Tag Archives: Caveman Logic

Boredom: The Epidemic Of The Future?

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Back in August of 2013, a very heinous, very unusual crime made headlines around the world. In Dunkan, Oklahoma, a group of three teenagers allegedly murdered Christopher Lane, an Australian exchange student just out for a jog, in cold blood just because they were bored.

Think about that for a moment. A bunch of teenagers got so bored and were so desperate form stimulation that they resorted to cold-blooded murder just to get their adrenaline flowing. We, as a society, are so used to crimes of passion and desperation. They’re basically the premise of every episode of “CSI” and “Law and Order.”

The fact those shows keep getting renewed show that we have a certain concept of what inspires and propagates crime and deviance. People who commit these crimes usually have some sort of overpowering motivation that overshadows any sense of decency they have. They’re desperate for money, they’re hopelessly in love, or in some cases, they’re pathological psychopaths with fatal flaws in their biology.

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What makes the murder of Christopher Lane so horrifying is that it completely upends that narrative. The killers, in this case, weren’t motivated by revenge, money, or personality disorders. They were just bored.

That is extremely disconcerting because we’ve all felt bored at some point in our lives. There was this one time the power got knocked out at my house for nearly two days and I couldn’t do damn near anything. When it got dark and I had no more light with which to read comics, it got to be damn near agonizing. I never did anything stupid because of it, but this crime should give everyone pause.

The fact that we’re all capable of being exceedingly bored reveals a disturbing possibility. If three bored teenagers are capable of such a heinous act, then are others just as capable? Are we, personally, capable of such horror? Depending on how bored you’ve been in the past, that’s a disturbing question to even think about.

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However, it may become an increasingly relevant question in the future. Usually, when I talk about the future on this blog, I explore the more positive ramifications of our advances in technology. I talk about how this technology will cure infectious disease, enhance our cognitive abilities beyond our caveman limits, and improve our sex lives to amazingly kinky heights.

I know, at times, it sound downright utopian in my vision of the future. By our current standards, wherein we live in a world where 3.7 million children die before their fifth birthday, it certainly seems rosy by comparison. However, I stick my fingers in my ears and start singing John Lennon songs when I contemplate potential problems in that vision. This is one issue that’s easy to overlook, but has major implications.

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At this moment in history, society has a great many distractions in terms of entertainment and productivity. Most people have jobs, of some sort, to keep them busy. The three teenagers who killed Christopher Lee were on summer vacation and had nothing productive to do. It’s hard to know whether a part-time job at a fast food joint would’ve averted a murder, but they would’ve had to find a different excuse.

Whether you’re toiling in the fields of a small farm or running around an office like an episode of “The Office,” we’ve always had some kind of work to keep us, as a species, occupied. For most of human history, we had to work. If we didn’t, then we starved to death. It was that simple.

It’s another rare instance where caveman logic seems to apply equally across time and history. It doesn’t matter whether we’re hunter/gatherers or sweatshop workers putting together barbie dolls. We’re a species that’s wired to work. It may not always be the work we prefer, but we know why it’s necessary on some levels. We need to gather and manage our resources to survive.

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That, however, is where the chink in our boredom-busting armor might start. For most of human history, we’ve always had to work ourselves to the bone to keep our species and our civilization moving. That’s rapidly changing due to trends in automation. Add in the growth of artificial intelligencethe rise of 3D printing, and the possibility of lab-grown food, and suddenly we don’t need millions of people toiling anymore.

Now by most measures, it’s a good thing that we don’t need people to endure back-breaking labor just to get the bare minimum of sustenance. Most people would rather not work in fields of cow shit or work 12-hour shifts in a factory. They’d rather work a reasonable number of hours that provides them abundant leisure and family time. That’s wholly possible in a modern economy.

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However, at some point, technology will make even that reasonable set of hours won’t be necessary. Our ability to make our food, purify our water, and generate power might become so efficient that the amount of work needed is minimal. Given our tendency to screw up on the job, it may get to a point where having human workers is a liability.

It could lead to a huge mass of unemployment or under-employment. However, that wouldn’t mean everyone would have to live in poverty. On the contrary, it may eliminate poverty altogether because we could allocate the basic necessities of life so efficiently. Policies like the universal basic income, which I’ve talked about before, may effectively decouple the link between work and survival.

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This is all well and good for people who hate doing menial jobs for low pay, but it creates a situation that we, as a species, have never dealt with before. What happens to our bodies, minds, and biology when we don’t have to work at all and are subject to the constant threat of boredom?

