Analyses

Mass formation from first principles

This is an accessible, but not simplified, text in which derive the features of mass formation and the associated mass cognition from basic features of life.
We show it predicts the properties of authoritarianism and canceling very well.


Mass formation from first principles

Mass formation from first principles

In this analysis, we derive the features of mass formation and the associated mass cognition (authoritarianism) from the basic features of life. We do this from the theoretical perspective of core cognition: the hypothesized cognition shared by all of life.

Only a tiny part of this text concerns humans. Most of it pertains to all living agents. A key feature is of agents is agency: the ability to self-maintain existence1.

Core cognition describes the basic requirements for the selection of situationally appropriate behavior. Selecting situationally appropriate behavior is what all living agents do, all the time.

Agents differ in state, skills, and context, and they influence each other and the habitat via their behaviors. Behavior selection is a continual process and is unique for each agent.

In this presentation, we oppose two modes of being – coping and co-creation – as a caricature of the actual intricate, continual, and mostly constructive interplay between these modes.

However, mass formation emerges as a habitat dominance of coping through the suppression of co-creation in situations where agents feel inadequate and respond by curtailing difference. In this extreme, it makes sense to dispense nuance temporarily.

Coping and co-creation balance like yin and yang. Co-creation promotes diversity, complexity, novelty, and connectedness. Coping balances this by providing structure, predictability, utility, and focus.2 A productive interplay keeps the habitat vibrant and stable and allows its inhabitants to develop the skills to flourish.

This presentation focuses on what happens when habitat complexity exceeds the coping capacity of many inhabitants. The main text focuses on the introduction and description of phenomena. The footnotes provide literature references3 and illustrative comments4.

We start with some basics of core cognition.


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Core Cognition

Life can be described as “being by doing”: (living) agents exists because they act in ways that allow them to avoid danger, low viability, and death. Individuals always aim to be and remain as safe and viable (far from death) as possible. They strive to be and stay well.

Cognition for survival and problem solving differs from cognition for flourishing and problem prevention. Cognition for survival and problem solving has particular start-states such as problem or threat and associate end-states: a threat that has been dealt with or a problem solved. Cognition for flourishing and problem prevention does not have particular start- or end-states and ideally continues indefinitely as a goalless progression of favorable states5.

We call cognition for survival and problem solving “coping” and cognition for flourishing and problem prevention “co-creation.” In the case of life success, co-creation is the default, and coping is only a temporary fallback intended to restore safety after co-creation failed.

We refer to co-creation adequacy if the agent succeeds in preventing most problems. It exhibits coping adequacy if it solves problems quickly and effectively.

Conversely, co-creation inadequacy entails that agents are instrumental in creating their problems states. And coping inadequacy if agents fail** to end problems effectively.

In particular, if the coping mode of behavior leads to more or new problems or continued danger, it remains activated: a coping trap, where coping has become the default. Individuals in this state may never learn to become adequate co-creators. Life success requires that co-creation becomes the default mode of cognition.

Living agents learn a lot from copying the behaviors of others. But to become fully autonomous self-directors, they need to overcome the limits following the lead of others: social mimicry. They must learn to trust their decision-making; they exhibit bounded autonomy as long as they do not. Development from bounded autonomy to full autonomy is central to successful identity development.


Cognition from first principles

To remain alive, agents must protect their viability by satisfying basic needs. But they must also contribute to the viability of their habitat because all life depends on habitat resources to meet short- and long-term needs.

A surviving agent copes with pressing problems to protect its viability and generally takes more from its environment than it contributes. This is characteristic of coping.

A thriving agent contributes to a habitat where pressing problems can mostly be avoided and habitat viability maximises. This is a key feature of co-creation.

Dominant co-creation drove and drives the development of the biosphere. Conversely, dominant coping degrades the environment.

Living agency, or agency for short, is the ability to self-maintain existence. Agency manifests itself as bringing the co-dependence of self on the habitat in the service of self and the habitat. This naturally leads to a network of mutual dependency comprising all in the habitat.

In a self-stabilizing habitat, agents mainly express unforced self-initiated natural behavior that minimizes conflict and problems and stabilizes the habitat without aiming for particular stable states. Forests and human friendships exemplify this dynamic.

