Monday, December 8, 2014

No, Neo. You Can't Take Both Pills.

Actions speak truer than words. Always. People don't necessarily believe what they believe they believe. For example, if you were to poll a bunch of people on the question: "Do you believe that all human lives have inherent value?", you'd get quite a few positive responses. If you were to further question those "yes" responders, "Do you believe that money/market-based economics is a fair and beneficial institution?", many of those people would again, answer in the affirmative. (Let's assume that all gave, what they believed to be, honest answers.) This is a common instance of cognitive dissonance in action. That's because money/market-based economics depends on the belief that human life has no inherent value. How else can one justify allowing anyone to die for want of available resources, merely because they lack "proof", in the form of symbolic tokens, that their life is worth something? The saddest thing about it is, most of the people who answered "yes" to both questions, if they had to choose only one, really would prefer to uphold the first proposition. It's a safe assumption since, if they were not naturally empathetic, they wouldn't have said "yes" to the first question. But, cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon of the conscious mind; the subconscious mind can only accept one of those contradictory beliefs, and it will be the one that is most often acted upon. Since market forces are such a pervasive influence in most people's lives today, that means the second "yes" answer is the one most of us really believe. There are very harmful psychological/social consequences from this, and the cognitive dissonance involved, stops most people from even noticing. It isn't realistically possible for most people to avoid participating in the money/market system. But, it is possible to correct the cognitive dissonance by consciously rejecting any belief in its rightness/legitimacy. If you choose to do that, you will, henceforth, be participating under duress. That choice is going to result in psychological discomfort. Unfortunately, it is the necessary price of true social change. It's peanuts though, in comparison with the inevitable cost of remaining in denial. If you value free will, or the capacity for critical thought, there is absolutely nothing more important than consciously auditing your beliefs to expose and eliminate cognitive dissonance.
NEO: "What happens if I take both pills, Morpheus?"
MORPHEUS: "Nothing, Neo. Not a damn thing."

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Pied Piper On The Road To Hell

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
-proverb

I won't be attending the up-coming AGW (anthropogenic global warming), protest march in my area. (I also refuse to accept the Orwellian substitution of the phrase, "climate change" for AGW.) It's not because I don't care about the environment, or because I'm fiscally conservative (LOL), or because I'm convinced that Jesus is coming back any day now to make the whole thing a non-issue. Although I'm of the opinion that the AGW scare is a total fraud, that's not entirely why either. Nevertheless, I will share my reasons for not believing in AGW, before moving on to my additional motivations for refusing to support the AGW cause.

Why I'm Not a Believer

1. As outlined above, I don't reject the the theory of AGW because of any ideological conflict of interest. I have never, and will never, accept funding or any other benefit from the fossil fuel industry or any of its advocates. My personal "carbon footprint " is miniscule; I've never even owned a car. I can think of no vested interest on my part, that would be threatened by my acceptance of AGW's reality. On the contrary, AGW would only strengthen the case for a change to gift economy. I could even feel smug about my current life-style, if I wanted to. I am willing to be convinced. I've spent many hours looking for convincing evidence in support of the theory, and I remain open to receiving such evidence. I am unconvinced. Correlation does not prove causation. Yes, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere appears to be linked to surface temperature. It is not clear that one causes the other. If one does cause the other, there is, presently, dispute as to which is the cause, and which the effect. It may be that both are effects of another cause; the Sun, for instance. AGW theory assumes that rising atmospheric CO2 causes surface warming. This is not proven, and is disputed by some dissenting scientists. It further assumes that human activities are the primary cause of an observed rise in atmospheric CO2. Also unproven, and disputed by dissenting scientists. If AGW theory holds water, then is it not reasonable to expect the models, based on that theory, to have some predictive value? I think so, and given the fact that, almost two decades later, the model-based predictions were wildly wrong, is it not rational to conclude that those models (at the very least) failed to account for important influences? Yes, it is. In addition to the above-mentioned, I have to wonder why, if the evidence is so strong, the AGW lobby finds it necessary to engage in data tampering, misrepresentation, bullying/professional blackmail, overt and thinly disguised threats,and other assorted dirty tricks, to advance their cause.

2. I am justifiably suspicious of AGW theory, due to the fact that it is far too convenient and profitable for powerful vested interests. AGW believers frequently claim that fossil fuel purveyors would be harmed by legislation allegedly aimed at curbing global warming. They further claim that AGW "denial" is primarily funded, and otherwise encouraged, by the fossil fuel industry. Like the AGW models, this theory fails to take important factors into account. Namely:
     a) The fossil fuel industry would not actually see a loss of profits because any costs incurred would be passed on to their customers.
     b) Those industries have a captive customer base. Transportation, for example, will be dependent on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. People will continue to need light and heat, and in most cases, their options for energy supply are limited and beyond their control. (More on this later.)
     c) The major share-holders in the fossil fuel industry also have investments in other areas. They are, in fact, so mind-bogglingly rich and powerful that there's just no possibility that governments or popular opinion could oppose their actual wishes in any effective way. If the mainstream media are pushing the AGW narrative, (and they are), we can safely assume that it is with their consent and blessing. Any funding of AGW "deniers", on their part, is therefore, purely for show and intended to discredit legitimate objections. In any case, such funding is utterly dwarfed by the amounts at the disposal of the AGW lobby.
     d) Powerful fossil fuel industry players, are officially and financially supportive of AGW theory and currently proposed initiatives.
3. The "solutions" being proposed to fight AGW are either ineffective (see 2.b) above), or supportive of some other, more plausible, agenda, such as global government, increased taxation, conditioning people to feel ashamed of wanting to exist at all, etc.
4. Actions speak louder than words. The same groups and individuals who are pushing hardest for action on AGW are not acting as though they actually believe in it.