That’s not entirely a rhetorical question. It’s also one of those questions that’s impossible to answer now, but might be possible to address in the future. We’ve never had a functioning society where nobody has to work and everybody has access to the basics of life, free of charge. It’s so unprecedented that it’s hard to know whether we’re even wired for it.

The ghastly murder of Christopher Lane implies that our minds and bodies don’t react well to boredom. It makes us think crazy thoughts, do crazy things, and act on crazy impulses. What else other than boredom can explain people dedicating so much time and energy into making paperclip chains?

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It doesn’t just reflect to our basic caveman settings. These are essential survival instincts that every species that has ever lived have built into their biology. Every creature, be it a lion or a dung beetle, dedicates a significant amount of its existence simply securing food, avoiding predators, and finding a mate. Given the never-ending competition of nature and evolution, there’s literally no time to be bored.

Humans are in an unprecedented situation compared to other species. We’re basically like players in a massive multi-player video game armed with cheat codes. We are so dominate, so powerful, and so adaptable that no other species has a prayer. Sure, a deer may kill an unlucky human every now and then, but deer are just not able to dominate the way humans dominate.

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The problem is that this undermines the very mechanics of evolution and survival instinct. What happens to a species where it doesn’t need those instincts to survive and reproduce anymore? With our tools and technology, humans can kill any predator and beat any disease.

That means our only concern would be reproduction. That might already be playing out to some extent. There have been some links, albeit weak ones, between adolescent boredom and teen pregnancy. When you think about it from a survival standpoint, it makes sense. If there’s no food to gather or predators to avoid, your next instinct is to mate. At the very least, having kids gives you something to do.

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However, technology may make that unnecessary as well. Between advances in contraception and artificial wombs, even that most basic instinct won’t be necessary for the propagation of our species. In that scenario, sex would have no reproductive purposes. It would just be another thing we do with our bodies when we’re bored. While that might mean more people get laid, it also means risking even more boredom.

Can we, as a species and as individuals, function with that kind of boredom? In a future where we have so few concerns to our survival, safety, and propagation, can we actually tolerate life? Again, it’s not entirely a rhetorical question.

Just imagine yourself in that situation. You wake up in a nice, comfortable dwelling every day. You don’t have to work. Anything you want to eat is readily available. If you want to have sex, there are apps to connect you with people or sex robots that make that as easy as ordering a pizza. You have all the time you want for hobbies, sports, and what not.

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It might be fun at first, but what happens when you get bored? How do you fill every hour of every day? What happens when you’ve read all your books, beat every video game, and collected every stamp? What will you do to entertain yourself?

That’s not to say some people will resort to the lengths that those teenagers in Oklahoma went to when they murdered an innocent man. However, the fact that this happened today when we’re still a long way from that rosy future is telling. It might even be a warning that we’re not prepared for the boredom pandemic to come.

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How To Manage Your Excuse Bank (Within Reason)

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When I did my first post on reasons versus excuses, I challenged readers to take a closer look at their actions and decisions. Why did they end up doing what they did? Was there a reason for it? Was that reason actually an excuse? Did that reason or excuse end with you getting laid, fired, or slapped in the face?

Given how many actions and decisions unfold on a day-to-day basis in the massive doughnut shop that is life, it’s hard to make sense of them all. I’m sure those without OCD or a personality disorder was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of reasons and excuses they came up with for their behaviors. Don’t worry and put down the vodka. That’s entirely normal.

We’re all human. We’re all bound to make bad decisions or bad reasons and/or lousy excuses. That’s part of life. The key is learning from those bad decisions and improving the skills that help us better our loves, help those around us, and even get us laid from time to time. Since I’m an erotica/romance writer, that last one was worth adding.

It’s also worth offering whatever help I can to others in developing those skills. Again, I need to remind everyone that I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m not a scientist, a therapist, a psychologist, or doctor. I may write about people in those occupations getting involved in sexy situations, but I’m not at all qualified to offer the kind of substantive advice, complete with technical charts and an hourly bill.

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However, in dealing with plenty of colorful personalities throughout my life and writing various personalities in my novels, I do feel like I can at least offer some insight that can help people use my colorful ramblings in pragmatic ways. I can’t guarantee they’ll work, get you laid, or make you rich. This is just me trying to make my words both sexy and useful.

In discussing reasons versus excuses, I brought up the concept of excuse banking. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s the process of acting, believing, and learning in a way that effectively pockets an excuse to use to justify decisions later on. Since our brains are wired to decide first and then justify those decisions, excuse banking is very much a pragmatic manifestation of our collective psyche.