Co-creation and coping successes are both the result of skilled behavior. Skilled co-creation entails furnishing the habitat with broadly constructive traces in a process called stigmergy.

Skilled coping entails the quick and effective resolution of problem states, and it also provides the stable structure to benefit optimally from stigmergy.

In isolation, coping tends to utilize and exploit the (stigmergic) resources more than it builds them.


Understanding and autonomy

Skill, autonomy & understanding

Behavior is skilled when the outcomes of an agent’s activities realize intended benefits. Unskilled behavior realizes unintended outcomes: the agent wastes energy or the behaviors cause harm to self or others.

Skilled agents can predict the pattern of outcomes of their agency and select a course of action with likely favorable results. This proves they adequately understand what they are doing.

Unskilled agents are ineffective and might produce unintended adverse outcomes: they insufficiently understand the link between self-initiated action and consequences. They prove inadequate understanding of their habitat.

Agents who, more often than not, effectively predict the pattern of consequences of their own behaviors learn they can rely on their own predictions and become self-directed. Self-directors have brought their agency under self-control. They can, given their habitat, safely self-decide and can become effective co-creators and autonomous actors.

Self-directors are fully autonomous agents who truly self-maintain their existence (while being embedded in and dependent on a habitat they contribute to). They prove they generally understand the consequences of (not only) their actions and hence tend to appraise the habitat as safe and full of opportunities. They are mostly co-creating, and they are the authority in their life. They exhibit an internal locus of control and are self-optimizing their life. In general, they are happy.

Agents who often fail to predict the consequences of their behaviors live in a world of random outcomes. When they self-decide, they are often confronted with unforeseen, typically adverse effects that they cannot couple to their actions.6

Since they often cannot rely on their decision-making to realize intended benefits, they fall back and rely on social mimicry, which externalizes their locus of control: their actions are in part decided by those they mimic.

In general, they appraise the habitat as unsafe and problematic. This activates undirected anxiety (associated with the whole habitat’s state, not aimed at something in it), and they are mostly coping.

So depending on the ability to deal with habitat demands, the habitat is either appraised as safe and opportunity-filled or as unsafe and problematic7.


Inadequacy versus adequacy

Inadequacy versus adequacy

We define adequacy as the proven competence to prevent most problems and quickly and effectively solve those that could not be prevented. Adequacy is always defined with respect to the habitat. Adequacy in one habitat does not entail adequacy in another.

Adequacy is not some immutable biological fact like species, race, or gender; it depends on a combination of habitat demands, skill repertoire, a developed sense of realism, appraised safety, and other features that guide behavior selection.

Adequacy expresses, as a pattern of behaviors, mostly successful real-world interactions and high or improved viability. Inadequacy expresses a behavioral ontology in response to limited or disappointing real-world success8. This text gradually develops some features of these two ontologies9.

The more skills are generalized, the more they become effective in a broad range of habitats and over longer time scales. Opportunity exploration and participatory engagement with the habitat, characteristics of co-creation, promote this10.

We refer to adequacy with respect to the habitat as the combination of

  • sufficient skills to deal with daily challenges
  • understanding the link between behavior and its pattern of likely outcomes,
  • self-direction and minimal social mimicry
  • an internal locus of control,
  • full autonomy,
  • a general appraisal of the habitat as safe and full of opportunities, and
  • a general feeling of “being in control of self embedded in the habitat”.

In short adequacy is the ability to prevent most problems, and to quickly end those who could not be prevented.

Similarly, we refer to inadequacy with respect to the habitat as the combination of

  • insufficient skills to deal with daily challenges,
  • limited understanding of the link between behavior and outcomes,**
  • partial self-direction due to a prominent role of social mimicry
  • a resulting external locus of control,
  • bounded autonomy: only able to self-direct in an environment kept within adequacy bounds bij others (a role for authority)
  • a general appraisal of the habitat as unsafe and problematic, and
  • a broadly felt undirected anxiety (as counterpart of a feeling of being in control of self)

In short, inadequacy is the inability to prevent or quickly end problems and be instrumental in creating and perpetuating them. We refer to this as a coping trap.


