Greedy Goblin

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is the "cultural group"?

We hear "cultural group" all the time, explain things with "culture" but we lack the rational definition of it. Wikipedia can't help since it redirects "cultural group" to "ethnic group" and we clearly can't call gaming alliances, or the gaming community itself an ethnic group.

It is also not equal to "community" or "interest group". One can be a baseball fan and a WoW player, while you can't be a liberal and a Tea Party member at the same time. Being part of a culture is more than doing something together. It's more than believing something together since many people can believe the same thing. Being in TEST helped me a lot to understand it.

Being in a cultural group means having the same logical fallacies accepted and protected by declarations and taboos. If you are member of the fundamentalist Islam, you support or at least find acceptable, that the Saudi religious police hindered rescue of schoolgirls from a building on fire because they were not dressed in religious clothing. If you are a fundamentalist Christian, you support the Irish medical authorities that refused to abort a terminally ill foetus leading the death of the woman (and the foetus of course). If you are not member of either culture, you find both deaths similarly avoidable and the people involved similarly responsible for the deaths. However those who accept the norms of either culture find their "own" death tragic accident that could not be prevented while agree with us about the other. To not just hit on the religious people some more easily avoidable deaths: transplantation from criminals is unacceptable even in western countries where their execution is accepted, obviously killing those who could receive these organs. China has no such moral problems, saving lot of people.

So members of a cultural group agree that certain actions and thoughts are impossible, while those who are not members find them doable (even if not smart). Cultural groups are collections of social people whose irrational beliefs align. These groups are naturally at war with other cultural groups and find each other evil. All these groups find rational people evil for not following the norms of either one. They are all vehement and altruist supporters of their nonsense and actively hate and fight those who don't accept these.

Those who challenge the logical fallacies that are obvious from the outside are the provocateurs (trolls). They do nothing and could be ignored yet the members of the culture are unable to do so and fight vehemently. From the outside it seems that the troll was harmless (even if stupid) while the "trolled" members of the culture are actively hateful and criminal. For example drawing idiotic cartoons is just idiotic and the world is full of stupid drawings and we ignore them all. Yet when certain cartoons were drawn about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, Islamic fundamentalists caused riots leading to hundreds of deaths. While they clearly consider it a just response, everyone else see it as savage and unwarranted act. They say "if I were them I'd just ignore those idiot cartoons instead of killing like savages". Many of them of course are lying and go full outraged at something equally harmless: some idiot uttering the words "there was no Holocaust".

Trolls are probably the most effective tool against these dense and harmful groups of socials, much more effective than politically correct logical debaters because they can just be ignored by the group. The point is that they can't ignore the troll since he doesn't debate their rule but actively breaks it. So when you see a bunch of socials together believing in the same nonsense and you want to do something about it, don't try to convince them, they'll ignore you. Just do what they find impossible/evil and ask "where is your God now?!"

If you want to fight the socials, wear the mask proudly:


Anonymous said...

And what of the insider looking outwards? Do incidents like the Muhammed cartoons, burning Korans and The Innocence of Muslims films reaffirm their view of the perfidy of the West and the need to stand by their community? Trolling generally doesn't endear yourself to people.

Debra Tao said...

You really need to define rolling here. While Muhammed cartoons are plain jokes, denying holocaust isn't for some people. I guess it would be fine that way if these idiots weren't trying to convince others.

You seem to believe that there is always a "rationnal" solution or answer to a problem, when dealing with cultural issues i don't think there is a rationnal best posture.

Hivemind said...

"Trolls are probably the most effective tool against these dense and harmful groups of socials [...] The point is that they can't ignore the troll since he doesn't debate their rule but actively breaks it."

The problem with that claim is that it ignores the question of what the outcome of using that 'tool' will be. Breaking a group's rules or taboos only shows the group "There are people out there who do not care about your rules and taboos". If the group actually believes said violation to be impossible this might be useful, but is more likely to be dismissed ("It's just some kind of trick") or rationalised within their belief framework ("No normal person can do that, so clearly this is witchcraft sent by the devil").

In the cases you present, the troll cannot achieve a positive effect - the group knew that it was possible to break the rule (the hand of Allah will not forcibly restrain you from attempting to depict the prophet Mohammed, for example) and their social group not only knows of (or at least believes in) the existence of people who would violate that taboo, it is defined by it - one division between “fundamentalist Muslim” and “everyone else” is whether or not they consider drawing a cartoon of Mohammed a big deal. All the troll achieves by violating these rules is confirming the social group’s belief that this other group exists, and their actions are far more likely to cause the community to double down on their rules and taboos as a way of distancing themselves from the rule-breaking of the troll.

Anonymous said...

your point about logical fallacies is somewhat wrong. A logical fallacy is a flaw in actual logic. To those who believe, within the framework of their belief, the logic is generally sound.

Take the Christian (a Catholic, for simplicities sake). If you grant the existence of "God" and the 10 commandments, and you similarly grant that the Pope decrees that life begins at conception it stands to reason you cannot abort the baby without violating "Thou shalt not kill".