It’s not inherently good or bad. It can certainly get pretty darn bad, as I pointed out when I tied excessive excuse banking to political and religious extremism. Most people, though, don’t operate in extremes and if they do, it’s usually out of fear and survival, which are among the most valid reasons we can have for doing something. For the purposes of providing useful advice in excuse banking, I’d like to focus on the good.

In that spirit, I’d like to offer a quick rundown of tips and tricks for managing your excuse bank effectively. We’re all going to make excuses at some point. We’re all going to bank those excuses in some form or another. We might as well figure out how to do it in a way that improves our lives and gets us laid.


Tip #1: Maintain A Balance, But Avoid Hoarding

Like any useful bank account or credit card, it’s important to maintain a balance. You always want to have some reserves, just in case it’s an emergency and you need a valid excuse to explain why your pants are in the refrigerator. You don’t want to be stuck relying on reasons that may or may not apply. That’s just going to make you look stupid, incompetent, and decidedly unsexy.

Unlike a traditional bank account, though, you don’t want to let your excuse bank get too bloated. That’s because excuses aren’t hard assets. They’re intangible, malleable, and much easier to abuse. You may be able to use a dollar bill to snort a line of blow, but with an big enough excuse you can justify snorting blow off a stripper’s tits.

That’s why you should not hoard your excuses the same way I hoard comic books. As I noted in my post on extremism, having too many excuses that are too malleable creates all sorts of nasty temptations. Having those excuses is like having a loaded AK-47 in a traffic jam. Even if you can resist the temptation, the potential is still there and the danger of that potential can be pretty vast. Just ask any experienced traffic cop.


Tip #2: Invest With Other Peoples Whenever Possible

This part of excuse banking also highlights one of the key differences from other types of banking. In a sense, excuse banking is almost always a joint effort. It’s not enough to just have an excuse. You also need other people to believe them in order for them to be useful.

An excuse with a random stranger and an excuse with a close family member is not going to have the same value. At the same time, an excuse you bank on your own isn’t going to be as valuable as one you bank with other people. Human beings are very social creatures. When you forge close social bonds, be they with family or lovers, your excuses carry more weight and so do those of others.

In a sense, it’s a win-win investment. By banking excuses within a social group, you develop a sense of trust and understanding. That makes deposits and withdraws from your bank easier and less likely to blow up in your face. Just watch any Ben Stiller movie to see why that’s so important.


Tip #3: Know Which Investments Grow And Which Are Toxic

It’s true. Excuse banking sometimes deals in toxic assets. I’m not just talking about bad mortgages or too much stock in Enron either. When your excuse bank has toxic assets in it, you’re in big trouble.

A toxic asset in an excuse bank is often one we don’t realize is toxic. Sometimes, we even refuse to realize it. That’s what often happens with dictators, religious zealots, and child actors. Their excuse bank is so full of toxic assets that they don’t know how bad their excuses are and if someone tries to tell them, they don’t listen. That often leads to the kind of tragic self-destruction that becomes an A&E documentary.

That’s why it’s so important to identify these toxic assets before they poison you. Those assets will undermine your ability to work with others and gain their trust, two things everybody needs to survive in a functioning society. So how do you know if an asset is really toxic? Just follow these simple steps:

  • Step One: Ask yourself, “Would this excuse allow me to punch someone in the face and make them apologize for hurting my hand?”
  • Step Two: If you answered yes to the following question, then the excuse is toxic.

Tip #4: Understand An Investment’s Potential, But Don’t Ignore The Risks

Like any investment, there are risks and rewards that you have to weigh. Sometimes the risks are minimal. When you fake sick just a couple times and don’t announce to the world on FaceBook that you’re running a marathon, the risks are pretty minimal. Those risks escalate when you let them pile up, so much so that your girlfriend won’t believe you when you say you need to perform brain surgery on the President.

This is especially important for anyone in a position in power, be they the despot of a country or a manager at Walmart. Having power offers a lot of potential because it creates both excuses and reasons for people to do what you tell them. However, the risks are much greater, especially if you want to use that power competently.

It’s easy to lose yourself in power. Anyone who used cheat codes in old Mario games understands that. That’s what makes it so dangerous because it prompts us to ignore the risks. When we do that, we’re less likely to realize when our excuses become toxic. People don’t trust us and look for ways to get us out of the way. No matter how much power you have, you won’t be able to use it effectively if your excuses are toxic.