Attitudes to diversity

Agents are sources of behavior, and the behaviors of many independently acting agents denote an explosion of habitat complexity11. Choosing behavior in a complex habitat is a challenge for all agents, but most to the least skilled. The appraisal of habitat complexity activates contrasting motivations among adequate and inadequate agents.

Adequate agents perceive many affordances and are motivated to explore habitat opportunities, and they enhance and protect the viability of self and the broader habitat. For adequate agents, complexity is a resource.

In contrast, inadequacy leads to a focus on the restoration of adequacy. And given the root of inadequacy, a lack of understanding between behavior and habitat outcome, this motivates agents to make the habitat more predictable (again). This manifests as an urgency to reduce the unpredictability of the habitat. And since self-directed agents are the primary source of habitat complexity, inadequacy manifests as intolerance to ill-understood diversity.

The associated behavioral strategy focuses on controlling or removing sources of diversity and, in particular, on all co-creation strategies that exceed the inadequate’s scope of understanding.

Within the inadequate individual, intolerance to diversity promotes self-curtailing of behavioral diversity by complying with emerging norms. This norm does not need to be optimal or even sensible; it just needs to lead to a less complex habitat.

Typically, the inadequate appraise the most active and effective co-creators as sources of intolerable diversity to be controlled or removed.

The strong urge to curtail and control the behaviors of others is a characteristic of coping dominance12.

Resistance to behavior curtailment is known as reactance13. It is always in response to the curtailment and usually weaker because the adequate typically have plenty of alternatives.


Shared inadequacy

Shared inadequacy

Agents vary not only in ‘adequacy with respect to the habitat.’ They also form a (never stable and ever-developing) web of relations.

If agents sufficiently understand and appreciate the action-outcome link of the behaviors of others, inter-agent relations can be tension-free and conducive for co-operation. They can be tension-laden and conducive to conflict without sufficient understanding and appreciation.

In addition, agents differ in interaction styles denoted as styles 1 and 2. Given these and other complications, selecting situationally appropriate behavior is difficult.

Usually, most agents are in a co-creation mode, and as such, they secure their viability while promoting future habitat viability via stigmergy. In doing so, life gradually creates room for more life.

Because co-creating agents focus on the viability of self in the habitat, they prioritize individual adequacy. They focus less on reducing inter-agent tension because they assume that other agents can also select co-creative behaviors.14

In contrast, inadequate individuals crave to reduce habitat complexity to restore or allow individual adequacy. They feel an uneasiness towards the habitat as a whole. This undirected anxiety is so broadly aimed that it is not actionable. And generally, they have difficulties selecting behaviors due to perceived habitat complexity.

This leads to atomized individuals who self-isolate to prevent being victimized by their inadequacy.

However, when inadequate agents meet, they find the associated reduced behavioral complexity of fellow inadequates attractive. In addition, they share an intolerance to all diversity beyond the scope of understanding.

One possible collaborative strategy is to promote sameness by controlling or removing sources of diversity. It is irrelevant what form of sameness is promoted; it is only relevant to reduce diversity effectively.

This strategy directs the anxiety and makes it actionable as an urge to increase sameness. In addition, the collaboration creates a sense of community and purpose that relieves the social atomization and reduces the appraised randomness (and associated meaninglessness) of the world.

This results in a shared strategy of social mimicry. Since social mimicry starts local, it gives rise to agents that agree on a local form of sameness.

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Social mimicry: inter-agent tension reduction

In situations of perceived increased habitat complexity, many agents experience more inadequacy and atomization and transit to the coping mode. This may entail a strategy shift from self-directed optimization of individual and habitat viability to strategies focused on reducing habitat diversity and promoting sameness.

A group-level expression of social mimicry entails a shift to inter-agent tension reduction15 as an organizing principle. Inter-agent tension is a measure of the unpredictability (perceived randomness) of the behavior of other agents: the more predictable their behavior, the lower the inter-agent tension.

Generally, inadequate agents experience much more tension from adequate individuals than vice versa because co-creating agents have higher self-direction, exhibit higher behavioral complexity, and understand action-outcome relations better.

