T Nation

Challenge Your World View

I want to challenge my worldview and you jerks can help. Let’s play a game:


  1. You can only make ONE assertion and then ask ONE question.
  2. You must answer a question to propose in kind
  3. In your answer you CANNOT agree with the assertion, nor can you ARGUE the validity of the assertion, only answer the question.
  4. If you argue with someone’s answer, again, you can’t refute the assertion, but in that case it CAN be something you agree with.
  5. NO agreeing with answers without substantial additions to the answer. (Plus 1’s are encouraged. But is it for agreement with the answer, or for just giving a quality answer?)
  6. sarcasm will ruin this I think, lol

Obviously subjective assertions will lead to more discussion, but objectively wrong assertions will mandate some wicked philosophy so don’t be afraid. I also think the more open ended the question, the better the opportunity to explore yourself.

Here is a couple to get someone started so I can play along (hopefully):

a) Abortion is murder. But so what?
b) Mathematical results are always subjective. How is 2+2 = 6 true?
c) State ownership of the means of production is the only path to freedom. Who guards the food and why?
d) Who can reproduce and when should be state controlled. Who should never be allowed to reproduce and why?
e) Having genital preferences is transphobic. How can we deconstruct heteronomative falsity like sexual attraction to specific types of genitals?
f) Taxation is theft. How do we fund the government?
g) There is an explicit social contract. What is it’s preamble, and what age must one sign?
h) Government should engineer equality of outcomes as much as possible. What is more effective income caps, excessive taxation or some other form of redistribution?
i) Emotions are objectively good and bad. What makes an emotion bad? (no cheating with “it leads to X action”)
j) I made no consent to abide by them, therefore I’m not subject to society’s rules. How will I coexist?
k) Beauty is objective. Where should all the ugly people be banished to, and why there?
l) The social safety net is unnecessary. How do we roll back the spending?
m) Slavery is a necessary evil of humanity. Which group should be slaves, and why?
n) Unregulated free market is the only true freedom. Is anything more important than freedom?
o) Hate speech is NOT free speech. What is hate speech, and what is proper punishment?
p) All wages should be regulated, not just a minimum. Should the state collectively bargain on and individual by individual basis or would strict limits be more effective?
q) The only true path to freedom is elimination of any and all choices from a persons life. How do we effectively accomplish this and sort society?

I’ll toss up anymore that I can think of.

Ok. Thinking about this. Let me know if I’m doing it right. I read this article, that got me thinking. I haven’t read her book, and I don’t know if her cause and effect interpretations of the science and what she sees in her practice are accurate, but it has had me thinking about it. I’m a bit fascinated with the science of mothering, and neurological differences between men and women.

Assertion: The presence of mothers is much more important to the neurological development and emotional regulation in infants and young children than we previously thought.

Question: How should this effect public policy toward maternity leave?

Does that follow the rules, @countingbeans? You’re asking for a simple statement and a question, not a reasoned argument to start? It seems like the burden for argument goes to whoever answers the question. At any rate, I’ll try to get this rolling, here’s the link. I’m not sure if you want this here, so… Just trying to share my thought process to start off. Pardon the long wall of text. WSJ - paywall.

Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”

Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”

The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth.

What does that mean? “Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.” For that reason, mothers “need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.”

The regulatory mechanism is oxytocin, a neurotransmitter popularly known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin, Ms. Komisar explains, “is a buffer against stress.” Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children. “The more oxytocin the mother produces, the more she produces it in the baby” by communicating via eye contact, touch and gentle talk. The baby’s brain in turn develops oxytocin receptors, which allow for self-regulation at a later age.

Women produce more oxytocin than men do, which answers the obvious question of why fathers aren’t as well-suited as mothers for this sort of “sensitive, empathetic nurturing.” People “want to feel that men and women are fungible,” observes Ms. Komisar—but they aren’t, at least not when it comes to parental roles. Fathers produce a “different nurturing hormone” known as vasopressin, “what we call the protective, aggressive hormone.”

Whereas a mother of a crying baby will “lean into the pain and say, ‘Oh, honey!’ ” a father is more apt to tell the child: “C’mon, you’re OK. Brush yourself off; let’s go back to play.” Children, especially boys, need that paternal nurturing to learn to control their aggression and become self-sufficient. But during the first stages of childhood, motherly love is more vital.

Ms. Komisar’s interest in early childhood development grew out of her three decades’ experience treating families, first as a clinical social worker and later as an analyst. “What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls.” More youngsters were also being diagnosed with “social disorders” whose symptoms resembled those of autism—“having difficulty relating to other children, having difficulty with empathy.”

