Odds and Radical Losers – a blast from the past from November 2013

*Sorry this is so late. I was moving furniture because it needed to be done this morning.  I’ll be at the signing at the Citadel Barnes and Noble in Colorado Springs this evening. – SAH*

Odds and Radical Losers – a blast from the past from November 2013

I first heard mention of Radical Losers when Gabby Giffords was shot.  I no longer remember where I heard it, and I have this feeling that there was an article/book by that title, but it’s late on Sunday and I’m too lazy to look for it.

Anyway, the original article was ranting about how when these shootings happen everyone looks for the least likely person (and for this, as a mystery writer, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) but in fact, nine times out of ten, the culprit is a “radical loser” – someone so far out of touch with reality they couldn’t find it with a seeing eye dog and a cane, someone who has a Satanist temple with a real human skull in their backyard, someone who has fallen so far into a dream that “What’s the frequency Kenneth” has a meaning to them, someone who – in fact – would shock normal people and make them run away in terror.

They’re also usually people that have failed at everything, people who have trouble coping with the every day reality of being human and making human compromises.

I think the radical in the article referred to something else – to radicalization or “extreme” views.  It is of course very easy for people to get “radicalized” when they don’t fit in anywhere.  This accounts for why, if you polled the science fiction community Lenin might be too right wing.  (There is another effect there, the tendency of outcasts to form their own dogmatic communities that enforce weirdness, and also the pathetic attempt to out-cool the main stream, since left is perceived as cool they try to be “even more left.”)

But let’s leave that aside for a moment.

Every time I hear of one of these incidents, I cringe, and I think “One of ours, who went too far.”  “One of ours, who stepped out in the dark and lost his way.”

Here’s the thing with us – for lack of a better word – Odds: we don’t fit in even if we try to.

I don’t even quite know how to define us.  It’s not even a matter of intelligence.  Yes a lot of “odds” are intelligent or brilliant, but it’s also often in a rather specialized, narrow front, almost bordering on the idiot savant (myself, for instance, I write) but they could pose for the “absent minded genius” in most other fields.

I’m fairly functional, but I have friends who should get help to cross the street and who, really, really really (it’s on my list if I ever win the lottery) need a housekeeper.  As is, I could truly use a secretary/assistant.  (Stupid lottery, keeps drawing the wrong numbers.)

A lot of us, but not all – younger son and I don’t – have trouble reading people, and could if you squinted be considered to be on the autistic spectrum.  A lot of us are on the autistic spectrum.  And a lot of us have learned to cope with it so that no one would tell.

But it’s not true.  People can tell.  We can for instance.  Let’s go with Science Fiction, which is a good bet as a repository of “odds”.  I no longer remember when or where, but it was one of my first World Fantasy cons – we left out of a fairly large airport, and most of the flights headed any distance left a few hours after the con ended.  So we trickled in by ones, by twos, by masses, and mingled with large groups of “normal”.  There were, of course, some tells that didn’t need thinking about. A lot of us were wearing fannish t-shirts (me.  I never wear t-shirts for cons, except at liberty con or for the travel.  I try to be professional.  [Liberty is exempt because Liberty is family.]) or carrying sf/f books.  But there was the usual complement of editors who probably think they’re normal and certainly try to appear it in skirt suits and such.

We were in a relatively central area and this was pre-kindle.  I didn’t have anything to do but people-watch.

After a while I realized I could tell “our people” – and I would keep an eye on them till a “tell” emerged, like pulling out the latest sf/f novel, or talking to one of the con attendees and hailing him as an old acquaintance.

I was always right.  It wasn’t a 90% thing, which would already be impressive.  Even for the well-dressed and the aloof, I was always right.

Now if you asked me why I could not tell you.  I could tell you we hold ourselves differently, we walk differently and the way we pause to look at things is different too, but I couldn’t describe it.

I might be taking Dave Freer’s name in vain, but I have a vague memory that in one of our late night conversations years ago (we stopped them as we got old 😛  I actually think they were early morning conversations for him, they were very late night for me) we discussed social species and particularly the other great apes species.  If I’m remembering Dave right and not confusing him with something I read somewhere, he said that in all species that like ours are social, with a bit of learning and mimicry thrown in, most of the apes (eh) attune themselves to the group and “are like the group.”  There are ways of being fully integrated in the group, ways of following the leader, and most apes fall effortlessly into it.

But there is also a percentage – a tiny percentage to be sure – who are outliers.  Some radically out of step and out of norm.  Some subversively so.

I don’t think any of it is as bad as the pink monkey where its mates tore it limb from limb.  I think there is some aggression always towards outliers but outlier behavior is tolerated in some measure.  (The measure will vary with stress put on the group.)

I think that’s what we odds are.  We’re that minuscule percentage of outliers.  Yes, there are probably more of us than the usual ape – or hominid – band.  More on that later.

We can tell each other without being sure how, and other people sure can tell we’re odds.  Children are always better at discovering this, and most of us were probably more unguarded as children too.

Most of us had no idea we were odd or we stuck out until we hit elementary.  I know I didn’t. It was a combination, I think, of the family itself being on the odd spectrum and of my assuming my family members were a little weird.  So, no one out there would find anything strange about me, right?

Wrong.  In my case, I seem to elicit reactions of the love/hate type.  People either love me or they hate me, with nothing in between.  In elementary this often took the form of trying to bully me.  I have no idea what would have happened if I were bully-able.  I wasn’t.  So the result is that often hate turned to love, and I became a leader of sorts.  (As I said, unable to play sports – my coordination took a while to kick in, a result, probably of being very premature at birth – or the stupid elastic jumping game, I invented games for the school to play at recess.  In retrospect, I “invented” LARP games: Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers, WWII spies [ don’t even ask.  That one I wrote characters for.])  By fourth grade, everyone in that school played my games, and the lower classes missed us horribly when we moved on.