Since I'm all for erring on the side of caution, if warranted, I was curious about what the "worst case scenario" predicted by the AGW proponents, would look like. Turns out, nobody, NOBODY, not one of the models, is predicting a runaway greenhouse effect. In other words, there is no "point of no return". If a clean, efficient and renewable energy technology is discovered any time in the next 50 years or so, the problem of AGW (assuming it's real) would be solved. Conversely, if such an energy technology is not found, all the taxes and laws in the world aren't going to make a significant difference in the long term. This is another reason I'm deeply suspicious of the motivations and truthfulness of the AGW alarmists. If they were truly concerned about the alleged threat, they would be demanding massive funding for scientific research to focus itself urgently on finding that new energy technology. That would get easily as much public support as putting a man on the Moon did. Top researchers in those fields would be worshiped like pop stars in the media. Public charities would be set up; benefit concerts and telethons would be arranged. That's what would happen if they really believed what they're warning us about. But they don't talk about that. No, they discuss carbon-credit trading schemes, and sweeping new taxes, not to fund research into new energy tech, but to drive down demand. Did you think all that money was ear-marked for fighting AGW? It's not. It's going straight into the general revenue streams of the taxing authorities. A tiny fraction of that gets invested in smart meters, and windmills, and solar panel arrays.Worthless, expensive shit. (You don't hear much about geothermal; probably because it's not stupid.) They fly to "climate change" conferences in private jets. They talk about depopulation. Global government, with total control. (Haven't they been saying they wanted those things for a hundred years at least?) The entities who claim to believe in AGW can't possibly know that a new energy technology can't be found. So why are they behaving as though it can't? It is at least possible; likely, even. It should, therefore, be pursued as a top priority, because anything short of that (assuming a continuation of the market-based economy) can only push the alleged problem further down the road. Depopulation/austerity will "have" to be resorted to. And a new energy tech will still need to be found.
If AGW is real, the "solutions", favoured so far, are futile in the long term and make no sense.
If AGW is a fabrication, intended to advance other agendas, I would expect the situation to look exactly as it does.
It's not as though the powers-that-be have never manufactured a "problem", steered the public reaction, and then reaped the result (intended from the beginning), which is always more power/money/control. It's been done loads of times. Why not? It works really well. The following are red flags, indicating that this maneuver is being used:
1. Multiple, obvious, ulterior motives on the part of powerful interests.
2. Heavy media saturation on the issue.
(Media ownership is very concentrated today and always promotes the wishes of the power elite. Many crucially important subjects are given little or no exposure, because having people thinking about those topics is not in the interest of the power elite.)
3. Within the mainstream "debate", if any, one "side" will either be censored out-right, or made to appear ridiculous or evil.
4. The "solution" never solves the problem. It will be officially aimed at managing it. It often makes the problem even worse. True solutions, when available, are not seriously considered. This is intentional, because as long as the problem persists, additional power/money/control can be extracted to fight/manage it.

When all of the above red flags are in evidence, I assume this is what's happening. All of the above red flags are in evidence with AGW.

 Now that I've got all that out of the way, I can explain why, even if AGW were real, the present hysteria over it would remain an unwarranted and dangerous distraction.
As previously mentioned, the worst case scenario (which even the most alarmist sources consider unlikely) is a 4.5 degree average temperature increase over the next 50 years. That would be disruptive, but it could not result in the extinction of humanity or destruction of Earth. Keep in mind that, so far, even the most conservative predictions have proven to be too high. Other concerns, that are being largely ignored in favour of AGW, will, if not addressed, make a few degrees rise in temperature, the least of our worries. Carbon dioxide is not a toxic pollutant; it's what plants need to grow. But nuclear radiation is, and so is spilled crude oil + chemical dispersant, pesticides, industrial waste, chemical spills, depleted uranium, etc. If recent, preventable disasters like Deep Water Horizon and Fukushima continue to occur, and there's no reason to think they won't, will enough of us still be around to fret about AGW? If market forces continue to generate mountains of toxic waste, due to technological or planned obsolescence and other perversities, will a slightly warmer climate still be our most pressing concern a few decades from now? If the unintended (or maybe not so unintended) consequences of GMOs result in a mass die-off of humans and/or bees, will you still lose sleep over global warming? How about WWIII? Obsessing over AGW, at this time, is like sweeping the kitchen floor while the house burns down around you.

And there's one more thing I'd like to point out to believers and non-believers alike. If the market-based society were abandoned in favour of a voluntary gift economy, the alleged threat of AGW would very quickly cease to be an issue. What's more, all the other serious problems I've listed would also be eliminated. I would march in support of that. Yet, I strongly suspect that most of the people freaking out over AGW would never back that solution. Why? Because too many of them are pampered, upper middle class, university indoctrinated, hypocrites. They can easily afford to assuage their guilty consciences with "green taxes" that will crush the less privileged (without solving the problem), but their concern for the planet is, ultimately, no match for their self-interested support for the economic status quo.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How I Cured My Depression

On the heels of Robin Williams death by suicide, and as per usual, a slew of articles have appeared reminding everyone that depression is a serious disease that needs medical treatment. Many, if not most, of these articles also repeat the idiotic and discreditted theory, based on no evidence, that depression is caused by an imbalance of brain chemistry. I can't begin to tell you how furious this makes me feel, but I can tell you why it does.

I cured myself of depression. When I say "cured", I don't mean that I found a way to manage the symptoms; I mean really cured. I used to suffer from major, clinical depression. It was bad. I was a complete basket-case. I couldn't even go to school because I couldn't stop crying. I was first diagnosed in 1983, at the age of 17. I was prescribed tricyclic antidepressants, and they "worked". About six months after I stopped the drugs, my depression returned. When it got so bad that I couldn't cope any more, the drugs were prescribed again. For the next 15 years, I stayed on that merry-go-round. Drugs. Relapse. Drugs. Relapse. Drugs. Relapse. Drugs. Relapse. Drugs (Zoloft). Adverse reaction. Suicide Attempt. Relapse. I was prescribed antidepressants one more time after that, but I was too afraid to take them. I remember that day, when I finally gave up. I stopped fighting, stopped running from the pain, and instead did the exact opposite. I just didn't have the energy to struggle any more, so I opened myself up to it and let it come. I dove for the bottom. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, instead of being annihilated by pain, as I fully expected to be, I felt relief and began to truly heal. I believe that a similar thing happens in "let go and let God"-style religious conversions, in which unconditional surrender is immediately attended by an experience of spiritual peace. Many people who have such an experience, interpret it as confirmation of a religious belief-system, but it doesn't really have anything to do with Jesus, or any other belief-based projection. If it did, it couldn't have happened to me.
That was 16 years ago. I have never had a recurrence of major depression since then. I have felt agonizing despair, and overwhelming sadness, but those come and go like normal feelings now. (With major depression they never leave, for months and years on ends. The whole world turns grey and life seems like a sick and pointless joke.) Depression is no joke. It is a very serious and disabling state of being. But it is NOT a disease; it is a call to authenticity, and an open door to positive disintegration. Since I successfully healed myself, whereas psycho-pharmacology spectacularly failed to, I think I'm in a far stronger position to speak to the real cause of depression. It is definitely not due to a brain chemistry imbalance, any more that anger is caused by over-production of adrenaline. Correlation does not equal causation.

Maybe you've seen news of the recently published experiment, wherein the researchers managed to breed mice whose brains did not produce seratonin. They had theorized that the mice would be depressed, but they weren't. You'd think this would lead some people to the same question I asked when I learned that antidepressant drugs are tested for efficacy on animals (usually rats or mice): How did they make the animals depressed? Wouldn't you think that, if it were possible (and it is) to consistently produce depression in mice, that the method used might point to the cause of depression in humans? I thought so, and still do. So how do you make an animal depressed? It's pretty simple. You torture it. You subject it to chronic stress and abuse over which it has no control. One method used is to repeatedly place the mouse in a water tank, from which it cannot escape, and force it to swim around until it is exhausted. Or put it in a cage with a hostile, robotic rat, or deprive it of food and water; or disrupt its sleep/wake cycle.