When all group members select from a narrow range of shared behaviors, within-group tensions are minimized: everyone acts predictably in the eyes of others, and behavioral complexity is low16. This effectively reduces the probability of being confronted with one’s inadequacy. But it does not usually improve the habitat. It likely degrades it since thriving depends on the self-directed behaviors of skilled individuals.

At some point, groups of inadequate copers “surround” adequate self-directors. As a group, they are confronted with a source of ill-understood diversity.

This directs both their intolerance to diversity (a strategy) and free-floating anxiety (which determines urgency) to the source of complexity.

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Social mimicry: sameness and in-group forming

The resulting tension between copers and a minority of co-creators resolves when the co-creator is coerced to limit its overt behavior to the complexity of group-level shared behaviors or when the co-creator is purged. In short, the options are adapt, leave, or die.

The “leave or die” option manifest a ‘disgust reaction’ in the sense of distancing from a toxic influence that represents no positive value and deserves no protection.

Sameness promotion leads to forming an in-group: a group of agents sharing adequacy limits. In-group members share specific behaviors and motivations and behave in ways particular to the in-group to minimize the frequency of ill-understood diversity.

Within an in-group, the agents who determine the content of sameness most17 have a unique position. They are less confronted with their inadequacy than other members because they decide on the content of their inadequacy evasion strategies.18 The ability to determine the content and scope of sameness makes them authoritative within the in-group.19

Due to the behavioral limits that in-group membership imposes, co-creation becomes very difficult, if not impossible. But high-functioning in-group members20 will be less often confronted with their inadequacy and thus experience markedly reduced anxiety.

Co-creators do not form in-groups. Instead, they form flexible communities of freely cooperating individuals that promote individual short- and long-term viability in the habitat context. They need to update life skills through participatory engagement with the habitat constantly.

Ironically, the behaviors that help increase life skills and lead to individual and habitat growth are also the source of complexity that the inadequate are intolerant to and try to suppress. This entails that in-groups actively counteract the influences that can improve their quality of life. It locks them in a coping trap with low viability.

This also points to a characteristic difference between copers and co-creators: faced with challenges, co-creators skill up, while copers reduce habitat complexity and skill down in the service of sameness.


Oneness: centralization of authority

The local promotion of sameness and in-group growth leads to the formation of multiple unequal groups that at some point meet. And that leads to tension between two or more unequal in-groups.

Because in-groups base their cognition on the (arbitrary) content of their sameness21, they are generally unable to predict the outcomes of the actions of out-groups. The resulting sense of inadequacy directs the copers broadly felt anxiety and activates an urge to reduce the diversity between the two in-groups.

The tension manifests as an unstable balance between not fully compatible tendencies to:

  • protect in-group sameness
  • oppose and counteract the out-group’s sameness, and
  • extend the scope of the own sameness (increasing in-group membership).

The tension, and likely overt conflict, persists as long as the differences persist. At some point in time, possibly after conflict and at great costs of in- and out-groups, an enlarged in-group emerges22.

Once this is established, the directed anxiety becomes undirected again and is free to be redirected to a new source of ill-understood diversity.

The enlarged in-group has some sameness style that is now adopted by more agents, who in part needed to change their style. This enforced style change might be a source of future tension, especially if it does not offer benefits. The in-group can only remain stable when it sufficiently suppresses emerging or latent internal diversity. This entails that in-groups always need to invest in in-group diversity curtailment23.

Stable authority needs an infrastructure to implement intolerance to diversity24 (which may also suppresses the benefits of co-creation)25.

And as long as out-groups exists, even as as slightly different subpopulations of the in-group, its authoritative structures need to be ready and able suppress diversity and enlarge oneness26.

In-groups, as authoritative structures, have a natural tendency to grow. And since this holds even when resources can better be used in other ways. This drain on resources eventually precludes further growth and might be harmful27.

This enriches the role of authority: it is not only a source of a particular sameness, but it also represents the center of an infrastructure that contributes to the stability of the particular sameness that its inadequate members need to prevent being confronted with their inadequacy. This role of authority implements the bounded autonomy of in-group members.

