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sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems

herds and the individual -
sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups

New translation, the Magna Carta


herds and the individual - sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups
counting beliefs - irrational associations
logicians, 'logic' and madness
intelligence and madness
language for manipulation, exaggeration and hypocrisy
irrational actions - analysis of behaviour
co-operation and being nice
the problem of moderation
covid and nuclear explosions
the individual or the common good
productivity and production
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herds and the individual - sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups is one of a number of documents analysing dysfunctional social, or group, behaviour in modern society.
abelard discusses the illusions of society, where humans act as individuals while believing they are part of a wider group, or groups.
on sociology on socialism 'social' economics supporting resources
and background documents
sociology - the structure of analysing belief systems
Labour Party pamphlets:
For more on sociology and socialism:

Introdution - socialism & sociology
sociology and generalisations
thing is a number
herds and individuals
swarms and beehives
nation and religion
addendum 1 - a dismissal of unsound reasoning in sociology
addendum 2 - with education comes personality change
end notes

related material on group behaviour, ethics and social interactions

related reading about sociology and socialism

subsidiary document:
fabian socialists misunderstand darwinism
"Blessed are the peacemakers"
Are the peacemakers those who force conformity, or those that negotiate?
     sociology and generalisations 
  1. Sociology is not a science. It is about points of view.

  2. The world is not the way you think about it - the world is what it is.

  3. Points of view are useful, but dangerous if you internalise them.
    That is, when they become beliefs.

  4. Universals do not exist in the real world. They exis only inside the heads of individuals.

  5. However, people cope with the real world using their own internalised universals.

  6. They even tend to locate their positions in society in terms of generalisations (universals).
    For instance:
    • I am a chess player
    • I am a socialist
    • I am a brain surgeon

    Thus an inclusion in a group - a universal.

  7. Many of these categories divide the person into slices.
    Example: I am not just a chess player or a shopaholic, I am both and many more. I remain the same person. I am not any of the slices, or even a compendium of the slices.

  8. Humans also divide themselves up into bits.
    Example: This is my hand, this is my liver.

  9. Critically, people also look outward, imposing similar categories on others. Thus others are seen as a group and seen as (become) a collection of slices.

  10. Remember, none of these slices or groups consist of collections of real, functioning people. They are just illusions of slices/groups, created in a person's thoughts.
    They are ways of coping or relating to a complex world where individuals strive to manage.
    That is, the slices are merely points of view. (See also chance, cause, choice.)

  11. Nobody knows what is in the mind of another.

  12. Humans act optionally as :
    • members of a hive (working to a common end)
    • members of a flock (following a group or perceived leader)
    • individuals.
    These behaviours are not mutually exclusive.

  13.  thing is a number 
  14. Counting is entirely a matter of choices. You can count herds or flocks, or you can look after the herd or flock yet concentrate on individuals.

    Of course, you could also take the individual apart and concentrate on molecules or amino acids.

    The herd can be treated as an individual, which is what is done with congregates or universals, as in the religion of socialism or in the family, the beehive or the corporation, with the dictator or the queen bee as the hive mind.

    The Catholic Church theology doesn't care whether a state is a democracy or a dictatorship, it cares whether the state respects natural human rights. Rerum novarum.

  15.  herds and individuals 
    • You cannot understand how a human being works by cutting them into pieces.
    • You cannot understand how a human being functions by watching them in a crowd.
      You only see how the individual behaves in that context.
      More can be seen at boids and science of artificial societies.
    • The way a person thinks about a problem effects the way they act.

      For example, if a person thinks in terms of class divisions, they will think in oppositionist terms, such as "the class war". They will tend to attack their imagined superiors or inferiors.
      If they think in terms of one society, they will think in terms of resolving problems between people, or for the group.
      Thus the following question matters.

  16. Swarms behave with more individuality and organisation.

    An army or a crowd may become a herd, particularly when panicking.
    However, a bee swarm does not behave quite like this.

