It might prove useful to dig into genocide, but for now I think that to do so would prove a digression. The only thing that came up for me that seemed important here was to remember that when we are talking of ants, the individual ants aren’t objects of selection. Properly speaking the *colony* is the individual. So when an ant colony is at war with another ant colony this is comparable to when a single lion is in conflict with another single lion.

We can skip genocide for bit if you like, but I need to point out that you can’t just think of ant colonies as national entities here. In a genocide, one tribe of humans within a boundary kills off another tribe of humans within a boundary. The national boundary often doesn’t matter. Genocides happen when our resource scarcity neurons activate, and sometimes they activate against our neighbors if they’re identifiably tribally different.

I get the rest of the Silicon Valley vs Big Tech analogy you lay out, but it seems almost tautological. It seems the lesson you’re teaching is “people are more creative when they collaborate as peers instead of reacting to rigorous authoritarian hierarchies.” To that assertion I would probably say something like “duh,” if I wasn’t trying to be polite and engaged. It sounds as if you’ve “stumbled into a truism,” as my dad used to say to me.

And if that’s the case, then the devil is obviously in the Dunbar Details. How do you scale collaborative efforts past the social connection boundary? Communism works great in communes, it only fails once you make it mandatory and you have to take everyone into it. Suddenly Pharma Bro is in in the mashed potato line taking more than his share or whatever.

The answer to scaling past Dunbar boundaries is re-enculturation of a different set of behaviors at a massive scale. This is why Communism “works” in North Korea. They’re uniformly indoctrinated. Of course North Korea’s results aren’t all that great, but they’re about as great as Leninist central planning can be expected to achieve, and they got past the Dunbar number with rigorous thought control.

I don’t agree. And I’ve noticed this disagreement several times so it might be fundamental. (see indoctrination vs. enculturation). I don’t need (or want or intend) to spread the concepts. Propositional knowing is both weak and low fidelity. The key is not to understand game~b or to either know or spread game~b ideas. The key is to become a game~b player. To embody and live it. Participatory knowing. And to make game~b inviting to other people who might choose to become game~b players.

This is where you lose me, and perhaps where all of Game B might lose me. It’s the place where our conversation begins to sound like Scott Alexander’s Universal Love Said the Cactus Person. (If you’re not familiar, go read that and come back) What you said above sounds a hell of a lot like “you can’t be told how to become enlightened, you just have to discover it and then do it.”

And I think there’s real value in that perspective, and I think I hold it to a large degree myself, but if Game B is an unspeakable enlightenment, then what’s in it for me over Zen Buddhism? Game Zb has been around for a while already.

Where I think you and I may differ, and perhaps tremendously so, is this. I acknowledge enlightenment by its nature has no instruction booklet. But there have definitely been wide cultural shifts throughout mankind’s history where we bailed on one set of indoctrinated principles and adopted a different set, and the new set allowed us to beat certain Prisoner’s Dillemas in our older mode of thinking, and then the new indoctrinations became defacto obvious truths because they worked so well. These shifts happened without everyone suddenly becoming per-force enlightened, although perhaps “Woke” might actually be a good and useful term here. The golden rule and the intrinsic value of money rank very highly as necessary indoctrinations for modern life.

Note I’m intentionally going to go back to the “indoctrination” term here, because those things are not natural, they’re beaten into the brains of children by their parents and teachers and pastors so the children can participate in society. Apes don’t have money.

Let’s look closely at religion. 85% of the world is religious. We have space in our brains that religion likes to occupy. This is an evolutionary benefit, because it gives us a pathway to indoctrinate (golden rule) and such into our kids. And perhaps a very devout Christian comes to a deeper understanding of the teachings and allows that to guide their life, and the results of that are positive. But society still works when it includes folks who don’t come to that deeper understanding, because they’re still running the program. And the religions that won out in the game of religious Darwinism where not the most spiritual ones, they were the ones with the most effective program.

The task is to develop the program, and then spread it. If we adopt the position that the program cannot be known except through spirituality, then that doesn’t help us develop the program at all. Best we’ve got is Zen.

The suits and marketers and propagandists and strategists can simulate and copy words and ideas. But unless one becomes a game~b player, you can’t do “the thing”. Once you can do the thing, the ideas are grounded in your living and relating.

I think we have a lot of common ground here, but that common ground needs to be drug out of the weeds.

Let’s go back to my first invocation of the Walmart Shoppers motif, talking about Sam Harris. He’s of the opinion that we don’t need religion to be our moral compass as long as we can get everyone to understand all the important nuances of his preferred flavor of secular humanism. A lot of the New Atheist movement fall into this same trap. This is not scalable. If we’re talking about adjusting the behavior of an ant colony, every ant doesn’t need to understand the colony’s actions from the perspective of a queen, or an entomologist, the ant just needs to understand his behavioral role. This is the primary function of religion in the history of mankind, and remains the primary function today.