But in middle school, in a larger area and with no recess long enough to allow me to influence others, I just became a loner.  I had this game of walking around and around the playground on this little ledge.  Later, I’d just stay in the classroom and read or write stories.

I have talked with enough of my friends – and my husband – to find most of us had that reaction.  It was strange to find ourselves the butt of antagonism, to find that the rest of people weren’t in fact like us.

Those little shocks sometimes hit even today.  (“What do you mean you haven’t read a book since high school?  How is that even possible?”)

By high school I’d learned to masquerade well enough.  I wasn’t popular, exactly, but I had tons of acquaintances and a few really close friends.  And by college I’d learned to go totally submarine, and I was one of the glitzy and glamorous.

But I never forgot.  Somewhere, deep inside me, there’s still that little girl who walked round and round the playground, feeling excluded from everything and everyone else.

I don’t say this to elicit pity.  And I don’t think there’s much you can do about it, certainly not officially.

I say this because that little girl deep inside me still influences the things I do and the things I choose.  We all know about the nature and nurture thing, right?

Someone here – I think he’s the new incarnation of someone whose IP changes a lot – was trying to bait me (eh – I’d rise to the bait quicker if I weren’t feeling so out of it due to the flu)  — by asking me to write about how women shouldn’t work.  I think he miss typed.  I think he meant why women shouldn’t vote, because immediately after he went on this tirade on how all women are collectivists…

He’s wrong of course.  Women right now are collectivists, because they’re told that’s what they should be.  And most humans are really good at following those cues, except for the few radical outliers.  Women have had it dinged into their heads that they’re a discriminated against class.  Their entire learning of history from day one has been on how women were treated badly throughout history.  And of course, they’re told men did this and would do it again given a choice (and not that men and women are both captive of biology and before the pill neither had a choice.)  So most women believe that they need the state to protect them from the evil men.  It’s what they were taught.

The little lonely girl inside never believed this – partly because if they tell you, it’s probably bs.  These rules, these ideas are for normals.  They miss us like so many other things do.

Of course, the way to correct that is not to take women’s vote away, but to stop teaching women (and men too, while we’re at it) Bog STUPID Marxist Crap.

Because the state can’t protect women and will in fact happily collaborate in their enslavement – see, most Muslim states.

Odds should have the advantage there.  As I said, most of us realize that most of what we’re fed is pablum.  But not all of us.  There is the other force that acts on Odds – the desperate need to fit in, to be “cool.”

This leads into the extreme left odds.  At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.

Perhaps I was blessed with teachers who tended to pile on with the other kids rather than intervene.  Blessed?  Yes, because it’s always what a powerful state will do.

The business of the state is to enforce order.  Order and power over the masses are in the best interests of any state.  The more powerful the state, the less it will have a warm place for odds.  You might think, if you’re a radical, oh, Stalinist, that since every one of them you know is an odd, then if you were in power, Odds would be in power.

It’s never like that.  Even those odds who achieve power tend to enforce the “normal”.  The normal might be twisty and ridiculous, but it’s still herd behavior.

Take for instance the French revolution.  I was recently reading the biographies of the principals and all of them, from Robespierre to Danton, were clearly radical odds.  So once they took hold, the revolution came up with some spectacularly ODD ideas (changing month names, for instance.)  But in the end, at the heart of it, what they were trying to enforce was conformity.

Do I know what to do about it?  Oh, hell no.  I know how I dealt with my odd children, fortifying them before they entered school, explaining the low-value of social conformity and how it’s possible to fake it better when you’re old, and that being an outcast in elementary doesn’t blight anyone’s life (unless you let it.)  It seems to have worked.

And it’s all we have.  That and explaining that the “cool cult of the week” if it achieved power would turn on them as much as the current status quo, if not more.  And explaining that bringing society down would be worse, because societies under stress are less tolerant of us outliers.

And then you have to work the fine line between explaining they’re different and getting them to understand other people are still human, just differently wired – if you don’t want to create misanthropes.

This is all I’ve come up with and all I’ve managed.  It might have been/be easier to be an odd in a time with no strict normality-enforcing schools – and as such we can hope to be headed there.

Because here’s the thing – what the internet has already done is allow more of us odds to find each other.  To the extent this is a genetic component – and I think it is.  It tends to run in families, like other genetically-undefinable characteristics – it means more of us outliers will marry each other and produce uber-outliers.  To the extent it is an environmental component, it allows us to meet – in the science fiction community, among others – and reduce the tight control on ourselves, and be odder.

So there will be more of us in the future.  We’re not in the old society where an odd might find MAYBE another one in the entirety of his life and probably not of an age to marry/be friends.

And odds can get very odd.  They can become “radical losers” – rejected by school and family and their community, if they never stumble onto a reasonable enough and accepting enough community – they can, singly or in groups come up with totally twisty ideas of reality and fall off the edge, becoming mass murderers or worse (yes, Karl Marx was probably a radical loser.)

Since this community tends to be odd enough all I can say is ‘teach your children well’ and hope for a less conformist upbringing for your grandchildren – which of course means making sure we don’t lose the prosperity and security we enjoy.  Societies under stress are always more conformists.