The previous provides insight into the underlying features of authority. Authority is:

  1. A source of sameness that allows the inadequate to evade feelings of inadequacy
  2. An infra-structure to suppress diversity and extend the scope of sameness
  3. A way to address the needs that in-group members cannot provide for themselves and for which they dedicate their agency to proper in-group functioning28.

At the same time, communities of co-creators within a habitat comprising of more skilled, more diverse, and hence unique individuals hardly feel conflict when confronted with another group of skilled, diverse, and unique individuals. They use the added diversity as a resource to enhance the life skills necessary for a habitat-wide local optimization process.

Oneness and Authority centralization

Phase transition: mass formation

The previous assumed that the mass transition from co-creation to coping just happened. The transition process is a complex phenomenon similar to what physics refers to as a phase transition (e.g., liquid to solid).

Different individuals transit at other moments and probably multiple times to and fro before settling in coping. This depends on how the complexity of the habitat is appraised. The higher the appraised complexity (i.e., the lower the adequacy and the higher the undirected anxiety), the more likely coping becomes29.

Since coping comes with social mimicry, it leads to a positive feedback loop where more and more inadequate agents adopt a perceived majority style. For individuals, this might entail some flip-flopping before discovering the style of the emergent majority.

This mass formation process adopts, ever quicker, most inadequate agents into growing in-groups. At some transition point, these coalesce, seemingly in an instant, to an in-group that spans all corners of the habitat30. That is the phase transition due to the habitat-wide promotion of a single form of sameness and oneness.

The members of the habitat-spanning, but still sparse31, in-group experience tension wherever adequate self-deciders still co-create and hence stand out on the just-created background of sameness. This directs the in-group’s undirected anxiety to the most visible remaining self-deciders.

The remaining self-deciders stall regression towards further uniformity, simplification, and complete habitat dysfunctioning32. So resistance to emerging sameness, while individually dangerous, is essential to preserve part of the previous habitat well-functioning33.

Mass cognition

Mass cognition is a group-level manifestation of coping that starts with not having the skills to

  1. prevent unintended outcomes of behaviors and being confronted with unintended consequences, and
  2. being unable to predict the pattern of behaviors of out-groups34 (whose behaviors are interpreted as harmful).

The inadequate live in a world with random outcomes where they do not understand the relation between action and outcomes of self and others.

Being unable to prevent unintended harmful behaviors activates an urge to restore adequacy by reducing habitat unpredictability. This leads to promoting oneness and sameness through control and removal of sources of diversity. Out-groups are given the option to adapt, leave, or die.

Similarly, the inability to predict the behaviors of others activates an urge to curtail and control their behaviors. Again this leads to the options adapt, leave, or die.

The overall strategy of mass cognition can be summarized as the exclusion of all diversity activating agentic inadequacy.

This control strategy effectively aims to reduce an unconstrained open world to a controlled closed world that excludes all that freaks out the inadequate35. And that is why it gains broad support among the inadequate.

Even during a mass formation event, a minority of adequate agents persist in co-creation strategies, albeit very much curtailed.

For the habitat, this entails that co-creation features are minimally expressed. Only a few improve and protect the viability of the habitat, few are able and motivated to explore opportunities, and few see diversity as a resource.

During mass formation, the habitat is appraised as unsafe, deficient, and full of problems, and only a few experience it as safe enough to explore opportunities.


What we have been describing for a general living agent manifests in humans as “authoritarianism.” And specifically as conceptualized by Karen Stenner in her 2005 book “The Authoritarian dynamic.”

In fact our narrative provides a first-principles derivation of the defining features of authoritarianism

Stenner writes:

So, what authoritarianism actually does is inclines one toward attitudes and behaviors variously concerned with structuring society and social interactions in ways that enhance sameness and minimize diversity of people, beliefs, and behaviors.

This refers to “promoting sameness & oneness” and **“inter-agent tension reduction.” Stenner continues:

It tends to produce a characteristic array of stances, all of which have the effect of glorifying, encouraging, and rewarding uniformity and of disparaging, suppressing, and punishing difference.