As Ms. Komisar “started to put the pieces together,” she found that “the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.” She began to devour the scientific literature and found that it reinforced her intuition. Her interest became a preoccupation: “My husband would say I was a one-note Charlie,” she recalls. “I would come home and I would rant and I would say, ‘Oh my God, I’m seeing these things. I’ve got to write a book about it.’ ”

That was 12 years ago. She followed her own advice and held off working on the book because her own young children, two sons and a daughter, still needed her to be “emotionally and physically present.”

She uses that experience as a rejoinder to critics who accuse her of trying to limit women’s choices. “You can do everything in life,” she says, “but you can’t do it all at the same time.” Another example is Nita Lowey, a 15-term U.S. representative from New York’s northern suburbs: “She started her career when she was in her 40s, and she said to me she wished she’d waited longer. She said her youngest was 9.”

Ms. Lowey is a liberal Democrat, but she was born in 1937 and thus may have more traditional inclinations than women of the baby boom and later generations. Ms. Komisar tells of hosting a charity gathering for millennials at her apartment. One young woman “asked me what my book was about. I told her, and she got so angry. She almost had fire coming out of her eyes, she was so angry at my message. She said, ‘You are going to set women back 50 years.’ I said, ‘Gosh, I wouldn’t want to do that.’ ”

Male attitudes have changed as well, Ms. Komisar says: “A lot of young men, particularly millennials, have been raised to believe that it’s even-steven; that women are to bring in as much money, and they’re always going to work.” Young women “make promises to their partners, these young men: ‘I’m going to work forever, I’m going to make as much money as you; maybe I’ll make more than you.’ It’s almost like a testosterone kind of competition.”

The needs of children get lost in all this—and Ms. Komisar hears repeatedly that the hostility to her message is born of guilt. When she was shopping for a literary agent, she tells me, “a number of the agents said, ‘No, we couldn’t touch that. That would make women feel guilty.’ ” Another time she was rejected for a speaking gig at a health conference. She quotes the head of the host institution as telling her: “You are going to make women feel badly. How dare you?”

In Ms. Komisar’s view, guilt isn’t necessarily bad. “My best patient is a patient who comes to me feeling guilty,” she says. “Women who feel guilty—it’s a ‘signal’ feeling, that something’s wrong, that they’re in conflict. If they go talk to a therapist or deal with the conflict head-on, they often make different choices and better choices.”

That’s “better,” not “perfect,” and Ms. Komisar is at pains to emphasize that “mothering is not about perfection.” She acknowledges, too, that staying at home isn’t right for all new mothers: Some lack the wherewithal to take time off work; some are depressed or distracted and “not really emotionally present.” When the mother can’t be there, Ms. Komisar says, the best alternative is a “single surrogate caregiver,” optimally a relative.

“The thing I dislike the most is day care,” she says. “It’s really not appropriate for children under the age of 3,” because it is “overstimulating” given their neurological undevelopment. She cites the “Strange Situation experiments,” devised in 1969 by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer of attachment theory: “A mother and the baby are on the floor playing. The mother gets up and leaves the baby in the room alone. The baby has a separation-anxiety response. A stranger walks in; the baby has a stressed reaction to the stranger.”

Researchers sample the infant’s saliva and test it for cortisol, a hormone associated with stress (and inversely correlated with oxytocin). In a series of such experiments in which Ms. Komisar herself participated, “the levels were so high in the babies that the anticipation was that it would . . . in the end, cause disorders and problems.” In a more recent variant of the experiment, scientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging to look directly at the brain of an infant reacting to photos of the mother and of a stranger.

You can see why tradition-minded conservatives welcome Ms. Komisar so warmly. Think about how they are stereotyped—as backward, superstitious, hostile to science. She shows that science validates what they know as common sense.

But although she returns their affection, she doesn’t share their distaste for contemporary mores. “We don’t want the ’50s to come back,” she tells me. “Women had children who didn’t want to have children. Women didn’t have other choices than having children, and women were ostracized if they didn’t have children. And women were ostracized if they went out into the world and worked.”

“What we do want,” she says, “is to be a child-centric society.” To that end, she offers a proposal many conservatives will find uncongenial: a government mandate that employers provide generous maternity benefits. “All mothers and babies should have the right to be together in the first year,” Ms. Komisar says. That means maternity leave at full pay, “and then the flexibility to be together as much as possible for the next two years—meaning mothers should have the ability to work flexibly and part-time.”

Ms. Komisar sounds very much like a liberal when she observes of the U.S. that “we’re the only civilized country that doesn’t have a maternity-leave policy.” I ask what she thinks of Ivanka Trump’s proposal to mandate six weeks’ paid leave for primary caregivers, regardless of sex. “It’s a start,” Ms. Komisar says. “It is not enough. Babies are just waking up from birth after six weeks, and even at three months they are incredibly vulnerable and not necessarily bonded with their mothers.”