In a nutshell, depression is caused by on-going, or suppressed and unprocessed, emotional trauma. It usually has its roots in childhood. Our culture systematically traumatizes children (and adults) to varying degrees. Sometimes, the trauma is continuous, or too severe, and/or the one experiencing it is very emotionally sensitive. Then, the pain of the trauma can be felt to exceed one's ability to emotionally cope with it. An instinctive defense mechanism kicks in, wholly or partially suppressing awareness of the emotional injury. The injury doesn't go away or heal; it sits, sealed off like a cyst, waiting in the subconscious. Any subsequent, similar trauma (even a relatively mild one) will trigger its re-surfacing for processing and release. And there will be no shortage of such triggers. The trauma victim will be subconsciously drawn to situations that cause the original injury to resurface because that's the only way it can be released, and finally healed. Psychologists call this phenomenon, "repetition compulsion".

You can't cure the pain of depression by running from it. You have to face the pain. Unfortunately, that is the last thing anyone will ever recommend. Every suggested treatment I've ever seen, consists of some attempt at avoidance or escape. It's just like Alice in the looking-glass world, trying to reach the top of the hill by walking toward it, and always ending up back where she started. The solution I stumbled upon was the same one that worked for Alice.

I know, for someone suffering with depression, it must seem impossible that the monster, with which they battle for life itself, could be defeated by such a simple thing: stop resisting the pain. But you know that that is no simple thing. I know you've probably never done it, and I know why, too. The thought of it is terrifying. After all, you're barely hanging in there, as it is. The pain you resist appears as a bottomless abyss, from whose clutches, you would never escape if you gave in to it for one second. That's why you suppressed it in the first place. Appearances can be deceiving. Ironically, the pain you resist, if you stopped resisting it, would not even be as bad as what you're feeling now. And almost the moment you say, "yes" to it, it will be gone. The wounding that causes depression is the result of denying an authentic emotion. That's it. There is no need to recall the specific traumatic experience. I don't, and yet I am cured. Sixteen years is long enough to say that, I think.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Seed and The Fruit

I am so damned tired of hearing this ideological idiocy from brain dead parrots:
"The problem is not the fair competition which is at the core of successful capitalism; the problem is the grossly CORRUPTED version of capitalism that has become the norm today on a national and even global scale."
"We don't have capitalism. We have fascism."
"It isn't capitalism. It's corporatism."
"It isn't capitalism. It's crony capitalism."
They are so very adamant in their insistence that capitalism could be a wonderful system, if only it hadn't been corrupted. If they were capable of rational thought though, they would ask themselves how anything that has happened could possibly have turned out differently. When, exactly, did things go so horribly wrong, and what could have prevented it?

So, the purpose of this post is to show that what we've got, regardless of what you want to call it, is the terminal stage, and inevitable result of capitalism.

1- Capitalism is based on competition.
2-Competition, by definition, requires winners and losers. Let's be clear; this is not a competition for ribbons or trophies; it's for survival. Apologists for capitalism will claim that this is nature's way. It isn't. Any competition for survival, that occurs with social mammals in nature, is between separate species or separate groups. It never happens within a group.
3-In a capitalist system, participating in the competition is not optional. Refusal or inability to compete, means death, unless the non-competitor is fortunate enough to be under the protection of a winner.
4-Under capitalism, one wins by taking more than one gives; losers give more than they take. This fact guarantees that the biggest winners, in the long run, will be the most antisocial, ruthless and psychopathic members of the group. They will definitely NOT be the sort of people who care about fairness, or social justice, or the "non-aggression principal".
5-Winners control the resources of the group, and are therefore in a position to leverage the losers with the threat of starvation, and ultimately, death.
6-As a result, the winners are able to take ever more, while giving ever less to the losers. This manifests as a continuously widening wealth gap.
7-Eventually, because of the ruthless character of the biggest winners, they will use their wealth to control public discourse, and corrupt any social, political and legal systems that exist, for their own advantage. Result: corporatism/fascism.
8-Should it be to their advantage, they will collude with one another to accomplish this. Result: crony capitalism.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Conscience, A Sense Unrecognized

There are plenty of people in this world who will assert that good and evil have no objective reality.

Some of them are materialists, who believe that human beings, and all other living creatures, are merely meat-machines, driven by our biology to survive at any cost. Morality, for them, is at best, a utilitarian affair, a socially convenient illusion. "Evolution", according to the materialist paradigm, is purely about survival. Survival of the "fittest", is the only "good" that matters. In other words: might makes right.

Some of them are followers of religious cults, who believe that goodness is defined by the will of their deity, as laid out in His best-selling books. Why? Because their deity is ultimately powerful; and therefore, who are we puny mortals to question His judgement? If He says sexually mutilating babies is the moral thing to do, then by golly, that's good enough for them! If their deity, (through His earthly representatives of course)) mandates a genocide, they will carry it out and sleep soundly during and after. Because might makes right.

Some of them drank the new-age kool-aid. They've been sold the idea that there's no such thing as evil, because it's all good! (Apart from the deplorable practice of thinking negative thoughts, that is.) Everything is perfect, so whatever is, is what should be. If the strong torment the weak, it might look like evil, but it's really only the out-working of karma or voluntary soul agreements. One should never give it any attention, or attempt to stop it, because then you'd be giving it energy and opening a door to those unacceptable negative thoughts. I feel sorry for these frightened bunnies. Their beliefs are so contradictory and incoherent. They deny the existence of objective morality, so "might makes right" is never really affirmed or denied. Nor could it be, because that would be judgemental. (Judgement being another exception to the it's-all-good rule.)

At the extreme end of the, objective morality-denying, spectrum are the moral nihilists, generally known as "Satanists", who not only affirm, but adore, the principle of "might makes right". These incredibly deviant individuals believe that, not only do the strong have a right to torment the weak, but that they should do so, to the ultimate extent possible, as a "spiritual" practice. These people currently rule the world.

All of these groups, as a matter of policy, either openly affirm, or fail to denounce, "might makes right". From every side, it is upheld. It's the reason so few are allowed to take so much from so many. We have to use money to reward the "fit" and punish the "unfit", because "might makes right". It's the idea that goodness is defined by the decree of authority; and that, authority, rightly belongs to the strongest. "If the many did not submit to the domination of the few, all would be chaos!", so "might makes right".

Might makes right.

It's either true, or it isn't.

It's no use flopping around, pretending that it sometimes is, and sometimes isn't. Where do you draw that line? And by what criteria? If not might, what does make right?