  17. swarms and beehives 
  18. There, a few hundred scouts make exploratory flights to find a suitable new home. When such a place is found they return to tell the main swarm where to move to by a form of counting consensus. [1]

    Bees have allocated roles, working co-operatively to help build, increase, maintain and defend the hive.
    Likewise, human teams work by division of labour.

  19.  framings 
  20. What is the difference between...
    ...sorting out solutions that suit all the family,
    resolving conflicts of interest?

    Framing matters. ('Framing' meaning the way a problem is described).

    If you frame the judiciary or parliamentary system as adversarial, for good or for evil, you will not arrive at sane outcomes.
    However, if you look at a problem in more than one way, you are likely to end up with more options.

    This is no idle question. It has been at the heart of the disputes about methods of governance, and it figures strongly in modern psychobabble.

  21. Framings are political attempts at imposing semantics and points of view.
    Watch how the unaware respond, that is how others respond to the semantics/framings.

    The psychological state of persons change according the semantics used. For instance, introducing the word 'conflict' tends to encourage a person to assume there must be a 'conflict', whereas maybe there are easily available, mutually content 'solutions'.

  22. Even the term 'solutions' suggests puzzles. If all in a group love ice-cream made from cow ooze, there is no real problem. If both want to play with a toy (or a gun) at the same time, there may be a 'conflict' or 'a puzzle' - or a zero sum game. [2]

  23. Leftist dictatorships try to impose a frame such that everyone really agrees with the Führer's 'vision'.

    'Dictatorship' tries to sweep difficulties under the carpet, and dissent is regarded as 'false consciousness' or 'treason'. Distraction and fear serves the purposes of dictators, oligarchs and despots.

    Dictators act as if there is no problem, that everyone acts and feels the same, as the dictatorship dictates. A dictator expects the people concerned to act as a herd, following his/her orders.

    Alternatively, socialism tries to rule by setting up false dichotomies such as between capitalists and 'workers' (zero sum).

  24. The nation (a herd) has only one interest or purpose, and the dictator is the perfect expression of that will. (Similar processes can be seen in corporations and families.)
    Dissent is treason.

  25. Much of UK democracy is built on conflict resolution, that is pragmatism, and on 'adversarial' legal and parliamentary processes, whereas the French legal system tends to be 'investigatory' (to find a resolution of a 'problem').

    Thus the framing tends to predispose the political approaches, whereas there may well be no, or very little, reality difference between the events being discussed or resolved. Also, there may be no happy resolution for all in a group of actors.

  26.  nation and religion 
  27. There is a very great disjoint between what most humans say and what they do.

  28. Most humans are conditioned from very young to parrot phrases which accord with the preferred views of the society in which they are brought up.

  29. Most humans never escape into thinking about the formulations they have internalised.

  30. Most think they believe, or believe they think the formulations. That is, they do not attend to the real world.

  31. Those believing they 'belong' to a given nation or religion have captive minds.

  32. Others are ignorant, or unenlightened, or unlucky, or brainwashed.

  33. Central capture of more energy forms space for more people.

  34. Countries and religions are in competition and enter wars.

  35. Those who breed less will be replaced by those who who breed more.

  36. Groups try to out breed each other (with mothers' medals, or edicts to increase and multiply).

  37. Chimpanzees do likewise, including waging war (see Jane Goodall).

  38. All this is very good for evolution, but it can be pestiferous to man.

  39. All governments behave in this way - dictatorships more so. The Jews of the Soviet Union is a good survey of this behaviour and the multiple pressures put upon the citizen as the high priests of socialism tried to expunge all competing religions and languages.

  40. An unformed child, raised in National Socialist Germany, is likely to grow up to be a National Socialist, while the child brought up in Utah may well become a convinced Mormon.

    Societies tend to tell their children, and each other, that nobody but an idiot could possibly think in any other way.

  41. Universals are the underpinning of mental laziness and incompetence.

  42. The beliefs of other people, however irrational, are the reality in which citizens live, even, should they understand that some or many of the group beliefs are nonsense.

    It has often been very dangerous to dissent.

  43. A uniform society reduces ethnic quarrelling - it also removes options for the individual. That removes, or lessens, creativity from society, making that society less flexible.

