Why is there such a strong Sunni/Shia divide?
I know the Comparative Religion 101 answer. The early Muslims were debating who was the rightful caliph. Some of them said Abu Bakr, others said Ali, and the dispute has been going on ever since. On the other hand, that was fourteen hundred years ago, both candidates are long dead, and there’s no more caliphate. You’d think maybe they’d let the matter rest.
Sure, the two groups have slightly different hadith and schools of jurisprudence, but how many Muslims evenknow which school of jurisprudence they’re supposed to be following? It seems like a pretty minor thing to have centuries of animus over.
And so we return again to Robbers’ Cave:
The experimental subjects — excuse me, “campers” — were 22 boys between 5th and 6th grade, selected from 22 different schools in Oklahoma City, of stable middle-class Protestant families, doing well in school, median IQ 112. They were as well-adjusted and as similar to each other as the researchers could manage.
The experiment, conducted in the bewildered aftermath of World War II, was meant to investigate the causes—and possible remedies—of intergroup conflict. How would they spark an intergroup conflict to investigate? Well, the 22 boys were divided into two groups of 11 campers, and —
— and that turned out to be quite sufficient.
The researchers’ original plans called for the experiment to be conducted in three stages. In Stage 1, each group of campers would settle in, unaware of the other group’s existence. Toward the end of Stage 1, the groups would gradually be made aware of each other. In Stage 2, a set of contests and prize competitions would set the two groups at odds.
They needn’t have bothered with Stage 2. There was hostility almost from the moment each group became aware of the other group’s existence: They were using our campground, our baseball diamond. On their first meeting, the two groups began hurling insults. They named themselves the Rattlers and the Eagles (they hadn’t needed names when they were the only group on the campground).
When the contests and prizes were announced, in accordance with pre-established experimental procedure, the intergroup rivalry rose to a fever pitch. Good sportsmanship in the contests was evident for the first two days but rapidly disintegrated.
The Eagles stole the Rattlers’ flag and burned it. Rattlers raided the Eagles’ cabin and stole the blue jeans of the group leader, which they painted orange and carried as a flag the next day, inscribed with the legend “The Last of the Eagles”. The Eagles launched a retaliatory raid on the Rattlers, turning over beds, scattering dirt. Then they returned to their cabin where they entrenched and prepared weapons (socks filled with rocks) in case of a return raid. After the Eagles won the last contest planned for Stage 2, the Rattlers raided their cabin and stole the prizes. This developed into a fistfight that the staff had to shut down for fear of injury. The Eagles, retelling the tale among themselves, turned the whole affair into a magnificent victory—they’d chased the Rattlers “over halfway back to their cabin” (they hadn’t).
Each group developed a negative stereotype of Them and a contrasting positive stereotype of Us. The Rattlers swore heavily. The Eagles, after winning one game, concluded that the Eagles had won because of their prayers and the Rattlers had lost because they used cuss-words all the time. The Eagles decided to stop using cuss-words themselves. They also concluded that since the Rattlers swore all the time, it would be wiser not to talk to them. The Eagles developed an image of themselves as proper-and-moral; the Rattlers developed an image of themselves as rough-and-tough.
If the researchers had decided that the real difference between the two groups was that the Eagles were adherents of Eagleism, which held cussing as absolutely taboo, and the Rattlers adherents of Rattlerism, which held it a holy duty to cuss five times a day – well, that strikes me as the best equivalent to saying that Sunni and Shia differ over the rightful caliph.
Nations, religions, cults, gangs, subcultures, fraternal societies, internet communities, political parties, social movements – these are all really different, but they also have some deep similarities. They’re all groups of people. They all combine comradery within the group with a tendency to dislike other groups of the same type. They all tend to have a stated purpose, like electing a candidate or worshipping a deity, but also serve a very important role as impromptu social clubs whose members mostly interact with one another instead of outsiders. They all develop an internal culture such that members of the groups often like the same foods, wear the same clothing, play the same sports, and have the same philosophical beliefs as other members of the group – even when there are only tenuous links or no links at all to the stated purpose. They all tend to develop sort of legendary histories, where they celebrate and exaggerate the deeds of the groups’ founders and past champions. And they all tend to inspire something like patriotism, where people are proud of their group membership and express that pride through conspicuous use of group symbols, group songs, et cetera. For better or worse, the standard way to refer to this category of thing is “tribe”.
Tribalism is potentially present in all groups, but levels differ a lot even in groups of nominally the same type. Modern Belgium seems like an unusually non-tribal nation; Imperial Japan in World War II seems like an unusually tribal one. Neoliberalism and market socialism seem like unusually non-tribal political philosophies; communism and libertarianism seem like unusually tribal ones. Corporations with names like Amalgamated Products Co probably aren’t very tribal; charismatic corporations like Apple that become identities for their employees and customers are more so. Cults are maybe the most tribal groups that exist in the modern world, and those Cult Screening Tools make good measures for tribalism as well.
The dangers of tribalism are obvious; for example, fascism is based around dialing a country’s tribalism up to eleven, and it ends poorly. If I had written this essay five years ago, it would be be titled “Why Tribalism Is Stupid And Needs To Be Destroyed”. Since then, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve found that I enjoy being in tribes as much as anyone else.
部落主义潜在地存在于所有团体中，但即使是名义上相同类型的团体，其水平也有很大的差别。. 现代比利时似乎是一不寻常的非部落国家；二战中的大日本帝国似乎是一个与众不同的部落主义，新自由主义与市场社会主义似乎是非同寻常的非部落政治哲学，共产主义和自由主义似乎是不同寻常的部族主义。 名称类似于Amalgamated Products Co的公司可能不是特别遵循部落主义；像苹果这样有魅力的公司，对于员工和顾客来说更加不是部落主义的公司了。邪教可能是现存世界上最部落的群体，那些邪教筛选工具也也很好地判断部落主义。
Part of this was resolving a major social fallacy I’d had throughout high school and college, which was that the correct way to make friends was to pick the five most interesting people I knew and try to befriend them. This almost never worked and I thought it meant I had terrible social skills. Then I looked at what everyone else was doing, and I found that instead of isolated surgical strikes of friendship, they were forming groups. The band people. The mock trial people. The football team people. The Three Popular Girls Who Went Everywhere Together. Once I tried “falling in with” a group, friendship became much easier and self-sustaining precisely because of all of the tribal development that happens when a group of similar people all know each other and have a shared interest. Since then I’ve had good luck finding tribes I like and that accept me – the rationalists being the most obvious example, but even interacting with my coworkers on the same hospital unit at work is better than trying to find and cultivate random people.
