Boot Camps, Mormon Missionaries, and Academic Lobotomy: Rites of Passage II

Intense Late Adolescent Psychological Re-Orientation Takes Many Forms

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recruit_training
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recruit_training

Why Is Boot Camp So Intense?

You have to train 18-year-olds to run to the sound of gunfire and perform under fire and the threat of death.

This act defies all logic, goes against all human instinct, and takes one of the most intensive acts of psychological reprogramming to overcome.

… There will always be the need for young men and women who are willing and able to run to the sound of imminent danger and many, to their death. Nations need this. You need this. It is a horrible thing, but the sanctity and security of every nation on Earth requires young men and women capable of doing this.

To do this, however, we need a form of psychological training that is able to forge individuals who can do this. That is why boot camp has evolved to become such a potent tool in today’s military machine.
__ Jon Davis, Marine Sergeant

Sergeant Davis does not mince words. In order to create marines out of raw recruits, an intense form of psychological re-orientation (or reprogramming) is required. Why? Because most raw recruits arrive at basic training fresh from an extended childhood. They have been pampered, sheltered, told they were special, provided with their every need — and often their every whim — just like a child. But real adult life is not childhood in a productive society. “Children” need to undergo some form of transformation before they are able to understand the distinction.

Not Every Form of Rite of Passage Need to be So Intense as US Marine Boot Camp

Throughout the church’s history, over one million missionaries have been sent on missions.[2][3] __ Wikipedia

The Salt Lake City, Utah based Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church has its own rite of passage for youth. We have all seen “Mormon Missionaries” walking and biking about. But what is the inside story for this religion based rite of passage? First, its’ dangerous.

Missionaries intentionally go after people in desperate situations. On my mission, we’d go into the worst parts of town to talk to the meth addicts and crackheads. Sure, they need help and attention more than anybody, but most of my colleagues were distinctly upper middle class white Mormons. Short of bursting out into an impromptu rap about how “drugs are for thugs,” there’s no way they could have been more conspicuous.

Training for “missionhood” is regimented, with long hours.

The whole thing is divided up like the underclass in some dystopian sci-fi world — we’re separated into wards, zones, and then six-man districts. You don’t associate with anyone outside your zone while you’re training. Every missionary has to be in sight of their companion at all times. For two solid years, our only alone time was in the bathroom. Do not, under any circumstances, picture the state of that bathroom.

… It’s pretty much like The Hunger Games…

Mormon Missionaries are given this intense programming so that they can get results for the church. They must be committed before they begin — because they pay for their training in hard cash and precious time. And on top of all that commitment ant training fees, the church expects a larger return.

Among other things, you’re not allowed to use a computer if a companion can’t see the screen, and you’re never supposed to be out of their earshot. The logic is that you can’t break the rules if you’re never, ever alone…

… We log everyone who shows interest — or even talks with us — and follow up on a regular basis. That’s because the whole “converting souls” thing is very much a competition. The higher ups in the church are obsessed with numbers. They want people baptized, inactive members brought back to the fold, etc. __ Time as Mormon Missionary

The fatality rates among Mormon Missionaries are lower than among combat marines, during wartime. But Mormon Missionaries are always at war against the dark forces of human nature, so there is never any letup.

Much Beyond Religious Conversions Often Emerges From the Mormon Missionary Experience

Being thrown into strange and dangerous settings and experiences forces the young Mormon to think on his feet, to sink or swim. Many missionaries develop robust resilience in the field, which they bring back with them to their subsequent lives.

The notion of the Mormon mission as a crucible is a common one, and the benefits gained from going through it have been used to help explain the prominence of LDS Church members in business and civic life.[50][51][52][53] Mission experience has also helped prepare RMs for later engaging and prospering in non-Mormon environments.[54] __ Wikipedia

Other Common and Usually Constructive Rites of Passage for Late Adolescents

Any intense extended experience — either solo or group — can serve as a rite of passage from childhood into adulthood. Immersing oneself into particular occupations can serve the “passage” purpose quite well. Examples may include training as EMT / Paramedic, Search and Rescue, Police or Fire Department training, Commercial Deep Sea Diving, Wild Fire Jumpers …

Not all of the 20 Deadliest Jobs in America would qualify as rites of passage, but one can get a sense of which jobs may be more intense — and transforming — than others.

Washington Post
Washington Post

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A Dangerous Child Will Have Mastered Multiple Dangerous Skills Before Age 18

Dangerous Child training is different from the run of the mill “rite of passage” discussed above. Dangerous Child training begins before birth and continues throughout the lifetime. Multiple rites of passage succeed each other, as mastery is applied to mastery, and complementary skills are added to complementary skills.

