The Alienated Bootstrap

People used to call criminals alienated. Some criminals’ apparent alienation, though, is a lifestyle strategy. Others are so superficially normal their uncovered deeds are especially shocking.
In reality criminals are socially oriented and aggressively focused on control. With different experiences the same basic personality type can become among other things successful coaches, military professionals, politicians, or salespersons.
Alienation is a popular 1950s term that was applied correctly in other cases.
In 1989 psychiatrist David Forrest suggested that a genetic glitch caused so-called nerds’ intellectual and social abilities to develop at different rates. All traits vary and some autistic persons seem to almost lack social ability.
These genuinely alienated are baffled by the endless games, celebrity imitations, confusion of reality with wishes and theories, and other behaviors of naturally social people. They find much ordinary behavior incomprehensible, even frightening. They often make up a section of the personality spectrum that includes eccentrics, vagrants, and mental patients.
Others can’t be distinguished from average people and some are accomplished. As a group they have the typical range of abilities, and just as potential criminals become positive individuals the alienated can do more than simply avoid psychosis or ineffectiveness.
Their behavior as children and teenagers can be as chaotic as awkward but will be increasingly effective. They may imagine they differ from others only in being more rational and recognize each other only as persons having similar experiences.
In the long run a lack of ability can be beneficial. Pioneer ethologist Conrad Lorenz noted that humans’ deficiency of instincts gave  intelligence scope to develop.
They can suffer intensely but the alienated lack innate assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. They don’t make such common errors as believing everything is part of their social structure. Because they compensate for their lack of instinct with reason they can be socially objective.
Paradoxically, while other directed the instinctively social are self-centered. Because they don’t need to understand people few of them are capable of much empathy. If they alone existed life would be wholly about status, hero-worship, bigotry, persecution, style, and fads. Debate and what passed for science would be ad hominem shouting matches, even duels.
Into recent times people tried to treat natural events — eclipses, seasons, storms, tides — as powerful persons. Efforts to understand them rationally were treated as potentially angering those persons while threatening society and its leaders. In fact, modern appearing humans existed for nearly two hundred thousand years before modern behavior is in evidence.
Maybe that change was due to language, a common suggestion, but a specifically cognitive development such as Forrest proposed is more likely. It probably began in a small African population and at first spread only slowly.
The alienated, necessarily objective about people, have done the most to advance ethics and science. They likely invented moral codes to replace rulers’ situational, usually selfish commands. Only they could have the first insights into the cost and suffering of slavery. Science advances through the work of those unable to assume the sun and winds have emotions or that the king’s moods affect crops and tides.
Cultures seem variously alienated friendly in basic principles and over time. Some professions, guilds in earlier times, may attract and prefer the alienated. Certain organizations may seek out and cultivate them and have developed methods for identifying and encouraging them. These and related matters are for scholars and scientists to investigate.
The disjunction of reason and social instinct created modern behavior. Without it humans would have remained upright, verbal chimps sunk in endless social superficialities. Without the alienated, humans like related primates and despite high intelligence would be dwindling away.

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