Some benefits of tribalism are easy to explain. Tribalism intensifies all positive and prosocial feelings within the tribe. It increases trust within the tribe and allows otherwise-impossible forms of cooperation – remember Haidt on the Jewish diamond merchants outcompeting their rivals because their mutual Judaism gave them a series of high-trust connections that saved them costly verification procedures? It gives people a support network they can rely on when their luck is bad and they need help. It lets you “be yourself” without worrying that this will be incomprehensible or offensive to somebody who thinks totally differently from you. It creates an instant densely-connected social network of people who mostly get along with one another. It makes people feel like part of something larger than themselves, which makes them happy and can (provably) improves their physical and mental health.
Others are more complicated. I can just make motions at a feeling that “what I do matters”, in the sense that I will probably never be a Beethoven or a Napoleon who is very important to the history of the world as a whole, but I can do things that are important within the context of a certain group of people. All of this is really good for my happiness and mental health. When people talk about how modern society is “atomized” or “lacks community” or “doesn’t have meaning”, I think they’re talking about a lack of tribalism, which leaves people all alone in the face of a society much too big to understand or affect. The evolutionary psychology angle here is too obvious to even be worth stating.
And others are entirely philosophical. I think some people would say that wanting to have a tribe is like wanting to have a family – part of what it means to be human – and demands to justify either are equally wrong-headed.
Eliezer thinks every cause wants to be a cult. I would phrase this more neutrally as “every cause wants to be a tribe”. I’ve seen a lot of activities go through the following cycle:
1. Let’s get together to do X
This can happen over anything or nothing at all. Despite the artificial nature of the Robbers’ Cove experiment, its groups are easily recognized as tribes. Indeed, the reason this experiment is so interesting is that it shows tribes in their purest form; no veneer of really being about pushing a social change or supporting a caliph, just tribes for tribalism’s sake.
Scholars call the process of creating a new tribe “ethnogenesis” – Robbers’ Cave was artificially inducing ethnogenesis to see what would happen. My model of ethnogenesis involves four stages: pre-existing differences, a rallying flag, development, and dissolution.
Pre-existing differences are the raw materials out of which tribes are made. A good tribe combines people who have similar interests and styles of interaction even before the ethnogenesis event. Any description of these differences will necessarily involve stereotypes, but a lot of them should be hard to argue. For example, atheists are often pretty similar to one another even before they deconvert from their religion and officially become atheists. They’re usually nerdy, skeptical, rational, not very big on community or togetherness, sarcastic, well-educated. At the risk of going into touchier territory, they’re pretty often white and male. You take a sample of a hundred equally religious churchgoers and pick out the ones who are most like the sort of people who are atheistseven if all of them are 100% believers. But there’s also something more than that. There are subtle habits of thought, not yet described by any word or sentence, which atheists are more likely to have than other people. It’s part of the reason why atheists need atheism as a rallying flag instead of just starting the Skeptical Nerdy Male Club.
预先存在的差异是部落制造的原材料。一个好的部落，即使在民族传说事件发生前，也能将有同样兴趣以及活动模式的人聚集起来。对这些差异的任何描述都必然涉及模式化的见解，但是这其中很多让人很难去争论。举个例子，无神论者在他们脱离宗教并正式成为无神论者之前，往往彼此很相似。他们通常是书呆子, 性格多疑、思维理性，不是很热衷于团体或聚会，具有讽刺精神且受过良好教育，冒险进入更棘手的领域， 他们通常是白人和男性。你从一百个同样虔诚的宗教信徒的样本中，即使他们都是100%的无神论者，挑出一些最像无神论者的人。但也不止这些，无神论者比其他人更可能拥有某种微妙的思维习惯，无法用任何词句描述，这就是为什么无神论者需要无神论作为一个团结的旗帜，而不仅仅开办一个神经质书呆子男性俱乐部。
The rallying flag is the explicit purpose of the tribe. It’s usually a belief, event, or activity that get people with that specific pre-existing difference together and excited. Often it brings previously latent differences into sharp relief. People meet around the rallying flag, encounter each other, and say “You seem like a kindred soul!” or “I thought I was the only one!” Usually it suggests some course of action, which provides the tribe with a purpose. For atheists, the rallying flag is not believing in God. Somebody says “Hey, I don’t believe in God, if you also don’t believe in God come over here and we’ll hang out together and talk about how much religious people suck.” All the atheists go over by the rallying flag and get very excited about meeting each other. It starts with “Wow, you hate church too?”, moves on to “Really, you also like science fiction?”, and ends up at “Wow, you have the same undefinable habits of thought that I do!”
团结的旗帜是部落的明确目的，它通常是一种信念、事件或活动，使人们一起与特定的预存差异感到兴奋，它常常把先前潜在的差异进行大幅缓和。人们在集会旗帜周围相遇，面面相觑并说道“你看起来和我志趣相投!”或者“我以为我是唯一的一个!” 通常它建议为部落提供一个目的，采取某种行动。对于无神论者来说，团结的旗帜不相信上帝。 有人说 “嘿，我不相信上帝， 如果你也不相信上帝的话，我们一起出去谈谈那些为数众多的宗教傻蛋把。” 所有无神论者都通过团结的旗帜走过来，并对彼此的相遇感到兴奋。以“哇哦, 你也讨厌教堂?”为开端，接着说道 “真的，你也喜欢科幻小说?”，最后以“哇哦，你和我一样拥有不定式的思维习惯？”结尾。
Development is all of the processes by which the fledgling tribe gains its own culture and history. It’s a turning-inward and strengthening-of-walls, which transforms it from ‘A Group Of People Who Do Not Believe In God And Happen To Be In The Same Place’ to ‘The Atheist Tribe’. For example, atheists have symbols like that ‘A’ inside an atom. They have jokes and mascots like Russell’s Teapot and the Invisible Pink Unicorn. They have their own set of heroes, both mythologized past heroes like Galileo and controversial-but-undeniably-important modern heroes like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. They have celebrities like P.Z. Myers and Hemant Mehta. They have universally-agreed-upon villains to be booed and hated, like televangelists or the Westboro Baptist Church. They have grievances, like all the times that atheists have been fired or picked on by religious people, and all the laws about pledging allegiance to one nation under God and so on. They have stereotypes about themselves – intelligent, helpful, passionate – and stereotypes about their outgroups – deluded, ignorant, bigoted.