There is only one thing that can stand against the assertion that "might makes right". It's CONSCIENCE. Every other argument against "might makes right" ultimately depends on conscience. By "conscience", I don't mean: a set of internalized rules from one's culture. I mean the inner certainty, regardless of what one was taught, no matter what authority mandates or condones it, that torturing children is wrong. That knowledge arises from within, and nowhere else, yet there is nothing arbitrary about it. People who base their moral judgement on conscience are remarkable for their spontaneous unanimity. All people of conscience uphold these characteristics of goodness:
Kindness
Compassion
Fairness
Truthfulness
Generosity
Gratitude
Freedom
Furthermore, all people of conscience denounce these things as evil:
Cruelty
Callousness
Injustice
Deceitfulness
Greed
Destructiveness
Domination/submission

I might not be able to put my assertions before a court of law or a research scientist, But I know that no one blessed with a conscience of their own, and a lick of common sense, is going to disagree. Even most people whose awareness of conscience has been rendered dis- or non- functional, through various means, would not dispute those lists. It is laughably disingenuous to demand legal or scientific proof for something so self-evident. It's like asking for proof that grass is green. This consensus exists because conscience is a sense, just like sight or hearing. Just as we're all in general agreement about what we see with our eyes, we also all generally agree about what we KNOW with conscience. It does what all senses do; it interprets vibration within a given frequency range. Like every other sense, it can atrophy with lack of use. Like every other sense, its acuity varies, but it is commonly present. And just as a few are born, or became deaf or blind, a few lack the sense of conscience. Some of those were born without it, or they lost it as a result of brain-injury. They're called primary psychopaths. Primary psychopathy is analogous to total blindness, the physical inability of the eyes to respond to light. Some became that way through emotional trauma; they're called sociopaths (although, not all sociopaths lack conscience). Sociopathy is analogous to extreme myopia or "hysterical blindness". All psychopaths, and many sociopaths, have no functioning sense of conscience.

As I said before, conscience is the only thing that can, and does, absolutely refute the belief that "might makes right". A person who lacks the sense of conscience has no inner defense against that belief. He has only two options:
1.) He could take note of his deficit, and decide it's to his advantage to be guided by "the rules", of civil law or religion (unless he was pretty sure he could get away with something). He would idolize those sets of rules, and consider unquestioning obedience to them, absolutely necessary to maintain social order.
2.) He could decide that his freedom from conscience was a great blessing, and proceed to take full advantage of the silly fools who are bound by it.  He may, or may not, believe that people with conscience are delusional or faking. "Might makes right!", he would cry. I'm willing to do absolutely anything to get what I want. I am the fittest of them all!

Just as a blind person is able to experience through his other senses, often more keenly because of his blindness, those without conscience can still appreciate some social values that are not tied to morality per se. One of these is orderliness. It appears that conscience-less people often attach more importance to orderliness than a normal person would. Orderliness is one of the commonest justifications of "might makes right". It is asserted that, if the few did not rule over the many, chaos would ensue. Most people with impaired or non-existent conscience have no more wish to see a break-down of social order than anyone else. They are understandably convinced that "Mad Max"-style mayhem would inevitably follow. For social order to achieve maximal stability and efficiency, they believe it must have a single head (one world government). They believe that social order has to be artificially imposed. They believe all these things because they lack the sense-faculty, conscience, that allows for spontaneous order among humans. It's too bad they've managed to get so many people to share their baseless fear. It has created the risk of a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Most of the people in the first three groups mentioned earlier, do not lack the sense of conscience. As disfunctional as our civilization is, it would be much worst if they did. They have, instead, been conditioned to believe that the source of conscience lies outside themselves. Psychopaths know they're different. A long time ago, the cleverest of them figured out that their best chance of success lay in convincing the rest of us to see the world as they do, in order to render their own deficits invisible. They've been very successful. Only very recently have a very few begun to take notice of their existence. Even so, the most important implications have been largely missed because a missing sense of conscience has not been recognized as the defining feature of the disorder.

The main tool, currently being used for diagnosis, is Robert Hare's Psychopathy Checklist. It is, unfortunately, a dangerously flawed tool. It works well for identifying sociopaths, but not psychopaths. Unlike many other diagnostic checklists, it doesn't rank its twenty items according to importance, but assigns them all equal weight. That's a mistake, because only two of the twenty items are essential features of psychopathy: "lack of remorse or guilt" and "callous/lack of empathy". The remaining eighteen items are inessential and secondary traits. In other words, if a person displayed every one of the twenty features apart from the two essential ones, he would be a sociopath, but not a psychopath. If he displayed just those two, and no others, he still would be a psychopath, but he would entirely escape detection through this diagnostic tool. To make matters worse, the list was developed through studies of prison populations. As a result, some of the items are probably not features of psychopathy/sociopathy at all, but rather, features of the ones who end up in prison; "impulsivity" and "poor behavior controls", for example. If any other psychological disorder (eg. autism or schizophrenia) were studied only within prisons, would you really expect an accurate picture to emerge?

We don't have much hope of properly understanding and dealing with psychopathy, unless the central role of missing conscience is acknowledged. That can't really happen until we're able to face the fact that conscience is a sense, and like every other sense, it is designed to perceive a shared and objective reality. The perceptions of conscience can certainly be distorted or unclear, but so can those of any other sense. Nobody claims on the basis of this, that when I assert that the grass outside is green, it's just my personal opinion! How is it that, a sense that most people share, is not recognized as being a sense?

Conscience differs from the five physical senses in one important respect: the information it perceives does not pertain to the material realm. It pertains to the moral realm, which materialists believe has no objective existence. That makes the recognition of conscience, as a sense, a hard sell for materialists. Materialism is the dominant paradigm in academia today.
The major religious cults are not much more open to the idea, since their relevance and power would be diminished by its implications:
1. That morality is not synonymous with an internalized set of rules. It is rooted in an objective aspect of our reality that transcends the edicts of their pet deity.
2. That ordinary people are naturally qualified to tell the difference between moral right and wrong.

Almost everyone in this "civilization" has been successfully herded into one of those two camps; materialism and religion. They're frequently represented as the only two choices that exist. These two socially powerful groups have a strong vested interest in suppressing the truth about conscience. Also, it is the suppression of that truth which has allowed psychopaths to go unrecognized and, by utilizing their advantage of utter ruthlessness, to amass untold wealth and power- those "mighty", who claim to make right. They stand to lose even more, if the truth were known.

It really is tragic. It's like "The Emperor's New Clothes" in reverse. People are seeing something and pretending not to see; even convincing themselves that it isn't really there. And yet, there it is! Apart from the exceptions noted above,,,


You know. Don't you? That's what the sense of conscience does. It knows. You might not have realized it until now, but you know. Sometimes you just don't notice something, like a very faint noise for instance, until someone with keener perception points it out, but once it has been pointed out, you do notice. If we could admit that we know, we couldn't be fooled and ruled so easily. Every lie requires at least two people; one to tell it, and one to believe it.

You know what the truth is. Even though everyone told you that you were mistaken. "Naive." "Too idealistic." Most of them believed it too. Maybe you were punished when what you knew turned out to be against "the rules". The people who forget that they know, are lucky, in a way; the same way blind people who live in ugly environments are lucky not to have to see them. But many people are never really sure if what they know is true or not. It's not easy to trust your own experience when everyone around you is in a state of committed denial. It's a form of "gas-lighting", and I think it's an important aspect of the "depression" epidemic. I know it was in my own case. I had let other people almost convince me that there was something wrong with me because of what I know. It was only when I resolved to trust and honour that knowing, that I was able to heal myself. That was more difficult than it might sound. I had to put my foot down hard against the enormous weight of dominant cultural belief-systems. I had to say, "I'm not crazy; the world is!" and mean it. I don't even know if I could have managed it if it hadn't been a matter of life or death. Nobody should berate themselves for having succumbed to manipulation of that intensity, on such a scale.