  44. Cutting down the tall poppies

    Periander was, to begin with, milder than his father, but after he had held converse by messenger with Thrasybulus the tyrant of Miletus, he became much more bloodthirsty than Cypselus [his father].

    He had sent a herald to Thrasybulus and inquired in what way he would best and most safely govern his city. Thrasybulus led the man who had come from Periander outside the town, and entered into a sown field. As he walked through the corn, continually asking why the messenger had come to him from Corinth, he kept cutting off all the tallest ears of wheat which he could see, and throwing them away, until he had destroyed the best and richest part of the crop.

    Then, after passing through the place and speaking no word of counsel, he sent the herald away. When the herald returned to Corinth, Periander desired to hear what counsel he brought, but the man said that Thrasybulus had given him none. The herald added that it was a strange man to whom he had been sent, a madman and a destroyer of his own possessions, telling Periander what he had seen Thrasybulus do.

    Periander, however, understood what had been done, and perceived that Thrasybulus had counselled him to slay those of his townsmen who were outstanding in influence or ability; with that he began to deal with his citizens in an evil manner. Whatever act of slaughter or banishment Cypselus had left undone, that Periander brought to accomplishment.

    [Herodotus, with an English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. The Histories, Book 5, 92-f]

  45. It is much harder to remove a tyrant than stop him gaining power.

    John Philpot Curran [Irish lawyer and statesman, 1750-1817]
    The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.".
    [Speech upon the Right of Election for Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1790]

    Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.[1787]

    Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
    [Reply to the Governor, Pennsylvania Assembly, 11 Nov. 1755]

  46. The objectives of the tyrant have little correspondence to the interests of the able citizen.

  47. Society advances by technology developed by individuals.

  48. Aristotle
    We make war that we may live in peace.

    If you want peace, prepare for war.

  49. Ethics and high social standards are a luxury of wealth. Poor societies often end up with dictators and other forms of banditry.

  50. Humans seek status in order to breed disproportionately. Thus they buy trinkets like cars and tall hats.

  51. The individual makes choices in the maelstrom, or they blow with the winds.

addendum 1 - a dismissal of unsound reasoning in sociology

This addendum is not part of the main argument. In fact, this addendum is a dismissal of unsound reasoning that permeates writings on the so-called science of sociology.

Unfortunately, currently this false reasoning is so widespread that it is necessary to insert this addendum in order to illuminate irrational thinking at the heart of writings about 'sociology'.

Marker at abelard.org

This problem is that the collective has effects, despite it is based on unsound/delusional logic.

There is the choice to co-operate, and there is the coercion to 'co-operate'.

A collective has no personality or volition. An individual does have that potential.

That is - coercive policies can be changed by human actions (will); so can prices and markets.

External physical realities like gravity cannot be changed by human will.

'Society' has room for real and rapid change and flexibility.

That is not the case with gravity.

Treating both areas with similar methods leads to beliefs that "the poor are always with us", and long 'discussions' comparing 'groups' as if those groups were fixed.

Not only are those 'groups' not fixed, even the definitions of the groups are chosen by sociologists (or whatever), the ephemeral groups claimed or suggested often themselves effect the discussion/s.

For instance, 'dyslexic' (as widely used) is not a genuine category. Thus, people discuss a 'problem' or category that is primarily an illusion in their own head/s - not much different from fairies, astrology, or alien abduction. It becomes a matter of garbage in, garbage out.

Other people's delusions are your reality, even when others are crazy.

Look at a creed like socialism, based as it is on assumptions that are complete nonsense, even counter-factual nonsense. Yet tens of millions have died in the name of socialism.

My 'attack' on 'sociology' is quite fundamental. Sociology presents invented (or 'observed', if you prefer) universals as if they were as fixed as physical facts or constants.

Physical facts do not have the 'same' relationship to human freedoms or acts (or lack of them) as have current local social facts.

addendum 2 - with education comes personality change

Much of 'personality' testing rates introversion/extraversion as the most 'important' source trait (by factor analysis). This is normally followed by 'I.Q.'.