发展是羽翼未丰的部落获得自己的文化和历史的所有过程，这是一个转为向内并加固壁垒的过程，它把团体从“不相信上帝，碰巧在同一个地方的一群人”变成“无神论部落”。举个例子，无神论者有特征就像单词atom里面的A字母，他们有像罗素茶壶的笑话和像无形的粉红色独角兽的吉祥物。他们有自己对于英雄的设定, 既是像伽利略的神话般的古代英雄，也可以是如Richard Dawkins和Daniel Dennett的有争议但不可否认的现代英雄，还有像P.Z. Myers和Hemant Mehta的名人。他们普遍认同恶棍应被嘘和憎恨，就像电视福音派或威斯特博罗浸信会那样。他们有怨言，如无神论者被宗教人士所开除的时候，已经所有向上帝宣誓效忠于一个国家的法律等。他们对自己的固有印象——聪明智慧、乐于助人、热情开朗——以及他们对其他团体的固有印象——愚昧，无知，固执。
Dissolution is optional. The point of the previous three steps is to build a “wall” between the tribe and the outside, a series of systematic differences that let everybody know which side they’re on. If a tribe was never really that different from the surrounding population, stops caring that much about its rallying flag, and doesn’t develop enough culture, then the wall fails and the members disperse into the surrounding population. The classic example is the assimilation of immigrant groups like Irish-Americans, but history is littered with failed communes, cults, and political movements. Atheism hasn’t quite dissolved yet, but occasionally you see hints of the process. A lot of the comments around “Atheism Plus” centered around this idea of “Okay, talking about how there’s no God all the time has gotten boring, plus nobody interesting believes in God anymore anyway, so let’s become about social justice instead”. The parts of atheism who went along with that message mostly dissolved into the broader social justice community – there are a host of nominally atheist blogs that haven’t talked about anything except social justice in months. Other fragments of the atheist community dissolved into transhumanism, or libertarianism, or any of a number of other things. Although there’s still an atheist community, it no longer seems quite as vibrant and cohesive as it used to be.
解散是可以避免的。前三个步骤的关键是在部落与外界之间建造一面“墙” ，制造一系列的系统差异让每个人知道自己在哪边。. 如果一个部落从来没有和周围的人有什么不同的话，也不高度关注它的旗帜并没有培养足够的文化，然后墙倒塌内部人员融入周围人群中。典型的例子是同化移民群体，比如爱尔兰裔美国人但是，历史上到处都是失败的群体、邪教和政治运动。无神论还没有完全消失，但你偶尔会看到消失过程的线索。. 围绕“无神论加”的许多评论集中在“好”这个概念上，谈论没有上帝所有时间会如何变得无聊，再加上没有人对相信上帝不感兴趣，所以让我们转而讨论社会公正吧”。随之而来的无神论部分被分解为更广泛的社会正义团体——有很多名义上的无神论者博客，几个月来除了社会公正之外，什么都没讨论过。无神论团体的其他片段被分解为“传播学”，或自由主义，或是其他一些事物中的任何一种。尽管仍然有一个无神论者团体，但它看上去不再像过去那样充满活力和凝聚力了。
We can check this four-stage model by applying it to the Sunni and Shia and seeing if it sticks.
I know very little about early Islam and am relying on sources that might be biased, so don’t declare a fatwa against me if I turn out to be wrong, but it looks like from the beginning there were big pre-existing differences between proto-Shia and proto-Sunni. A lot of Ali’s earliest supporters were original Muslims who had known Mohammed personally, and a lot of Abu Bakr’s earliest supporters were later Muslims high up in the Meccan/Medinan political establishment who’d converted only after it became convenient to do so. It’s really easy to imagine cultural, social, and personality differences between these two groups. Probably members in each group already knew one another pretty well, and already had ill feelings towards members of the other, without necessarily being able to draw the group borders clearly or put their exact differences into words. Maybe it was “those goody-goodies who are always going on about how close to Mohammed they were but have no practical governing ability” versus “those sellouts who don’t really believe in Islam and just want to keep playing their political games”.
我对早期伊斯兰教知之甚少，我依赖于可能偏颇的资料来源，所以如果我错了，请不要向我实施伊斯兰刑法，但从一开始，原始什叶派和原始逊尼派之间似乎就已经存在着很大的差异。许多Ali最早的支持者是原来认识穆罕默德的原始穆斯林，许多Abu Bakr最早的支持者是后来在McCale/ Meimina政治机构中高升的穆斯林，他们只是在皈依变得方便之后才这么做的，很容易想象这两个群体之间的文化、社会和个性差异。 也许每个小组的成员都很了解其他小组的成员，不需要清晰地画出群体边界，或者把它们的精确差异化为文字而且对他们已经不怀好意。 也许就是那些“一直在说他们离穆罕默德有多近但没有实际的执政能力的好心人” 与“那些不相信伊斯兰教，只想继续玩政治游戏的人”这两者对抗的情况。
Then came the rallying flag: a political disagreement over the succession. One group called themselves “the party of Ali”, whose Arabic translation “Shiatu Ali” eventually ended up as just “Shia”. The other group won and called itself “the traditional orthodox group”, in Arabic “Sunni”. Instead of a vague sense of “I wonder whether that guy there is one of those goody-goodies always talking about Mohammed, or whether he’s a practical type interested in good governance”, people could just ask “Are you for Abu Bakr or Ali?” and later “Are you Sunni or Shia?” Also at some point, I’m not exactly sure how, most of the Sunni ended up in Arabia and most of the Shia ended up in Iraq and Iran, after which I think some pre-existing Iraqi/Iranian vs. Arab cultural differences got absorbed into the Sunni/Shia mix too.