All the physical senses are capable of sending pain/pleasure signals to the brain. They send pain signals in response to threat. For example, if you put your hand in boiling water, it hurts. The pain is there to warn you that damage is being caused to your skin. A very loud noise hurts your ears; the pain warns you that your ears are being damaged. That is the purpose of all pain. It's a warning that says, "STOP! damage is occurring!"
Pleasure signals are at the other end of the spectrum. They are there to let you know when optimal conditions exist within the vibratory range of a given sense. Vibrant physical health feels wonderful. Music gives pleasure to the ears. Visual beauty gives pleasure to the eyes. We don't know why. We do know that beauty, or its absence, has an significant effect on our health and well-being. What we call "beauty" could be defined as: optimal conditions within a given vibratory range. "Optimal conditions" vary somewhat from one person to another. I dislike country music, but other people like it. That's because we each embody our own unique vibratory patterns, and how we react to a stimulus is affected by how the two fields interact. On the other hand, nobody enjoys the sound of a jack-hammer.

Conscience is a sense. It too, sends pain/pleasure signals to the brain. The intensity of those signals, and the specific forms they take, vary as with any other sense. It's not something people usually talk about, except in passing. I have only a vague idea of what other people experience, but I can try to describe my own. I'll start with the pleasure signals. I experience these whenever I am involved in, or witness to, any of the items in the first list, above: Kindness, Compassion, Fairness, Truthfulness, Generosity, Gratitude, Freedom. Some of the pleasure signals are emotional: joy, affection, admiration, thankfulness, wonder. Some signals are physical. Those include: a feeling of very pleasurable warm expansion in the centre of the chest, a lump in the throat and/or the urge to cry from gratitude, an increased feeling of vitality, the urge to smile or laugh as an expression of delight, generalized warmth and relaxation. The pleasure signals I've listed will be recognizable as effects of beauty in general. No surprise, since their triggers also represent optimal conditions within a given vibratory range.

Then there are the pain signals. I experience these whenever I am involved in, or witness to, any of the items in the second list above: Cruelty, Callousness, Injustice, Deceitfulness, Greed, Destructiveness, Domination/submission. Again, many of the pain signals are emotional ones: anger, sadness, revulsion, anguish, horror, shame, remorse. Some are physically felt: adrenaline surge, a feeling of having been punched in the solar plexus, nausea, dizziness, crawling skin sensation, hot or cold pressure in the head, aching pain in the center of the chest and palms of the hands, the urge to cry or scream. I don't usually experience all of those at the same time. It depends on the situation and on which emotional states are strongest. It isn't an on/off sort of thing. Intensity varies from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful, again, depending on the situation. Those feelings might sound like something to be avoided. However, it's very important to recall the purpose of pain here: a warning. STOP! Damage is occurring! I believe it would be a dangerous mistake to try to suppress them. It is far better to let them come, and respond appropriately to whatever caused them.

The pain/pleasure signals I've described, are the reason I've never really understood the whole heaven/hell and karma thing. Posthumous rewards and punishment just seem superfluous as incentives to moral conduct, when I'm getting this kind of feedback in real time. I have no idea how widespread sensations like these are. I wish I did. I only know they can't be universal or this world would be a different sort of place. My best guess is that most people experience them to some degree, but they have been encouraged to mistrust, and therefore, disregard and suppress the information. With time it grows fainter, atrophying from lack of use. The trend in that regard is not encouraging, and that way lies extinction or worse. We must find some way of turning it around. "The rules" just don't cut it. We've had those for thousands of years. Only conscience can stand against "might makes right". If it were recognized to be a sense, people might respect it more because all senses exist for a good reason.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weaponised Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a state of extreme discomfort/anxiety caused by holding two contradictory beliefs or values at the same time. It also arises when a person's beliefs are in contradiction to his actions or experiences.

A little while ago I attempted to research cognitive dissonance on the internet. I had begun to strongly suspect that the phenomenon was being deliberately used as a method of mind-control, that it had, effectively, been weaponized. I wanted to know if it had been studied and what was known about it.
I soon realised that most people who think they know what it is, don't. It's not that surprising, given the tragic deterioration of language skills in recent decades. Reading comprehension is at an all time low. It seems like many people are talking and writing without really caring whether anyone can understand what they mean to say. To make it worse, many people reading or listening don't seem to care if they understand what is intended. They just use the words as random stimulus for their own imaginations, making words mean whatever they want! The whole point of language is communication. (deep breath) Cognitive dissonance is caused by contradiction, not conflict. It is apparent through the examples given, that most interpretations of cognitive dissonance confuse those meanings. Conflict can be resolved through compromise; contradiction can't. Conflict could be likened to friction between two surfaces; there is resistance between them, but no metaphysical laws prohibit their co-existence, as in the case of contradiction.

For example, most of the sources I could find chose to use tobacco smoking to illustrate the concept. (I find this sort of blatant social engineering offensive, by the way.) The example given is that of people continuing to smoke cigarettes even though they believe it is unhealthy. That is not an example of cognitive dissonance at all. Cognitive dissonance only occurs when two beliefs, or a belief and an action, cancel each other out and cannot rationally coexist. Smoking while believing it is unhealthy, doesn't meet that criteria. We all do things we believe to be unhealthy because other considerations outweigh the perceived health risk. This doesn't logically require a total denial of the perceived risk. There is no fundamental contradiction here; it's just a question of priorities. In order for smoking to work as an example, one would have to believe something like, "I would never do anything I knew to be unhealthy", and then continue to smoke, while believing it to be unhealthy. That would meet the criteria for cognitive dissonance. I hope I've made the distinction clear because it's important.

Some of the confusion probably stems from over-emphasizing the role of actions in cognitive dissonance. Action is not an essential aspect of the phenomenon. It is impossible for two actions to produce cognitive dissonance. On the other hand, one or more beliefs must always contribute. Belief is at the root of it all; no contradicted beliefs = no cognitive dissonance.

Actual cognitive dissonance is not mildly uncomfortable. It is very unpleasant. The conscious awareness of it produces extreme agitation and anxiety. This instinctive response shouldn't come as a surprise. It is highly adaptive because cognitive dissonance is a form of insanity. I'd go so far as to say that holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time is the very definition of insanity. To believe something, is to "accept it as true". When you accept two ideas as true, but are aware that logically they cannot both be true, panic is a perfectly appropriate response. "Reality" can't have any meaning under those conditions.

The discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance serves an important function. It warns us that reason has been violated and that a  mental immune response is required. Ideally, the immune response should consist of removing the contradiction. In the revised example, given above, (believing, "I would never do anything I knew to be unhealthy", and then continuing to smoke, while believing it to be unhealthy), there would be three possible ways of accomplishing that.
1. Change the first belief to something like, "I prefer to not do anything unhealthy, but there are some things, like smoking, that I prefer more."
2. Change the second belief (that smoking is unhealthy).
3. Stop smoking immediately and never do it again. You would also need to acknowledge that cognitive dissonance had formerly been present.
Those are the only ways to fully resolve the cognitive dissonance. However, there are other strategies available that don't remove the contradiction, but do assuage the unpleasant symptoms. People instinctively employ these whenever it is undesirable to change their contradictory beliefs.

