Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Now this is a thing that makes you go hmmm. And when I go hmmm, like anyone else, I’m thinking back on personal experience…and I must say, the findings make a lot of sense to me.
In Hollywood lore, the lone cowboy tamed the Wild West with two six-guns by day and drank warm beer with both fists in dusty saloons at night.
That stereotype of the rugged individualist who enjoys tipping back a few might not be so off the mark, according to a newly published study by marketing professors at the University of Texas at San Antonio. They found that places where individualism is valued over the collective good also tend to be places where a lot of beer is consumed.
I like reading about these studies that dabble in individualism versus collectivism, because they’re written up by eggheads and journalists — both of which tend to lean heavily toward the “collectivist” end of the spectrum. It’s interesting to me when they try to take a centrist approach, and their colors just shine through.
In this case, there is a theme permeating the column from top to bottom, that this correlation is taking place on a layer of thinking that was the subject of Pavlov’s experiment with the pups. Ring bell…dog starts slobbering. Mention individualism…people get thirsty for beer.
Problem: People don’t mention individualism that much.
I’m probably in a position to comment because I’m the guy they’re trying to study. Anyone who’s been reading the pages of this blog for awhile (which, of course, nobody actually reads) knows we tend to see very few linkages between collectivism and anything good. We see individuality as the source of everything we have that’s worth having — because it is.
And we like beer. Here.
So what’s it look like to me? It’s a stigma. When you’re a true individualist you have to be left behind by quite a few things. First, of course, there are the true-blue collectivists, and you don’t fit in with them because you don’t see life the same way. Then there are the goths. And other rebels who try to be individualists, but they’re more concerned with what others think than they want to admit — so you end up having very little in common with them, either. And then there are the socially inept, the mentally incapacitated, the narcissists, the…well, I’m pretty much recounting middle- and high-school here, aren’t I. Nerds, jocks and smoke-holers. That’s life.
The point is, by the time the individual has been rejected by every collective there is, there’s no one left around except those who are distracted from these social issues. We don’t try to be individualists. We grew up being distracted from all this stuff, while we were fiddling with things. Tinker toys, erector sets, computer programs…that cool slider thing I made out of Dad’s rope and Mom’s clothesline poles, on which I could very well have busted my back, and I’ve often wondered how that didn’t come to pass.
We’re the builders.
And when we’re done building stuff, we just want a nice cold bottle of beer, dammit.
Contrasted with that, collectivists have an identity to worry about, and the identity is externalized from them in that it’s decided by a prevailing consensus within their group. They can get thrown out. Therefore, there’s a stigma — beer happens to be the first and easiest thing to stigmatize. That’s my explanation. And the column seems to veer close to this realization, almost tumbling into it, but then beating a hasty retreat:
“The definition of an individualist is that we act on our attitudes, we be ourselves,” [L.J.] Shrum [, marketing department chairman at UTSA] said. “Whereas in collectivist societies that’s more frowned upon, and you want to make sure you reflect on the good of the group.”
I’ll bet if you could live in one collectivist society after another, for millions of years, watching ’em rise and fall, you’d see the sequence is consistent. Stigmatize skin color, then right after that stigmatize the things people stick in their cakeholes — alcoholic beverages, hard drugs and tobacco. We start off with the visible things, you see. And then bloodlines…starting with the issue of disposable income in your family tree, and how it affects the way you dress. Again, what’s visible. Thoughts and ideas come soon afterward, at which time skin color is un-stigmatized, but all the other visible stigmas remain.
The researchers also found they could take a group of college students and manipulate those individualist-versus-collectivist impulses a bit, which in turn influenced how thirsty those students were for beer.
The researchers first compared per-capita beer consumption with a well-known set of national scores for individualism and collectivism developed by Dutch marketing researcher Geert Hofstede.
“Our standard cowboy image is the prototypical individualist. However, Hispanic cultures, Latin American cultures, many Eastern European cultures, are very collectivistic,” he said, adding that those who make the move to the U.S. may be the more individualistic members of their cultures.
But the real picture is even more complex, Shrum said. All people have some degree of both individualism and collectivism, with one side more dominant. And by getting people to focus on themselves or their families and friends, psychologists can bring either trait to the surface.
And that’s what Zhang and Shrum did with 128 undergraduate business students (all of legal drinking age). When they temporarily induced the students to become individualists, they became thirstier for beer. Collectivists became less so.
There’s a glaring hole in this research, and I think the researchers missed it because they were more sympathetic to the collective mindset than they should’ve been.
You see, the collectivist becomes agitated toward the individualist when the collectivist gets the idea that somewhere, beyond the immediate line-of-sight, someone might be behaving individually. Then they crack down with their “convert or die!” sermonizing upon that renegade individual. They accuse him of being a rebel, of actively figuring out what everybody else is doing and then laboring toward the opposite — even though the evidence says the individualist just doesn’t care, because that’s what an individualist is.
Does the individualist get all cranky and lay the smack down upon the collectivist, when he finds out someone’s behaving collectively?
He just wants to be left alone.
To drink his damn beer.
He gets all cranky when someone breaks down the door and barges into his living room, to take that beer away.
Another thing I notice, is they left out ancient Egypt which is commonly thought to have come up with the first thing that could’ve been called “beer.” Yeah, ancient Egypt which came up with so much cool stuff that there are all these theories rattling around they were visited by aliens from other worlds. Oh yeah, collectivist hoards built those pyramids by shoving enormous slabs up the inclines, lots of collectivist labor involved in that. But someone had to design it first. We’re not too captivated by the idea of 400 guys lifting or moving something one guy could not; it’s simple math, really. What fascinates us about that civilization is how the designing got done.
Well whoever did it, after he came up with something he knew would work, probably the first thing he did was sit back and have a beer.
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