接着是团结的旗帜：对继承的政治分歧。一组人称自己为“Ali的党”，他们的阿拉伯语翻译“Shiatu Ali”最终只不过是“什叶派”。 另一组取胜并称自己为“传统正统派即”阿拉伯语的“逊尼派”。比起一种模糊的感觉：“我想知道那个家伙是否是一个总是谈论穆罕默德的伪善者”，“或者他是否是一个对善治感兴趣的实干派？”，人们只能问：“你是Abu Bakr还是Ali？”“后来问”你是逊尼派还是什叶派？”还有某些时候我不太清楚，大多数 逊尼派终结于阿拉伯，大多数什叶派终结于伊朗和伊拉克，这到底是怎么回事。在此之后，我认为一些预先存在的伊拉克/伊朗与阿拉伯的文化差异也被吸收到逊尼派/什叶派的混合中。
Then came development. Both groups developed elaborate mythologies lionizing their founders. The Sunni got the history of the “rightly-guided caliphs”, the Shia exaggerated the first few imams to legendary proportions. They developed grievances against each other; according to Shia history, the Sunnis killed eleven of their twelve leaders, with the twelfth escaping only when God directly plucked him out of the world to serve as a future Messiah. They developed different schools of hadith interpretation and jurisprudence and debated the differences ad nauseum with each other for hundreds of years. A lot of Shia theology is in Farsi; Sunni theology is entirely in Arabic. Sunni clergy usually dress in white; Shia clergy usually dress in black and green. Not all of these were deliberately done in opposition to one another; most were just a consequence of the two camps being walled off from one another and so allowed to develop cultures independently.
Obviously the split hasn’t dissolved yet, but it’s worth looking at similar splits that have. Catholicism vs. Protestantism is still a going concern in a few places like Ireland, but it’s nowhere near the total wars of the 17th century or even the Know-Nothing-Parties of the 19th. Consider that Marco Rubio is Catholic, but nobody except Salon particularly worries about that or says that it will make him unsuitable to lead a party representing the interests of very evangelical Protestants. Heck, the same party was happy to nominate Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and praise him for his “Christian faith”. Part of it is the subsumption of those differences into a larger conflict – most Christians acknowledge Christianity vs. atheism to be a bigger deal than interdenominational disputes these days – and part of it is that everyone of every religion is so influenced by secular American culture that the religions have been reduced to their rallying flags alone rather than being fully developed tribes at this point. American Sunni and Shia seem to be well on their way to dissolving into each other too.
显然分裂还没有消失，但是其所拥有的类似分裂值得一看。Catholicism对抗Protestantism在像爱尔兰这样的地方仍然持续受到关注的问题，但是，这与十七世纪的全面战争或第十九届“一无所知党派”毫无关系。考虑一下马尔科·卢比奥的天主教徒身份，但除了Salon之外，没有人特别担心那一点或说这将使他不适合领导一个代表福音派新教徒的利益的政党。Heck, 同样一个乐意提名摩门教徒Mitt Romney的党派，并赞美他的“基督教信仰”。它的一部分是将这些差异归类为更大的冲突——大多数基督教徒承认基督教与无神论的分庭抗礼，是比当今的宗派纷争更大的事情——部分原因是因为每个宗教的受众都受到了世俗美国文化的影响，在这种影响下宗教已经沦为他们的集会旗帜，而不是完全发展的部落，美国逊尼派和什叶派似乎也走在在很好地互相融合的道路上。
I want to discuss a couple of issues that I think make more sense once you understand the concept of tribes and rallying flags:
1. Disability: I used to be very confused by disabled people who insist on not wanting a “cure” for their condition. Deaf people and autistic people are the two classic examples, and sure enough we find articles like Not All Deaf People Want To Be Cured and They Don’t Want An Autism Cure. Autistic people can at least argue their minds work differently rather than worse, but being deaf seems to be a straight-out disadvantage: the hearing can do anything the deaf can, and can hear also. A hearing person can become deaf at any time just by wearing earplugs, but a deaf person can’t become hearing, at least not without very complicated high-tech surgeries.
1. 残疾：我曾经对那些坚持不想“治疗”自己病情的残疾人感到困惑，聋人和自闭症患者是两个经典例子，我们果然找到了一些文章例如并非所有失聪人群都像被治愈以及他们不想治疗孤独症。自闭症患者至少可以申辩他们的大脑只是工作方式不同而不是更糟，但是失聪似乎是一个直接的缺点：听力正常的人能做聋人能做的任何事情，也能听到。听力正常的人只要戴耳塞就可以随时失聪， 但是失聪的人不能随时恢复听力，至少不经过非常复杂的高科技手术是做不到的。
When I asked some deaf friends about this, they explained that they had a really close-knit and supportive deaf culture, and that most of their friends, social events, and ways of relating to other people and the world were through this culture. This made sense, but I always wondered: if you were able to hear, couldn’t you form some other culture? If worst came to worst and nobody else wanted to talk to you, couldn’t you at least have the Ex-Deaf People’s Club?
I don’t think so. Deafness acts as a rallying flag that connects people, gives them a shared foundation to build culture off of, and walls the group off from other people. If all deaf people magically became able to hear, their culture would eventually drift apart, and they’d be stuck without an ingroup to call their own.
当我问及一些耳聋的朋友时， 他们解释说，他们与之关系非常紧密，而且非常支持聋人文化， 他们大多数的朋友， 社会事件，以及与其他人和世界交流的方式都是通过这种文化。 这很有道理，但我一直在想：如果你能听到， 难道你不会形成一些其他的文化吗？ 如果最坏的情况发生了，没有人想和你说话， 难道你就不能至少有前聋的人的俱乐部吗？
我不这样认为。耳聋是人与人连接的一种团结的旗帜， 给他们一个共同的基础，以建立文化， 把这群人从其他人中围起来。 如果所有的聋哑人都能神奇地听到， 他们的文化最终会疏远， 他们不能没有群体倾听他们。
Part of this is reasonable cost-benefit calculation – our society is so vast and atomized, and forming real cohesive tribes is so hard, that they might reasonably expect it would be a lot of trouble to find another group they liked as much as the deaf community. But another part of this seems to be about an urge to cultural self-preservation.