The point of it all is to help build a more abundant and expansive human future, using networked Dangerous Communities as pivot points and backup systems for larger societies that are too often subject to failure from dysgenic and ideologic Idiocracy.

Faux Rites of Passage

In lieu of meaningful rites of passage, modern children and youth are typically trusted to educational institutions and other institutions of culture and society at large, throughout their formative years. When youth are shunted off to college and university without having faced significant passage rites, they typically undergo what is known as “academic lobotomy,” or a brainwashing / reprogramming process carried out by idologues among university faculty and staff.

Instead of preparing youngsters for productive, creative, and fulfilling lives, such indoctrination only introduces and deepens broadly-held delusions and misconceptions about the underlying mechanisms of the natural and the human universes. Such academically lobotomised persons will find it an uphill battle to see through their brainwashing to the solid world beneath.

Other false rites of passage include a young woman having a child out of wedlock and going on welfare, or a young man joining a criminal gang that brainwashes him and limits his future just as surely as any academic lobotomy.

Rites of Passage Open Doors into Multiple Futures

There is a reason why military-trained persons are considered prime recruits for several types of occupation. The skills and mature attitudes that can be learned in military service prepare a young person for several avenues of productivity.

As noted above, the same is considered true for returned Mormon Missionaries. As a result of being forced to innovate and think outside the box, the returned missionary is of more value to prospective employers, and more capable as an entrepreneur.

Any process that teaches a young person to utilise his knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness under unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances — over a significant period of time — can serve as a rite of passage, if empowering lessons are learned.

But if “lessons of disempowerment and futility” are learned, any passage that occurs is likely to be in a backward direction.

Best to begin the process of serial rites of passage at an early age, and build upon it in a solid and progressive manner.

Deconstructing “Grit”

… grit is hardly distinguishable from conscientiousness, one of the classic Big Five traits in psychology. The study, which included a representative sample of U.K. students, measured grit against conscientiousness. Grit, researchers discovered, accounts for only an additional 0.5% of variation in test scores when compared with conscientiousness. IQ, on the other hand, accounts for nearly 40%, according to Plomin.

Source

Schools in the Anglosphere are spending a lot of money in an attempt to increase the level of “grit” in children. But what is it that needs to be bolstered, and what part does a child’s genes play in “grit?”

Grit is Persistence, Motivation, Conscientiousness, Focus, Impulse Control, and more

Some of the components of grit
Some of the components of grit

The author of a best-selling book on grit, Angela Duckworth, is stepping back from some of the hype that has been propagated in her name.

The consequences of hasty applications of grit in an educational context are not yet clear, but Duckworth can imagine them. To be sure, it’s not that she faults these educators — in many ways, she says, these are the best in the field, the ones who are most excited about trying innovative new ways of helping their students succeed. But by placing too much emphasis on grit, the danger is “that grit becomes a scapegoat — another reason to blame kids for not doing well…

… Grit, as Duckworth has defined it in her research, is a combination of perseverance and passion — it’s just that the former tends to get all the attention, while the latter is overlooked. “I think the misunderstanding — or, at least, one of them — is that it’s only the perseverance part that matters,” Duckworth told Science of Us. “But I think that the passion piece is at least as important. I mean, if you are really, really tenacious and dogged about a goal that’s not meaningful to you, and not interesting to you — then that’s just drudgery. It’s not just determination — it’s having a direction that you care about.” __ Questioning Grit

Duckworth is the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur genius grant. She gives TED Talks, has written a bestseller on grit, and has made a good career from promoting “grit” in all its ambivalence.

But it is time to “deconstruct” grit so that we know what we are talking about, and can apply the relevant concepts to helping children develop their potential as individuals and members of various work, social, and civic groups. We know that executive function and personality play as large a role in success as IQ, and that all are strongly influenced by gene expression.

Previous research has shown that a child’s personality can predict a significant, although modest, proportion of the differences between children’s grades at school. For example, a link between conscientiousness and school achievement can explain around 4% of the differences in children’s grades.

… whether or not a person has more or less grit is substantially influenced by their DNA – and explains around a third of the differences between people’s level of grit. We showed that grit is highly similar to other personality traits, showing substantial genetic influence and no influence of shared environmental factors.

… the big Five personality traits – mainly conscientiousness – explained 6% of the differences between exam results of the 16-year-olds in our study. But after controlling for these personality traits, grit on its own did little to influence academic achievement, explaining only an additional 0.5% in people’s GCSE results. __ Conversation

The above comments and research results help somewhat in untangling grit. We know that IQ is up to 80% heritable and executive function (including conscientiousness) is up to 90% heritable. Twin studies suggest that personality is 40% to 50% heritable in the early years, and more so as a person ages.

