Tag Archives: Cavemen Logic

Weird Taboos (And Why They Exist)

When it comes to taboos, we love to laugh at the crazy practices of the past while ignoring the equally-crazy ones in the present. We look at how ancient people used to sacrifice goats, sheep, and parts of their genitals and laugh and/or cringe. Then, we go back to wearing our lucky underwear because we think it’ll help our favorite football team win.

The failure to see the irony in that sentiment reveals the power of taboos. I’ve talked about them before, but usually in a narrower context. Being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’m naturally going to focus on the distinctly sexy taboos, as well as the overtly non-sexy ones. I doubt that surprises anyone.

However, taboos actually get much more ridiculous than what we can or can’t do with our genitals. You don’t even have to go back to the Bronze Age to see them. Some of those taboos happened within the past two centuries. Some of our grandparents were alive when they were popular. It’s kind off funny when you think about it, but it’s also kind of tragic.

Recently, our old friends at Cracked.com did a little article on some of the weird/crazy taboos we had in the past. They called it “15 Everyday Things That Used To Be Scandalous.” Today, they seem so innocent. Back then, though, they were a big deal. Breaking them meant social stigma, condemnation, or even arrest. These days, most people are just concerned about becoming an internet meme.

Make no mistake, though. A lot of these taboos are pretty ridiculous, even by non-21st century standards. There’s a damn good reason why they didn’t last or fell out of favor. We humans may be slow when it comes to embracing social change, but we eventually get around to it. It’s just never as fast as we’d like.

To give you an idea of how ridiculous those taboos were, here’s a quick sample from the Cracked article. Remember, they may seem crazy now, but there was a time when simply talking about it would earn you unwanted attention from the nearest constable, priest, or parent/teacher association.

Entry 15

Entry 14

Entry 12

Entry 7

Entry 6

Entry 1

I know. They are pretty ridiculous. I mean soda pop and reading at night? How could that possibly count as taboo? You can kind of understand why people would be a little reluctant about women in bikinis, especially in the days before internet porn, but soda pop?

Ridiculous or not, there are a few common themes in these taboos. If you go back far enough and look at some of the most overt taboos, you’ll notice how a lot of them deal with female sexuality, rebellious teenagers, and empowering poor people in any way. I know that all sound like stuff that angry rich old men whine about when they haven’t taken their meds, but it actually runs much deeper than that.

Taboos don’t happen in a vacuum. People don’t just make them up because they want another excuse to be a dick to each other. We already have plenty of those. There are reasons they often take the shape they do. It’s rarely due to some grand, patriarchal/communist/hippie conspiracy. A lot of it just has to do with people being weary of things they don’t see as “normal.”

I put “normal” in quotes because the very concept of “normal,” even in a legitimate scientific context, is laced with bullshit. However, there is something to be said about the unspoken social norms under which we all live. Those norms, as crazy as they might be, are an integral part of how we function as a society and a species. The fact those norms tend to screw up our sex lives is kind of a nasty side-effect.

The way it works uses a mix of both caveman logic, faulty brain writing, and skewed common sense. We, as individuals and as groups, tend to function better when there’s a sense of predictability. If we can be more certain of how people will react in certain circumstances, then that can help us create a system, of sorts, to carry out the various functions of a tribe or a society.

Think about it. The systems we have for standing in line, driving on the highway, and complimenting someone’s ass all have certain checklists of sorts that we go through in our minds. Not all of them are enforced by laws. Some aren’t even enforced by anything. It’s just one of those basic understandings that we all collectively acknowledge, albeit indirectly.

Here’s a simple example. When I was going through the soul-crushing process that was high school, there was this unspoken taboo on the bus. When you got on, you never just sat in the front seat. You always went to the back and filled it up from there. If you did dare sit up front, you got weird looks, as though you’d just rubbed your ass on the window. Nobody ever talked about why we did this. We just did it.

That’s a fairly simple display of how unspoken social norms manifest. Considering it happened in high school, it wasn’t even the tenth most awkward thing I endured. However, it does help put some perspective into these ridiculous taboos.

Now, take that perspective and add a little sex appeal to it. Suddenly, you’ll sense a few assholes tightening. There’s no getting around it. Even in 2017, we still have weird attitudes towards sex, especially when it comes to female sexuality and teenage sex. We have almost as many weird attitudes about the poor. As such, it makes sense that so many of our taboos are built around both.

To understand the ridiculousness behind those taboos, you have to imagine yourself in a society that’s very different from your own and operates under a very different set of social norms. That’s not easy for some people. Being an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I like to think I have more imagination than most.