2. Genocide: This term is kind of overused these days. I always thought of it as meaning literally killing every member of a certain group – the Holocaust, for example – but the new usage includes “cultural genocide”. For example, autism rights advocates sometimes say that anybody who cured autism would be committing genocide – this is of course soundly mocked, but it makes sense if you think of autistic people as a tribe that would be dissolved absent its rallying flag. The tribe would be eliminated – thus “cultural genocide” is a reasonable albeit polemical description.
2. 种族灭绝：这个术语这些天有点被滥用了，我一直认为这意味着杀死某个群体的每个成员——例如纳粹大屠杀——但新的用法包括 “文化种族灭绝”。举个例子，自闭症权利倡导者有时会说，任何治愈自闭症的人都会犯下种族灭绝罪——这听上去当然很虚假，但是如果你把自闭症人群看作一个一旦没有集合旗帜便会解散的部落，这就说得通了。这个部落会被消灭——因此，“文化种族灭绝”是一个合理的描述。
It seems to me that people have an urge toward cultural self-preservation which is as strong or stronger as the urge to individual self-preservation. Part of this is rational cost-benefit calculation – if someone loses their only tribe and ends up alone in the vast and atomized sea of modern society, it might take years before they can find another tribe and really be at home there. But a lot of it seems to be beyond that, an emotional certainty that losing one’s culture and having it replaced with another is not okay, any more than being killed at the same time someone else has a baby is okay. Nor do I think this is necessarily irrational; locating the thing whose survival you care about in the self rather than the community is an assumption, and people can make different assumptions without being obviously wrong.
在我看来，人们有一种强烈的或强烈的自我保护的冲动，对文化自我保护的冲动。 这部分是理性的成本收益计算–如果有人失去唯一的部落，最终独自在浩瀚大海和雾化的现代社会， 它可能需要几年才能找到另一个部落，真的是在家里。 但它似乎是超越， 失去一个人的文化并换上另一种文化的情感是不确定的， 任何超过被杀害的同时，别人有一个婴儿是好的。 我也不认为这一定是不合理的； 定位自己的生存，你关心的是自我，而不是社会是一个假设， 人们可以做出不同的假设，而没有明显的错误。
3. Rationalists: The rationalist community is a group of people (of which I’m a part) who met reading the site Less Wrong and who tend to hang out together online, sometimes hang out together in real life, and tend to befriend each other, work with each other, date each other, and generally move in the same social circles. Some people call it a cult, but that’s more a sign of some people having lost vocabulary for anything between “totally atomized individuals” and “outright cult” than any particular cultishness.
But people keep asking me what exactly the rationalist community is. Like, what is the thing they believe that makes them rationalists? It can’t just be about being rational, because loads of people are interested in that and most of them aren’t part of the community. And it can’t just be about transhumanism because there are a lot of transhumanists who aren’t rationalists, and lots of rationalists who aren’t transhumanists. And it can’t just be about Bayesianism, because pretty much everyone, rationalist or otherwise, agrees that is a kind of statistics that is useful for some things but not others. So what, exactly, is it?
3. 理性主义者: 理性主义团体是这样的一群人(我是其中的一份子) ，谁发现了错误更少的阅读网站，便主张大家一起去那里上网，有时在现实生活中待在一起并倾向于彼此交朋友、一起工作, 一起出去玩、一般在同一社会圈子里活动。有些人把它叫做邪教，但这更是一些在“完全原子化的个人”和“完全的邪教”之间失去词汇的人群的标志。
This question has always bothered me, but now after thinking about it a lot I finally have a clear answer: rationalism is the belief that Eliezer Yudkowsky is the rightful caliph.
No! Sorry! I think “the rationalist community” is a tribe much like the Sunni or Shia that started off with some pre-existing differences, found a rallying flag, and then developed a culture.
The pre-existing differences range from the obvious to the subtle. A lot of rationalists are mathematicians, programmers, or computer scientists. The average IQ is in the 130s. White men are overrepresented, but so are LGBT and especially transgender people. But there’s more. Nobody likes the Myers-Briggs test, but I continue to find it really interesting that rationalists have some Myers-Briggs types (INTJ/INTP) at ten times the ordinary rate, and other types (ISFJ/ESFP) at only one one-hundredth the ordinary rate. Myers-Briggs doesn’t cleave reality at its joints, but if it measures anything at all about otherwise hard-to-explain differences in thinking styles, the rationalist community heavily selects for those same differences. Sure enough, I am constantly running into people who say “This is the only place where I’ve ever found people who think like me” or “I finally feel understood”.
预设存在的差异从明显到微妙，许多理性主义者是数学家、程序员或计算机科学家，平均智商在130左右白人男性比例特别高，但是同性恋者、尤其是变性人的比例也是如此。但还有更多。没有人喜欢Myers Briggs测验，但我继续发现，理性主义者的某些Myers Briggs类型（Itj/in）是普通比率的十倍，这真的很有趣，而其他类型（ISFJ/ESFP）仅为普通比率的百分之一。Myers Briggs不会在关节处分裂现实，但如果它用非如此就难以解释的思维方式去估量差异，理性主义社区大量选择那些相同的差异。果然我经常遇到有些人，他们说：“这是唯一一个我找到和我思想相近的人的地方” 或 “我终于明白了”.
The rallying flag was the Less Wrong Sequences. Eliezer Yudkowsky started a blog (actually, borrowed Robin Hanson’s) about cognitive biases and how to think through them. Whether or not you agreed with him or found him enlightening loaded heavily on those pre-existing differences, so the people who showed up in the comment section got along and started meeting up with each other. “Do you like Eliezer Yudkowsky’s blog?” became a useful proxy for all sorts of things, eventually somebody coined the word “rationalist” to refer to people who did, and then you had a group with nice clear boundaries.
团结的旗帜是少错误序列，Eliezer Yudkowsky开设了一个微博(事实上是借用了Robin Hanson的) 关于认知偏见和如何对偏见进行思考。无论你是否同意他，还是发现他对那些存在的差异给予了极大的启发，所以在评论区出现的人们相处得很好，然后开始见面。 “你喜欢Eliezer Yudkowsky的博客吗？?” 成为各种事物的有效替代物终于有人创造了“rationalist”这个词 用来代指那些这么说过的人，然后你就有了一个非常清晰的团体分界线。
The development is everything else. Obviously a lot of jargon sprung up in the form of terms from the blog itself. The community got heroes like Gwern and Anna Salamon who were notable for being able to approach difficult questions insightfully. It doesn’t have much of an outgroup yet – maybe just bioethicists and evil robots. It has its own foods – MealSquares, that one kind of chocolate everyone in Berkeley started eating around the same time – and its own games. It definitely has its own inside jokes. I think its most important aspect, though, is a set of shared mores – everything from “understand the difference between ask and guess culture and don’t get caught up in it” to “cuddling is okay” to “don’t misgender trans people” – and a set of shared philosophical assumptions like utilitarianism and reductionism.