Tip #5: Avoid Banking Excuses As A Means To Improve Past Investments

This tip is directly tied to a little something called the sunk cost fallacy. Anyone who has ever had a gambling problem or knows someone who would bet their shirt at a blackjack table knows it well. It’s this annoying quirk in our psyche that compels us to keep throwing resources into a game we’ve already lost to justify past investments.

In a sense, it’s an excuse to justify stupid risks that didn’t pay off. It’s a way to alleviate the mental stress of knowing just how badly we’ve lost. In the context of excuse banking, it applies to more than just a bad run of luck at a casino.

Like trying to win back what you’ve lost, banking excuses to improve toxic assets rarely works out. When an excuse has become toxic, it usually stays that way. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Even if the wolf does come once in a while, there isn’t much you can do to improve the utility of the excuse.

Excuses, like fresh fruit, can perish quickly. They can be finite and applicable only to specific circumstances. Once those circumstances pass, trying to cling to those excuses is like trying to make spoiled milk taste good. It just can’t be done.


Tip #6: Long Term Investments Usually Pay More Than Short Term Investments

This is where we kind of have to battle our inner caveman here. As I’ve covered before, caveman logic compels us to think primarily in the short-term. We prioritize the potential for avoiding tigers and mating with fertile partners. Those short-term investments worked well in the caveman days, but they work less well in more complex societies.

The key purpose of excuse banking is to ensure you can justify your decisions to others. If you can’t do that, then other people aren’t going to trust you, work with you, or want to have sex with you. Now there’s a time and place for short-term investments, but they’re usually very specific and rare.

Long-term excuse banking involves crafting excuses that build trust and understanding with others. Ideally, they have some amount of reason to support them, if only in part. Bank enough long-term excuses and you’ll find people who are eager to work with you, ready to trust you, and eager to take their clothes off with you.

That kind of investment usually takes a lot more time and effort, but the payoffs can be pretty damn awesome.


These are just a few tips to start out. If I come up with others or learn from someone else, I’ll share them in another post or list. If anyone else has investment advice in the world of excuse banking, please share it.

Excuses may be one of the most important investments we can make. It’s one of the few currencies that is valid in every country, culture, and society. Sure, we can’t use them to tip strippers, but they’ll help us in negotiating our lap dance.

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Reasons Vs. Excuses: Why The Difference Matters

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Has anyone ever asked you to do something you really don’t want to do? Actually, let me rephrase that. How many times does someone ask you to do something you don’t want to do in the past 24 hours? Let’s face it. Unless you’re a king, a dictator, or Taylor Swift, it’s happened at least once.

Whatever was asked of you, how did you try to get out of it? I know some people will just grit their teeth and do it. Those people deserve ten times the respect they get. Every now and then, if not most of the time, we try to do something to get out of doing what we don’t want to do. Whether you’re in New York City or the Gobi desert, you can’t escape these situations. They’re just part of life.

Whenever we’re in these situations, we usually try any number of things to get out of it. Whether it’s chores, homework, or ballet recitals, we all have our own set of tactics. Some are more elaborate than others.

I knew a kid in school who could throw up on demand. He didn’t even have to put his finger in his mouth. He could just concentrate, cough, and then spew the kind of chunky bile that would dissuade any teacher from giving him an exam. I lost count of how many times that skill got him out of trouble.

Most of us don’t have that talent though. We all still look for ways to get out of things we don’t want to do. I sure have. I don’t deny that. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either. It’s a good skill to have, knowing how to avoid situations that make you miserable. However, it does reveal an important concept that I find myself noticing more and more as I get older, although sometimes I wish I didn’t.

It has to do with two simple words: reasons and excuses. They both have similar definitions. Most of the time, outside of a scientific context, we use these words interchangeably. For the most part, we understand the meaning behind them.

However, for the purpose of this discussion, as well as future discussions since this is a big topic, I’d like to focus on a particular context. Specifically, I’d like to focus on the situations and justifications we individually use to do or avoid doing something. Make no mistake. There is a difference between a reason and an excuse.

A reason is logical, narrow, and concise. It can be understood by anyone with a functioning brain and verified with simple tools. That’s not to say a reason has to be cold and callous like a Vulcan. It just has to be valid and clear.

I’ll offer a simple example. Growing up, there were a certain set of chores for which me and my siblings were responsible. If we didn’t do these chores, we didn’t get an allowance. It was that simple. The one chore I did most often was mowing the lawn. I didn’t enjoy doing it, but I still did it.

Then, one day, I got sick. I’m not talking about a headache either. I mean I got really sick, so much so that I ran a 102-degree fever. I know because my mother took my temperature twice. I was then bed-ridden for the next two days. Somebody else mowed the lawn, but I still got my allowance because I had a valid reason. My parents understood that. I understood that. There was no need for debate.