This happens a lot more often than you might think. While specific instances are ubiquitous and far too numerous to list, there are only two basic reasons for suppressing the mental immune response demanded by cognitive dissonance. They are:
1. Social pressure
Humans are social animals. Our physical and emotional well-being is strongly tied to social acceptance. If one or more of the social groups you belong to upholds an untrue belief, you risk a great deal by dissenting. To even question such a belief may be dangerous because it triggers the symptoms of cognitive dissonance in other members of the group. They would, most likely, misidentify you as the cause of their anxiety/fear and could react violently towards you.
2. Self Image
The vast majority of people lack genuine self-esteem. True self-esteem only comes from awareness of, and identification with, the spiritual center of one's being. Those who understand this, know that their value (and that of all other spiritual beings) is infinite. This value cannot be added to, or lost; only expressed/experienced, or not. Instead, most people value themselves (and others) in comparative terms. What they value is an image of "themselves", a social commodity, false ego, the flyers' mind. Denial of reality is often needed for the enhancement and preservation of that image.

Actually, these two motivations for suppressing, rather than resolving, cognitive dissonance are both designed to protect false ego. The only difference is that the first is to protect a collective, and the second, an individual, manifestation of false ego.

Moving on from the why of it, it is interesting to observe how we suppress cognitive dissonance. I know of no clearer description of this maneuver than that given by George Orwell in "1984". He gave it a name, doublethink. We'll let "George" take it's definition from here:
"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the world ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink."
"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth."
All this happens subconsciously, by reflex. People don't deliberately set out to destroy their own minds. I'd like to add to Orwell"s description, a specific technique used to accomplish the double-think maneuver. It consists of using words without ever, ever, considering what they mean. "Freedom" is a really common example. People say that word, a lot, but in a whole lot of cases, if you asked them what it means, they couldn't tell you. They don't know, don't want to know, and won't thank you for having asked. Propagandists and politicians take full advantage of this knowledge.


One thing I found conspicuously absent from the information I could locate on cognitive dissonance was any reference to the relationship between it and doublethink. According to cognitive dissonance theory, there are only two solutions for resolving the discomfort of conflict. One can either change one of the conflicting elements or one can consciously justify the discrepancy. I believe that doublethink represents a third option; bury one's awareness of the conflict. I find it note-worthy that the doublethink Wiki article mentions doublethink as a way of coping with cognitive dissonance, but not the other way 'round. The cognitive dissonance Wiki entry makes no mention of doublethink as a possible strategy. Yet, based on my observations, doublethink is the most common strategy for dealing with cognitive dissonance. Right off the top of my head, I can think of ways that this knowledge could be used for deception and mind-control.

1. Unresolved cognitive dissonance makes it impossible to think rationally, if at all, about any topics involved in it. In functional terms, it makes people less intelligent.
2. As a result of the above, topics related to cognitive dissonance, no matter how important, are marginalized and not discussed in mainstream society.
3. When conscious awareness of cognitive dissonance has been suppressed, it produces free-floating fear/anxiety which can be easily re-directed towards any convenient target.

If cognitive dissonance were being deliberately used to cultivate doublethink for the purpose of mind-control, it would explain why we've been increasingly treated to so much contradictory information from official sources. I don't mean differences of opinion, but statements of purported fact. For example, one still sees dietary fat being blamed for high blood cholesterol in spite of peer reviewed studies refuting that belief. Another example would be climate change, in which both sides in the debate reference contradictory official data. Or what about the continued insistence of regulators that cannabis has no medical value, in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary? Are wars of colonial aggression and depleted uranium munitions illegal or not? And let's not forget the laws of physics relating to the alleged events of 911! People regularly dispute things that are self-evident. This sort of thing is becoming so common that I find it hard to believe that it's not deliberate. It doesn't make sense, otherwise. I can only conclude that cognitive dissonance has been weaponized.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some Thoughts on The Venus Project

By now, I'm sure most people have heard of The Venus Project. From what I've seen, the general trend online is for people to either reject it outright or to defensively support it, while refusing to consider its very real flaws. That's unfortunate because TVP concept could provide a useful place to start in developing a plan for a better world. Some of its proposals, and the reasons behind them, are very sound. We should get rid of market-based economics. That would allow us to start using the technology we already have to put an end to this artificial scarcity and wanton environmental destruction. No more "death monopoly". No one, NO ONE, should be forced to earn the right to live. We've got to stop supporting belief systems of trickle-down cruelty. If normal adult humans can't provide for themselves and each other without being forced to, then we are the stupidest species on the planet and we deserve to be extinct. TVP gets this so right that it's tempting to just support it as is. I can't do that though, because I know that, as it is, it could never gain the nearly unanimous support it would require in order to work. As I mentioned earlier, it also has flaws that have to be acknowledged and addressed:

-It strikes me as far too presumptuous and anthropocentric in its proposal for global resource management.

-Bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to social organization. Beyond a certain point, greater efficiency leads to less responsiveness. When individuals have no way of influencing forces that directly affect their lives, deviant directions can be difficult to correct. The present corporate push for globalization should have taught us that by now.

-The proposal to turn over resource management to computers is dangerous for two reasons:
1. Computers may be able to compute with blinding speed, but apart from that, they are extremely stupid compared to humans. The only basis a computer could have for decision-making would be its programmed "prime directive" and subordinate priorities. These would have to be selected by (you guessed it) humans. Who decides the order of its hierarchy of values? The potential for corruption and/or catastrophic error is unacceptably high.
2. Learning to make responsible choices is part of the process of psychological maturation. I think it is very unwise to attempt to remove the need for that in human societies. The desire to do so betrays a profound lack of trust in one another that is no sound basis for a peaceful civilization.

-I'm not the only one who considers TVP to be overly focused on materialistic technology and lacking in diversity. It borders on techno-fetishism. The shiny high-tech cities showcased in TVP articles and videos are not everyone's ideal of "the good life". A great number of people would prefer a more nature-based existence. Not everyone is averse to physical work, provided that it's not onerous or exploitative. Some people, myself included, enjoy engaging in artisanal creativity and prefer it to machine-made monotony. Likewise, the proposal for a global high-speed transport system is, in my opinion, a huge waste of resources and effort. If people didn't have to deal with the pressure of 40+ hour work weeks, speed wouldn't be such a high priority. If anything, we'd probably prefer to slow down a bit. I could see lighter-than-air ships making a come-back since they are cleaner and quieter than jets, not to mention far less resource-intensive than a trans-oceanic maglev system.

If I had my way, I'd like to see some of those VP cities built though. They are beautiful and, for many people, especially scientists and intellectuals, they would be practically ideal living arrangements. It doesn't really have to be all-or-nothing, does it? I propose that a better arrangement, one that everyone could support, would consist of a high-tech/low-tech symbiosis; twinned subcultures. We build as many of the VP cities as are wanted, and surround them with smaller villages that are more or less (again; as desired) self-managing and integrated with nature. There should be a formal exchange programme to allow anyone in either sub-culture to experience the other through temporary immersion. No one should be excluded from, or bound to remain permanently in either subculture. As an added plus, I think a system of twinned subcultures would have the effect of inspiring each to manifest its highest potential.