I’m stressing this because I keep hearing people ask “What is the rationalist community?” or “It’s really weird that I seem to be involved in the rationalist community even though I don’t share belief X” as if there’s some sort of necessary-and-sufficient featherless-biped-style ideological criterion for membership. This is why people are saying “Lots of you aren’t even singularitarians, and everyone agrees Bayesian methods are useful in some places and not so useful in others, so what is your community even about?” But once again, it’s about Eliezer Yudkowsky being the rightful caliph it’s not necessarily about anything.
我强调这一点是因为我一直在听人们问：“理性主义社区是什么？”“或者 “尽管我不相信X，但我似乎参与了理性主义团体，这真的很诡异。” 似乎对于会员有某种必要和充分的风吹两面倒式的意识形态标准，这就是为什么人们说“你们中的许多人连奇异主义者都不是，却人人都认为贝叶斯方法在某些地方是有用的，而在其他地方却不那么有用，你们的社团到底想表达什么?” 但是再一次，这只是和Eliezer Yudkowsky是合法哈里发有关，不一定和所有事情有关。
If you take only one thing from this essay, it’s that communities are best understood not logically but historically. If you want to understand the Shia, don’t reflect upon the true meaning of Ali being the rightful caliph, understand that a dispute involving Ali initiated ethnogenesis, the resulting culture picked up a bunch of features and became useful to various people, and now here we are. If you want to understand the rationalist community, don’t ask exactly how near you have to think the singularity has to be before you qualify for membership, focus on the fact that some stuff Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote led to certain people identifying themselves as “rationalists” and for various reasons I enjoy dinner parties with those people about 10000% more interesting than dinner parties with randomly selected individuals.
如果你只从这篇文章中学到一件事，那就是社区最好从历史上理解，而不是从逻辑上。如果你想了解什叶派，不要反思Ali是合法哈里发这件事的真正含义，理解涉及Ali种族起源的争论，由此产生的文化获得了一系列的特点，并对各种各样的人有用，包括现在的我们。如果你想了解理性主义者社团， 在你成为会员之前，不要询问你必须思考奇点是多么近，重点是Eliezer Yudkowsky写的一些东西导致某些人把自己认定为“理性主义者”。出于种种原因，我觉得和那些人一起参加晚餐聚会，比和随机选取人员参加晚餐聚会有趣100倍。
nostalgebraist actually summed this up really well: “Maybe the real rationalism was the friends we made along the way.” Maybe that’s the real Shia Islam too, and the real Democratic Party, and so on.
4. Evangelical And Progressive Religion: There seems to be a generational process, sort of like Harold Lee’s theory of immigrant assimilation, by which religions dissolve. The first generation believes everything literally. The second generation believes that the religion might not be literally true, but it’s an important expression of universal values and they still want to follow the old ways and participate in the church/temple/mosque/mandir community. The third generation is completely secularized.
4. 福音派和进步派宗教：似乎都有一个世代演变的过程，有点像Harold Lee的移民同化理论，通过这个理论分解了宗教，第一代人相信一切字面上的意思，第二代人认为宗教并非像字面描述的那样，但它是普世价值的重要表现他们仍然想遵循古老的方式并参与教堂/寺庙/清真寺/下巴社团，第三代就完全是世俗化的。
This was certainly my family’s relationship with Judaism. My great-great-grandfather was so Jewish that he left America and returned to Eastern Europe because he was upset at American Jews for not being religious enough. My great-grandfather stayed behind in America but remained a very religious Jew. My grandparents attend synagogue when they can remember, speak a little Yiddish, and identify with the traditions. My parents went to areally liberal synagogue where the rabbi didn’t believe in God and everyone just agreed they were going through the motions. I got Bar Mitzvahed when I was a kid but haven’t been to synagogue in years. My children probably won’t even have that much.
So imagine you’re an evangelical Christian. All the people you like are also evangelical Christians. Most of your social life happens at church. Most of your good memories involve things like Sunday school and Easter celebrations, and even your bittersweet memories are things like your pastor speaking at your parents’ funeral. Most of your hopes and dreams involve marrying someone and having kids and then sharing similarly good times with them. When you try to hang out with people who aren’t evangelical Christians, they seem to think really differently than you do, and not at all in a good way. A lot of your happiest intellectual experiences involve geeking out over different Bible verses and the minutiae of different Christian denominations.
Then somebody points out to you that God probably doesn’t exist. And even if He does, it’s probably in some vague and complicated way, and not the way that means that the Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church and onlythe Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church has the correct interpretation of the Bible and everyone else is wrong.
On the one hand, their argument might be convincing. On the other, you are pretty sure that if everyone agreed on this, your culture would be destroyed. Sure, your kids could be Christmas-and-Easter-Christians who still enjoy the cultural aspects and derive personal meaning from the Bible. But you’re pretty sure that within a couple of generations your descendents would be exactly as secular as anyone else. Absent the belief that serves as your culture’s wall against the outside world, it would dissolve without a trace into the greater homogeneity of Western liberal society. So, do you keep believing a false thing? Or do you give up on everything you love and enjoy and dissolve into a culture that mostly hates and mocks people like you? There’s no good choice. This is why it sucks that things like religion and politics are both rallying flags for tribes, and actual things that there may be a correct position on.
5. Religious Literalism: One comment complaint I heard during the height of the Atheist-Theist Online Wars was that atheists were a lot like fundamentalists. Both wanted to interpret the religious texts in the most literal possible way.
Being on the atheist side of these wars, I always wanted to know: well, why wouldn’t you? Given that the New Testament clearly says you have to give all your money to the poor, and the Old Testament doesn’t say anything about mixing meat and milk, maybe religious Christians should start giving everything to the poor and religious Jews should stop worrying so much about which dishes to use when?