The logic in the case is sound, if you accept the premise.

Indeed proving religion wrong on the basis of pure logic is something which is incredibly difficult to do because for the most part once the initial irrational acceptance of a position is taken, rational and logical arguments can be built upon it.

It sounds peculiar, but even those who are pure rationalists must make 3 basal assumptions about existence before they are able to build a logical argument. Those 3 assumptions cannot be proven and are therefore, like the religious position, irrational. But they are not logically fallacious.

Taking the wikipedia definition for culture as:

Specifically, the term "culture" in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Distinctions are currently made between the physical artifacts created by a society, its so-called material culture and everything else, the intangibles such as language, customs, etc. that are the main referent of the term "culture".

In eve we do not have 'material culture' (except perhaps in the form of doctrinal differences but the cream rises to the top and everybody is a cultural thief in this respect) - but the main concept of 'culture', the intangibles - the 'language' (alliance or coalition memes/jokes/terminology), customs (the code of conduct that members of alliances adhere to - either implicitly or explicitly), even belief/religion (cult of personality amongst the central figures of a powerful block, the unwavering loyalty of those under skilled FCs and so forth)... that concept exists in eve and it is everywhere.

Those that subscribe to a particular "culture" are a "cultural group". In the case of the CFC and HBC, these "cultures" are seeded from outside of the game, from a place where language and customs are already established. Those that have similar beliefs coalesce and form larger entities.

whatever said...

That's some pretty scary stuff there. Those religious people sure are scary.

I guess I'll have to balance it against the chance if I am ever injured of godless vermin telling my family that I am brain dead.. indeed that there is NO BLOOD FLOWING IN MY BRAIN AT ALL !ZERO BLOOD FLOW!. They would do this so that I may be killed and my organs can be harvested and then routed, by the private unmonitored corporation that controls where every donated organ goes in the US, to a 70 year old rich man with cancer.

You know, like with Zack Dunlap.

Fortunately, I'm not stupid enough to be an organ donor, so that isn't going to happen.

Nor am I stupid enough to believe the "courage" of utterly cowardly vermin like the Something Awful vermin going after only the softest of soft targets. Their nastiness is only matched by their cowardice.

Anonymous said...

Bluntly put, a "culture" is a group of people with 4 sets of stories: "who we are" and "what do WE do" just as importantly the negations "who we are not" and "what we do not do". Clay Shirky wrote a number of good essays on the subject, particulary, "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy" and "Social Software and the Politics of Groups".

From the viewpoint of Eve players, you could easily come up with a set of definitions like
1: We are Eve gamers.
2: we play Eve.
3: we are not WOW gamers.
4a: We do not mine.
4b: We do not PvP.

I broke 4 into a&b to show that even within Eve gamers, there are "subcultures". I'm sure you could refine and/or argue about the categories.

While they clearly consider it a just response, everyone else see it as savage and unwarranted act.

They see their culture and beliefs under attack by the West. Their countries are invaded, their governments are run by puppets of the West. Western military and media say things like "we should invade them and forcibly convert them all to Christianity."

In the US, similar sentiments are held by the religious fanatics here as well: the government is run by heathens (hence the "Obama is a Muslim" meme) and sinners (gay marriage and so on), and that Christianity is under attack by both Washington, the "librul media" and by Islam (hence the "eurabia" meme).

One explanation of this came from the writings of Goffman and Collins. One useful book is Interaction Ritual Chains.

Building on Durkheim’s concept of the sacred, on Goffman’s sociology of face-to-face encounters, and on contemporary studies of emotion by Jack Katz and Thomas Scheff, Collins argues that the mechanisms that produce “society” are none other than interaction rituals (IRs). Four basic ingredients define them; all are necessary for their accomplishment. The first is two or more people in co-presence: bodily assembled and, through neurological feedback loops, able to charge up a situation with excitement and significance. Second, IR requires a boundary that demarcates insiders from outsiders, lending participants a privileged sense of inclusiveness. A third feature of IR is that all parties to the encounter “focus their attention upon a common object or activity, and by communicating this focus to each other become mutually aware of each other’s focus of attention” (48). Finally (though it is not quite clear why this is an ingredient rather than an outcome), IR requires that participants share “a common mood or emotional experience” (48). Where these elements combine successfully, four outcomes are discernible.

1) Individuals feel solidarity with one another; they imagine themselves to be members of a common undertaking.
2) They are infused with emotional energy (EE), a feeling of exhilaration, achievement and enthusiasm which induces initiative.
3) IR membership generates collective symbols. The “lenses through which we see,” the “very structure of consciousness” (p. 374), symbols are the moral repository of the group and, hence, are assigned sacred qualities that must be defended and reinforced.
4) It follows that violations of these symbols provoke righteous indignation towards, and sanctions against, those guilty of transgression.