You’re living by a certain set of norms and practices. They don’t always seem logical. Maybe you never wear red clothes on a Friday. Maybe you salute every pregnant woman you meet in public. Maybe you shave your ass every other Tuesday as part of some elaborate cleansing ceremony. It can be anything really. The key is that it just doesn’t have to be too detrimental to our ability to survive and reproduce.

By living with these norms and practices, they start seeming right. They seem like this is how society is supposed to function. Anyone who questions them might as well be promoting dead puppies on every street corner. You, and everyone around you, are convinced that these taboos have merit, even when they have no logic behind them.

That sentiment is understandable to some extent, but it’s when you inject sex and social class into the mix that it gets really messed up. As I’ve pointed out before, people have all sorts of weird hang-ups and attitudes about sex. Some of them have some merit, such as the real health issues that often come with sexual promiscuity. Others are more subversive.

The key to any successful society is some measure of stability. To have stability, you need some level of control over various social functions. Like it or not, sex is a major social function. Without it, societies can’t propagate. New generations can’t take over for those that die off. Naturally, people are going to put a lot of emphasis on it, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.

This is why you get societies where most marriages are arranged and marrying for love is actually taboo. It’s also why controlling female sexuality is so heavily emphasized. They’re the ones who carry the babies inside them. They’re the ones who nurture them after their born. Since sex makes babies, people are going to want to control it to some extent, as fruitless an effort that might be.

It’s just as bad for the poor. In every society thus far, there has to be some sort of underclass that toils in factories, farms, and various low-paying, low-skilled labor. I say there has to be because, until we can get robots to do it for us, their work is literally the foundation on which civilization is built.

That puts the rich despots, kings, and business people in a tough position. They understand on some levels that if the poor knew how much they were being screwed over and how their toil subsidized the obscenely lavish lifestyles of the rich, they wouldn’t be too happy about it.

That’s why having taboos that discourage laziness, education, and questioning persist. That’s why there’s an entirely mythology around the “dignity of work.” They’re an indirect way of maintaining existing social norms and protecting whoever happens to be benefiting from them from the horrors of inconvenience.

Not every taboo can be attributed to repressing sexuality or keeping the poor in their place, but the dynamics are the same. They have just as much potential to be ridiculous, illogical, and even downright cruel, as many boys can attest. So long as our caveman brains keep using them to preserve our social norms, they’ll always be here. I just hope we can one day ditch those that involve mutilating our genitals.

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Logical Fallacies And How They Mess With Your Caveman Brain

I like to think this blog offers something useful other than announcements on books from a no-name aspiring erotica/romance writer. I want to both entertain and enlighten with my writing. If I can also titillate and arouse, then that’s a nice bonus. I’d like to enhance that bonus down the line, but for now I’m willing to be flexible.

Since I started this blog, I’ve talked about numerous topics. I’ve touched on controversial issues like unfair divorce laws, body shaming, and misogyny in modern society. I’ve also touched on lighter, less serious issues like sex-positive superheroes, terrible love triangles, and the joys of sleeping naked. For the record, I still sleep naked and I don’t intend to stop.

Through many of my twisted, and sometimes perverse thoughts, I use a common phrase. That phrase is “caveman logic.” It’s something I may want to copyright or trademark because I find myself applying more and more of it to various issues, be they exceedingly serious of overtly juvenile. It’s not intentional. It’s just that it works so damn well in making sense of the craziness in this world.

I’ve started contemplating a new idea, one that would be a major departure from my typical romance/erotica aspirations. I’m thinking of writing a non-fiction book to flesh out the concept of caveman logic. It’s an intriguing thought. What else could I apply to? Politics? Economics? Religion? More overly sexy issues to explain the insane sexual landscape of this crazy world? I think you all know which one I’m leaning towards.

As I contemplate this idea, it’s worth exploring more of the finer details of how caveman logic works and how it affects us. It’s important to understand because if we can at least acknowledge the mechanisms of our craziness, then we can at least appreciate it in the right context.

Make no mistake. Context does matter. People aren’t going to stop doing crazy stupid shit. We’re a species that obsesses over cat videos, hashtags, and the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass. We’re not a logical species. We can’t expect ourselves to make logical choices in religion, government, popular culture, and sex. I’ve already covered some of the sexy parts of this illogical nature. There’s still plenty more to cover.

The main crux of caveman logic is that human beings are not wired, be it by nature or whatever magical deity you think made us, to be logical. Our biological programming, from our brains to our body chemistry, is wired for two things: survival and reproduction.

Whether it’s by nature or by deity, it makes sense in that’s exceedingly pragmatic. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. If you can’t survive long enough to get laid, your species is screwed. This is why jocks and their meathead kids still dominate in the halls of public schools today. It’s why they’ll likely keep dominating, no matter how many shitty teen movies Hollywood makes.