These parallel machines are made up of many individual computers called nodes.They are all positioned in one block.
But I think this is the same mistake as treating the Sunni as an organization dedicated to promoting an Abu Bakr caliphate. The holy book is the rallying flag for a religion, but the religion is not itself about the holy book. The rallying flag created a walled-off space where people could undergo the development process and create an independent culture. That independent culture may diverge significantly from the holy book.
I think that very neurotypical people naturally think in terms of tribes, and the idea that they have to retool their perfectly functional tribe to conform to the exact written text of its holy book or constitution or stated political ideology or something seems silly to them. I think that less neurotypical people – a group including many atheists – think less naturally in terms of tribes and so tend to take claims like “Christianity is about following the Bible” at face value. But Christianity is about being part of the Christian tribe, and although that tribe started around the Bible, maintains its coherence because of the Bible, and is of course naturally influenced by it, if it happens to contradict the Bible in some cases that’s not necessarily surprising or catastrophic.
This is also why I’m not really a fan of debates over whether Islam is really “a religion of peace” or “a religion of violence”, especially if those debates involve mining the Quran for passages that support one’s preferred viewpoint. It’s not just because the Quran is a mess of contradictions with enough interpretive degrees of freedom to prove anything at all. It’s not even because Islam is a host of separate cultures as different from one another as Unitarianism is from the Knights Templar. It’s because the Quran just created the space in which the Islamic culture could evolve, but had only limited impact on that evolution. As well try to predict the warlike or peaceful nature of the United Kingdom by looking at a topographical map of Great Britain.
6. Cultural Appropriation: Thanks to some people who finally explained this to me in a way that made sense. When an item or artform becomes the rallying flag for a tribe, it can threaten the tribe if other people just want to use it as a normal item or artform.
Suppose that rappers start with pre-existing differences from everyone else. Poor, male, non-white minority, lots of experience living in violent places, maybe a certain philosophical outlook towards their condition. Then they get a rallying flag: rap music. They meet one another, like one another. The culture undergoes further development: the lionization of famous rappers, the development of a vocabulary of shared references. They get all of the benefits of being in a tribe like increased trust, social networking, and a sense of pride and identity.
假设说唱歌手开始与其他人存在预设差异， 非白人少数名族的贫穷男性，经常生活在暴力场所，也许对他们的状况有某种哲学观念。 然后他们得到了一样凝聚物：说唱音乐。他们彼此相遇，彼此相似。文化的进一步发展：对著名说唱歌手的崇拜，共享参考词汇的发展。他们得到了一个部落的所有好处，比如增加了信任、社交网络和自豪感和认同感。
Now suppose some rich white people get into rap. Maybe they get into rap for innocuous reasons: rap is cool, they like the sound of it. Fine. But they don’t share the pre-existing differences, and they can’t be easily assimilated into the tribe. Maybe they develop different conventions, and start saying that instead of being about the struggles of living in severe poverty, rap should be about Founding Fathers. Maybe they start saying the original rappers are bad, and they should stop talking about violence and bitches because that ruins rap’s reputation. Since rich white people tend to be be good at gaining power and influence, maybe their opinions are overrepresented at the Annual Rap Awards, and all of a sudden you can’t win a rap award unless your rap is about the Founding Fathers and doesn’t mention violence (except Founding-Father-related duels). All of a sudden if you try to start some kind of impromptu street rap-off, you’re no longer going to find a lot of people like you whom you instantly get along with and can form a high-trust community. You’re going to find half people like that, and half rich white people who strike you as annoying and are always complaining that your raps don’t feature any Founding Fathers at all. The rallying flag fails and the tribe is lost as a cohesive entity.
7. Fake Gamer Girls: A more controversial example of the same. Video gaming isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It also brings together a group of people with some pre-existing common characteristics: male, nerdy, often abrasive, not very successful, interested in speculation, high-systematizing. It gives them a rallying flag and creates a culture which then develops its own norms, shared reference points, internet memes, webcomics, heroes, shared gripes, even some unique literature. Then other people with very different characteristics and no particular knowledge of the culture start enjoying video games just because video games are fun. Since the Gamer Tribe has no designated cultural spaces except video games forums and magazines, they view this as an incursion into their cultural spaces and a threat to their existence as a tribe.
7. 假的女游戏玩家：同样一个比较有争议的例子。电子游戏不仅仅是一种有趣的消遣方式，它还汇集了一群具有一些预设共同特征的人：通常是比较粗鲁的宅男，不怎么成功，喜欢推理，思维高度系统化。它给了他们一个凝聚物，创造了一种文化，这种文化随后发展自己的规范，共享的参考点，网络迷因，网络漫画，英雄，共享的抱怨，甚至一些独特的文学。 然后其他那些特征截然不同并对这种文化没有特别认识的人们，只是因为电子很有趣开始享受电子游戏。因为玩家部落除了电子游戏论坛和杂志外，没有指定的文化空间，他们认为这是对他们的文化空间的入侵，是对作为部落的存在的威胁。
Stereotypically this is expressed as them getting angry when girls start playing video games. One can argue that it’s unfair to infer tribe membership based on superficial characteristics like gender – in the same way it might be unfair for the Native Americans to assume someone with blonde hair and blue eyes probably doesn’t follow the Old Ways – but from the tribe’s perspective it’s a reasonable first guess.
I’ve found gamers to get along pretty well with women who share their culture, and poorly with men who don’t – but admit that the one often starts from an assumption of foreignness and the other from an assumption of membership. More important, I’ve found the idea of the rejection of the ‘fake gamer girl’, real or not, raised more as a libel by people who genuinely do want to destroy gamer culture, in the sense of cleansing video-game-related spaces of a certain type of person/culture and making them entirely controlled by a different type of person/culture, in much the same way that a rich white person who says any rapper who uses violent lyrics needs to be blacklisted from the rap world has a clear culture-change project going on.
These cultural change projects tend to be framed in terms of which culture has the better values, which I think is a limited perspective. I think America has better values than Pakistan does, but that doesn’t mean I want us invading them, let alone razing their culture to the ground and replacing it with our own.
8. Subcultures And Posers: Obligatory David Chapman link. A poser is somebody who uses the rallying flag but doesn’t have the pre-existing differences that create tribal membership and so never really fits into the tribe.