This suggests “social mimicry” as the driver of uniformity. And it indicates that **“diversity is a threat.”

In addition:

Since enhancing uniformity and minimizing diversity implicate others and require some control over their behavior, ultimately these stances involve actual coercion of others (as in driving a black family from the neighborhood) and, more frequently, demands for the use of group authority (i.e., coercion by the state).

This bluntly states that sources of diversity must be controlled or removed via curtailing and controlling the behaviors of out-groups.

Stenner also states that:

“authoritarianism alone is heavily determined by cognitive incapacity to deal with complexity and difference”

Which is a way to define ‘inadequacy’.

This all leads to what can be referred to as the Authoritarian Motto: “We impose our (arbitrary)36 sameness on others."37


link text

The authoritarian dynamic

Stenner produced a simple formula to predict the strength of the intolerance to difference.

Intolerance to difference = authoritarianism x normative threat

A normative threat is a threat to the normative order. She defines this as **the system of oneness and sameness that makes “us” an “us.” A single out-group enacting some other sameness is annoying but not a threat. An actual normative threat markedly erodes the in-group. It inspires in-group members to first deviate from in-group behaviors by mimicking and eventually improve on it with self-direction.

Stenner specifically mentions authorities proving unworthy of trust (and hence less able to promote sameness) and loss of societal consensus. Untrusted authorities lead either to a shift towards other authorities or more self-direction. The loss of social consensus leads to a more complex world.

To determine whether individuals act as authoritarian or as self-director, Stenner used 5 simple two-option questions about how children should act .

Children should: Children should:
Obey parents Be responsible for their actions
Have good manners Have good sense and sound judgement
Be neat and clean Be interested in how and why things happen
Have respect for elders Think for themselves
Follow the rules Follow their own conscience

The options on the left exhibit social mimicry and correspond to an external locus of control. The options on the right correspond to self-direction and an internal locus of control. Stenner classified individuals who scored high on the left options as authoritarian.

To an authoritarian a normative threat is anything that self-empowers other agents to mimic less and self-decide more since this leads to a crumbling of the sameness and oneness designed to evade confrontation with one’s inadequacy.

In the absence of normative threats, authoritarians are not intolerant to diversity; a perceived normative threat changes this immediately into an in-group level reaction to purge sources of diversity.

A summary of much of the previous is that coping dominance is activated by a combination of inadequacy and the threat of increased habitat complexity. Typical threats are highly visible, self-deciding co-creators – adequate individuals – who inspire and empower others with more effective and realistic ideas, insights, and activities that benefit the habitat in the short and long term in ways that elude the inadequate.


Disgust reaction

The disgust reaction

The group-level disgust reaction is in characteristic response to a normative threat that is experienced as a threat to self.

Specifically a group-level disgust reaction a strong self-protective immediate reaction to purge the group from an effect felt to be toxic.

This is a rich description that points towards the main features of the associated decision-making.

  • That it is a strong reaction indicates urgency.
  • It is self-protective and hence disregards the target.
  • Immediacy precludes meta-cognition.
  • Purging entails that the target is isolated from the group.
  • The group-level response entails a reliance on (shared) in-group level sameness.
  • The threat is strictly not the target, but some unspecified negative influence on self.
  • That negative influence is reacted to with a sub-rational drive (although it can always be rationally justified).
  • Finally, toxicity entails harmful, malign, and potentially deadly.

This breakdown of the definition of group-level disgust points to the key features the in-group behavior selection:

  1. That the target is treated as harmful, malign, and dangerous influence to be disregard and distanced from entails that interaction with the target is minimized. The target is not part of the decision-making
  2. The response is a group response of inadequate individuals who share their in-group sameness that characterises their in-group defines and is an able to protect via its shared knowledge such as rules, procedures, norms, ideologies, …
  3. The urgency, lack of meta-cognition, reliance on explicit knowledge, and deep sub-rational drive ensures only superficial cognition (and definitely no co-creative contributions)
  4. The urgency, lack of corrective meta-cognition, in the deep sub-rational drive entails that the outcomes are basically fixed from the start.

The target is isolated, de-individualized, and perceived as a valueless threat The target is confronted with two options.