Both high-tech and low-tech cultures are subject to inherent weaknesses. Low-tech cultures are far more vulnerable to natural disasters, such as disease, flooding or drought. Technology could ameliorate the hardship associated with such rare occurrences. On the other hand, technology is not invincible. A large Earth-directed solar burst, for example, could render it mostly useless for some time. In that event, a thriving low-tech culture could absorb and support it until it could recover. A symbiotic sub-culture arrangement could protect against the vulnerabilities inherent in each through a pledge of mutual aid.

I don't think any of these proposed tweeks violate the spirit of the Venus Project or its most important aims. We do need to come up with something better than what we've got. However, it has to be something that accommodates the diverse life-style preferences of all relatively sane people. If not, it would be nothing but a new kind of tyranny. Speaking of tyrants, it is imperative that the phenomenon of psychopathy be taken into consideration. Quite apart from the legitimate objections raised above, some of the most passionate Venus Project detractors will never support any system that is not based on domination/submission because they are psychopaths. Psychopaths are devoid of the normal social instincts that support the natural bonds in human societies. They are moral nihilists. All their interpersonal relationships are predatory ones. Fortunately, primary psychopaths are a tiny minority of humans. However, our modern cultural institutions (especially money) are highly favourable to psychopaths and they have attained inordinate power and influence because of it. As a result they have been able to deviate the minds of many non-psychopaths by a process known as ponerization. The good news is, those non-psychopaths who have been most easily swayed by them are also those most susceptible to peer pressure. Once a sufficient number of others renounce the dominant, ponerized world-view, they will switch sides. Secondary psychopaths (AKA sociopaths) can be healed. The important thing to keep in mind is that we who envision a truly humane civilization and a free humanity can never win the support of psychopaths. It is pointless to try. Yet, they will insist on it. They will accuse us of "unfairness" for not respecting their "freedom" (to prey on their fellow humans). They will twist our language just like that. They will invoke our own values, which they do not share, to manipulate us. We must not fall for it. If we make their consent a precondition of change, change can't happen. Some rights have to based on competence. You wouldn't consider it an impertinent infringement to prevent a blind person from driving a car. For the same reason, you don't consult a person with no compassion or conscience on the design a just society. Psychopaths are not sane. We have to stop believing them when they say they are.

I'm curious about what other people think about the Venus Project. Do you support it as is, or not in any form? What would you want to change about it, if anything?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Giving Up

Shortly after my last blog post, I quit smoking. Tobacco that is, not weed. I used to chain-smoke when I was writing. It helped me focus. Now, I have a hard time concentrating on anything; eighteen unfinished drafts and counting. Sorry about that. It's been exactly 11 weeks since my last cigarette. I miss it. I really, really do. There just isn't anything that can replace cigarettes for me. Not pot; not alcohol; not food, although I have gained about 20 lbs. E-cigs aren't legal to sell in Canada or I'd try those. I'm one of those highly sensitive people and smoking made it bearable to be this way. Now I feel like my skin has been removed. I'm in nearly constant psycho-emotional pain. It hasn't gotten any easier to cope with because it's not due to withdrawal. It's a temperamental condition that I was using tobacco to manage.

Chris has always said I should only quit because I want to, and I do, but only indirectly. I want to quit because I'm worn down by the pressure from the anti-smoking Nazis. I'm tired of being discriminated against and treated like a social pariah, tired of being forced outside in the cold and rain, tired of being charged overtly punitive prices. There's more than enough in-your-face oppression in my life, without all that as well. All the non-smokers around me act like I should be happy to be free, but I feel as though a close friend has died. I'm not happy to be free. I was bullied into this and I refuse to pretend I wasn't.

It gives little consolation to know that many of the self-righteous fucks who cheered on, and participated in, this punish-them-'til-they-quit exercise are going to suffer the consequences of the precedent they set. Because the social engineering control freaks won't stop with smokers; they've already set their sights on fat people. And they'll say, "It's for your own good", as they scurry about, deliberately making your life as difficult as possible. First they came for the smokers...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Double Bind: Earth VS The Market

It seems Japan is in trouble, and I'm not referring to Fukushima radiation. The trouble I'm talking about is a consequence of population decline. If you click on the link, the first paragraph explains why this is a problem:

"By 2060, the government estimates, there will be just 87 million people in Japan; nearly half of them will be over 65. Without a dramatic change in either the birthrate or its restrictive immigration policies, Japan simply won't have enough workers to support its retirees, and will enter a demographic death spiral. Yet the babies aren't coming."

It also proves that our current economic system is a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are defined by the need for continuous and exponential growth. As the article, linked and quoted above, clearly states, population growth is a necessary element of that expansion. No one denies the fact that "the economy" has to expand at a rate of approximately 3% per year if it is to avoid a recession, leading to depression, and ending in collapse. On the other hand, we live on a finite planet, with finite resources and a finite capacity to absorb pollution and waste. That means there's an absolute limit which has very nearly been reached. This is one of several double bind flaws that are inherent to the system. The only way out of a double bind dilemma is to eliminate one of the conflicting requirements. In this case, one of those elements is a conflict with the natural limits of the planet; the other is the imperative of the market system, to grow. Is there any way of resolving this dilemma? Actually, yes. There are a few possible solutions, but nobody wants to talk about them. Once I've explained what those possible fixes are, you'll understand why.

Solution #1:
Abolish the pyramid scheme. Eliminate the need for continuous growth. That would require an end to the current market system. This is the solution I would favour.  Needless to say, the powers that be, who sit at the apex of the pyramid, don't like this option, and have ruled it out.

Solution #2:
Free up room for expansion. This is the solution promoted by people like Bill Gates. He claims it's necessary to prevent global warming, but that's a lie. The regulation and restriction of energy consumption, justified by the alleged threat of man-made global warming, is a ploy to buy the system time. It also serves to condition people to see their very existence as a threat to the planet, thus softening their resistance to the planned culling. As the linked article about Japan proves, he is being dishonest in his assertion that this goal can be accomplished by simply lowering birth-rates. Bill Gates isn't stupid; he must know this: In order to avoid system-collapse, the population reduction would have to mainly target adults, especially the elderly.  I see this as the motivation behind, what some are calling, the soft-kill agenda. Believe it or not, this is the more humane of the options being considered by the powers that be.