The odds are quite literally the salt of the earth – not in the sense it’s used normally, but in the sense of a small minority that makes the whole thing work.  We’re the innovators, the ones who strike out in different directions.  We’re also the ones who point and say the emperor is naked.  There is a reason that the ape bands tolerate some odds.  We are the brakes, the valve, the safety mechanism.

Will there being more of us cause a problem?  Maybe.  I think not.  I think as a whole we’ll leaven society towards more individualistic, but we’ll still be a social species, and it’s impossible for the majority not to want to fit in.

But – absent guidance and comfort – that means we’ll also have more of those that fall off the ledge and become killers or bizarre philosophers.  And that we don’t need.

Work to keep us prosperous, safe and tolerant.  And teach your odd children well.

105 responses to “Odds and Radical Losers – a blast from the past from November 2013

  1. Off to pick up subscription and get shingles vaccination, pt. I. I shall MacArthur!

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I’m not Odd. It’s the rest of the world that’s Odd. :crazy:

    • Reality… it is a Very Silly Place.

      • On second thought, let’s not go there.

      • That’s a major reason why, although I am an agnostic, I count my self as a theist; the world is too full of things that make me think of an artist using a cosmic Photoshop, and saying to himself “I wonder what will happen if I push this slider to the top.”

        Giraffes, for example.

        • When I married my husband, he was agnostic.

          But he was agnostic of agnosticism.

          For the same reason… too many things were “Dude, really? THIS is freaking random?” and also “Wow, nothing has reason…but dang this stuff works really, really well.”

          • Geoff Withnell

            My son’s college philosophy professor stated that there were no real agnostics, just atheists who were not willing to be labeled such. Joe proceeded to state that he called himself an agnostic because as an atheist he kept losing faith in his disbelief. Of course this is the same son who was pissed when he realized questioning belief in God put him squarely in the mainstream of Jewish philosophy. No, my family isn’t odd at all, why do you ask?

            • I gotta wonder if that philosophy professor was trolling, because that’s brain poundingly dumb.

              • Geoff Withnell

                Might well have been. If so it was his normal classroom technique – Joe told me of several other howlers. Of course Joe got his nickname during this class – DA, for Devil’s Advocate. I am reliably informed that is at least one case, he took a contrarian position, won the class over to his position, and immediately switched sides.

            • Patrick Chester

              I’m an agnostic because I lack the faith to be an atheist. 😉

        • Platypodes (corrected for proper greek root). Where you look at them and can just here the chuckle and the “Let’s see them figure THIS one out and put it HERE they’ll find it about the time they start getting cocky.”

          • Younger son, when he was younger and weirder (you really shouldn’t ask!) spent a week leaving me notes everywhere that said “The platypus is coming” in various ways.
            I happened to find a (cheap) stuffed platypus that looked new at our local thrift store (What are the chances?) and put it in the middle of his bed with “The platypus is HERE”
            I have no idea what he had planned, but THAT stopped it.
            I realized last week when he moved in for three weeks, he still carries that platypus around. I guess he liked it. (I gave it to him… 14 years ago.)

    • “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.”
      –Robert Owen, 1828

  3. I see similar nurture-side evidence in the various studies that show normal, productive, engaged members of society. often in high prestige roles like Corporate CEO and such, who test out with the same characteristics of sociopathy/psychopathy as to those seen in really smart manipulative major-crime convicts.

    The headlines go to the zinger of “CEOs are Psychopaths!” but I see the real story as “Properly socialized acculturated and incentivized people don’t commit major crime, no matter how their brains are wired.”

    At the same time, there are folks in prison for major crime who simply acculturated to crime and antisocial behavior even though they don’t score squat on the sociopathy/psychopathy brain wiring tests.

    So all along the curve, all the way from losers to winners as far as societal success markers are concerned, there are people with all types of wiring, and the major determinant is neither nature predestination via brain wiring nor nurture via childhood experience – as in every either/or question, for nature vs. nurture, the answer is “Yes.”

    • > I see similar nurture-side evidence in the various studies
      Sure, but evidence needs to be put together to form a picture.
      Tests and zingers feed on pseudoscience, and feed it in turn. Thus any real picture is both incomplete and obscured. And in matters like this, intentional smoke and mirrors are not out of question either.
      When there’s so much pseudoscience on a subject, any actual knowledge is drowned in noise. We still may step back and look at the healthier areas, because a lot of knowledge can be applicable, or at least we could see general principles to guide us in an obscured area. In this case, that’s exactly what Hintjens did, the result is “The Psychopath Code”.
      > acculturated to crime and antisocial behavior even though they don’t score squat on the sociopathy/psychopathy brain wiring tests.
      Thus,
      A. tests are worth squat, or
      B. we should admit that “antisocial” here is a feel-good gesture (thus, again, a marker of pseudoscience), and what really goes on is that a society of “criminal element” functions much like any society approved by the Great and Good.

  4. > People either love me or they hate me, with nothing in between.

    Like I’ve said before, sometimes I feel like Mr. T walking into a room full of Klansmen…

    *Something* trips their alarms, but danged if I can figure out what. The guy in the mirror looks more like a schmuck than anyone vaguely threatening.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The crab claws seem fairly normal (because this avatar system previously gave me lobster claws), but the horns frighten me.

  5. >if they never stumble onto a reasonable enough and accepting enough community – they can, singly or in groups come up with totally twisty ideas of reality and fall off the edge, becoming mass murderers or worse

    Which would explain the fellow-travelers who ran with Bradley and Breen, and those who claimed they knew, but facilitated their activities anyway.

    The cesspool there was shallow and very wide… there were probably hundreds of people ranging from “complicit to some degree” to “active participants, but nobody is going to point any fingers.”

