Why my preschooler daughter prefers to pretend play as the boy characters? Because our entertainment content still has a lot of room for improvement

My daughter is in preschool, and I was reminded we’re still a long way from leaving shitty gender roles behind. My daughter always wants to play as the leader of the respective show, and you would think we left behind the “women aren’t leaders” bullshit at least in mainstream media. But I noticed she was Catboy, later Dash from The Incredibles (much more assertive next to the “shy but working on it” Violet). I used Dash (obviously within the Marvel universe) to guide here to Flash, within the much cooler DC Universe. From there we found DC Super Hero Girls & Teen Titans, but she only liked the Teen Titans stuff. Now, she wants to be Robin Boy Wonder. And, to strengthen my point, the last names she learned were Raven & Starfire, the female titans. We are kind of screentime nazis, so I feel she gets who leads/follows mostly from what she absorbs from merchandise and other media. So subconsciously, techno-barbaric capitalism has already planted in my daughter the idea that boys are the leaders. This will obviously cause psychological trauma that will be underlying in all of my daughter’s future relationships. I just hope she remains within the DC Universe (obviously not including the DC Cinematic Universe, which (for now) sucks).

Update: she finally warmed up to DC Super Hero Girls. I must say this is an awesome show, a step in the right direction, and our whole family loves it. Also, I should add when I told her there was a version of Batman where a girl named Carrie was Robin, her genuine awe and excitement just broke my heart.

The Anger Manifesto

From an evolutionary perspective, we are simply apes with relatively advanced cognitive abilities. Now, why does a dog tremble in fear when you found he s*** the rug for the tenth time? It’s because he knows you’re going to look for him and fake-smack* the s*** out of him with a rolled-up newspaper. But imagine for a moment how he would be trembling in fear if he could understand, and know, he is going to die.

Well, that’s basically what we are. We are apes that figured out we’re going to die. This obvious contradiction between our knowledge and our survival-instincts leads to profound anxieties in ourselves. The only reason we’re not on the floor trembling in fear, pissing ourselves like our pet dogs, is because we’ve developed coping mechanisms through culture. The predominant coping mechanism for the last 10,000 years has been religion (i.e. belief in the supernatural to pretend we’re not going to die for good).

But the contradiction wasn’t resolved, because human beings also have the cognition to conclude supernatural beliefs are b*******. The contradiction is manifesting in a new form. Should the aware individual transgress and publicly disobey all aspects of culture he concludes are b*******? It becomes tight rope walking, between deviating too much or too little from culture. If you deviate too much from culture, then you become rejected by your peers, and as social apes, this will ultimately make you unhappier. If you deviate too little from culture, you lose your individuality, and become a zombie-sheep-worm. In sum, it’s a balance between being your genuine self, and not turning yourself into a fringe social outcast.

But notice the implications on our free will. We are basically confined to live out theater. In a play, you could miss a line or two. You could maybe improvise in certain cases. But generally, if you deviate extremely from the script, the play would be deemed over. Some would say it was ruined. In sum, as an actor in theater, it is unwise to deviate from the expected script. And that’s basically living within culture.

Okay, I can learn to live with tightrope walking. But we haven’t even gotten to the most f…… up part of it all. Our Super-Ape cognition has also given us the gift of exponential technological growth. This technological development has given us the ability to free every single individual from the burdens of excessive work, to protect all of us from preventable sickness or disease, among other neat stuff. But due to the social chain of events that took place during the past 10,000 years, the resources involved are allocated in markets driven by profits.

As a result, not all of us are being protected, well fed, or getting enough rest. Most of us have shitty jobs that make us feel really f****** alienated. At the same time, we read on the news how a billionaire is paying for a trip around the Moon.

Some react to this by buying V for Vendetta masks and fantasizing about revolution. Don’t be f****** stupid by the way. You’ll probably get up hurting yourself, someone else, or getting arrested; and everything would stay just the same.

But still, I’m f……. angry. I’m angry because there are old people working their balls off at a Walmart. Because I can’t miss work but the teacher called because my girl is sick. At the same time, I know it does not have to be this way. If resources were allocated through democratic planning instead of profit-seeking, there would be no old people working in Walmarts, and I’d be able to pick up my snot-covered girl at school. So, I’m pissed. But pissed at whom? The individuals who benefit today from the chain of events of the past 10,000 years? It’s technically not their fault. They are also simply actors playing their part in the play.

So, we have all this anger at nothing and everything. What the f… do we do with it? F…. The only plan I can come up with is to vote “left of center”, or try to support whoever is two stances to the left of the “conservative-white-men stance,” and try to put my cliché grain of sand in grassroots bottom-up initiatives to help me sleep at night. It still f…… sucks for most of us. I found the combination of music, comic books, weed, and yoga helps. But I guess everyone has their own self-care combo. Find yours. Good luck.

 

An open letter to science-deniers and science-ignorers

Many of this journal’s readers have assumed an attitude of science denial, or at least of ignoring recommendations from the scientific community. This could be in areas such as politics, nutrition, and/or in parenting (which is certainly the most ominous among the examples provided).

I recently stumbled upon a quote from Steven Kotler’s Tomorrowland which I find quite relevant:
Science is not always factually accurate, but it’s usually directionally accurate. It is the result of torturous investigation, vociferous argument, and hard-won consensus. One of the best tests of veracity is when conclusions reached in multiple fields begin to strongly overlap.

In other words, it is true the scientific community constantly flip-flops on issues. Today, you follow their advice, only to be told in the following decades it was total nonsense. Obviously, an understandable knee-jerk reaction is to ignore scientific advice, and “go with your gut.” While understandable, it is nevertheless suboptimal.

It becomes an issue of probability. The question is: under which course of action does the individual minimize unwanted or unpleasant outcomes? Statistically, it is more likely that your “gut” will lead you to unpleasant or unwanted outcomes. Your “gut” is essentially the sum of your acquired knowledge, but also including your prejudices, false beliefs, and lack of knowledge. In most cases, scientific research is more likely to give good advice than your “gut.” If you cannot accept this, you are most likely an arrogant douche.

Best regards,
Casey Flaherty

Why you should listen to your parents and should not get a tattoo until you’re 25 years old: Bounded rationality in the context of young adults

The current state of knowledge in the natural sciences argues the human brain does not completely develop until approximately 25 years of age. In particular, young adults have relatively more difficulty estimating the potential negative consequences of their actions due their incomplete brain development. In Economics, the argument would be simply that rationality is bounded at varying degrees throughout the individual’s life.

Thus, if a rational individual with less than 25 years is made aware of this information, the rational choice would be to give more weight to advice from adults over 25, such as parents or older siblings. This has profound policy implications for adolescents and young adults who do not want to listen to their parents.