Solution #3:
Let the pyramid scheme collapse, then start over. This option would be devastating for the Earth's ecosystems and inhabitants. The planet would probably recover because it can survive more punishment that we can. I suspect this solution would be adopted as a last resort, should #2 fail or turn out to be too slow. As the Architect said of the machines in "The Matrix", "There are levels of existence we are prepared to accept." The "elite" have taken precautions to minimize the hardship they, and their most loyal minions, would face. There are enormous, underground facilities that we know have been built, ostensibly to ensure "continuity of government". No doubt, a number of private ones exist as well. I expect they're quite nice. They'd be powered by geothermal energy, or something more advanced, have kick-ass air filtration systems, bio-domes and holographic view windows. Those facilities could sustain their occupants comfortably and indefinitely while they waited for the dust to clear. Then they could emerge and start to rebuild their empire. In order for this plan to work, most of the people left on the surface of the Earth would have to be wiped out. Therefore, a global nuclear war is a strong possibility immediately prior to the elite's evacuation. There is some evidence to suggest that this scenario has played out before, many thousands of years ago.

As far as I can tell, these three solutions are the only ways that the over-population-versus-economic-growth situation can be resolved. This is why I have been so passionate and persistent about the need to abandon the market-driven society. It's not just because we'd be happier if we did; it's because the alternative is something no remotely sane person could want.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Three Animals Test: Interpretation

Warning!
Spoiler Alert!
Do not read this post if you haven't completed the instructions in the previous one. That post is here.





Now that you have your responses ready, here is the key for interpretation:

The first animal you selected tells you about your aspirations. This is what you admire and value. It's what you would like to become. Read what you wrote down. These are your subconscious mind's uncensored thoughts about your ideals.

Your second choice reveals your persona. This is face you wear for others, and how they see you. These are the qualities that other admire in you.

Your third animal will show you your true inner nature. These are the unconditioned qualities of your personal soul. What you wrote about this animal reveals your authentic nature as a living being.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Three Animals Test

Many years ago, a friend shared a wonderful tool for self-knowledge with me, and today, I'd like to pass her gift along to all my readers. I call it, the "three animals test". Here it is:

What is your favourite animal? Your can choose any creature, real or mythical. Once you have chosen, write down your reasons for making this choice. Be as detailed as you can.

Now, repeat these instructions for your second favourite animal, and then your third favourite.

Write it down. Don't just try to remember; the subconscious mind is a slippery bastard and if you don't write down your reasons, very valuable information will be lost. This only works once. If you try to repeat the test, your prior knowledge of what it means will skew the results. There are no right or wrong answers; it's not that sort of a test. I'm going to wait a few days, and then post instructions for interpretation.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why?

If you've spent enough time around small children, you'll be familiar with the "why?' game. A child asks you a question, beginning with the word, "why". Then, he/she responds to any answer you offer up with another, "Why?" This goes on indefinitely until the adult has had enough, and ends the game with, "Because I said so", "That's just the way it is", "I don't know", "Stop bothering me; I'm busy", etc. Eventually, children grow up and stop doing this, which is unfortunate because this type of relentless why-ing is a very effective way of arriving at, what Aristotle called: first principals. It is a golden key for revealing the bottom-line truth about anything.

This is, basically, the method I used to come to the conclusions I have about money. It all started with the observation that our society's most dangerous, and apparently unsolvable problems, all seemed to stem from the use of money in some way. Many of those problems are so dangerous, and so horrible: environmental destruction, war, mass starvation, homelessness, human trafficking, political corruption, etc., that I had to ask, "Why do we need money?" It would have to be a damned good reason, to make the costs I've listed, a fair price to pay.

So, I started with the question, "Why do we need money?" Then, I started entering it into search engines, to get an overview of the justifications on offer. By far, the top answer was: Money is needed because we require a medium to facilitate exchange. That answer is, apparently, enough to satisfy most people. In my case, though, it led to another question...

"Why do we require a medium of exchange?" After all, I give and receive things all the time without the requirement of a medium of exchange. Anatomically modern humans existed for at least 100,000 years prior to the first appearance of money. Even today, a few human societies manage without it, and they do just fine. They do not, as some would have you believe, resort to hitting each other over the head and taking each other's stuff. They also don't feel the need to barter. They share, and not just with those they know; if a stranger wanders into the midst of such people, he can expect the same generosity you would afford to an invited guest. Money does nothing to facilitate exchange; it restricts it. Money facilitates only the kind of exchange wherein both parties have something to offer. It facilitates trade, not exchange per se. Trade is a conditional exchange wherein one gives in order to receive. Money makes trading easier by providing a universal symbol of value. Both parties must still have something to offer the other, but they can trade even if one of them doesn't want what the other has. So, the answer to the first question, "why do we need money?", should be reworded as: Money is needed because we require a medium to facilitate trade. Given the very high costs (environmental destruction, war, mass starvation, homelessness, human trafficking, political corruption, etc.) of using a medium to facilitate trade, yet another question arises...

"Why do we need to facilitate trade?" What makes trade so desirable that we would want to incur such high costs just to make it easier? Let us not forget that trade excludes a lot of people: children, disabled people, the elderly infirm, new mothers. Why go to such insane lengths to privilege trade over less conditional forms of exchange? In order to answer this question, we need to enter the fantasy world of Homo Economicus. Homo Economicus is a theoretical construction of mainstream economics. Unlike every other group-dwelling mammal on Earth, he has little in the way of social instincts, and is almost entirely driven by the desire for personal advantage. His relationship to other members of his species is primarily a competitive one. Homo Economicus is incapable of entering into unconditional, or open, exchanges. Therefore, he must be provided with incentives, in the form of personal punishments or rewards, in order to contribute anything of value to his society. Homo Economicus is a psychopath. So, sadly, he does exist, but he is far from representative of "human nature" in spite of long-standing, and intensive, efforts to make him so. Nevertheless, he is necessary to justify the existence of a market-based civilisation. If you ask a market apologist to justify the need for his preferred system, he will always, at some point, invoke "human nature" to explain the need of it. Ask him to elaborate on the meaning of "human nature" and he will describe Homo Economicus. Try it if you don't believe me. The answer to the question at the start of this paragraph, as far as I can tell (and please feel free to argue otherwise, if you think you can), is: We need to facilitate trade in order to allow Homo Economicus to function and succeed in a social setting. Next question...

Why would we want to create conditions that favour the social success of Homo Economicus? Does it really seem sane to collectively promote the interests of psychopaths over those of non-psychopaths? Why would we want to deliberately construct a system that encourages competition over cooperation, and taking over giving? How is it not utterly crazy to withhold resources from those who have nothing, while affording unlimited access to those who already have far more than they require? A normal human being, not previously indoctrinated to accept it, would laugh, if he didn't cry. Only ideology can explain it. We reward taking over giving because we believe that "might makes right". We encourage competition over cooperation because we believe in the philosophy of social Darwinism, that the strongest should thrive and the weakest perish. Few will admit to such beliefs, because, deep down, we know this is savage and immoral. We invent a whole collection of demonstrably untrue stories about it to make it all sound necessary. Yet, our collective actions speak far louder than our indignant, sputtering protests. So...

Why do we believe these things? There's no way we adopted these beliefs by evidence or reason. We don't even know, for certain, how we came to have them in the first place. The lame excuses we give for believing are justifications after the fact. The truth is, we inherited them. We believe because it's what we were taught to believe. We believe because, "everybody says it's so." Ironically, we believe because our social instincts are far more powerful than self-interest ever could be.