IR, in short, is the stuff that holds society together in imbricated “pockets of solidarity” (pp. 15, 235). It is the stuff that gives the individual an identity and a purpose. And it is the stuff too that explains lassitude and social conflict


Anonymous said...

As for organ donation from criminals in the US, there is a widespread amount of Hepatitus and AIDS spread in prison. If you have been in jail in the US for 72 hours or longer, you are permanently and irrevocably banned from donating blood and organs.

Anonymous said...

The issue surrounding the death of that woman in Galway is a terrible example to make your roundabout case. The Catholic card is a case of the husbands word for what he thought he heard Vs the hospital staff who staunchly deny it. The issue there is a mixture of medical negligence and a failure to politically issue guidelines for abortion in instances where the mothers life is in danger. The catholic issue is loosely tied to the fact the people of Ireland rejected abortion amendments in referendum, largely because at the time the majority identified themselves as Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Actually, CFC and HBC are in the same cultural group. Unfortunately, this makes null boring, probably the most boring I've ever seen.

Marit said...

I look forward to more posts on this subject, especially since you're unafraid to push people's buttons.
I follow several blogs precisely because I often do not agree with them - but to have my personal buttons pushed.

No matter how secular and rational we consider ourselves, there are subjects that have us frothing at the mouth, at least initially. I consider this a flaw.
Nothing good can come from moral outrage, even in the disguise of rational debate.

Holocaust denial is a good example - that had me raging ten years ago. Even now, I choose not to call it revisionism, even though that probably would be more balanced.

[Disclaimer: Pedophilia is a crime for good reasons.]
I remember, in Sweden we had a pedophilia debate some 15 years ago.
I think it was prompted by a few cases of abuse at Swedish day cares, but it could have been part of a larger non-domestic debate also.
The moral outrage lasted a few years before the debate became more balanced, but during that time pretty much every male that had any connection with children was suspected. I know several men - teachers, sport coaches, nurses etc. - who considered changing careers because of it.

My point is that if we were willing to recognise the taboos of our cultural group, we could better move past the moral outrage to a proper debate, avoiding a lot of collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

While usually I don't find much errs in your logic, this time I believe your parabole took a step too far. Just to counter this one example, stating that every ortodhox catholic has to support the Irish doctors' choice is somewhat similar to stating that an orthodox catholic in XII century had to believe that earth was flat.

This accident was not the first nor the last time when human makes a lapse in judgement based on his own personal beliefs. 2002 accident I can't comment on as I do not possess enough knowledge of this culture.

Anonymous said...

72 hours in the last 12 months. It is not permanent.

Unknown said...

I have a problem with this post.

Problem is, you seem to portray cultural groups as something inherently bad, and cultural preconceptions as something that has to be torn down by any means available for the sake of advancement.

In the four levels of human development that you formulated in the past, the second and third have to do with a person coming to grips with the way culture works. You can't reach the final level without going through second and third.

Trolling destroys second and third levels, preventing people that haven't reached the "anti-social" level from ever reaching it. Third level is destroyed by mocking cultural values. Second level is destroyed by mocking the rules.

While trolling is indeed a good way to destroy culture, what it leaves behind are not advanced anti-socials, but rather confused and lost socials, who are generally not capable of formulating a new culture to replace the trolled one and have no choice but to regress to M&S.

True anti-socials can and do use trolling as a tool, when they are looking to actively create more M&S to exploit.
However, I thought your goal was complete elimination of M&S, regardless of whatever exploitation options they offer

Anonymous said...

The fact that you are here bashing 'cultural groups,' screams to me that in the end you are upset about being rejected by a group of nerds in a fake Internet spaceship game.

The man who is deemed socially repugnant by his peers railing against such a group strikes me as bitter.

You sit, from the start, joiNed under false pretenses, then seemingly went out of your way to make sure every step you took disenfranchised yourself from those who would otherwise have accepted you with open arms.

In other words, you are so lacking in any ability to function as a normal member of society, you were deemed unworthy among those who most of the planet would say are themselves light on social skills.

Hey, make another blogpost about it, that way you can have an emotional release valve. I'm sure that whomever's basement you reside in are tired if hearing you cry at night, sad and alone.

Gevlon said...

I didn't join on false pretenses. What I saw from the outside was a professional war machine. Then I joined and saw a highly dysfunctional social group. I needed to solve this dilemma and I did (read Friday post).

Anonymous said...

As a cultural anthropologist, your idea of culture is all messed up.

Culture, in its basic form, is the common lens through which people view and assign meaning to their reality. Groups tend to have these lenses shaped by the same things (myth, events, stories, traditions, etc). TEST gave you a chance and, not only were you unable to identify with the culture, but you tried to force your own views on everyone else and spewed non-sense out of your asshole.

I am late on the news that they finally kicked you, and found this site to see how you'd make sense of it. You're still spewing.

Gevlon said...

This "lens" is a nice politically correct term for "wrong". The objective truth is objectively existing. Anything that distorts it is by definition wrong. "Culture" is nothing but a collection of bad ideas shared by mostly everyone in a group.