But if most conservatives find Ms. Komisar’s solution too coercive or expensive, most liberals won’t even acknowledge the problem. “If we defend the idea that mothers are not necessary,” she asks, “what chance do we have to get a maternity-leave policy?” As important as her insights into child development are, her policy proposal seems destined for the political orphanage.

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Have you been reading a lot of Ayn Rand?

They do, Ms. Komisar.

Sorry, that just stood out to me. I can see myself getting side tracked pretty easily in this thread. I’ll come up with one of my own for old Beans.


I’m a bit confused… You are supposed to answer the question if you agree with the assertion, but can argue against it if you disagree?

Doubt I’m doing this right, but here goes.

In our case, it’s the same as the Preamble to the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If you’re male, you explicitly consent when you sign up for the selective service. Otherwise, I think consent is implicit, but no less real.

Assertion: Part of the President’s job is to be the Commander-in-Chief. Questions: Should time in service be a requirement to be the President?

I wasn’t very clear, but you must disagree with the assertion in order to answer the question.

I swear I wasn’t drinking, but I was certainly rushing through the post, lol

You have to disagree with the assertion on it’s face, but the point is to still answer the question.

Ohhhh, okay.

So like this:

Mathematics is not subjective (at least as far as I understand it. Perhaps quantum mechanics are, but I’m smart enough to understand that).

2+2 = 6 if you’re talking about 2 sets of 3 of something equaling 6 individual pieces in total. That doesn’t make the results subjective. It makes the interpretation of the results subjective.

*I should probably say “the interpretation of the question”. Not the results.

Now that I know you’re the resident quantum expert, I have a lot of questions.


No, lol. You can’t argue the assertion.

You have to pick an assertion you disagree with such as “slavery is a necessary part of humanity” and then answer the question as if you DO agree with the assertion. (or in anyway to avoid disagreeing with it.)

The point is to be able to correctly frame an argument from a perspective you disagree with, argue for it (or at least not against it), and see if it changes the way you look at things, or just digs you into the previously held belief.

So using your choice with the math assertion I would say we can only experience the world through our senses, and unless you can prove 2+2=4 without using any of the human senses, you can’t claim that any proof of 2+2=6 to be false, and then go on to twist up some really hippy level bullshit.

Math was created by humans, we have created the rules which surround all aspects. Changing the ‘physics’ of math is a necessity as the world evolves.

Ok. So, you want us to make an assertion, then ask a question, and then answer the question? I was thinking the next person was going to answer the question. No?

So, I’d argue that as a society we should prioritize children. The presence of the mother is vital during the first three years of life. The first six weeks of life isn’t nearly enough. So, we need to pay maternity leave to mothers, full salary for three years. If I make $300,000 per year, this will be expensive for the small business I work for to shoulder that, so the answer is … The government should do it. We already have a Gazillion dollar deficit, so let’s just do the right thing. It’s hard to NOT do sarcasm.

Slavery and neutering should be the course of action to take care of the impure. This will ensure that the beautiful, smart and physically fit will continue to populate the earth. If there were to be contact with alien life form we will be more physically fit to defend ourselves and/or attractive enough to procreate with other galactic species.

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No, you have to pick someone else’s assertion and then answer the question. Afterward you can propose an assertion/question of your own for other people to address.

Agreed. lmao, which is half the benefit of the exercise.

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Can you define who is impure?

How do we measure these people?

Also: you get to propose an assertion and question now.

Lol, I don’t even know if quantum mechanics are considered math. I pulled that straight out of my ass this morning.

Okay, take 3:

Food would be guarded by the collective through a randomly selected lottery system that assigns month long guard duty through an unbiased algorithm. Everyone must guard the food with no exceptions as part of the collective that utilizes the food. Guarding the food is necessary to ensure both internal and external threats don’t take what is everyone’s without the consent of everyone. Only when everyone has the same as everyone else are we truly free.

I’ll be in the shower if you need me…

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From a beauty standpoint: faces that are not symmetrical and meet the credentials set using algorithms.

Additionally, individuals who are born with, or develop, mental and physical imperfections.

As an example, while I meet the beauty and intelligence requirements, I would fail the physical. Not because I’m not a specimen for manliness but bexause I develop an eye disorder causing me to go blind at age 22.

The physical limitations are quite simple. At age 12, individuals would need to meet physical strength requirements. Each year they would become more strenuous until age 40, when they would remain stagnant until age 65. The age requirement would continue to increase as generations become more physically fit and imperfections are bred out.

Mental illnesses would be an immediate cause for slavery. Unless moderate/high functioning genius.

Ive got a few, but need to refine them before posting. Hard to do on a phone while at the mall with wife and in-laws.

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