Cognition, categories and oppression


Well, what is the best monkey? Is it Bonobos? I hate Bonobos.



This is why black-bloc un-arresting/de-arrestings at protests consider rescuing transgender people and people of colour a priority.



If I worked at a zoo, I’d answer the question with, “They are all the best monkey except bonobos, those are apes. Well, and also those skull-faced sneezing monkeys, those are completely creepy.” Then I’d be fired.



It’s clearly gibbons though.



Gibbons aren’t monkeys, either. :monkey_face:
But they are better than bonobos.

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Dammit. What are they then? I love them, they are wind-up merchants par excellence. Better than goats, even.

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Apes! Crazy, whooping, brachiating, fun-to-watch apes.



I’m not sure if that’s always true. Plenty of white people know a black person and they are still prone to lump black people into a singular, racist category, “except for that one that they know”… I think getting to know people who are different than you can help, but not always.

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It’s that one. Then another, then a third one… And year comes after year and the overall perception softens.

Personality changes are better to be done gradually and have to be coaxed from within.

Having to conform to external pressures can lead to deep resentments, quietly held because if you voice them you are immediately piled upon and branded as Bad Person, and they are then liable to foam over under stress later. Or manifest as voting for an extremist party (or a racist politico); which is harmless in small amounts but can get out of control quickly if the numbers get too high.

Just some risks to consider in the overall strategy.



I think that can be true too.

And I think this can lead to doubling down.

But I still think for some people, no amount of being around the people they are discriminating against will change their views. I’m not implying that it can’t or doesn’t change, but for some, it’s the same as being faced with external pressures. All we have to do is look at white flight in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to see how that plays out over time. When neighborhoods opened to African Americans in previously all white enclaves, people just fled (not everyone, of course, but a majority to be sure). Then there was riots over bussing kids from “white” schools to “black” schools.

It’s a complex problem, to be sure, that we’re still dealing with today as white flight reverses. Upper middle class whites are flooding into city centers in the US for a better quality of life, pushing out poorer, overwhelmingly black residents in the process (who are being pushed into the suburbs - making working in the city, where the most lucrative jobs are tough). it’s most prevalent in democratic areas, too. They had a story on NPR this week, talking about this cool sounding neighborhood in Austin Texas, called Miller, a paragon of what’s known as “New Urbanism”, that’s attracting lots of liberal, progressive, whites. And they still have problems with racial profiling it sounds like. Though, at least from how NPR reported it, these whites seemed ashamed of it, and were trying to open a dialogue about it.

So, I’m not sure what the answer is here…

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The quick way to sort out primates is to see if they have a tail. Monkeys have tails, apes have no tails.

Also, while gibbons may not be the best monkey, they are the best. If a zoo has a gibbon/siamang exhibit I’ll be glued there.

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Best Animal Throwdown

Except that apes are nested among old world monkeys, and lemurs, tarsiers, etc. aren’t any more closely related to each other than to us.



Limitations in cognitive capabilities are exactly the reason why people can be trapped in cycles of destructive thoughts and behavior. Some of this seems to be that tend to fill in the gaps of our perceptions, that is our conceptual blind spots. There is also, though, the issue of how we run emotionally, not just intellectually. This has been somewhat of a gap in cognitive studies: what we see, what we hear, what we process… and what we do not process, our “blind spots”, but leaving out how we are chemical creations. eg, for instance, the naturally occurring oxycotin causes bonding pleasing feelings, but also in doing so creates group thinking and a dislike of those outside the group. (for example, recent article: )

In other words, we have strong limitations in our “mind”, but also in our “heart”. Repetition, congruency is a factor in both. Maybe a third category here is linguistic problems: people very often may agree with diverse groups they otherwise are at fault with, but because of definitions of words they literally can not make any headway. There are dictionary definitions, but then there are the real definitions people make internally, which often can become massive structures.

Ultimately, though, I am a bigot for reasoning. Which is another factor: we can run by sheer “instinct”, but we also have the capacity to forego instinct and reason out matters. Reasoning capacity is typically thrown out partially (rarely, if ever entirely) in destructive groups. Which is a major reason why they tend to be inclusive and censoring.



The best monkey is the Simian Raticus-- the Sumatran Rat Monkey, shown here in a scene from the Hobbit.



Yeah, if you’re trying to get to the proper taxonomy it’s more complex. At the same time, if you’re trying to id monkey vs. ape, tails are the trick. I actually had initially written some rambles on new world monkeys, but realized it would have just dragged things into a digression that probably wasn’t going to be helpful for someone who’d thought gibbons were monkeys and edited it out to something that would be helpful and accurate enough without going into coma-inducing explication. I edited out the prosimian bit since it was similarly digressive.



I could have sworn they had tails. Well, if they did, and were subsequently monkeys, they’d be the best monkeys, so technically they’re still the best monkeys.By similar logic, goats are clearly the best sheep.

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Best Animal Throwdown

The more people you know who are not like you, the more true that becomes. “Except for that one I know” might apply to one, but it won’t apply to the 5 or 10 quite as easily.

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I like to think that’s true, but I’m always still surprised at how racist some people can still be, despite being around more people who aren’t like them…


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