In the context of caveman logic, it’s important to understand that the traits that aided our survival and ability to bone emerged in the African savanna. Biologically, our bodies are adapted to an environment that allows small tribes of humans to hunt, gather, and farm food. There’s nothing in our DNA that equips us to deal with smartphones that can download unlimited amounts of free porn.

Civilization, despite its many glories, doesn’t always do a good job of complementing or supplementing our caveman brains and bodies. Nature is, by and large, a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. It can’t tweak and fine-tune itself for us as we would like.

As a result, civilization and the complexities of the universe tend to screw us over. When the situation before us doesn’t involve survival and reproduction, humans tend to do a sub-par job of making use of it. This often reveals the faulty programming of our caveman brains. It’s the reason why we do things like mutilate our genitals or overly repress our basic desires.

This faulty wiring can manifest in very specific ways. Some call them logical fallacies. I just call them bugs in human software that nature is not going to fix as soon as we’d like. Evolution and adaptation are painfully slow. Societal progress is painfully slow. There are still countries that practice slavery for crying out loud.

That’s not to say we make no progress. Indoor plumbing, smartphones, and bacon flavored lube are all testaments to just how far we’ve come as a society. However, the bugs are still there. The flaws in our biological program still fuck with us every day.

Just how much do they fuck with us? Well, the fine folks at Cracked.com once again provide a valuable service by highlighting some of those kinks in our programming and they do it in a way that’s funny. For that, I thank them and share with you just how bad those kinks are. If you’re scared, worried, or depressed afterwards, I recommend getting some bacon-flavored lube. That’ll make your day better in some way or another.

Cracked: 5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Way More Wrong Than You Think

Five: We’re Not Programmed to Seek “Truth,” We’re Programmed to “Win”

Go on any message board or talk politics with anyone who voted for George W. Bush twice. You’ll see just how deep this bug in our system runs.

It’s called the argumentative theory of reasoning, and it says that humans didn’t learn to ask questions and offer answers in order to find universal truths. We did it as a way to gain authority over others. That’s right — they think that reason itself evolved to help us bully people into getting what we want.

It helped us get laid and get food. That’s all evolution needs.

Four: Our Brains Don’t Understand Probability

Anyone who plays lotto is proof of this. For the record, I play lotto. Yeah. I’m part of the problem here.

It’s called neglect of probability. Our brains are great for doing a lot of things. Calculating probability is not one of them. That flaw colors every argument you’ve ever had, from the tax code down to that time your friend totally cheated you in a coin-flip.

Again, think back to the African savanna. Overestimating the probability that there’s a giant bear hiding under a rock may be stupid, but it decreases your chances of being eaten by a bear. That’s good enough for nature.

Three: We Think Everyone’s Out to Get Us

It’s not just bear attacks we like to overestimate. Remember, survival is a blunt instrument. You’re not going to do brain surgery with a sludge hammer and avoid collateral damage. So of course you’re go a little overboard when assessing threats. Again, you’re less likely to be eaten by a bear and that’s still good enough for nature.

Think about all the people you’ve disagreed with this month. How many of them do you think were being intentionally dishonest? Experts say you’re almost definitely overshooting the truth. It’s called the trust gap, and scientist see it crop up every time one human is asked to estimate how trustworthy another one is.

So can we trust ourselves? To an extent, we can. Let’s just be careful about that extent.

Two: We’re Hard-Wired to Have a Double Standard

I’ve talked about double standards before. There’s no logic to them, but remember. Nature doesn’t give a shit about logic and nor do our caveman brains. It sucks, but it helps us survive and get laid. That’s good enough.

It’s called the fundamental attribution error. It’s a universal thought process that says when other people screw up, it’s because they’re stupid or evil. But when we screw up, it’s totally circumstantial. Like if you notice a coworker showing up to work high on mescaline, it’s because he’s an out-of-control peyote hound. But if you show up at work high on mescaline, it’s because you had a flat tire and you needed the distraction.

So the next time you hear an athlete meltdown at the end of a post-game show, you know why he or she makes excuses. They still have to pull them out of their ass, but that’s our brain’s default setting.

One: Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Go to any message board that talks politics and try to convince someone to change their mind. After you’ve punched your computer screen enough times, you should have sufficient proof that this is real.

Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment, and the theory that people figured out how to build arguments as a form of verbal bullying rather than a method of spreading correct information. That means that there are actually two reasons somebody might be arguing with you: because they actually want to get you to think the right thing, and because they’re trying to establish dominance over you to lower your status in the tribe (or office or forum) and elevate their own. That means there’s a pretty severe cost to being on the wrong side of an issue completely separate from the issue itself.

Facts are wonderful things. They help us make sense of the universe, seek universal truths, and expand our understanding. However, they don’t do quite enough to help us survive and have sex so they’re shit out of luck.

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