The first option is “We impose our sameness on you”. And the second **“We strip you of your agency”. Options corresponds to adapt, option 2 to or leave or die.

The first option is that the target recants and passes through a humiliating procedure in which it has to denounce its diversity, its individuality, and proof its in-group worthiness38. This option purges the diversity and restores oneness.

When the target is sufficiently self-directed and refuses to be brought down to the demanded sameness, restoration of oneness is impossible. The focus then moves to purging the target.

The way the target understands the habitat and and can engage in skilled behavior represents toxicity. Contact with the target’s point of view must be minimized at all costs. As a toxic influence, the target is valueless, hence no harm is done even if the target is hurt or killed. This restores in-groups sameness.


  1. More generally, agency is the ability to be a source of behavior. In this context, we talk about ‘living agency.’ ↩︎

  2. These two modes correspond closely to the outlook on the world of the left and right corical hemisphere as Iain McGilchrist describes in his 2011 book “The master and its emissary.” ↩︎

  3. Much of the background has been published in “Cognition from life” (Andringa et al., 2015), “The Evolution of Soundscape Appraisal Through Enactive Cognition” (van den Bosch et al., 2019), and “Coping and Co-creation: One Attempt and One Route to Well-Being. Part 1 & 2” (Andringa & Denham, 2021). Links to the files in the /basics section ↩︎

  4. Psychology tends to produce a rich and detailed description of the diversity of human behavior. Where psychology provides the ‘what’, core cognition aims to explain ‘why’ these cognitive phenomena exist and ‘why’ they have the properties they exhibit. ↩︎

  5. Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory describes this difference as underlying negative and positive emotions. For example, happiness is a goalless progression of favorable states. It expresses high co-creation and high coping skills. ↩︎

  6. The inability to couple one’s actions and real-world results make it impossible to take responsibility. It can, however, easily lead to a sense of being suppressed and blaming others or the system for the, in part, self-perpetuated misery. ↩︎

  7. We have described this process in detail for the appraisal of the sonic environment in Table 1 and Figure 4 of van den Bosch et al. (2019) ↩︎

  8. Because adequacy is defined in terms of real-world effectivity, it is entirely independent of whether you identify as a particular species, race, or gender or whether you decide that your skills, ideology, or outlook of the world are correct. Your (in)adequacy is solely determined by the average effectivity of your real-world interactions: whether or not your behaviors realize intended outcomes. ↩︎

  9. A more complete development of these behavioral ontologies is available in Andringa&Denham (2021), which is also presented in the /basics section and in summary in Two contrasting ontologies↩︎

  10. In Psychology Barbara Fredrickson addressed the Role of positive emotions in What good are positive emotions in what became The Broaden and Build theory. ↩︎

  11. Physicist would measure this in terms of entropy: a measure of the number of states the habitat can be in. However a habitat, even a very complex one, is not in any of all possible random states, as a gas of a given temperature would be. Rather a functioning habitat is in any of many highly unlikely (hence unstable) beneficial states that can only be reached and maintained through the skilled participation of its comprising agents. ↩︎

  12. This characteristic of coping is via a very powerful phenomenon that we refer to as closing the system and that leads to highly predictable, and for that reason highly useful artifacts such as computers. Probably a very similar “closing the system” processes let to the evolutionary development of multi-cellular tissues and complex individuals. ↩︎

  13. See for example Miron (2006) ↩︎

  14. Coping and co-creation correspond to complementary behavioral ontologies that cannot be intimately linked. The coping mode is especially unaware of the co-creation mode’s presence (and hence benefits). McGilchrist (2011) addresses this in great detail in his book “The Master and his Emissary,” where the coping is implemented by the left brain hemisphere and co-creation by the right hemisphere. ↩︎

  15. In physical terms this corresponds to a reduction of the number of the degrees of freedom, an entropy reduction in the habitat, and a reduction of temperature. Co-creation is “hotter” than coping. Copers prefer a reduction of temperature. ↩︎