Grit is usually seen as a combination of self-discipline and persistence / determination. But as Angela Duckworth herself points out, “passion” when seen correctly is a vital part of “grit.” Humans are not robots. They are driven — and drive themselves — by emotion. On top of passion, a sense of purpose is often overlooked when discussing “grit.” For grit to mean anything at all, a person must be “gritty” about something, some purpose.

So if the purpose is unclear, and the passion is weak and opaque, what good is grit?

Additionally, grit can be counter-productive when it fails to adapt to the nuances of particular situations. Persistence, determination, purpose, and passion are important, but they all must be modified somewhat at times by self-discipline, another pre-frontal executive function that is up to 90% heritable. And self-discipline must be informed by wisdom, which is a combination of cognitive aptitude and the ability to learn from one’s own and others’ experience.

The Dangers of Jumping on Popular Bandwagons

Dangerous Children are taught contrarianism, which helps them to avoid the oft-fatal error of bandwagon riding. For example, the mainstream was carried away by Angela Duckworth’s book, Ted Talks, and other contributions to the grit crusade. But since every concept contains multiple errors and pitfalls, carrying any monolithic theme too far without examining all of its components and ramifications, is certain to lead one to overstep himself into a quagmire.

Dangerous Children take grit for what it is, a useful — although ambivalent — trait that parsimoniously incorporates several important aspects of ultimate success.

Grit: Nature vs. Nurture

As mentioned above, IQ is up to 80% heritable, executive function is up to 90% heritable, personality is roughly 50% heritable early in life, and so on. Passion is part of personality, and persistence and conscientiousness are part of executive function. All of them are shaped by intelligence as influenced by experience.

Purpose is the vision, or the guiding light. Purpose utilises all of the above, but contains something extra — something that comes from the turbulent currents and possibilities within the “real world” as the child’s mind sees it. This is where the “community IQ” and “community executive function” influences the child’s intelligence, character, personality, and sense of purpose — via experience, and via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.

It is impossible to untangle nature from nurture, and neither should be denied its role in the weaving of the character, personality, and life trajectory of the child.

Dangerous Children Do Not Care for Ideology or Crusades

To the extent that “grit” has become a crusade in education and pop psychology, the idea is ignored here at the Institute. But to the extent that the word can be used as a trigger to release a child’s unique orchestra of purpose-supporting strengths, it is invaluable.

The human mind drifts from state to state, from intention to chaos to intention again. The self-management of most intelligent minds can be very difficult unless the flexibly tough integrity is built in from the earliest age. Genes and gene expression will vary between individuals, but all minds can be reinforced and empowered to some degree of increased self-discipline, purpose, strong character, success-promoting personality, and enhanced aptitude across a wide range of competencies.

Modern education and psychology have missed the boat, largely out of a sense of political correctness and groupthink. But there is no reason why you or your children should ride the same bandwagon over the abyss.

Competence… Confidence… Coping… Control… Character…

Building Resilience in Children, Teens, and Young Adults

Dangerous Children learn a lot more than how to be dangerous, and how to support themselves financially at least three different ways by age 18. By age 18, some of them have finished college, while others will find their ways around the world through skilled and creative work, without a college education.

All of them must learn to be resilient, which involves character and “grit,” among other things. More on one approach to teaching resilience to children and teens:

The seven “Cs” that are introduced below come from the book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens” by Kenneth Ginsburg. Notice that the super-concept of resilience incorporates basic concepts of “competence, confidence, character, coping, and control,” among others. Coincidentally, these are all crucial components of The Dangerous Child Method. More from blogger Adenia Linker:

Competence

Competence is cumulative, acquired through actual experience, and manifests in children as “I can do this!” As children struggle with skill building and say, “I can’t”, they often feel hopeless. They need to hear “yet” at the end of their declaration …

Confidence

Our children’s confidence flows from their competences. When they feel competent after mastering a skill, they are charged to take on even more challenges…

Connection

…By building rituals that guarantee a calm opportunity for family time, we show them we are present without weighing in on their daily activities…

Character

Today’s pop culture sadly dismisses the value of character by advocating celebrity heroes and elite America as role models. Our children need access to ordinary heroes – realistic role models to emulate, and opportunities to observe how true heroes are givers. Adolescents have a fundamental sense of right and wrong, and understand that character is doing what’s right when no one is looking….