    I still reserve my spite for the ones who claimed they knew what was going or, or something was wrong, but couldn’t be bothered to drop a dime or postcard on it. The pederasts could at least make a claim of mental illness; the people who didn’t turn them in *chose* to be dirtbags.

    • Back when she was still blogging, Holly Pervocracy came up with the “broken stair tread” analogy. People in an Odd group know that someone’s a problem (predator, thief, whatever) and needs to be watched. Sort of like people in a house with a loose tread on the staircase. Newcomers don’t know about the problem (predator/ stair tread) and get hurt. The older group members all blink and say, “Huh. Everyone else knows about that. What’s YOUR problem?” (at worst) or they say, “Um, yeah, stay away from that gal. She’s trouble.” But they won’t toss the problem out/ fix the tread, because they’re all Odd together.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Studying that mess led me to a different model.

      Somewhat similar to the onion of Weber’s Mesans.

      Their circles were carefully curated with layers of lies. Someone driven to prey on others is going to gain a certain skill in judging whether people are buying the lies that ease the task. If they spend time with a public group, they can quietly test people with a safe lie. Those that ‘pass’ by being gullible get a distant degree of continuing contact, those who ‘fail’ don’t. Then work on the distant circle of contacts to see who can be seriously warped, and who cottons on to things. Those who pass there go into the moderate circle of contacts, and get tested more aggressively with more damaging (to the organizer, if discovered) lies, and to see if they are coming up with their own justifications for the distant circle. Passing that gets ‘trusted’ enough for close contact. Probably more of an instinctual skill than a formal process, and I only have a crude image based on limited information.

      Anyway, I think it is a deliberately created pattern, not an accident of group dynamics. Furthermore, that pattern may be a way to seek similar types of cover up.

      • Happens.

        Read about a coach who slowly cultivated his boys for abuse over years. Starting with asking the boys to stay late at school and scratching the ones who needed parental permission. Ramping slowly up on the touching and being very apologetic if someone objected — and cutting that boy from the list.

      • Hintjens (The Psychopath Code) and Shrink4Men describe something along these lines.
        Of course, like any predator vs. herd, they need some probing and vetting of suitable targets. Maybe “play” chase a little to see who’s limping. But also, they recruit minions. Minions are useful in many ways, including as an ersatz herd helping to pass for but another social animal.

        • You know, that would explain some of the complete flipouts that my sister and I got from some folks who crossed a line…. if we looked like really good prey, either it would feel like a betrayal or it’s a test to see if that was a fluke.

  6. *cries* and I can’t actually make it to the signing….

    • I had an in-service today and just finished. No way am I going to drive that far that fast, even with the time change in my favor…

      • Yeah, we did a Trailer Trip.

        I am so busted…..

      • I’m still stuck in chair. Stitches out, but the removable pins stay 3 more weeks (through skin, so must keep dry). Cleared to drive in 4-6 weeks when bone is healed enough.

        I’ll eventually need the procedure in the other foot, but some years out. Many, God willing.

        • Glad to hear it’s healing well.

        • Good Luck Pete. Keep doing the home care and I hope you don’t get any infections at those pin sites.

          • The doctor has a good dressing on the site with plenty of Betadine to keep the bugs away. He’s handling dressing changes, so if I keep it dry, I should be OK. Xray in 11 days, then pins out 10 days after that, or so.

            Thamls, all!

  7. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I find myself needing to modify some of my previous statements on the El Paso confession of faith.

    In the Saturday thread I speculated that the media might have been going on prepared talking points, or jumping to conclusions.

    From Byron York at the Washington Examiner, I have just learned that the document contains the term ‘fake news’, and contends that the media will present the manifesto in a slanted way, and that this slant will vindicate the shooter’s contention about media coverage.

    I can now believe that a reporter might quickly reach the same conclusion about this document that they would have after a great deal of deliberation. If said journalist is the sort who views everything through the lens of what it says about their occupation; praising is good and criticizing is bad. From this perspective, the manifesto and Trump’s patterns of statements are entirely the same. Furthermore, since the idea of doubting the media is original to Trump, the shooter must have been inspired by Trump. So, perfectly reasonable when you assume that criticizing the media is the single most insane and outside of the mainstream aspect of the El Paso document.

    As for me, I think I would need to read the whole thing for myself to have a conclusion of ‘insane or master trolling’. Because that thing with genetic diversity and racial mixing is the sort of thing I would write as a joke, in the ‘no one could possibly believe this’ way. The murders put the gentleman firmly in the evil category, but I couldn’t prove insanity from what little I know of the writing. Knowing what kind of evil might be valuable, but perhaps not so valuable as to be worth risking the crazy rubbing off.

    • The thing is, Trump picked up the fake news term and ran with it, and has certainly hammered it and made it his own, but it was not something he invented.
      Anyone making their claim to the highly sanctified, most holy, and self evidently incontrovertible status of “journalist” who does not bother to do the most basic research on something this trivial deserves all the disbelief that they get.
      Of course, as ever right thinking person knows, research is a white nationalist concept, as a “journalist” they deserve to be able to force you to honor their own personal truth, and how dare you speak that way to your betters! Know your place, deplorable.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Thing is, these types maybe should be understood in terms of creatives and performance artists. State of mind for such can be both easily damaged and critical to performance.

        If they work while coldly calculating about how much of the audience is going to see through the lies, they may have a much harder time working. Which may mean that most journalists have themselves convinced that they fool most or all of the people most or all of the time.

        Which would handily explain the degree of batshit we see from the media over Trump. Trump is too big to explain away, so they are forced to remain aware of his statements. Boom.