  16. This is similar to the transition from free-flowing water to crystalline ice (ice can still flow, albeit much slower and in response to much higher pressures). Another temperature-dependent phase transition is associated with the Curie temperature of ferromagnetic metals. These metals can only be magnetized below their Curie temperature. Mass formation is a group-level phenomenon that similarly requires a reduction of the degrees of freedom (temperature). ↩︎

  17. In modern parlance these could be called ‘influencers’. ↩︎

  18. In social justice jargon this would be referred to as ‘privilege’. ↩︎

  19. This might be the reason who media control is key to oligarchic control. ↩︎

  20. Soviet citizens referred to these as apparatchiks. ↩︎

  21. Many so-called political analysts demonstrate this feature blatantly obviously by failing to represent the position of some out-group and basing their “analysis” solely on the in-groups understanding of the out-group. The result makes full sense to the in-group, but is a waste of words in terms of realism. ↩︎

  22. Wars, globalization, and mergers & acquisitions in business are examples of this. Unipolar global governance, monopolies, global religions and ideologies are the natural end-points of enlarging the in-group. ↩︎

  23. In humans, this is expressed as rules, norms, laws, standards, procedures, propaganda, ideologies, advertising, career paths, and the associated infrastructure such as law enforcement, media, and schools systems to ensure that most individuals end up contributing to “oneness and sameness.” ↩︎

  24. This manifests as our immune system that targets invaders and cancer cells (in-groups going rogue) in our bodies. In the case of auto-immune diseases, the immune system even targets its healthy cells. ↩︎

  25. In our societies this is implemented as the security state: intelligence agencies, security forces, and internal propaganda outlets. ↩︎

  26. This is why authorities in extreme circumstances turn their diversity suppression to the own in-group (as with the Jacobins and Stalin’s Great Purge). ↩︎

  27. Imperial overstretch is the tendency of all empires to grow beyond its sustainability limits so that at some point in time the military and other infrastructure for further growth becomes detrimental to the existence of the empire. ↩︎

  28. “… it seems that the bureaucratic form of organization stultifies the functioning of highly autonomous and motivated employees, while it actually provides the less autonomous employees guidance and effectiveness in roles in which they would otherwise not be able to function.” (Andringa, 2013, p225) ↩︎

  29. It is a bit more complicated than this. We (Van den Bosch et al., 2018) wrote a paper addressing the appraisal of the sonic environment, which outlines appraisal in more detail (Figure 4 and Table 1). ↩︎

  30. This is a phase transition that the author modeled during his master thesis. It addressed the concentration of impurities necessary to form a crystal-wide cluster: an in-group of sorts. This threshold happed to be about 3%. ↩︎

  31. Initially the shape of the habitat-wide in-group is more a sponge or Swiss cheese than a coherent block. The co-creators are still active in the holes and the holes might be the bulk of the volume. ↩︎

  32. In the movie Brasil a capable technician, who makes unsanctioned repairs in a dysfunctional bureaucracy, is viewed as a dangerous “terrorist”. ↩︎

  33. In human societies, this can translate into a, sometimes dangerous, moral duty to prevent slipping down much further into dysfunctionality than needed. ↩︎

  34. This is a definition of out-groups: an out-group is any agent (or group of agents) whose behavior is not understood by in-groups. ↩︎

  35. In Woke-speak this would be referred to as a “safe space”. ↩︎

  36. The reason to stress the arbitrary nature of the “sameness” is that it is rooted in complexity reduction and not in the realization of broad benefits. The structures of co-creation (usually only dynamically stable through continual care of self-directed co-creators) are rare beneficial states in a possibility space that is vastly bigger than the simplified and impoverished state-space of sameness and oneness that offer only the benefit of low complexity. ↩︎

  37. The Borg collective in the Star Trek franchise is slightly less extreme because they see value in the distinctiveness of out-groups. They state: “We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” ↩︎

  38. A fascinating example of such a humiliating procedure (ceremony almost) was recorded in during the Evergreen events in 2018 that led to the purging of Brett and Heather Weinstein. Embarking on the canoe towards equity stands for the reduction of diversity. Some individuals had to ask for permission for boarding the canoe by pledging their loyalty to the equity goals and denouncing their uniqueness. https://youtu.be/FH2WeWgcSMk?t=858 ↩︎