Contribution

Everyone needs a sense of purpose, especially our youth who are identifying his or her own strengths… Giving and contributing to another’s welfare develop new skills and talents…

Coping

Resilience is all about learning to cope with setbacks and disappointments, and it is entirely dependent on developing skills that employ positive strategies…

Control

… responsibility for behavior ultimately lies with our child…

Cultivating the 7 C’s: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, and Control build youth resilience. This is simply the most comprehensive approach to bolster our children against physical symptoms, fatigue, disinterest, dropping grades, sad mood, irritability, and substance abuse – all which can surface when resilience is limited. __ Adenia Linker

These “skills of resilience” are closely linked to the brain’s prefrontal cortex executive function skills, character, and grit.

Executive function skills take place in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and other areas of the brain working in concert with it. We use these skills to manage our attention, our emotions, our intellect, and our behavior to reach our goals. They include:

Focus — being able to pay attention;
Working memory — being able to keep information in mind in order to use it;
Cognitive flexibility — being able to adjust to shifting needs and demands; and
Inhibitory control — being able to resist the temptation to go on automatic and do what we need to do to achieve our goals.

As children grow older, these skills include reflecting, analyzing, planning and evaluating. Executive function skills are always goal-driven. __ https://secure.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky/executive-function-skills_b_1412508.html

Although the prefrontal cortex’ executive functions are thought to be highly heritable, there is some evidence that many of the skills can be built up through training.

It is clear that exec­u­tive atten­tion and effort­ful con­trol are crit­i­cal for suc­cess in school. Will they one day be trained in pre-schools? It sounds rea­son­able to believe so, to make sure all kids are ready to learn. Of course, addi­tional stud­ies are needed to deter­mine exactly how and when atten­tion train­ing can best be accom­plished and its last­ing importance.

In terms of health, many deficits and clin­i­cal prob­lems have a com­po­nent of seri­ous deficits in exec­u­tive atten­tion net­work. For exam­ple, when we talk about atten­tion deficits, we can expect that in the future there will be reme­di­a­tion meth­ods, such as work­ing mem­ory train­ing, to help alle­vi­ate those deficits.

Let me add that we have found no ceil­ing for abil­i­ties such as atten­tion, includ­ing among adults. The more train­ing, even with nor­mal peo­ple, the higher the results. __ http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/10/18/training-attention-and-emotional-self-regulation-interview-with-michael-posner/

Cognitive neuroscientist Michael Posner — interviewed at the link above — uses advanced brain imaging technologies to support his stance in favour of executive functions training.

Until recently, most economists and psychologists believed that the most important factor in a child’s success was his or her IQ…. But the scientists whose work I followed for How Children Succeed have identified a very different set of skills that they believe are crucial to success. They include qualities like persistence, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Economists call these non-cognitive skills. Psychologists call them personality traits. Neuroscientists sometimes use the term executive functions. __ http://www.paultough.com/the-books/how-children-succeed/extras/

Paul Tough, author of “How Children Succeed,” is another proponent of “character education,” or the teaching of “grit” and executive function.

A recent critic of the teaching of grit, is Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, assistant professor at Carleton College, and the author of a recent book on black history.

Inspired by the field of positive psychology, character education at KIPP focuses on seven character strengths—grit, zest, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. These seven strengths are presented as positive predictors of success in “college and life.” Grit, for example—a term Angela Duckworth used to mean “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”—has been shown to correlate with grade point averages and graduation rates. Levin envisions that character education will be woven into “the DNA” of KIPP’s classrooms and schools, especially via “dual purpose” instruction that is intended to explicitly teach both academic and character aims. __ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117615/problem-grit-kipp-and-character-based-education (via http://Isegoria.net )

Snyder goes on to complain that KIPP training places undue emphasis on “talking about character training rather than doing it,” teaching grit without also teaching values, and focusing too much on college preparation rather than “life preparation.”

The truth is that any large program approved for teaching in government schools is likely to be sadly deficient in many ways. That is one reason that homeschooling is so crucial for parents who are most concerned about full spectrum education. Even if you must send a child to government school, he should still receive additional homeschooling on top of his regular schooling.

Children are confronted every day with efforts to break down their personal integrity, and to shape them to conform to mass norms at the lowest common denominator. The more resilient they are through development of competence, confidence, character, coping, self-control, connection to virtues and values, and ability to contribute positively to his surroundings — the better able the child and teen will be to grow into a responsible, productive, and positive adult.

The more individual skills and unique positive talents and characteristics the child has developed, the more difficult it will be for the skankstream to pull him deeply into the current where he will lose control.

Resilience and dangerousness. Not politically correct by any means. But necessary if humanity is to have a free, open, and abundant future.

Bonus: Portraits of Competence from original Al Fin blog

Articles on Competence from original Al Fin

Adapted and re-published from Al Fin Next Level