        • That, and how many have become true-believers because everyone around them is, or seems to be, and all the proper sort are just like them and believe that, so it must be true.

          They have so much social and emotional capital invested in believing their version must be correct, and that what they are doing is a Vocation for the Truth, that breaking lose is night unto literally unthinkable.

        • There is a saying in Hollywood that the best actors are themselves empty slates – those who can assume another character best have very little already there in the way of character that they must replace with verisimilitude.

          Looking at the media on screen talent as performance artists and applying the observation above explains pretty much everything.

    • A simpler answer is that Trump is obviously very popular, even though he “should not be”. There’s no way this would not attract the sort of primates willing to ape any given trait or gesture that captured their imagination.

  8. You know… no matter who they are, they ARE one of ours.

    They’re human. No more or less than us.

    And they fell astray.

    It’s no less wrong, it’s just…sad

    • When people become monsters, that’s when you have to make the hard calls. Don’t let a distorted concept of mercy put you in danger again. Your mother may have become a vampire. Mourn the person she was, after you drive the stake through her, cut off her head, stuff her mouth with garlic, and expose the body to full sunlight.

      Unfortunately, the courts in this country don’t seem to get it. Nor do a lot of other people for that matter.

  9. So….. would it be within reason to call a mass shooting a “Loser Pride” event?

  10. The way I look at it, it’s lonely at the top. 🙂 And with all due humility, I operate at very high altitude, both professionally and in my chosen sport.

    And I think that may be part of the problem. The kids who don’t fit in aren’t taught how to make their own way alone. How to thrive. Everybody has the potential to be good at something. It might not make you money, but it’s something to take satisfaction from.

    • And they live in an electronic world where peer support and approval is all-powerful. I had a student blow me off three years ago when I said to put the phone away (I was a sub), because the student had an Instagram streak going and not breaking the streak was far, far more important than grades.

  11. “At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.”

    I misread that as, “At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make love to them.”

    I have an odd subconscious.

  12. There was a time in my life when I could have become something truly monstrous. I like to say that I was one bad day away from being an episode of Criminal Minds. I can’t say for certain why I didn’t–I want to believe that it was my own choice, that I chose to walk back from the edge of the abyss and get help. But I don’t honestly know. Maybe it was just dumb luck. But I am certain that if things had gone differently, if I had made different decisions, maybe, I would have ended up being one of those people with a yard that has to be dug up using corpse dogs and methane probes.

    The thing is, I am still as far removed from humanity as I was then. There’s something I don’t have, call it empathy or compassion or a conscience. I can see it in other people and see how it makes people behave and I’ve learned to be pretty good at figuring out how it would make me act if I had it and then acting that way.

    But it isn’t sentiment that makes me be a “nice” person. It’s reason. Ethics, for me, is a purely intellectual thing. I have come to believe that Christian metaphysics best fits the evidence and that Christian ethics is therefore the best guide for my behaviour.

    It makes me wonder, though, how common my state of mind is. How many people are like me, who are capable of atrocities but choose not to perform them.

    • As a good Calvinist, fully aware of the depravity of everyone, I believe the answer is everyone. If I had the ability to zap the idiots who send the evil phone recorded messages… “This is your last chance…”

      One interesting point in John Ringo’s latest zombie book is how hard it is for people to shoot other people. In war, many soldiers do not shoot in battle. It is hard to kill. This is what makes the current killings so strange, people with no experience in killing being so comfortable with taking the lives of others.

      If we were actually trying to do something about these lone wolves, that would be an interesting line of research. “Why are you able to kill so easily?” Is this a genetic thing? Is this a result of building up anger that cannot be contained? WHY?

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Julie Cochrane had an interesting explanation. It’s been many years since I read it on her blog, and today is not a day for for me to have much sense for boiling it down.

        It’s where I got the idea that I should be modeling spree killers as a specific flavor.

        IIRC, tl;dr is massive self hatred, finding life fairly miserable, and putting a long term effort into prepping for the spree.

        If your own life has a low enough value for you, you can blind yourself to the value the lives of others have to them.

        In hindsight, an increase in spree killers makes sense for more reasons than just copy cat effect. Being a man and told that men are inherently evil could develop self hatred. Intense enough self hatred can cause a false positive for being transsexual. If another effect is spree killers, those are also useful to the left as evidence of the evil nature of men.

      • You may have answered your own question. They don’t see other people as people, they’re just things, targets.

      • This “reluctance to kill” BS just aggravates the ever-loving f**k out of me.

        There IS NO SUCH THING.

        There is especially no such thing the way these idjits ideate it, which is that every human everywhere has this natural inborn instinctive reluctance to kill other human beings. Utter BS, and indicative of someone who’s done little to no research, no historical reading, and has never actually met feral humans.

        The reality is that this “reluctance” is only really applicable so long as you’re not too dissimilar with the targeted human; American soldiers in WWII who were dealing with SS troops after Malmedy, or Japanese after any number of atrocities committed on their fellows were quite enthusiastic about killing their “fellow humans”–Mostly, because they no longer saw them as human in any way, shape, or form. The SS managed to transform themselves into so much vermin in the eyes of American combat soldiers, just as the Japanese did in the Pacific.

        Human beings who demonstrate a reluctance to kill other random human beings are the product of successful parenting and acculturation. They don’t just “happen”, it’s not “natural”, and if they don’t get the careful tutelage and conditioning from their mommies, daddies, and the rest of the society that they grew up in, they’re not going to demonstrate that “reluctance” in any way, shape, or form. That “reluctance to kill” is an artifact of the well-conditioned civilized man, and if you go looking for it anywhere else, you’re in for a rather nasty shock.