I'm increasingly inclined to believe that a prime division is between realism and escapism, sometimes expressed as tough-minded and tender-minded. This is clearly expressed between the Right and Left in modern politics.

I wonder whether these are not inherent expressions of personality, but are instead learned responses.

I wonder whether what used to be expressed as shyness and extroversion are being changed by cultural absorption and by 'education' into rationalization of preferences through the misuse of intelligence (I.Q.)

The Leftists are no longer shy of their incompetences, but noisily proclaim their alleged 'rights'.

Many personality tests are assembled from a large number of questions, and then factor analysed to see which answers tend to go together (that is, 'traits'). The questions are assembled by people calling themselves or psychologists of one form or another and, of course, these people have their own preconceptions, while even these prejudices change over time.

See also Intelligence: misuse and abuse of statistics.


related material on group behaviour, ethics and social interactions

now read
counting beliefs - irrational associations


Smart swarm by Peter Miller (in particular, chapter 2, pp. 33-43, mostly on the work by Thomas Seeley)

Smart swarm by Peter Miller

Avery, 2010, hbk

ISBN-10: 1583333908
ISBN-13: 978-1583333907


Avery Trade, pbk,
reprint 2011

ISBN-10: 1583334289
ISBN-13: 978-1583334287

$10.88 [amazon.com]
£7.19 [amazon.co.uk]

Avery, 2010
Kindle edition


$13.36 [amazon.com]

  On the various ways individuals animals and insects respond in groups.

The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority by Benjamin Pinkus
The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority by Benjamin Pinkus

Cambridge University Press, 1988, hbk

ISBN-10: 0521340780
ISBN-13: 978-0521340786


Cambridge University Press, 1990, pbk

ISBN-10: 0521389267
ISBN-13: 978-0521389266

£41.74 [amazon.co.uk]
$53.84 [amazon.com]

  A survey of of the continual pressure on Jews in the Soviet Union in order to leverage them into giving up their independence of mind and culture.

The scientific analysis of personality by Raymond B. Cattell
The scientific analysis of personality by Raymond B. Cattell

[First published in 1965 by Penguin Books Ltd, 366 pp. + notes]

Transaction Publishers, 2007, pbk
ISBN-10: 0202309150
ISBN-13: 978-0202309156

$39.85 [amazon.com]
£33.76 [amazon.co.uk]

  This typical breakdown for personality factor analysis is taken from The scientific analysis of personality. This book gives a simple and clear introduction. Raymond Cattell also wrote more advanced books on the same subject.
Technical and popular labels for personality factors A to Q4
Low score description Factor . Factor High score description
A– vs A+ Outgoing
( affectothymia)
Less intelligent
(low 'g')
B– vs B+ More intelligent
(high 'g')
(low ego strength)
C– vs C+ Stable
(high ego strength)
(high excitability)
D– vs D+ Calm
(low excitability)
E– vs E+ Assertive
F– vs F+ Happy-go-lucky
(low super-ego)
G– vs G+ Conscientious
(high super-ego)
H– vs H+ Venturesome
I– vs I+ Tender-minded
L– vs L+ Suspicious
l vs M+ Imaginative
N– vs N+ Shrewd
O– vs O+ Apprehensive
Q1 vs Q1+ Experimenting
(group adherence)
Q2 vs Q2+ Self-sufficient
(low integration)
Q3 vs Q3+ Controlled
(high self-concept)
(low ergic tension)
Q4 vs Q4+ Tense
(ergic tension)

end notes

  1. See Chapter 2, pp. 33-43 of Smart Swarm

  2. A zero sum game is a situation where the gain of one party results in a loss to the other party. Most free economic activity results in mutual gains.

  3. central capture of energy
    A photo-voltaic farm captures the sun's energy, which is then used to generate electricity.
    Coal is stored energy from the sun, captured aeons ago. A windmill captures the wind's energy; and a nuclear power station captures energy produced as a result of the controlled nuclear reaction. Again, this energy is is used to generate electricity. Our food is manufactured by plants and animals capturing energy.

    The more energy humans control, the larger the population that can be supported.
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