(spooky story therefore behave thusly) is a complete end-around to having to explain the actual reasoning behind (behave thusly). The efficacy and robustness of the world’s religions is not tied to the (spooky story), it’s tied to the behavior attached to the story. And through Darwinist action, the religions that had the best set of (behave thusly) won out. I often hear the thought experiment “maybe one of our current religions are right,” but the funner one to me is “what if one of the dead religions was right?” How did that dead religion die? Because its version of (behave thusly) was less optimal than the ones we have today.

Where religion is faltering today, generally speaking, is that the spooky stories can be shown to not be literally true. Allegorically true perhaps, which is where Jordan Peterson is making his money, but the failure of the spooky story to entrap the Walmart shoppers will eventually lead to a failure to propagate healthy memes such as golden rule. This is bad. Not only does that fail to bring us to a better game than Game Ant, it literally breaks the ant hill itself so we might get rubbed out by some other culture running Game Ant better. The Muslims are running Traditional Baby Making Ant way better than we are, and the Chinese are running Authority Ant way better. The conservatives want to reinstate Western Ant to combat this, and the Social Justice folks want to simply Kill All Ants and damn the consequences. It seems to me like the Game B folks want to find the next thing that beats them all and hopefully makes it so we’re not trapped in an ever increasing evolutionary track of ant emulation.

But the funny thing about religion is that anyone can make one. L. Ron Hubbard did it, and he’s not any smarter than you or I am. His books aren’t even that good, but what he cooked up works very well for some people. I think he focused on the right architecture:

  • spooky story that is believable under the guidelines of science (science fiction anyway)
  • therefore behave thusly

It seems obvious to me, after years of chewing on this, that what we need is Religion Zero. Religion Zero should be crafted around certain parameters, some of which propagate Game B as I think I understand it, and some which are specifically tailored to ensure that it spreads properly. Here’s a (non-inclusive) list of important qualities of Religion Zero:

  • The belief that there is in fact an objective reality. This is paramount to ensure postmodernist Chaos Magic cultists don’t hijack the thing.
  • The belief that our goal should be to discover that reality as best as we can describe it.
  • The belief that there are elements of that actual reality which are not currently explained by science, but which later might be. This is your (spooky story) platform.
  • The belief that failing to understand that actual reality will lead us to Nash Equilibria, Prisoners Dilemmas, that are inherently bad. War bad. Genocide bad. Extinction bad. Game B language gets embedded here, where the nerds figure out indoctrinated (encultured?) behaviors which, if adopted by everyone willingly, would avoid these prisoners dilemmas. Insert cultural engineering.
  • Embrace the idea that this is a reverse doomsday cult. Everything will be terrible unless everyone gets on board and follows Game B behaviors. This is an evangelism tactic. Is it true that the human race is going to die out in less than 500 years unless we get our shit together, as Bret Weinstein often says on Twitter? It would be hard to say for sure, but this is a religion, so we can choose to adopt that belief if that choice is useful to us.
  • It needs spooky stories (these are a must-have) that could possibly be true given our current understanding of science. These don’t have to be proven, nor even falsifiable in a scientific sense, but the spooky stories must be malleable so they don’t end up outdated by scientific research, while also being effective at enculturing the behaviors identified two bullets up.
  • Creating a malleable religion is a tough thing, but there are lessons to be learned in how to build it by an objective and calm look at what Social Justice is doing today. Especially on the evangelism front. They’re really good at that.
  • Issue a guarantee that a Council of Zero will convene once a decade to ensure that the belief structure stays updated to the best available science. Not that it is provable, mind you, just that it is believable and not in conflict. Steal the Social Justice “crowd sourced religion” program and implement it in this layer.
  • The best possible goal for Religion Zero would be to create a framework that is scientifically believable, but which also didn’t conflict with any major world religions today. Better, it would explain how each of those religions could also be literally scientifically true. This is the holy grail. If you can build that, you can piggyback Religion Zero into the teachings of any and all major world religions, which would not only give you a viral pathway to spread it, but also connect people of different existing religions through the Religion Zero lexiconic pathway.

Imagine the enculturative strength of someone striking up a conversation with a Christian and saying, “I believe your religion is scientifically correct,” and being able to also say that to a Buddhist or a Muslim, and invite them all to lunch.

The scope of Religion Zero may sound too aggressive on first glance, but I think this is absolutely doable.

You’ve expressed the desire to migrate to a forum format instead of Medium as a format, but I rather like Medium so I stuck this here. If you want to pivot over, drop your response on the forum and drop a link here so the two or three people following along can head that way.

Conscientious objector to the culture war. I think a lot. mirror: www.freakoutery.com writer at: www.opensourcedefense.org beggar at: www.patreon.com/bjcampbell

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store