        This BS is such utterly depraved lunacy that I can’t even express my anger whenever I hear it–If you’ve got someone who doesn’t want to kill, that individual is representative of man’s highest aspirations towards civilization. That’s not a “state of nature”, that’s a “state of civilization”.

        You find someone who’s got no problem with it, he’s probably either a high-functioning sociopath who’s managed to pick up some rule-based restraints from a desire to fit in and not have everyone turn on him, or you’re dealing with someone who never got the “correct conditioning” growing up. Find someone who’s eager to kill, and what you’ve just run into is an atavistic example of what we used to be, opportunistic killers of the “other”, defined as anyone not of the band, tribe, or nation.

        It really pisses me off when I see this crap, because it trivializes what we’ve achieved: A human being that’s more than a killer ape, but a (hopefully…) rising angel. That’s not something minor; it’s not accidental, and it’s an achievement of note for that child’s family. It should be honored and respected, not written off as the “state of nature”, which it most assuredly is not.

        Man’s “better nature” is non-existent as a natural phenomenon; it is the achievement of many millennia of hard work, and to fail to acknowledge that fact is utter folly. You go relying on someone’s “better nature”, and you’d better be packing a damn gun, unless you know who the hell raised him, and how well it took.

        • Which, as a side note, the book in question actually points out. The people in the book who are “reluctant to kill” are plainly acculturated not to kill.

          The ones enthusiastic about killing, however, are also really bad at it.

          • The thing that gets me going about this is summed up with that paragraph at the end of Presbypoet’s post:

            “If we were actually trying to do something about these lone wolves, that would be an interesting line of research. “Why are you able to kill so easily?” Is this a genetic thing? Is this a result of building up anger that cannot be contained? WHY?”

            Why does this aggravate me? Because the wishful thinking about the issue warps people’s thinking and bars any possible path to either an understanding or a solution; the fuzzy-muzzy Care-Bear luvvy mentality this expresses is typical of the same lot of geniuses who got us into this situation by ignoring all that has to be done in order to acculturate and humanize each new generation coming along. They saw the strictures imposed by organized religion and society, thought them unnecessary, and chose to do away with them. What we have is the result, and now that they’ve created this mess, they’re sitting in the middle of the abattoir they’ve made, and are crying “Why, oh why did this happen…?”.

            Humans are, in a state of nature, a nearly-unique thing: Pursuit predators which evolved up out of omnivorous rootstock. As such, we’ve no instinctive predatorial restraints on ourselves that predators with a longer evolutionary background as predators would have. We don’t “manage” our prey the way wolves manage caribou; because of how we hunt, we pretty much have to kill everything and anything we go after, and restraint about the activity would reduce the odds of survival in the environment we came from. So, there are no “evolved controls” on that behavior, which is what the idiot blissninnies want to believe, because it can’t possibly be that humans are not only built for indiscriminate killing, we’re entirely too good at it. That’s the niche we were forced into, coming down into the savanna, and if you can’t accept that, well… Maybe you need a new species, one you can like. It won’t be anything like us, and we’ll eventually eat you.

            It’s this wishful thinking that irritates me. There is nothing wrong with killing; most of nature gets its sustenance from killing something, whether or not you want to admit it. About the only thing that doesn’t kill, in some way or another, is the photosynthesizing plankton or plant, and even those have “interesting” competitive behavior. What is happening when a bigger tree blocks out the sunlight for competitive trees, if not a sort of passive-aggressive predatory behavior, might-makes-right in the plant kingdom?

            We all kill, all the time: Humans, however, are the first ones to come along on this planet who have any sense of morality, albeit one that we’ve developed only through hard work, and which is extremely unreliable. Every time someone dismisses another human acting in contradiction to their nature, something which isn’t to take advantage of another’s weakness and vulnerability, these blissninnies dismiss that as insignificant, saying that such behavior is “natural”. It manifestly is not–The “natural” behavior is the one where you’re killing, raping, and mutilating the weaker around you, just because you can. And, because you like it.

            Every decent human being is a triumph of will and carefully worked out “decency”; they are to be lauded, for their parents and forebears did the right thing and created those humans out of the dross of our lesser nature. Every creature-that-walks-like-a-man is, by contrast, the result of a parental or societal failure to properly condition and acculturate.

            And, that failure is where the onus needs to be placed, where the attention needs to go: Killer humans are the norm, not the aberration. Trying to make-believe that this is not the case is only going to enable the creation of more of them, because instead of strengthening the controls, that belief encourages their weakening. It’s entirely contrary to the situation, and doomed to failure–If you look carefully, you can see where all the changes we’ve made over the years have been skillfully placed in order to demolish the societal structures and strictures that made control possible. More of the same isn’t going to fix anything; it will only lead to more monsters among us, monsters of surpassing inhumanity.

            Ones that we’ve created for ourselves with this fantastic belief that decent people just “happen”, and that the savage is in a state of grace. Rosseau was a monster, himself, and what has grown out of his fantastic belief about human nature is well on its way towards destroying what far better men than he created over the long years since we left the treelines around the savanna.

            • While I disagree with how you arrive at the conclusion (I don’t believe ‘evolution’ got us here), I agree with your conclusion. Humans are born broken, not perfect, and it takes one or two decades of concentrated effort for a pair or handful of civilized humans to bring them to the point they can be considered the same.

              And you hit the nail on the head with our society removing the restraints that encourage that parenting effort. Between hedonism and nihilism, our kids are suffering immensely. And, until we change that, all the mental health or ‘red flag’ or gun legislation in the world won’t make any difference.

