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Oppression of the Neuroscientist – what is subhumanization?

January 9, 2013

ZombieLaw has caught the attention of Bradley Voytek, zombie neuroscience post-doc – he didn’t answer the question I asked about Super Mario’s brain symptoms but he did tweet that he enjoys this blog and he tweeted: “What are the implications of sub-humanization?”

In the Super Mario post, I wrote: “I still worry about the epistemological effects of sub-human class categories” – This is also a point I made in response to Voytek’s zombie neuroscience cartoon.

So I’ve now googled “subhumanization” and aside from a youtube account, I’ve also found some useful information.

Wiki Answers asks:
“What is subhumanization?”
“Best Answer: direct transfer”
filed under > Wiki Answers > Categories > Science > Social Sciences > Sociology

Direct transfer? Like lack of any mediation, a complete and total intermediary – a mere tool of the task – my first thought was to think of transfer in terms of education and direct transfer as some sort of Matrix-style uploading of information.

The idea that this kind of transfer between minds is possible (even in some future) is contrary to logic because experiences are not numbers or accounts. A does not equal A. But “direct transfer” is also a term of art for investors and estate tax planners – assets on a balance sheet are equal to themselves – and note the connection to controlling assets after death and keep them away from the tax collector – See Investor Words:

direct transfer: The movement of tax-deferred retirement assets from one plan or custodian directly to another.

Subhumanization is also associated to dehumanization and objectification – see subheading in the book “Crimes Against Humanity: Historical Evolution and Contemporary Application” by M. Cherif Bassiouni

And the Wikipedia for dehumanization has a distinction between “Animalistic versus mechanistic dehumanization”:

People that suffer animalistic dehumanization are seen as immoral, unintelligent, lacking self-control and likened to animals.


Targets of mechanistic dehumanization are seen as cold, rigid, interchangeable, lacking agency, and likened to machines or objects.

The wikipedia includes citation to Haslam, N. (2006) “Dehumanization: An integrative review.” in Personality and Social Psychology Review, claiming that animalistic dehumanization associates to genocide of minority groups and mechanistic dehumanization is in interpersonal day to day use of other people as a means to an end.

The page also mentions race, ethnicity, objectification of women, the role of national governments, science, medicine and technology.

See also “The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil” on the subject of dehumanization:

Dehumanization is one of the central processes in the transformation of ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton perpetrators of evil. Dehumanization is like a “cortical cataract” that clouds one’s thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It makes some people come to see those others as enemies deserving of torment, torture, and even annihilation.

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology, mentions social cognitive scientist Albert Bandura – and from his wikipedia entry: Bandura “is known as the originator of social learning theory and the theory of self-efficacy, and is also responsible for the influential 1961 Bobo doll experiment.”

bobo doll entry on “sub human” relates it to “soulless” and so to: “callous, cold, cruel, feral, heartless, insensitive” entry on “subhuman” defines it:

1. Below the human race in evolutionary development.
2. Regarded as not being fully human.

See also “No Longer Human” (人間失格, Ningen Shikkaku), a Japanese novel by Osamu Dazai who suffered from PTSD.

And also, see the wikipedia entry on “Sub specie aeternitatis“: a latin phrase about eternal truths as a sort of sub specie – connecting quotes from some very relevant names: Thomas Nagel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Viktor Frankl, John Rawls, Peter Berger, Carl Jung, Phillip K. Dick and Ludwig Von Mises, among others.

See Nagel on what it’s like to be a bat, see Wittgenstein on language games, Frankl on finding personal meaning, Rawls on liberalism, Berger on social construction, Jung on the subconscious, Dick on technological fascism, and Von Mises on large data sets.

Finally, consider the connection of subhuman to sub-oppressors in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors.


From → Academics, computers

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