less afraid of us than said baddies and many of them figured that the best they could hope for was to trade a race that wanted to eat them all for a race that would subjugate them. I started the first book, but couldn't get into it.


The Posleen series. I read a couple of those books. They're not bad, but I never did manage to finish the series, only making it through the first two (of five).
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Forrest » November 27th, 2008, 4:18 am

I remember a similar short story - actually I want to say it was an Outer Limits episode, except it wouldn't make sense in visual media - where some colonists on an extraterrestrial world are struggling to fight off an aggressive alien species which is pillaging their planet and killing their people... and in the end it turns out that the invading "aliens" are humans and the "colonists" the story has been following are of a different, alien species.
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby pillar_of_hate » November 27th, 2008, 9:29 pm

I think Ian is insane. He's not irrational, but he probably fits into a psychopathic or sociopathic personality type (which are DSM-IV-classified 'mental disorder', insanity is now used technically only in a legal setting), which are known for their coldly rational (according to their worldview or goals) behavior.

I hate to invoke Godwin's Law, but look at Adolf Hitler: the man suffered from megalomania, paranoia, various behavioral complexes, and possibly depression or bi-polar disorder. Most of the people who followed Hitler were perfectly sane, but Hitler was the one who composed the Nazi tapestry and invented a mythology of Aryan supremacy, Zionism, Communism, millennialism, and historicism that defined the movement. If there was no Hitler, there would have been no Final Solution, no extermination of Slavs and other ethnic minorities, no campaigns of conquest and conflagration.

The point about the banality of evil and the perpetrators of some of these atrocities is well taken, but it also misses an important point: these people do not invent their hostile attitudes out of whole cloth, they are raised in a culture and in a society that values killing your historic enemies and raping their women. What separates people like that from the truly insane is that the insane invent their bizarre values systems instead of inheriting them.

Ian is kind of on a fence there, because he gets his distrust and suspicion of the elves from the culture of Santuariel. However, the other half-elves from Santuariel seem to consider the most successful encounters with elves to be the ones that were avoided, and seem to eschew the concept of forcible resistance, to say nothing of actively pursuing vendette.

What makes the difference to me is that Ian seems clearly incapable of considering alternatives, even when his own plans seem somewhat flawed (viz., if they attack Praenubilis Astu they'll all be killed).
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby mindstalk » November 28th, 2008, 12:06 am

Meh, this is like Light Yagami from Death Note, only more so. I associate sociopathy with a basic lack of empathy or concern for others. That didn't seem to fit Light all that well before he got the Note; he had typical "smart teenager" superiority complex, but also some guilt; he might have been a tightly controlled sociopath, but I think he's more an example of megalomania and "power corrupts".

And Ian? Massive concern for his sister, non-lethal and apologetic when mugging people... he seemed like a nice guy, even when no one was watching. That's not sociopathy. But now he's got Power, and a pretty legitimate grudge.

And, well, the thing about human history and nature is that a split morality is *natural* for us. Empathy within the family/tribe, sociopathic-like behavior to oursiders. Like, every tribe calls themselves "the People". What does that make outsiders? Not-people... And then there's the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments, showing how apparently normal people, socialized in modern societies to have unnaturally large "tribes", can still do atrocious things with a bit of social pressure.

The sociopath doesn't care what he does to other people, or just doesn't respond to them as people. Normal people convince themselves other people aren't people, or deserve it, then do their atrocities. Ian fits right into the normal mode. Especially since "elves deserve to be punished" is pretty plausible.
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Re: 2008-11-24 "What were you thinking?!"

Postby Boss Out of Town » November 30th, 2008, 10:43 pm

mindstalk wrote:And, well, the thing about human history and nature is that a split morality is *natural* for us. Empathy within the family/tribe, sociopathic-like behavior to oursiders. Like, every tribe calls themselves "the People". What does that make outsiders? Not-people... And then there's the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments, showing how apparently normal people, socialized in modern societies to have unnaturally large "tribes", can still do atrocious things with a bit of social pressure.

The sociopath doesn't care what he does to other people, or just doesn't respond to them as people. Normal people convince themselves other people aren't people, or deserve it, then do their atrocities. Ian fits right into the normal mode. Especially since "elves deserve to be punished" is pretty plausible.

Ah! Someone who truly understands basic human nature!

There is a descending scale of human empathy involved. Stronger loyalty to immediate kin, somewhat less so to clan, somewhat less than that to local social clique, and so on. Building large scale societies requires the creation of an abstract cultural structure (morality, religion, hierarchy, mythology), that gives humans some reason to act towards the success of the larger group instead of the smaller. When two abstract cultural structures compete without violent conflict, we call that peace. When they interact with violence and destructrion, we call that war. An abstract cultural structure that can longer bind its members to its own survival is said to be corrupt and decadent.

Assigning members of different human groups a lesser moral status is as natural to humans as breathing. Complete extermination of a group happens less often than other kinds of conflict resolution only because it is rarely cost effective. Too much work, or destructive to your own cultural tropes, or because oppression and enslavement is more profitable than extermination.

Whatever we think of GENOCIDE!, it isn't crazy or even irrational to most people who practice it.

Hitler may have had serious emotional issues, but he was not an original thinker. All the terrible things he did were not the product of his imagination. He only collated ideas that had been floating around Germany for generations. He happened to have the imagination and political skill to weld those ideas into a popular governing philosophy, and didn't become clinically insane until he started losing the war and, along with it, his emotional stability and his grip on reality.

Ian's grip on reality is pretty tight, right now, and so is his emotional stability. He is emotionally damaged, possibly beyond healing, but he can still think and act more or less based on external evidence rather than his inner turmoil.
History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of kings’ bastards but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. This is the way of human folly. --- Henry Fabre
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