              (Yes, the prime problem with progressivism is a misunderstanding of human nature, but it’s actually preceded, or goes hand-in-hand with a bit of hubris that says “I’m smarter than those who came before, and I’ve thought ideas they’ve never thought, so we can advance on the basis of my reason alone!” And, so very often for those of us who have actually read/studied those who have come before, we’re thinking “Well, wrong on all three counts…”.)

        • Human beings who demonstrate a reluctance to kill other random human beings are the product of successful parenting and acculturation.

          Hear, hear!

          Remember, Christ was revolutionary in that everyone is supposed to be our neighbor.

          That would be the “in group” with whom you don’t screw, those you keep faith with.

          Christianity is not a default state of humanity!

          • I’d go further: Decency isn’t the default state of humanity. Forget religion/spirituality, forget morality, and you forget that which makes us human in the first place.

            This is something that only a near-feral observer can appreciate; the average “nice human” is too lost in their programming to realize how near they themselves are to nature red in tooth and claw. Strip off the veneer, and you need a saint to maintain decency. Something we fail to properly venerate, when it happens, which devalues all that those saints do.

    • The chains of my conscience were first forged by my parents. And when I was mature enough, I made them my own; because I know the monsters that live within me, and all the horrors throughout history are merely an introduction to what I could be without those chains.

      • You know…. One of the things that might make Odds, is that they realize that very thing. Whereas most people are oblivious to their own potential.

        • Probably so. I have a very, very dark and nasty part of me that I keep on a very firm leash. Because I know it is there, and that Bad Things result when the leash slips – Lady Macbeth was an amateur compared to some.

        • That’s a possibility, but I’d put it to you that most people who are functional human beings realize that they have some kind of potential for evil.
          Nearly everyone I’ve met who was a raging jerk didn’t think they were one–the problem was “everyone else.”

          • The mistake that “nice people” keep making is that they think that their niceness is the norm, not the aberration in the reality of things that it truly is. As such, they project their own niceness on to others, and make entirely erroneous assumptions about the nature of their fellows.

            Humanity is not something installed at conception; it’s the result of hard work by the parents, mostly mothers. Our society chose to denigrate that work, and we see the results before us. Feminists are actually anti-human, much though they resent that. Women always had the more important and vital role in society, until some spoiled con-artists pulled a fast one, and tore out the roots of civilization, the tap-spring of which was always the mother’s breast.

            Every monster I’ve ever met had their roots in poor parenting, and a dysfunctional family. That’s not accidental.

    • I would be more curious how many are in that position and realize it– going off of history, people can do horrible things, it’s just rare for someone to be rational enough to identify “I could do this. I should not, because I believe it is wrong.”
      As opposed to a strong cultural training of Right and Wrong.

    • Same here.

      I could be a very bad person. I *choose* to be good.

      The happy-go-lucky people who bounce through life never have to stop and make the conscious decision not to stab someone in the throat because they were annoying. How good are they? They’ve never had to pass the test I face several times a day.

  13. Odds…tend to accumulate “interesting” people, and sadly those “interesting” people are monsters wearing human flesh. I’m not sure that I want some of these people to love me, or to like me, or to even know who I am. Because I know they are users and abusers.

    For the most part, when I realized I was Odd and tried to find a community of Odds? I want what a lot of the “cool” people wanted-safe streets, damage fixed, and allowed to do what I wanted-so long as all I was harming was myself-without impractical prevention. The problem is that the people that kept advocating this…kept moving the goal posts of tolerance. Having an allowable “meh?” to male homosexuality (1) is now “if you aren’t for massive gay orgies in public, all the time, you’re a massive homophobic asshole.” Despite the fact that the whole gay orgy thing was what caused the bloom of STDs and AIDS in the ’80s…

    Feminism mutated from something that was damn well overdue to “a perfect argument for patriarchy.” Dealing with racial issues changed from fixing the mistakes of Reconstruction and Woodrow Wilson to an effort to create a new, de-facto Jim Crow based upon “oppression points.”

    And, one of the reasons why I’m not in the BDSM community anymore is that I know there were people that could get away with anything, and nobody would go against them. They were the Pillars Of The Community, and because Odds can’t get good treatment by the muggles, you can’t do anything about them. Don’t even go into what I think of the local SF community.

    And, often, it was the same people dancing on the lines, making things more extreme as long as they were the ones in front.

    It makes things worse for Odds, because the predators wear the same cloak of respectability and honesty that we have as our skin. And, we can’t be offended because the predators will fake that same outrage in their own defense.

    Tiring.

    (1)-Still “meh?” for me. As long as it’s consenting adults, don’t care as long as you don’t ask me to join in. None of you are cute enough for me to be interested. And none of you have been since, ’98? ’99?

    • It makes things worse for Odds, because the predators wear the same cloak of respectability and honesty that we have as our skin. And, we can’t be offended because the predators will fake that same outrage in their own defense.

      More likely than not they will do it better. They are after all experienced manipulators.

    • (Nods) This is something that crops up time and again–tight-knit communities tend to be infiltrated by predators, because the predators know that if someone does accuse them the community will circle the wagons, going “one of us! one of us!”

    • I remember first reaching college and discovering there was a club for SF geeks. On attending the beginning of year meeting I found myself doing a quick calculation of the ratio of lives to people in that room and never attended another meeting.

      • I sat in at one of the anime clubs during my time in college, and I realized that I needed to leave now, because these people were the sort of nuts you saw in budding cults.