9. Nationalism, Patriotism, and Racism: Nationalism and patriotism use national identity as the rallying flag for a strong tribe. In many cases, nationalism becomes ethno-nationalism, which builds tribal identity off of a combination of heritage, language, religion, and culture. It has to be admitted that this can make for someincredibly strong tribes. The rallying flag is built into ancestry, and so the walls are near impossible to obliterate. The symbolism and jargon and cultural identity can be instilled from birth onward. Probably the best example of this is the Jews, who combine ethnicity, religion, and language into a bundle deal and have resisted assimilation for millennia.
8. 亚文化以及装腔作势的家伙：义务David Chapman链接。装腔作势的家伙指的是利用凝聚物，却不具备创造部落会员资格的预设差异，从而永远没有真正融入过这个部落的人。
Sometimes this can devolve into racism. I’m not sure exactly what the difference between ethno-nationalism and racism is, or whether there even is a difference, except that “race” is a much more complicated concept than ethnicity and it’s probably not a coincidence that it has become most popular in a country like America whose ethnicities are hopelessly confused. The Nazis certainly needed a lot of work to transform concern about the German nation into concern about the Aryan race. But it’s fair to say all of this is somewhat related or at least potentially related.
On the other hand, in countries that have non-ethnic notions of heritage, patriotism has an opportunity to substite for racism. Think about the power of the civil rights message that, whether black or white, we are all Americans.
This is maybe most obvious in sub-national groups. Despite people paying a lot of attention to the supposed racism of Republicans, the rare black Republicans do shockingly well within their party. Both Ben Carson and Herman Cain briefly topped the Republican presidential primary polls during their respective election seasons, and their failures seem to have had much more to do with their own personal qualities than with some sort of generic Republican racism. I see the same with Thomas Sowell, with Hispanic Republicans like Ted Cruz, and Asian Republicans like Bobby Jindal.
这可能在亚民族群体中最为明显，尽管人们非常关注共和党所谓的种族主义，极小部分黑人共和党人在党内表现好得令人震惊。本·卡森和Herman Cain都在各自的选举季中，短暂地于共和党总统初选投票中领跑，他们的失败相较于一些普通的共和党种族主义，似乎更多地与他们的个人品质有关。我在Thomas Sowell身上看到了同样的现象，还有像Ted Cruz一样的西班牙裔共和党人，以及像Bobby Jindal一样的亚洲共和党人。
Maybe an even stronger example is the human biodiversity movement, which many people understandably accuse of being entirely about racism. Nevertheless, some of its most leading figures are black – JayMan and Chanda Chisala (who is adjacent to the movement but gets lots of respect within it) – and they seem to get equal treatment and respect to their white counterparts. Their membership in a strong and close-knit tribe screens off everything else about them.
I worry that attempts to undermine nationalism/patriotism in order to fight racism risk backfiring. The weaker the “American” tribe becomes, the more people emphasize their other tribes – which can be either overtly racial or else heavily divided along racial lines (eg political parties). It continues to worry me that people who would never display an American flag on their lawn because “nations are just a club for hating foreigners” now have a campaign sign on their lawn, five bumper stickers on their car, and are identifying more and more strongly with political positions – ie clubs for hating their fellow citizens.
也许一个更强有力的例子是人类的生物多样性运动，许多人理解地指责完全关于种族主义。然而，它的一些主要人物是黑人——JayMan和Chanda Chisala (积极响应运动却因此得到许多族中的人)——他们似乎得到了与白人同等的待遇和尊重，他们强壮而紧密的部落成员可以肆意包庇他们的一切。
Is there such a thing as conservation of tribalism? Get rid of one tribal identity and people just end up seizing on another? I’m not sure. And anyway, nobody can agree on exactly what the American identity or American tribe is anyway, so any conceivable such identity would probably risk alienating a bunch of people. I guess that makes it a moot point. But I still think that deliberately trying to eradicate patriotism is not as good an idea as is generally believed.
I think tribes are interesting and underdiscussed. And in a lot of cases when they are discussed, it’s within preexisting frameworks that tilt the playing field towards recognizing some tribes as fundamentally good, others as fundamentally bad, and ignoring the commonalities between all of them.
But in order to talk about tribes coherently, we need to talk about rallying flags. And that involves admitting that a lot of rallying flags are based on ideologies (which are sometimes wrong), holy books (which are always wrong), nationality (which we can’t define), race (which is racist), and works of art (which some people inconveniently want to enjoy just as normal art without any connotations).
My title for this post is also my preferred summary: the ideology is not the movement. Or, more jargonishly – the rallying flag is not the tribe. People are just trying to find a tribe for themselves and keep it intact. This often involves defending an ideology they might not be tempted to defend for any other reason. This doesn’t make them bad, and it may not even necessarily mean their tribe deserves to go extinct. I’m reluctant to say for sure whether I think it’s okay to maintain a tribe based on a faulty ideology, but I think it’s at least important to understand that these people are in a crappy situation with no good choices, and they deserve some pity.
但是为了连贯地谈论部落，我们需要讨论凝聚物，这就意味着承认大量的凝聚物是基于意识形态的。 (这个观点有时候是错误的)，圣书 (它总是错误的)，国籍 (这我们无法定义)，种族(或者说种族主义者)，还有艺术座屏 (一些人们不愿意去欣赏的只是没有任何内涵的普通艺术品)。
Some vital aspects of modern society – freedom of speech, freedom of criticism, access to multiple viewpoints, the existence of entryist tribes with explicit goals of invading and destroying competing tribes as problematic, and the overwhelming pressure to dissolve into the Generic Identity Of Modern Secular Consumerism – make maintaining tribal identities really hard these days. I think some of the most interesting sociological questions revolve around whether there are any ways around the practical and moral difficulties with tribalism, what social phenomena are explicable as the struggle of tribes to maintain themselves in the face of pressure, and whether tribalism continues to be a worthwhile or even a possible project at all.
EDIT: I’ve been informed of a very similar Melting Asphalt post, Religion Is Not About Beliefs. Everyone has pre-stolen my best ideas
EDIT: 我已经被告知一个和Melting Asphalt非常相似的观点，宗教与信仰无关，每个人都预先偷走了我的优秀想法。