Using this same example in lawn care, I’ll highlight why an excuse is so different. If I wanted to use an excuse to get out of mowing the lawn, I sure as hell wouldn’t have chosen something that could be verified. Sure, I could’ve claimed to be sick, but that would’ve been pushing it because they could check. They could take your temperature and see if you’re running a fever.

On top of that, your parents may be really good at knowing when you’re lying. Mine certainly were. It might as well have been their mutant power. They knew when I was lying and if I ever tried, I’d just make an ass of myself.

Plus, lying to your parents isn’t just a dick move. It’s a bad long-term investment. If you lose your parents trust, especially over something as trivial as mowing the lawn, then you’ll give them way too many valid reasons not to trust you in the future, even when you have a good reason of your own.

So in order to make a more valid excuse, you need to come up with something more believable. It doesn’t have to be a lie. It doesn’t have to be completely true either. You could claim you’re depressed that your lover broke up with you. You could say there’s a movie you’d rather watch instead. You could say you just don’t feel like it. These aren’t lies. However, they are still excuses.

The primary trait of an excuse is that it doesn’t physically prevent you from doing whatever is asked of you. It defends and/or justifies your particular decisions, preferences, and what not. Being on vacation in Fiji ensures I can’t physically mow the lawn. That’s a reason. Being in a lousy mood and just wanting to sleep in does nothing to prevent me from operating the lawnmower. That’s an excuse.

With that in mind, let’s take the concept of reasons and excuses to a larger stage. Let’s assess how this applies to the overall process we use in rendering the various decisions and actions of our lives. What we do and why we do it is at the core of what it means to be a conscious human being.

For practical purposes, we like to think that we’re reasonable people. We like to think that we have valid reasons for what we do and why we do it. We break up with a lover because they’re not right for us. We buy organic food because it’s better for our health. We smoke pot because it makes us more fun to be around. Some of that may be true, but we still think of them as reasons and not excuses.

The problem with this is basically everything about it. Once again, caveman logic enters the picture and spits all over that rosy picture we have of ourselves and others. Based on our growing understanding of cognitive science and neurobiology, we have a better idea of how we make decisions and how we justify them.

When it comes to reasons and excuses, the two main factors are choice-supportive bias and cognitive dissonance. I know those sound like terms that Sheldon Cooper would use in a skit on “The Big Bang Theory” that somehow makes him sound like more of an asshole, but unlike 98 percent of what Sheldon says, these concepts are useful.

Choice-supportive bias is our tendency to ascribe positive attributes to the choices we make. It’s also a byproduct of cognitive dissonance, which is just a fancy way of saying our brain feels stressful and uncertain.

In essence, our brain is wired to avoid wrong decisions and for good reasons. Back in the caveman days, if we made a wrong decision, it usually meant we ended up as dinner for a hungry grizzly bear or ate poison berries that made us shit out our lower intestines. We’re alive because of this wiring so let’s not discount its use.

Unfortunately, nature is still a blunt instrument and our brains don’t know we only encounter bears in zoos that charge ten bucks for a soda. That aversion to making wrong decisions is still there, even when we decide something as simple as which breakfast cereal to buy.

With that in mind, we’ll do anything and everything to avoid wrong decisions and the brain stress they cause. Unfortunately, that often means making excuses to reduce the stress and justify our choice, even if it ends up being wrong.

If that weren’t bad enough, our brains don’t run our decisions through a logic filters first. Don’t worry though. That filter is still there in our brains. It’s just not at the front of the line like we all wish it were. If it were, then half the videos on YouTube wouldn’t exist.

Instead, according to current neuroscience, we make most of our decisions on snap judgments and emotions. Then, we’ll use reasons and excuses to justify those decisions after the fact. Unfortunately, since reasons are so rigid and stubborn, we’re more inclined to make excuses. Even if those excuses are mostly true, they’re still excuses.

There are so many other dynamics behind reasons and excuses. There’s no way I’ll be able to cover even half of them in a single blog post. However, there is a reason why I’m discussing this topic and it’s a good reason. It’s applies to both my novels, as well as other topics with very sexy implications.

That reason will become clearer in later posts. For now, consider this a trailer of sorts, minus the cheesy one-liners and explosions. If possible, take a moment to analyze how many excuses you make for your decisions compared to reasons. You may be shocked/appalled/disgusted by what you uncover. I promise you, though, it gets much crazier.

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