    • None of you are cute enough for me to be interested. And none of you have been since, ’98? ’99?

      Oooh, zing!

      More to the point, though, they tend to deal poorly with a “no, thank you.”

      • A characteristic of Huns, distinguishing us as a subgroup of Odds, is that we have all accepted(? – is that the right word? processed? imbibed?) Groucho Marx’s statement about not wanting to “belong to any group willing to accept me as a member.”

  14. Joseph T Major

    Just out of curiosity, have you read THE IMMORTAL STORM or AH! SWEET IDIOCY!? The first is Sam Moskowitz’s history of fandom until 1939. As you know, Sarah, Moskowitz was chairman of the New York World Science Fiction Convention that year (they didn’t know then there would be a second and so on) and was involved in some extremely intricate and angry politics with other prominent Fans of that era, many of whom became prominent pros.

    AH! SWEET IDIOCY! is Francis Towner Laney’s memoir of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society during the forties. It is sharply critical of the failings of the people there, even including himself, and in fact after publishing it he wanted it to remain unreprinted, because of some of the things he said about people. It is somewhat one-sided, but is still the record of what happened then and there.

    In a sense, nothing has changed since then. The quarrels and the accusations have become faster-tracked, but the anger is still there.

    THE IMMORTAL STORM is available from NESFA; AH! SWEET IDIOCY! can be downloaded for free from the TAFF website (which has a lot of other significant fan history items; you might find Charles Platt’s PATCHIN REVIEW to be worth looking over, even if he is a little too hard and sometimes unpleasant).

  15. This afternoon, after getting my shingles vaccination (I’m okay, shoulder a trifle sore but wallet hurts worse from the co-pay) Beloved Spouse & I had a lunch out, and in the conversation observed that we each had ample experience of geeks — SF geeks, comics geeks, anime geeks, gamer geeks, cosplay geeks, baseball geeks. gearhead geeks, cooking geeks, gun geeks …

    And we realized that everybody is a geek, one way or another. Some are “social geeks” — keeping track of fashion, celebrity, make-up, gossip, whatever. Others are political geeks, able to name half the senators without hesitation, identifying numerous House members, able to name seven or more Supreme Court Justices without pausing for breath. There are people who are Soap Opera geeks, keeping track of numerous complex story-lines simultaneously. There are music geeks, people willing to spend hours daily practicing chords until they can play them at a thought, learning songs and patterns and able to identify musicians from the idiosyncratic chord structures they employ. Glee was a show about geeks, as was Friday Night Lights and, one way or another, almost all shows on TV, from Big Bang Theory to Criminal Minds.

    Almost everybody worth knowing has something they obsess over and have developed expertise in, from Jane Austen to Shakespeare’s sonnets to knitting — ask any avid knitter the differences between various brands of wool or for a comparison of wood needles to metal and you’ll get an hour of geek-speak.

    Sure, some geekiness is more marketable than others — a lawyer or a biochemistry geek is likely to make more money than a brick geek, but a film geek like Scorsese or Tarentino makes boodles, too. To excel in any endeavor typically entails a mad love, a geek’s love, for the work involved.

    • In America.

    • Not so sure of that RES. I think Sarah’s right about being able to pick out the Odds in a group. I can do it moderately well, and I’m not all that great at reading people.

      What concerns me more is three questions: “Are these violent mass murderer-types really Odds?” If so, “What makes them different than the rest of the Odds?” And assuming affirmative answers to the preceding two questions, “Can we reliably (98% accuracy rate) identify them before they explode?”

      • I think Sarah’s right about being able to pick out the Odds in a group.

        Clarification: I do not say all people are Odds; I say all people are Geeks. (For certain values of “all” and “people.”)

        There is a distinction between the Odds and Geeks. It isn’t being a geek that makes one odd, is all.

    • Maybe not everyone, but it is a LOT more common than you’d think– it’s a matter of having an abject love that overwhelms your common sense when it comes to a topic.

      Get a video of then-Cardinal Ratzinger talking theology. That man is one of us.

  16. the Citadel Barnes and Noble in Colorado Springs
    I know right where that is. Wish I could be there.

  17. all women are collectivists
    Typical confusion of language on the left: women (in general) are communal, working well in groups. That does not make them “collectivists”.

    At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.
    They want someone to make anyone love them. At one stage it’s mommy, then the classroom teacher. Eventually it’s ‘society’ – and eventually it turns to gov’t.

    what they were trying to enforce was conformity
    Yep. But this time it was their conformity. And that would make it all good. Because they know best.

    if you don’t want to create misanthropes
    Hey now!
    No, you’re using that word correctly. But my image of ‘misanthrope’ is less hateful, and I have considered myself one since first reading Florence King decades ago.

    singly or in groups
    Can you say ‘cult’? Some are just a group of outcast Odds banding together under a strong personality. Some will just kill themselves. Some turn into a larger production that might kill a few other people along the way. SOME will turn into worldwide religions or political ideologies that will kill millions.

    • Can you say ‘cult’?

      Funny, on this fifty-year anniversary of the Manson cult murders, with the Nixium trial underway, to note the extent that women dominated these cults. Sure, ostensibly each was “ruled” by a man, but all evidence is that a woman or small group of women took on the actual work of running the cult.

      Toxic masculinity my arse; cult is only an ‘ell away from a different word, one rudely applied to women.

  18. > since left is perceived as cool they try to be “even more left.”
    Since the left is perceived as “holy” — therefore, “no enemies on the left, no friends on the right”.
    It’s best understood in Medieval terms. So, lots of opportunistic hypocrisy, yet real zealotry is observable now and then.